Air New Zealand CEO derides climate debate ‘paralysis’


Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe lashed out at governments for their “money-grabbing” emissions taxes and criticized ICAO for “its paralysis” on forging an agreement on limiting emissions from aviation.

Speaking at the Greener Skies conference, Fyfe, who runs a carrier that is considered to be at the forefront of the airline industry in cutting CO2 emissions, said, “the inconvenient truth is that we continue to invest enormous resource the world over in debating climate change regulatory frameworks and yet we are failing to take even the most basic steps to actually reduce emissions.”

He warned, “These policy discussions and the hand-wringing over agreeing emission reduction targets are interminable and they are distracting us from the far more important focus of taking action. This is simply a travesty.”

Fyfe said the United Nations climate change discussions amplify all that is wrong with global politics: “Whether under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, ICAO or elsewhere, it’s the same procrastination; multiple conferences of many thousands; turgid presentations and inequitable albeit politically acceptable backroom deals determining the shape of unwieldy global agreements at a glacial pace.”

He pleaded with politicians and airlines to “stop protecting our respective butts in the endless policy debates and start focusing, globally, on concerted action. Just imagine what we could achieve if a tenth of the global bank bailout funds from the past 12 months were directed towards the environment instead.”

He added that it should be irrelevant whether international aviation emissions are addressed under a UNFCCC umbrella or under ICAO, stating that action is much more important.

While slamming the EU for its “money-grabbing imposition of its ETS,” Fyfe applauded the body for at least taking action. But he blasted the UK for its Air Passenger Duty. “It purports to be environmental in nature but has no incentive for carriers to reduce environmental effects,” he said. “It can only be described as a money grab.”