Achieving ‘green flights’ could be some way off, with scientists
having looked at the challenge of producing sustainable aviation fuel to
supply the UK’s ‘net zero’ ambition.
Experts say it would require enormous quantities of UK agricultural
land or renewable electricity to keep flying at today’s levels. This is
according to findings from a report, 'Net zero aviation fuels: resource
requirements and environmental impacts', by UK science academy The Royal
Society, which examined four options for greener fuels to replace the
12.3m tonnes of jet fuel used annually in the UK.
The UK science academy’s report concluded that none of the options -
biofuels (energy crops and waste), hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic
fuels, could replace fossil jet fuel in the short term. It said that
while each fuel type has advantages and drawbacks, the findings
underscore the challenges of decarbonising aviation, especially when
resources are likely to be in global demand for a range of ‘net-zero’
Separately, another report highlighted how air travel is responsible
for communities around the world emitting more carbon dioxide in 2022
than in any other year on records dating to 1900. The International
Energy Agency report showed that as global airline traffic increased
post-pandemic, carbon dioxide emissions from burning oil grew 2.5%, with
about half the surge resulting from the aviation sector.
The findings prompted a warning from climate experts that energy
users around the world must cut emissions dramatically to slow the dire
consequences of global warming. To reverse emissions, they suggested
that nations must subsidise renewables, improve energy efficiency,
electrify industry and transportation, set a high price for carbon
emissions, reduce deforestation, plant trees and rid the system of coal.