14 June 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

IATA forms new partnerships to aid carbon benchmarking in the air and on the ground

IATA has announced a package of partnerships to help drive further cuts in aviation’s emissions in the air and on the ground. Together with the Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA), an international collaboration of industry and academia, IATA will develop scenario-based tools that enable airlines to evaluate the costs of various carbon reduction pathways before choosing the measures most appropriate to their own circumstances. A second partnership, with the global engineering and project management company Atkins, will assist airports to measure the volume of carbon embedded in assets such as terminal buildings, runways and car parks, and provide tools to help cut the carbon footprint of future infrastructure projects. Additionally, the airlines body has announced it will publish an annual Track Zero report to transparently catalogue the industry’s progress towards its 2050 emission reduction targets.

The Aviation Impact Accelerator is a collective of international experts leveraging expertise sourced by the UK’s University of Cambridge to explore the cost to the aviation sector of achieving its commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In partnership with IATA, the group is developing evidence-based tools that enable carriers to understand, map and select specific measures to guide their emissions reduction strategies.

“We are excited to launch this new collaboration between AIA and IATA, investigating realistic pathways for aviation’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050,” said AIA’s Lead, Professor Rob Miller, who is also Director of the Whittle Laboratory at University of Cambridge. Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA’s SVP Sustainability and Chief Economist, explained the partnership would enhance the airline industry’s understanding of the options available to cut flight emissions. “The development of different technological pathways will have an influence on the long-term outlook of our industry,” she said, “and our collaboration will notably explore this intersection.”

The AIA partnership will also consider cooperation to develop IATA’s Recommended Practice Per Passenger CO2 calculation methodology, which, when used together with verified operational data from airlines, provides detailed information about the carbon footprint of flying.

On the ground, the new collaboration of IATA and Atkins has produced a package of digital tools that will help airports estimate the embodied carbon linked to the construction of infrastructure, including terminals and runways. This initiative will provide carbon benchmarking for the three main asset categories at airports – terminal buildings, runways and multi-storey car parks – to enable airport growth teams to understand the carbon created by their development programmes and ways of mitigating future risk, beginning as early as the project design phase.

“Reaching net zero by 2050 will require collective efforts from the entire industry supply chain and from policymakers,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s SVP Operations, Safety and Security. “Our collaboration with Atkins on this innovative digital toolkit will help airports meet their own objectives by providing a crucial platform to evaluate and reduce carbon impacts for new airport developments. By facilitating dialogue around carbon mitigation from day one of an airport development project, together we are making headway towards net zero aviation.”

Andy Yates, Atkins’ Technical Director, Aviation Infrastructure, believes the partnership with IATA will lead the aviation sector into “a challenging and previously unexplored area of embodied carbon assessment,” he said. “The tools have been developed by a multi-disciplinary team including architecture, airport planning and structural design, as well as carbon experts, ensuring a solution that understands the complexity and multi-faceted approach needed to assess embodied carbon.”

Announced during its AGM in Istanbul last month, a third IATA partnership will see ATPCO, a provider of content to showcase airlines’ fares, in-flight amenities and merchandising, expand its offering to help prospective travellers understand the carbon cost of various itinerary options at the time they are researching air fares. ATPCO’s Routehappy programme will use IATA’s CO2 Connect databank, which provides airline-specific fuel burn information from 74 aircraft types and 881 aircraft operators, which collectively provide 93% of global air travel.

“We know travellers want to understand their flight’s environmental impact in a consistent, transparent and trustworthy way,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh. “IATA CO2 Connect is the most accurate tool providing this information.”

Alex Zoghlin, ATPCO’s President and CEO, said the introduction of airline-specific emissions information added a new dimension to the merchandising data and content provided by his company, enabling passengers, corporate travel management companies and travel agents to access CO2 emissions information at the point of booking in order to compare flights and “make a more sustainable choice”.  

The new partnerships coincide with IATA’s decision to publish an annual Track Zero report from next year, to document the progress of the airline industry towards its 2050 emission reduction targets. “Transparency is a critical element of aviation’s decarbonisation,” explained IATA’s Owens Thomsen. “Industry-level data in the Track Zero report will help airlines, governments and investors with tools to improve decision making to accelerate progress.”

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