Air passengers concerned about carbon emissions caused by the airline industry want governments to encourage the development of sustainable aviation fuels.
New data commissioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows specifically that air passengers want governments to encourage the development of new technologies and sustainable aviation fuels that reduce aviation carbon emissions, rather than impose ineffective “environmental” taxes.
According to the survey, passengers suggest that the most preferred actions for governments to prioritize with regards to managing aviation’s climate change impacts include:
—Supporting the development of sustainable aviation fuels (64 percent)
—Support research and development of new technology and better operations (62 percent)
In contrast, environmental taxes were one of the least popular options, with just 22 percent support.
“Public opinion has a clear message to governments: work with aviation to encourage investment in clean fuels and new hybrid and electric technology. This will help airlines cut emissions in half by 2050,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Commercial aviation is responsible for around two percent of annual global carbon emissions, according to IATA. The industry has a target to cap CO2 through carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and to cut emissions in half by 2050, the organization noted.
IATAs data comes on the heels of recent criticism of the aviation industry and its impact on global warming from Responsible Travel.
In May, the travel company issued a manifesto on aviation and climate change that called the aviation industry one of the fastest growing contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
The manifesto also challenged governments around the world to take actions to reduce demand for flying through taxation and other measures.
“As the world focuses in on reducing carbon emissions aviation is getting a free ride,” Justin Francis, CEO Responsible Travel, told TravelPulse during a May interview. “This has to stop if we are to keep global warming below 1.5 percent.”
Francis said during that interview that he was stunned to discover that airline emissions are exempted from both the Paris and Kyoto Protocols on climate change.
The manifesto went on to note that if aviation was a country, it would be the 7th largest emitter of CO2 in the world, just behind Germany. In Europe, Ryanair has become one of the top 10 most carbon polluting businesses.
IATA’s de Juniac paints a different picture.
“Airlines have spent billions on new planes that have helped to cut emissions per passenger in half since 1990. From next year we will cap emissions in a global offsetting scheme that will generate $40 billion of climate financing” the IATA CEO said in a statement. “And airlines have bought up all the sustainable aviation fuel that is available.”
De Juniac added however that governments should listen to their citizens.
“The way forward for aviation and the environment is sustainable aviation fuels. Promoting their commercialization will do more than any tax,” said de Juniac.
The public meanwhile, has little faith in their government’s spending environmental taxes on environmental action, according to IATA.
When asked “do you trust governments to spend money from environment taxes specifically on environmental protection programs?” the survey results were uniformly skeptical.
“The research shows that the public’s feelings are very clear. People want to travel. They value the freedom to fly. And they want to see the industry and governments taking action on emissions,” said de Juniac, and in contrast to Responsible Travel’s suggestion on the matter, the CEO suggested that making it more expensive for people to fly is not the answer.
“Rather, action to encourage new technology and sustainable fuels is the solution,” said de Juniac.
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