We have de-coupled aviation growth from growth in emissions: between 2010 and 2016, passenger numbers in the UK grew by 27%, while total emissions only grew by around 0.2%. This is as a result of the development and introduction of new aircraft technology and improved air traffic management. SA airlines have improved their fuel efficiency by almost 12% whilst airports have invested in reduced energy use on airfields have further supported the de-coupling.
We expect further progress to be made in the coming years. A further 360 new aircraft are currently on order by UK airlines, which will improve the fleet-average fuel efficiency of UK aviation by 22% by 2050 and aerospace manufacturers are already investing in the next generation of engines and aircraft, with research in to hybrid-electric and fully-electric planes underway.
Sustainable aviation fuels are now supported by the UK Government and industry will start to commercialise these, delivering a reduction in emissions of up to 24%.
Airspace modernisation across the UK should be completed by the mid-2020s. This could deliver a reduction of up to 14% in emissions by 2050, including through more efficient operational procedures including greater use of continuous climb and descent operations.
Market based measure will play a critical role. The UK Government, supported by industry, has achieved a world first with a global deal on aviation emissions (CORSIA) at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). No other transport mode has an equivalent deal, which aims for carbon-neutral growth from 2020. This is a crucial step towards our objective of halving net emissions by 2050.
Find out more about our work on Climate Change.
In 2016, Sustainable Aviation examined aviation’s contribution to air quality. We found that most of the impact near-to airports comes from road traffic, of which only a part is airport-related.
However, we are committed to playing our role to improve air quality. Airports, airlines and ground-handlers are developing and trialling low-emissions vehicles airside as well as reducing emissions from airfield operations, for example through the increased use of on-stand electricity and pre-conditioned air.
We are also working with local and national government to improve surface access to airports and encourage sustainable transport use.
We are producing a Best Practice Guide on aircraft turnarounds, setting out practical steps to reduce emissions that impact air quality and urging the government to extend its support for low-emission vehicles to specialist airside vehicles
Find out more about our work on air quality.