The Transport Decarbonisation Plan (the Plan) and Jet Zero Consultation (the Consultation) were published on 14 July 2021 setting out ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener transport network. It is recognised in the Plan that decarbonising aviation is a global challenge requiring innovative solutions on a large scale to prevent it lagging behind other sectors which are on track to reach net zero at a faster pace. This challenge presents opportunities for the UK's energy, technology, engineering and manufacturing industries to compete in a global market for the development of zero emission aircraft and a sustainable aviation fuels industry.

The Plan

The headlines for aviation in the Plan include:

  1. Support for the development of zero carbon UK aircraft technology through the Aerospace Technology Institute programme which as of May 2021 supported 327 research and development projects valued at over £2.9bn;
  2. £3m funding in 2021/2022 through the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure programme to accelerate research and development into infrastructure requirements at UK airports to support zero emission aircraft;
  3. £3m investment in establishing a sustainable aviation fuels clearing house for the certification in the UK of new fuels;
  4. Continued financial support of the UK airspace modernisation programme;
  5. Improvement of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation;
  6. Negotiation of a long-term climate goal for international aviation through the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation by 2022; and
  7. A commitment to publish a hydrogen strategy in summer 2021, focussing on increasing production and its use across the UK economy including for transport.

The Consultation

The Consultation outlines the UK Government's proposed strategy for net zero aviation and seeks views on:

  1. A target for UK domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040;
  2. A target for decarbonising emissions from airport operations in England by 2040;
  3. Setting a CO2 emissions reduction trajectory for aviation from 2025 to 2050 against which progress will be measured;
  4. Measures needed to support the development of a globally competitive UK sustainable aviation fuels industry;
  5. Measures needed to support the transition towards zero emission aviation including zero emission routes connecting the UK by 2030.

What's Next?

The Consultation will run until 8 September 2021 and responses will be published within three months of that date. Views expressed will help shape the UK Government's Jet Zero Strategy due to be published later in 2021. In respect of airspace change, the Plan indicates that the CAA's updated Airspace Modernisation Strategy will be consulted on later in 2021 and will provide further detail in respect of decarbonisation of airspace.