Pilots issue red warning for Government’s Jet Zero Strategy

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) issues red warning for Government’s Jet Zero Strategy

BALPA has issued a “red warning” for the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy, which – despite ambitious targets – misses the significant deliverable steps in the challenging road to making aviation truly sustainable.

With CO2 accounting for only around one third of the global warming effect of aviation, the Government has failed to grasp the need for immediate action in avoiding the creation of contrails and other non-CO2 effects of aviation. Having only committed to “consider” non-CO2 effects of aviation, the UK must use its scientific and technical expertise to lead the world in this vital area through a comprehensive research trial, which must be announced immediately.

The strategy relies too heavily on unproven and uncosted technologies for removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, a major risk to success. In 2050, according to the strategy, aviation is still expected to emit half the CO2 that it does now, making the case for securing very real gains on non-CO2 effects immediately.

Despite this, BALPA welcomes the new funding announcement of £180m to foster a UK sustainable fuel industry on top of the substantial funding previously committed. This will go a long way towards cementing the UK’s central role as innovators in sustainability.

Accepting BALPA’s call for improving and extending ICAO’s CORSIA scheme is welcome too, but it requires widening CORSIA’s remit to include non-CO2 effects.

BALPA General Secretary Martin Chalk said:

 “With the same narrow clique of advice, the same CEOs who provided the chaos seen in aviation’s spring ‘recovery’ from COVID advising the Government, I am not surprised there is so much missing from the Jet Zero Strategy.

 Aspiration heavy and action light ‘strategies’ risk failing our industry, the economy and our society.

Major risks remain to Jet Zero’s chances of success, and until organisations like BALPA are involved – providing practical and outcome orientated solutions – our red warning will remain valid.”

Professor Ian Poll OBE FREng, Hon FAIAA, FRAeS, Past President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, said:

“We should be doing everything possible to reduce the impact of aviation on climate. The contribution of contrails is large and not sensitive to the level of scientific understanding. Most importantly, contrails can be avoided immediately by changing operating procedures and, unusually, the climate benefit is immediate. The gains are large and immediate, the costs are marginal, no new technology is needed and the action is ethical, what more do we need to know and what are we waiting for?”