The aviation industry is the transportation sector with the fastest growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and it is under unprecedented regulatory scrutiny in national and international climate policy arenas. Therefore, the industry is making substantial efforts to develop alternative liquid fuels to meet two goals: capping its carbon emissions by 2020, and reducing emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.
Unlike other transportation modes (e.g., light-duty vehicles), the aviation industry requires dense liquid fuels and faces some of the most stringent fuel replacement demands. New fuels must demonstrate reduced emissions across their entire life cycles, from production through use. The aviation industry is seeking fuels with quality, performance, and energy density matching petroleum equivalents that can be seamlessly integrated or ”dropped into” current delivery systems and engines. For these replacement fuels to be broadly accepted by the environmental community and public, they must go beyond GHG reductions to include other sustainability standards. Fuel production must limit adverse impacts on food security, land, water, air, wildlife, and local communities while providing socioeconomic benefits for the latter.
Coming to a consensus among nearly 200 countries on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is regarded by many observers as an achievement in itself and has been hailed as ”historic”. What are the key elements?
• To keep global temperatures ”well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and ”endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C
• To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
• To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
• For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing ”climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.