Over 100 countries agree on a 5% reduction in aviation emissions by 2030, focusing on sustainable fuels amid economic concerns.
In a significant step towards addressing climate change, a meeting of over 100 countries on Friday concluded with an agreement to reduce emissions from global aviation by 5% by 2030. The decision, reached after five days of U.N.-led talks in Dubai, focuses on the adoption of less-polluting fuels. However, nations like China and Russia expressed concerns over the economic impact of these measures.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced the interim goal, which emphasizes the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Initially, an earlier draft had proposed a target range of 5-8%. This move comes just ahead of the COP28 climate summit and is seen as sending a "clear and positive signal" to the financial sector about investing in new clean energy projects, as highlighted by the United States during the closing session.
Aviation contributes an estimated 2-3% of global carbon emissions, with SAF being a crucial element in reducing this footprint. Despite its importance, SAF's high cost and limited availability – currently less than 1% of total global jet fuel – pose challenges.
Mauricio Ramirez Koppel, an ICAO representative from Colombia, emphasized that the 5% target would accelerate SAF projects by providing investors with a clear goal. Colombia, interested in producing SAF from materials like palm oil, views this as a significant step forward.
The agreement emerged from intense discussions, including on technology transfer to enable emerging economies to enhance SAF production. While some countries, including China and major Middle East oil producers like Saudi Arabia and Iraq, voiced reservations, the consensus reflects a growing recognition of the need for collective action in combating climate change.
Environmental groups, however, have criticized the agreement for lacking enforceability, fearing it may not translate into substantial action. Jo Dardenne, aviation director at Transport & Environment, expressed skepticism about the agreement's impact and clarity.
The aviation industry anticipates needing between $1.45 trillion and $3.2 trillion for SAF capital development to achieve net-zero emissions. Access to financing, especially for developing countries, remains a crucial element in expanding SAF production globally.
Francis Mwangi, a senior planning officer at Kenya's Civil Aviation Authority, highlighted Kenya's readiness to produce SAF, citing the need for financial support to assess domestic production benefits and repurpose an old refinery in Mombasa for this purpose.
The agreement, reached in the backdrop of the COP28 summit, signals a critical step in the aviation industry's journey towards sustainability. It underscores the complexities and necessities of global cooperation in addressing climate change, with both developed and developing nations playing pivotal roles in this transition.
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