Updated: Global compromise reached on cutting airline emissions

A compromise agreement has been reached to reduce emissions from aviation fuel by 5% by 2030.

The framework agreed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) aims to contribute to the global aviation sector’s aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The agreement made at the third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) in Dubai on Friday confirmed a global commitment to scale-up the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

The framework includes a new global target to reduce emissions by 5% by 2030 using cleaner fuels.

This is underpinned by a comprehensive package of policies and supporting measures to ensure all regions of the world can start producing and using SAF as soon as possible.

The UK government claimed a leading role in the negotiations in the wake of announcing a further £53 million from its Advanced Fuels Fund to scale up the UK SAF industry and help see five commercial SAF plants under construction by 2025.

A national hub to support the testing and approval of new advanced fuels for aviation was also instigated.

New aviation minister Anthony Browne said: “Sustainable aviation is a promise that the global sector wants to make a reality – that’s why today’s agreement is so important – not only giving a renewed commitment to delivering a net zero future but outlining the next steps in the industry’s flightpath towards it.

“While the UK sought to secure greater ambition, this is a significant moment in our path to sustainable flying. The UK remains steadfast in its commitment to decarbonise international aviation.

“This deal shows that, when the world comes together and cooperates, we can bring about real change.”

Iata director general Willie Walsh said: “Governments have understood the critical role of SAF to achieve net zero emissions for aviation by 2050. 

“The CAAF/3 results add a vision on the shorter, 2030, time horizon that is ambitious. 

“To that end, the CAAF/3 agreement signals to the world in no uncertain terms the need for policies that enable real progress. 

“There is no time to lose. Iata now expects governments to urgently put the strongest possible policies in place to unlock the full potential of a global SAF market with an exponential increase in production.”

He added: “We need to see governments acting on the CAAF/3 declaration with policies that expand SAF production in all its shapes and forms. 

“Despite unequivocal demand signals, the SAF production market is not developing fast enough. 

“We need SAF everywhere in the world, and to that end, the right supportive policies – policies that can stimulate production, promote competition, foster innovation, and attract financing – must be put in place today.”

World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive Julia Simpson, welcoming the agreement by 100 states, said: “Earlier this year, WTTC released its report on SAF calling on governments to take decisive action to unlock the full potential of a global SAF market by focusing on urgently increasing production.

“This is not solely an aviation challenge. Governments, SAF producers, investors and all stakeholders need to collaborate to accelerate the development and adoption of SAF, to ensure a more sustainable and resilient sector.”

Five leading European aviation associations representing Europe’s airlines, airports, civil aeronautics industry and air navigation service providers – partners through the Destination 2050 alliance – said they applauded the inclusion of a 5% CO2 emissions reduction objective by 2030 through SAF use globally, “which will provide a clear signal for the energy sector to develop alternative fuels and attract the necessary investment”.

The first 100% SAF powered transatlantic flight, with up to £1 million government support, is due to be operated by Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow to New York tomorrow (Tuesday). 

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