In the keynote address to the WATS, Rachel Kyte, Dean of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, invited airlines to “turn this crisis into an opportunity – to make this industry part of the growing coalition of actors across all sectors of society and the economy committed to a net zero future.”

Kyte, who is the former special representative of the UN Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, was clear that investment is being divested from fossil fuels and that questions are being asked about companies’ commitments to net zero and their entire approach to sustainability.

She stressed that the cost of inaction would be higher than the cost of inaction and that it would be better for businesses to be masters of their own destiny.

She called on the industry to accelerate the use of sustainable aviation fuels. She also argued that the voluntary carbon market could play a role in reaching the Paris target – but only if they were high in integrity and transparency.

She called for governments to gear recovery plans and adopt policy frameworks that will drive the uptake of SAF. She challenged the industry to put as much force into arguing for those policies as it does into lobbying for other policies that advantage the industry, like landing slots.

She concluded by urging that “the past is not a predictor of the future,” and that “the responsibilities of leadership are heavy.” She called for courageous leadership to support the global effort to combat climate change, so that aviation could continue to be at the core of the global economy.

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