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Sustainable aviation futures: crises, contested realities and prospects for Change

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posted on 26.05.2015, 15:41 by Lucy Budd, Steven Griggs, David Howarth
Purpose This chapter examines the torsions and blind spots that structure the contemporary debate on the politics and policy of aviation. It also generates different scenarios for the future of air travel, which can help to unblock the current impasse about the perceived costs and benefits of aviation and its attendant infrastructural needs. Originality This chapter characterises and evaluates the competing frames that organise the contested realities of air transport. By mapping out the current fault lines of aviation politics and policy, the chapter is also able to delineate four main scenarios regarding the future of aviation, which we name the ‘post-carbon’, ‘high-modernist’, ‘market regulation’ and ‘demand management’ projections respectively. Methodology/approach The chapter problematises and criticises the existing literature, policy reports and stakeholder briefings that inform the contemporary standoff in UK aviation policy. It uses the definition of sustainable development as a heuristic device to map and identify the fault lines structuring contemporary debates on aviation futures. It then builds upon this analysis to delimit four different scenarios for the future of flying. Findings The chapter analyses the contested realities of aviation politics. It re-affirms the political nature of such divisions, which in turn structure the rival understandings of aviation. The analysis suggests that the identified fault lines are constantly reiterated by competing appeals to ambiguous and contradictory evidence-bases or policy frames. Ultimately, the chapter claims that any significant reframing of aviation policy and politics rests on the outcome of political negotiations and persuasion. But it also depends on the broader views of citizens and stakeholders about the future challenges facing society, as well as the way in which governments and affected agents put in place and coordinate the multiple arenas in which a dialogue over the future of aviation can be held. Aviation futures cannot be reduced to the narrow confines of the technical merits or claims surrounding the feasibility of policy instruments.



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Published in

Sustainable Aviation Futures


3 - 36


BUDD, L.C.S., GRIGGS, S. and HOWARTH, D., 2013. Sustainable aviation futures: crises, contested realities and prospects for change. IN: Budd, L.C.S., Griggs, S. and Howarth, D. (eds). Sustainable Aviation Futures. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 3 - 36.


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