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IATA, Partners Create Net Zero Roadmap Guide

[ April 19, 2024   //   ]

The International Air Transport Association, together with several industry organizations, have released the first publication to compare 14 leading net zero CO2 transition roadmaps for aviation.
In creating the Aviation Net Zero CO2 Transition Pathways Comparative Review, IATA collaborated with the Air Transportation Systems Laboratory at University College London, or UCL; the Air Transport Action Group, or ATAG; the International Council on Clean Transportation, ICCT; and the Mission Possible Partnership, or MPP.
The report, announced April 17, aims to provide a “one-stop shop” for airlines, policymakers and aviation stakeholders to better understand the key similarities and differences between the various roadmaps, and their visions for achieving net zero carbon emissions for aviation by 2050.
Specifically, the report compares the selected roadmaps in terms of their scope, key input assumptions, modeled aviation energy demand, respective CO2 emissions, and the emissions reduction potential of each mitigation lever (new aircraft technologies, zero-carbon fuels, SAF, and operational improvements).
Key findings from this analysis include:

  • Possible pathways to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 differ significantly depending on authors’ key assumptions regarding the evolution of decarbonization technologies and solutions. Depending on these assumptions, the resulting role of particular levers in aviation’s decarbonization will be more or less important.
  • All roadmaps assume that Sustainable Aviation Fuels, or SAF, will be responsible for the greatest amount of CO2 reductions by 2050. The role of SAF varies from 24 percent to 70 percent (with a median value of 53 percent). This wide range reflects the uncertainties regarding potential supportive government action, the level of investments, cost of production, and profit potential, as well as access to feedstocks.
  • Technology and operational efficiency improvements are expected to have a similar role in the net zero transition across the roadmaps, together contributing to about 30 percent of the emissions reduction in 2050 in all scenarios.
  • The estimated emissions savings by hydrogen and battery-powered aircraft vary greatly across the roadmaps, depending on whether a strong pro-hydrogen policy is adopted, and on whether there is a rapid decline in renewable energy prices, enabling swifter uptake of electricity-based technologies.
  • To achieve net zero CO2 emissions in 2050, almost all the global roadmaps suggest that the aviation sector will need help from market-based measures and carbon removals to address the residual emissions in 2050. Even if carbon removal technologies are considered an ”out-of-sector” mitigation measure, it is still both urgent and critical to develop these technologies as CO2 will be needed as feedstock for producing power-to-liquid fuels.
    The review “demonstrates that there are multiple levers that can be used in different combinations to achieve the objective of decarbonizing aviation by 2050,” said Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA’s senior vice president sustainability and chief economist. “All these levers will be needed in aviation’s transition. While the impact of each varies across the roadmaps, all roadmaps expect the greatest decarbonization in 2050 to stem from SAF.
    “This report provides airlines, policymakers and all stakeholders with a useful tool to analyze and improve their policy, investment, and business choices. It is particularly important for SAF where strong and urgent public policy support is needed to increase production. Without that, no version of the roadmaps will get us to net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Owens Thomsen said.
    The full report is available at
Achieving net zero CO2 emissions by will need help from market-based measures and carbon removals, IATA said. PHOTO: Port Authority of New York & New Jersey