Aviation sustainability potentials highlighted at WEF ‘Shaping the Future of Mobility’ event

Montréal, 31 May 2021 – ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu joined the Right Honourable J. Adair Turner, Chairperson of the United Kingdom’s Energy Transitions Commission, in co-chairing this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘Shaping the Future of Mobility’ Stewardship Board Meeting.

The meeting was co-hosted by H.E. Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of Germany and Dr Young Tae Kim, Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum. The Board Meeting included the participation and contributions of the Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility of Italy, H.E. Mr Enrico Giovannini; the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan, H.E. Mr Kazuyoshi Akaba; the Minister for the Environment of the Netherlands, H.E. Ms Stientje van Veldhoven; the Minister for Transport of Singapore, the Hon. S Iswaran; the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Ecological Transition of Spain, H.E. Ms Teresa Ribera; and the Rt Hon. Rachel Maclean, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of United Kingdom along with Ms. Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport of the European Commission.

The timely sustainability-focused meeting covered topics from the Mobility Platform’s current portfolio, including Getting-to-Zero in Global Maritime Transport; Road Freight Zero - Decarbonization in Global Heavy Transport; Clean Skies of Tomorrow - Net-Zero in Global Aviation; and Scaling Institutional Finance for Sustainable e-Fleets and Infrastructure.

High-level presenters to these sessions included Mr. Thomas Anker Christiansen, Climate Ambassador from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Mr. Otto Schacht, Executive Vice President Sea Logistics at Kühne & Nagel International, and Christian Levin, President and CEO of Scania AB.

In her introduction to the high-level multi-topic session, Dr. Liu commented on how mobility has become more essential than ever, especially given continuing global demographic growth and the need to realize sustainable development through the movement of people and goods. 

The ICAO Secretary General also drew attention to the fact that the transition towards global net-zero is well underway in the air transport sector, and that we’re entering into a very dynamic new era in aerial mobility where innovations are flying off engineer’s tablets and taking to the skies. 

Highlighting the critical role of innovation to aviation’s pandemic recovery, Dr. Liu noted how “the aviation community sees a tremendous opportunity to do things differently and build back better and stronger than ever before in our history.”

Dr. Liu also drew participants’ attention to the fact that 2021 is an important lead-up year to  COP26, and that there is a growing level of economy-wide sustainability ambition not only from governments, but also the private sector. 

She emphasized the increasing number of net-zero commitments for aviation being made by private operators and global airline alliances, and remarked on how they were demonstrating leadership at a key moment in terms of global sustainability momentum.

“New green innovations are currently emerging all over the world, from hydrogen-based and electric aircraft to new modes of urban air mobility, and clean energy availability and access will be crucial to making them a reality,” she said.

Action on climate change by ICAO and its Member States has been well established, through the agreement on a two per cent annual fuel efficiency improvement, and carbon neutral growth from 2020 onwards. ICAO States have also been prioritizing a basket of environmental measures for many years now, including technology innovations, more efficient operations and fuels, and emissions offsetting for international flights. 

Countries have also asked the UN agency to explore a new long-term aspirational goal for international aviation, for consideration by the next Session of the ICAO Assembly in 2022. 

“To ensure the full potential of latest innovations are considered in this research, ICAO is using a Stocktaking process to allow stakeholders to share initiatives, solutions, and new ideas,” Dr. Liu explained. “And to accelerate the pace of implementation, innovators and aviation pioneers from all over the world have been joining the ICAO Global Coalition for Sustainable Aviation.”

The Secretary General concluded by re-stressing the importance of uniting public-private efforts and taking concrete actions now to achieve sustainability for the transport sector, and by looking forward to the prosperous and more efficient era of global aviation which lies ahead. 
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A specialized agency of the United Nations, ICAO was created by governments in 1944 to support their diplomacy on international air transport matters. Since that time, countries have adopted over 12,000 standards and practices through ICAO which help to align their national regulations relevant to aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection, enabling a truly global network to be realized. ICAO forums also provide opportunities for advice and advocacy to be shared with government decision-makers by industry groups, civil society NGOs, and other officially-recognized air transport stakeholders.

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