Page 62 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2017 publication
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62  Summer 2017 European Energy Innovation


Aviation emissions:

Looking towards the long-term

By Michael Gill (pictured), Executive Director, Air Transport Action Group

    The end of 2016 witnessed a                overall environmental impact of air
                major milestone in aviation’s  transport.
                climate action plan. At
                the 39th Assembly of the       Looking towards the long-term,
    International Civil Aviation Organization  aviation’s goal is to halve net CO2
    (ICAO), the UN body responsible for        emissions by 2050, compared to
    aviation, member states agreed to          2005 levels. This will be a significant
    introduce an economic mechanism to         challenge. It is achievable, but will
    address aviation’s carbon emissions        require substantial commitment
    growth. This scheme, the Carbon            and investment from the industry,
    Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for        governments and international
    International Aviation (CORSIA) is an      institutions.
    historic development which will allow
    aviation to meet its medium-term goal      To meet this goal, the industry must
    of carbon-neutral growth.                  focus on two key areas: developing
                                               new, even more efficient aircraft
    In the years leading up to 2020,           technology and commercialising
    when the scheme will formally begin        sustainable alternative fuel.
    operating, the industry will be focusing
    on capacity building, working with         Sustainable alternative fuels have the
    ICAO to make sure that airlines and        potential to reduce aviation’s carbon
    governments worldwide are prepared         emissions drastically. These fuels can
    for its implementation, as well as         be up to 80% less carbon intensive
    encouraging additional States to sign      over the course of their lifecycle
    up for the initial voluntary stages of     when compared to traditional fossil-
    the scheme, which run from 2021 to         based jet fuel. Alternative fuels can
    2027. So far, 66 States have agreed        be synthesised using a wide range of
    to participate in the voluntary stages.    different feedstocks, from sustainable
    We hope that number increases. But         crops (which do not compete for land
    with those volunteers and the states       with food growing), to municipal waste,
    which will join the scheme in its second,  algae or even used cooking oil. We now
    mandatory, phase, already over 80% of      have five officially approved ‘pathways’,
    aviation’s emissions growth after 2020     or methods by which the fuel can be
    will be covered.                           produced, providing the industry and
                                               its fuel supplier partners with a high
    However, our work certainly does           degree of flexibility.
    not finish in 2020. Although CORSIA
    is undoubtedly a major achievement,        The drive towards the enhanced use of
    its role is merely to ensure that          sustainable alternative fuels has been
    aviation’s growth in emissions is          increasing rapidly over the course
    stabilised, whilst other measures are      of the last few years. Since the first
    gradually put in place to reduce the       commercial flight using alternative fuel

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