Aviation Groups Craft Climate-Change Stand

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A consortium of 20 of general aviation's major alphabet groups, from EAA to AOPA to NBAA and GAMA to groups representing agricultural flyers, helicopter interests, state aviation officials, regional airlines and more, this week released a statement (PDF) summarizing their thoughts about aviation and climate change. "[This paper] offers a constructive set of principles to frame the discussion of policy tools to address aviation and climate change," the authors state. "It is clear that to further reduce aviation's impact on climate change requires a partnership between the industry, labor and government ... Solutions lay in four main areas: technology, infrastructure, operations, and economic measures." The report notes that since fuel efficiency has always been a powerful economic driver for aviation, the industry already has made impressive progress, having improved aircraft fuel efficiency by more than 70 percent during the last four decades. The best strategies, the report says, are to improve air traffic management, invest in research into new technologies, and develop alternative fuels. The groups, not surprisingly, are opposed to measures that impose fees, charges or taxes, calling them "unnecessary and counterproductive." They also say that any proposed measures to address aviation's impact on the environment should include a rigorous analysis of the expected benefits weighed against the cost to the economy, industry, jobs, communities, and the transportation infrastructure, and should take account of the costs and benefits of alternate forms of transport.

Likewise, they should address possible tradeoffs between environmental effects, such as between emissions and noise. Aviation accounts for just 3 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and about 3.5 percent globally, but those percentages are expected to grow, perhaps to 15 percent globally by 2050. Some scientists say that although the percentage of aircraft emissions seems small, the impact is magnified because the gasses are emitted high in the atmosphere. Greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation are currently excluded from any restrictions under the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that regulates such emissions. Click here for a PDF of the joint statement.