ACT is the acronym of a new non-profit organization that was formally announced on 28OCT21: It stands for Aviation Climate Taskforce, and the Boston Consulting Group initiative includes 10 founding airlines, all focused on driving innovative solutions to decarbonize aviation. The initiative comes right in time for the UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, from today (31OCT21) to 12 November 2021.
Air Canada, Air France-KLM, American Airlines, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic have all committed to taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Though aviation currently only contributes around 2-3% on average of global carbon dioxide emissions annually, forecasts predict this to increase to 20% by 2050, if the current status quo prevails. The taskforce is therefore focused on a number of green initiatives which include pushing for and implementing “next-generation” technologies and innovation, and looking to adopt near, medium, and long-term decarbonization solutions, such as bio-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), direct air capture and synthetic fuel, and hydrogen solutions. “ACT recognizes that a portfolio approach is needed, and that if the aviation sector aims to decarbonize, the work needs to begin now,” the ACT website ( https://aviationclimatetaskforce.com/ ) states.
Get cleaner, faster
ACT hopes to accelerate breakthroughs in these emerging decarbonization technologies by 10 years or more. As Amelia DeLuca, Delta's Managing Director of Sustainability, pointed out: “We're still too far from real, scalable solutions to clean air travel. We need SAF to be just as accessible as oil and new engine technologies to come to market exponentially faster if we are going to meet industry goals. These coalitions help us more effectively impact our carbon footprint by pooling together resources and funding to define the next chapter of sustainable aviation.” Delta has been carbon neutral already since MAR20, yet aviation as an industry has to come together for the full impact of change. As Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian underlined: “in order to impact climate change we must reimagine aviation. By joining the Aviation Climate Taskforce, we hope to accelerate this next chapter by joining together with other likeminded businesses to drive forward innovative solutions for sustainable aviation.”
Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration
Collaboration features in every member airline’s statement on the ACT homepage. “Combatting global warming requires a global response, and we are pleased to be the first Canadian airline to join the Aviation Climate Taskforce. As a founding member, we will work with other global carriers and invest in emerging technologies to advance the decarbonization of our sector and build a long-term, sustainable aviation industry,” Michael Rousseau, President and CEO of Air Canada, stated. Air Canada has pledged to invest up to $50 million in alternative fuels and carbon reductions to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and some of this money will be invested through ACT.
The ACT website is clear in the taskforce’s compliance with competition rules, stating that it “and its founding members would like to acknowledge the support and assistance of the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in developing ACT's legal and constitutional framework.”
“ACT will support the advancement of emerging technologies through two key pillars, an Innovation Network and Collaboration Forum,” the ACT website explains. The ACT’s Innovation Network, which will be set up in the first year, will be focused on early-stage research, and identify collaboration opportunities to expedite technological breakthroughs. This will partly be done through ACT-initiated innovation challenges, as well as financial support for innovative ideas by way of funding. The Collaboration Forum, called thus because it aims to engage with experts and thought-leaders, will look at next generation technologies and identify ways to speed up their adoption and scale-up. It will support the Innovation Network. Eventually, the taskforce will also set up an Investment Fund to establish capital for the acceleration of emerging technologies to dramatically reduce aviation’s carbon footprint. Members and other third parties will be invited to participate in the Investment Fund.
This is a start
Some of the world’s largest airlines are already on board. “Achieving the ambitious climate goals we’ve set as airlines and as an industry, will require true collaboration within our sector and outside of it. We’re proud to join with other leaders in our industry and the Boston Consulting Group because we know this is the kind of collaboration that will be necessary to drive change, speed up progress, and bring innovations like sustainable aviation fuel to scale sooner rather than later. We look forward to working together with these industry partners toward a shared goal of reducing the impact of air travel on the planet.” Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, said. This is a start, and the ACT actively encourages more airlines and other aviation stakeholders to join, too, announcing to share “further details in the coming months,” on how it is working.
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