Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Aviation’s decarbonisation challenges

Aviation’s decarbonisation challenges

The IATA Annual General Meeting kicked off with a compelling opening speech from the UAE’s Minister of Economy and Chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), addressing the critical challenges and ambitious strides in reducing aviation emissions. Addressing the 80th IATA Annual General Meeting in UAE, H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, United Arab Emirates, welcomed all the dignitaries, participants and honourable delegates to UAE. The Minister underscored the aviation sector’s unique position in global economic development and its significant environmental impact, asserting the UAE’s commitment to ensuring sustainable aviation growth.

Challenges in Reducing Aviation Emissions

The welcome address by the minister began by highlighting the air transport sector’s extensive history of fostering global partnerships and supporting economies worldwide. However, H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri acknowledged the significant challenges that come with decarbonising aviation. “The air transport sector has a long history of fostering partnership that drives change, connects people and supports economies and communities around the world. However, it is also responsible for 2.5 percent of global CO₂ emissions and about 4 percent of global warming to date.” This growth in emissions has outpaced that of rail, road, or shipping in recent decades, presenting a formidable challenge for the industry and “its one of the challenging sectors to decarbonise” stated H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri.

UAE’s Policies in the Aviation Sector

The UAE has been a leader in the transition towards a low-carbon economy, with aviation playing a key role. The Minister noted that the non-oil sector contributed over 74 percent of the UAE’s GDP in 2023. He emphasised the UAE’s early adoption of sustainability agendas and its proactive stance on environmental impacts, particularly in aviation.

To assert his views, H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri emphasised that “The aviation industry needs act on urgent basis and with collective efforts. We need increased support from both governments and the private sector, not least in finance and infrastructure development. This will unlock the production and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels and other promising alternatives.”

In 2016, the UAE was one of the first countries to commit to the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The UAE has also launched the National Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Roadmap, aiming to produce up to 700 million liters of SAF annually by 2030. This initiative is expected to reduce CO₂ emissions by up to 4.8 million tonnes. Moreover, the UAE aviation sector has set an ambitious goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in alignment with global industry commitments through IATA. 

COP28 Resolutions and Agreements

The Minister highlighted the pivotal role of the aviation industry in COP28 discussions, with a significant focus on Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs). IATA believes SAFs could account for over 60 percent of the emissions reduction required in aviation by 2050. The UAE’s leadership and initiatives were underscored as crucial steps towards meeting these global targets.

“UAE is at the forefront of the shift forward to low carbon economic model, with aviation as a key component, diversifying away from oil is among top priorities of the UAE leadership, and we are making tremendous efforts to accelerate transition to a low carbon economy” stated H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri.

H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri further asserted that, “the non-oil sector contributes to more than 74 percent of UAE’s GDP and we are proud that UAE has been the first countries to actively adopt sustainability agenda and consider environmental impacts of the rapid aviation sector. We have actively participated in all the negotiations launched by the ICAO and IATA including supporting its sustainability initiatives.”

Partnership with the Industry and International Organizations

Collaboration and partnerships were central themes of the Minister’s speech. The UAE hosted the ICAO’s Third Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) in Dubai, which, along with COP28, marked a significant milestone for the future of aviation. The Minister stressed that achieving economic and sustainability goals necessitates strong partnerships with the private sector and international organizations.

H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri stated that “we need more partnerships and stakeholder engagement to overcome the challenges towards decarbonising aviation sector by 20250. This includes developing fuel-efficient aircrafts and exploring alternative propulsion systems such as electric and hybrid engines and ultimately use of hydrogen which could push us closer to our net-zero goal.”

Setting the stage

The opening speech by the UAE’s Minister of Economy and GCAA Chairman set the tone for the IATA AGM, highlighting both the challenges and the proactive measures being taken to decarbonise the aviation sector. The UAE’s policies and commitments serve as a model for other nations striving towards sustainable aviation and demonstrate the critical role of international collaboration in achieving these goals. As the aviation industry continues to grow, the initiatives and strategies discussed at this AGM will be crucial in steering it towards a more sustainable future.

H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri concluded his speech by stating that “UAE is committed to being part of the solution to climate crisis and to decarbonise the industry. We believe that partnership and collaboration with the private sector are crucial to achieving our economic sustainability goals, and UAE views the private sector as a key driver of growth.”

Picture of Ajinkya Gurav

Ajinkya Gurav

With a passion for aviation, Ajinkya Gurav graduated from De Montford University with a Master’s degree in Air Transport Management. Over the past decade, he has written insightful analysis and captivating coverage around passenger and cargo operations. Gurav joined Air Cargo Week as its Regional Representative in 2024. Got news or comment to share? Contact


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