India has been taking several steps towards green aviation as the country looks to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable development. In the recently held EU-India Aviation Summit, Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said, “We are encouraging our airports to use green energy by 2024 and achieve net zero by 2030. Twenty-five of our airports are already using 100 percent green energy. Our target is to make another 121 airports carbon neutral by 2025.”
Why green aviation is necessary
The growth of low-cost carriers, infrastructure development, and increasing disposable income, among others, have led to a rapid expansion of India’s aviation sector. Air passenger traffic in India, comprising both domestic and international travel, is expected to reach 395 million in 2023–24. Given this exponential rise, India is consistently working to address its environmental impact. Green aviation is necessary for several reasons, primarily because traditional aviation practices are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Further, green aviation practices also play an instrumental role in reducing the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels, which are finite resources. By adopting cleaner and more sustainable practices, the aviation industry can become more resilient to changes in fuel prices and supply disruptions.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) a green alternative for the aviation industry
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has been implementing various schemes and initiatives in this direction. One key step in this direction is promoting the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a green alternative. Produced from animal fats (biomass), wastes (used cooking oil), and agri-residues (palm fatty acid distillate), SAF can be safely blended with traditional jet fuel, making it a “drop-in” fuel.
As per some reports, using SAF in comparison to conventional jet fuels would result in a lifecycle carbon reduction of up to 80 percent. In addition, recently, the Indian Oil Corporation signed an MoU with LanzaJet, a sustainable aviation fuel producer, to build a commercial-scale SAF plant in India.
Further, the government’s Green Aviation Policy, which is aimed at creating a regulatory framework to remedy the environmental issues created by the civil aviation industry, is also a major step in this direction. The policy helps identify key policy areas that require guiding principles and regulations. Additionally, several airports, including Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, have installed solar panels to generate renewable energy.
India is making strides towards a more sustainable aviation industry. The government and the aviation industry are working together to develop alternative options to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. India’s green aviation sector is still in its early stages. However, the country’s recent initiatives exhibit its commitment to promoting sustainable aviation.