U.K. aviation industry reveals plans for net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050

Even with the building of Heathrow’s proposed third runway which will substantially increase the volume of traffic at London’s principal airport, the British aviation industry has published its plans to hit its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Sustainable Aviation coalition, which includes industry giants such as Rolls-Royce, easyJet, AirBP (the aviation offshoot of BP) and European planemaker Airbus, published the plans on Tuesday of this week (February 4).

To achieve its goals, several major changes will require adoption by the aviation industry, including greater use of sustainable aviation biofuels and use of more fuel-efficient aircraft. The aviation industry, which is responsible for 7% of the U.K.s carbon emissions, expects passenger numbers to grow by 70% between now and 2050, which means many more flights. As a consequence, it sees that funding carbon offsets elsewhere could well be the solution.

Carbon offset projects can involve planting trees or helping to fund renewable power projects such as wind or solar in developing countries. However, some campaigners see carbon offsetting as a way to reduce incentives to cut actual carbon emissions. The UK was the first of the G7 countries to also set a 2050 target of net-zero carbon emissions, which will ultimately require a major public rethink on the way people consume electricity and choose to travel.

2019 saw easyJet, Europe’s second-largest low-cost carrier, become the first recognized airline worldwide to hit a target of net-zero carbon emissions through extensive use of carbon offsets.

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