Speech by Cora Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the European conference on carbon-pricing and aviation taxes ‘Towards more sustainable aviation’
“We have clear European ambitions. We want to use the Single European Sky initiative to optimise the way aviation is organised. We want an efficient airspace – short routes. And we want to prevent congestion in the air and on the ground. Let’s also seek one another out to make flying itself more sustainable and innovative!”
Dat zegt minister Van Nieuwenhuizen op 20 juni tijdens de Conferentie Europese vliegbelasting en CO2 beprijzing in Madurodam.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Making aviation sustainable, that’s the big challenge, that’s what today is all about. We’re working to achieve sustainability in all forms of transport: by road and by water, and also of course by air.
That entails a lot of technological innovation. Over the past fifty years, planes have become 80 per cent more fuel efficient. And advances continue to be made. That’s great. But it’s only the start, if we’re to make aviation truly sustainable.
We’ve agreed various global targets. Targets aimed at a more sustainable way of living, a more stable climate and a healthier planet. And we’re working hard to achieve them. Making aviation more sustainable is one of the biggest challenges facing us.
We’re working on lighter, more streamlined aircraft, green engines and appealing alternatives for short-haul flights. A lot of technological progress is being made in the aviation sector.
But to complement all the innovation, initiatives and trends towards making aviation more sustainable, we also need a common, international approach to pricing, as to better reflect external costs – such as emissions, noise, air pollution – in ticket prices.
We’ve already taken a number of major steps. Under the EU ETS - European emissions trading system -, emission allowances have been in place for carbon emissions from flights within Europe since 2012. And CORSIA, a global carbon-pricing scheme for aviation, will become operational in 2021. It’s vital that we foster and strengthen these instruments where possible.
At the same time, though, let’s focus on how we can collectively shape a sustainability agenda for aviation while keeping economic and climate interests in balance.
There are some encouraging commercial developments. But the pace needs to be stepped up if climate goals are to be achieved. To this end, targeted use could be made of European research and innovation funds like Horizon Europe, and within that, the Clean Sky programme in particular.
In addition to improving existing technology, I’m also calling for more focus on disruptive innovation. Like electric and hybrid aircraft, and new aircraft designs.
Let’s not forget that in the year 1490 someone from Da Vinci began to draw propellers. In an age when no one believed humans would ever fly.
Last year the new NLR was opened, a Dutch ‘nursery’ of new aviation technology and innovation. An ecosystem of brainpower and creativity, where the aviation industry, research institutes and start-ups can cross-pollinate each other with ideas. That’s crucial for the development of sustainable solutions.
And international cross-fertilisation and collaboration speed up those processes.
Recently, KLM and various partners presented a plan for a bio-kerosene factory at Delfzijl, in the north of our country, which will start producing sustainable kerosene in 2022.
Schiphol, Rotterdam-The Hague Airport, Delft University of Technology, the German company EDL and the Swiss company Climeworks are working together on a pilot for synthetic kerosene.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of the revolutionary new aircraft model designed for KLM by Delft University of Technology: a design that makes aircraft 20 per cent lighter.
According to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Air France-KLM has been one of the most sustainable airlines in the world for 14 years now.
I could go on, but you know as well as I do that here in Europe we have more than enough innovative power. But that’s not the point, I want to make.
For me, what matters is impact.
How do we collectively ensure that all those innovations, all those good ideas come together?
How do we combine forces?
Aviation accounts for 2.5 per cent of all carbon emissions worldwide. In Europe that percentage is slightly higher. And in the future it’s set to increase considerably.
If we don’t do anything…
But we can do something.
Unlike roads and railways, flight routes almost always cross borders, making aviation a very international affair.
By pooling knowledge and expertise, by working together in a European context, we can increase our impact. We can increase our innovative power. We can speed up efforts to make aviation sustainable.
In the interests of a healthy planet, and a healthy atmosphere. But also because it’s a good business case. We are increasingly extracting materials and energy from renewable sources. These are the solutions of the future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here in Madurodam, a miniature city with a miniature airport. And of course, reducing aircraft also saves CO2. But that’s not the solution. This might be a "small city", it’s surely a place for big ideas.
We have clear European ambitions. We want to use the Single European Sky initiative to optimise the way aviation is organised. We want an efficient airspace – short routes. And we want to prevent congestion in the air and on the ground. Let’s also seek one another out to make flying itself more sustainable and innovative!
Together we have the knowledge, the expertise and the sense of urgency to lead the way in Europe!