More SAF and more government investment in SAF
The commitment at the International Civil Aviation Organizations 41st Assembly in Montreal to work towards net-zero emissions for aviation by 2050 is a milestone on the long road to turning the industry green. Read More » Transforming an “aspirational” goal into a physical reality will not be easy. Net-zero emissions from aviation by 2050 won overwhelming support from the 167 member States at the assembly - ICAO has 193 member States – but not everyone was happy with it.
China has remained steadfast in its goal of net-zero emissions by 2060. India is sticking to 2070. Many emerging nations are worried the development of their aviation industries will be constrained if they have to meet the heavy cost of achieving sustainability.
Most concerning of all is that reaching net-zero by 2050 very much relies on building the global infrastructure necessary to produce sufficient sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates around 65% of the mitigation needed for net-zero emissions by 2050 will come from SAF.
Most airlines, including carriers in the Asia-Pacific, have been flying with SAF on a miniscule scale, mainly as test flights or blended with conventional aviation kerosene. Until SAF production reaches scale, flying with SAF will be far more expensive than operating with convention fuel, a disincentive to operating flights, let alone networks, with SAF.
Investment in SAF production must increase exponentially. For this to happen, the civil aviation regulators at the ICAO Assembly who voted for net-zero by 2050 must convince their governments to get serious about SAF production.
Some airlines have signed agreements with manufacturers for SAF supply and also have invested in the sector. But they alone cannot reach the output levels of SAF required to fly global airline networks.
Just as importantly, developed nations must extend a helping hand to emerging economies in any way they can to support the path to net-zero 2050.
Following the conclusion of the Assembly, IATA director general, Willie Walsh, said: “Governments must work with industry to implement an effective global policy framework capable of attracting the financial resources necessary to put aviation on an unstoppable track to net-zero by 2050. There is lots of work to do and not a minute to lose.”
Walsh is on the money. It is up to everyone across the aviation spectrum to play their part in reaching aviation’s net-zero goal.
And if EVERYONE does play their part, there is a chance the net-zero “aspirational” goal will be reached well before 2050.
Associate editor and chief correspondent
Orient Aviation Media Group