White Paper – Building Back Sustainably From COVID-19

11.17.2020 | Katherine B. Preston, ENV SP |

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the aviation industry. Reduced flights, closed borders, and the public’s hesitancy to fly have all contributed to a particularly difficult situation, which does not show signs of changing soon.

Although the pandemic is an acute disaster that has (appropriately) captured global attention and demanded an immediate response, there is another disaster unfolding which is the greater threat to the future of our industry and society. The climate crisis is already causing impacts to the economy, environment, and our communities and, if significant action is not taken immediately, the consequences will be dire. The aviation industry must simultaneously work to address its contribution to climate change by drastically cutting carbon emissions and adapt to increased vulnerabilities such as rising sea levels, extreme precipitation events and changing precipitation patterns, more frequent and powerful storms and storm surges, drought, fire, species migration, extreme heat, etc.

As in so many aspects of our lives, this pandemic “pause” provides a unique opportunity to reflect on how we might make fundamental changes to our way of life—by creating a “new normal” rather than “returning to normal.” This new normal should have sustainability and resiliency at its core.

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About the Author
Katherine Preston, Principal Consultant, Aviation, HMMH

Katherine B. Preston, ENV SP

Director, Aviation Environmental Services

Katherine is the Group Leader for HMMH’s Aviation Environmental Services Group and has been involved in the Aviation industry for more than 15 years. She has extensive experience in environmental policy and government affairs and has a passion for sustainability. Katherine has managed traditional environmental review projects, renewable energy feasibility studies, federal research projects for the Transportation Research Board (TRB), developed regulatory guidance, and community outreach tools. In addition, she is an active member of several industry trade associations, including the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) and American Association of Airport Executives.

While working at ACI-NA, Katherine managed the association’s federal regulatory affairs and advocacy on a range of environmental policy issues including air quality, NEPA, water quality, waste management, noise and sustainability. She served as the committee secretary for the Environmental Affairs Committee and eight technical working groups, comprised of hundreds of members from both the public and private sector. Katherine also serves on the FAA’s Research, Engineering & Development Advisory Committee’s Environment and Energy subcommittee, and has participated as a panelist on a wide range of ACRP research projects.

Katherine has experience working for other aviation industry stakeholders as well. Prior to ACI-NA, she was a government affairs specialist for environmental and commercial aviation policy at The Boeing Company, and managed Congressional affairs for the International Air Transport Association.

Katherine holds an M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida.

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