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A passenger plane approaches London Luton Airport, on Jan. 7, 2018.Peter Cziborra/Reuters

The aviation industry is split on whether it can meet its climate targets with almost a third of its sustainability executives predicting it will miss a mid-century deadline, a survey commissioned by GE Aerospace suggested on Thursday.

Published ahead of the Paris air show, the global survey showed just below half – or 46 per cent – of the 325 executives surveyed believe the industry will meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050, while 32 per cent believe it will not and 22 per cent are unsure.

Most believe the industry will meet its objectives by 2055, however.

“Respondents are split as to whether progress is happening at the right pace, with 51 per cent saying it is too slow, adding a sense of urgency to a longer-term target,” GE Aerospace said.

The aviation industry set a 2050 goal of net zero emissions in 2021. The main path is widespread use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which so far makes up 0.1 per cent of airline fuel consumption.

Environmental critics say the targets are unrealistic due to the low level of SAF available and argue the only way to reach them is to substantially reduce flying globally.

Rising costs and supply issues are among the biggest hurdles and the industry needs more support, GE said in a poll summary.

“The survey is trying to show that this is ambitious, (but) it’s not going to be easy,” Allen Paxson, vice president of commercial programs strategy at the U.S. engine maker said in an interview, adding he believed the target would be met.

“It’s a sign that people are taking it really seriously. The fact that some people forecast differently than other people is okay: let’s get our heads around it and get on with it.”

The head of the International Air Transport Association, Willie Walsh, said last week airlines were “absolutely committed” to the 2050 target but reaching it would be tough.

GE said 74 per cent of respondents said they would maintain or grow green investments in the face of inflation or recession.

The survey was carried out last month by Ipsos in the United States, U.K., China, India, the UAE and France.

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