Global airlines have committed themselves to achieving net carbon emissions by 2050, an ambitious challenge for the heavily polluting industry as it begins to recover from the crisis caused by Covid-19.
The target was agreed on Monday by members of the International Air Transport Association, and it comes as the industry faces increasing pressure to take new steps to reduce its emissions.
Aviation, which accounts for about 2 percent of global emissions, is one of the most difficult industries to decarburize, and Iata acknowledged that the goal was a major challenge.
“The unleashing of the aviation industry is a real challenge because we do not have a clear solution in the short term,” said Willie Walsh, CEO of Iata. “But we believe very strongly. . . there is a credible path to net zero. ”
The roadmap of the industry relies heavily on sustainable aviation fuels, which pollute significantly less than traditional petroleum but are currently very scarce.
The plan also includes future and unproven new technologies, including electric and hydrogen aircraft. Any remaining emissions can be noticed by carbon uptake or offsetting, Iata said.
As a sign of concern that governments could act, including environmental taxes if airlines do not take carbon faster, Walsh urged countries to help airlines reach the net zero, rather than punishing them for flying.
‘Restricting flybacks and punitive taxes will stifle investment and restrict flying to the rich. “We’ve never seen an environmental tax really fund carbon-reducing activities,” said the former British Airways boss.
He added that Boeing and Airbus were “not doing enough” to develop new technologies to reduce emissions, and that any airline that did not commit to reducing its carbon footprint would be “measured by consumers”.
Robin Hayes, CEO of US carrier JetBlue, said that, unlike safety, airlines would compete over their commitment to reduce pollution levels.
“We all want the same thing,” he said. ‘Are we going to compete to get there? Hell yes. . . If it leads us to achieve this goal faster, I think it’s very good. ”
The net zero target was met by Chinese airlines, which wanted to delay the commitment until 2060, reflecting the difficulty of persuading developing countries to agree to climate targets that could see an expected increase in demand for flying in the coming decades obstruct.
Walsh said European airlines in particular were already under pressure to accelerate to zero before 2050, and pushed back against China’s proposal.
“Moving it to 2060 would not be a position they would accept,” he added.
Transport & Environment, a group for the climate lobby, said airlines should abolish the billing schemes and focus on mandatory targets for clean fuel and fuel and carbon taxes.
The climate goals come as the industry prepares for a painful recovery from the pandemic in the coming years.
On Monday, Iata predicted that global airlines would lose another $ 11.6 billion next year, compared to an expected $ 52 billion in 2021 and $ 137.7 billion in 2020.
The US industry, utilized by a significant domestic market, is the only region expected to make a profit in 2022.
“We are past the deepest point of the crisis. “While serious issues remain, the road to recovery is facing,” Walsh said.