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Airlines announce “sneaky” greenwash carbon pledge

by David Masters
September 23, 2009
Transport Environment

The aviation industry has pledged to slash carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 40 years.

The agreement between airlines, airports, and aircraft manufacturers will see emissions cut 50% compared to 2005 levels by 2050.

Announcing the plans, Willa Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said the agreement was the chance for airlines to “rectify” their decision to opt out of the Kyoto protocol.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the scheme, but pointed to its many loopholes and said it may be too little too late.

“We welcome the fact that some in the industry want to see it part of a new deal,” said Lang Banks of the World Wildlife Fund.

“However, the cuts are nowhere near the ambition needed to keep our climate safe,” he added.

“Worse still, this proposal would allow potentially unlimited offsetting of emissions – allowing airlines to carry on business as usual.”

Greenpeace branded the plans “sneaky” and likened the announcement to “pigs taking flight”.

“Reading between the lines it’s obvious that these targets won’t mean real cuts; they’ll be achieved through sneaky offsetting and carbon trading,” said a spokesperson for Greenpeace UK.

“Airlines and airports [will] carry on as normal - and even carry on expanding - while relying on other sectors of industry and society to reduce emissions to compensate.”

Vicky Wyatt, Greenpeace campaigner, added: “‘Last week BA launched a campaign telling us that video conferencing was no replacement for business flights, and now we hear that Willie Walsh thinks that he can simply offset the damage his planes do to the climate.”

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