Despite a noticeable dip in air travel over the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, the aviation industry still produces a significant percentage of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and the Federal Aviation Administration is working to enact transformative change across aviation organizations to accelerate the adoption of sustainability initiatives and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The FAA in November 2021 released its first Aviation Climate Action Plan detailing how the administration plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. aviation sector by 2050 through specific sustainability and environmental measures.
According to the White House, civil aviation accounted for 11 percent of the United States’ transportation-related emissions, and the FAA’s climate plan found that aviation was responsible for 2.7 percent of the country’s total domestic carbon dioxide emissions in 2019.
Over the past few years, aviation emissions have remained relatively constant due to fuel efficiency innovations despite the steady increase in passenger traffic.
However, an anticipated economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to drive demand in the aviation sector higher than it was pre-pandemic, and the FAA is taking proactive measures to ensure the continual reduction of emissions in response to these projections.
The FAA’s climate roadmap highlights sustainability programs such as efficient aircraft development, sustainable fuel production and airport modernization as integral components for emission reduction efforts.
In September 2021, the FAA awarded over $100 million to six private sector companies to develop new technologies in support of fuel, emissions and noise reduction efforts. As part of the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise program, the FAA’s industry partners will innovate vital aircraft components, evaluate alternative jet fuels and develop electric and hybrid systems in alignment with the administration’s environmental goals.
“Across the country, communities have been devastated by the effects of climate change – but, if we act now, we can ensure that aviation plays a central role in the solution,” commented Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the awards.
Recently, the FAA also awarded five universities with $1.4 million in grant funding to help the aviation agency establish sustainable aviation fuel supply chains across the country.
Join Kevin Welsh, executive director for the FAA’s Office of Environment and Energy, for an exclusive, in-depth conversation on the aviation industry’s current climate change strategies, plans and initiatives during the FAA: Climate Change Priorities Fireside Chat hosted by GovCon Wire Events on Jan. 26.
Click here to register for the Federal Aviation Administration: Climate Change Priorities Fireside Chat on Jan. 26.