The new report, published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a nonprofit research group, outlines possible ways for aviation to reduce emissions enough to do its part to keep global warming at less than 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, the goal. established by the Paris Agreement. Achieving this goal will require rapid action within aviation and significant political support for technologies such as alternative fuels that do not currently exist on an industrial scale.
Aviation is an industry that is notoriously difficult to decarbonise. Strict operating and safety requirements limit the technology that can be used. The equipment has a long service life, so a plane built today will still fly in 2050. This means that technical progress must be made quickly to reduce emissions decades into the future.
“If you want to decarbonize aviation, you have to start now,” says Lynnette Dray, a senior researcher at University College London.
Keeping emissions low enough to stay below 2 ° C warming would mean reducing annual aviation emissions by 2050 to about half of currently projected levels, a daunting task for an industry that is expected to it will grow rapidly in the coming decades. For the industry to achieve this goal, its emissions should peak and begin to decline by 2030, says Brandon Graver, one of the report’s authors and senior aviation researcher at the ICCT. And to further limit warming to 1.75 ° C, emissions will need to start dropping as soon as 2025.
In the ICCT’s analysis, around 60% of emissions reductions are expected to come from low-carbon fuels.
But new fuels have a long way to go to make that kind of impact. The supply of alternative fuel for aircraft represents around 0.05% of the total fuel supply in 2020. Judging by the figures for 2018, the supply of non-fossil fuel for a full year would feed global aviation for about 10 minutes.