The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed commitments towards strengthening climate action made at COP26.

Representing 83% of global air traffic, the organisation has also called for practical and effective government policies to support global efforts to decarbonise aviation.

“Airlines are on the pathway to net-zero carbon emissions, in line with the Paris agreement. We all want the freedom to fly sustainably,” said IATA Director-General Willie Walsh, adding, “Reaching net-zero emissions will be a huge task requiring the collective effort of industry and support from governments.”

Management of international aviation’s climate commitments sits outside of the COP process and is the responsibility of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Nevertheless, airlines at the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting in Boston last month agreed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is in line with the stretch Paris agreement target to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“The pledges made at COP26 show that many governments understand the key to rapid progress is to incentivize technological change and fund innovative solutions,” Mr Walsh said.

This is particularly true for sustainable fuels which will play a major role in addressing the environmental impact from aviation, he continued.

But they need the right incentives from governments to ramp-up production, he urged.

A notable outcome from COP26 was the move by 23 nations to sign the International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration.

This statement recognises the need for aviation to “grow sustainably” and reiterates ICAO’s role to implement short, medium and long-term climate goals for the industry.

Key aims include ensuring the maximum effectiveness of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

“The robust and realistic plan to fly net zero by 2050 agreed by our member airlines can be of great use to ICAO member states as they move forward with a global framework and long-term goal for aviation carbon reductions,” Mr Walsh added.

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