Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and airlines are currently facing increased pressure from politicians, investors and more importantly, the general public to improve their CO 2 footprint. Decarbonization is a major challenge for the aviation sector given the size of the machinery in operation, the need for energy dense fuels and slow incremental changes in technology. Currently, this sector emits more than 900 million tonnes of CO2 a year (over 1% of global emissions), and if nothing is done to change this, it is predicted this will double by 2050.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recognizes that the aviation industry has global challenges that must be addressed to tackle climate change and has adopted a set of ambitious targets to reduce CO 2 emissions from air transportation:

  • Fuel efficiency – Average improvement of 1.5% per year from 2009 to 2020
  • Carbon-neutral growth - Cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020
  • Reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels

In order to achieve these targets, IATA has proposed four pillars to the key stakeholders in the industry:

  1. Improved technology, including Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
  2. More efficient aircraft operations (fuel efficiency and design)
  3. Infrastructure improvements, including modernized air traffic management systems
  4. A single global market-based measure, to fill the remaining emissions gap

The industry is on track for the short-term fuel efficiency goal, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has put in place the CORSIA system (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) to achieve the mid-term carbon-neutral growth goal.

Within the EU, net zero CO 2 reduction from all flights within and departing from the EU can be achieved by 2050 through joint, coordinated and decisive industry and government efforts. The European aviation industry is committed to reaching this target and to contribute to the goals set in the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.

In recent years, an impressive number of technological solutions contributing to the 2050 goal have been proposed and many related projects have been initiated. These consist of numerous aircraft (airframe and engine) technologies as well as sustainable aviation fuels, operational and infrastructural measures. We believe only through fundamentally new technology of aircraft and engines can aviation achieve a long-term sustainable reduction in emissions output and, as such, this should be the primary focus for the aviation industry in terms of achieving a true green footprint.

In order to encourage and incentivize green financing in aviation, an approach following the Transition Pathway Initiative (“TPI") is being pursued by some selective airlines and lessors. This approach builds the foundation for aviation entering the green financing space.

Download the September 2021 report now (PDF)