The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for governments to adopt a long-term aspirational goal to decarbonize aviation at the upcoming 41st Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The message was given at the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS) in Doha, Qatar, where airlines are mapping out the pathway to the industry’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal.

“At the IATA AGM in October 2021, IATA member airlines took the monumental decision to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. As we move from commitment to action, it is critical that the industry is supported by governments with policies that are focused on the same decarbonization goal,” IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said in a statement.

Walsh also stressed that consistency across global government policies must be observed.

“Achieving net zero emissions will be a huge challenge. The projected scale of the industry in 2050 will require the mitigation of 1.8 gigatons of carbon. Achieving that will require investments across the value chain running into the trillions of dollars. Investment at that magnitude must be supported by globally consistent government policies that help deliver the decarbonization ambition, take into account differing levels of development, and do not distort competition,” said Walsh.

IATA said that results from its recent survey shows that improving the environmental impact of airlines is a post-pandemic priority for passengers, with 73% also wanting the aviation industry to focus on reducing its climate impact as it emerges from the COVID crisis. 

Meanwhile, two-thirds of people polled believe that taxing the industry will not achieve net zero faster and also expressed concern about the money raised not being earmarked for decarbonization projects.

The ICAO assembly meets at least once every three years. During assembly sessions, the ICAO’s complete work program in the technical, economic, legal and technical cooperation fields is reviewed in detail. Assembly outcomes are then provided to the other bodies of the ICAO and to its Member States in order to guide their continuing and future work.

The 41st ICAO Assembly is scheduled to take place from September 27 - October 7, 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

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