New Fellow Travellers report on the potential for electric aircraft to mitigate aviation emissions. Spoiler: it’s very limited.

A new report, “Electric Dreams – the carbon mitigation potential of electric aviation in the UK air travel market” (by Jamie Beevor for Fellow Travellers) looks at how much, realistically, electric planes could cut UK aviation CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. They conclude that though small electric planes might be able to serve domestic and short haul routes, the cut in CO2 would not be large. The report says: “Delivering this level of emissions reduction before 2050 would require regulation and major market intervention to accelerate product development and fleet turnover industry cycles …Engineering constraints mean larger gains are unlikely in this timeframe, and it is probably not possible for transatlantic-range battery powered craft to be economically viable …There are no electric aircraft currently in development which could compete with the majority of the current global civil aviation fleet on range or capacity”. It concludes: “There is no realistic prospect – and there are no industry plans – for improvements in aircraft technology to bring about large overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger flights within a timeframe  that is meaningful to averting catastrophic temperature rises.” This is useful in countering aviation industry techno-greenwash.