The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is asking governments to support the development of biofuels to ensure the emerging industry is a staple supplier for air travel and help to reduce carbon emissions.
The group’s annual general meeting in Beijing is this week (June 11-15, 2012) and IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said that airlines have undertaken many flights using such fuels, but supply is low and cost is prohibitively high.
As such, governments need to adopt policies to help support the commercialization of biofuels to “bring up the volume and bring down the price,” Tyler said, according to Businessweek.
The conference is even devoting a panel discussing the topic of the commercialization of biofuels. The IATA represents 240 airlines including American Airlines and British Airways. Its members comprise 84 percent of global air traffic.
The low carbon fuel is seen as a potential way for the airline industry to halt its spiraling emissions totals. Although the industry accounts for only 3 percent of global CO2 emissions, it is the fastest growing source of such gasses, Businessweek reports.
Airlines United and Alaska have been taking test flights using biofuels since November. In January, German carrier Lufthansa announced it was ending trials using biofuels to power flights due to a lack of reliable supplies. The trial saw Lufthansa carry out 1,187 biofuel flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt.
The issue of airlines’ emissions has been brought into attention by the application of the European Union’s carbon trading scheme to the industry’s operations.
The trading program, which obliges airlines to buy carbon credits when flying through European airspace, has been met with push-back by numerous carriers worldwide.
In December, United/Continental Airlines and American Airlines failed in a legal attempt to block the scheme, while UPS threatened to extend its flights in an effort to circumvent European airspace and avoid buying the credits. Estimates by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon suggest the scheme will cost airlines around €1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2012.
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