UK aviation is committed to cutting CO2 emissions from aviation to net zero by 2050. We are making our commitment a reality by supporting many initiatives today across operations, next generation aircraft, including zero carbon propulsion solutions, Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and carbon removal. We are already making progress:
- By 2019 in the UK, a 30% growth in passengers was delivered with only a 1% increase in CO2 emissions when compared to 2005.
- UK airspace modernisation at network level is underway, with changes delivered over the past three years already enabling c60,000 tonnes of CO2 savings a year.
- The COVID pandemic saw the earlier phasing out of older jumbo jets replaced by newer, more efficient aircraft. The next generation of fuel efficient aircraft technologies will include zero carbon propulsion solutions.
- Hydrogen fuel cell aircraft are now in test flight phases in the UK and the testing of engines running on 100% hydrogen fuel have occurred with the ambition for hydrogen powered aircraft to begin entering service by the end of this decade.
- UK SAF started production in 2022 in the Humber and SAF blends have now been used on over 450,000 flights globally. A world-first 100% sustainable fuel test flight took place in November 2022 by the RAF and industry partners using a military transporter aircraft – an RAF Voyager.
- The world’s first fully CO2 net zero transatlantic flight is planned for 2023, and will take off from the UK, London to New York, using solely SAF.
Over one million jobs in the UK already rely on aviation and our Net Zero Carbon Road-Map shows how with the right action today we can maintain the benefits of flying for generations to come by reducing our C02 output from around 39 million tonnes to zero whilst still growing UK aviation by 78%.
This will be achieved through improvements in aircraft and engine efficiency, the use of sustainable aviation fuels, more efficient operations and airspace, the use of robust carbon offsets and investment in innovative carbon removal solutions will address residual.
Delivering net zero carbon for aviation will be harder than for most sectors but it is achievable. However, it can only be delivered through an international approach, with substantial investment from industry and development of smart low carbon policies by the UK Government, working in partnership with the sector.
Whilst non-CO2 factors are not addressed in this Road-Map, we are carrying out further work, to determine the best way to manage them going forwards. We will continually review this Road-Map to ensure it remains in line with the latest scientific advice on meeting the UK and ICAO related aviation climate goals.
Find out more by reading our full Net Zero Carbon Road Map below.