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Government calls for ideas on the low carbon fuel strategy for the transport sector

25th April, 2022

Through the month of February 2022, the Government ran a consultation asking for feedback on their low carbon fuel strategy within the transport sector. We were pleased to have the opportunity to submit to this call for ideas and are keen to continue to engage with the Department on this topic as work develops.

What are low carbon fuels?

Low carbon fuels for aviation are often known as sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). These are defined by the UK government as “low carbon alternatives to fossil-derived aviation fuel”. Both the UK Government and the aviation industry are eager to investigate the potential of SAFs as tools of decarbonisation. This is because:

(a) there are few other options.

(b) SAFs do not depend on significant aircraft/engine/airport modifications, so they are relatively easy to introduce.

However, questions about their efficacy, the policy framework needed for their uptake and their high cost still need to be resolved. We have highlighted these questions in our response to the consultation, while also focusing on four key areas.

1) How to measure the effectiveness of SAFs within the transport sector

  • The issue of carbon accounting and the emissions ‘savings’ claimed for SAF needs to be addressed. 
  • There is a problem with potential misrepresentation. For example, claims about the emissions reductions associated with SAFs derived from landfill waste, have, in AEF’s view, been exaggerated.

2) Demand

  • As aviation demand for low-carbon fuels increases, AEF is concerned that there is a risk of airlines’ use of these fuels displacing carbon in the economy, rather than removing it.

3) Supply and green jobs

  • AEF encourages an economy-wide approach when considering the creation of green jobs. Sectors that everyone relies on, such as domestic heat and electricity, should not end up paying over the odds to access renewable electricity as a result of aviation making use of scarce renewable resources. 
  • Airports have historically over-promised in relation to jobs, so AEF urges the Government to commission its own research into employment opportunities.

4) Policy framework

  • In order to ensure confidence in any future low carbon fuels market, there must be a policy framework that requires airlines to accurately report their emissions.

To read our full response to the government’s call for ideas on their low carbon fuels strategy, click here.