Technology

Aviation lobby using greenwashing to avoid emission cuts, warn climate organisations

  • 2 min read

180 organisations are campaigning for a reduction of air traffic and a climate-just mobility system

As climate demands are raised, the aviation sector is redoubling its greenwashing efforts, pointing to improbable technological step - changes for ‘greener’ flights. The global Stay Grounded network, together with other civil society organisations, warns that trusting yet - to - be - developed technology to reduce climate pollution is extremely risky, and instead demands that immediate action be taken now to prevent expansion of the aviation sector and associated emissions growth.

“The aviation industry is trying everything to legitimise its plan to jump straight back to pre - Covid growth rates. With their greenwashing agenda, lobbyists are successfully diverting attention from the paramount need to reduce flights”, explains Magdalena Heuwieser, spokesperson at Stay Grounded.

The recent code red IPCC report made clear that emissions need to be deeply cut by 2030 to avert dangerous climate tipping points. Aviation’s envisioned technologies and fuel substitutes will come decades too late — even if the sector’s proclamations of step - changes in aircraft technology are achieved, which is unlikely. This is also shown by new Stay Grounded fact sheets, based on the latest scientific research. In these, the organisation calculated that each of the promoted technologies could realistically only reduce a small proportion of all aviation emissions.

Biofuels, e - fuels and hydrogen aren’t carbon - neutral and have various adverse consequences. Producing them in the quantities required to power pre - Covid air traffic levels is infeasible. Attempting this will undercut other sectors and direct renewable energy resources towards the luxury travel of the global minority who fly.

“Air traffic growth is the problem. Globally, the aviation sector plans to triple in size by 2050 - if this happens, we could see aviation fuel consumption and therefore greenhouse gas emissions double. Any emissions reductions from technological developments will be eaten up by intended plans for expansion of the sector”, confirms Finlay Asher, an aircraft engine designer leading Green Sky Thinking.

“It is key that the press and policy makers don’t fall for this greenwashing. We all need to focus right now on reducing aviation emissions. For this we need pressure for finally taxing aviation fuel, taxing tickets — particularly long haul and business class — and shifting short - and medium - haul flights to rail,” concludes Magdalena Heuwieser.

Stay Grounded is today launching a petition and organising global action days ( 5 - 6 November ) during COP26 against the aviation industry’s attempts at greenwashing and growth. The global network represents about 180 member organisations, campaigning for a reduction of air traffic and a climate - just mobility system.

Resources:

Factsheets on efficiency, biofuels, e - fuels, electric flights, hydrogen: https://stay-grounded.org/greenwashing

Petition: https://stay-grounded.org/stop-greenwashing