Ministers have announced plans for the UK’s first Transport Decarbonisation Plan as part of efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
However, despite a pledge by transport secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) that the plan would ‘achieve net zero emissions across every single mode of transport’, it remains unclear whether this will apply to international aviation.
Although the Government has confirmed that its plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 covers the whole economy, including international aviation and shipping (IAS) emissions, its climate change advisers have said that ‘zero-carbon aviation is highly unlikely to be feasible by 2050’.
Government officials said the Decarbonisation Plan ‘recognises the need to scale up efforts in the transport industry’ and would to bring together a bold and ambitious programme of co-ordinated action needed to end the UK’s transport emissions by 2050.
Mr Shapps said: ‘From driving our cars, to catching a train or taking a flight abroad, it is crucial that we ensure transport is as environmentally friendly as possible.
‘This is why, as well as agreeing to the CCC’s recommendation on net zero by 2050, we have launched this groundbreaking plan to achieve net zero emissions across every single mode of transport.
‘We want to work with industry and communities around the country to develop this plan – to make our towns and cities better places to live, help to create new jobs, improve air quality and our health, and take urgent action on climate change.’
Officials said the Decarbonisation Plan will set out in detail what government, business and society will need to do to deliver the significant emissions reduction needed from all modes of transport.
They added: ‘In particular it will consider how UK technology and innovation can be implemented to encourage major changes to the way people and goods move across the UK.’
However, a Department for Transport spokesperson told Transport Network that it is too early to say whether international aviation will in itselt be net zero. Phase one of the plan is expected to be published by the end of the year, looking at existing emissions and plans for reduction, with more concrete measures in a second phase next year.
The spokesperson added that the UK is continuing to lead the way to find a solution to the global issue of international aviation emissions.
In a letter to Mr Shapps last month, Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, wrote that while the planning assumption for IAS should be to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, ‘for aviation, and to the extent that shipping emissions cannot be eliminated, measures to remove CO2 from the atmosphere will be required to offset remaining emissions’.
He added: ‘They cannot be a substitute for genuine emissions reductions.’