Ministers Advise People to Fly Less to Curb Climate Change

Ministers Advise People to Fly Less to Curb Climate Change

As part of its goals to combat climate change, the government has been accused of failing to lower demand for flying and meat consumption.

The fuel economy has improved in recent years as a result of policy initiatives and industry efforts. For example, between 2005 and 2017, the quantity of gasoline burned per passenger decreased by 24%. However, the rising trend in air traffic has overtaken these environmental gains, with passengers flying 60 per cent further in 2017 than in 2005.

Aviation accounts for 13.9 per cent of all transportation-related emissions, making it the second-largest source of GHG emissions after road transport. Global aviation, if it were a country, would be among the top ten polluters. A flight from Lisbon to New York and back produces nearly the same amount of emissions as heating a home for a year in the EU.

Prior to the COVID-19 issue, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) predicted that global aviation emissions would quadruple by 2050, compared to 2015.

Ministers have also failed to demonstrate how to meet their goal of reducing demand for road travel, according to the Climate Change Committee advisory body. It cautions that the prime minister’s “techno-centric” approach to reducing emissions is certain to fail. However, the committee’s findings applauded the government’s Net Zero Strategy. A government spokeswoman said the CCC’s overall positive response to the Net Zero Strategy was encouraging and that the strategy will achieve all of its climate change objectives.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated that climate change can be addressed without resorting to “hairshirtery.”

Many experts agree that technology is necessary, but they also believe that behaviour must change. They believe that in order for the UK to reach its climate commitments in the 2030s, demand for high-carbon activities must be reduced.

The report comes ahead of the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, which begins on Sunday. The CCC is an independent agency that advises the UK and devolved governments on carbon targets.

“There is less emphasis on reducing demand for high-carbon activities than in the CCC’s scenarios,” the report states.

“These remain valuable options with major co-benefits and can help manage delivery risks around a techno-centric approach. They must be explored further with a view to early action,” added the committee. 

Last week, the government’s overarching Net Zero climate plans revealed how almost every sector of the economy should virtually eradicate planet-warming carbon emissions by 2050. However, the committee warns that the Treasury still lacks policies to reduce emissions on the eve of the Budget. It doesn’t say how the money will be raised for a big investment in clean electricity, or how a good home insulation programme will be urged and supported, for example.

More measures are also needed to reduce emissions from land use and agriculture, according to the report.

The critiques are countered by praise for the government’s Net Zero Strategy, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in the world to show how emissions may be reduced across the board. According to the report, the method is feasible and affordable, and it would generate a large number of jobs.

“This is a genuine step forward,” CCC chairman Lord Deben stated. “The UK was the first major industrialised nation to set Net Zero into law – now we have policy plans to get us there. Ministers have made the big decisions – to decarbonise the power sector by 2035, to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles, to back heat pumps for homes. They have proposed policies to do it. I applaud their ambition, but now they must deliver these goals and fill in the remaining gaps in funding and implementation.”

Because there is currently a chasm between the government’s climate promises and its accomplishments, this may be easier said than done.

According to the CCC, ministers only achieved around a fifth of the carbon reductions required to reach earlier climate commitments.

“We value the Climate Change Committee’s expert advice as we work to implement our comprehensive plan to finish the job and eradicate the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050,” a government spokeswoman said.

“As the committee rightly highlights, our world-leading Net Zero Strategy builds on the UK’s proven track record of having decarbonised faster than any other G7 country in recent decades.”

What is the Climate Change Committee?

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is a statutory, independent agency created under the Climate Change Act of 2008. Their objective is to provide advice on emissions targets to the UK and devolved governments, as well as to report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and planning for and adapting to climate change consequences.

What are the committee’s responsibilities?

  • Provide unbiased assistance on establishing and adhering to carbon budgets, as well as preparing for climate change.
  • Track progress toward reducing emissions and meeting carbon budgets and goals.
  • Conduct impartial research into the science, economics, and policy of climate change.
  • Share evidence and analysis with a wide range of organisations and individuals.

What is Net Zero Strategy?

For the first time, the UK Government’s new Net Zero Strategy lays out how it plans to halve UK emissions in less than a decade and remove them by 2050. It is a feasible, cost-effective proposal that will bring jobs, investment, and other benefits to the United Kingdom. It’s also a great example of how to follow through on climate change targets with action to bring to the COP26 summit.

Are there any sustainable options for the aviation sector to attain net zero?

The most viable short-term answer is sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), however, battery-electric and hydrogen propulsion will play a role in the medium and long periods. SAFs are the only viable short-term solution for reducing aviation emissions because they are compatible with present aircraft engines and fueling infrastructure and can power flights of any length. SAFs might meet 25 to 30 per cent of the sector’s energy needs in 2030 if the climate ambition path is followed.

More new propulsion systems will be required in the medium and long term. According to optimistic forecasts, battery-electric propulsion could become a viable option for reducing CO2 emissions on short-haul flights as early as 2025. For mid-to-long-haul flights, hydrogen propulsion technologies, such as fuel-cell and combustion-powered aircraft, will be critical for reducing CO2e emissions. In 2050, hydrogen may be able to meet up to 25% of overall energy consumption.

To enable the transition to net-zero aviation in the face of competing demands, collaboration among significant stakeholders and institutions will be required. Ensure feedstock sustainability, assist R&D for alternative paths to market, de-risk private infrastructure investments, and stimulate demand through measures that adequately factor in the cost of jet fuels’ CO2e emissions might all be goals of this collaboration.