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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Branson call for greener airlines
Sir Richard Branson in New York

The global aviation industry must work together to tackle climate change, Sir Richard Branson has said.

Up to 25% of the world's aviation carbon dioxide emissions could be cut if airlines, airports and governments worked together, the Virgin boss said.

Sir Richard last week pledged Virgin profits worth $3bn (1.6bn) towards renewable energy initiatives.

He is now urging others to support a cross-industry forum to tackle the "growing problem" of global warming.

In New York later today, Sir Richard will outline proposals he claims would save over 150m tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

"With global warming, the world is heading for a catastrophe. The aviation industry must play its part in averting that," he said.


The aviation industry is responsible for around 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Sir Richard has written to airlines, airport operators and engine manufacturers stressing the need for the industry to increase the pace at which it changes its practices

The self-made tycoon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that more efficient use of aircraft at the world's busiest airports could make a big difference.

He outlined a "starting grid system" he claims could save "billions of tonnes" of carbon dioxide and cut fuel consumption before take-off by up to 90%.

"Instead of sitting on planes with CO2 spewing out of those planes for anything up to 60 minutes to 90 minutes [while waiting for take-off] you would be towed by a small tug to the starting grid," he said.

"Then the pilot would turn on the engines ten minutes before take-off and then take off."

Smoother descent

There would also be lower noise levels and cleaner air for those living near the airports, he said.

If all airlines adopted a slower and smoother descent method, this would "significantly" reduce fuel used in landing, Sir Richard said.

A single European air traffic control system would "optimise" the use of airspace, he added.

About 12% of global aviation CO2 emissions could be saved if air traffic control systems were more efficient, according to a study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

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