From: The Green Meeting
Published July 24, 2008 09:00 AM

Sustainability center stage at top air show

A chief obstacle to the true greening of the meetings industry is air travel. According to USA Today, on a New York-to-Denver flight, a commercial generates 840 to 1,660 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger – what a typical driver generates with an SUV in a month. Now, imagine the carbon footprint of 10,000 attendees flying into a Denver convention – even one planned with the intention of being Earth-friendly.

This week in the UK, however, developments at the world-famous Farnborough air show make clear that the aviation industry has started to worry about sustainability. On Wednesday, the Society of British Aerospace Companies held an international summit on the future of aviation and how to make it greener.

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"We recognize that we have a part to play in protecting the future of our global environment whilst growing our industry," said SBAC chief Ian Godden. "We have already achieved so much in this regard and have set ourselves challenging targets to do much more. This conference examines how the entire industry can work together to achieve them."

Along those lines, both the Sustainable Aviation initiative in the UK and the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe have set targets for the year 2020 including reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of fifty per cent; aircraft noise of fifty per cent; and nitrogen emissions of eighty per cent.

To achieve a more eco-friendly future, the industry is looking to advances in aviation technology like more efficient engines and lighter aircraft materials. Planes also would be flown using alternative fuels. Air traffic control could make flying more efficient still (no more “stacks” above airports). Lastly, the industry foresees more carbon offsets and carbon trading in its future.

For organizers of green events, the future of sustainability envisioned by the aviation industry could not get here soon enough. 

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