Skip to content

Proposed measures to decarbonise aviation sector fall a long way short of challenge ahead

10th September, 2021

AEF has responded to the Government’s consultation on its proposals for delivering net zero aviation by 2050 Jet zero: Our strategy for net zero aviation which closed on Wednesday. The proposals rely heavily on future technologies, but fail to set out how these will be delivered, or how developments will be funded. Despite the government climate advisor’s recommendations to manage demand in order to bring aviation into line with net zero by 2050, the plan allows passenger numbers and airport capacity to continue growing, whilst holding out for technologies that may or may not come to fruition. And while the Government says it is committed to more effective carbon pricing, it makes few proposals for delivering this. 

A summary of our response is below. To read our full consultation response, click here.

  • We support the proposal to achieve net zero for domestic aviation by 2040, although as domestic aviation represents only 4% of total emissions of the aviation sector, this will only represent a small step towards the sector-wide net zero target. 
  • The inclusion of international aviation and shipping (IAS) in carbon budgets does not begin until 2033; it is essential that the pathway to decarbonisation is set out in the interim. 
  • In order to help achieve the in-sector CO2 emissions trajectory, no new airport capacity should be released until it is clear UK aviation emissions are falling. 
  • We support an approach of monitoring progress in emissions reductions, but this should be more regularly than every five years, at least until IAS is included in carbon budgets.
  • Government modelling of possible net zero trajectories for aviation assumes that sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) generate zero emissions. This is a claim not even made by industry or planned for by Government in its SAF mandate consultation. 
  • The evidence that the Department for Transport (DfT) itself has commissioned in recent years does not support the claim that ‘zero emissions flight technologies […] could support a significant reduction in global aviation emissions’, as is now being claimed. The DfT-commissioned study found, for example, that ‘all electric propulsion’ was not anticipated to be possible until after 2055 for larger aircraft – too late for the UK’s legislated net zero target. Government should avoid overclaiming about potential of technology on long-haul routes. 
  • We support the proposal for CO2 information for flights to be published to help guide consumer choice. Consumers should also be made aware of the non-CO2 impacts, and that the climate impact of their flight is greater than from its CO2 alone. 
  • All proposed mitigation options for CO2 need to be assessed for their non-CO2 impact. The most effective way of reducing non-CO2 impacts from flying is to reduce flight numbers.