Historic net-zero international flight goal agreed at UN conference
State members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a long-term goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, following two weeks of intensive diplomacy at the UN agency’s 41st Assembly, on Friday.
The goal for decarbonized air transport, which follows similar commitments from industry groups, will “contribute to the green innovation and implementation momentum, which must be accelerated over the coming decades to ultimately achieve emissions-free powered flight,” stressed the President of the ICAO Council Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano.
To achieve this aim, several CO2 emissions reductions measures will need to be put in place, such as the accelerated adoption of new and innovative aircraft technologies, streamlined flight operations, and the increased production and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels.
The issue of viable financing and investment support for these measures was underscored by the countries represented at the Assembly, and there were calls for a third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels to be convened in 2023.
Whilst carbon dioxide emissions from domestic air operations are included in the environmental commitments made by practically all countries in the Paris Agreement – a UN-backed international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015 – emissions resulting from international flights are addressed collectively under the Chicago Convention, which established the rules of airspace in 1947, and associated agreements.
Since 1944, ICAO has helped countries to cooperate and share their skies to their mutual benefit. Since it was established, the agency has supported the creation of a dependable network of global air mobility, which connects families, cultures, and businesses all over the world, whilst promoting sustainable growth and socio-economic prosperity wherever aircraft fly.
Nation states are the decision-makers at ICAO Assembly events, but the multilateral discussions and outcomes, such as the 2050 net-zero goal, are informed by key contributions from industry and civil society groups, who participate as official observers.