Renewable fuels will not solve aviation's climate dilemma - industry experts

(Clean Energy Wire, 7 Nov 2019) Powering aeroplanes with renewable fuels is crucial for making flying less climate-damaging, but it will get aviation nowhere near climate neutrality, environmental NGOs, industry representatives and researchers agreed at a conference in Berlin.

They said that making synthetic fuels with renewable power – so-called power-to-liquid – is a top priority for the rapidly growing sector and requires immediate government action to get the technology off the ground to reach industrial scale so it can have a real impact soon. But experts also warned that planes' CO2 output is only part of the problem, because their "non-CO2 effects" - such as condensation trails, particles and other greenhouse gases emitted at high altitudes – contribute even more to the climate crisis. This is why Germany's environment agency (UBA) has proposed a host of measures to make flying more environmentally friendly. However, it also suggested in a new study that flying longer distances will never be climate-neutral.

Urgent action is needed around the globe to reduce aviation's often underestimated climate impact if the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement are to be met, industry experts said at a conference held in Berlin.

However, a number of factors make it particularly difficult to get emissions in the sector down. Experts singled out strong growth rates – current projections assume passenger kilometres will grow world-wide almost five percent per year –, the severe climate effects unrelated to direct CO2 emissions and caused by condensation trails and many other factors, and the need for international agreements.

"Aviation is probably the most difficult sector on the way to reaching the targets of the Paris Agreement," said Jürgen Landgrebe, head of the climate division at Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which hosted the conference.

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Clean Energy Wire, 7 Nov 2019: Renewable fuels will not solve aviation's climate dilemma - industry experts