Decarbonization of air transport need of the hour

The 42 signatory states of the document “call on all partners around the world to work together” to achieve carbon neutrality.

An appeal to the “whole world” was launched in Toulouse this Friday, February 4. This “Toulouse declaration”, launched under the aegis of the French presidency of the European Union, aims to encourage measures to be taken in order to achieve, by 2050, an aviation sector that will no longer contribute to global warming. The signatories of the document “call on all partners around the world to work together” in view of the 41st assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a UN agency) convened at the end of September.

The text is signed by 42 States, the 27 of the Union, but also in particular the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Morocco and Georgia. Dozens of organizations and companies, including airports, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and energy companies, also initialed the declaration, revealed the French Minister Delegate for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, welcoming a moment ” history »

Gathered in the French capital of aeronautics, headquarters in particular of Airbus, the signatories wish that at the ICAO, the countries adopt “an ambitious long-term objective for international aviation, namely net zero carbon emissions by 2050”. The document notes that many countries and international institutions, as well as groups federating airlines and aeronautical manufacturers, already supported this principle of “net zero” in the middle of the century. This is particularly the case of the EU, the United States and Iata, an organization of some 300 airlines carrying out more than 80% of world traffic. But some big emitters like Russia and China have set the deadline at 2060.

This appeal, which has no binding value, is counting on a ripple effect to convince other countries. Mr. Djebbari had previously mentioned Brazil, India, South Africa or the countries of the Middle East. “The idea is to arrive at the ICAO GA as fully armed as possible in order to get everyone on board,” the minister pleaded on Friday during a closing press conference, saying he believed “that there is an international consensus currently being forged” on the 2050 target.

To achieve carbon neutrality in 28 years, the signatories support inter alia “improvement of aircraft technology, improvement of operations, use of sustainable aviation fuels, market-based measures, pricing of carbon, financial incentives and support for environmental and climate innovation in the sector”. In particular, they want “effective and ambitious intermediate steps” to be put in place to ensure progress. They also underline “the importance of international cooperation within ICAO to guarantee fair conditions of competition at the global level”, while the companies are concerned about different constraints depending on the geographical area, distortions of competition . If they say they take “into account the growing expectations of civil society in terms of decarbonizing transport, in particular aviation”, the promoters of the declaration do not mention a possible limitation or forced reduction in air traffic, as claimed. by NGOs, or limits to the criticized use of carbon offsetting mechanisms.

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