FLIGHTPATH 2050 — a long term vision for alternative fuels for aviation

Recognising its potential environmental impacts, the aviation industry established proactively in 2008 a set of three ambitious goals to reduce its CO2 emissions. These included carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and subsequent halving of net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared with a 2005 baseline.

The industry has made significant efforts to reduce its environmental impact through investment in new technology (including sustainable fuels), improved operating procedures and more efficient use of infrastructure. In October 2016, aviation became the first global transport sector to agree to implement an economic measure to address its climate impact through the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). This measure will allow the sector to cap its emissions at 2020 levels.

Unlike the ground transport sector, commercial aviation does not have the option of electric propulsion technology. Best evidence suggests aviation will require liquid fuel (especially for long-haul aircraft) for at least the next 75 years. Currently, five sustainable alternative fuels production pathways have received technical certification to be used in passenger flights and more than fifteen additional certifications are in preparation. After more than 1500 demonstration flights, two airports are continuously operating with these alternative fuels, one in Europe (Oslo Gardermoen). However, the amounts of these fuels available are still small and barely affordable for airlines, preventing the development of this novel market.

After the unprecedented agreement reached in 2016 at ICAO, two EU policies that are essential enablers for the use of renewable energy by the aviation sector are changing in 2017: the emissions trading system (ETS) and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

Key aviation and alternative fuels stakeholders discuss in this session the barriers, but moreover present solutions to make the sustainable alternative fuels a real instrument for decarbonising the EU aviation sector.