The SBTi’s New Interim 1.5°C Aviation Pathway

2nd Feb 2023

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) today releases a new technical report detailing an interim pathway for aviation companies to set 1.5°C-aligned targets.

This pathway is designed to harmonize existing sector guidance with the SBTi’s current criteria. It allows aviation companies to meet the minimum ambition levels required by the criteria, and provides a short-term, accessible option for them to set science-based net-zero targets.

The interim pathway is derived from the Breakthrough Scenario described in the Aviation Vision 2050 report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. The SBTi’s interim 1.5°C aviation pathway builds on this scenario to account for projected demand and technology changes, like investments in net-zero carbon aircraft and fuels, that are sufficient to align the sector with net-zero by 2050.

The technical report, also released today, describes the interim pathway and clarifies the requirements for setting a base year outside the timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic during the anomalous emissions fluctuations across the entire sector.

The SBTi’s aviation team also plans to launch a formal sector update project for the existing target setting aviation guidance. The sector guidance will be updated in accordance with our comprehensive and transparent process, which includes technical development, stakeholder and public engagement, as well as the review of an Expert Advisory Group (EAG). If the interim 1.5°C pathway is superseded by an updated pathway released alongside the updated sector guidance, approved targets using the interim 1.5°C scenario before the release of the updated 1.5°C pathway will remain valid.

Until the guidance is updated, the interim pathway for the aviation sector marks an important milestone in the transformation of the airline industry to align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The SBTi encourages companies from across the sector to use the interim pathway and align their emissions with what science says is needed to limit the impact of climate breakdown.