The tourism sector, airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturers, governments and international organisations need to work in co-operation to take immediate action to rethink aviation in order to head off the carbon crisis.
The crisis is not at some vague point in the future – it is with us today.
Witness rampant bushfires in Australia and California, the fastest melting of ice in Greenland in 12,000 years and the melting of the permafrost at the Batagaika crater in Siberia. Worryingly, some of these may be signs that we may already be too late.
WTM Virtual as an integral part of the tourism ecosystem, has published a new expert white paper –Decarbonising aviation: The route to net zero for the travel and tourism industry – looking at what needs to be done right now.
The closure of borders and increased concern about travelling, both internationally and domestically due to the Covid-19 pandemic have shown very clearly the aviation sector’s contribution to carbon emissions.
One piece of research estimates that daily carbon dioxide emissions in aviation were 60% lower in early April 2020 than the average 2019 level.
The climate crisis has not gone away while the pandemic has ravaged the world.
In order to limit global temperature rises to below 2°C that the world signed up to in the Paris Agreement and the 1.5°C countries are optimistically hoping to achieve, the air transport sector needs to make significant changes to the way it operates in order to reach zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
This includes supporting the development of e-fuels – sustainable aviation fuels produced directly from CO2 – initially from industrial chimneys which have not yet achieved zero emissions and later taken directly from the atmosphere.
They can be “dropped-in” and mixed with the current fossil fuels used by aircraft.
It will also require by manufacturers to fast-track the development of aircraft powered by electric engines, hydrogen, and fuel cells as well as requiring the sector to adopt new ways of flying.
The new white paper makes a number of recommendations.