The UK Government has today launched a Jet Zero consultation that commits the aviation sector to a net zero emissions target by 2050.
It says the plan will ensure people can continue flying for holidays, visiting family and on business without contributing to climate change.
The consultation proposes an earlier target for UK domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040, as well as for all airport operations in England to be zero emission by 2040.
It said this decision reflects the fact the UK aviation industry is already leading the way in seeking to reduce emissions from flights.
The Government has also set a target of 2050 for the UK’s domestic rail network.
Emma Gilthorpe, COO of Heathrow and Jet Zero Council CEO, said: “We look forward to working with government to translate this ambition to action and deliver a future where people can continue to enjoy the benefits of air travel – without worrying about their impact on the environment.”
But Greg Archer, UK Director of the Europe-wide green transport campaign group Transport & Environment, said there is much more to do to tackle international aviation emissions.
“To ensure the UK meets its climate targets, the government will need to convert its raft of new proposals into measures that rapidly change how people and goods move,” he said.
“More difficult decisions to reduce vehicle use and flying and reallocate spending towards green transport options will be needed, but this plan signifies a commendable and substantial shift in the right direction.”
Announcing the plan today, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the pandemic has already brought about behavioural and societal change that will help reduce society’s carbon footprint.
“We’ve seen homeworking change traditional commuter and leisure trips, video conferencing has changed business travel and we’ve seen a rise in cycling and walking all of which could save thousands of tonnes of carbon themselves,” he said.
Shapps said the decarbonisation plan is “not about stopping people doing things: it’s about doing the same things differently”.