UK domestic flights could be zero-emission by as early as 2028, according to a new policy paper published by Transport & Environment.
Domestic flights catered for 22.4 million passengers in the UK in 2019, yet according to T&E because of their shorter distance, these flights could soon be driven by electric or hydrogen aeroplanes.
In the meantime, longer flights, for which zero-emission jets are not yet feasible, should only fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel from 2050, made either from waste-based SAF or e-kerosene.
To accelerate this shift, T&E says the government should encourage SAF production by providing loan guarantees for SAF plants as well as implementing a SAF mandate on fuel suppliers.
The UK government has currently committed to ‘enable the delivery of 10% SAF by 2030.’
T&E says this quota should be carefully divided between e-kerosene and waste-based SAF. T&E suggests a ‘twin-track’ approach that requires a growing share of both technologies.
Both zero-emission aviation and SAF development are in their early stages, and therefore require large sums of taxpayer money to help them become mainstream. To pay for the increase in investment proposed above, T&E says that a kerosene tax should be announced soon, to take effect from 2025.
Matt Finch, UK Policy Manager at T&E said: ‘A ban on conventional aircraft for domestic flights is necessary if the government wants to fulfill its Jet Zero ambitions. A 2040 deadline for polluting jets will help transform the UK into a global leader on zero-emissions aircraft. Electric and hydrogen aircraft should be supported with taxpayer money in the early years, before airlines are required to use them by law.
‘Today, any motorist filling up their car’s petrol tank pays more fuel duty than any British airline. It’s time to finally tax fossil kerosene and use a large portion of the income to set the industry on a realistic path to net zero.’