It was green day at the world’s biggest air show at Farnborough, near London with the centrepiece a sustainability conference attended by the top names in aviation.
The industry contributes just 2% of C02 emissions at the moment, but that is predicted to become 10% within a few years.
Against a backdrop of posters promoting air travel as the greenest way of crossing the globe, Airbus signed up to support an environmental education campaign with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and Boeing committed to reducing climate warming emissions by 25% percent in five years.
Bitter rivals Airbus boss Tom Enders and his Boeing counterpart Scott Carson even put aside their differences in a show of unity over the environment, going as far as to hug each other.
The two manufacturers and their engine suppliers are under increasing pressure to develop more efficient planes. Boeing’s Scott Carson said: “Our economies around the world are being tested, in part due to the higher oil prices, but also due to other influences. Food and energy resources around the world are being challenged. We can use this as an excuse to step back from the environmental concerns; or use that as a stimulus to drive technological change that will reshape the face and footprint of this industry forever.”
Environmental campaigners remain unconvinced by the industry’s record. Anna Jones, of Greenpeace, said: “The airline industry cannot be green if it pursues the expansion of airports because any gains made through more efficient aircraft will be wiped out by the increasing number of flights.”