Speaking at a World Economic Forum (WEF) Policy Session on 'Building a Path to Net-Zero Aviation' last week, ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu highlighted opportunities now at hand to enhance the sustainability and resilience of the global civil aviation sector.
Image courtesy ICAO
Dr Liu’s remarks were part of the lively series of exchanges with other invited panelists including the Hon. Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport for the UK, Dick Benschop, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Schiphol Group and Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, Airbus.
The goal of the sessions was to gather perspectives across the aviation value-chain on key challenges and priorities, review the commitment to cross-sector collaboration and calls to action to drive quick, deliberate, strategic, and equitable sustainability goals throughout air travel, and to highlight the role of collaborative mechanisms in enabling aviation’s net-zero transition.
Dr Liu noted that the recent calls by UN Secretary-General Guterres to “build a sustainable system driven by renewable energy, green jobs, and a resilient future” have been met with motivation by both governments and the air transport industry, leading to discussions such as those which took place at ICAO’s recent Innovation Symposium on hybrid, electric, and hydrogen propulsion, battery energy density and increased sustainable aviation fuels deployment.
The Secretary General highlighted the central role ICAO can play to encourage the partnerships these advances require, and that the transition towards post-COVID period is providing aviation with a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the transition toward a decarbonized future.
“States, manufacturers, airlines, airports, all stakeholders have their parts to play and responsibility to accelerate the transition of aviation toward its decarbonised future,” Dr Liu said, while noting that “a global policy under ICAO is crucial because this is the only way to ensure the success of this global transition that needs to take place, while leaving no country behind and avoiding distortion of competition.”
Dr Liu also noted that the potential structural changes ahead could result in different aviation business models, platforms, and diversified products and services being needed to meet the expectations of post-pandemic leisure and business travellers in the 'new normal'.
“The disruptions to the way of life of billions around the world will bring fundamental and widespread changes to who aviation serves, and how, once the pandemic is behind us,” Dr Liu emphasized.
“While there will be no substitutes for aviation, this will change the way we do business and the aviation sector will need to rapidly adapt, to access green funding for investments in technology, operations and fuels, in order to meet the growing calls for a sustainable flying future.”