US sets goal of net-zero aviation emissions by 2050

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press briefing at the White House. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States is setting a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the US aviation sector by 2050, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Tuesday (Nov 9).

The White House said in September it was targeting 20 per cent lower aviation emissions by 2030, as airlines facing pressure from environmental groups to lower their carbon footprint pledged to use more sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

President Joe Biden has previously set a target of making the US net carbon neutral by 2050.

"This plan shows we can combat climate change while growing the economy and creating good paying American jobs," Buttigieg said in a statement.

The US goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 was supported by an analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In addition to sustainable fuel, new aircraft technologies will be needed along with increasing operations efficiency as well as cutting airport emissions, the FAA said.

"The decarbonisation of the aviation sector is extremely challenging," the FAA said.

Hitting the goal would depend on factors "including the sector's rate of growth, success in scaling up the production of SAF with significant life cycle emissions reductions, the introduction of new aircraft and engine technologies to reduce the amount of fuel required to move people and goods, and operational efficiency improvements," it added.

The plan includes emissions offsets by airlines "to address any remaining in-sector emissions until the sector is only using fuels with zero net life cycle GHG emissions."

In March, Airlines for America, an industry trade group representing Delta Air Lines United Airlines, American Airlines, and others, committed to working with government "to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050."

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