Wishful thinking? Global aviation industry commits to net zero 2050

Airlines, airports and other industry players face huge challenges cleaning up their act, but the backlash from inactivity could be greater.

The global aviation industry has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, increasing pressure on key stakeholders to invest in research and development to deliver new technologies that can facilitate the transition.

Last week, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) confirmed the commitment of 193 member countries to the goal at a meeting in Montreal, Canada. The announcement comes at a time of serious concerns over the sector, which has recently made headlines as figures have shown that, based on current trends, more carbon dioxide (CO2) could be emitted by the sector over the next 30 years than in its entire history to date.

“Climate change is a global challenge that will only be met by nations around the world working together towards clear and shared goals. This week, members of the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed on a collective goal of net-zero international aviation by 2050,” said UK Transport Secretary Annie-Marie Trevelyan.

“A historic milestone, not just for the future of flight, but for the wider international commitment to achieving net zero, it represents years of tireless work by the UK and its partners to lead the world towards a future clean for all,” she continued. .

Aviation, as well as maritime transport, were notably absent from the climate agreements reached in 2015 in Paris and have faced increasing pressure to improve their performance and reduce their impact on the climate and the environment. Last year, a report showed that the five busiest airports in Europe – Heathrow, Charles De Gaulle, Frankfurt, Schipol and Madrid – emit more CO2 than the whole of Sweden.

Image: Joachim Suss