Inadequate Jet Zero strategy criticised by environmental groups and even pilots

The DfT has produced its “Jet Zero Strategy” which is the nearest thing there is to an aviation policy for the UK. Though, as that, it is entirely inadequate.  Leading environmental groups – Green Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Possible, Transport & Environment and AEF – have explained why the strategy is ineffective, in cutting future aviation CO2 emissions. The Climate Change Committee’s annual report, published in June, found the aviation industry (also agriculture) is unprepared for meeting the UK’s legally binding climate targets for “net zero” by 2050. The Jet Zero strategy needs to have detailed policy proposals on how its ambitions will be achieved, with specific policy mechanisms to create incentives for the development and deployment of zero emission aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels. It should have a detailed decarbonisation pathway that achieves genuine carbon reductions before 2035, not only after then.  It needs to have a plan to curb air passenger demand, as novel and untested technological solutions – on which the strategy largely depends – cannot be relied up. Even BALPA, the pilots’ union, has said the strategy places too much faith is future technologies, that may not deliver.


Jet zero: Aviation industry has ‘insufficient plans’ to meet net zero targets, green groups warn

By Amber Roltclock (Business Green)
19 July 2022

Five leading green groups set out tests new ‘Jet Zero’ strategy needs to pass

A coalition of leading environmental groups has today set out a series of ‘tests’ that the government’s ‘Jet Zero’ strategy needs to pass, if it is to put the aviation industry on a credible path to delivering on the UK’s net zero targets.

Ahead of the anticipated release of the new ‘Jet Zero’ strategy later today, the groups – which include Green Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Possible, Transport & Environment and AEF – highlighted how the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) recent progress report concluded the government’s plans for tackling aviation emissions are currently “insufficient” for meeting the UK’s net zero goals.

The CCC’s annual report, published in June, found the aviation industry is one of only two sectors of the economy, along with land use and agriculture, that are unprepared for meeting the UK’s legally binding climate targets. The report also highlighted that “no progress” had been made on “addressing aviation demand”, which is set to continue to increase in the years ahead.

Helena Bennett, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, said the CCC’s report presented a clear challenge to the upcoming ‘Jet Zero’ plans. “There needs to be a credible plan for the aviation industry to catch up with the rest of the economy and get on track for net zero,” she said. “Anything less than that, and the government will be giving our airlines a free pass to keep polluting.”

The climate groups today argued that the Jet Zero strategy should be published alongside detailed policy proposals on how its ambitions will be achieved, with specific policy mechanisms to create incentives for the development and deployment of zero emission aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels.

They also suggested the strategy should develop and adopt a decarbonisation pathway that results in a significant reduction in emissions by 2035, compared to the aviation industry’s pre-pandemic baseline.

The Jet Zero strategy should also introduce a framework for managing emissions by curbing passenger demand, the groups said. They added that as such no further airport expansion should be permitted until decarbonisation targets are met, as fledgling technological solutions may not deliver emissions reductions at the rate necessary to meet the decarbonisation pathway.

“The government’s ongoing support for airport expansion – both at Heathrow and elsewhere in the UK – while claiming it’s committed to net zero aviation suggests ministers have their heads in the clouds,” said Cait Hewitt, policy director at AEF.

In addition, the groups said the new strategy should include specific policies on how to address the significant non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation.

And the coalition argued the strategy must ensure the ‘polluter pays principle’ is applied on all the carbon emissions caused flying, and as such the full costs of aviation decarbonisation measures should be borne by the aviation industry, not the taxpayer.

“Emissions-free flight remains far off, and it’s really risky for the government to use the hope that this will materialise to allow huge expansion of a high-carbon sector,” said Alethea Warrington, campaigns manager at Possible.

“Rather than this wing and a prayer strategy, the government should listen to their own advisors on climate and put in place a sensible plan to manage demand. A frequent flyer levy would target the small group of people who take most of the flights and cut emissions from flying in a way that’s fair and has public support.”

The intervention comes just a day after the government used the first day of the Farnborough Air Show to announce a £273m funding boost for green aviation R&D projects. The move was welcomed by the industry, but campaigners remains concerned that it will precede a Jet Zero strategy that focuses on techno-fixes rather than measures to curb emissions from aviation in the near term.



Government’s Jet Zero strategy draws flak from pilots and campaigners

By Samantha Mayling  (Travel Weekly)

July 19, 2022

The government’s latest Jet Zero strategy has been criticised by the pilots’ union and campaigners, who say it relies too much on technological breakthroughs.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the plans on Tuesday (July 19), saying they will “help the sector become greener and allow passengers to enjoy guilt-free flying”.

The strategy will introduce a mandate to ensure that at least 10% of jet fuel is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030 and commits UK domestic aviation to achieving net zero emissions by 2040, and for all airports in England to be zero-emission by the same year.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said the strategy “misses the significant deliverable steps in the challenging road to making aviation truly sustainable”.

“The strategy relies too heavily on unproven and un-costed technologies for removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, a major risk to success,” said the union.

“In 2050, according to the strategy, aviation is still expected to emit half the CO2 that it does now, making the case for securing very real gains on non-CO2 effects immediately.”

Despite this, Balpa welcomed the new funding announcement of £180 million to foster a UK sustainable fuel industry on top of the substantial funding previously committed.

More: Shapps: ‘2019 should be peak year for aviation emissions’

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) – an organisation campaigning about aviation’s impacts for people and the environment – also criticised the reliance on technology.

Tim Johnson, AEF director of the AEF, said: “Ministers are not being honest about what it will take to achieve net zero flying. It’s crucial that we start reducing emissions now but the strategy doesn’t forecast any reductions before the next decade so we’re on course to blow our 2035 climate target.

“The strategy avoids answering the difficult questions like the need to fly less, and calling a halt to airport expansions.”

Cait Hewitt, AEF policy director, said: “The government is relying on technological breakthroughs from industry while allowing for continued growth. But some of these plans just don’t add up.

“For example, to make enough synthetic e-fuel to meet the existing jet fuel demand from the UK aviation sector would require an offshore wind farm the size of Northern Ireland.

“Given the need to limit passenger demand in order to meet climate goals, the Government must outline how it intends to ensure a just transition to create green, sustainable and secure jobs.”

Campaign organisation the No 3rd Runway Coalition said the strategy places “significant faith in the development of technologies that are in their infancy or do not yet exist to help deliver the decarbonisation of aviation”.

The organisation said the simplest way to assist the aviation sector to make progress in delivering on net zero targets would be for the government to withdraw policy support for a third runway at Heathrow.

However, the owner of Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports welcomed the strategy.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive at Manchester Airports Group, said: “The publication of the Jet Zero Strategy is an important recognition by government of the commitments made by our industry for a more sustainable future.

“With the pledges we have announced today, we will be working even more closely with our industry partners and the UK government through the Jet Zero Council, to make real and measurable progress against the targets we have in place.”

Henry Smith MP, chair of the All-Party Group for the Future of Aviation, also welcomed the strategy, saying it gives a “clear statement of intent and allows UK aviation to plan for its route to net zero”.

He said: “There has never been a more critical time to decarbonise and aviation can and must reach net-zero. To achieve this, industry and government now need to further work together to turn the Jet Zero ambitions and announcements into robust delivery plans, including for a domestic SAF industry by 2030.


See earlier:

DfT publishes “Jet Zero Strategy” … “so passengers can look forward to guilt-free travel”

The DfT has published its “Jet Zero Strategy”, such as it is.   For net emissions, not all emissions.  Predictably, it does not propose realistic cuts in aviation carbon emissions, nor any measures to reduce air travel demand.  The Strategy says: “We are introducing a CO2 emissions reduction trajectory that sees aviation emissions peak in 2019. [39.6MtCO2]. This trajectory from 2025 to 2050, is based on our “High ambition” scenario, and sets ambitious [sic] in-sector targets of 35.4 MtCO2e in 2030, 28.4 MtCO2e in 2040, and 19.3 MtCO2e in 2050.” The level was about 18MtCO2 in 1990. So it will take 30 more years, to get them back to the 1990 level (by which time, the UK should – miraculously – have become “net zero”.  The strategy makes no mention of air travel demand management, which would be the simplest and most effective mechanism to cut emissions. Instead there are hopes of tech solutions of all sorts (none that could become commercially viable for decades) and the intention to have a mandate for jet fuel to contain 10% SAF by 2030. Problem with that is “sustainable aviation fuels” have their own considerable carbon and environmental downsides.  The aviation industry will be happy – they can keep on growing …

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