In the two weeks of COP27, people across the world have flown to Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss action on climate change. Aviation is a crucial way to bring us together to tackle this challenge, but at the same time it is a major contributor to the problem. Along with all areas of the global economy, flight must become climate neutral. However, huge uncertainty remains around what technology, policy, finance, and behaviour changes will be needed to get us there.

To mark the end of COP27, the Aviation Impact Accelerator have released a new video exploring our Journey Impact Simulator (JIS). The JIS can be used to explore an A to B flight now and in the future, showing the best possible technology options to minimise climate impact while showing the user the trade-offs in terms of cost, land and electricity required. This tool draws from the whole system model built by the AIA’s international and multi-disciplinary team.

The video is presented in Arabic with English subtitles by Dr Samuel Gabra, a research associate with the AIA who is passionate about scaling up energy access while reaching net-zero. Sam holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MPhil in Energy Technologies from the University of Cambridge, and a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering from the America University in Cairo.

Sam explores a flight from London Stansted to Sharm El-Sheikh in 2035, finding that the model suggests a synthetic jet fuel and hydrogen combustion aircraft as the best options for limiting the climate impact for this particular flight. “Although we reduce emissions by depending on hydrogen and synthetic jet fuel, this comes with a significant cost” he notes. It is startling to see the predicted cost, land and electricity required for these future options. Just one flight from London to Egypt in 2035 using synthetic jet fuel has an estimated electricity requirement of approximately 166% of Egypt’s average electricity use per capita per year.

“The future of sustainable aviation is likely to require a huge amount of energy, which means it is impossible for a single country or region to singlehandedly provide this amount of energy. This presents an opportunity for all countries, especially developing ones, to participate in the future of sustainable aviation. By capitalising on their abundant renewable resources, countries can act as hubs for producing green electricity and synthetic jet fuel” explains Sam.

It is vital that as the world faces climate change adaptation and mitigation, all countries are included in the discussion around the opportunities and challenges involved. Aviation plays a key role in connecting our world, but access to the economic and social opportunities it brings are not equally available. As the aviation industry works to transform the sector, it is not just the climate impact that must be considered but the impact on people.

Sam was interviewed on Egypt Independent about the video, you can find the original article in Arabic on Egypt Independent’s website.

Watch the AIA’s short-form documentary below:

And a longer version here:

Dr Samuel Gabra & Beth Barker