Connecting Denmark with the world, sustainably

Copenhagen – Aviation industry experts are gathering in Copenhagen this week as part of the city’s year of events marking its time as European Green Capital. A Green Aviation Day on Thursday will look at the many ways air transport partners are collaborating to reduce the impact of the aviation industry. As the industry celebrates 100 years of commercial operations, the event is fittingly being held in the old Vilhelm Lauritzen Terminal at Copenhagen Airport.

Michael Gill, executive director of the Air Transport Action Group said that aviation now plays a vital role in the lives of people all around the world: “Aviation supports 61,000 Danish jobs and DKK30 billion in GDP in the country. Around 31,800 people are employed within the industry itself at airports, airlines and air traffic management and the rest are within the supply chain and in tourism supported by aviation.”

“On a global basis, air transport supports some 58.1 million jobs and DKK13.6 trillion in GDP – that is 3.4% of global economic activity. We forecast that these figures will grow to over 100 million jobs and nearly DKK35 trillion in GDP within the next 20 years, driven mainly by growth in the developing economies of the world.”

A key component of the aviation industry’s strategic thinking is to help foster this growth, vital to national and regional economies, whilst also taking care of its environmental responsibilities. In 2008, the sector became the first to set global goals to proactively manage its climate change impact, currently around 2% of all human carbon dioxide emissions. The industry will stabilise its net CO2 emissions from 2020 through a concept called carbon-neutral growth, whereby traffic would continue to rise to meet the demands of society and the economy, but growth would be offset through a global market-based measure.

The longer-term goal is to actually reduce net CO2 emissions from aviation to half of what they were in 2005, by 2050. The industry says it is looking at all options for ways to cut emissions – from new technologies and sustainable alternative fuels, through finding ways to operate aircraft more efficiently, more advanced infrastructure and a global market-based measure currently being negotiated at the United Nations specialised aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Gill comments, “It is impressive to see all parts of the industry working hand-in-hand to bring these climate goals to reality. We have three very active participants here in Denmark. Copenhagen Airport is working with other airports in Europe on the excellent Airport Carbon Accreditation programme and is implementing energy efficiency measures in its terminals and with ground service equipment."

“SAS is investing in new technology aircraft which will significantly reduce emissions and is partnering with other aviation companies to bring about a new generation of sustainable alternative fuel for the Nordic region through the NISA project. And Danish air traffic management specialist Naviair is investing in the cutting edge future of new air traffic management technology with space-based aircraft surveillance which will make flying a lot more efficient. These projects are just some of the many examples of the industry working to make sure air transport has a sustainable future.”