UK introduces net zero aviation plan on hottest day ever, says travelers can keep flying 'guilt-free'

UK introduces net zero aviation plan on hottest day ever, says travelers can keep flying ‘guilt-free’

UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps outlined the government’s approach to achieving net zero emissions from aviation by mid-century.

Justin Tallis | AFP | Getty Images

FARNBOROUGH – The British government published its so-called “Jet Zero” strategy on Tuesday, outlining how the country plans to decarbonise what is considered one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. root of the climate crisis.

Speaking at a launch event at Britain’s Farnborough International Airshow, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps outlined the government’s approach to achieving net zero emissions in aviation by the middle of the century.

His comments came as Britain reported its hottest day on record on the second day of an extreme heatwave. Temperatures peaked at 40.2 degrees Celsius (104.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in southern England, according to provisional data from the Met Office.

Heat waves have become more frequent, intense and longer lasting due to the climate crisis. Indeed, the UK’s Met Office has said extreme temperatures in the country have been made 10 times more likely by climate change.

Britain’s Jet Zero strategy, which aims to decarbonise the aviation sector while allowing people to continue flying, seeks to implement a pathway which should mean emissions will never again reach pre-war levels. 2019 pandemic.

Among some of its key policies, the UK aims to make national aviation and airports net zero by 2040, respectively, and requires that at least 10% of sustainable aviation fuels be blended with fuels. traditional aviation by 2030.

The government’s plan must be reviewed every five years.

“The clear goal is to deliver net zero, or as I prefer to say jet zero, in aviation by 2050, but it recognizes that there are several different solutions needed for us to get there,” said Shaps.

“Innovation has long been clear and often showcased right here at Farnborough. Now the industry must embrace this change again [and] tackling the defining issue of our time, climate change – so keenly felt in the heat here today,” Shapps said.

“So let’s continue now to deliver the technologies and fuels that will allow us to fly guilt-free in a low-carbon world,” he added.

“Not doing enough to reduce emissions”

Ahead of the launch, climate campaigners sharply criticized the UK government’s Jet Zero initiative, saying some sustainable aviation fuels do more harm than good and that the plan is based on decades of growing demand incompatible with climate change. climate emergency.

“As the UK swelters under a climate crisis-induced heatwave, the government’s new aviation strategy is not doing enough to cut emissions,” said Alethea Warrington, campaigner for climate charity Possible. , in response to the government’s plan.

“While the government recognizes that emissions from flights are unlikely to exceed their pre-pandemic peak, it still allows the sector to continue emitting too much for too long,” Warrington said.

“Relying heavily on underdeveloped, hugely expensive or unenforceable technologies, the strategy crucially fails by leaving out a policy to fairly reduce demand for flights, such as a tax on frequent flyers,” he said. -she adds.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels, or SAFs, are energy sources “made from renewable raw materials,” according to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. It says the most common raw materials “are cultured or utilized cooking oils and animal fats.”

There are major concerns in some quarters that increased SAF use could, among other things, lead to substantial deforestation and create pressure on crops essential for food production.

When asked by CNBC if there was any acknowledgment in the government’s new SAF mandate that not all sustainable fuels are created equally, Shapps replied: “Yes, absolutely. The really important thing is that we don’t just produce SAF for the sake of producing SAF from energy or dirty ingredients or whatever.”

“So the answer is yes, but I can leave some of our technical experts … to fill in the details. But we absolutely recognize in the strategy that not all SAFs are created equal,” he added. .

— CNBC’s Anmar Frangoul contributed to this report.

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