Our approach

Birds in the sky

impact aims for collaborative solutions

impact members are charting a common path to sustainable aviation. This discursive and collaborative approach has already forged a common understanding about the KPIs that are crucial to decarbonize of the industry. impact members are now jointly defining how to implement these KPIs and financing standards.

Net zero emissions will be aviation’s license to operate in a cleaner future.

Air traffic grows faster than fuel efficiency

The world is committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. But the continuing rise in air traffic means aviation emissions are growing faster than the rate at which technology is reducing aircraft’s carbon footprint. These countervailing trends drive the “sustainability conundrum” aviation needs to tackle: As long as efficiency gains remain too small to offset the effect of air-traffic growth, CO₂ emissions will continue to rise as passenger and cargo volumes do.

KPI and yoy change... CO2 emissions still too closely coupled with RPK rises.

The Great Decoupling of air traffic and emissions trends

impact’s approach differs from others

impact wants aviation to decouple emissions trends from air-traffic growth – so that eventually CO₂ volumes decline even as air traffic keeps growing. Other approaches focus on emissions intensity (CO₂/RPK). But monitoring only intensity can flag “improvements” that disguise overall emissions trends.

impact also wants to bring together airlines, financiers, investors, renewable energy providers and tech innovators to generate investment in new technology – for example, the production of sustainable aircraft fuels (SAF production) and carbon capture.

Finance is a powerful lever

Regulators all over the world see finance as a crucial lever for efforts to lower emissions. For example, the EU Taxonomy Regulation gives financial institutions a major role in pushing aviation to net zero by 2050. Aviation financing companies have the power to demand more emissions transparency from airlines and agree transition-finance standards.

Intensity-only perspective could easily misguide (CO2 / RPK)
Assuming 3% growth of RPK p.a. and zero reduction of absolute CO2 emissions, intensity depicts an improvement to 62% of the 2019 value by 2035 and to 40% by 2050.

Transparency is key

Transparency is the key to decarbonization of the airline industry. impact wants all aviation stakeholders to adopt three clear and simple KPIs to throw authoritative light on emissions and allow target-setting and monitoring. The KPIs would measure their

  • Emissions footprint, or total volume of CO₂ emitted by a carrier over a year,
  • Emissions intensity, or CO₂ needed to transport a standard capacity unit,
  • Emissions decoupling, or how closely emissions are linked to air-traffic trends.

impact suggests to substitute assumption-heavy and thus potentially unstable forecasts as reference yardsticks in loan or lease agreements. Instead, impact proposes using different levels of increasingly difficult-to-achieve thresholds for a simple and transparent scoring system (“milestones”). Milestones are defined by categories of capacity growth and decarbonization. Once an airline has accomplished a particular milestone, its sustainability score rises accordingly.

No assumptions or forecasting models would be required to set appropriate milestones, the rules are fully transparent, and the thresholds remain constant until 2050. The concept of milestones is analytically sound and easy to understand, interpret and implement.

A meaningful approach will ascertain long-term availability of capital.