A coalition of the world’s leading airlines, airports, air traffic management providers, and aircraft and engine manufacturers announced a commitment for the industry to achieve net zero carbon emissions aviation by 2050, in support of the Paris Agreement goal to limit global temperature increases to 1.5ºC.

The industry goal was announced with the publication of a new declaration, “Commitment to Fly Net Zero,” by several major aviation industry associations* and supported by companies throughout the aircraft supply chain**. The new target marks a significant increase from the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) prior ambition, set in 2009, to cut aviation’s net CO2 emissions in half by 2050.

esg playbook

The aviation industry has come under scrutiny as a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, responsible for 2-3% of global emissions, and one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize. Several initiatives are being pursued in order to address the climate impact of the industry, typically involving efforts to improve aircraft efficiency, develop sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), or create aircraft utilizing low or zero carbon propulsion systems such as electric or hydrogen-based.

The declaration outlined some of the key steps and initiatives the industry will pursue to achieve its net zero ambition. These include a transition away from fossil fuels and towards increased use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), as part of an energy shift including low-carbon electricity and green hydrogen. SAF is generally produced from sustainable resources, like waste oils and agricultural residues, or even from carbon captured from the air, and can generate as much as 80% less lifecycle carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.

Additional steps will include the development of new airframe and propulsion systems, the introduction of electric and potentially hydrogen powered aircraft, and accelerated efforts to identify and pursue other technologies with the potential to contribute to the decarbonization of the sector.

Click here to read the declaration.

*Industry organizations: Airports Council International (ACI), CANSO, IATA, International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and ICCAIA.

**Companies: Airbus, Boeing, ATR, CFM, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, Safran, Embraer, and Collins Aerospace.