The French National Environment Round Table: “RESEARCH IN THE AIR”
The final recommendations of the recent French National Environment Round Table (“Grenelle de l'Environnement”) made technological innovation for more ecological air travel one of the top priorities.
This first-ever National Round Table on the subject of the environment worked on the basis of reports by public and private bodies and experts in order to set out the future guidelines for sustainable development.
The group in charge of the fight against climate-change began by restating France's previously declared commitment to divide its greenhouse-gas emissions by 4 by the year 2050.
While greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from air transport today are relatively low (making up only about 2% of the world's total CO2 output), they are still likely to increase considerably if present growth forecasts of 5% in the sector by the year 2020 are confirmed in reality. On top of greenhouse-gas emissions, noise generated by planes still remains a major source of irritation, and this despite the progress made over many years.
Support for innovative research
The French National Environment Round Table (“Grenelle de l'Environnement”) set out support for new technology as an urgent focus for research to combat atmospheric pollution resulting from air transport. In the programme against climate-change, participants reaffirmed the ambitious objectives set by ACARE2 for a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions and an 80% reduction in NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions by the year 2020. To support such research, they also backed the proposal set out in the European research and development programme for an ‘ultra-green' plane to be brought into the skies in 10 to 15 years' time by means of major technology transfers.
Other recommendations made by the French National Environment Round Table included the modernisation of air traffic control. European researchers recommended that air traffic controllers be required to help to reduce CO2 emissions by 5 to 10% by 2020. Another aim was to lessen the impact of air traffic in terms of noise by optimising air-traffic fluidity, in particular by introducing continuous-descent procedures. This has always been a major concern for the French Air Traffic Control Authority (“Direction du Service de la Navigation Aérienne”). It has carried out many years of experiments in this area, especially in Marseille, and the improvements made are to be extended to other airports in the future. As part of the fight against climate-change, the study groups inside the French National Environment Round Table also strongly recommended measures to cut waiting times through better rotation of flight arrivals and departures.