The global airline industry has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by investing in sustainable fuel, carbon capture and zero-emissions power sources
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) held its 77th Annual General Meeting on October 4, where its members approved a resolution to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This commitment aligns the association with the Paris Agreement’s goal for global warming not to exceed 1.5C. It’s in line with commitments made by trade groups representing airlines in Europe and the US.
Previously, Iata had only committed to reducing carbon emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2050.
To reach its new goal, Iata has outlined a plan that uses sustainable fuel, new aircraft technology and the development of zero-emissions energy sources (such as electric and hydrogen power).
“The scale of the industry in 2050 will require the mitigation of 1.8 gigatons of carbon,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“A potential scenario is that 65% of this will be abated through sustainable aviation fuels. We would expect new propulsion technology, such as hydrogen, to take care of another 13%. And efficiency improvements will account for a further 3%. The remainder could be dealt with through carbon capture and storage (11%) and offsets (8%).
“Achieving sustainable global connectivity cannot be accomplished on the backs of airlines alone. All parts of the aviation industry must work together within a supportive government policy framework to deliver the massive changes that are needed, including an energy transition.”
According to Walsh, reaching net zero by 2050 will cost the airline industry an estimated $2 trillion. Though the industry is still reeling from the fallout of Covid-19, Iata estimates that airline losses will fall below $12 billion in 2022, compared to a worldwide loss of almost $138 billion in 2020. Global demand for air travel is estimated to rise to 61% of 2019’s levels in 2022.