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In June, the UK Climate Change Committee delivered two progress reports to parliament on progress in reducing emissions and progress in adapting to climate change.
The UK is leading the international debate on aviation emissions. It has unilaterally decided to incorporate emissions from departing international flights to its own Paris agreement Nationally Determined Contributions. It is investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and in new electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft. The UK Aerospace Technology Institute is backing the Future Flight Challenge, pioneering a range of enablers for a new future of flight.
Despite this leadership, the emissions reduction goals for UK aviation in the Climate Change Committee pathway could be seen as rather modest. These include increases in SAF use from 0.1% of aviation fuel in 2025 to 25% in 2050. It envisages only 9% of flight-kms to be hybrid-electric in 2050, up from none at all in 2035. Yet the report identifies that government stated ambitions related to aviation are forecast to miss this pathway by over six Megatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- A decarbonisation pathway adopted as a policy goal for government, to inform airport expansion and demand management policy
- No net expansion in UK airport capacity
- Implementation of taxes and other price incentives to encourage use of other transport options, uptake of SAF and the development of greenhouse gas removal technologies