IBA Insights


A Sustainable Future For Aviation, December 2019

Aviation connects our world and has facilitated the growth in globalization, promoting interconnectivity and transporting food and goods like never before. Climate change and aviation’s impact on the environment have become a key issue across the globe, with ever increasing scrutiny being placed on airframers, engine manufacturers, airports and suppliers to collectively contribute towards the reduction of the industry’s net carbon emissions by 2050. The challenges facing the aviation industry requires multi-faceted co-operation from governments, businesses and communities in order to meet its short term goals and long term ambitions to reduce net carbon emissions.

The aviation industry contributes towards 2% of global emissions. In order to reduce this figure an industry wide approach aimed at combating aviation’s impact on the environment has been set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). These include but are not limited to the implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and from a Governmental and private business level in Europe, through the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking (CS2) and the Singe European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR). The goal of CORSIA is to make all growth in international flights after 2020 ‘carbon neutral’. Operators within the member states of the ICAO producing more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 are required to report their emissions on an annual basis. Operators will in turn have to buy emission reduction offsets from other sectors in order to compensate for any increase in their own emissions, or have the option to use lower carbon fuels which are approved by CORSIA.

At the 2019 Paris Air Show, a landmark joint statement was made with seven engine and aircraft OEM CTO’s issuing their shared commitment to jointly shape the path to a sustainable future for aviation. The three main pillars to the shared commitment entail the continual development of aircraft and engine design and technology to reduce CO2, supporting the commercialization of sustainable, alternative aviation fuels and to develop radically new aircraft and propulsion technology to enable the ‘third generation’ of aviation. In order to realise these goals, a global agreement reached through the ICAO has called for a fuel-efficiency performance standard to be applied to part of the certification process of every aircraft.

Factors including pressure from social movements such as Flygskam; a Swedish phrase which translates as “flight shame” has gained traction across the globe by encouraging people to use trains instead of flying to reduce their individual travel emissions. In order to address these concerns; Dutch carrier KLM has reduced its daily flights between Schiphol (AMS) and Brussels (BRU) from five to four per day and has teamed up with NS Dutch Railways and French-Belgian rail operator Thalys to offer rail services between the two cities. However, on a much larger scale IAG is part of a project with renewable fuels specialist Velocys to open a plant producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from household waste. This project is set to start producing fuel in 2024 exclusively for British Airways and will be the first of its type in the world.

The challenges facing aviation are not insurmountable, nor will they be easy, but from an industry that is tried and tested, proven to be resilient to change and with technology at the forefront of possibilities, it is IBA’s view that the industry will continue to evolve and grow. Emerging economies are expected to contribute towards this growth, according to IATA, global trends in air transport suggest passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037. As growth continues, this will facilitate further investment and innovation into sustainable greener technologies that the whole world will reap the benefits from. Aviation is an industry that is evolving at rapid pace, with collective ambitious long term goals set for 2050, what will the aviation landscape look like in 30 years?

If you have any further questions, comments or feedback on the above please contact Tim.Boon@iba.aero


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