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Aviation industry pledges 50 percent cuts in emissions

Date: 22 Sep 2009

Photo of British Airways tailfin

Airlines have agreed that they will aim to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The move, which aims to pre-empt unfavourable attention at the Copenhagen summit in December, is the most radical vision to date of the future of air travel.

The plan, launched by British Airways CEO Willie Walsh, will be presented to the UN Forum on Climate Change in New York. If it goes down well there, it will make the agenda at Copenhagen.

In addition to reducing emissions through improved technology, the plan aims to make all industry growth carbon-neutral by 2020, and for aviation to join a global carbon trading scheme within the next year.

Emissions from air travel were not included in the Kyoto protocol, but it was widely expected that the industry would have to be included in any successor agreement - should it be achieved.

Any effective emissions reduction plan is likely to result in higher fares for passengers.

Environmental campaign groups, however, criticised the proposal suggesting that it still did not go far enough. In particular, they attacked the reliance on achieving targets by carbon offsetting measures. They also suggested that the 50 percent target - although stronger than anything suggested previously - was still some way short of the 80 percent levels being required of other industries by the same date.


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