UK airport capacity must be limited for net zero

10/12/2020 08:38 CO2


The UK government must implement airport capacity restrictions in order to achieve net zero by 2050, the UK's Climate Change Committee (CCC) said today in its advice on the country's sixth carbon budget.

Current planned additional airport capacity would require capacity restrictions on other airports, unless faster progress is made on aircraft technology and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) development, the CCC said.


The CCC said UK policy should support the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in the near term. But the report also warned that "ongoing uncertainty until 2025 about a new UK SAF mandate, and withdrawal of SAF from the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO)" could delay first commercial SAF projects in the UK. The CCC said that the existing UK RTFO will not be suitable for delivering mass commercial roll-out of SAF, because of the upcoming decrease in liquid road fuel use.


Should sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) fail to develop as expected, aviation demand must be further managed and the CCC urges "taxes to increase as people fly more and fly further". The CCC also suggests CO2 labelling on all flights for prospective passengers. Demand can only grow by 25pc in the next thirty years if the UK is to reach net zero emissions, CCC said.


Targets for aviation emissions net of greenhouse gas removals could be 31mn tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year in 2030, 21mn t CO2e/yr in 2035 and 14mn CO2e/yr in 2040, if 40pc of greenhouse gas removals are dedicated to the aviation sector, according to the CCC.


"The government should commit to UK international aviation reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050 at the latest," the CCC report said.


Ahead of the UN Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December, the UK government set out new climate targets that did not include any policy on aviation, although it published intentions to invest in zero-emission aircraft and SAF research in a ten point plan, published last month.

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