Climate Action

Europe’s aviation sector launches ambitious plan to reach net zero by 2050

Europe’s aviation sector has unveiled its flagship sustainability initiative which includes its ambitious plan to reach net zero by 2050.

  • 12 February 2021
  • Rachel Cooper

Europe’s aviation sector has unveiled its flagship sustainability initiative which includes its ambitious plan to reach net zero by 2050.

Driven by a new report, Destination 2050 – A Route to Net Zero European Aviation, it provides a vision and path for meaningful CO2 emission reduction efforts in Europe and globally.

Building on the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal, Destination 2050 sees all flights within and departing the EU, UK and EFTA realising net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

According to the report, there is an opportunity to reach this target through a combination of four key measures, aligning European aviation with EU climate goals – subject to securing the required supporting policy and financing framework at EU and national level. These measures include improvements in aircraft and engine technologies could achieve emission reductions of 37% and using sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) could achieve emission reductions of 34%.

Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director at A4E, said: “This long-planned vision and roadmap for the future of European aviation underlines our sector’s commitment and determination to play our part in tackling climate change despite the current crisis. A robust regulatory framework will be paramount in achieving not only an environmentally sustainable future, but also a financially resilient and competitive European aviation industry as a whole."

Destination 2050 highlights that to make the net zero vision for European aviation by 2050 a reality, while maintaining international competitiveness and aviation’s benefits to society — quick, decisive joint actions by governments and industry will be needed.

Industry will need to continue to substantially invest in decarbonisation and innovation and make the necessary operational transitions, while governments will need to ensure a level playing field and facilitate the transition through incentives and by reducing investment risks with consistent and stable policy frameworks.

This is the first pan-European, industry-wide, long-term vision that comes with concrete solutions to the complex challenge of reducing CO2 emissions from commercial flights within and departing the EU, UK and EFTA. 

Olivier Jankovec, Director General at ACI EUROPE, said: “The decisive and tangible actions set out in this roadmap are unprecedented. Here we have an entire sector not just committing to decarbonisation, but actually charting the path to make it happen and effectively contribute to the EU’s Climate objectives and the Paris Agreement."

"But whilst we embrace our responsibilities, it is clear that we cannot do this alone. It takes two to tango. Now we need the EU to deliver the policy and regulatory framework that will enable us to deliver net zero European Aviation by 2050. We therefore urge institutional stakeholders to respond to our call and now join the EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation we tabled last November."