On Monday, October 4th, some of the leading aerospace manufacturers in the United States have signified their commitment to helping meet the country’s climate targets. They pledge to work to reduce the aviation sector’s overall emissions by half and to practically hit a zero-emissions target over the next three decades.

Members of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) committed to work with airlines and national governments across the globe to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This was done in response to a growing movement to fight climate change within the global aviation industry, including initiatives by airports.

On the same day, participating international airlines and flag carriers voted for similar measures during the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s annual meeting in Boston, MA. A third organization, the Air Transport Action Group, which has a far broader scope, is also slated to commit by the end of this week.

The global aviation industry currently accounts for 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Rethinking targets

The AIA’s current goal replaces its original target to ape the Paris Agreement by reducing industry emissions by half by 2050 to lower the rate of global temperature increases throughout the current century by around 2ºC beyond pre-industrial levels.

However, a recent report by environmental experts from the United Nations has stated that global temperatures could potentially hit around 1.5ºC higher than pre-industrial levels over the next five years. 

In which case, many environmental groups and industry associations have declared that present net-zero targets are not enough to stem rising temperatures and that governments need to take serious action. 

Aviation professionals from the manufacturing, airline, and airport management sectors have thus been pushing their respective governments to support initiatives related to producing more sustainable ways to power aircraft.

As Andrew Murphy, aviation director at Belgium’s Transport & Environment puts it, achieving net-zero by 2050 will not be possible without aviation accepting “binding climate laws set at [the] national level.”

As of press time, several manufacturers have already pledged to make considerable investments into new-generation technologies to meet the new net-zero target. These investments are expected to develop more fuel-efficient aircraft through a variety of initiatives. Among those initiatives are those geared towards developing and producing hybrid jet engines, which some experts hope will become a standard ten years from now.