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February 12, 2021

Europe’s aviation sector sets goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050

Europe’s aviation sector has introduced a new sustainability initiative to provide a framework for significant emissions reduction efforts in Europe and globally.

Europe’s aviation sector has introduced a new sustainability initiative to provide a framework for significant CO2 emissions reduction efforts in Europe and globally.

The plan, named ‘Destination 2050 – A route for net zero European aviation’, has been framed around the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.

This comes after the sector declared climate commitments in November 2020 in the Round Table Report on the recovery of European aviation, which called upon institutional stakeholders to join the sector in an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of this year.

The report states that achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 is possible through a combination of four key measures that align European aviation with EU climate goals.

These four measures include improvements in aircraft and engine technologies, the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), the application of economic measures, and improvements in air traffic management (ATM) and aircraft operations.

Together, these measures will reduce emissions by 37%, 34%, 8% and 6% respectively.

The new report further assumes an impact on demand due to the above measures, resulting in the net zero CO2 goal.

Nonetheless, European air passenger numbers are expected 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.

This first pan-European initiative is being led by five European aviation associations: ACI EUROPE, AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe, Airlines for Europe, Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, and European Regions Airline Association.

Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and SEO Amsterdam Economics also contributed in the preparation of this report.

ACI EUROPE director general Olivier Jankovec said: “The decisive and tangible actions set out in this roadmap are unprecedented. Here we have an entire sector not just committing to decarbonisation, but actually charting the path to make it happen and effectively contribute to the EU’s Climate objectives and the Paris Agreement.

“But while we embrace our responsibilities, it is clear that we cannot do this alone. It takes two to tango. Now we need the EU to deliver the policy and regulatory framework that will enable us to deliver net zero European Aviation by 2050. We, therefore, urge institutional stakeholders to respond to our call and now join the EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation we tabled last November.”

In addition, European Parliament has approved measures to cancel competitive access to airport slots throughout the summer as the restriction on air travel continues.

Airlines will now be able to surrender up to 50% of their slots temporarily in the summer starting from 28 March and use as little as half of those they hold without any permanent loss of access.

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