Twenty countries launched the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition (IACAC) at COP26 on 10 November, committing to working with each other and through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “to reduce aviation CO2 emissions at a rate consistent with efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C.” The countries signing up for the pact include four of the six largest passenger aviation markets: the US (№1), Ireland (№3), the UK (№5), and Japan (№6). China, which is in the №2 spot, and India, which is ranked fourth, did not join the coalition. You can learn more about this coalition’s goals here. Beyond COP26, here is what we heard about sustainability across the industry in the last month.
The US administration has unveiled a roadmap for sustainable air travel, setting a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation space by 2050. Some of the ‘key’ initiatives covered in the plan are developing new aircraft technologies, amplifying sustainable aviation fuels’ (SAF) production, improving operations efficiency, reducing airport emissions, and enhancing airport resilience.
The city of Pittsburgh is getting a new airport, one that many aviation-watchers are saying could serve as a model for new airport design well into the 21st century. The building will be powered by the airport’s own micro-grid which has 10,000 solar panels and five natural gas generators. And during construction, according to the Pitt Transformed site that details the project, “a minimum of 75% waste will be recycled or reused, including concrete from existing ramps that will be reused for new roads.” Harvesting rainwater and other water conservation efforts are also in store.
20 airline members of the World Economic Forum’s Target True Zero initiative committed to utilizing new technologies, such as electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft, to address the challenge of climate change. The development and delivery of novel propulsion technologies — powered by sustainable energy sources — were highlighted as key towards helping the aviation industry minimize its environmental impact. The signatory airlines — Aero, Air New Zealand, Air Nostrum, Alaska Airlines, Amelia, ASL Aviation Holdings, Braathens Regional Airlines, easyJet, Finistair, Icelandair, Iskwew Air, Loganair, Mokulele, Ravn Alaska, SoundsAir, Southern Airways Express, Surf Air Mobility, Viva Aerobus, Waltzing Matilda Aviation, Xwing — operate over 800 aircraft and carry over 177 million passengers on 1.8 million flights a year and hope to use this influence to create market demand for new types of aircraft.
Carbon transformation company Twelve announced it had produced its first batch of E-Jet fuel in collaboration with the US Air Force. The fuel is achieved through CO2 electrolysis and introduces a scalable fossil-free drop-in alternative with up to 90% fewer emissions throughout its lifecycle compared to conventional jet fuel. In true circularity, the CO2 used for the process is captured straight from the air.
Consumers concerned about greenhouse gas emissions from air travel have begun to reduce their emissions from flying by purchasing offsets, or simply avoiding trips. While this increased awareness is great news, consumers have largely ignored another effective approach: booking less-emitting flights. Emissions of different flights on the same route vary greatly. ICCT analysis shows that on average, the least-emitting itinerary on a US route releases 63% less carbon than the most-emitting option, and 22% less than the average option. Therefore, making emissions data available at the point of ticket purchase is important in helping consumers make informed choices.