COP26 “Sustainable Aviation”

As the UK hosts COP26 in Glasgow in October/November 2021, we thought we might share some useful content to balance the aviation sector’s intentionally misleading narrative on ‘Sustainable Aviation’.

A UK Parliamentary debate in September 2021 on Decarbonising Aviation identified that in 2010 the aviation industry pledged to be using 10% SAFs (Sustainable Aviation Fuels) by 2020. The reality by 2018, the total amount of SAFs reached just 0.002%.

This is enough for 10 minutes of global flight.

A further highlight, of the parliamentary debate, for the concept of SAF’s to become a ‘reality’ was that there are currently only two factories in existence, with a further one proposed for Wales. But to achieve just a 50% SAF capacity by 2050, would require three SAF factories to be built per month for the next thirty years!!

Below is an excellent series of brief videos entitled “Sustainable Aviation” from @Green_Sky_Think, attempting to unpick the very strong and concentrated efforts of the oil and gas industry and aviation industry, intended to mislead the public and politicians.

Introduction (Part 1: Sustainable Aviation)

Finlay Asher, an engineer who has worked in the aviation industry for over seven years, introduces the video series.

Global Carbon Budget (Part 2: Sustainable Aviation)

Explanation of our Global Carbon Budget for remaining below 1.5°C of global warming. The global carbon emissions and global carbon budget data visualisations were taken from Global Carbon Project: https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/c…

Size of the Problem (Part 3: Sustainable Aviation)

In this video, Finlay discusses the scale of aviation’s environmental impact. The aviation industry is keen to point out that it ‘only’ produces 2-3% of global carbon emissions. However, this still puts it ahead of countries like the UK, Mexico and Brazil: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/0… More importantly, its share is projected to grow to closer to 25% of global CO2 emissions by 2050: https://www.carbonbrief.org/aviation-… Additionally, aircraft also produce non-CO2 emissions (NOx, soot, water vapour, sulphates, contrail cirrus) which have an even greater global warming effect and essentially triple the global warming impact of the CO2 emissions: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.20…. Conclusion: we should dispel the myth that aviation is only a small part of the global warming problem – it’s a big issue, and its impact will only become larger with time, unless we take effective action to limit this damage.

Industry Strategy (Part 4: Sustainable Aviation)

This video lays out the 4 key pillars of the aviation industry’s so-called “Sustainability Strategy”. This was communicated in a joint statement by all major aerospace manufacturing companies (Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, GE, Rolls-Royce, Safran, UTC/Pratt & Whitn ey) at the Paris Air Show in June 2019 and can be found here:The strategy contains a number of ‘technological fixes’ to the environmental problem which are examined in this video series.

Aircraft Efficiency (Part 5: Sustainable Aviation)

The first common misconception supported by the aviation industry is that efficiency improvements of aircraft and their engines will result in a reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Aircraft Efficiency (Part 5: Sustainable Aviation)

Electric Flight (Part 6: Sustainable Aviation)

The second common misconception around ‘Sustainable Aviation’ is that electric aircraft will contribute towards decarbonising the sector in the near-future.

Hydrogen Flight (Part 7: Sustainable Aviation)

Hydrogen flight is possible, but we have a very long way to go until it’s a reality for most air travel. Where it is introduced, it will also remain far more expensive than fossil fuel powered flight. Unless: effective emissions pricing is applied.

Alternative Jet Fuels (Part 8: Sustainable Aviation)

Alternative Jet Fuels are chemically equivalent to conventional jet fuel, but are produced from non-fossil fuel sources.

Carbon Offsets (Part 9: Sustainable Aviation)

Another misconception around “Sustainable Aviation” is that existing carbon offset schemes will be effective at reducing emissions.

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