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U.S. Airlines are leading the way to address global climate change

Make no mistake about it: the U.S. airline industry connects the world and drives economic growth like no other industry can, all while maintaining an environmental track record that sets the standard for global industries around the world to follow.

While our business model aligns with environmental interests, we are committed to doing even more. Simply put, U.S. airlines are green, and we are going even greener.

A4A was proud to join our global aviation community partners in sponsoring a letter reaffirming the industry’s commitment to even further reducing aviation’s contribution to climate change worldwide.

As the letter notes:

“As leaders in the aviation industry and the global business community and as the first global transport sector to set carbon-reduction goals, we have been engaged in impressive cross-sectoral climate action. Our ambitious goals are to:

  • improve the fuel efficiency of the world fleet by an average 1.5% per annum, a goal we are already exceeding;
  • stabilize net aviation CO2 emissions at 2020 levels through carbon-neutral growth;
  • halve aviation’s net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared with a 2005 baseline.”

Meeting these ambitious targets relies on action by industry and governments to work in partnership to advance technology, operations and infrastructure measures, such as modernization of the air traffic management, investment in additional technology research and development and support for the deployment of sustainable alternative aviation fuels.

With the 39th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly just one year away, we encourage governments to join us in these initiatives and call on them to advance negotiations to develop a global carbon offsetting mechanism for international aviation to “fill the gap” should concerted industry and government investments in technology, operations and infrastructure measures otherwise not allow us to achieve our goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020:

“Importantly, we have just one year in which to shape a ground-breaking market-based measure that will, for the first time, enable a single global sector to stabilize its emissions from 2020. It’s a challenging task. But it is one to which the aviation industry is fully committed. We need governments meeting at ICAO to work together with us and civil society to push this process forward.”

U.S. airlines have improved fuel efficiency over 120 percent since 1978, saving over 3.8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent to taking 23 million cars off the road each of those years. Not to mention the fact that we carried 20 percent more passengers and cargo in 2014 than in 2000, while emitting 8 percent less CO2 and improving their fuel efficiency by 31% over this time period alone. But even though the U.S. airlines account for less than 2 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory, we are committed to doing even more.

We remain committed to working with the global aviation community, through the ICAO process, to ensure aviation continues to lead the way in addressing climate change.


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