Brexit Britain plans first net zero transatlantic flight – ‘guilt-free flying’ on horizon

Sadiq Khan on reaching net zero by 2030

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Plans for the pioneering flight — which will be powered by 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel — are being drawn up between the Government and the aviation industry. The new initiative is the result of a partnership between the two called the Jet Zero Council. This collaboration aims to deliver new technologies and innovative approaches to help cut aviation emissions while also supporting the UK economy.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This trailblazing net zero emissions flight, a world first, will demonstrate the vital role that sustainable aviation fuel can play in decarbonising aviation in line with our ambitious net zero targets.

“That’s not just great news for the environment, it’s great news for passengers who will be able to visit the Big Apple without increasing damaging greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s crucial that we place sustainability at the heart of the aviation industry’s recovery from COVID-19 and I look forward to working with them on this challenge.

“It will lower the impact flying across the Atlantic has on the planet.”

Analysis by aviation industry experts has suggested that the UK developing a sustainable aviation fuel industry could directly create up to new 5,200 jobs.

Furthermore, the more could support a further 13,600 jobs through global exports.

This, said a spokesperson for UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), “would help to level up the UK and boost the economy.

“The industry estimates its annual turnover could reach £2.3 billion by 2040.”

The net zero flight fund competition is being delivered by the Department of Transport in tandem with Innovate UK, the innovation agency that is part of UKRI.

Innovate UK CEO Indro Mukerjee said: “Innovate UK proudly supports this pioneering initiative.

“This flight, driven through collaboration and bold ambition, is a perfect example of how innovation can and will shape our future lives.

“The speed at which this has become a reality is down to the inspiration, ingenuity and investment of all those involved.”

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The announcement is a welcome move in an area with which international policymakers have traditionally struggled to engage.

Writing in the Conversation, aviation experts Emma Rachel Whittlesea and Tim Ryley of Australia’s Griffith University explain: “Governments have generally failed to provide strong leadership to help the aviation sector to reduce emissions.

“This in part is because pollution from international aviation is not counted in the emissions ledger of any country, leaving little incentive for governments to act.

“Aviation is also a complex policy space to navigate, involving multiple actors around the world.”

The UK, however, is not the only country making strides to reduce aviation emissions.

Following the introduction of government policy in 2017, the Swedish aviation industry has developed a roadmap to reach fossil-fuel-free domestic flights by the end of the century.

They are also planning to make all international flights departing from Sweden net zero by the year 2045.

The EU, meanwhile, is planning to end their current tax exemptions for jet fuel and introduce measures to accelerate the uptake of sustainable fuels.

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