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Key airline group targets net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

October 4, 2021 GMT

GENEVA (AP) — The world’s largest association of airlines said Monday that it is aiming for the air transport industry to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, while acknowledging it will be a “huge challenge.”

The International Air Transport Association, which has key offices in Geneva, said its general meeting in Boston had agreed on the target, a commitment that would line it up with the goal of the 2015 Paris accord to help keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The industry appears to be counting heavily on a carbon-offset plan laid out by a U.N. organization on civil aviation, but suggests governments have a role to play, too.

“With collective efforts of the entire value chain and supportive government policies, aviation will achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” IATA Director-General Willie Walsh said in a statement.

IATA said industry can take steps through use of sustainable fuels, new plane technologies, improved efficiencies and new power sources like electric or hydrogen power — but carbon capture and carbon-offset programs will also have a role.

Walsh said one scenario foresees sustainable fuels accounting for nearly two-thirds of the roughly 1.8 gigatons of carbon that would need to be mitigated in order for airlines to reach net-zero emissions.