Wishful thinking? Global aviation industry makes net zero 2050 pledge

Airlines, airports and others in the sector face huge challenges to clean up their act, but the backlash for inactivity could be bigger. 

The world’s aviation industry has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, increasing the pressure on major stakeholders to invest in research and development to bring new technologies through that can ease the transition. 

white clouds and blue sky

Last week, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) confirmed the commitment of 193 member countries to the target during a meeting held in Montral, Canada. The announcement comes at a time when grave concerns hang over the sector, which made headlines recently as figures showed that, based on current trends, more carbon dioxide (CO2) could be emitted by the sector in the next 30 years than over the course of its entire history to date

‘Climate change is a global challenge which will only be tackled by nations across the world working together towards clear, shared goals. This week, members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation agreed to 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 flying, but for the wider international commitment to achieve net zero, it represents years of tireless work by the UK and its partners to lead the world towards a clean future for all,’ she continued. 

Aviation, along with shipping, were notably absent from climate agreements reached in 2015 in Paris, and have faced mounting pressure to improve their records, and reduce their impact on the climate and environment. Last year, a report showed that Europe’s five busiest airport – Heathrow, Charles De Gaulle, Frankfurt, Schipol and Madrid – emit more CO2 than the whole of Sweden

Image: Joachim Süß


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