Sustainable, renewable, green: the buzz words of the environmentalists figured large at this week’s Dubai Air Show. At the last show two years ago, such things barely registered.

This time we’ve had airline Etihad rename a Boeing 787 Dreamliner a “greenliner” and Airbus unveiling an experiment in which aircraft follow each other to reduce drag and save fuel. It mimics bird flight.

No press conference seems complete without a reference to aviation efficiency, and the president of Emirates airline even praised activist Greta Thunberg for helping focus minds on what they had to do.

Trouble is, not only does aviation contribute 2% of global emissions, that figure is set to rise over the next few years. No wonder critics reject aviation’s pledge to become sustainable as hollow.


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