Encouraging Europe’s sustainable aviation leadership to support ICAO goals

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Europe is playing a crucial role in accelerating progress towards the global net zero carbon emission objectives adopted by ICAO, and the region’s leadership in the sustainable development of civil aviation could further be heightened by deepening and broadening its support for ICAO’s decarbonization, air transport liberalization and digitalization efforts.

This was ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar’s key message to the region’s aviation leaders, which he delivered at a series of bilateral meetings in Belgium and the “Europe’s Flight Plan to a Sustainable Future” conference, which was organized by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

Deploying SAF is expected to account for the majority of the needed emissions cuts to achieve ICAO’s long term global aspirational goal.

Highlighting this fact in his keynote address to the conference, Mr. Salazar declared that “Europe is leading the way in all of ICAO decarbonization priorities, and your support for our sustainable aviation fuel work is particularly crucial.”

He pointed to the European Union’s policy leadership, exemplified by ReFuelEU Aviation, and its financial support, as demonstrated by the flanking measures to the ReFuelEU aviation rules and the importance of its Global Gateway initiative to the development of SAF in developing countries.

The Secretary General focused his advocacy on the crucial importance of European assistance to States in other parts of the world, and he expressed his gratitude to the contributions from the EU and European States to capacity building on SAF, including in the context of the ICAO’s Assistance, Capacity-building and Training for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (ACT SAF) programme.

“By the end of 2023, ICAO had completed seven SAF feasibility studies in Africa and in the Caribbean, which were funded by the European Commission,” Mr. Salazar announced. “We will launch around 20 or more such studies on SAF by 2026, among which 10 will be in Africa and India, again funded by the European Commission.”

Photo courtesy of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Successful advocacy agenda in Belgium

Mr. Salazar had begun his two-day mission in Brussels, with a meeting on 8 April 2024 with the Director General of EUROCONTROL, Mr. Raúl Medina Caballero, and discussions with the Director General of Civil Aviation of Belgium, Mr. Koen Mills.

This was followed by bilateral meetings with the European Commission’s Directors General of Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) and International Partnerships (DG INTPA), Ms. Magda Kopczynska and Mr. Koen Doens, respectively.

Finally, the Secretary General’s agenda comprised bilateral discussions with the newly appointed Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Mr. Florian Guillermet. The Secretary General also took the opportunity to meet with DG MOVE to review the recent progress of activities under Europe’s “Renewable and Low‐Carbon Fuels Value Chain Industrial (RLCF) Alliance”.

Mr. Salazar was accompanied throughout his mission by Mr. Nicolas Rallo, the Director of ICAO’s European and North Atlantic Regional Office in Paris.