Aviation could face a historic rupture in its growth trajectory as it grapples with pressures to reduce its impact on climate change. The technology shifts proposed will require major investment with success uncertain.
For the flying public, all outcomes in the years ahead point to an increase in the cost of flying.
Yet that distant net-zero emissions target is so radical, and the proposed technology solutions so uncertain, that aviation risks falling far short.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury recently warned that if the industry’s new push for climate sustainability fails, governments could force a reduction in air travel by banning some of the flying that is routine today — a major step back after more than 100 years of passenger flights.
Elsewhere, particularly in Europe, flying is already being curbed by government policy. France in April banned domestic flights between cities with a train connection of less than 2.5 hours. Various government agencies and organizations around Europe have imposed similar bans on short-haul flights for employee business travel.
Additionally, some countries already charge carbon fees on airline tickets.
Update Nov 2021: The COP26 climate conference in Glasgow Scotland does not include an agenda item for air travel issues.