The aviation industry is one of the most difficult to decarbonize. Now, everyone agrees that there is no silver bullet, but that the path to net-zero will consist of many technologies that complement each other, each serving a different range of mission capabilities. It is also very clear that, if it has a chance of success, it must be increasingly characterized by collaboration between industry players, governments and regulatory bodies.
It calls for political stability
Speaking at IATA’s 78th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS) currently taking place in Doha, Qatar, the organisation’s Director General, Willie Walsh, called on governments to a long-term commitment to aspirational decarbonisation. The purpose of air travel at the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) later this year. Mr Walsh said,
“The decarbonization of the global economy will require investments in all countries and across decades, especially in the transition from fossil fuels. Stability of political matters. At the IATA AGM in October 2021, the airlines IATA members have taken the monumental decision to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. As we move from commitment to action, it is critical that the industry is supported by governments with policies focused on uu same goal of decarbonization”.
Walsh calls for stability in regulations and policy frameworks. Photo: IATA
People expect industry and governments to work together, Walsh says
One of the main obstacles to large-scale investment in decarbonisation technologies such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has been the uncertain nature of the regulatory framework landscape. Many believe that if governments get behind a goal like net-zero by 2050 through their representation in ICAO, it means they will work more effectively to harmonize stipulations and potential “carrots and sticks” in the form of grants and mandates.
Some believe that the ICAO will establish such a target, if not immediately at the assembly (which should be held from September 27 to October 7 this year), then soon after. Others say that much more effort is needed to reach a consensus, and we are in long discussions before reaching an agreement. Mr Walsh belongs to the more optimistic group, saying,
“I am optimistic that governments will support the ambition of the industry with an agreement on a Long Term Aspirational Goal at the next ICAO Assembly. People want to see aviation decarbonize. They expect the industry and the governments work together. The industry’s determination to reach net zero by 2050 is firm. How would governments explain the failure to reach an agreement to their citizens?
IATA says that research shows that 75% of people want airlines to focus on reducing their climate impact. Photo: Getty Images
IATA says that research shows that improving the environmental impact of airlines is seen as a post-pandemic priority for passengers. As many as 73% of the people questioned want the aviation industry to focus on reducing its climate impact. Meanwhile, two-thirds of people have been reported to express concerns about potential taxation that is not directed towards decarbonisation efforts.
Do you believe that ICAO will succeed in setting a long-term goal during the assembly this fall? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.