UNSW Aviation Industry Panel Discussion Series

Leading meaningful discussion on the issues and challenges that will shape the aviation industry’s future.

modern aircraft of an airfield

Thursday | 20 June 2024 | 5.30PM-8.00PM | Colombo Theatre A, UNSW Sydney

Sustainability in Aviation – Net Zero 2050 #Is it Possible?

The aviation industry is currently working on best practice measures to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This commitment aligns with the Paris Agreement goal for limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

How realistic is this target for aviation? How viable is the current road map to achieve this goal?

Our expert panel will discuss the challenges around SAF production, scaling, hydrogen as an alternate fuel source, infrastructure and supply chains, and the need for industry stakeholders to capture data and accurately model carbon emissions throughout the entire fuel lifecycle. 


The global aviation industry is currently seeing large orders for conventional aircraft which have an average life span of up to 25 years, and there is currently no single replacement for jet fuel, nor a viable and agreed plan. 

IATA reports estimate that SAF could contribute 65% of the reduction in emissions needed by aviation to reach net-zero in 2050, but this leaves 35% unaccounted for.

In 2023, SAF production reached 600 million representing 0.2% of global jet fuel use. Although this is triple 2021 activity, it will require a massive increase in production to the order of 5 trillion to meet demand and the 2050 target. The largest acceleration is expected in the 2030s as policy support becomes global, SAF becomes competitive with fossil kerosene and credible offsets become scarcer.

For countries such as Australia, Brazil, and Canada, which have large land mass and relatively low population density, the issue of a sustainable solution is more pressing. Long-haul journeys contribute more CO2 emissions than short journeys and are not replaceable with surface transport.


Amelia McGuire

Aviation, Tourism and Gaming Reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Featuring Panellists

Jake Atkins

General Manager Environment and Sustainability, Sydney Airport

Jake Atkins, an environmental executive and the General Manager of Environment and Sustainability at Sydney Airport, is a driving force in decarbonising Australia’s largest Airport. With 14 years of diverse experience across utilities, infrastructure, property, government, consulting, and aviation, Jake has recently been undertaking an MBA at the University of Sydney. In his current role at SYD, Jake and his team collaborate with key stakeholders to understand and manage SYD's physical and transitional climate risks. Sydney Airport’s investments in sustainable infrastructure enhance the Airport’s resilience and play a pivotal role in the decarbonisation efforts of the Australian aviation sector.

Professor Rose Amal

Scientia Professor, Particle and Catalysis Group, School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW

Professor Rose Amal is a UNSW Scientia Professor and was an ARC Laureate Fellow. Prof. Rose Amal is a chemical engineer and the leader of the Particles and Catalysis Research Group, and Co-Director of ARC Training Centre for the Global Hydrogen Economy (GlobH2E). Professor Rose Amal is recognised as a pioneer and leading authority in the fields of fine particle technology, photocatalysis and functional nanomaterials having made significant contributions to these related areas of research over the past 20 years. Her research contributions span from fundamental chemistry to applied chemical engineering fields; from material science and nano-research to a specialised photochemistry field. Her current research focuses on designing catalysts for solar and chemical energy conversion applications (including photocatalysis for water and air purification, water splitting, CO2 reduction to make Syngas and NOx reduction to generate ammonia) and engineering systems for solar induced processes, using the sun’s energy as a clean fuel source. A companion of the order of Australia (AC), Professor Amal was  recognised in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 top honours for her "eminent service to chemical engineering" and exceptional achievement for her research into using sunlight to transform carbon dioxide – a major cause of global warming – into a sustainable and renewable source of fuel.

Ron Bartsch AM

Director and Chair of the Safety, Environment and Risk Management Committee, REX, Director of Dovetail Electric, Senior Lecturer, Law & Regulation, UNSW Aviation

Professor Ron Bartsch has over 35 years’ experience in the aviation industry in a variety of senior operational, safety and regulatory roles. As former Head of Safety and Regulatory Compliance at Qantas Airways Limited and a Senior Manager with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), he has both industry and government experience across multiple sectors of the aviation industry.

He is a Independent Director of Australia’s largest independent airline Regional Express Holdings Limited and chairs the airline’s Board Safety and Risk Management Committee. As an experienced pilot, Ron has in excess of 7,000 flying hours, an Air Transport Pilot Licence and ratings on over 30 aircraft types including command endorsements on the Beechjet and Boeing 717.

Ron also has formal qualifications in law, education, science, the arts and philosophy. Admitted as a Barrister to the High Court of Australia in 1993, he has consulted in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

A former high school mathematics and science teacher, Ron has also served as a Senior Lecturer and Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales for the past 23 years and is Visiting Professor at The University of the South Pacific and the Australian National University. He is author of numerous publications including the best-selling Aviation Law in Australia (Fourth Edition) and contributing author for the aviation title of Thomson Reuters Laws of Australia and Halsbury’s Laws of Australia.

Brendon Buckley

Strategic Policy Adviser for Domestic Aviation & Reform, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts (DIRTDCA)

Harry Jobberns

Senior Manager, Climate Strategy, Qantas

Edward Mason

Managing Director, Jet Zero Australia

Ed is CEO and Founder of Jet Zero Australia, a biofuel energy company established in 2021 with plans progressing to develop Australia’s first LanzaJet Alcohol to Jet Fuel (ATJ) facility, taking surplus ethanol production from agricultural by-products on the east coast of Australia and converting it to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) via a plant to be built in Townsville, Queensland. 

He was previously Managing Director at HSBC, Renaissance Capital, Bank of America and Royal Bank of Canada and has a Bachelor of Engineering & Computing (Hons) from Monash University and is a Graduate in Corporate Finance from the Securities Institute of Australia

Alan Milne

CEO, Skytrans Airlines