In this book, a multitude of issues relating to the subject of air transport and the environment has been considered. Those issues range from the global to the local scale; they involve technical and operational as well as policy considerations; and they include both scientific and socioeconomic dimensions. Above all, however, those issues are inherently political. Debates about air transport and the environment generate strong controversy – especially given the emergence of climate change as a global environmental issue of unprecedented significance – and the formulation and implementation of air transport policy involves balancing a wide range of (often conflicting) economic, social and environmental considerations. The provision of air transport services is an issue of international, national, regional and local importance involving powerful alliances, corporations and regulators. Over more than four decades, however, the emergence and spread of environmentalist concerns have led to the growth of other interest groups and movements; subsequently, strongly conflicting, entrenched positions have been adopted by both the pro-aviation and the environmentalist lobbies. To date, in general, air transport policy has been characterised by the attempt to promote the substantial growth of the industry whilst simultaneously attempting to mitigate the most objectionable environmental impacts using a relatively limited range of regulatory, market-based and voluntary instruments. The task of making effective policy for air transport is complicated by several factors: the strong, sustained growth of demand for air transport; the importance of the air transport industry in driving economic growth in other sectors; the strong links between aviation growth, tourism growth and processes of globalisation; the broad popularity of air travel; the fact that the industry is international in its scope, is regulated by myriad bilateral air service agreements (ASAs) and connects places with varying capacity to comply with environmental regulations; and, not least, the considerable uncertainties that remain with regard to some of the environmental impacts of aircraft operations. Above all, air transport represents one part of a much wider context: the considerable international efforts, since the 1980s, to develop ideas of sustainable development and to align economic,
social and environmental activities with broader sustainable development objectives.