Members of an aviation coalition are outlining a five-pillar strategy to commit the UK industry to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, while accommodating a 70% growth in passenger numbers.
But the coalition, Sustainable Aviation, warns that it will need investment and a partnership with the government, plus collaboration from outside the aviation sector, to ensure that the opportunities to cut emissions are realised.
UK transport secretary Grant Shapps is set to join aviation executives to unveil the initiative in London on 4 February.
The strategy combines development of new aircraft and engine technology, sustainable fuels, and restructuring of airspace with innovative carbon-removal solutions and carbon market policy measures.
“Aviation has a crucial role to play in reducing carbon emissions,” Shapps will tell attendees. “With the help of new technologies, renewable fuels and our continued international co-operation through [ICAO] we’ll be able to strike that balance, creating a greener and cleaner future.”
Sustainable Aviation says the UK government and industry must take an “international approach” to the matter, to ensure UK actions on emissions do not inadvertently create emissions elsewhere.
It states that the government should support aerospace research and consider increasing investment to accelerate technology development.
The coalition is also seeking a £1 billion public-private investment to support sustainable aviation fuel plants, in recognition of the “essential” role of such fuels – which, it adds, would provide a substantial UK export opportunity.
“Government must maintain a vital leadership role on airspace modernisation,” the coalition says, ensuring “timely progress is delivered” in order to reduce carbon emissions.
These technical and flight operations advances should be supplemented by effective market-based policy measures, it adds, supporting the ICAO carbon-offset scheme CORSIA. The government should set a clear, long-term carbon dioxide target for global aviation – compatible with the International Panel on Climate Change – in 2022.
“Use of robust carbon offsets and investment in innovative carbon removal solutions will be vital to address residual UK aviation emissions by 2050,” the coalition states.
It is urging the government to “raise ambition” on carbon capture and storage deployment, and commit to supporting at least two clusters to be operational by 2025, and work to ensure UK carbon-removal solutions are eligible for airline investment through CORSIA.
Sustainable Aviation chair Neil Robinson says: “The UK is well-positioned to become one of the leaders in the green technologies of the future, including sustainable aviation fuels and electric flight, creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the process.
“We look forward to working in partnership with ministers to help realise these opportunities.”