UK aviation industry commits to net zero carbon emissions by 2050

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The UK’s aviation industry has announced its commitment to net zero carbon emission by 2050, in a move that has been welcomed by airports and airlines around the country.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, together with aviation industry executives, signed a pledge committing to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The move follows a thorough review of the opportunities to cut aviation emissions, which was published on 4 February 2020.

The net zero roadmap – ‘Decarbonisation Road-Map: A Path to Net Zero’ – was published by the UK Sustainable Aviation coalition, and highlights where emissions reductions can come from. This includes through smarter flight operations, new aircraft and engine technology, modernising UK airspace, the use of sustainable aviation fuels, as well as policy measures.

Through these actions, the UK is expected to be able to grow passenger numbers by 70% – in line with current projections – whilst cutting net emissions from currently 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually to zero.

Alongside the Decarbonisation Road-Map, a guide for sustainable aviation fuels was released, which identifies the specific role that sustainable aviation fuels could play in meeting this commitment. It forecasts that the UK could become a world leader in developing these cleaner fuels, which could meet 32% of the nation’s demand for aviation fuel by 2050.

“Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world,” commented Neil Robinson, chair of Sustainable Aviation. “We know aviation emissions will increase if decisive action is not taken, and that’s why UK aviation today commits to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN.

“The UK is well positioned to become one of the leaders in the green technologies of the future, including sustainable aviation fuels and electric flight, creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the process, and we look forward to working in partnership with Ministers to help realise these opportunities.”

Transport Secretary Grant Schapps added: “The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the modern world, but the aviation sector’s commitment today is a huge step forward in creating a greener future.

“Aviation has a crucial role to play in reducing carbon emissions, and with the help of new technologies, renewable fuels and our continued international co-operation through the UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, we’ll be able to strike that balance, creating a greener and cleaner future.”