ICAO sets bold framework for aviation's clean energy shift
Photo courtesy of ICAO

ICAO sets bold framework for aviation’s clean energy shift

The Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), hosted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, marked a significant milestone in the international aviation sector's journey towards decarbonisation. From November 20 to 24, 2023, global aviation leaders converged to endorse a pioneering framework aimed at propelling the industry's clean energy transition.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency established in 1944, facilitates cooperation among 193 countries to share skies for mutual benefit. 

The newly adopted ICAO Global Framework for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF), and other Aviation Cleaner Energies, represents a unified commitment by ICAO and its member states. The collective goal is to reduce CO2 emissions in international aviation by 5% by 2030, a significant leap from the current baseline of zero cleaner energy use.

This framework is not just a set of guidelines; it's a vision for a cleaner aviation future. It encompasses harmonised regulatory foundations, initiatives to support implementation, and enhanced access to financing. This inclusive approach ensures that no country is left behind in the global shift towards sustainable aviation.

The framework's flexibility is key. It recognises the unique circumstances and capabilities of each state, allowing them to contribute to the collective vision in a manner that aligns with their national timelines and resources. This approach avoids imposing rigid emissions reduction obligations, instead fostering a collaborative environment for progress.

Salvatore Sciacchitano, president of the ICAO Council, highlighted the framework's role in scaling up the development and deployment of SAF, LCAF, and other cleaner aviation energies. He emphasised the need for clarity, consistency, and predictability to engage stakeholders across and beyond the aviation sector. This clarity is crucial for investors, governments, and others who require certainty about the policies, regulations, and investments needed to support this transition equitably.

Juan Carlos Salazar, ICAO secretary general, pointed out that achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 demands substantial, sustained investment and financing. He underscored the importance of reliable and affordable support and capacity-building, particularly for states with specific needs, as they are integral to the global effort.