Coalition targets UK aviation net zero carbon emissions in next three decades

By Luke Barras-hill |

Airline-window-sustainabilityUK aviation can become one of the future ‘green technology leaders’ following a commitment to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, according to Sustainable Aviation.

Members of Sustainable Aviation, a coalition of major UK airlines, airports, manufacturers, air navigation service providers and key business partners, will sign a pledge that commits to reaching the target by 2050.

Neil Robinson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said: “Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world.

“We know aviation emissions will increase if decisive action is not taken, and that’s why UK aviation 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.”

Travellers-genericBIO FUELS: ROLE TO PLAY

A new ‘Decarbonisation Road-Map: A Path to Net Zero’ published today (4 February) by the organisation outlines a plan to help slash emissions through smarter flight operations, new aircraft and engine technology, modernising UK airspace, the use of sustainable aviation fuels and market policy measures.

Sustainable Aviation claims these actions will mean getting rid of 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year – this is despite current passenger growth projections of +70% to 2050.

In a statement on Twitter, Trade body Airlines UK called the development ‘a significant step for UK aviation and our commitment to grow our sector sustainably.”

In addition to the Decarbonisation Roadmap, a ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuels Road-Map’ has also been released identifying the specific role played by sustainable fuels.

Sustainable aviation fuels could meet 32% of the UK’s demand for aviation fuel by 2050, forecasts the coalition.

In a television interview with Sky News today, John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive at Heathrow Airport said that ‘the big breakthrough’ will come with sustainable aviation fuel.

“This is fuel that can be used in existing planes today mixed in with kerosene – and that is happening already – and it is made from either agricultural or domestic waste or with synthetic fuel made by combining carbon and hydrogen.”


An excerpt from the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Road-Map infographic. Source: Sustainable Aviation. Click to enlarge.


The Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport 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 Organization, we’ll be able to strike that balance, creating a greener and cleaner future.”

British Airways announced in October plans to offset carbon emissions for all its UK domestic flights in 2020.

The airline operates approximately 75 flight daily between London and 10 cities including Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Isle of Man, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Inverness and Jersey.


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