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30 Apr, 2007

Emirates Attacks Critics of Aviation’s Role in Global Warming

DUBAI: Emirates airlines has unleashed a full-blown attack on critics of the aviation industry’s role in global warming, with the airline’s executive vice chairman claiming that emissions by European cows were a greater threat than those of aviation.

Writing in the airline’s annual report for 2006/07 released here last week, Maurice Flanagan said, “Airlines are at the heart of the travel and tourism nexus, linking engine and airframe manufacturers, hotels, car hire, tour operators, travel agencies, connected businesses, and the communities which they serve.

“If the Green extremists, and their cohorts in governments and the media have their way, hundreds of thousands of jobs in the travel and tourism industry will be lost in the years ahead, against a very dodgy maybe, unsupported by any conclusive evidence, and with a tide of evidence now sweeping in the opposite direction.”

Since the launch of the Stern report in the UK last year, the airline industry has become hugely defensive about its role in environmental destruction and contribution to global warming.

In a recent speech in Singapore, IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani said, “Beating up on aviation for its record on the environment has become a professional sport in the UK and much of Europe.”

He said IATA is “working hard to oppose short-sighted environment taxes that supposedly benefit the environment.

“The insane doubling of passenger duty in the UK adds a billion pounds to the treasury, but I cannot get an answer from the government when I ask how many trees will be planted with the cash.”

However, Mr Flanagan’s unusual attack raised the rhetoric to new levels.

He said, “I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January and was aghast at the global warming hysteria sweeping the place, with airlines being demonised for their alleged 1.4 per cent contribution to global emissions.

“There is now a multi-billion dollar industry invested in the myth that the future of the planet is at serious risk through global warming caused by what people do.”

Mr Flanagan said, “The Green extremists are impervious to argument, and tend just to quote (former US Vice President) Al Gore’s regrettably persuasive but fundamentally misleading “An Inconvenient Truth” at you.

“Have a critical look at that film, which concludes with a forecast of a global temperature rise of 2.5°F by the end of the century. Mr Gore’s phony graph, however, has steps on the vertical axis of one hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit, so that the temperature seems to shoot up out of control, instead of creeping along the bottom line as it would if presented honestly.

“Mr Gore cherry-picks to suit his case, for example, citing less snow on Kilimanjaro, whereas Darjeeling and the mountains of Pakistan are seeing snow for the first time in living memory.

“Mr Gore cites a few recent years in which the temperature rose, and ignores the years of global cooling after the Second World War, when more carbon emissions were pumped into the atmosphere than at any time before or since.”

According to Mr Flanagan, “Climate changes unpredictably, minute to minute and millennium to millennium. That’s the essence of climate – it changes. Don’t just believe me about all this. Type ‘Global Cooling’ in your web browser and note, for example, the recent articles in The Times of India, the Canadian National Post, the Daily Telegraph and the Russian climatology scientists predicting global cooling.”

Mr Flanagan said that with fuel costs now running at about 30 per cent of a typical airline’s total cost, against about 13 per cent a few short years ago, “the airlines and manufacturers of airframes and engines could scarcely do more than they are already doing about it.”

“In the years to 2025, airline passenger traffic is forecast to double, but aircraft movements to increase by only 2.8 per cent, as average aircraft size significantly outpaces traffic growth. Fuel burn per passenger will fall correspondingly and the 1.4 per cent of global emissions allegedly generated by the airlines will undoubtedly fall.”

He added, “By the way, about that 1.4 per cent – the methane exuded by cows in Europe alone far exceeds the 1.4 per cent of global aviation emissions.”

In another development, Emirates is to launch six-a-week non-stop services from Dubai to Sao Paulo, Brazil, as of October, the first flights to South America by an Arab airline.

The flights will offer “a golden opportunity” to boost bilateral tourism flows between South America and all points on the Emirates network in Asia and the Middle East, according to Mrs Jeanine Pires, President of the Brazilian Tourist Board.

Although the Gulf countries, India and China are expected to be the primary targets of the Brazilian marketing push, she said southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand are also being included in the research to identify customer segments, market profiles and budgets.

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