The aviation industry is no stranger to challenges. Time and again, it has shown itself to be resilient and adaptable, as evidenced most recently by its strong recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Despite these external impacts, aviation has continued to adapt. The next decade will see the industry face its biggest test yet – the existential challenge of climate change. The actions taken by the international aviation community in response to this challenge will shape the future of the industry.
It is now widely accepted that to limit global warming to 1.5C and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, all sectors of the economy need to rapidly decarbonise and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Aviation is currently responsible for around 2.5% of global emissions. However, that proportion is set to increase as air travel continues to grow year-on-year, driven by population growth and the rise of the middle classes in emerging markets, and as other sectors of the economy decarbonise more quickly.
The aviation industry is now stepping up to play its part in climate action, with both the IATA and the ATAG announcing industry-wide ‘net-zero by 2050’ targets and publishing net-zero roadmaps. In the short-term, there is a heavy reliance on carbon off-setting to deliver against these roadmaps, but post 2030 they call for disruptive change focused initially on SAF and later transitioning to the development of new and revolutionary aircraft and engine technology. The scale of the challenge facing the industry is clearly immense.
The world’s fleet is now majority leased for the first time, having passed the 50% mark in 2021. As a critical enabler of airline fleet composition, we must play a leading role in driving change and advocating for our industry to take responsibility for our footprint. Achieving sustainable aviation is an industry-wide challenge that will only be solved by an industrywide collaborative and coordinated response.