Avgeek Alert: Objective 2050 – Decarbonisation


The decarbonisation of our planet is a necessity that the entire Western world must lead. For around 200 years, humanity has evolved, but at a cost that we need to reverse. The sustainability of any industrial activity is a matter of global importance, and so reducing and eventually eliminating the “carbon footprint” of its operations needs to be a priority of every responsible corporation.

What Exactly Is Decarbonisation?

Carbon dioxide (CO²) is one of the so-called greenhouse gasses generated by human activity like industry and transportation, an excess of which in the Earth´s atmosphere causes the “greenhouse effect” and allows our sun´s radiation to penetrate but prevents it from being properly radiated back from the surface. This in turn is leading to unhealthy global warming which will have catastrophic consequences if we do not act in time to arrest it. Decarbonisation, then, is the drastic reduction in “carbon footprint” of human activity – the use of excess-carbon-dioxide-producing substances – which will be an important part of the solution to this pressing problem.

Current Efforts at Decarbonisation

There are a number of international agreements aimed at yielding climate neutrality (aka “net-zero emissions”, meaning that emissions of CO²due to human activities are brought to the same level as that which the biosphere can absorb naturally (for example, by being stored by trees and other plants to carry out photosynthesis).

Among the most important is the last United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 28, for short), held this past December in Dubai  – which produced the beginning of the end of fossil fuels as a final balance.

Along the same lines, the European Union, which in recent years has been a leading force in this area at a global level, has with its European Green Deal set CO² emissions objectives in a number of areas including aviation.

Decarbonising Air Transportation

Air transport is essential to modern life, not just connecting all over the planet but as a strategic industry in almost every one of the world´s countries, as countless import and export products depend on it.

The sum of CO² emissions from the transportation sector as a whole is around 30 percent, and 60 percent of that comes from automobiles: the aviation industry, meanwhile, is responsible for just two percent. Now, this may seem small, but it´s still crucial that we play our part in saving the environment we all depend on.

A Key Part of Decarbonisation: Sustainable Airline Fuels

Known as SAFs for short, as we´ve covered in previous posts, these fuels are manufactured using a variety of sources – both synthetic and organic – and Spain has developed the infrastructure and capacity to be a global leader in this field.

According to a report prepared for Iberia and its subsidiary Vueling by PwC, one of the world´s leading financial accounting firms, between 30 and 40 SAF-manufacturing plants built in Spain would completely cover domestic demand. And as it turns out, production potential is much greater still, which would imply, in addition to leading the ecological transition in this sector, an enormous boost to the Spanish economy as an exporter of SAFs. The figures speak for themselves: an estimated 56 billion euros of Gross Domestic Product and some 270,000 new jobs.

Iberia and IAG, Leaders in Decarbonisation

Objectives for 2030

The year 2030 is a symbolic one in the commitment to sustainability, and the 2030 Agenda aims to meet several feasible goals:

In terms of sustainable development goals, number seven talks about achieving clean and affordable energy for all and urges governments to seek and implement alternatives to fossil fuels. So in the area of aviation the European Union foresees that five percent of aircraft fuel be SAF.

However, Iberia along with its parent company International Airlines Group, which also owns Aer Lingus, British regional carrier BMI, British Airways, and Vueling) forecast double that – a 10-percent use of SAF.

Objectives for 2050

Then, looking another decade down the road, the EU wants the use of SAF to be 70 percent by 2050. And here again Iberia/IAG are way ahead of them, projecting a full 100 percent – that is, achieving zero net emissions. It´s ambitious, to be sure – but also the least we can do for the precious biosphere on which our survival depends.