Heathrow calls on ICAO to set targets for aviation biofuel

By Erin Voegele | July 24, 2019

London-based Heathrow airport included a statement in its half year financial report released July 23 calling on the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization to set targets for the use of aviation biofuels, as recommended by the Energy Transitions Commission. The airport also called on government to invest some of the nearly £4 billion ($4.46 billion) in annual revenue raised from Air Passenger Duty to scale-up production of sustainable fuels.

In November 2018, the ETC published a report on ways to reach net-zero carbon emissions in harder-to-abate sectors, including aviation. That report found that biofuels are necessary to help decarbonize the aviation sector.

According to the ETC report, recent analysis by the International Air Transport Association “suggests that current policies and likely developments would not drive raid enough alternative fuel growth to achieve even flat emissions between now and 2050 let alone a 50 percent reduction. It is therefore essential to put in place policies and industry actions which can ensure the rapid development of either sustainable biofuels or synfuels to make the IATA target of a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions credible, and then raise that target to net-zero carbon emission by 2060 at the latest.”

In its financial report, Heathrow said it has invested more than £100 million in sustainability over the past six years and plans to make additional investments to achieve zero carbon airport infrastructure before 2050. The airport also said it supports the U.K.’s goal to make its economy net-zero carbon by 2050, but said it believes “that there is further scope for the government to help the aviation industry move faster by working with other governments to prioritize sustainable fuels for aviation, which is the hardest sector to decarbonize; set common and progressive targets for the percentage of aviation fuel that must be from sustainable sources.” According to Heathrow, this will send a strong signal to producers to increase investment in biofuel and synthetic fuel production and start to reduce the cost of production.