Destination 2050: Europe’s aviation sector launches plan to reach net zero emissions

Europe’s aviation sector has published a pathway to reaching net zero emissions, outlining the technology, fuel and operational measures needed to get there.

A new report, “Destination 2050 – A Route to Net Zero European Aviation” is backed by five major European aviation associations, and sees all flights within and departing the EU, UK and EFTA realising net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

The plan and related commitments laid out by Europe’s airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air navigation service providers aims to shows collective leadership of the European aviation sector to reduce CO2 emissions, with the goal of making leisure and business air travel in Europe, and globally, more sustainable in the long term.

Four key measures

According to the report, there is an opportunity to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 through a combination of four key measures, subject to support from EU and national policy frameworks. These include improvements in aircraft and engine technologies, sustainable aviation fuels, implementing economic measures, and improvements in air traffic management and aircraft operations.

The report predicts that the additional cost of these measures is likely to have an impact on demand, but also says that European air passenger numbers are projected to grow on average by approximately 1.4% per year between 2018 and 2050, without compromising the sector’s ability to reach net zero CO2 emissions by this point.

Government support needed

The report argues that to make the net zero vision for European aviation by 2050 a reality, while maintaining international competitiveness — quick, decisive joint actions by governments and industry will be needed. It says industry will need to continue to substantially invest in decarbonisation and innovation and make the necessary operational transitions, while governments will need to ensure a level playing field and facilitate the transition through incentives and by reducing investment risks with consistent and stable policy frameworks.