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Aviation Sustainability Summit – ACI

On 22 January 2020, ACI Europe organised the Aviation Sustainability Summit in Brussels. The event, held under the patronage of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and István Ujhelyi MEP, brought together key stakeholders from the EU institutions and member states, EUROCONTROL, airlines, AIRBUS, NGOs, community representatives and airports.

The summit addressed the need to decarbonise aviation in line with the EU 2050 Climate Neutrality objective and how to achieve more sustainable airports.

The meeting was kicked off by Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, who mentioned climate change as a threat multiplier which will affect the most vulnerable countries. COP25 was not successful in terms of achieving agreements on Article 6 or the Sustainable Development Mechanism, in which CORSIA is expected to fall. Countries will need to up their ambitions and addressing climate change as a responsibility of everyone, as Article 12 points out, including the aviation industry. Travel and tourism account for 8 per cent of CO2 emissions and 10 per cent of GDP. Therefore, the sector must take action – new technology is necessary as well as an effective carbon offsetting mechanism. If businesses fail to follow this trend, they will fail to exist.

During the discussions it was underlined that the Green Deal is the signature of this Commission. Intermodality, SAF, R&D, CORSIA, and so on are all necessary and they are aligning financing to decarbonisation. Additionally, the new Climate Law will be published soon. In order to have leadership in this area, airlines need to invest in new technology. In Europe, operating traffic is not effective. Once the SES is sorted out, we can expect 10 per cent CO2 reductions. It is necessary to incentivise SAF as it is a measure that can be taken immediately without changing engines. SAF is expected to bring 50 per cent carbon reductions, however, it is more expensive than conventional jet fuel and only 0.002 per cent of SAF needed are produced for the current operations. Finally, another solution is research and development; however, hybrid or electric aircraft are not expected to be commercialised in the next 10 years.

It is clear that the transport system of the future will include aviation, but the sector needs to transform.