Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 22-Apr-2021
Alaska Airlines sets course for net zero carbon emissions by 2040
All Nippon Airways to introduce biodegradable meal trays
Lufthansa expands Compensaid to include corporate clients
UK Government to include international aviation and shipping emissions in net zero targets
This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.
Etihad Airways operates Abu Dhabi-Rome ecoFlight with Greenliner 787
Etihad Airways operated (21-Apr-2021) its first ecoFlight of 2021, from Abu Dhabi to Rome on 17-Apr-2021. Under the strategic Etihad Greenliner partnership with Boeing and GE, the flight was operated with Boeing 787 aircraft which is fully carbon neutral for the entirety of 2021 through the first carbon offset programme in the region.
Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas commented: "In 2021 eco testing won't be confined to quarterly dedicated ecoFlights, but instead an always on, ever present part of operations… This kind of incremental real world testing [will] allow us to continue R&D efforts into decarbonisation opportunities". [more - original PR - Etihad - 1] [more - original PR - Etihad - 2]
- 17 April, Abu Dhabi – Rome service is first of many planned trials for 2021 under Etihad Greenliner Programme
- Earth Day flight removes 1,731 pieces of plastic from service and reduces CO2 emissions by more than 1,925kg.
- Operated on the signature Etihad Greenliner, the aircraft is completely carbon neutral for the entirety of 2021 (approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO2), in the first carbon offset programme in the region.
Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has operated its first ecoFlight for 2021, continuing research and testing under the Etihad Greenliner programme to assess environmental sustainability initiatives during scheduled services. This is Etihad’s fourth ecoFlight, operated on the airline’s signature Greenliner aircraft which is fully offset for all operations through 2021 as part of the airline’s mission toward carbon neutral flying.
The maiden 2021 ecoFlight, EY83, departed Abu Dhabi for Rome on April 17, testing a range of flight and engine optimisation initiatives, as well as onboard product enhancements to reduce weight and single-use plastics, with successful trials to be incorporated into regular scheduled operations.
On board, the trial focused on three key pillars: sustainable products, incorporating initiatives identified on past ecoFlights to reduce single-use plastics, and an overall weight reduction study. Etihad also tested initiatives to mitigate the challenges imposed by Covid-19, driving home the Etihad Greenliner Programme mission to identify challenges and call upon the industry to work together for meaningful solutions that ensure safety, environmental and fiscal inclusivity.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Etihad made a significant and tangible commitment to sustainability and the future of aviation over a year ago, first when we launched the Greenliner programme in partnership with Boeing, GE and other aviation leaders, then with our commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and halving our net emission levels by 2035.
‘Since then, and throughout the pandemic we have remained on track, with a number of ecoFlights during 2020, as well as partnering with Boeing, NASA and Safran on the 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme. Now in 2021 we are stepping up our efforts so eco testing won’t be confined to quarterly dedicated ecoFlights, but instead an always on, ever present part of operations to test, refine and implement sustainability initiatives. This kind of incremental, real world testing is the foundation of the Greenliner programme, which will allow us to continue R&D efforts into decarbonization opportunities.
“This isn’t about solving only Etihad’s emissions, but about supporting the entire industry to address the biggest challenge we face over the next three decades.”
Sustainable Products, Weight Reduction and Cabin Waste
The Rome ecoFlight saw the removal and replacement of 1,731 single-use plastic items from onboard service, with a weight reduction of 108kg, saving 60kg CO2 emissions. This follows efforts on the first ecoFlight to Brisbane in 2019, where 43 single-use plastic items were removed from onboard operations, resulting in an annual saving of 17 tonnes of waste from landfill and again in 2020, when the airline operated an ecoFlight to Brussels, removing 2,639 single-use plastic items from the flight, equal to approximately 8.8kg in weight reduction.
Feasible initiatives trialed on the latest ecoFlight will be adapted for standard operations moving forward, contributing to Etihad’s goal to remove 80 percent of single-use plastics. Based on circular theory efforts, the airline tackled international waste regulations head on with a recycling initiative to better manage cabin waste. Strict waste regulations force international airlines to incinerate all contaminated materials, and efforts were made to identify suppliers offering products that will not release harmful emissions in incineration, such as EcoWare bagasse pots, which are compostable and made from plants. The flight produced and successfully diverted 8.1kg of recyclable material from landfill.
Boasting a range of sustainable suppliers, the flight focused on avoiding single use items, finding replacements that are locally produced, UAE sourced and meet the requirement of being lightweight and non-energy intensive in the cleaning process or non-impactful in the disposal process.
The ecoFlight showcased Al Ain Water’s sustainable plant-based water bottles onboard. It also featured Abu Dhabi based startup ‘The Concept’s’ sustainable inflight meal trays made from used water bottles, and BambuuBrush, for their highly sustainable up-cycled Bamboo Toothbrush.
Operational initiatives trialed continue to evaluate and confirm learnings from past ecoFlights for flight path optimisation, including optimised climb and continuous descent. A previous ecoFlight to Dublin showed when compared to a standard Boeing 787 flight on that route, the ecoFlight reduced journey time by 40 minutes and reduced CO2 emissions by three tonnes.
Following extensive trialing and collaboration with Air Navigation Authorities globally on previous ecoFlights, flight optimisation has become an Etihad standard operating procedure wherever possible. The ecoFlight saw the airline successfully avoid 1,386kg CO2 through operational efficiencies alone.
The flight also leveraged Boeing’s proprietary Probabilistic Flight Planning tool to optimise routing and fuel efficiency by evaluating possible routes, taking uncertainty in the weather forecast into account to use less fuel, regardless of the actual winds. This technology has the potential to reduce Etihad’s fleet-wide annual CO2 emissions by approximately 2 million kgs. (4.4 million lbs.).
“Flight optimisation is one of the first places we should be looking to for fuel and CO2 savings as an industry. It’s an elegant, simple solution for massive, incremental savings that would fundamentally change the industry and put us on the path to a sustainable future,” said Douglas. “However, simple does not mean easy to implement. It requires cooperation across the industry, and importantly, across borders as a coordinated global response, and that sort of cooperation needs to be led at the regulatory level.”
Adding valuable testing data to operational efficiency initiatives such as potable water optimization favours these trials greatly, with this ecoFlight reducing CO2 emissions by 189kg from this practice alone. The results from the flight will help develop a more efficient method to calculate potable water requirements for future operations, with a potential annual impact of up to 800 tonnes of fuel, or 2,500 tonnes of CO2 saved across the entire fleet.
Engine Foam Wash
The ecoFlight follows the recent announcement of Etihad’s partnership with GE Aviation, licensing the airline for the groundbreaking GE 360 foam wash jet engine cleaning system. The system will remove more than 7,000 metric tonnes of CO2 in 2021 from Etihad’s GE90 and GEnx fleets. Impacts are already proving invaluable, with this initiative saving 290kg of CO2 emissions on this flight.
The flight once again leveraged electric tractors, which were successfully trialed on previous ecoFlights and are permanently deployed to service 37% of Etihad and other airline flights at Abu Dhabi airport, with a 309.5 tonne CO2 annual benefit in emissions.
Sustainability and Covid-19
With operations still severely impacted by Covid, Etihad’s commitment to sustainability remained on track, with the airline implementing a number of key sustainability initiatives in 2020:
- Jan 2020: Announcement of 2035 and 2050 net zero emissions targets
- Jan and Feb 2020: First two eco-flights to Brussels and Dublin
- Aug 2020: Partnership with Boeing on the ecoDemonstrator programme, for the first time on a 787-10 aircraft
- Oct 2020: Launch of world’s first Transition Sukuk and first Sustainability-Linked financing in global aviation, raising USD 600 millionby linking terms to Etihad’s carbon reduction targets
- Dec 2020: Commitment to purchase carbon offsets to completely neutralise the CO2 emissions of flagship “Greenliner” aircraft throughout 2021
- Feb 2021: Partnership with GE to launch its 360 Foam Wash to remove more than 7,000 metric tonnes of CO2 in 2021 from Etihad’s fleet
Etihad Greenliner Programme
This ecoFlight is the latest effort toward sustainable aviation, flown under the banner of the Etihad Greenliner programme which is the airline’s driving message for sustainability, uniting the technologists and visionaries together in a call to arms.
A key pillar of the programme is the Etihad-Boeing strategic global partnership, spearheaded by a specially-themed Boeing 787 Dreamliner to test products, procedures and initiatives designed to reduce aircraft carbon emissions.
Etihad encourages and invites partners from across the aviation sector to join and test sustainability initiatives on scheduled 787 operations. The results are then processed and validated with Etihad and its partners including Boeing and GE, and the most sustainable initiatives used as a base for improving the performance of the global 787 operating community.
The Etihad Greenliner Programme is an open call to action for collaborative effort to preserve the luxury of air travel, while protecting and mitigating the impact on the environment, proven further with their sustainability tagline: Etihad Airways: From Abu Dhabi for the World.
Alaska Airlines sets course for net zero carbon emissions by 2040
Alaska Airlines announced (21-Apr-2021) it set a course for net zero carbon emissions by 2040, with near term 2025 targets to maintain carbon neutral growth from 2019.
The carrier also set goals to be the most fuel efficient US airline and cut the climate emissions from our ground equipment in half. Alaska added it will continue with its recycling programme, sourcing more sustainable packaging for inflight service and offsetting water use with investments in local ecology and habitats.
With these goals, the carrier has joined Amazon and over 100 other companies in signing The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net zero carbon across our business 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Details of the roadmap include:
- Fleet renewal: Finalised order for up to 120 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, with four already delivered in 2021. The newest MAX aircraft are 22% more fuel efficient on a seat by seat basis than the aircraft they replace;
- Operational efficiency: Expanding use of technology to optimise flight routes for emissions savings, working with government to make better use of airspace and moving toward electric and other renewable options for ground equipment;
- Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF): The carrier currently uses and is partnering to advance SAF production with Neste and SkyNRG. It has also partnered with Microsoft to offset the carbon impact of employees' travel from Seattle to San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles with sustainable aviation fuel. [more - original PR]
Original report: Flying with purpose: Alaska sets new climate goals, including net-zero carbon emissions by 2040
Each year we share how we’re caring for the planet and the people we serve in our annual sustainability report. This year we’re also setting our course for the future.
Today, we announced our commitment to reduce our climate impacts with new goals for carbon, waste, and water. We’ve set a course for net zero carbon emissions by 2040, with near-term 2025 targets to maintain carbon neutral growth from 2019. We also set goals to be the most fuel-efficient U.S. airline and cut the climate emissions from our ground equipment in half. We’ll keep up our industry-leading recycling program, continue to source more sustainable packaging for inflight service and offset our water use with investments in local ecology and habitats. With these goals, we are joining Amazon and over 100 other companies in signing The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net zero carbon across our business 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
Doing the right thing
One of our core values is to do the right thing, and that means reducing the impact of air travel on the environment. Our most significant environmental impact is through greenhouse gas emissions produced through the burning of jet fuel. That’s why we’ve prioritized the work to burn and emit less fuel, to employ greener alternatives and ultimately to transform aviation for a more sustainable future and to keep the incredible destinations we serve beautiful and viable for generations to come.
“Air travel connects us to our friends and families, helps us understand one another, and helps communities across the globe grow and thrive,” said Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci. But we know that to live our purpose, creating an airline people love, we must operate every day in a way that cares for both people and the environment. That’s why we’ve set out on this bold path to reduce our climate impact near and long term.”
There are five parts of our path to net zero:
1. Fleet renewal
We recently finalized our order for up to 120 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft, with four already delivered this year. Our newest MAX aircraft are 22% more fuel-efficient on a seat-by-seat basis than the aircraft they replace. And we’ll continue to test and adopt technology to further improve our fleet’s efficiency.
2. Operational efficiency
We’re focused on embedding efficiency and sustainability into our culture. That means continuing our leadership in standardizing operational best practices and using technology for the lowest emissions possible. We’re also expanding our use of technology to optimize flight routes for emissions savings, working with the government to make the best use of our airspace, moving toward electric and other renewable options for our ground equipment and working with airports to ensure infrastructure available to support it. We will also continue responsible construction and energy use throughout our facilities – like our LEED-certified hangar in Anchorage and employee “Hub” in Seattle.
3. Sustainable aviation fuel
With up to 80% lower carbon emissions than traditional jet fuel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is the best possible option to decarbonize medium- and long-distance flying within the next few decades. Alaska has piloted use of different types of SAF for over a decade, and SAF is now certified as safe and available as a fuel to mix with traditional fuel. We currently use and are partnering to advance SAF production, with Neste and SkyNRG. We’ve also partnered with Microsoft to offset the carbon impact of their employees’ travel from Seattle to San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles with sustainable aviation fuel.
SAF represents even greater potential to reduce emissions with government support to increase supply and commercial viability of these fuels, which don’t currently exist in sufficient volume to power US flights. That’s why we’re supporting research at Washington State University to advance SAF in the Pacific Northwest, partnering with other companies to grow use of SAF, and working with the oneworld alliance and Airlines for America to support SAF production globally. This is an area that will take collective action to advance.
4. Novel propulsion
Novel propulsion essentially means increasing the use of electric or alternative power without fossil fuels. We believe that increasingly electrified options will be available for regional aircraft by 2040 and are evaluating partnerships and in-kind exchanges with the goal of enabling these emerging and decarbonizing technologies. Alaska’s sister regional airline, Horizon Air, is well positioned to explore this exciting, innovative opportunity in the decades ahead.
5. Credible, high-quality carbon offsetting technology
Aviation is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize, so credible carbon offsets may be needed to close the gap to our net zero target by 2040, and until SAF and novel propulsion become viable and available at scale. We’ll work with science advisory firm Carbon Direct to identify and vet carbon offsets that add net offset value, are verified in carbon accounting, do no harm, are durable, and don’t just displace emissions to another project.
What does this mean for you?
You can read more about our commitments to fly greener, reduce waste and offset our water use in our Alaska Airlines 2020 LIFT Sustainability Report. In it, you will see more details on our approach to social and environmental stewardship across the company.
Meanwhile, there are things every flyer can do to partner with us on this journey. Want to offset your carbon footprint? Good news! You can invest in carbon offsets with our partner, The Good Traveler, in locally based and high-quality projects to restore the climate balance. Since its founding by San Diego International Airport in 2015, The Good Traveler helped removed 230 million pounds of CO2 from the air by funding projects like tree planting, habitat protection, waste composting and renewable energy. Packing lighter, using our app, pre-ordering your onboard meal, and bringing your own reusable water bottle to #FillBeforeYouFly all contribute to reducing our collective impact.
This is a long-term journey, and it will take all of us. Thank you for having high expectations of us, and for joining us on the journey.
All Nippon Airways to introduce biodegradable meal trays
All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced (15-Apr-2021) plans to introduce new meal trays made from biodegradable materials for economy class meals on international services, effective Aug-2021, becoming the first Japanese airline to do so.
ANA expects to reduce the amount of disposable plastic used in flight by 30% p/a. In 2020, ANA introduced plastic free cutlery and straws, reducing the amount of plastic used by 25 tons compared to 2019. [more - original PR]
Original report: ANA Prioritizes Sustainability with Introduction of Plastic-free Meal Trays
· Composed of biodegradable materials, the trays will significantly reduce plastic consumption
· Initiative supports ANA’s ESG goals
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan's largest and 5-Star airline for eight consecutive years, will become the first Japanese airline to introduce meal trays made from biodegradable materials. Composed of bagasse - the waste fiber created from pressing sugarcane – these biodegradable trays will further reduce ANA’s carbon footprint. This is the latest in a long line of sustainability initiatives from ANA, as it works to meet the ambitious targets outlined in its 2050 sustainability goals.
The new meal trays will be introduced beginning in August 2021 for economy class meals on international flights. By simply replacing the plastic meal trays, the amount of disposable plastic used by ANA for inflight services will be reduced by about 30 percent, an amount that was equal to 317 tons during fiscal 2019.
“At ANA, we view sustainability as critical to our mission and we are constantly searching for ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Chikako Miyata, Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Sustainability. “We will keep making efforts to improve sustainability and create a better planet. We will continue to consider innovative technologies that allow us to operate safely, efficiently and effectively as we serve the needs of customers worldwide.”
In 2020, ANA introduced plastic-free cutlery and straws, reducing the amount of plastic used by 25 tons compared to the previous year. The reduced use of plastic is central to ANA’s 2050 ESG initiatives and the airline will continue exploring areas where it can reduce consumption and waste.
Lufthansa expands Compensaid to include corporate clients
Lufthansa launched (14-Apr-2021) its 'Compensaid Corporate Programme', allowing corporate customers to offset the CO2 emissions from their flights to achieve carbon neutrality.
The platform offers customers options for offsetting, including use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), sponsorship of certified climate protection projects, or a combination of both.
AXA Deutschland is the first customer, choosing to offset its business travel with 15% via SAF and 85% via climate protection projects, for an initial period of three years. [more - original PR]
Original report: Carbon neutral flying – Lufthansa Compensaid now available to corporate customers
- Companies can offset their business air travel
- New for corporate customers: "Compensaid Corporate Program"
- With Sustainable Aviation Fuel passengers travel in a climate-friendly way
- First customer is insurance provider AXA Deutschland
Thanks to Compensaid, the innovative digital CO2 compensation platform of the Lufthansa Group, flying carbon neutral is possible for individual travelers. Now companies can also use this option, simply and easily, for their employees’ business trips.
With the "Compensaid Corporate Program" corporate customers have the possibility to use, for instance, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for their air travel. With SAF they can compensate the CO2 emissions produced when flying. This program allows companies to offset all their flights – whether they’re with the Lufthansa Group or other airlines.
The first customer is insurance provider AXA Deutschland. The company will offset its business-related air travel for an initial period of three years.
"CO2-neutral flying is already possible today. With Compensaid, we have a powerful tool for providing attractive and innovative offers to our customers. Offsetting is part of our strategy to cut our CO2 emissions in half by 2030 and achieve a neutral carbon footprint by 2050. We are delighted that with AXA Deutschland we have gained a partner that shares our vision of sustainable mobility," explains Christina Foerster, Lufthansa Group Executive Board Member for Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility.
Air travel compensation with Compensaid is done either through the use of SAF, the sponsorship of certified climate protection projects, or a combination of both options. AXA Deutschland’s offsetting starts with 15 percent via SAF and 85 percent through selected climate protection projects. This results in the complete CO2 neutrality of all the flights.
“Sustainability in general and combating climate change are essential aspects of our AXA strategy. Our dedicated sustainability team and the AXA Innovation Campus are always on the lookout for innovative concepts and Lufthansa’s Compensaid offer came exactly at the right time for us. The future offsetting of carbon emissions generated by our flights is another definitive step towards reducing our carbon footprint and another string to our bow in our determination to achieve carbon-neutral business travel”, explains Sirka Laudon, Head of People Experience and responsible for AXA Germany’s Sustainability Project.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel refers to sustainable, non-fossil-based kerosene. Currently, it is primarily derived from biomass, such as used cooking oils. SAF is therefore a genuine alternative to carbon-based aviation fuels and, in the long term, can allow for virtually CO2-neutral aviation.
Besides the use of SAF, Compensaid also allows offsetting through certified climate protection projects. These include, for instance, the promotion of photovoltaic systems, the use of efficient stoves that require less firewood and therefore emit less CO2 into the atmosphere, or the replacement of diesel generators with systems that produce electricity from biomass. Companies participating in the "Compensaid Corporate Program" can choose the project that suits them best.
Compensaid as the central compensation offer of the Lufthansa Group
The Lufthansa Innovation Hub launched the digital compensation platform Compensaid in 2019. Since then, it has been gradually expanded to include additional products. No matter what airline they choose, private travelers can calculate the exact CO2 emissions of their flight and offset them using the alternatives mentioned above. Lufthansa Group airlines have integrated Compensaid directly into the booking process. Frequent flyers will also find this option in the Miles & More app. Lufthansa Cargo also employs a compensation solution for CO2-neutral airfreight. In November 2020, Lufthansa Cargo operated the world's first CO2-neutral cargo flight to Shanghai.
Information on the new "Compensaid Corporate Program" is available at https://compensaid.com/partnering
Lufthansa Group takes responsibility
For decades, the Lufthansa Group has been committed to a sustainable and responsible corporate policy and takes its responsibility seriously. The Group is firmly committed to climate-friendly aviation, continues to invest in highly fuel-efficient aircraft despite the current exceptional circumstances, and is steadily expanding its involvement in the area of Sustainable Aviation Fuels -Lufthansa Group takes responsibility.
UK Government to include international aviation and shipping emissions in net zero targets
UK's Government stated (20-Apr-2021) its sixth Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK's share of international aviation and shipping emissions for the first time, to bring the UK more than three quarters of the way to net zero by 2050.
The UK government will set climate change target into law to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels.
Original report: UK enshrines new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035
- UK government to set in law world’s most ambitious climate change target, cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels
- for the first time, UK’s sixth Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions
- this would bring the UK more than three-quarters of the way to net zero by 2050
The UK government will set the world’s most ambitious climate change target into law to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, announced today (Tuesday 20 April).
In line with the recommendation from the independent Climate Change Committee, this sixth Carbon Budget limits the volume of greenhouse gases emitted over a 5-year period from 2033 to 2037, taking the UK more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net zero by 2050. The Carbon Budget will ensure Britain remains on track to end its contribution to climate change while remaining consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goal to limit global warming to well below 2°C and pursue efforts towards 1.5°C.
For the first time, this Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions – an important part of the government’s decarbonisation efforts that will allow for these emissions to be accounted for consistently.
This comes ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the opening session of the US Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by President Biden on Earth Day (22 April). The Prime Minister will urge countries to raise ambition on tackling climate change and join the UK in setting stretching targets for reducing emissions by 2030 to align with net zero.
The government is already working towards its commitment to reduce emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared to 1990 levels through the UK’s latest Nationally Determined Contribution - the highest reduction target made by a major economy to date. Today’s world-leading announcement builds on this goal to achieve a 78% reduction by 2035.
The new target will become enshrined in law by the end of June 2021, with legislation setting out the UK government’s commitments laid in Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 21 April).
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
"We want to continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change, and that’s why we’re setting the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world."
"The UK will be home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to net zero emissions, laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobs."
"We want to see world leaders follow our lead and match our ambition in the run up to the crucial climate summit United Nations 26th climate change conference">COP26, as we will only build back greener and protect our planet if we come together to take action."
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:
"The UK is leading the world in tackling climate change and today’s announcement means our low carbon future is now in sight. The targets we’ve set ourselves in the sixth Carbon Budget will see us go further and faster than any other major economy to achieve a completely carbon neutral future."
"This latest target shows the world that the UK is serious about protecting the health of our planet, while also seizing the new economic opportunities it will bring and capitalising on green technologies – yet another step as we build back greener from the pandemic we lead the world towards a cleaner, more prosperous future for this generation and those to come."
The UK over-achieved against its first and second Carbon Budgets and is on track to outperform the third Carbon Budget which ends in 2022. This is due to significant cuts in greenhouse gases across the economy and industry, with the UK bringing emissions down 44% overall between 1990 and 2019, and two-thirds in the power sector.
Moreover, the UK continues to break records in renewable electricity generation, which has more than quadrupled since 2010 while low carbon electricity overall now gives us over 50% of our total generation.
Prior to enshrining its net zero commitment in law, the UK had a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 – through today’s sixth Carbon Budget announcement, the government is aiming to achieve almost the same level 15 years earlier.
Through its presidency of the crucial UN climate summit, COP26, which will take place in Glasgow later this year, the UK is urging countries and companies around the world to join the UK in delivering net zero globally by the middle of the century and set ambitious targets for cutting emissions by 2030.
COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma, said:
"This hugely positive step forward for the UK sets a gold standard for ambitious Paris-aligned action that I urge others to keep pace with ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year. We must collectively keep 1.5 degrees of warming in reach and the next decade is the most critical period for us to change the perilous course we are currently on."
"Long term targets must be backed up with credible delivery plans and setting this net zero focused sixth Carbon Budget builds on the world leading legal framework in our Climate Change Act. If we are to tackle the climate crisis and safeguard lives, livelihoods and nature for future generations, others must follow the UK’s example."
The government has already laid the groundwork to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050, starting with ambitious strategies that support polluting industries to decarbonise while growing the economy and creating new, long-term green jobs.
This includes the publication of the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, an ambitious blueprint for the world’s first low carbon industrial sector, slashing emissions by two-thirds in just 15 years, as well as over £1 billion government funding to cut emissions from industry, schools and hospitals.
Further, the UK is the first G7 country to agree a landmark North Sea Transition Deal to support the oil and gas industry’s transition to clean, green energy while supporting 40,000 jobs. Through the deal, the sector has committed to cut emissions by 50% by 2030, while the government, sector and trade unions will work together over the next decade and beyond to deliver the skills, innovation and new infrastructure required to decarbonise North Sea production.
Everyone needs to play a role in tackling climate change and bringing businesses and the public along is vital to reach the UK’s climate change goals. Ahead of COP26, the government launched the campaign, Together For Our Planet, calling on businesses, civil society groups, schools and the British public to take action on climate change. This UK-wide initiative contributed to last month’s milestone achievement of securing pledges from a third of the UK’s largest businesses to eliminate their contribution to climate change by 2050.
Each of these leading measures to tackle climate change, alongside the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a green industrial revolution and the government’s Energy White Paper, will help the UK’s trajectory towards meeting the new sixth Carbon Budget.
The government will look to meet this reduction target through investing and capitalising on new green technologies and innovation, whilst maintaining people’s freedom of choice, including on their diet. That is why the government’s sixth Carbon Budget of 78% is based on its own analysis and does not follow each of the Climate Change Committee’s specific policy recommendations.
The UK is bringing forward bold blueprints setting out its own vision for transitioning to a net zero economy and how the government can support the public in transitioning to low carbon technologies, including publishing the Heating and Building Strategy and Transport Decarbonisation Plan later this Spring.
The cross-government Net Zero Strategy will also be published ahead of COP26, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng currently commissioning work across Whitehall to help inform the ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy.
Moreover, government analysis finds that costs of action on climate change are outweighed by the significant benefits – reducing polluting emissions, as well as bringing fuel savings, improvements to air quality and enhancing biodiversity. The government expects the costs of meeting net zero to continue to fall as green technology advances, industries decarbonise and private sector investment grows.
Reaching net zero will also be essential to sustainable long-term growth and therefore the health of public finances, as well as open up new opportunities for the UK economy, jobs and trade – and the government’s ambitious proposals are essential to seizing these opportunities.
HM Treasury will publish its Net Zero Review in the coming months setting out how government plans to maximise economic growth opportunities from the net zero transition while ensuring contributions are fair between consumers, businesses and the British taxpayer.
Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change Lord Deben said:
"The UK’s sixth Carbon Budget is the product of the most comprehensive examination ever undertaken of the path to a fully decarbonised economy. I am delighted that the government has accepted my Committee’s recommendations in full."
CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said:
"Setting the sixth Carbon Budget in line with the Climate Change Committee recommendations puts the UK on a credible path to achieve its net-zero emissions target."
"As COP26 hosts, the UK government is leading by example by setting this stretching target. Business stands ready to deliver with the latest low-carbon technologies and innovations that are driving emissions down every year. By tackling this together, we can reap the benefits of transition to a low-carbon economy."
"The target emphasises the importance of the 2020s as a decade of delivery on our climate ambitions, and urgent action is needed now to make this a reality."
Executive Director of Green Alliance Shaun Spiers said:
"By accepting the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations for the sixth Carbon Budget, the government has sent out a resounding message, domestically and internationally, that the UK is taking its net zero emissions target seriously. The inclusion of international aviation and shipping is particularly important, showing climate leadership in the year we are hosting the Glasgow climate summit. What we need now is to ensure there is no gap between ambition and policy, so the UK has the right tools in its armoury to meet these targets."
Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group Nick Molho said:
"The government should be commended for adopting the ambitious and evidence-based recommendations from the Climate Change Committee for the sixth Carbon Budget. The emission cuts set out in the Budget represent essential next steps the UK needs to take to ensure a credible, cost-effective, and timely pathway to net zero emissions by 2050. The inclusion of the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions is a particularly welcome addition and will help to accelerate the development of sector-specific decarbonisation plans."
"Focus must now turn to strengthening the UK’s policy framework to meet this new target, by putting in place a detailed and cross-departmental net zero strategy that will drive private investment in low carbon goods and services, supply chains, jobs and skills."
The UK is the first country to enter legally binding long-term carbon budgets into legislation, first introduced as part of the 2008 Climate Change Act. Since then, 5 carbon budgets have been put into law putting the UK on track to meet our ambitious goal to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050 and achieve net zero emissions.