Could Carbon Neutral Aviation be a Possibility?

There is a constant debate on how the aviation industry has a significant impact on climate change, as we can see the world is a little over 1°C hotter than during the pre-industrial period.

Some governments have committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050- to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, a new study shows, which may come across as a challenge, but there is hope as technology continues to advance.

What does being carbon neutral mean?

forest image
Deforestation is the second largest cause of climate change | © Rhett A. Butler

Carbon neutrality simply means reducing the offset of carbon emissions in the atmosphere as much as possible in the hopes of it being net zero.

In an interview with Dan Rutherford (Director at International Council on Clean Transportation), he said, “About 2/3 of the estimated reductions through 2050 come from alternative fuels. And the remaining 1/3 come from either efficiency improvements or some limited reductions in demand as ticket prices increase.”

There are two possible alternatives in order to limit the usage of fossil fuels in the aviation industry; one of which is sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). SAFs are meant to be a synthetic replacement for fossil fuels as they are made from excess renewable electricity or from biological feedstocks. A great example of an airline that successfully uses SAFs is  Turkish Airlines, as it produces an 80% reduction in harmful particles such as heavy metals, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur oxides.

The other would be having zero emission planes- and these would be fueled by hydrogen or electricity. If the idea gets adapted to the aviation industry successfully, we could see hydrogen being a cheaper and far more sustainable alternative than SAFs in the hopes of reaching the Paris Agreements’ goal of bringing down global rising temperatures.

Will the aviation industry be able to sustain the industry with sustainable aviation fuels?

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