In 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass a law to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The UK government has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, a target which was recommended by the UK’s independent climate advisory body, the Climate Change Committee (“CCC”).
The CCC’s advice suggests an average 96% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, with the residual emissions being counterbalanced by greenhouse gas removals from the atmosphere.
This requires a transformation in every sector of the economy, including hard-to-decarbonise sectors like aviation.
A recent Frazer-Nash Consultancy-led report, produced for the UK government Department for Transport, investigates the greenhouse gas emissions from General Aviation (“GA”), decarbonisation technologies and routes to net-zero for the sector, which includes all non-scheduled commercial civil aviation in the UK.
Tim Myall, Senior Business Manager, Future Mobility for Frazer-Nash, comments:
“The aims of this research project were to establish a carbon baseline for GA, to identify existing infrastructure, decarbonisation opportunities and the cost of green infrastructure; and to make recommendations to help the sector decarbonise. The study considers emissions from the aircraft as well as ground infrastructure and operations.
There is a significant dependency on the growth of sustainable aviation fuels, but also an opportunity for GA to play an important role in scaling these up and accelerating a new generation of low carbon flight technologies. There is also much that can be done to improve energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel consumption, but the sector is diverse and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
It has been a pleasure to work on such a vitally important topic on behalf of the UK government.”
The report, which can be found on the UK government website, notes:
‘Aviation is recognised as being difficult to decarbonise, and under the CCC’s ‘balanced net zero pathway’ aviation emissions are projected to decline 40% by 2050 from 2019 levels, with residual aviation emissions needing to be offset by greenhouse gas removals in order to achieve net-zero. The most optimistic ‘tailwinds’ scenario shows that a near complete decarbonisation of aviation may be possible with ambitious scale-up of the availability of biofuels and synthetic jet fuels.
‘The decarbonisation of the UK economy creates both risks and opportunities for the GA sector. If the sector fails to keep up with the pace of decarbonisation delivered across the wider economy, it could be disproportionally impacted by future net-zero policy such as carbon taxation. The resulting costs to the sector could far outweigh the costs of implementing the solutions.’
To read the report in full on gov.uk, click here