A HEAVY REDUCTION IN FLYING ISN’T THE SOLUTION TO TACKLING THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS – EITHER ENVIRONMENTALLY OR ECONOMICALLY. ANITA MENDIRATTA EXPLAINS WHY
It was over a century ago, on a chilly mid-December’s day in 1903, when it all began. With awe in their eyes, onlookers shifted their gaze to the skies, feeling their hearts lift at the sight of aviation’s first flight. Since that day, aviation has been an enduring source of inspiration, innovation and imagination. Young and old, across the planet – no one can help but look up and smile, as a world of possibilities is unlocked through the skies.
Few, if any, great leaps forward in our generation will have such a profound, almost poetic, impact on our lives. Overly romantic? Perhaps. But think about it: today, each and every day, the skies above us are connecting literally billions of people – the great gift that is flight making it possible for many nations to survive, many to thrive. Credit where it’s due.
In order to appreciate the scale of the aviation industry, every single day:
- 12 million passengers board flights
- 120,000 flights take off for places near and far
- US$18.8bn in goods are carried in global trade
- 65.5 million people are working across the industry to make it happen
People’s lives, livelihoods, loves and legacies are strengthened. Their futures are secured.
Nations are making bold, concrete commitments across the aviation value chain
Still, in today’s age of social media and hashtag activism, many are looking to the skies with accusing eyes, damning aviation for its contribution to the climate emergency which the global community now faces – #flightshame.
Yes, aviation is a source of carbon emissions – 2% of global emissions – that are indeed having a negative impact on the environment. This truth is not, however, one being lazily accepted by the global aviation community. Quite the opposite. For over a decade, the global aviation community has been investing exponential amounts of funding and intellect towards finding solutions to reduce and eliminate emissions to ensure that the growth of aviation occurs in a way that’s responsible and sustainable.
Critically, it must be understood that aviation is not the problem – emissions are.
For this reason, nations are making bold, concrete commitments across the aviation value chain. Central to this is airlines. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing 290 of the world’s airlines and 82% of total air traffic, is championing aviation leaders taking action, now, “to be part of the solution”. Aviation is actively, collectively and measurably making sure that it’s uplifting the global impact of its overall economic drive in a way that’s not doing any environmental damage.
Our world needs aviation. Why? Because trade, travel and tourism rely on opportunity creation delivered through global skies. From Iceland to Indonesia, aviation keeps island nations buoyant – a lifeline to lives and livelihoods.
Let’s just consider Travel & Tourism – a sector that inspires over 1.4 billion people each year to cross international borders to learn, explore, discover and connect. In so doing, greater understanding is established, central to embedding respect and peace across people and places as well as across faiths, cultures, generations and ideologies. With this, Travel & Tourism supports one in ten jobs (319 million) worldwide, unlocking 10.4% (US$8.8tr) of world GDP. With this, Travel & Tourism strengthens the fabric of the global community.
To stop flying is to stop the growth of the global economy
These metrics are vital to the growth and development of our planet. The many benefits generated by tourism and trade across the world in terms of jobs, inclusivity and future possibility create a strong global community in which all can participate, directly and indirectly. To stop flying is to stop the growth of aviation. This in turn stops the growth of the global economy and global society – and their ability to positively impact the global environment through solutions that benefit us all.
Everything we do, every day, has a ripple effect. Are changes needed to many of today’s actions to accelerate climate action? Absolutely, through inspiration and collective dedication, not accusation. We must never stop looking up.