Boeing has said it will look to be an ‘aviation sector champion’ by joining a global sustainability alliance established by the US government and the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The First Movers Coalition (FMC) was founded in 2021 to bring big brands together across seven industrial sectors which are difficult to decarbonise. The sectors, alongside aviation, are aluminium, chemicals, concrete, shipping, steel, and trucking.
The coalition believes that reducing emissions to Net Zero by 2050 is possible ‘if the right technologies are brought to commercial scale within the next decade.’ Members include tech giants such as Amazon and Apple, automotive manufacturers Ford and Volvo, and industrial companies like Schneider Electric. Airbus and United are organisations in the aviation sector already on board.
As part of joining the coalition, Boeing is committing to supporting greater commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuels and advancing other low-carbon technologies, as well as increase industry partnerships in expanding sustainable aviation fuel supplies.
Boeing, which invests more than $3 billion (£2.48bn) annually in research and development, has run its ecoDemonstrator program for the last decade. This summer, the program’s projects will include technologies such as a new system to conserve water and the addition of vertical vanes on an aircraft’s wing which can improve aerodynamic efficiency during take-off and landing. To date, 230 technologies have been tested as part of the program.
Brian Moran, Boeing vice president of global sustainability, policy and partnerships, said the company was ‘honoured to serve as ‘champion’ for our sector and [are] committed to partnering with FMC members and others on scaling [sustainable aviation fuels] and accelerating low-carbon technologies to decarbonise aviation.’
At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in May, FMC members Alphabet, Microsoft and Salesforce collectively committed $500 million towards carbon dioxide removal. Alongside this, eight nations joined as government partners, including India, Japan and the United Kingdom.
The WEF hailed the financial pledge as ‘the largest market signal in history to commercialising emerging clean technologies’, but not everyone was convinced. The Verge described the commitment as ‘pouring millions into the wrong climate solution’, pointing out that ‘despite the cascade of new climate pledges from big tech, the emissions of many companies continue to grow.’ As this publication reported earlier this month, Amazon’s emissions increased by 18% year over year, though the company argues ‘carbon intensity’, which went down, is a more relevant metric.
Boeing also announced the appointment of Robert Boyd, formerly of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to a role working with FMC members and other industry partners. Boyd’s previous roles include serving as a member of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) fuel tanks group, as well as on the board of directors for the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).
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