APAC airlines target net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, urge governments to back sustainable fuel

White airplane model emitting fresh green leaves on blue background. Sustainable travel; clean and green energy; and biofuel for aviation industry concept.

A group of airlines across the Asia Pacific have committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, pinning their hopes on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Members of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) took the pledge last week to make a 1.5 per cent fuel efficiency improvement and work to stabilise net CO2 emissions through carbon-neutral growth, alongside a long-term goal of net-zero carbon emissions within the next 28 years.

Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways, EVA Airways, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air and Cathay Pacific are among the AAPA’s members.

The association has called on the government, stakeholders and industry bodies to work towards developing SAF, which feature heavily in its plan.

To achieve this, the AAPA said it needs support from governments and other stakeholders to commercialise SAF through research, subsidies, incentives, as well as the allocation of resources to ensure cost-effective supplies that meet the needs of the airline industry.

Significant quantities of SAF will be needed to cover the 80 per cent of emissions that result from flights over 1,500 kilometres, which the AAPA said alternative energy sources such as electricity and hydrogen cannot maintain.

Subhas Menon, director-general of the AAPA, said the Asia-Pacific region will make up about 40 per cent of global SAF demand, but the production and supply infrastructure in the region is lacking.

“Sustainability is a global challenge that calls for a global solution,” Menon said.

“Together, we need to ensure that distribution of the burden of reducing carbon emissions is fair and equitable while allowing the industry to recover and restart.

“Allocation of sufficient resources to convert feedstock, like municipal or agricultural waste, waste oils from food production and other biomass for the production of SAF will make a critical difference.

“Investment in emerging sources of energy such as direct carbon capture and carbon sequestration when these become viable could complement the industry’s efforts towards achieving net-zero emissions.”

According to the AAPA, the Asia Pacific was the first region to be heavily impacted by COVID-19, but has now lagged behind other regions in showing improvement in travel demand.

While other regions are easing restrictions on the back of successful vaccination rollouts, borders in Asia still remain largely closed due to low vaccination levels.

Menon said greater collaboration amongst governments to streamline border measures and address vaccine inequity is critical in speeding up air travel recovery.

“A common objective framework to gradually reopen borders will set the industry on the path to much-needed recovery,” he said.

“Aviation is a key contributor to the social and economic well-being of the Asia-Pacific region, and continues to play a very important role in facilitating the transportation of much-needed supplies across the region during the current pandemic.”


Featured image source: iStock/Liliya Filakhtova

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