Without deep decarbonisation efforts, the aviation industry’s contribution to global emissions could grow from around 2% to 20% by 2050, analysis by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has found.
The forecast is based on the decarbonisation rates of other industries, alongside growth in the aviation sector.
“But unlike other industries, there are so few alternatives to air travel that
it’s hard to avoid emissions without doing away with the basic product,” BCG
said in a report. “Reducing aircraft emissions in any significant way therefore requires decarbonisation.”
Technical and operating efficiencies, emerging technologies, bio-based sustainable fuels and carbon removal technologies are identified as the key solutions. The analysis suggests that 30%-60% of the shortfall between projected emission levels and net zero could be closed via synthetic fuels, electric aviation, and hydrogen fuel cells and combustion.
Efficiencies that reduce average fuel consumption by at least 1.7% annually could meet 30%-40% of the emissions shortfall, while biofuels could close 10%-30% of the gap. However, the report highlights several challenges, such as hydrogen production and storage, current insufficient advances in battery technology for long-haul electric aircraft, and the cost of biofuels.