The U.K. aims to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from aviation to make carbon-free transatlantic flights possible within a generation, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday.
Shapps said he has formed a group bringing together leaders from aviation, environmental groups and government to form the “Jet Zero Council,” as he seeks to rebuild the industry in the wake of the Covid pandemic. The industry is determined to have a “greener restart,” he said in the government’s daily coronavirus briefing.
“This group will be charged with making net zero emissions possible for future flights,” Shapps said. “Our goal, within a generation, will be to demonstrate flight across the Atlantic without harming the environment.”
The U.K. is chasing a target to make the country a net-zero economy by 2050, and transport emissions are proving among the toughest to get down. Aviation emissions currently account for more than 2% of global greenhouse gases, and have risen by 70% since 2005. The International Civil Aviation Organization forecasts that they will rise another 300% by 2050 in the absence of measures to bring them down.
Shapps’s announcement was welcomed by Airlines U.K., the industry association representing U.K.-registered carriers.
“There are huge opportunities for the U.K. to be a world-leader in sustainable aviation fuels production and electric aviation, creating thousands of high-skilled jobs and major export opportunities in the process,” the group’s chief executive officer, Tim Alderslade, said in a statement.
Shapps also said his department is backing Velocys Plc, a company building an aviation biofuels plant in Lincolnshire, eastern England.
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