Airlines pledge to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent a year until 2020

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MONTREAL — Members of the airline industry group IATA pledged Saturday to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent a year until 2020, and called on governments worldwide to provide incentives to speed biofuel development.

Representatives from the International Air Transport Association, which represents the world’s largest airlines, also agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2050 during a meeting on climate change in Montreal.

IATA director Giovanni Bisignani said the meeting had made it “absolutely clear that industry is committed to improving environmental performance.

He added that cooperation between states and airlines would be key to lowering emissions.

“Governments have some homework to do, improving air traffic management and accelerating biofuel development by establishing the right fiscal and legal frameworks,” he said.

He also called for “aviation access to global carbon markets to offset emissions until technology provides the ultimate solution.”

The airline industry is responsible for two percent of the carbon dioxide emitted worldwide and up to three percent of emissions linked to climate change, according to the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Governments from around the world are set to meet in December in Copenhagen to discuss a climate change deal on emissions to replace the Kyoto treaty, which expires in January 2013.

Bisignani said the airline industry was ready for the meeting, and would present a strong position that could serve as a model for other industries.