Oil giants & governments must invest more in sustainable aviation fuels; IATA

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Oil giants and governments across the globe must focus more to channel their investments to support sustainable aviation fuels as the airline industry is looking to increase its environmental goals, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) chief said.

During the IATA Global Media Days, the trade body’s director-general Mr. Willie Walsh said, increased production could lower the price of sustainable aviation fuels as global airlines continue to invest in cutting their carbon footprint even in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aviation industry has faced a severe backlash from climate change activists to reduce its carbon emissions. In 2009, IATA pledged to halve carbon output by 2050, compared with 2005 levels but has not updated its target since then, despite emissions rising due to a pre-pandemic air travel boom.

Willie Walsh
Willie Walsh
Director General – IATA

“The time for talking is over, the time for action is now, we want everybody in the industry to play their part and to raise their game significantly to ensure we can meet the targets that are necessary for the industry. We recognize that we do need to update our targets. Our intention is to bring a proposal to our annual general meeting, which we will be held in Boston between October 3-5 and you can wait for the AGM and you will hear from IATA in relation to our new goals.”

Even though airlines are working to cut down their carbon emissions, they cannot do it on their own and there is a feasible path towards carbon neutrality if governments, oil companies and aircraft manufacturers contribute to do their part, the IATA chief said.

“What will be unacceptable to us is if everybody who benefits from our industry in the wider aviation chain thinks that the airlines will just write a big check. We’re not going to do that; we will clearly pay the price that is necessary but we expect others to invest and pay the price as well,” he added.

Oil companies should turn their attention to sustainable aviation fuel production, in the same way as they focused on jet kerosene for many years, and rest assured that there will be demand from global airlines, Mr. Walsh added.

Airlines are increasingly committed to buying sustainable aviation fuel despite it costing three times more than jet fuel, Mr. Sebastian Mikosz, senior vice president of environment and sustainability at IATA, said during the event.

The industry has increased its consumption of sustainable aviation fuel by 55 percent in 2020 and this is expected to rise to 70 percent in 2021. “This is a fraction of what we consume. It’s 0.01 percent of total fuel consumption. This is why we need sustainable aviation fuel development,” Mr. Mikosz said.

Limited supply and higher prices of sustainable aviation fuel are limiting increased consumption. The use of credible carbon offsetting schemes, increasing the production scale of sustainable aviation fuel and improvements in aircraft technology are part of the solutions for decarbonizing the industry, IATA said.

Related: ACI pledges to reach net-zero emissions by 2050; Sets long term carbon goal