Aviation has a plan to decarbonise – but we need to communicate better

Aviation has a plan to decarbonise

Eamonn Brennan, Director General EUROCONTROL reacts to climate campaigners’ criticism of aviation at the EUROCONTROL Aviation Sustainability Summit, 22 November 2021

Addressing aviation leaders and more than 7,000 people who joined the EUROCONTROL Aviation Sustainability Summit online, EUROCONTROL Director General Eamonn Brennan pointed out the gap between aviation’s public perception and the reality when it comes to sustainability.

“Aviation is responsible for 2% of global emissions, but the perception is that it accounts for 22%. Everybody thinks we are a far greater polluter than we actually are”

“We have lost the PR battle!” Other growing industries, such as shipping or technology, emit more than aviation, yet do not experience the same kind of public criticism. “And even though we have a plan to decarbonise aviation, people don’t know we have a plan, and we are very late to the party compared to other industries”, he said. “As aviation grows, we will see our share of emissions grow before they decrease. This is a very difficult message to sell. But people will continue to fly to go on holiday and do business. It is our job to make it sustainable.”

Eamonn explained there are four very concrete approaches to reduce emissions from aviation: sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), new aircraft technology, carbon offsetting and carbon capture schemes and more efficient use of airspace through optimising ATM.

DG approaches

This plan already has substantial support from the aviation industry that has committed to become climate-neutral by 2050 with many organisations - such as airports - aiming for an even more ambitious timeline. Yet for the plan to succeed and successfully decarbonise aviation, it will be crucial to change public perception and reach the necessary level of support and collaboration, including the cooperation of other sectors such as energy, incentives and regulatory support from policymakers.

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