Written by Pranavi Khaitan, a grade 12 student and senior editor at
I Kid You Not.
On 27th June 2019 The United Kingdom passed legislation that set up the country to face a daunting task; to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In an effort to reach this goal Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the Jet Zero Council to cut airline emissions. Johnson stated, “We’ve made great strides towards out net-zero targets over the last year, but it’s more important than ever that we keep up the pace of change to fuel a green, sustainable recovery from the pandemic.”
What does net-zero greenhouse gas emissions mean?
This means reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) to zero by controlling the amount of gasses produced and removed from the atmosphere. Looking at alternative fuels, using electric cars and public transport and afforestation are some methods that have been employed to achieve this goal.
What is the Jet Zero Council?
The Jet Zero Council was launched on 22nd July 2020 with the purpose of tackling aviation emissions. The Council is supposed to work with the government, environment sector, and aviation and aerospace industry experts to execute the first-ever zero-emission long haul passenger plane. “The Jet Zero Council is a huge step forward in making change-as we push forward with innovative technologies such as sustainable fuels and boost sustainability for years to come,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The members of the Council will assess the viability of new aircraft and engine technologies. This will include new synthetic and sustainable aviation fuels as a substitute for fossil jet fuel and the development of electric planes.
Why does the work of the Council seem unrealistic?
Short-range electric flight is already possible for the very smallest of planes. Multiple firms are working on electrical vertical take-off and landing craft, flying taxis etc. however these ideas are primarily suited for domestic travel, with only a few passengers on board. Manufacturers believe that the larger electric planes are feasible only for short-haul flights because of the plane’s battery weight and range, and even then, it will require jet fuel to take-off. Further study and research is necessary to come up with other alternative fuels. Thus, the Council is facing quite a challenge and it seems unlikely that they will achieve this goal in the given time.
Nevertheless, the efforts of the United Kingdom must be commended and seen as a precedent for countries around the world. Climate change can have dangerous consequences and the sooner action is taken the better.