Aviation sector unconvinced it will meet 2050 decarbonisation target

The majority of aviation experts are not convinced that the sector will become carbon neutral by the stated 2050 goal, a survey from GE Aerospace has found.

Some 325 aviation decision-makers from companies across the world were interviewed for the survey.

Just 46 per cent said they believed the industry will meet its net-zero goal by 2050, while 32 per cent said it will not, with 22 per cent unsure. On average, respondents believe the target will be met by 2055 and identify rising costs, budgetary pressure, supply issues and energy resources as the biggest hurdles.

Just 29 per cent of respondents said that governments were the external group applying the most pressure to accelerate sustainability efforts, followed by investors at 17 per cent.

As may have been expected, 61 per cent of those polled said they had a preference for incentives and policy support over mandates and regulation.

Aviation, which accounts for approximately 3 per cent of total CO2 emissions worldwide, is considered a hard-to-abate sector due to a lack of technologically mature alternatives to traditional jet-fuelled engines.

With electric and hydrogen aircraft still relatively limited in their range, short- and medium-term decarbonisation efforts are focused on efficiency measures and lowering the carbon emissions of jet fuel by mixing conventional fuel with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Respondents ranked increased SAF investment as the number one most important role for the government to play in reaching the 2050 goal.

One European sustainability executive noted that the transition to SAF shows the most immediate promise saying, “SAF is probably the leading alternative at the moment that meets the requirements we need in the short term, but the scale and cost of production is a huge barrier that we’ve got to overcome.”

Some 30 per cent of those interviewed identified meeting the industry’s sustainability goal as the top current challenge, surpassing supply chain (19 per cent) and labour issues (11 per cent.

A strong majority (88 per cent) reported that their organisations already have sustainability strategies in place, with most saying that sustainability strategies have already had a major or moderate impact on how their company operates.

Allen Paxson, a VP at GE Aerospace, said: “These results show that the aviation industry is focused on the goal of achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, while also recognising the need to accelerate efforts and ensure all key stakeholders are on the playing field.

“With GE Aerospace and our partner engines powering three-quarters of the world’s flights, we recognise the important responsibility we have to meet the industry ramp and do so more sustainably and more efficiently for our customers.”

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Original Source: https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2023/06/aviation-sector-unconvinced-it-will-meet-2050-decarbonisation-target/

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