Report: 11 Sustainable Aviation Trends for 2023

By Sustainability in the Air / January 05, 2023

Our new Sustainable Aviation 2023 Trends report looks at how and why the battle for climate action is expected to grow more heated this year. There’s reason for both hope and concern. Download it here.

We’re now into 2023, which means that we’re 27 years away from the industry net zero goal agreed by ICAO.

We’re also only seven years away from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) target of halving emissions by 2030.

All this comes as the sustainability spotlight is increasingly on aviation.  

With environmental campaigners seeing overconsumption as a root cause of global warming and perceiving air travel as a symbol of so-called ‘luxury emissions’, we expect to see climate activists increase the pressure on the industry in 2023.

More direct action – disruptive protests at airports – is, in fact, one of our predictions for 2023.

But there are others, which give reasons for optimism as the industry starts to decarbonise. For example, advances in battery technology should help make regional electric aviation a reality.

We also expect to see more airlines get involved with emerging carbon capture technology, be it through buying carbon storage credits, or investing in companies that turn CO2 into E-Fuel.

Report: 11 Sustainable Aviation Trends For 2023


Eleven sustainable aviation trends for 2023

1 – The year of non-CO2 emissions

The subject of aviation’s non-CO2 impact, such as contrails, will move front and centre in 2023.

2 – The year of intentional flying

Awareness is growing about the climate impact of air travel. As a result, in 2023, we expect to see more people making more careful flight choices.

3 – The year of direct action

We will see more disruptive climate change protests at airports, for example, runway occupations.

4 – The year of trains and planes

Cooperation between airlines and rail companies will deepen, including potentially another rail network joining an airline alliance.

5 – The year of better batteries

This year, we expect to see further advances in battery technology, turning electric regional aviation from a flight of fancy to a reality.

6 – The year of net zero infrastructure

Airports will plan for next-generation aircraft, and there will be increasing decarbonisation of ground operations.

7 – The year of carbon capture

A few airlines dipped their toes in the carbon capture space in 2022. Many more will follow in 2023. We also expect to see CO2 capture being used in construction and infrastructure.

8 – The year of e-fuels

With concerns mounting about feedstock availability and the cost of biofuels, expect to see an acceleration of e-fuel development.

9 – The year of sustainability labels

Flight search engines already provide CO2 figures. The next step will be the launch of easy-to-understand environmental labels for flights, allowing consumers to make more sustainable choices.

10 – The year of sustainable cabin

The trend of single-use plastics being phased out of airline cabins will continue. In-cabin sustainability as a whole will grow in importance.

11 – The year of cooling credits

We’ll be hearing a lot more about solar geo-engineering in 2023. For the first time, there is now a startup wanting to sell ‘cooling credits’ to airlines.

Download the full report to dive deeper into each of these trends.

More aviation-specific sustainability updates and analysis can be found in our weekly Sustainability In The Air newsletter, led by SimpliFlying’s Research Director Dirk Singer. Do subscribe to our send-out to stay on top of the latest trends.

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