No 3rd Runway Coalition: “Heathrow expansion stopping UK from jet zero dreams”

The government hopes all international flights from the UK can be made “net zero” for carbon emissions by 2050. Its new consultation, called “Jet Zero” sets out what the DfT is hoping for, with the remarkable reduction in carbon emissions largely being brought about by “sustainable aviation fuels.” The DfT is not keen on doing anything that would deliberately restrict air travel demand. Campaigners at Heathrow, the No 3rd Runway Coalition, point out that it would be hard enough to get anywhere near net zero for aviation emissions, even without airport expansion plans being allowed. And it would be completely impossible, if a 3rd Heathrow runway was allowed, adding perhaps up to another 9 million more tons of CO2 per year to be emitted. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “It has long been clear that Heathrow’s 3rd runway is incompatible with the UK climate targets and would take up the vast majority of aviation’s residual emissions in 2050.”



14 July 2021

No 3rd Runway Coalition

The Government have published a Jet Zero Aviation consultation which primarily looks at achieving Net Zero emissions within the aviation sector by 2050, with domestic aviation’s target set at 2040 (1).

Campaign group No 3rd Runway Coalition, who want to see plans for a carbon-intensive 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport scrapped, described the Government’s approach as “immaterial” until Heathrow expansion is ruled out.

The consultation ‘evidence and analysis’ document (2) published alongside the main
consultation document contains advice from the Government’s Climate Change
Committee (CCC), states that all the scenarios do not bring down aviation’s emissions
to net zero. Even with Sustainable Aviation Fuels – which the Government have
repeatedly placed a lot of faith in the development of, the sector will still be emitting 9
megatonnes of CO2 per year in 2050 (3). The document states that due to remaining
emissions, cuts will have to be made in other sectors. The consultation asks for views on how to do achieve this.

The reason for these high levels of residual emissions would appear to be because
Heathrow expansion is yet to be cancelled. The evidence and analysis document says
that the various scenarios put forward are accounting for Heathrow expansion taking
place. It cites fact that the National Policy Statement (the policy document upon which
Heathrow expansion is based – passed in 2018) still stands, even though this Government have tried to distance themselves from it (4).

Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “It has long been clear that Heathrow’s 3rd runway is incompatible with the UK climate targets and would take up the vast majority of aviation’s residual emissions in 2050. The Government’s laudable goal to achieve decarbonisation in aviation can only be achieved by ruling out Heathrow expansion of once and for all.”


1) Jet Zero consultation –
2) Jet Zero – evidence and analysis document
3) Table on p. 19 of evidence and analysis document
4) Sections A.5 – A.7, page 21/22 of evidence and analysis document

“Achieving net zero aviation by 2050”

A consultation on our strategy for net zero aviation.  Ends 8th September.
See earlier:

Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “sustainable aviation fuels” (spoiler…crazy over-optimism)

The DfT’s consultation on reducing aviation carbon emissions, “Jet Zero” places a lot of faith in finding novel, low carbon fuels, so people can continue to fly as much as they want. These are called “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” (SAF). The consultation says SAF “could play a key role in decarbonising aviation, whilst also representing an industrial leadership opportunity for the UK.” The economic opportunity aspect, and producing jobs, is key for the DfT.  They say “Many experts view SAF as the only alternative for long-haul flights up to 2050, which are the flights with the biggest climate impact.” The DfT is hoping SAF could “result in over 70% CO2 emissions saving on a lifecycle basis and could deliver net zero emissions with the addition of greenhouse gas removal technologies.” SAF would either be biogenic, non-biogenic (from wastes) or made using zero-carbon electricity.  There are huge problems, glossed over by the consultation. A key problem is that “there is currently no comprehensive global regulatory standard for SAF sustainability. The UK is therefore active at ICAO in negotiating for a full set of sustainability criteria for SAF.” The DfT “will shortly consult on a UK SAF mandate setting out our level of ambition for future SAF uptake.”

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Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “Influencing Consumers” – keep flying, depend on techno-optimism

The DfT has launched its consultation, called “Jet Zero” on how the UK might decarbonise flights, by 2050. One really effective way to do that would be to reduce the demand for air travel, which is what the Climate Change Committee  (CCC) recommended. The CCC said (24th June) “Lack of ambition for aviation demand management would result in higher emissions of 6.4 MtCO2e/year in 2030 relative to the CCC pathway for aviation emissions.” But the Jet Zero consultation just says “We want to preserve the ability for people to fly whilst supporting consumers to make sustainable travel choices.” And “This Government is committed to tackling the CO2 emissions from flights, whilst preserving the ability for people to fly.” And “we currently believe the sector can achieve Jet Zero without the Government needing to intervene directly to limit aviation growth” and cut aviation CO2 by as much as the CCC says is needed, but by other means – SAF, hydrogen, electric planes etc. It then says it will “seek to address residual carbon emissions through robust, verifiable offsets and additional greenhouse gas removals.” And it acknowledges that these are all “currently at a relatively early stage of development and [their deployment] requires collaboration and commitment across all parts of the sector if it is to succeed.” It also considers carbon information for flights, but only so people can still fly, but choose different airline options.

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