25 Jan 2021, 12:39
Charlotte Nijhuis

Climate neutral flying is realistic, regulations and technical innovations needed – report

Clean Energy Wire

Bringing aviation in line with climate protection is a realistic goal, but a regulatory framework and technological innovations are needed, according to the Roadmap Climate Neutral Flying, which summarizes the results of discussions with members of the German parliament, the aviation industry and independent experts such as think tank Zentrum Liberale Moderne. There is a broad consensus between the industry, science and politics about the potential for climate-neutral flying, but concrete measures and instruments are needed to make it a reality, the report states. The roadmap presents four approaches to drastically reduce the climate impact of flying: compensation of emissions through emission certificates and carbon offset projects, more efficient flight management through digitalization, more energy-efficient aircrafts and the development of sustainable fuels. In the long term, up to 50 percent of CO2 emissions can be saved through more efficient aircraft and engines, a further ten percent through intelligent air traffic management and around 40 percent through climate-neutral fuels, according to the report. However, due to the long amount of time it takes to develop and certify new aircraft and propulsion systems and replace the fleet, major leaps in innovation are not expected before 2030, the report states.

In December of last year, the German aviation industry presented a joint master plan to bring air transport more in line with climate protection. The plan, presented by leading industry groups such as the German Aviation Association (BDL) and the Association of German Airlines (BDF), commits companies in the sector to the goal of climate neutrality and sets out detailed measures that can reduce emissions. The industry sees the greatest leverage in replacing older aircraft with more energy-efficient ones, though these efforts have largely come to a standstill as a result of the pandemic.

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