As the aviation business aviation community resets its sustainability goals with a march toward net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, Europe and the U.S. alike are moving towards broader environmental mandates with similar goals and an array of potential taxes, incentives, and research projects under discussion, according to Marc Ehudin, director of government affairs for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Speaking during AIN’s Building a Sustainable Flight Department forum Wednesday in Dallas, Ehudin provided an overview of the industry’s efforts against the backdrop of actions either already being taken or under consideration in the EU, UK, and U.S.
During NBAA-BACE last month, the industry rolled out a commitment to new long-term sustainable goals including continuing improvement of fuel efficiency by 2 percent per year through 2030 and continued carbon-neutral growth from 2020, along with the net-zero 2050 target. They continue and build on the success of goals already set in 2009, including reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2050, relative to 2005; improving fuel efficiency by 2 percent per year from 2010 until 2020; and achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020.
The new goals were more than a year in the making involving a cross-collaboration spurred by Bombardier and involving other manufacturers and industry participants, Ehudin said, adding they are the result of and take into account multiple factors from aerodynamic advancements to new propulsion types such as electric to the use of sustainable alternative fuel (SAF). Ehudin conceded though, based on current conservative calculations, the industry will need still to do some offsetting in 2050 to meet the target.
However, it is important to set this target because it aligns with goals already set in U.S. and Europe. “We think we’re doing well; we’re trying to get better relatively to 2050.”
Europe is developing a Fit for 55 proposal that calls for a reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels with an ambition of putting Europe on track to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Europe hopes to achieve this through mandates, one of which would involve a carbon tax that would begin at the equivalent of $1.78 per gallon of fuel for business aviation in 2023 and continue from there.
The initiative would also call for the delivery of SAF—widely believed critical to achieving the business aviation goals—to commercial airports. Ehudin expressed concern, however, that general aviation airports also need to have access to SAF. Comments on this plan are due on November 18, he said.
Meanwhile, the UK is looking at Jet Zero to achieve net-zero for aviation by 2050 that is looking at flexibility with multiple solutions, international leadership, and partnerships. This would involve generating demand and providing incentives for SAF, among other initiatives.
In the U.S., a number of stepped-up funding for research programs have been floated, as well as initiatives to promote the expansion of SAF. Europe is more focused on taxes and requirements, while the U.S. is focused on incentives.
While carbon taxes are discussed in the U.S., he does not believe such a measure would make it through Congress in the upcoming years.
However, Ehudin added that what’s happening in Europe will come to the U.S. and “we need to focus on what we can do today to become more sustainable. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be free.”