Europe has declared its intention to tackle aviation’s climate change problem, with Airbus, Safran, Rolls-Royce and Leonardo chief executives Guillaume Faury, Philippe Petitcolin, Warren East and Alessandro Profumo leading a group of 23 high-level signatories to put their names – and their company’s and institution’s reputations – on the line in a bid to join forces for a “deep decarbonisation” of aviation by 2050.
The joint declaration of European aviation stakeholders calls for collective efforts to cap the growth of aviation CO2 emissions, and then roll it back to half of 2005 levels by 2050.
Faury clarified the challenge, declaring on no uncertain terms that “global warming is a reality”, adding that “we are at a time of human history” when our activities are having a real impact on the planet – and, he stressed, that impact is “accelerating”.
Every technical means possible must be studied, he says, because capping emissions and cutting them will demand different solutions.
Petitcolin says this goal demands a “90% improvement of our machines”. No company, he says, can do this alone.
East – the head of Rolls-Royce, whose home country plans to leave the European Union – underscored the need for this joint effort to be made through a European framework.
But perhaps the most urgent call for action came from Profumo. “We are very close to the limit (of total historic CO2 emissions) from which there is no reverse way to a normal world,” he says.
Speed is paramount. The European Commission will hold a meeting in September that is expected to lead to a roadmap for emissions reduction research by the end of the year. European industry, universities and research institutions will then be required to work together across the traditional national and company boundaries that typically define research and technology.