Global perspective Human stories

Marking annual Day, UN aviation agency calls on industry to become greener

Marking annual Day, UN aviation agency calls on industry to become greener

Global air transportation has brought millions of jobs, a major boost to the world economy and valuable savings in time for many people, but its benefits may be in jeopardy unless the industry takes more steps to improve its environmental performance, the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said today.

In a joint message to mark International Civil Aviation Day, which is celebrated every year on 7 December, ICAO Secretary-General Taïeb Chérif and the President of its Council Roberto Kobeh González said that while recent innovations have made aircraft engines cleaner and greener, they are not enough to counter the projected substantial growth in air traffic worldwide in the years ahead.

Delegates at the ICAO Assembly in September called for a series of stepped-up measures to monitor and improve the environmental performance of civil aviation, and Dr. Chérif and Mr. González said governments and individuals must also play their part in ensuring that aviation does not make progress “at the expense of the environment.”

“As we move towards greater sustainability, we must ensure that action is taken in a cooperative and harmonized manner,” the message noted. “We all share the responsibility of maintaining an appropriate balance between the development of aviation and environmental protection – governments, industry and individuals, so that future generations can also enjoy the economic, social and cultural benefits of air travel.”

Dr. Chérif and Mr. González said the Montreal-based ICAO remained committed to making air travel as safe, secure, efficient and accessible as possible, so that the maximum number of people can share in its benefits.

They said that last year 2.1 billion passengers travelled on scheduled flights, which does not include charter and other aircraft operations. Almost 40 million tons of cargo were also carried by air.

Civil aviation’s contribution to the world economy is worth an estimated $3.5 trillion, or about 8 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Air Transport Action Group. About 32 million jobs are linked either directly or indirectly to the industry as well.