Blog: How ACOG’s Environment Strategy can play a key role in achieving net-zero
Published on: in the Airspace Modernisation category
The past few weeks have seen the aviation industry take bold strides towards the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Most recently, at the ICAO’s 41st General Assembly, member states made a commitment to adopt a long-term global aspirational goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
While it is great to see these long-term ambitions in place, there is an urgent need to reduce emissions, and airspace modernisation can play a crucial role. In September, we launched our Environment Strategy, which outlines how airspace modernisation has the potential to make aviation both cleaner and greener, while delivering noise and carbon improvements for the benefit of local communities.
Achieving net-zero carbon emissions will be no easy feat; at the ICAO’s General Assembly, the member states acknowledged that it would take cross-industry collaboration, the adoption of new and innovative aircraft technologies, and the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels, among many other challenges.
EasyJet is one of the most recent examples of action being taken by airlines. I was pleased to attend the recent launch of their net-zero roadmap to 2050. The roadmap states that by adopting a suite of measures, including zero carbon emission technology, once available, the airline could reduce its carbon emissions per passenger per kilometre by 78% by 2050.
Alongside the transition to zero-emission technology, easyJet’s roadmap also featured airspace modernisation as one of the other measures that will contribute towards their goal. The roadmap helpfully highlights how the work we, at ACOG, are doing around airspace modernisation has the potential to reduce carbon reductions in the short term as more direct flight paths lead to more efficient flying no reducing fuel burn and resulting emissions. ACOG has a role to play in helping to optimise these benefits at a national level.
In our Environment Strategy, we outline four specific commitments that will help us to take this forward:
- Provision of information: We will seek to be clear, accurate and informative in setting out information on environmental impacts, both forecasted and realised. This includes establishing clear environmental data in the Masterplan at the national and regional level and using the Masterplanning process to inform ACP sponsors and other local and national stakeholders of the opportunities and challenges in the programme.
- Creating guidance and toolkits to assist airports in evaluating their environmental impacts by working in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport to ensure that the processes are transparent and align seamlessly with existing regulations governing the process of airspace change. For example, we will develop a cumulative assessment framework to guide how to model and assess cumulative environmental impacts and trade-offs. We’re also looking at trialing the Eurocontrol IMPACT tool in partnership with Manchester Airport to explore the model’s suitability.
- Identifying and exploiting opportunities for better environmental performance by working with airport sponsors and the wider industry where appropriate to help share information on operational or technical changes that can potentially deliver environmental benefits. To drive this forward, we will work with airport sponsors, NATS, and the wider industry, to help share information on operational or technical changes that can potentially deliver environmental benefits.
- Engaging with stakeholders to better understand their concerns and shape the development of the Airspace Masterplan by seeking feedback as it is developed. We are undertaking national and regional public engagement exercises to develop the Airspace Masterplan. We’ll also establish a stakeholder forum, including a Community Advisory Panel, to seek feedback on our engagement approach and develop materials to help the public understand the airspace change process.
The potential to make real savings in emissions in the next few years is one of the main reasons I am so keen to see the airspace modernisation programme advance. I spoke about this in my recent interview with Aviation Week. We went into detail about what we’re trying to achieve with the strategy and how airspace modernisation will bring this to life. It’s also been great to see how positively the industry has received the strategy. It was covered in several key aviation publications, including International Airport Review, Passenger Terminal Today, ADS Advance and Airport Technology.
ACOG has a significant role to play in creating sustainable airspace, and the implementation of our Environment Strategy will be central to this work. As we continue to progress on the journey towards airspace modernisation, it will be exciting to see first-hand the potential environmental benefits of modernisation turn into reality.
By Dan Edwards, Head of Environmental Strategy at ACOG