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Sweden’s airlines demand help to be fossil-free

Aviation players say that, with state funds, domestic aircraft can become fossil-free within 12 years.

The Swedish state must contribute more funds to research into aviation biofuels, the chief executives of the country’s top travel companies argue.

In an article published in the financial newspaper Dagens Industri, signed by the chief executives of SAS, BRA, Swedavia, Sweden’s Regional Airports, Svenskt Flyg, Fossil Free Sweden and others, only with state assistance can the country achieve a change of technology.

Future transport must be fossil-free, the article says – and so too by air. As air travel increases, the need to cut its impact on the climate intensifies.

With the right measures, Swedish domestic flights can be fossil-free by 2030, the CEOs say, and both domestic and international flights from Swedish airports can be fossil-free in 2045.

Arguing that the current situation in the world’s environment is “not sustainable” – something that aircraft emissions contribute to – the article says that a shift to fossil-free aviation fuel is a measure that can create a great impact for the benefit of the climate.

According to the United Nations Climate Change Panel, airline emissions are around 2% of total CO2 emissions. But with longer flights also generating a high-altitude effect of additional climate-harming nitrogen dioxide emissions, it rises to 4%.

However, “through technological developments, the aircraft has become about 80% more fuel-efficient per passenger kilometre in the last 50 years,” the article says, “and in recent years we have seen a number of industry initiatives in the biofuel sector, but most things still remain to be done.”

A government initiative, Fossil Free Sweden, has developed a roadmap for how Swedish planes can become fossil-free, to be handed to the government on April 25.

“To achieve fossil-free flights, efforts and initiatives from the aviation industry are needed, but also from commodity and fuel producers and from our policy makers,” the article urges.

“But above all, it is important that we now go from words to action and take some steps in the right direction.”

Specific measures need to be implemented, the article argues, including setting up large-scale bio-refinery capacity in Sweden – co-financed by the state – and investing in the technological development of hybrid and electric engines.

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