7 Oct 2009

Air NZ tells govts to get act together on climate change

5:06 pm on 7 October 2009

Air New Zealand says it is doing all it can to reduce emissions and the airline is urging the world's governments to do the same.

In a speech in Hong Kong on Tuesday, airline chief executive Rob Fyfe described international climate change talks as a bureaucratic circus.

Mr Fyfe also took a swipe at the aviation industry over its lack of action and criticised Europe for what he called money grabbing measures under the guise of addressing environmental issues.

Air New Zealand's fuel bill was $1.7 billion last year and the company has acted to cut emissions, including buying new, more fuel efficient planes, and exploring the use of biofuels.

Including the effect of the slump in air travel, Mr Fyfe says its saved 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the past year.

Mr Fyfe recognises the perception Air New Zealand needs to overcome, telling a story about a British journalist wanting to come to New Zealand to see its natural beauty, but being worried it would be like turning up to a Greenpeace rally in a Hummer.

But he is unhappy with the lack of response from the aviation industry and governments worldwide.

Mr Fyfe is particularly harsh on a British air passenger duty which he describes as a money grab, saying it fails to recognise the age of planes flying, or how full the plane is.

He called on governments to get their act together and set a price on carbon, saying he would be prepared to give up the revenue ferrying officials to endless meetings on addressing climate change.

Mr Fyfe says a carbon charge should cover all countries and industries, and it should focus on investment in new green technologies than simply penalising carbon emitting activities.