Conclusion of the 2021 EAC offers increased clarity on difficult climate challenges for aviation

The 2021 European Aviation Conference has concluded after detailed and intensive discussions, involving some 200 delegates and more than twenty presenters, of actions needed this decade for aviation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Topics considered included the ways in which aviation affects climate change, the scope for technologies to lessen emissions, the type of policies & instruments to incentivise decarbonisation and finally the political-economy issue of how to bring about the changes needed.

Conference Chair, Professor Hans-Martin Niemeier, said he was pleased with the attendance and the response to the conference sessions, which were hosted online by Dublin City University.

“Our feedback to date is that the conference has been a great success, in terms of the number of presentations, the clarification of what the issues really are, and the generation of frank and productive discussions between industry participants, policy-makers and researchers”.

In his keynote presentation, Sir Dieter Helm (Oxford University) warned about creating incentives that only displace emissions (‘carbon leakage’) but do not reduce them. He argued that general decarbonisation will be expensive and that the ordinary consumer such as airline passengers will in the end bear that cost. Given these costs, policy should be set on an economy-wide and global level rather than for each single sector which would make decarbonisation even more expensive.

Henrik Hololei, (EU Director General, Transport and Mobility), argued that sustainable aviation fuels, on a sufficient scale, could provide the bulk of the power required by aviation while significantly reducing harmful emissions.

In his keynote address, Brian Pearce (former Chief Economist, IATA) emphasized that the stock of long-lived emissions from aviation, rather than the flow, is the problem to be addressed and that economic analysis based on marginal effects may be ill-suited to address climate change issues in aviation. He also highlighted the need for a meaningful carbon price.

Major themes emerging in the conference discussions included the excessively low price currently being attached to carbon, which will fail to create the necessary incentives to decarbonize. Other themes included the low likelihood of hydrogen or electric propulsion technologies helping aviation in the medium term, and a consequent reliance on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), carbon taxation, airframe design, and operational (e.g. ATM) initiatives as the principal means of lowering aviation emissions during the next decade. Despite hope that SAFs and synthetic fuels can deliver real climate benefits, the conference also heard that there are significant challenges in the supply of biomass and green electricity required for their production. Prof Ian Poll (Cranfield University) Prof Ulrich Schumann (German Aerospace Center) and Dr. Sebastian Eastham (MIT) demanded that action must be taken immediately to reduce the non-carbon emissions. While policy still claims that the effects of non-carbon emission are too uncertain to allow for any policy measurers Professors Poll and Schumann argued that the science of contrails is clear and well understood and that non-carbon emissions, which are as important as carbon emissions can be reduced at a relatively lower cost.

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Announcing EAC 2022: Nov 30 & Dec 1, Heilbronn, Germany

Responding to the legacy of Covid-19:

Aviation ownership, regulation and industry structure.

Please join us for EAC 2022 in Heilbronn where we will consider the appropriate post-Covid actions and policy frameworks to meet the challenges of the evolving aviation landscape in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has reversed decades of progress towards a more liberal aviation market, jeopardized improvements in industry efficiency, and led to large-scale state aid, restrictions on international air travel, and added new procedural health checks for aviation. Consequently, the 2022 conference will focus on the following crucial questions:

Could the pandemic prompt a review of outdated ownership policies in aviation?

How should the charges of aviation service providers be set now, and how if at all should industry losses from COVID-19 be treated?

What is the best response to the distortions in airline competition due to state aid?

As at all previous conferences, the goal of EAC 2022 is to bring together theory and practice, academics and practitioners, in order to develop a practical and deliverable path to the restoration of a healthy and stable air transport industry.

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Look for more programme and registration information for EAC 2022 at:

Sponsorship opportunities for EAC 2022 and media or industry enquiries:

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