The range of scenarios reflect the fact that, if aviation is stronger, then it is better able to invest in more efficient technologies. However even in our most ambitious High scenario, 2050 is too soon to have completed the introduction of many revolutionary new aircraft, complete with their fuelling and charging infrastructure. It also reflects the fact that those technologies still seem likely to be best for shorter- rather than longer-haul travel. The CO2 improvements by then, therefore, remain modest (2%-3% in 2050): industry and regulators will need to find ways to boost investment to improve on this. As other studies have found, the final step to reaching net-zero CO2 therefore needs ‘out of sector’ measures such as carbon capture.
No single solution will enable aviation to achieve net-zero CO2, but in all three scenarios here, it is the scaling up of the production, distribution and use of SAF that makes the largest contribution in the long term, with operational improvements helping more immediately. This report will be complemented by EUROCONTROL Objective Skygreen, looking in much more detail at the elements leading to cutting CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
Aviation can do, and is doing, much to achieve its 2050 target of net-zero CO2. In our scenarios, lower growth goes together with lower investment, resulting in worse CO2 performance. The most sustainable outcomes require the aviation industry to work with governments to ensure that the right investments and suitable regulations can be and are being made, within aviation and beyond.