At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York yesterday, aviation industry organizations together with environmental groups called on governments “to set a timeframe for agreement on a long-term target to reduce CO2 emissions from air transport.” The industry representatives are hoping for agreement on a comprehensive 2050 goal for aviation CO2 by the next ICAO Assembly in 2022.
The summit took place ahead of the UN General Assembly and as government aviation representatives were preparing to meet in Montreal at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) summit, where discussions on the industry’s plans for sustainable growth are on the agenda. The ICAO meeting ends on October 4.
Michael Gill, executive director of the Air Transport Action Group, said at the UN summit: “Aviation…is growing to meet the needs particularly of developing economies, but we also recognize that with growth comes responsibility. The industry is committed to further reducing its climate impact.” He added that the long-term goal to halve net total CO2 emissions by 2050 “remains a robust and ambitious focus for industry action in line with the Paris Agreement.”
Gill added: “We urge governments also to adopt a pathway towards a UN-backed long-term goal for aviation and set in place the right policy environments to meet the needs of that goal. Importantly, those policies must be implemented by governments in the short-term to help build a foundation for meaningful long-term reductions in CO2. We can’t wait until 2049 to take action.”
With the ICAO-backed CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) scheme now launched and set to offset 80 percent of the post-2020 growth in international aviation CO2, Gill said he was “encouraged to see 81 States already on board with the voluntary phase” and urged “all other countries to consider being part of this historic venture.”
He noted that $40 billion in climate finance is expected to be generated through CORSIA. “This is the first such market mechanism to be rolled out for a single global sector and is seen as a measure that will help mitigate the growth in air transport emissions while longer-term solutions for CO2 are being ramped-up.”
Alexandre de Juniac, director-general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, noted that the “most promising means to achieving a sustainable future is with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF)…but the potential of SAF is far from being realized because costs are too high. Governments must [therefore] play their role and set a comprehensive policy framework to support the commercialization of this critical key to sustainability.”
“Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) already powers a small percentage of flights, demonstrating aviation’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint," added Kurt Edwards, director-general of the International Business Aviation Council. "However, its wide availability at competitive prices remains a key hurdle. Industry urges governments to implement policies to incentivize the production and up-take of SAF to meet long-term CO2 reduction goals.”
Eric Fanning, chair of the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, concluded the comments, saying: “Environmental performance is key for manufacturers. We’re spending billions on research and development to both make the next generation of aircraft and engines more fuel-efficient and explore the potential of new technologies—like electrification, lighter materials, and new designs—for reducing aviation’s impact in the longer term.”