The global representative body of the airline industry, the International Air Transport Association (Iata), has welcomed decarbonisation commitments made by countries at the COP26 climate summit, held in Glasgow in the UK. The association also urged that aviation decarbonisation efforts be underpinned by government policies that were practical and effective.
“Airlines are on the pathway to net-zero carbon emissions, in line with the Paris [climate] agreement,” highlighted Iata director-general Willie Walsh. “We all want the freedom to fly sustainably. Reaching net-zero emissions will be a huge task requiring the collective effort of industry and support from governments.”
The climate commitments of the international aviation sector are not managed under the COP process. Rather, this management is the responsibility of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao), which is a specialised agency of the United Nations and composed of states. Even so, at Iata’s seventy-seventh annual general meeting last month (in Boston, Massachusetts, in the US), the world’s airlines agreed to reach net-zero carbon emissions levels by 2050, in accord with the Paris climate agreement target of restricting global warming to 1.5 °C.
“The pledges made at COP26 show that many governments understand the key to rapid progress is to incentivise technological change and fund innovative solutions,” he pointed out. “This is particularly true of sustainable aviation fuels [SAF], which will play a major role in addressing aviation’s environmental impact – they need the right incentives from governments to ramp-up production.”
One of the outcomes of COP26, regarded by Iata as “notable”, was the signing of the International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration by 23 countries. (The African countries which signed it were Burkina Faso, Kenya, the Maldives and Morocco; the other signatories included France, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.) This document recognised the need for sustainable aviation growth and reaffirmed the role of Icao in implementing short-, medium- and long-term climate targets for aviation. Two key objectives of the Declaration, Iata noted, were to support the development and deployment of SAF and to most effectively implement Icao’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (better known as Corsia).
“We are grateful to those states who have signed the International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration and we urge more countries [to] commit to this initiative,” he affirmed. “The robust and realistic plan to fly net-zero by 2050 agreed by our member airlines can be of great use to Icao member states as they move forward with a global framework and long-term goal for aviation carbon reductions.”