The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed progress being made towards net-zero aviation carbon emissions by 2050.

The update on how the aviation industry is doing with regards to its sustainability targets is contained in a summary of discussions for the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) High Level Meeting held in preparation for the 41st ICAO Assembly later this year.

Walsh calls for formal agreement

“The ICAO High Level Meeting’s support of a long term goal for states that is in line with the aviation sector’s net-zero by 2050 commitment is a step in the right direction. A formal agreement at the 41st ICAO Assembly would underpin a common approach by states to decarbonise aviation. That’s critical for the aviation industry. Knowing that government policies will support the same goal and timeline globally will enable the sector, especially its suppliers, to make the needed investments to decarbonise,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

In October 2021, IATA member airlines committed to net zero emissions by 2050.

SAF and new propulsion

The path to achieve this will involve a combination of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), new propulsion technology, infrastructure and operational efficiencies, and carbon offsets/carbon capture to fill any gaps.

“Net zero by 2050 will require a global transition for aviation to new fuels, technologies and operations. The significant investments to get there will need a solid policy foundation aligned with a global way forward. That is why it is so important for states to carry the momentum of the High Level Meeting through to a formal agreement at the 41st ICAO Assembly in a few weeks,” said Walsh.

Haldane Dodd, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, said the meeting delivered a robust message on a long-term goal for the sector: “The aviation industry has agreed a goal of net-zero carbon by 2050 and this week’s High Level Meeting at ICAO reaffirmed the importance of that common objective.

“These negotiations are challenging as the different approaches of States are explored. But the effort to come together around a common goal of net-zero has been encouraging and lays the groundwork for fruitful discussions at the ICAO Assembly later this year.

“Aviation decarbonisation is a huge challenge that needs investment and innovation from the industry, but also a coordinated approach with ICAO and its member states to set the appropriate policy frameworks required for success.”
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