Jet Zero Strategy: the UK government sets out its plan to deliver net zero aviation by 2050

The Jet Zero strategy sets out how the UK will achieve net zero aviation by 2050. It focuses on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel whilst maximising the opportunities that decarbonisation can bring to the UK.
Jet Zero Strategy: the UK government sets out its plan to deliver net zero aviation by 2050

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The new Jet Zero strategy released on 19 July by the UK Government sets ambitious green targets to ensure passengers will be able to fly guilt-free in the future.

Launched at Farnborough International Airshow, the strategy commits UK 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 pre-pandemic levels of carbon emissions through measures focused on everything from delivering system efficiencies to new technologies, with progress monitored annually.

Aviation is currently responsible for around 2.5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. With the sector contributing £22 billion to our economy and set to grow as it recovers from the pandemic, the Jet Zero strategy provides the tools to help future-proof the aviation sector, deliver guilt-free air travel and create thousands more green jobs around the country.

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 5 commercial-scale SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

We want 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.

The UK is setting an example of the ambition needed to tackle climate change, and the Jet Zero strategy provides a clear path to building a greener aviation sector for generations to come.

Rather than clipping the sector’s wings, our pathway recognises that decarbonisation offers huge economic benefits, creating the jobs and industries of the future and making sure UK businesses are at the forefront of this green revolution.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

This strategy provides the clear vision and leadership required to tackle one of the great industrial challenges of our time, decarbonisation of aviation. Importantly, it is also clear the global shift to cleaner forms of flight represents a huge opportunity to secure growth and jobs for the UK.

Through the ambitious steps outlined in this strategy and close collaboration with our world-leading industrial and innovation base, the UK stands ready to capitalise on first mover status, seizing the economic benefits of a green aviation revolution.

The 6 priority areas set out in the strategy are:

  1. Improving the efficiency of our existing aviation system, from aircraft to airports and airspace. For example, we will improve fuel efficiency by 2% every year and are providing a further £3.7 million in 2022 to 2023 to support airports to modernise their airspace.

  2. Increasing support for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), by creating secure and growing UK SAF demand through a SAF mandate that will require at least 10% of jet fuel to be made from sustainable sources by 2030 and kickstarting a domestic SAF industry, supported by the new £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund.

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

  4. Developing carbon markets and greenhouse gas removal technologies to drive decarbonisation and offset any residual emissions, including by enhancing the UK Emission Trade Scheme (UK ETS).

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

  6. Increasing our understanding of the non-CO2 impacts of aviation, such as contrails and nitrogen oxides. The effects of these remain uncertain so we will work closely with academia and industry to monitor global developments in this area, increase our 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 UK’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 decarbonise the entire transport system.

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

Made from waste materials such as household waste, sewage or used cooking oil, these fuels offer, on average, greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel when fully replacing kerosene.

SAF is a core part of the Jet Zero strategy, and from today pioneering projects looking to produce SAF in the UK can bid for a share of the new £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund. Building on the progress of the £15 million Green Fuels, Green Skies competition, this new funding will help us achieve our aim to have at least 5 commercial SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025.

Innovative projects will harness engineering expertise to produce millions of litres of SAF every year, supporting thousands of green jobs in our industrial heartlands, improving UK fuel security and putting us at the forefront of the emerging global SAF industry.

The announcement on July 19 come as the Transport Secretary launches the next phase of his historic challenge to the aviation industry to deliver the first transatlantic flight running on 100% SAF in 2023. Following a call for expressions of interest in May this year, companies can now bid for up to £1 million of funding. The government will announce the final successful applicant later this year.

The announcements support the work of the Jet Zero Council, which met today at the iconic Farnborough International Airshow to discuss the Jet Zero strategy and signed a new Jet Zero Council members’ charter. The charter will ensure the council remains at the forefront of delivering SAF and zero emission flight, with over 17 council members having today made new pledges showing their commitment to delivering Jet Zero.

The new strategy is the next milestone for the aviation sector’s green journey and builds on the UK’s presidency of COP26 in Glasgow, where the UK launched the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition, showing the high level of support for an ambitious long-term emissions reduction goal for international aviation to be agreed at the 41st ICAO Assembly this year.

The government is also working with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which released its new strategy today, Destination Net Zero. The strategy will complement the Jet Zero strategy, driving a reduction in the climate impact of aviation whilst contributing to the economic prosperity and global aerospace leadership of the UK.

More information about the strategy can be found on the Department for Transport's website here. 

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