The chairman of Gatwick, Sir David Rowlands, has recently commented that the aviation industry is failing to deal with the issue of climate change. He said that the airlines are too focused on telling the public about the efforts they have taken to reduce global warming rather than actually planning their future actions. Rowlands commented that the industry is obsessed with telling people how green it is becoming while doing relatively little in reality. He cites the recent biofuel flight is the perfect example of something which draws a lot of media attention but which really does very little to help the environment.
Sir Rowlands said, “The airlines keep telling people how fantastic it is that they have run a biofuel flight however if you listen to what environmental commenter’s are saying it seems that this is not actually a useful achievement.”
Along with Willie Walsh Sir Rowlands has criticised government policy on aviation describing a lot of it is ‘complete nonsense,’ specifically he dismisses the arguments that the third runway at Heathrow is unnecessary because of a high-speed rail link. Recently though, his focus has been on criticising the private sector and he has called on airlines to work together rather than fight each other on the issue of environmental responsibility.
Recently he has urged airlines to hold discussions with environmental advocates. He has stated that a useful dialogue can be opened if the airlines start communicating with the reasonable part of the green movement. The aviation industry accounts for over 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK and this is a figure that needs to be discussed and dealt with. Right now, the airlines are simply not interested in discussions and this is not something that can continue, at some point the airlines are going to have to deal with the future.
The Sustainable Aviation body has backing from BAA and British Airways and Sir Rolands says that it needs to be funded in a different way if it is to be a truly independent body. It was founded by the aviation industry and if it wants to be taken seriously it needs to become unbiased.
He commented on the issue, “We need to find a middle ground between airlines and the green lobby, debates need to be conducted in an independent forum and deal with the interests that both parties have. The airline industry needs to adopt a collective approach and start focusing on collective good and dealing with those who are concerned with how the industry will work to protect our environment.”