New Report Calls for Net-Zero Aviation by 2050

 - October 5, 2021, 12:20 PM

The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), an industry umbrella organization consisting of major aircraft and engine manufacturers and organizations such as IATA, IBAC, A4A, and GAMA, issued a declaration today stating that “global civil aviation operations will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, supported by accelerated efficiency measures, energy transition, and innovation across the aviation sector and in partnership with governments around the world.”

That affirmation was contained in Waypoint 2050a newly issued report by the group, which noted that by 2050 the aviation industry will move more than 10 billion passengers a year, with traffic levels 2.5 times greater than in 2019. While the report stated that emerging technologies such as hybrid power, electricity, and hydrogen could contribute between 12 and 34 percent of the emissions reductions required to meet that net-zero goal, the bulk of the savings—53 to 71 percent—is projected to come from sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The remainder would be covered by operational improvements and infrastructure, and carbon removal or sequestration.

The report further states that the industry will need 445 million tonnes of SAF in 2050, and to reach that amount ATAG estimates a required investment of up to $1.45 trillion over the next three decades.

“This is a conservative analysis based on rigorous sustainability criteria and feedstock constraints,” said ATAG acting director Haldane Dodd, who added that with supportive government policy and the backing of the energy sector it will be possible to achieve this investment. “It shows that a build-up in capacity from sources such as agricultural, municipal, and industrial wastes is available today.”

The report was welcomed by many in the industry, including ICAO, the UN’s aviation governing body. “The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports are unequivocal about the threats now posed to humanity by climate change,” said ICAO council president Salvatore Sciacchitano. “I’m sure that all ICAO member states join me today in welcoming this latest and very ambitious net-zero target adopted by the air transport industry so that our global sector will continue to do its part.”