Commitment to Fly Net Zero

Aviation brings together people, businesses and communities. We operate around the clock and around the world to keep the world connected, in normal times supporting nearly 90 million jobs and well over 4% of global GDP. Those connections have never been more keenly missed than in the last two years as travel has stalled, families have been kept apart and trade has suffered. Air connectivity supplies essential links between regional communities and the wider world, which would otherwise necessitate the development of expensive and challenging ground infrastructure or result in time-consuming travel.

As the global community emerges from the pandemic and the aviation sector rebounds from the worst crisis in its history, we will build on the success of previous sustainability efforts to push towards the third era of air transport: net-zero carbon global connectivity.

Scientific consensus shows that the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC goal would greatly reduce the severity of climate change damage. It is imperative that all sections of society and business set course to support achievement of this goal. The collective air transport sector raises its ambition with a new long-term climate commitment:

Global civil aviation operations will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, supported by accelerated efficiency measures, energy transition and innovation across the aviation sector and in partnership with Governments around the world.

The sector will continue implementing efficiency measures. Some companies are aiming to meet the net-zero commitment at an earlier stage, whilst some parts of the world may need a little extra time to build the required capacity. Airline members of IATA have committed to a net-zero carbon goal by 2050. The business aviation community has also adopted this goal. A number of airlines and other industry players have already made individual commitments, including to earlier net-zero goals. For example, ACI member airports at a global level have committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and urge governments to provide the necessary support in this endeavor.

This goal is ambitious and challenging for air transport. It will require coordinated efforts within the aviation industry and from partners, particularly strong support from governments and the energy sector. The goal will be underpinned by a commitment to joint and cooperative action between all stakeholders. Waypoint 2050 outlines a number of key elements to achieve the decarbonisation of air transport, including:

  1. Increasing use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and a transition away from fossil fuels by mid-century as part of a wider aviation energy shift including low-carbon electricity and green hydrogen.

This will require a rapid scale-up in SAF production with significant progress required this decade as well as exploration of increasing green hydrogen and low-carbon electricity use in aviation’s energy transition. Governments and the energy industry have a fundamental stake in this transition and need to step-up their actions quickly and comprehensively with investment in production and research. It is estimated that up to 445Mt of SAF may be needed annually by 2050 in order to meet the net-zero goal. It is estimated that the level of investment required in SAF production alone will be in the order of $1.45 trillion over 30 years (around 6% of typical oil and gas capital expenditure on an annual basis). Government policy, including direct support for SAF, can work in tandem with industry commitments to accelerate supply of SAF. Aerospace manufacturers are working to support 100% drop-in SAF fleet compatibility as soon as practicable. Aircraft operators will continue to build knowledge to use SAF. Our passengers can also be involved in the transition.

  1. Research, development and deployment of evolutionary and revolutionary airframe and propulsion systems, including the introduction of electric and / or hydrogen powered aircraft.

Airlines have spent over $1 trillion purchasing thousands of latest-generation aircraft since the industry’s first long-term climate commitment in 2009. Manufacturers have already delivered significant efficiency improvements of around 90% since the first jet engines and will continue investing in improvements in existing aircraft and new models. New technologies based on radical configurations, electric, hydrogen and new forms of propulsion have the potential to contribute to decarbonisation of the short-haul fleet, but challenges remain for longer applications. Industry manufacturers will accelerate efforts to investigate these possibilities alongside the research community and with the support of government research programmes. The availability of green or low-carbon energy sources in sufficient quantities will be critical to achieve the industry goals. Analysis suggests that up to 43Mt of green hydrogen and 470 TWh of low-carbon electricity may be needed by 2050 to meet the needs of a new technology short-haul fleet.

Additional green hydrogen and low-carbon electricity may be required for SAF production. This will need to be accounted for by Governments and the energy sector alongside transitions in other parts of the economy. In parallel, once these technologies are viable, appropriate airport infrastructure will be needed to enable these operations at scale. For medium- and long-haul aviation, liquid fuels (in the form of SAF) will likely be the primary energy source until at least 2050. Government agencies must also be ready to work with the sector to ensure safety certification of new technologies and full SAF transition.

  1. Continued improvements in efficiency of operations and infrastructure across the system, including at airports and air navigation service providers.

Air navigation service providers will accelerate collaborative efficiency improvements, striving to minimize excess fuel burn in all phases of flight with the goal of reaching 95-98% overall efficiency as soon as possible. Governments must commit to supporting airspace efficiency improvements. Airports will ensure that ground operations are able to support reductions in aircraft fuel use and the CO2 impact of their operations are also reduced to net-zero.

  1. Investment in high-quality carbon offsets in the near-term and carbon removals opportunities to address residual CO2 emissions in the longer-term. In this regard, the industry reaffirms its [full] support for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) as an effective transitional measure to stabilise net emissions from international aviation.

Across the sector, we are already undertaking a vast range of activities to reduce aviation CO2 emissions. Our unwavering commitment to respond to the challenge of climate change has not abated despite the crisis we have faced. To achieve net-zero, the sector will require a supportive policy framework from governments focused on innovation rather than cost-inefficient instruments such as uncoordinated taxes or restrictive measures, as well as a robust and full commitment from the energy industry and other stakeholders. As support at the global level is critical, we urge ICAO member states to support adoption of a long-term aspirational climate goal at the 41st ICAO Assembly in 2022.

Many long-term solutions require an acceleration of activity in the next decade, particularly the deployment of SAF. Some, such as continued efficiency gains, improvements in air traffic management and the implementation of CORSIA, can provide early climate action whilst longer-term measures are developed.

We are committed to ensuring that aviation in 2050 will be able to meet the needs of over 10 billion passengers, connecting the world safely, securely and importantly, sustainably.

Whilst the vast majority of aviation’s decarbonization plan can be accomplished through the measures outlined above, residual emissions will need to be dealt with. In the short- and medium-term, this will be through high-quality offsets that meet the robust sustainability criteria outlined in the ICAO CORSIA system. In the long-term, carbon removals through technology or natural solutions will provide the ability to hit net-zero CO2 emissions with the cooperation of governments and the energy industry.

Although we are focused on reducing the immediate and long-lasting CO2 impact, the aviation industry will also continue to support scientific work on other climate effects of air transport, including non-CO2 factors, for which we need better understanding, quantification and scientific certainty. The sector’s adaptation to a changing climate must also be subject to further analysis.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira

Director General

Simon Hocquard

Director General

Willie Walsh

Director General

Kurt Edwards

Director General

Jan Pie

Chair

Pete Bunce

President and CEO

Supported by innovation and action throughout the supply chain:

Guillaume Faury

Chief Executive Officer

Stan Deal

President and CEO

Stefano Bortoli

Chief Executive Officer

Gaël Méheust

President and CEO

John S. Slattery

President and CEO

Christopher Calio

President

Warren East CBE

Chief Executive

Olivier Andriès

Chief Executive Officer

Francisco Gomes Neto

President and CEO

Stephen Timm

President