The UK government’s “jet zero” plan to eliminate carbon emissions from aviation is based on unproven or non-existent technology and “sustainable” fuel, and ministers are likely to fail to meet their legally binding emissions targets, according to a report.
The study by Energy Elemental, which has worked for the government and climate change committee in the past, says that rather than focus on such dodgy future developments, ministers should work to reduce the overall number of flights and stop the spread. of the airport in the coming years. .
The report, published on Monday, was commissioned by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) and comes as five regional airports are in the process of getting approval to expand.
In addition, Gatwick and Luton have announced that they will submit major applications later this year, while Heathrow has not abandoned its plans for a third runway.
AEF policy director Cait Hewitt said the findings showed the government’s plan amounted to “sitting back and allowing both airports and emissions to grow in the short term while waiting for future technologies and fuels to save the day”.
“These expansion plans will generate millions of additional tons of COtwo every year,” he added. “Until the government sets a realistic net zero path for the sector, and the industry is on track to exceed it, additional airport capacity should be off the agenda.”
The government’s jet zero initiative was launched two years ago and is part of a series of policies that aim to make the UK’s emissions net zero by 2050.
Boris Johnson announced the proposals, declaring a goal of carbon-neutral commercial transatlantic flight by 2025, a claim experts widely dismissed as a gimmick.
The report adds weight to concerns about the viability of the government’s plans, stating that it is unclear how the Department for Transport will “deliver the technological improvements” it relied on in terms of sustainable fuel and aircraft efficiency.
He concluded that ministers should instead aim to reduce the number of flights now, halting airport expansion plans, expanding carbon prices and taxing frequent flyers and kerosene.
Hewitt said: “[There is] a need for action now, including ruling out airport expansion and limiting demand, to ensure aviation is contributing its fair share to reducing emissions by 2035 and is on track for net zero by 2050.”
The DFT did not respond to a request for comment.