Skift Take

The aviation industry's target of achieving net zero emissions is a necessary step to combat climate change but it will be enormously difficult as the number of people taking to the skies shows no signs of slowing down — especially as destinations are reopening. IATA's new hire of an industry outsider signals that it will be a priority.

The International Air Transport Association announced on Monday that it hired Marie Owens Thomsen to serve as its chief economist effective January 4, 2022. She replaces Brian Pearce, who retired from IATA earlier this year after serving as the organization’s chief economist since 2014.

One of Owens Thomsen’s biggest responsibilites at IATA is to lead the aviation industry toward hitting its ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050. The organization approved a resolution last month at its annual general meeting in an effort to match the goal established by the Paris Agreement for global warming not to exceed 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius).

Owens Thomsen joins IATA from Swiss bank Lombard Odier, where she’s served as head of global trends and sustainability since last year. She also has worked in various roles for, among other companies, Merrill Lynch, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and HSBC.

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“I am joining IATA to contribute to the aviation sector which has been a formidable long-term driver of economic growth. I’ll do this with a research approach that identifies causal factors for critical issues and their high-priority solutions,” Owens Thomsen said.

“This is important as aviation begins the recovery from Covid and continues the journey to net zero emissions. I look forward to a future where aviation can flourish within a sustainable global economy.”

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Tags: airlines, aviation industry, carbon emissions, iata, sustainability

Photo credit: The airline industry faces the tall order of trying to reduce emissions while trying to ensure profitability for airlines. Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

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