Home' Asian Aviation : AAV November 2018 Contents VIEWPOINT
THE GREAT AMERICAN WRITER and Pulitzer Prize-winner Up-
ton Sinclair once said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand
something when his salary depends upon his not understanding
it.” That’s true of the commercial aviation industry when it comes
to the environment.
It is difficult to get the industry to understand that CORSIA and
the limited use of biofuels will not have any meaningful impact on
cutting emissions and mitigating the industry ’s effects on planet
Earth when the lives and salaries of everyone involved depend on
the industry expanding however it can.
I bring this up because of a convergence of events; the release in
October of the latest findings by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) and the fact that full emissions reporting by
airlines that joined the ICAO Carbon Offsetting
& Reduction Scheme for International Aviation
(CORSIA) will become mandatory starting in
January 2019. I also bring this up because all
forecasts point to a dramatic increase in com-
mercial aviation over the next 20 years, with
thousands more planes flying and hundreds
of new airports being built, all of which will
negatively impact the environment in which
we live and breathe.
While the world has known for years that the
climate crisis is worsening, the IPCC report says
the situation is much darker. In a nutshell, the
IPCC warns that the immediate consequences
of climate change will happen sooner than previously forecast and
requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that
has “no documented historic precedent”. The report describes a world
of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral
reefs as soon as 2040. The IPCC report also said if greenhouse gas
emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm
up by as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by
2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty.
To prevent catastrophe, the report said greenhouse pollution must
be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent
by 2050. The report emphasises the potential role of a tax on carbon
dioxide emissions that would be “central to prompt mitigation”, the
report concludes. It estimates that to be effective, such a price would
have to range from US$135 to US$5,500 per tonne of carbon dioxide
pollution in 2030, and from US$690 to US$27,000 per tonne by 2100.
That’s the problem though, with CORSIA. ICAO members who
signed on to the pact opted for “carbon offsets”, not carbon taxes,
and offsets have been shown to be ineffective in actually reducing
emissions. CORSIA also only covers emissions on international
flights, not domestic. That deal also fails to actually cap emissions
on international flights.
The industry likes to point to figures from the International Air
Transport Association that say planes are the source of “only” 2 per-
cent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, while other scientists
say it’s more like 5 percent. Whatever the current figure, it will only
grow when 8 billion people take to the air by 2036.
Planes are not the only problem. To cope with the anticipated
increase in air travel, governments and private
industry are looking to build hundreds of air-
ports around the world. Airports are making
great strides in going “carbon neutral”, but not
nearly enough are doing it and those that are,
are not doing it nearly fast enough.
There’s also the problem of govern-
ment-owned and operated airports and those
in private hands. A government-owned airport
might be more responsive to the local voters
who are concerned about aviation emissions
than a privately-held airport whose only inter-
ests are those of its shareholders. We are all
aware of the economic benefits that aviation
brings. We are also aware that opposition to an expanding airport to
increase tourism, increase cargo flights and increase the other sorts
of economic development benefits is usually not popular. But at some
point, the question of “when is enough, enough” must be answered.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve covered business long enough to know
that it’s difficult to stand in the way of “progress”. I’ve seen enough
of human nature to know what happens when money, especially the
billions of dollars that aviation entails, is involved and the picture isn’t
pretty for the environment. But unless there’s another planet found
that we can live on, we need to do more to take care of this one.
Matt Driskill EDITOR
Are Seamless Asian Skies
becoming a reality?
A look at the latest in APAC
development of new facilities
It's not a huge sector, but GA
is on the increase in Asia
ICAO members who
signed on to the pact
opted for “carbon
offsets”, not carbon
taxes, and offsets have
been shown to be
ineffective in actually
4 AsianAviation | November 2018
When is enough, enough?
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