The UK’s Sustainable Aviation coalition includes the majority of major airports and airlines, aerospace manufacturers and other stakeholders. It will shortly sign the pledge, with one-third of its targets set to be achieved via carbon off-setting; new aircraft and engine technology, smarter flight operations, and development of sustainable fuel sources will also contribute.
However, Greenpeace is among the parties that have criticised the proposals, describing them as a ‘greenwash’. “This whole strategy is a flight of fancy,” said John Sauven, UK Executive Director of the organisation. “Carbon offsetting is simply an excuse to carry on with business as usual while shifting the responsibility to cut emissions to someone else, somewhere else, and some other time.”
It is also difficult to square the commitment with the industry’s plan to increase the number of flights flying in and out of the UK by 70 per cent between now and 2050.
Commenting on the pledges, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) sounded a more optimistic note. “This is an important step for a sector that has a critical role to play in meeting our net-zero target,” said Tom Thackray, the CBI’s Infrastructure and Energy Director. “The roadmap demonstrates how we can deliver a long-term future for aviation while at the same time reducing emissions to net-zero. To make this a reality, we need to unlock further investment in new technologies, from sustainable fuels to airspace modernisation. This requires working closely with the government to deliver the policies businesses need. The upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow is a golden opportunity for the UK to lead the world in demonstrating that sustainable aviation technologies and growth can go hand in hand.”