Progress against 2009 actions and Agenda
The air transport sector presently accounts for 2%3 of global man-made emissions. Aviation carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to increase to 3% by 2050, implying that aviation is currently a small but growing contributor to climate change. As well as emitting CO2, aircraft contribute to climate change through the emission of other GHGs formed from fuel combustion in aircraft engines such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), as well as soot, sulphate aerosols and water vapour.
These impacts are summarised below.
Mark Watson, Head of Environmental Affairs
Although the impact of CO2 on atmospheric warming is well understood, uncertainty around the impact of GHGs in the upper atmosphere and the impact of aviation non-CO2 emissions remains. In 2007, the IPCC estimated these effects to be about two to four times greater than those of aviation's CO2 alone. This has given rise to some policy makers and commentators applying a 'multiplier' to the airline industry's CO2 impacts.
In order to develop a better scientific understanding of these impacts, we continue to monitor developments in atmospheric science (including studies from the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)). Questions that remain include the cumulative impact of non-CO2 emissions from aircraft such as NOx. Due to this, our primary focus remains on the reduction of our CO2 emissions.
Our engagement
We work closely with other airlines and trade associations, including representation on the Environmental Committee of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and on the Environmental Working Group of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). These strategic partnerships enable us to effect change on a larger scale and prioritise our global challenges and opportunities.
Our Chief Executive, Tony Tyler, became Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors in June, the first appointment of a Cathay Pacific Chief Executive to this key position in our global industry body. He is working closely with IATA's Director-General and CEO to ensure that airlines' voices are heard at an international level in relation to how they intend to address climate change.
Copenhagen Communiqué
We were amongst 950 companies that signed the Copenhagen Communiqué on Climate Change calling on world leaders to agree an "ambitious, robust and equitable global deal on climate change". We were part of the IATA delegation at the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009, where the industry highlighted its call to be part of a new climate change agreement. We have also advocated our support for IATA's target of stabilising net carbon emissions from 2020 onwards.
Aviation Global Deal Group
As a founding member of the Aviation Global Deal (AGD) Group, we continued our active role in contributing to the international debate to include emissions from international aviation in a global climate change treaty. See Pg. 18 for more details.