A new way of raising ambition in net zero aviation is being developed by the Aviation Impact Accelerator team. The team made up of experts from around the world are building digital tools which allow us to imagine new futures for the aviation sector. These tools are being used to develop the 2030 Sustainable Aviation Goals, a set of actions which if implemented by 2030 would significantly cut the time required to achieve zero emission flight.
RE:TV have today released a film which explains what the Aviation Impact Accelerator is doing and previews the four 2030 Goals.
Watch RE:TV video describing the work of the AIA and previewing the four 2030 goals here:
The 2030 Goals were first previewed at COP28’s Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum, an event hosted by the COP28 Presidency and The King on the first two days of COP with the aim of bringing together heads of state and CEOs to drive meaningful climate and nature action. The aviation was co-chaired by Prof Rob Miller, AIA lead, and Haldane Dodd, CEO of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). The forum included industry leaders like Rolls-Royce, regulatory bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and sustainable finance executives from investment institutions like Bank of America.
“Rapid action is needed by industry and governments if we are to set a pathway to achieve zero emission aviation by 2050. These four goals demonstrate the ambition and urgency required if we are to get onto credible pathways”Prof Rob Miller, AIA Lead, at COP28
Aviation is a major contributor to climate change, with its greenhouse gas emissions accounting for 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, and with a total climate impact of around 6% once the non-CO2 emissions are included. Though the uncertainty of the climate impact of non-CO2 emissions has a high uncertainty. Rapid action is needed from both industry and governments to establish a pathway to achieve climate neutral aviation by 2050.
The four Goals originated from a workshop in spring 2023 in Boston, co-hosted by Cambridge University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with senior government policy experts from the U.S., UK, and EU. The Goals were then developed at a workshop at the Whittle Laboratory convened by King Charles, as his first event post-coronation, including a group of aviation industry CEOs, alongside senior Government representatives. The workshops provided the groups with a set of advanced modelling tools, developed by the Aviation Impact Accelerator team, a sort of ‘Minority Report’ style tool, which provided policy makers with a special ability to explore how policy, technology and system integration could be used to accelerate change. Each of the four goals is specifically targeted to raise ambition in a particular area of aviation.
Goal 1: Operation blue skies
The first 2030 Goal would be to remove the clouds formed by aviation. Around one in 30 flights produces a persistent contrail, a region of cloud which can trap in heat to the Earth, increasing the climate impact of aviation. The climate impact of these non-CO2 emissions climate is estimated to be around the same size as the CO2 emissions impact of aviation, though the scientific uncertainty of the magnitude of this effect is large. However, this effect can be avoided if the aircraft changes altitude in regions of the atmosphere where there is a potential to form clouds. The Goal is to trial and then deploy a contrail mitigation system which can start operation before 2030.
Goal 2: Truly sustainable SAF
The second 2030 Goal is designed to ensure that Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are delivered in a truly sustainable way. Recently, Virgin flew the world’s first 100% SAF transatlantic flight. However, the quantities of feedstocks, biomass, and hydrogen required to scale SAF are immense, and if not properly regulated, the aviation industry will steal scarce resources from other sectors, resulting in their emissions rising. The Goal is to put in place the global policies by 2030, required to minimise the wider impact of SAFs on climate and nature.
Goal 3: Unlocking hydrogen transformation
The third 2030 Goal is designed to accelerate the demonstration of the key technologies required to develop a long-haul hydrogen aircraft. The low weight of hydrogen fuel, even once the weight of the tanks is included, makes hydrogen advantageous for long-haul flight, and the introduction of hydrogen would remove CO2 emissions from flight. Demonstrating the underlying technologies would act to dramatically cut the time to deliver such an aircraft. The Goal is to set up a ‘moonshot’ style programme which would demonstrate several key underlying technologies and infrastructure by 2030.
Goal 4: Driving a new aviation business model
The fourth 2030 Goal is designed to drive a new business model in the aviation sector. The current business model has successfully reduced fuel consumption, achieving an average decrease of about 1% per year in fuel burnt per passenger per kilometre. To enhance this trend, a strategic shift in incentives and/or regulatory frameworks is necessary. The Goal is to put in place incentives by 2030 which drive demand and fleet management and operations to deliver a 40% reduction in fuel burn per passenger km by 2040.
“Time is of the essence because we’ve got to do a whole sector transition, introducing new policy, new technology, new types of fuel and it’s all got to happen incredibly quickly.”Beth Barker, AIA Manager, in the RE:TV film
The Aviation Impact Accelerator team is currently working hard developing the four 2030 Goals ready for publication later in the year. In his opening speech at COP28, The King said, “I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action.” The 2030 Sustainable Aviation Goals have been specifically designed to provide industry leaders and policymakers with a clear roadmap, significantly raising ambition and driving action.