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2050 No-carbon-aviation “Moon-shot” for Green Growth

Mar 22, 2016

ICTP president Geoffrey Lipman is pushing for accelerating the search for alternative aviation fuels and propulsion.

In a keynote address to the CAPA Aviation Summit, Professor Geoffrey Lipman, President of ICTP (International Coalition of Tourism Partners), focused on what he called “the new Global Sustainability Agenda,” the existential nature of climate change and a long-term vision of no-carbon aviation.

He referenced connected 2015 Heads of State Summits on Development Financing, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Climate, as well as the 2016 Habitat for Humanity meeting, as a new, UN driven, platform for Green Growth. He noted the 2030 date for achievement of the SDG’s with 17 Goals, 169 Targets and 304 indicators on “The Future We Want,” with 2050 as the ultimate deadline for Climate stabilization.

Lipman said that the Paris Cop 21 meeting had seen a landmark recognition by virtually every State to work together to eliminate all greenhouse gases, as well as a new realization that a 2 degrees’ temperature rise was a maximum permissible increase for tolerable lifestyles. National commitments would be reviewed every 5 years, with a view to ratcheting them to higher levels and a figure of less than 1.5 degrees increasingly emerging as a sustainability goal.

Aviation will be integrated into this framework by an agreement at the end of 2016 through a parallel track in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and he underscored the responsibility of ICAO to at least meet and ideally surpass the Paris directions. It’s “four pillar strategy”, developed with full engagement of the industry has been established to do that – with a combination of technology, infrastructure, operations and market based, carbon reduction measures.

Lipman said that the current ICAO approach has been carefully developed, with the industry and in synch with the Paris UNFCCC process. Despite some fundamental institutional differences around “differentiated commitments” it is moving forward positively – it is an essential step in establishing a global base to control greenhouse gases from the sector.

The core challenge is that while the Aviation consensus has been building, over the past decade, the climate change goal posts have moved significantly. The life threatening impacts are more widely accepted; ice caps are melting, oceans are warming and greenhouse gases are growing – all at unsustainable levels. There are more extreme storms, floods, fires, droughts, air pollution and migration. In short we face an existential threat in a matter of decades, if we fail to act coherently now.

Against this backdrop the current aviation goals, show a 2050 reduction of carbon to 50% of historic levels, while encompassing continuous high growth and very positive socio- economic development. While this is a major control on carbon growth rates it will still leave significant annual carbon output. Aviation – unlike almost all other sectors – has limited projected alternative fuel potential, so its carbon output, relative to other sectors is escalating. This has been estimated to account for between 10-20% of total 2050 annual global carbon output, compared to 2-3% today – without covering other greenhouse gases. Our sector will be increasingly challenged by this unless we adopt visionary new strategies and focus resources to support this.

Lipman said that we need a 2050 No-Carbon-Aviation “Moon-shot” – accelerating the search for alternative aviation fuels and propulsion. Investment in substitutes for fossil fuel is increasing dramatically – from public research and incentives, to industry re-allocation of resources and impact investment.

The new Bill Gates led “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” is raising billions of dollars for this massive refocus on radical technology innovation. Air Transport fuel must be a priority. It will need new coalitions, organization, metrics and financing. On this later point he stressed that any proceeds from market mechanisms, climate taxes or passenger levies on the sector must form a substantial “Moon-shot” funding base, that could be matched from other breakthrough energy sources.

Finally, he called on the entire Travelism sector, to embrace transformation, stressing the fact that we have been prioritized by the G20 and the UN system as a vital employment, trade and development agent, He pledged the support of SUN – a network of prefabricated, solar powered, web connected support centres – as an emerging tool for climate resilience and SDG implementation.

Lipman added that Aviation climate resilience would become a key element of its Green Growth mission.

2050 No-carbon-aviation “Moon-shot” for Green Growth

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