Reducing aviation’s CO2 emissions challenging but not impossible

For aviation, the path to reduced climate change impact and eventually net-zero carbon dioxide emissions is clear. We must replace fossil fuels with net-zero energy sources, and improve aircraft energy efficiency.

The latter is essential given that future energy sources under consideration—such as sustainable aviation fuel and liquid hydrogen—introduce substantial challenges related to cost and availability. While the path to net zero is clear, less so is how we will get there.

Responsibility for improving energy efficiency falls on aircraft and engine manufacturers, such as Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney Canada. It is generally acknowledged that a business-as-usual approach to efficiency improvement will be too slow, and therefore government support is needed. In the United States, major government-supported projects are underway involving next-generation aircraft configurations capable of providing a step change in energy efficiency. Bombardier’s EcoJet has similar potential for improved energy efficiency, and government support is urgently needed to enable this new configuration to be brought to market in a timely manner.