How Airlines can Chart a Path to Zero-carbon Flying

Delivering sustainable economic growth
Posted May 17, 2020 | Mckinsey&Company, Alex Dichter, Kimberly Henderson et al

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the airline industry faced the challenge of reducing its carbon emissions in line with international goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Airlines have an intrinsic interest in more fuel-efficient flying. In 2009, the industry set ambitious targets that include carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and halving net emissions from 2005 levels, by 2050. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely hurt the industry, and low-carbon goals will be essential in the post-pandemic period say Alex Dichter, Kimberly Henderson et al in this article for Mckinsey&Company.

Modernising fleets and improving operational efficiency are important, but annual industry growth offfsets the emissions that they save. Carbon offsetting holds promise and can serve as a bridge while the industry reduces its emissions, but the transformative option is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Because the industry has long-lived assets, decisions are crucial now, and require collaboration in building financial structures to funnel capital into SAF production.


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