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Emirates Announces $200 Million Investment in Green Aviation
There’s a growing push towards sustainability within the aviation industry. We’re starting to see greater investments in sustainable aviation fuels. The European Union is pushing for it through legislation and some airlines are exploring it on their own.
There are a lot of differing opinions on this, some say it’s not ever going to be a viable alternative and others feel that it’s a necessary stopgap while the technology develops to allow for more environmentally friendly power sources for commercial aircraft such as fully electric power or hydrogen cells.
Recently, Emirates Airlines announced a significant commitment of $200 million over the next three years to fund research and development around the reduction of fossil fuels in commercial aviation.
The airline plans to invest in the development of fuel and energy solutions in order to aim to reduce environmental impact. Sir Tim Clark, the President of Emirates Airlines said, “It’s clear that with the current pathways available to airlines in terms of emissions reduction, our industry won’t be able to hit net zero targets in the prescribed timeline.”
Current Fuel Saving Techniques
Right now, there a couple of things that airlines are doing to reduce fuel consumption. The first is that airlines as using more fuel-efficient aircraft. Emirates, for example, has a significant number of new fuel-efficient aircraft on order.
Second, fuel-efficient practices. This can vary from more efficient routings flying across the world, using ground power units at the gate instead of the auxiliary power unit on aircraft, to using just one or two engines while taxiing after landing.
Airlines have a dual incentive for reducing fuel consumption. Fuel is a significant cost for airlines so any reduced fuel burn is direct savings and it also helps on the environmental side.
There are a couple of smaller-scale things airlines can do such as develop fuels such as synthetic fuels but currently they’re prohibitively expensive. Other airlines have tried developing green fuels and have succeeded but it’s still small in scale. There really aren’t any large alternative technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
This highlights the current challenge the industry faces when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, the technology available is still limited and there is no viable alternative yet. The investment from Emirates is not to do things like buy sustainable aviation fuel or carbon offsets but is instead for the development of actual technology that the airline and broader industry can use.
Emissions Will Grow
There’s a long way to go but it’s going to require a concentrated and consistent effort from airlines and governments around the world.
Aviation is going to continue to grow. Airlines are placing massive orders for aircraft across the globe, and it’s expected that there will be massive growth in countries such as India and China for years to come. Emirates is planning on doubling its air cargo capacity over the next decade.
As the industry grows, carbon emission emissions attributed to aviation will increase. While in the grand scheme of things so far there are much greater polluters in the world, they are slowly working to be reduced and aviation will grow to be a larger slice of the emission pie are cars start to electrify and more green power sources are used.
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