Climate protection in the Franco-German aviation sector

The majority of aerospace industry suppliers in Germany and France were aware of the need to substantially reduce CO2 emissions

At ILA Berlin, experts from science and industry debated how cross-border collaboration in aviation can drive forward climate protection, and the role that new legal requirements might play in that context.

Speaking at the discussion round entitled ’A duty to act?! Franco-German aviation and climate protection’ at ILA Berlin, Lukas Rass-Masson, a legal expert from the European School of Law in Toulouse, said the days when corporate climate protection was no more than a gesture of goodwill were gone. Court decisions had already confirmed this. Several laws such as the Supply Chain Act, due to come into force in Germany in 2023, showed that human rights and climate protection were becoming increasingly important in the aviation industry. In France, similar climate protection regulations had already become law. Lukas Rass-Masson stressed that companies were important players in the fight against climate change. In the future, if they violated human rights or climate protection laws there would be legal consequences, not to mention the negative impact on their reputations, he added.

Hydrogen production at airports

The consultancy Comworxx has released a study which its managing director Hugo Duchemin wants to use to drive forward green hydrogen production at airports. The aim is to already establish an infrastructure to enable initial flights with the kerosine alternative in ten years time. Other sectors including rail and HGV transport could benefit from this development too. Large airports such as BER and Toulouse-Blagnac as well as fuel companies had shown interest, Hugo Duchemin said. In order to finance the new technology, which would not be profitable at first, state subsidies were conceivable, as was already the case in Australia, or tax breaks, as envisaged in the USA. Together, players from Germany and France could exert more pressure on policymakers in order to effect change at European level.

Small airfields were important for testing new aircraft and the necessary infrastructure, said Klaus-Jürgen Schwahn, managing director of Schönhagen Airfield and chair of the organisation representing the interests of regional airfields (IDRF). Sustainable aviation has long been an important topic for him. Startups are able to test their aircraft in Schönhagen, which cooperates with universities. At the panel discussion he predicted a disruptive future for aviation and called for interconnecting various modes of transport. A new approach to airport operations was needed and had to be realised now. He presented the Innovate to Fly Fund, an alternative to conventional carbon offsetting, to which air passengers can donate to support the development of eco-friendly technologies.

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