Industry leaders who are trying to cut carbon emissions from the global business jet and turboprop fleet said on Wednesday they had taken a major step forward and were on track to meet their targets until 2050.
The Business Aviation Climate Change Engagement, a collaboration of organizations representing manufacturers, operators, refuellers and service providers, has attributed its success to improvements in alternative fuels, technology, infrastructure and operations, as well as carbon offsets.
Between 2010 and 2020, the business aviation sector improved its energy efficiency by 2% per year, achieving one of its main targets across its entire fleet of around 38,000 aircraft. The group is now renewing this same objective until 2030.
Much of the success took place between 2015 and 2020, when the sector emitted 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 less than expected, the group reported. These figures included a drastic 26% drop in aviation activity across the fleet in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An existing target for 2050 – reducing CO2 emissions to 50% from 2005 levels – remains on track, but members have set an ambitious new target for business aviation, on platforms at turbine, electric and hybrid, to achieve zero net CO2 emissions by 2050.
“It is highly dependent on technological improvements introduced by our industry and significant adoption of sustainable aviation fuel. [SAF]Said Thomas Fissellier, chief strategy and analysis officer at Bombardier Business Aircraft, who presented the data at Wednesday’s press conference.
Burning SAF emits significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fossil-based aviation fuel. It is made by mixing conventional fuel with various renewable materials, including cooking oil, vegetable oils, agricultural residues and municipal waste.
Relying only on SAF and improvements in technology and infrastructure will not allow the business sector to reach net zero by 2050, Fissellier said. To achieve the goal, Fissellier said the purchase of carbon offsets will be necessary.
Carbon offsets are investments in activities that reduce carbon emissions.
“It’s really up to our operator community to make up for that,” he said. “The good news is that there is actually a very strong interest among operators and among all associations to move in this direction… to help us get there. “
Potential challenges to achieving Net-Zero
However, there are obstacles to meeting the 2050 targets, including limited access to SAF. “It’s just not available and available,” said International Business Aviation Council chief executive Kurt Edwards. “We need a lot of it as soon as possible. “
The argument from this point of view, he said, is that the demand for SAF is not obvious. As Edwards pointed out during the presentation, airlines are showing signs of demand by making long-term commitments to use SAF. “But they can’t get the fuel right now, or… they’re just getting it in the dribbles. In addition, the general aviation community has pushed lawmakers to make SAF more available.
It is important to ensure that the SAF “is produced, scaled up and available to the fleet,” said Edwards. “SAF will probably be one of the most critical tools to enable us to achieve the goal of net zero carbon by 2050.”
General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce expressed concern during the presentation that a proposed tax regime in Europe would threaten the group’s 2050 goals.
“For the business aviation industry to avoid taxes, we need to be able to use sustainable aviation fuel,” Bunce said. “But if you can only get it in their deployment structure at the major hub airports and you don’t recognize a ‘reservation and complaint’ system… this tax is very debilitating for the industry and I am extremely concerned about it. that.”
A reservation and complaint system allows SAF carbon reductions to be documented and fully traceable throughout the fuel supply chain.
How aviation contributes to global emissions
According to GAMA, global CO2 emissions from business aviation represent about 2% of all aviation and 0.04% of total human-made carbon emissions worldwide. Civil aviation as a whole contributes around 2% of global CO2 and 3% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The business aviation sector has improved the energy efficiency of its products by 40 percent over the past 40 years, according to GAMA. Business jets built in 2050, GAMA predicts, will be 45% more fuel efficient than those built in 2005.