Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon; According to Cambridge Professor of Engineering Julian Allwood, zero carbon aviation is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.
The only way to hit net zero by 2050 is to stop flying
Dreaming of electric planes and planting trees will not save our planet
The writer is professor of engineering and the environment at Cambridge university
The UK aviation industry this week promised to bring its net carbon emissions down to zero by 2050 while growing by 70 per cent, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly predicted that “viable electric planes” would be available in just a few years.
But past experience with innovation in aviation suggests that such ambitious targets are unrealistic and distracting. The only way the UK can get to net zero emission aviation by 2050 is by having a substantial period of no aviation at all. Let’s stop placing impossible hopes on breakthrough technologies, and try to hit emissions targets with today’s technologies. Our recent report “Absolute Zero” draws on work at six British universities to explain how.
So the commitment to net zero aviation by 2050 is really a commitment to zero aviation. Rather than hope new technology will magically rescue us, we should stop planning to increase fossil-fuel flights and commit to halving them within 10 years with an eye toward phasing them out entirely by 2050.
Taxing aircraft fuel at the level of the UK’s current road fuel tax would be a useful first step: I estimate that it would make flights up to four times more expensive.
Climate policy announcements so far have failed to account for the limited rate at which new technologies can reach significant scale. Fifty years after the Danes began developing wind turbines, they contribute just 2 per cent of world primary energy. Regardless of prices or incentives, new energy generation, transport and industrial processes require public consultation on regulations, land use, funding, environmental impacts and more. This all slows down their adoption.
…Read more (paywalled): https://www.ft.com/content/e00819ba-4814-11ea-aee2-9ddbdc86190d
Given how much Brits love their low cost airlines and cheap holiday flights to Mallorca, punitive taxes on aircraft fuel and an ultimate plan to destroy the industry will be a tough sell.