Historic net-zero target for aviation agreed

11th October 2022

A ‘long-term aspirational goal’ (LTAG) for net-zero emissions by 2050 was agreed by the global aviation sector at a UN summit last Friday.

The deal follows two weeks of intense diplomacy by over 2,500 delegates from 184 UN states at the 41st International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly in Montréal.

Nations agreed that the LTAG will rely on multiple CO2 emissions reduction measures, including the accelerated adoption of new and innovative aircraft technologies, streamlined flight operations, and the increased production and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

States at the ICAO Assembly also collectively underscored the importance of viable financing and investment support for the 2050 net-zero goal, and agreed new offsetting requirements from 2030 onwards.

It is hoped that the agreements will ultimately see emission-free powered flights become a reality.

“Countries have achieved some tremendous and very important diplomatic progress at this event, and on topics of crucial importance to the future sustainability of our planet and the air transport system which serves and connects its populations,” said ICAO secretary general Juan Carlos Salazar.

The historic net-zero agreement comes after EasyJet last month published its own plans to decarbonise over the next three decades.

The airline said it would be investing $21bn (£19bn) in more fuel efficient and quieter conventional aircraft, replacing older planes with 168 Airbus NEO models. It also said it would be investing in optimising flight descents to save fuel, hydrogen-powered aircraft, and carbon removal technology.

IEMA’s Digital Journalist Tom Pashby spoke with IEMA members working in the sector to gather their views on the plans.

Magdalena Golebiewska PIEMA, sustainability manager at EasyJet, told them: “Our ultimate ambition is to achieve zero-carbon emission flying, with hydrogen showing the most potential for a short-haul airline like ours to fully decarbonise.

“Hydrogen, in the form of fuel cells or combustion, does not release any carbon while SAF still emits carbon during the flight.

“For us as short-haul airline, we believe SAF will be an interim fuel and we will use SAF as required, bringing emissions down in the meantime, until we transition to carbon-free flying.”

You can read Tom's full blog here.

Image credit: Unsplash

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