The Paths to Net-Zero: Strategies for Reducing Carbon Emissions
The global Business aviation community has long been mindful of the need to mitigate its impact on the environment. In 2009, the industry came together and announced the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change (BACCC)
The global Business aviation community has long been mindful of the need to mitigate its impact on the environment. In 2009, the industry came together and announced the Business aviation Commitment on Climate Change (BACCC) setting ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions and laying out pathways to achieve these goals.
What are these targets? They include a 2% annual increase in fuel efficiency from 2010 to 2020, achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. In recent years, the industry updated these goals to include an updated target of 2% increase in fuel efficiency from 2020-2030 and a new, aggressive objective of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
How can the industry reach these targets? The Business aviation community is focusing on several pathways: the use and development of modern technology, sustainable aviation fuel, operational improvements and modernised infrastructure, and the use of market-based measures.
1. Modern Technology: Developing and adopting new technology is a crucial step in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Business aircraft and engine manufacturers are already leading the way with the introduction of new products to the market, designed to be more efficient and therefore reduce carbon emission. These products include lightweight materials, winglets, fuel-efficient designs, etc. It is essential that the industry continues its advancements in these areas.Furthermore, the industry is actively working on innovative aircraft models using sustainable propulsion such as electric, hydrogen and hybrid systems to power aircraft. The development of Autonomous Air Mobility (AAM) and Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Systems (EVTOLs) also have the potential of drastically reducing carbon emissions from air travel.
2. Sustainable Aviation Fuel: The use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) is crucial in the strategy to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation industry. SAF has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions, by up to 80% throughout its lifecycle, compared to traditional fossil jet fuel. However, the industry currently faces challenges in scaling up production and making SAF available at a competitive price. The industry is accordingly, amongst others, calling for policymakers to regulate in a way that will help accelerate the production of SAF. Additionally, a global and secure “Book and Claim” system could also help increase SAF usage and availability. This system would allow individuals or organisations to purchase, or “book”, a volume of SAF anywhere in the world, even if it is used by a third party. The purchaser could then claim the emissions reduction from the use of that SAF towards internal sustainability programs, market-based measures, or legislative mandates.
3. Operational improvements and modernised infrastructure: Operational improvements and modernised infrastructure are also key in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. These measures include single engine taxiing, using electric power on the ground rather than auxiliary power units (APUs), reducing payload, optimising flight planning for more direct routes, and implementing more efficient operations. By taking these steps, Business aviation operators not only reduce their carbon emissions but also decrease their costs.
4. Market-Based Measures: Finally, Market-Based-Measures (MBMs) are a critical component in achieving the BACCC goals. The measures can come in the forms of taxation, levies, surcharges, etc., and act as financial instruments to reduce emissions and environmental impact. Voluntary contributions are also a valuable instrument – these can be made through the purchase of offsets, although these should only be used once all other emissions reduction opportunities set out above have been exhausted.
While it is true that Business aviation only accounts for a small percentage (0.04%) of the global carbon emissions resulting from human activities, every effort to reduce emissions can have a significant impact on the fight against climate change. The Business aviation industry has set ambitious targets and is focusing on various strategies to achieve these goals, but it is up to all of us to join forces and take action, to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.