Leadership

Flight Attendants Group: Why We Care About Climate Change

By / Apr 18, 2019 (izusek/E+/Getty Images Plus)

In an op-ed for Vox, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants made the connection between air turbulence and climate change—and why the aviation field has a stake in the issue.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, wants to make it clear that her field has plenty of reason to be concerned about climate change.

In an op-ed for the news site Vox, she cited real-world examples of air turbulence in AFA’s support of the Green New Deal, a measure that critics have implied would aim to ground air travel.

To the contrary, Nelson stated, there was reason for the aviation field to support efforts to prevent climate change.

“It’s not the solutions to climate change that kill jobs,” Nelson said. “Climate change itself is the job killer.”

Nelson’s case tied the issues around climate change to the rising amount of issues flights face in getting in the air and staying there. She spoke specifically of the impact of turbulence caused by climate change.

“For flight attendants and passengers alike, that dangerous, shaky feeling in midair comes from air currents shifting. Clear air turbulence, or CAT, is the most dangerous,” she wrote. “It cannot be seen and is virtually undetectable with current technology. One second, you’re cruising smoothly; the next, passengers and crew are being thrown around the cabin. For flight attendants, who are often in the aisles, these incidents pose a serious occupational risk.”

The essay noted that the global airline industry has worked to support the goals of fighting climate change, including agreeing  to a carbon offset scheme in 2016 tied to the Paris climate accord called Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). And tying into AFA’s role as an employee union, she noted that unions have traditionally been supportive of environmental goals.

Nelson spoke to the mistrust of the Green New Deal in some corners, particularly in relation to job loss, and said it was important to address such concerns.

“Aviation isn’t alone. We all want clean air, water, and to protect our children and their children from climate catastrophe. But working in silos will not achieve the change we need,” she stated. “The best way to work toward that is to fight together.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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