The aviation industry’s focus on implementing sustainability strategies has resulted in “real solutions being delivered” to reduce carbon emissions, said Jonathon Counsell, Group Head of Sustainability at International Airlines Group (IAG) and Chair of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Delivery Group.

Speaking to the Farnborough International News Network ahead of the Sustainable Skies World Summit 2023 (SSWS23), Counsell said: “Sustainability is a key strategic priority for aviation and we are entering very exciting times as we are starting to see real solutions being delivered to reduce our carbon emissions.

“This event provides a great opportunity to showcase some of the leading technologies including Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), hydrogen, hybrid-electric and carbon removals technology.”

FINN is a proud media partner of SSWS23 and will be filming at the event, which will take place 17-18 April 2023. SSWS23 is organised by Farnborough International, in partnership with the Sustainable Aviation Coalition, and will showcase the latest developments in sustainable aviation technology and provide a forum to discuss how industry can move in earnest from goal setting to implementation of its net zero strategies.

Counsell commented: “I have been honoured to Chair the Sustainable Skies Steering Group to support the programme of speakers and exhibits to help make this a unique event in the aviation sustainability calendar. It has been a real privilege to work with the Farnborough International team who really are world class at organising events such as Sustainable Skies.”

Sustainable aviation fuel

The event will be held just as the industry starts to see a “ramp-up in the supply of SAF”, Counsell said.

“In 2022 we saw approximately 200,000 tons of SAF, we expect this to double in 2023 and in the next two years pass the 1 million tons of SAF supplied in one year. This year we have also already seen the test flight of the Zeroavia 19 seater hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft – the largest in the world and we expect to see further similar such milestones throughout the year.

“Building on the success of last year’s commitment to Net Zero Emissions by 2050 at the ICAO General Assembly this year we have the third ICAO Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels where there is a unique opportunity to agree global ambition for Sustainable Aviation Fuels – we believe that with the right policy support we could see 70% of aviation fuels being SAF by 2050 and 10% by 2030.”

In his role at IAG, Counsell is also ensuring that the airline sector is ready to drive this change.

IAG driving change

“We are very proud to have been the first airline group to have committed to Net Zero Emissions by 2050 back in October 2019 and to get the ball rolling to the global industry commitment in 2021 and the ICAO commitment in 2022,” he said.

“Our priority focus is Sustainable Aviation Fuels where we were the first European airline to commit to 10% SAF by 2030 which represents 1 million tons of SAF per year by then – we have made good progress having already secured SAF supply to enable 25% of this target to be met, ie 250,000 t of SAF in 2030 with $865 million of committed SAF investment. Our plan is to build on this during 2023 enabling us to fully secure the 1 millions tons of SAF in the next three years.

“We are also very proud to be of only two airlines in the world to have achieved a CDP “A” grade in 2022 (and one of only 3% of all companies to be so recognised) in recognition of our comprehensive and robust climate change programme and during 2023 we plan to further build on this success by further strengthening our plans to reduce our carbon emissions.”
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