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  • U.K. Department for Transport

UK commits domestic aviation to net-zero emissions by 2040 in new Jet Zero strategy

The U.K. government launched its new Jet Zero strategy at the Farnborough International Airshow July 19, which commits U.K. domestic aviation to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040, and for all airports in England to be zero-emission by the same year.

It also includes a plan for the industry to stay below prepandemic levels of carbon emissions through measures focused on everything from delivering system efficiencies to new technologies, with progress monitored annually.

“The whole economy will benefit as new, cutting-edge industries develop and new infrastructure is built to meet our ambitious targets, including the government’s commitment to having at least five commercial-scale SAF plants under construction in the U.K. by 2025,” the government stated.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government wants 2019 “to be remembered as the peak year for aviation emissions. From now on, it should all be downhill for carbon emissions—and steadily uphill for green flights.”

He added that “the Jet Zero strategy provides a clear path to building a greener aviation sector for generations to come.”

The six priority areas set out in the strategy are:

  1. Improving the efficiency of the U.K.’s existing aviation system, from aircraft to airports and airspace. For example, fuel efficiency will be improved by 2 percent every year and £3.7 million of government funding will be provided in 2022 to 2023 to support airports to modernize their airspace.

  2. Increasing support for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) through an SAF mandate that will require at least 10 percent of jet fuel to be made from sustainable sources by 2030, which the U.K. first announced in July 2021, and kickstarting a domestic SAF industry supported by a new £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund. Starting July 19, pioneering projects looking to produce SAF in the U.K. can bid for a share of the new fund. Building on the progress of the £15 million Green Fuels, Green Skies competition, this new funding will help achieve the aim to have at least five commercial SAF plants under construction in the U.K. by 2025.

  3. Supporting the development of zero-emission aircraft, with the aspiration of having zero-emission routes connecting places across the U.K. by 2030.

  4. Developing carbon markets and greenhouse gas-removal technologies to drive decarbonization and offset any residual emissions, including by enhancing the U.K. Emission Trade Scheme.

  5. Providing consumers with better information so they can make sustainable aviation choices. The government will publish a call for evidence on its proposal to provide consumers with environmental information at the time of booking air travel in autumn 2022.

  6. Increasing understanding of the nonCO2 impacts of aviation, such as contrails and nitrogen oxides. The effects of these remain uncertain so the government will work closely with academia and industry to monitor global developments in this area, increase its understanding, potential mitigations and explore a means of tracking these emissions.

The Jet Zero strategy builds on the Prime Minister’s Net Zero strategy, the U.K.’s economy-wide plan for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as the transport decarbonisation plan, which outlines the commitments and actions needed to decarbonize the entire transport system.

As part of the strategy, the government has finalized a new mandate for at least 10 percent SAF to be blended into conventional aviation fuels by the end of the decade.

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