IATA’s new roadmaps highlight steps to reach net zero by 2050

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has unveiled a series of roadmaps aimed at providing step-by-step detailing of critical actions and dependencies for aviation to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The roadmaps address aircraft technology, energy and new fuels infrastructure, operations, finance, and policy considerations leading to net zero, and will be a critical reference point for policy makers.

The roadmaps address aircraft technology, energy and new fuels infrastructure, operations, finance, and policy considerations leading to net zero by 2050

With the adoption of a Long Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) at ICAO’s 41st Assembly, governments and industry are aligned to reach the same net zero CO2 emissions goal by 2050.

“The roadmaps are the first detailed assessment of the key steps necessary to accelerate the transition to net zero by 2050. Together, they show a clear direction and will evolve as we dig deeper to set interim milestones on the way to net zero. I must emphasise that the roadmaps are not just for airlines,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, adding that governments, suppliers, and financiers need to take action in aviation’s decarbonisation journey.

He remarked: “The roadmaps are a call to action for all aviation’s stakeholders to deliver the tools needed to make this fundamental transformation of aviation a success with policies and products fit for a net-zero world.”

In addition, a peer-to-peer review, complemented by a modelling tool provided by the Air Transportation Systems Laboratory at University College London, was conducted to calculate emission reductions for each technology during the development of the roadmaps.

The roadmaps will be crucial in ramping up sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production. As a drop-in solution, SAF is expected to deliver about 62 per cent of carbon mitigation needed to achieve net zero by 2050. However, while SAF is expected to be fully implementable with future aircraft fleet, it still has major inter-dependencies on policy, aircraft technology, energy infrastructure, financing, and operations for which these roadmaps are critical.

Marie Owens Thomsen, senior vice president, sustainability and chief economist, IATA, shared that the roadmaps show where all stakeholders should focus their efforts.

She said: “By 2050, we need to be at net zero carbon emissions and the steps to get there, that are outlined in these roadmaps, will evolve as the industry’s expertise grows. Policy is particularly important early on as it, to a large extent, sets the scene for private sector investors to move. With that, the private sector can decarbonise at scale and with speed.

“Without the right policy incentives and bold investments, many of the technologies and innovations simply won’t happen at scale. Everything is related, and that is why we have the five roadmaps to tie all the parallel elements together and give our stakeholders, including governments, a complete understanding of everything that needs to happen.”

The launch of the roadmaps was welcomed by the Airports Council International (ACI) World, which called for the continued collaboration of aviation stakeholders in building a sustainable aviation industry.

ACI World’s director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, shared: “The whole aviation ecosystem needs to work together with common purpose, and we urge states, regulators, fuel producers, and the financial sector to all play their part too. The onus is on all of us so that aviation can continue to play an important role in the economic and social well-being of communities worldwide.”

The IATA Net Zero Roadmaps can be viewed here.

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