Greenhouse gases have had devastating impact on the environment, particularly on the ozone layer. ICAO is pursuing the goal to make the civil aviation carbon neutral by 2020. This goal is aligned with the 2015 United Nations resolutions on environmental protection in response to climate change concerns (ICAO, 2016, p. 4). On air pollution, Singapore follows ICAO’s standard that govern the levels of non-volatile particulate matter emissions by aircraft to minimize air pollution from the aviation industry. The standard was adopted to encourage the development of more fuel-efficient planes. In addition, ICAO environmental report highlights requirements regarding carbon emissions. For instance, newer airplanes must meet specified CO2emissions standards. Although ICAO’s main agenda is making air transport green and sustainable, more focus should be on adopting broader initiatives on a global scale to achieve this objective.
Many of the standards adopted by ICAO towards curbing noise, particulate emissions, and carbon levels are mostly at the aeroplane level. For instance, more emphasis is evident within the industry on developing technology that would make aeroplanes more fuel efficient, reduce particulate emissions, and eliminate carbon levels. Therefore Singapore has adopted these elements in its environmental strategy.
Are civil aviation environmental protection standards and practices effective to tackle noise, carbon, and air pollution in the industry?
Problem Statement/ Causes of the Problem
Singapore’s civil aviation industry is committed to the reducation of noise, air, and carbon pollution. Based on statistics from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (2011), it is evident that the industry in the country is focused on adopting plans and standards that tackle the problem from multiple angles. However, various measures are aeroplane-centric in terms of the potentials of technology and design. This view is echoed by Velasco and Roth (2012, p. 625) in their study examining the situation of Singapore’s crucial aviation industry impact on the environment. The country has achieved requirements by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) (Hamilton, 2009, p. 26-27). Velasco and Roth (2012) also acknowledge that the civil aviation industry in the country would greatly benefit from a multi-pronged approach environmental sustainability.
Currently, issues such as the structure of the aeroplane, propulsion, and aerodynamics are the main focus of environmental sustainability in the aviation industry. While the logic of this emphasis is apparent, it would be more beneficial to the environment if policies and actions in the aviation industry would be stakeholder-centric. By involving all stakeholders, including the government, communities, industries, researchers, and designers, the approach would broaden Singapore’s and ICAO actions and standards based on how environmental threats are affecting the different parties (Velasco & Roth, 2012, p. 635-636). It also makes a better cases for collaboration in finding and implementing solutions that go beyond theoretical ideas to actualized actions that bring the overall objective closer to realization.
A comprehensive approach would also prioritize on the sustainable production of fuel, fuel efficient engines, and structural design, which has the potential to reducegreen house gas emissions and air pollution. The solution would account for every product and service that drives the industry, including catering, food production and transportation, greening supply chains, minimal environmental impact in the construction of airports, human resources management, power and waste management efficiency, recycling, physical documentation management, furnishings and work implements, packaging, inspection, and so on. If left unmanaged, these factors have adverse implications, especially to surrounding communities.
If each action taken in relation to the aviation industry was undertaken with environmental conservation in mind, the cumulative benefits would have a profound impact on the entire sustainability agenda. Focusing on one area of aviation is barely adequate to address the endemic culture that contributes to environmental degradation. As much as Singapore’s civil aviation sector is notably ahead of peers in terms of environmental protection, a broader framework has the potential to embed sustainability in all industry processes and activities by allowing the full participation of all stakeholders affected by the sector.
Hamilton, N. (2009). Singapore’s climate change policy and carbon emissions. Innovation, 9, 26–29.
International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO. (2016). On board sustainable future: 2016 Environmental Report. Aviation and Climate Change. ICAO Environment Branch.
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. (2011). Key Environmental statistics 2011, Singapore: Singapore Government.
Velasco, E., & Roth, M. (2012). Review of Singapore’s air quality and greenhouse gas emissions: Current situation and opportunities. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 62(6), 625-641.