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Watershed moment as governments adopt net-zero 2050 emissions goal


Governments meeting at the 41st ICAO Assembly in Montréal have agreed to adopt the goal of net-zero carbon emissions for international aviation by 2050, one of the only global sector-specific climate goals.

The goal aligns international aviation with the Paris Agreement and follows a commitment by the industry itself last year and has been warmly welcomed by airports and the aviation industry.

ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said: “The global aviation community welcomes this landmark agreement by States at the 41st Assembly of ICAO.

“This is a watershed moment in the effort to decarbonise the aviation sector with both governments and industry now heading in the same direction, with a common policy framework.

“However, this agreement doesn’t stop there. This is the launching point to accelerate collaboration between industry and governments – in line with our advocacy to be ‘#All4one Aviation Ecosystem.’

“We now need regulators to support airports’ work to develop and implement their decarbonisation action plans, as well as support increased collaboration among all stakeholders to increase the availability of renewable energy, finance, new technologies, to support capacity building, and to address operational and infrastructure adaptations.”

He continued: “Air transport needs to decarbonise so it can continue to connect people, economies, ideas, culture, and business – providing substantial socioeconomic benefits – for generations to come. The world’s biggest challenges will also require people to come together like never before and aviation will continue to facilitate this while delivering its own sustainability goals.

“On a global scale, airports and ACI remain fully committed to reach this net zero goal and we look forward to collaboration across the aviation community to reach this. The road ahead will be challenging, but if we act and support each other as one aviation ecosystem, we can make this a reality. This is the sector that made humans fly, we can make this happen—with governments and industry working together.”

Executive director of the Air Transport Action Group, Haldane Dodd noted: “The spirit of global co-operation has been on show at ICAO over the past year with governments making the most of the benefits of multilateralism. But setting a goal is one thing.

“Making it a reality is where the hard work really begins and we need to continue – and accelerate – the efficiency improvements and energy transition that is already underway across the industry.”

CANSO director general, Simon Hocquard, said: “Reducing the environmental impact of aviation is one of the most pressing issues facing our industry. So we are delighted that Governments have backed aviation’s aim to fly net zero. CANSO and the ATM industry stands ready to play our part in meeting this ambitious goal”.

While IATA’s director general, Willie Walsh, stated: “Now that governments and industry are both focused on net zero by 2050, we expect to see much stronger policy initiatives in key areas of decarbonisation such as incentivising the production capacity of SAF.

“And the global determination to decarbonise aviation that underpins this agreement must follow the delegates home and lead to practical policy actions enabling all states to support industry in the rapid progress that it is committed to make.” 

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