Fri 13 Feb 2009 – The Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr Taïeb Chérif, told delegates at this week’s ICAO Workshop on Aviation and Alternative Fuels that the international aviation community had not yet achieved an integrated approach to alternative fuels and there was a critical need for more global coordination. He suggested ICAO was the recognized forum for that to happen as it was committed to exercising its leadership among all aviation stakeholders, be they States, industry or specialized agencies.
Dr Chérif said that given the anticipated growth of the aviation industry in the coming decades, the need for action to reduce the use of fossil fuels had become a pressing issue. “A variety of approaches, including alternative fuels and the specific challenges they pose, have to be seriously considered,” he told delegates.
He said there had been a recent growing realization about the potential of alternative fuels in the development of balanced and robust strategies to mitigate the impact of aviation on the environment.
“Alternative fuels on their own are not, and never will be, the solution,” he continued. “There are very few low-carbon energy options for reducing aviation emissions, and alternative fuels may be the only option for large-scale use in the short term. Nevertheless, the decision to develop and use alternative fuels must be an informed and responsible one, taking into account total life-cycle costs and carbon footprints.”
Dr Chérif said the current global financial and economic crisis should not be seen as an obstacle but rather as an opportunity. “Alternative fuels can play a decisive role in diversifying the global and national energy mixes, and it may help reduce price volatility in energy markets,” he explained.
“As is so often the case in international undertakings, global cooperation will be essential to ensuring the consistent and standardized use of alternative fuels. At the moment, the international aviation community has not yet achieved an integrated approach to alternative fuels. While regional and national consortia have done an excellent job of bringing together the expertise to consider technical issues, the subject has been addressed in a fragmented way. There is a critical need for more global coordination and ICAO is the recognized forum for that to happen.”
As evidence of ICAO’s commitment, he pointed out that alternative fuels had been incorporated into the work programme of the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection (CAEP) at the request of the Council of ICAO and the Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC).
Delegates heard presentations from international airline, aerospace and fuel industry representatives, together with reports from partners involved in the recent Boeing-led biofuel test flights, including Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines, UOP and biofuel feedstock supplier Sapphire Energy.
ICAO announced it would hold a full conference on alternative aviation fuels in November.
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