ACI at ICAO’s A41: Reaching Aviation’s Environmental Long-Term Aspirational Goal

Juliana Scavuzzi by Juliana Scavuzzi | Aug 24, 2022

As the aviation industry moves closer to the 41st ICAO Assembly (A41), ACI will be sharing its key advocacy positions that will be presented in the form of Working Papers from 27 September–7 October 2022 to 193 Member States (governments) and a large number of international organizations. The ICAO Assembly establishes its worldwide policy for the upcoming triennium and outcomes will guide other bodies of ICAO and its Member States’ future work in civil aviation. ACI has been working diligently to prepare its advocacy positions and engagement strategy to represent its members’ needs at a crucial junction in time and under the theme: #All4one Aviation Ecosystem.

ACI at A41
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The looming issue

Climate change is a global challenge requiring solutions which can enable initiatives across the globe, promoting a just and inclusive transition to Net Zero Carbon by 2050.  The IPCC’s Special Report (2018) calls for urgent action to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Aviation is a hard to abate sector, requiring a harmonized combination of appropriate policies, access to finance, capacity building, and collaboration.

ACI member airports at a global level committed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and urged governments to provide the necessary support in this endeavor. Made in June 2021, it is the first net-zero aviation-sector commitment at the global level and is based on a comprehensive long-term goal feasibility assessment. ACI is also part of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Net Zero by 2050 commitment made by the aviation industry in 2021.

More than 130 airports have anticipated reaching their target by 2030, or even earlier, while others by 2040. However, support is needed from governments and many other stakeholders for the planning and implementation of their decarbonization strategies and action plans.

What’s in it for airports, the aviation industry, and beyond

The greatest source of carbon emissions for airport operators is the energy used to power terminals and equipment. Therefore, the decarbonization of electricity grids, which in most cases airports have a limited ability to change, will be an essential component in the success of airports in reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Renewable energy is a strategic issue for States (governments) and the global economy. The grid decarbonization will happen unevenly across the globe and green energy could remain a scarce resource for many. States should cooperate and consider the development of policies and mechanisms that could accelerate the deployment of renewables globally, such as power purchase agreements (PPA) and book and claim systems which could be used among stakeholders from different States.

Effective action to achieve net zero by 2050 and sustainable development will depend on the ability of airports and other stakeholders to incorporate sustainability at the core of their corporate governances, strategies, risk managements, and goals. Multi-sector collaboration will play a critical role in ensuring a resilient aviation ecosystem capable of achieving global sustainability goals. Decarbonization is a necessity and the right thing to do. There is ever-increasing pressure on airports and other aviation stakeholders to deliver on sustainability and those are attached to requirements to attract and grant finance. Sharing climate-related risks is becoming a condition for investment. This requires efforts which align mitigation and adaptation initiatives to ensure a sustainable and resilient aviation ecosystem.

Net-zero enablers: Technology, innovation, capacity building, and collaboration

Airports are also embracing technology and innovation, including accommodating new emerging technologies in the aviation market and innovative propulsion methodologies to promote a positive transformation of the aviation ecosystem. This entails the transition to net-zero and improving the services they provide. The importance of collaboration cannot be overstated and needs to reach higher levels, as the challenge is significant and unprecedented. The cooperation of aviation stakeholders to ensure the sustainable development of the sector is critical, particularly regarding the decarbonization of aviation emissions. Some airports can facilitate the deployment of sustainable alternative sources of energy onsite, especially SAF in the short- to mid-term.

No country and no airport should be left behind

The challenge to decarbonize aviation is significant, but airports have committed and are taking action to decarbonize. Support from government and collaboration with stakeholders will be essential for airports to have access to renewable energy, finance, and capacity building to decarbonize globally. Collaboration will act as a catalyst for impact by providing benefits to several stakeholders. Climate change is a global challenge; No country, and no airport should be left behind.

Therefore, ACI will invite the upcoming ICAO 41st Assembly session to recognize airports’ efforts and the challenges they face to decarbonize; support airports’ work to develop and implement their net-zero roadmaps; and support increased collaboration among relevant stakeholders and actions to facilitate the availability of renewable energy, finance, and capacity building.

ACI Working Papers
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Juliana Scavuzzi

Juliana Scavuzzi

Senior Director, Sustainability, Environmental Protection, and Legal Affairs, ACI World
Juliana Scavuzzi is a legal and policy expert specialized in International Law, Aviation Law, Space Law and Environment Law. She is also an ACI Observer to the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) and Secretary of the ACI World Environment Standing Committee (WENSC).
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