Last week, ICAO adopted a long-term global aspirational goal (LTAG) for international aviation of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The agreement is historic and reinforces the leadership of ICAO on issues relating to sustainability in international aviation and its fight against climate change, states the UN organization.
ICAO’s accord put great pressure on the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has still some homework to do before a fixed date is set for ocean shipping to become climate neutral.
The date is now engraved in stone. Until 2050 – at the latest – global civil aviation is to become carbon neutral. The delegates of the 41st ICAO Assembly, representing 193 nations, agreed on
this goal at their Montreal-held meeting on 07OCT22. In view of national egoisms, dozens of grave conflicts between nations and new or traditional antagonisms it is a "historic agreement on
an ambitious collective long-term goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050," reads an ICAO statement. "The adoption by States of this new long-term goal for zero-carbon aviation, following
similar commitments by industry groups, will make an important contribution to the green innovation and implementation momentum that needs to be accelerated in the coming decades to ultimately
achieve zero-emission powered flight," ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano stressed.
Following the Assembly’s vote, a new ICAO program will be launched to ramp up the production and introduction of sustainable aviation fuels in passenger and cargo transports. Its evocative name: "ACT-SAF." To push the net-zero issue forward short-term, ICAO decided to organize a conference on alternative fuels by next year. This is also important because alternative fuels, especially SAF, remain being a rare commodity. And because of that, SAF is three to four times more expensive per gallon compared to fossil fuel. Not every carrier, nor every airline, is willing or able to shoulder this extra price out of their own pocket. Because the supporters are threatened with financial competitive disadvantages compared to the hesitant and procrastinators. But the latter must be careful not to be excluded from air transports mid-term because SAF is a rare commodity and will remain being so in the near future even if its production is ramped up, as ICAO advocates. Hence, the nay-sayers must watch out not to shoot themselves in their own foot by driving themselves out of business.
In addition to Sustainable Aviation Fuel, ICAO also strongly supports efforts to use hydrogen and renewable energy in air transportation to achieve the net-zero target. Without mentioning Airbus by name, however, this should be a clear hint that ICAO considers the aircraft manufacturer's planned construction of hydrogen aircraft in the middle of the next decade as a flagship project in commercial aviation for net-zero flying.
First come, first served
Meanwhile, a possible cut-throat competition between the Air and Ocean sectors for SAF supply is emerging. Caroline Yang, CEO on bunker craft operator Hong Lam Marine and president of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), is quoted by Splash247.com, a platform of Asia Shipping Media Pte Ltd. as saying that it was vital shipping coalesced and aggregated significant demand for new fuels. She issued a stern warning to the maritime industry that although prices and availability of alternative fuels remain questionable other better resourced industries will be chasing the same resources. According to the motto, first come (and pays), first served.
Back to ICAO: Not everyone is enthusiastic about the 41st Assembly’s decision. Criticism comes from the organization Transport & Environment. They claim that the ICAO target is merely a "cheap compensation program." The measures advocated by the aviation organization would only offset 22 percent of total international greenhouse gassed emitted by aircraft in 2030. So far, non-binding targets have never lowered CO2 emissions in aviation, say the T&E experts. This will only happen through legal requirements and the levying of charges for CO2 emissions. In the case of passenger transports the fees must be levied from departure to final destination, despite any transits at hub airports. The same applies to emissions caused by air freight shipments including the entire supply chain from production to delivery.
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