Aviation increases prompts environmental concern
Global air traffic is expected to grow by 5.3 per cent this year, according to officials at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The organisation, which is based in Montreal, Canada, estimates that the figure will rise 6.2 per cent in 2012 and 6.1 per cent in 2013.
According to the ICAO, the increases indicate a strengthening global economy but environmental campaigners are concerned that it will increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Among those greeting the statistics with concern is environmental pressure group WWF-UK. Jean Leston, its Acting Head of Transport Policy, said: "ICAO's latest growth figures show that aviation is on track to become a major producer of CO2 emissions. That's a scary prospect given that the climate damage from aviation is twice that of CO2 alone. It's time the world woke up to the fact that we can't keep flying as if there's no tomorrow. At this rate, there won't be."
In response to such often-voiced concerns, the aviation industry has set itself tough targets on emissions reduction, developed jointly by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the International Business Aviation Council.
They point out that the industry has committed to:
Carbon-neutral growth by 2020;
An improvement in fuel efficiency of an average of 2 per cent per year until 2020 (it has already recorded 40 per cent improvement over the past 40 years)
A reduction in total carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050
The industry says it will reach the targets through technological advancements and the use of alternative fuels.
For its part, the ICAO say that its figures on rising aviation carry an optimistic message because they reflect improving economic prospects worldwide and are based on an average 3.5 per cent growth in the world Gross Domestic Product for the next three years.
It says that average annual traffic growth rates over the three-year period will vary by region, from a low of 2.9 per cent for North American airlines to a high of more than 14 per cent for airlines of the Middle East. Traffic for Asia/Pacific airlines should grow considerably faster than the global average in each of the three years and Latin American carriers should register the third strongest performance, according to the ICAO.
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