Aviation industry adopts 2050 net-zero carbon goal

BOSTON, 5 October 2021 – The global air transport industry has adopted a long-term climate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, confirming the commitment of the world’s airlines, airports, air traffic management and the makers of aircraft and engines to reduce CO2 emissions in support of the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC goal. This updates an earlier industry-wide goal set in 2009 and comes after yesterday’s resolution of the International Air Transport Association membership to adopt a net-zero goal.

In a declaration released today, representatives of the world’s major aviation industry associations and largest aircraft and engine makers committed that “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.”

Haldane Dodd, Acting Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group said: “Aviation has increased its ambition in line with the need for all sectors of the economy to pursue rigorous climate action. Despite having endured the greatest crisis in aviation history, this new agreement shows that our sector has placed climate action as one of its highest priorities. It will be a significant challenge to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but the evidence shows that with the right support from governments and efforts across the value chain, especially the energy industry, it is achievable.”

The industry said that a mix of new technology – including potentially shifting to electricity and hydrogen for some shorter services; improvements in operations and infrastructure; and a transition to sustainable aviation fuel by mid-century would provide a majority of the carbon reductions. Remaining emissions would be captured using carbon removals measures.

“It is also vital for governments to show their support. National policy measures focused on innovation and energy transition are vital. We also urge the member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to support adoption of a long-term aspirational climate goal at the 41st ICAO Assembly in 2022, in line with industry commitments.”