Cambridge Professor: “The only way to hit net zero [carbon] by 2050 is to stop flying”

British Airways Aircraft at Heathrow Airport
British Airways Aircraft at Heathrow Airport. By aeroprints.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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

Julian Allwood

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.

144 thoughts on “Cambridge Professor: “The only way to hit net zero [carbon] by 2050 is to stop flying”

    • The best solution to all this carbon stuff is to stop worrying about it. There is no evidence that CO2 is a problem – it is plant food. Minimize particulate emissions (we already have) and everything is cool.

      • Exactly. As no gas at any concentrations can warm Earth’s surface, the greenhouse effect does not exist. They made it up to serve a political purpose. These gases are “radiative gases” that emit IR that is lost to space. They serve to cool the planet during the night and decrease, a tiny bit, insolation during the day.

        Any policy or effort aimed at decreasing emissions or eliminating fossil fuels is automatically a political issue and has nothing to do with climate or global warming by anything we do. That includes all renewable energy and EV cars. All useless but being pushed on us as if we have to have them to survive.

        • It’s obvious the “peasants” have too much leisure, autonomy, and money to spend. Only The Elite should be allowed to fly! Or take vacations. Or be able to afford a usable car and palatable food. Dumb down the populace and then break the standard of living down to 3rd-World levels.

          Everyone who keeps electing these regressive morons is complicit in their plot.

        • Flying with relatively dirty jet fuel at high altitudes does have a far greater GW effect then driving by gasoline and diesel vehicles.

          Because the pollution is up high and not visible, that does not mean it is not there.
          Ground pollution is highly visible.

        • So 3 or 4 litres per 100 passenger km.

          Given that even large cars today can get 100 km out of 8 litres, with 4 passengers that is 2 litres per 100 passenger km.

          I’m sure that buses would be more efficient when full, although the constant start-stops make it less so (but things like flywheels used in uk buses can help).

          The real economy in planes is that they rarely fly not almost full. If land transport did the same, it would be more efficient. It must be noted that planes are more efficient than land transport when both are not full, due to most of the fuel cost being caused by weight.

          It should also be noted that planes normally fly at about 1000 kmh, land transport at 100 kmh or so and on limiting infrastructure. More efficient? Probably not. More useful and valuable? Definitely! I like to get to the other side of the world in 24 hours, not 24 days!

          • 3-4 litres per 100km can be achieved by a handfull of small cars no-one wants to own 🙂

            Try a realistic number for most average new cars 6-8km per 100km and any SUV will struggle to get down to the 8.

            In Australia at least the average people in the car will be closer to 1 than anything else. Yeah we suck at car pooling.

          • Zig – I lived in the Los Angeles area until just 2.5 years ago. One lane in four (or more) is often dedicated to high occupancy (2 or more occupants) vehicles (HOV) on the freeways. The HOV lane is full at rush hour, but practically wide open any other time. The other lanes are at a crawl during rush hour, and considerably slower than the HOV lane.

            This leads me to think fewer than 25% of vehicles have more than one person in them. Of course, this is obviously in the city, but I rarely see a vehicle with more than two people in it in the countryside where I live now. Further, nearly half the vehicles are pickups, and another 4 of 10 are SUVs. I have an extremely good fuel mileage pickup (diesel, 24.25 mpg). Most of these pickups are big guys – and they don’t begin to get my mileage. Cars are pretty rare. But as you say, aircraft usually fly nearly full. They will get better efficiency because of the higher load factor.

            By the way, living in So Cal means a lot of those cars are high performance. Mine was a Chrysler 300 SRT. City driving got me 14 mpg – no where near the approximate 31 mpg you quoted for a large car. You Europeans are not so much into burning rubber/drifting/speeding as we are!

      • @ Brian Baker

        Extremely simple maths. Aircraft fuel load, number of passengers, distance flown. You will get the figure miles per gallon per fare paying passenger. Typically for modern aircraft the figures are in the 120 MPG/P level some are a lot better. The energy use per passenger is better than almost any form of transport. Then you also have to consider that while the airports may be large there is no physical infrastructure to build and maintain between departure and destination which saves huge amounts of (usually concealed ) energy use of other means of transport.

        However, I have seen no observational proof that a radiative gas can reduce heat loss from the atmosphere. Perhaps you can describe the observational proof?

    • You really have to define what you’re talking about.

      For freight:
      Jet aircraft 9,600 BTU per short ton-mile
      Domestic waterborne 217 BTU per short ton-mile

      US figures for passengers, when you account for the actual number of passengers:link

      modeaverage passengersper vehicleBTU perpassenger-mile
      jet aircraft99.32,826
      rail (intercity Amtrak20.92,435

      Aircraft are more likely to be heavily loaded. Compared with other, lightly loaded, modes of passenger transport, they are surprisingly good.

      I have traveled once on a commuter train. The vast majority of the seats were empty until we got to one of the close in suburbs and then it was instantly standing room only. Given the nature of commuter traffic, I wouldn’t be surprised if seats were empty 75% of the time.

      1 – On the other hand, if railways operated with the same passenger loads as aircraft, they would be much more efficient.

      2 – Transporting passengers is inherently inefficient in any case when you compare it with transporting freight.

      • I attempted to do a table. 🙁

        jet aircraft: carrying average 99.3 passengers. 2,826 BTU per passenger-mile
        rail (intercity Amtrak): carrying average 20.9 passengers. 2,435 BTU per passenger-mile

        • Try to cross Atlantic by train 😀
          Or imagine the quantity of sailorships crossing it with the same amount of passengers 😀
          BTW – stop climate meetings everybody has to fly to 😀

          • Whereas ships are the most efficient economical way to ship freight, they are distinctly inefficient at transporting people. The Queen Elizabeth 2 gets 13.9 passenger miles per US gallon. A 737 gets 91 passenger miles per US gallon. link

            When you attack the problem with a sharp pencil, jet aircraft turn out to be not that bad compared with the alternatives.

      • Can someone point me to estimates of fossil fuel energy left, annual usage, and expected use growth towards end of supply?
        I note that it is rather simplistic looking at only airline travel. Energy use by academics should be considered. I look at BitCoin and the buildings worth of computer chips using a coal fired power plant’s production. All of computer modeling is same with how much actual gain for this non-recoverable use. Polar and space exploration should get the axe as those radiate energy. Mobile communications should take a hit as always-on energy emission. Entertainment, vacations, sports and gaming should be abolished as sucking energy for little purpose. Chemical and pharmaceutical industry could be rated on benefit versus energy consumption. I still struggle to find the net energy gain from producing ethanol. Lawyers and politicians could be rated on effect versus energy use. Shipping raw materials like cotton from USA to another country *and back* as clothing looks inefficient. That could also be said of moving people for companies to higher energy use countries.
        I suspect that we will pursue nuclear power for energy and heat instead of following this progress.

      • Got that wrong Bob.
        Passengers are SLF.
        (self loading freight).

        The lo cost conmen like Ryan have been trying to convince everyone (penalise them) to carry less bags (real freight).

    • 1 kg of jet fuel holds 49 times the energy of 1 kg of the best currently available battery. A Boeing 737 (small airliner) holds 20,000 litres of jet fuel. To match the equivalent fuel energy total an electric equivalent would need to hold 784,000 kg of battery – that’s 784 tonnes of battery in a plane that currently has a maximum take-off weight of 174 tonnes.
      That fact alone makes electric passenger aircraft a ridiculous proposition.

  1. Self righteous imbeciles. It is only inhabitants of the advanced economies that can indulge in the luxury of obsessing about decarbonisation. The vast majority of the world’s inhabitants are too busy keeping their families above subsistence level and would dearly love to have fossil fuel generated electricity in their homes for light or cooking, or a vehicle in which to actually put petrol or diesel.

    • James
      Things have improved a bit beyond the vast majority living just above subsistence. Please visit Gapminder and see some of the data they have and that the general trajectory of the world’s population is towards better year on year: https://www.gapminder.org/ignorance/
      The vast majority are above subsistence and that has nearly all been achieved with the use of fossil fuels.

  2. Read the executive summary of the UK “Absolute Zero’ study which was done by a group of UK university.

    There are advocating no flight, no construction, no mining, no hydrocarbon industry, no cement, …

    Did anyone run this by the public?

    The idiots in the UK have ‘proven’ that carbon free by 2050 is conceptually impossible for multiple engineering and economic reasons and there would be armed riots early in the implementation.

    there are some opportunities for expanded use of clay an urgent need to develop alternative processes and materials. Using microwaves processes to recycle used cement appears promising.

    Mining and material supply: Zero emissions will drive a rapid transition in material requirements. Significant reduction in demand for some ores and minerals, particularly those associated with steel and cement, are likely along with a rapid expansion of demand for materials associated with electrification. It seems likely that there will be opportunities for consolidation in the currently diffuse businesses of secondary material collection, processing, inventory and supply.

    Fossil fuel industries: All coal, gas, and oil-fuel supply from extraction through the supply chain to retail must close within 30 years, although carbon capture and storage may allow some activity later.

    • “No construction, no mining, no hydrocarbon industry, no cement, …”

      Which will mean no solar panels or wind turbines…

      • What about the old Dutch windmills, not much steel there, you just have to hope the wind is blowing at harvest time.
        Solar panels for water heating can also be made from relative little coal burning and last a longtime. But PV solar panels is surely a no-no.

        Look at how the vikings, and most people at that time, used to live – they used mostly wood and a bit of coal and iron.

    • Carbon-free by 2050 is unattainable, but on the way you will be ordered to give up almost everything you now know as part of modern life. No private cars, no airline flights, no meat, and no personal freedoms. All those will be reserved for the ruling elite – you mere peasants need not apply.

      Here is the evidence:

      THE RADICAL GREEN ROAD TO VENEZUELA – POVERTY, MISERY AND DICTATORSHIP
      By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., September 20, 2019
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/09/20/the-radical-green-road-to-venezuela-poverty-misery-and-dictatorship/
      [excerpt]

      “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal, is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all, … Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing,”
      “Changing the Entire Economy”, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2019
      https://www.wsj.com/articles/notable-quotable-changing-the-entire-economy-11562970210

      The same plot is unfolding in Great Britain. Sir Ian Boyd, the government’s chief environment scientist, said the public had little idea of the scale of the challenge from Britain’s “Net Zero CO2” emissions target.

      “People must use less transport, eat less red meat and buy fewer clothes if the UK is to virtually halt greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the government’s chief environment scientist has warned.

      Sir Ian Boyd has lifted the lid on the reality of the programme. We will all have to accept big lifestyle changes – travel less, eat less, consume less.

      But eventually some form of compulsion or rationing will be necessary, if climate targets are to be met.

      The Science and Technology Select Committee let the cat out of the bag last week, when they officially announced “In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation”. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49425402

      When they ultimately find themselves being told what they can and cannot consume, where they can travel and what foods they are allowed to eat, they will be furious about the way they have been misled.”
      “Climate change: Big lifestyle changes ‘needed to cut emissions’-DEFRA Chief Scientist”,
      https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49499521
      By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, August 29, 2019 [excerpts]

    • Significant reduction in demand for some ores and minerals, particularly those associated with steel and cement, are likely along with a rapid expansion of demand for materials associated with electrification.

      Good luck with that. In 2014 the world made 1.6 billion (10^9) metric tons of steel, just under half of that in China. Steel is the single most useful material human civilization has developed to date; it is irreplaceable for structural use, tools, springs, ship hulls, railroad bed and rolling stock, construction machinery, military weapons, and pretty much anything else durable. Steel also accounts for around 15% of the coal mined annually. Aside from a prolonged and global industrial collapse, the only way the world will stop making steel is if we manage to develop something better. Given the history of materials, the odds are anything better than steel will be even more energy-intensive to make.

      The world makes about 4.1 billion metric tons of cement annually, about half of that in China. Like steel cement is an irreplaceable necessity to industrial civilization, unless and until we develop something better.

      The benefits of steel, aluminum, cement, and air travel are proven; the risks of CO2 emissions are speculative.

  3. The professor should take a one year leave of absence from the ivory tower and join the real world to learn how it really works before he makes another ridiculous statement like that.

  4. This is the link to the “Absolute Zero’ study…

    This the first study I have seen that lay out the fact that Absolute Zero would mean we are live as hunter and gathers.

    Green energy fails at the point when power storage is required. At that point installing more sun and wind gathering equipment results in almost no reduction in CO2 emissions as the wind and sun energy is produced at a time when it is not need.

    Germany has reached and passed that point.

    http://www.ukfires.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Absolute-Zero-online.pdfElectricity sector and infrastructure:

    Absolute Zero requires a 3x expansion in non-emitting electricity generation, storage, distribution and load-balancing.

    Cement sector: All existing forms of cement production are incompatible with zero emissions. However, there are some opportunities for expanded use of clay an urgent need to develop alternative processes and materials. Using microwaves processes to recycle used cement appears promising.

      • A better link is : https://ukfires.org/absolute-zero/

        The authors are of course right, if we are to meet the UK government targets without ‘breakthrough’ technology then the best we can expect is to go back to the 1950s. Car ownership only for the middle classes, foreign travel only for the middle classes, tenement or apartment housing, mainly home produced food, etc.

          • These are some of the INTENDED consequences of the whole movement. It is not about saving the planet. It never has been.

        • Even in the 1950’s, my father (a commercial traveller) was one of the few car-owners in our road. But we had nice warm coal fires – even in the summer, to heat our water! My Granny didn’t get electricity until the 1950’s, and never DID get indoor plumbing. Back to the old ways? no thanks!

      • That’s because the link should have ended after .pdf, but the word “Electricity” got included. Just muffed the HTML.

  5. Electric passenger planes my ass.
    A modern 737 size passenger jet would be all battery, maybe hold a dozen people and max range of about 800 miles. A NY to LA passenger would need 3 or 4 flight changes. An aircraft’s Turn time to the next flight would be dependent on fast charging or having a spare battery packs that would be swapped out, but those would be multi-ton loading jobs. The battery packs would need the small modern multi megawatt scale power plant dedicated just to charge it and a dozen other aircraft sitting at gates waiting for batteries to top off.

    One of the key efficiencies of aircraft is as they fly they burn fuel they get lighter. Not with an electric plane. They have to land at the same takeoff weight no matter how long or short the flight. That creates huge practical engineering limitations on aircraft size, landing gear design and tires, runway weight capacity to repeated landings.

    The result is that an electric passenger plane concept will never be a viable concept either in engineering or economics.

    • If one is to rely upon such novel methods of flight, I for one will defininately give up ever flying again!

      Had dinner once with a Cambridge Professor of Engineering, came down to the West Country to lecture we hicks & peasants all about new structural engineering methods & materials in the pipeline! Sadly, he was very knowledgable about these new methods & materials, but had SFA(apologies) in the knowledge of pratcial structural engineering, site practices, general practicalities of site access, etc, etc. Oh & he looked down his nose towards me & a local colleague when we discussed where & when, being self-employed, we might grab a two-week break at best, one-week at worst, when he & his beloved were taking 4 weeks in the Bahamas over the Summer break! Lucky old academics, wish I was one……..naaah, I prefer reality to Ivory Tower thinking!

    • Is this the same with road vehicles i.e. electric vehicles with constant weight would produce more wear and tear on roads than a gas, petrol or diesel vehicle (which would be losing weight as the fuel burned – thus less wear and tear on roads)? Am I naive?

      • You just need to consider what percentage of the total weight of a vehicle is constituted by fuel when filled to capacity. Then consider that road vehicles refuel often, sometimes not filling to full capacity.
        A US gallon of gasoline weighs just over 6 pounds, so a 15 gallon tank on a 2500 lb car would only hold around 90 lbs of fuel, about the same weight as a petite passenger. That’s less than 4% of the vehicle’s empty ‘curb weight’.
        The Boeing 757-200 holds 11,489 gallons of jet fuel weighing just under 7 lbs/Gal , over 79.000 lbs heavier when full. The 757-200 weighs around 55,000 lbs empty. That means the fuel weighs over 40% more than the aircraft.
        That should give you some perspective on your question.

    • One of the key efficiencies of aircraft is as they fly they burn fuel they get lighter. Not with an electric plane. 

      Ooops! That just about nixes all electric planes. Short haul flights (500 to 800 km) tend to use 2/3 of their fuel just getting to cruising altitude, making most of the journey more efficient. Long haul less so, but the steady reduction in weight must make a big difference in fuel economy.

      The waiting for charging is also patently ridiculous. The huge overhead cost of running a plane, plus the huge cost of keeping them on the ground at airports, will kill any profits.

      Then just imagine the massive amount of power that needs to be delivered to large airports. Truly staggering amounts of electrical energy. All that energy needs to be managed very safely too (especially in rain), or it will end in many, many deaths (kerosene is way less volatile than electricity). Just find out the kerosene delivery to Heathrow or LAX every hour and work out the electricity required to match that power, then double it because of inefficiencies in flights.

      • Actually it will not kill profits – but the price of a seat-mile flown will be WAY up and few will be able to afford a ticket so the volume of passengers will be way down. Fewer airlines will be viable so that those that do remain will be able to charge immense fares to make enough profit to survive. Not pleasant any way you cut it.

    • The answer is Hydrogen Fuel Cells. H2 to generate electricity and electric fans to power the aircraft. Hydrogen is light and has a high specific energy content of 143 MJ/kg, but a lousy volumetric energy content of 10 MJ/L. Jet fuel has 43 MJ/kg but 33 MJ/L, so a plane using H2 would need fuel tanks at least 3X that of conventional jet fuel. There is some savings for the lower mass of fuel carried, but you still need passenger and cargo, so you only can save so much.
      And then there is the tiny issue of flying with 10,000 PSI H2 in the belly and wings, but who said this had to be a safe solution to the problem.
      H2 can be generated by gasification of biomass and Water-Gas shift of the CO to H2, but distribution is not trivial. Hydrocarbon jet fuel can be generated from biomass as well, and transported in existing pipelines and infrastructure with no issues. And we know how to build aircraft using jet fuel but have no idea of the issues involved with aircraft flying on H2.
      The only problem with using biomass is you have to obtain it cheaply, and even with good conversion technology you can probably only replace 10% of existing jet fuel with bio-derived synthetic jet fuel. Plus you can only blend up to 50% synthetic jet fuel with conventional jet fuel and still meet ASTM and British MOD specifications for jet fuel. Fueling planes is a complex business as safety is the major priority.
      I which the aircraft engineers luck designing an all electric plane. They will need just a little less luck designing a Hydrogen fuel cell plane.

    • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to make Canada carbon-free by 2050. To his credit, he has announced an innovative solution to your problem.

      In a recent public statement, Trudeau announced:

      “I have conceived a way to make electric airplanes technically and economically viable – I mean, like, y’know, aww, totally! It involves a very long extension cord…”

    • 1 kg of jet fuel holds 49 times the energy of 1 kg of the best currently available battery. A Boeing 737 (small airliner) holds 20,000 litres of jet fuel. To match the equivalent fuel energy total an electric equivalent would need to hold 784,000 kg of battery – that’s 784 tonnes of battery in a plane that currently has a maximum take-off weight of 174 tonnes.
      That fact alone makes electric passenger aircraft a ridiculous proposition.

    • Most aircraft landing gear are NOT designed to land at take-off weight. Yes, landing gear and tires would need to be changed.

    • Hmmm very important point that nobody mentions. The batteries weigh a ton and don’t lose any weight after all the power is gone. And I am sure that most people do not know that you cannot land a jetliner that has full fuel tanks that has just taken off. All that fuel has to be mostly gotten rid of.

      I’m sure that a 737 for example would have no capacity for any passengers as the gross weight of the airplane would be completely taken up by the weight of the batteries. Even if the batteries would provide enough energy for a flight the charging time for all that electricity would be very long. Your plane is not going to be recharged in a few hours. This would wreck havoc with airline use of the planes and would render them uneconomic to use. Just that reason alone. Planes have to fly as much as possible in a day to make money they cannot be sitting on the ground. Anyway there is no doubt that all these batteries would not provide the same amount of energy as standard fuel tanks full of aviation kerosene. There would be no contest. Liquid fuel wins hands down.

      One thing that never gets mentioned with these batteries is that they have a short life. Electric batteries for cars are good for only 4 to 6 years and are very expensive to replace. Like something around $10,000.- The main and real practical for people to decide to not buy an electric car. Unless you have more money than brains. The cost to replace batteries on an airliner would be impossibly expensive.

      The whole idea of a big plane carrying people powered by batteries is absurd. It would never work. The end. The physics does not work. And the cost would be totally uneconomic.

      • Anyone who knows anything about electric batteries knows they are inherently unsafe (repeated incidents with Dreamliner & Galaxy smartphones should serve as lessons).

        One nice saying in the aircraft world is:-
        If you think making and certifying an aircraft is expensive, you just try having an accident!

        As I can remember the havoc caused by a single point of failure on a train – which spends all its time firmly ON THE GROUND, (onboard computer fail),-
        … any attempt to introduce relatively insane practices into aircraft results in Boeing 737 MAX style multiple fatalities…
        That was the result simply of fitting outsize engines on an old well tried model.

        And you want to power something that flies with WHAT?
        Electricity?

        That’s so close to a brain fart, anyone who suggests it should be given to the care of those men in white suits…

        .oh wait, wasn’t that BOJO who suggested it was the new British gold age that would do that?
        MUPPET!

    • Not only do jet aircraft get lighter*, but they cruise at near mach 1 at high altitude where the air is thinner presenting much less drag, and this is where major fuel savings are made. It is -40 degrees at 35,000 feet. So much for battery powered aircraft even if electric fans could provide the required thrust.

      Electric fans can not begin to replace the thrust provided by a jet turbine, but that is a complex set of engineering and physics problems in and of its self. The very idea of electric aircraft is completely ridiculous.

      * A modern aircraft will still carry a significant fuel fraction by the time it reaches its destination, so it always has enough fuel should it encounter unforeseen circumstances.

      • I see only one possible way for electric powered flight to become reality and that’s Nikola Tesla’s dream of transmitting power through the atmosphere coupled with anti-gravity from Dick Tracy comics.
        Ain’t happenin’ baby.

  6. How can the key be to stop flying when aviation emissions account for only 2% of the world total ? This is just a form of virtue signalling. Thank god I emigrated to the US, I mourn for my poor bleeding country men.

    • The IT industry with all the data warehousing and cloud based applications is about 3% so alternatively we could give up Our smartphones and computers and all the business IT infrastructure. I’d like to see the comments on twitter and Facebook if that were suggested

        • Steve, now consider that increased usage of the internet will be required to replace business and govt trips formerly served by airlines. What does that mean to carbon-phobics?

        • That is why when kids want to strike for the climate the first thing that should be done is take all there electronic devices off them … we gotta save the planet.

  7. It is a sad state of affairs when supposedly degreed and credentialed people, seemingly by capable of sophisticated thought, fall on their swords out of fear and fear of not being accepted. People that should have a better understanding of fundamental forces nature and the universe.

    Nothing will do prevent us, the human species, from going extinct. We are destined for that fate as is all life.

  8. What? The greens don’t want us flying in jet propelled airliners? Simples. Bring back project NEPA. The Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program and the preceding Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project worked to develop a nuclear propulsion system for aircraft. This all started back in 1946. They actually had a demo flying. Shirley, with all our new technologies it would be easy to implement nuclear powered aircraft. If they want a ZERO carbon airliner, then this is just the ticket for them. I still think the 787 Dreamliner makes more sense. But it shouldn’t have any carbon fibre in it, cause that real bad.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_Nuclear_Propulsion

  9. I reckon my current mercedes 2.5 diesel will be worth a lot in India in a few years time. OK. you budding entrepreneurs sharpen up your pencils.

  10. If aviation is 2% of world total how much energy is required to run the servers of the modern internet? Would the Greta youth and climate doomers be willing to give up their smart phones and tablets?

  11. If they tax aviation fuel as they do auto fuel, planes would refuel in another country before they drop into the UK. Money tends to move out of the way of stupidity.

    • “planes would refuel in another country before they drop into the UK”.

      I am not an airline pilot, where is FlightLevel7 when you need him, but big aircrafts are not designed to land with too much fuel, thus they would almost certainly have to bunker at the airport it lands.

      I think Sweden has already added CO₂ tax to aviation fuel as they already have done to car diesel/gasoline and heating oil. I am convinced that the angry Greta has inspired the newly aviation carbon tax. Meet also has carbon tax added in Sweden – may not be solely due to angry Greta.

        • Let me tell you how it will be
          There’s one for you, nineteen for me
          ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
          Should five per cent appear too small
          Be thankful I don’t take it all
          ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
          If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
          If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
          If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat
          If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet
          ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
          Don’t ask me what I want it for
          (Taxman, Mr. Wilson)
          If you don’t want to pay some more
          (Taxman, Mr. Heath)
          ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
          Now my advice for those who die (taxman!)
          Declare the pennies on your eyes (taxman!)
          ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
          And you’re working for no one but me (taxman!)

        • The Swedish government have really lost the plot if they are adding carbon tax to meat.
          When are people who can reason for themselves going to understand that farmed animals do not add ONE atom of carbon to the atmosphere or molecule containing carbon as CO2 or CH4.
          How many times do I have to tell them that biogenic methane is a cycle and that all forage that farmed animals consume has absorbed CO2 and the small amount of methane that is emitted during digestion is quickly broken down into CO2 and H2O.
          This is the biggest lie of all the globull warming lies that governments have been duped with all around the world by the greens .
          Farmed animals are CARBON NEUTRAL
          I have posted these facts here on WUWT over the last year and I have not had one commentator come up with any counter argument simply because what I have written is factual.
          Graham
          Proud to be a farmer feeding the world with milk and meat products.

          • Green as an obsession and a cult, they never ever will understand down to Earth reality.
            Just yesterday I listened to Dr. Shaviv and Prof. Levermann in the German Bundestag. Levermann behaved in a way that approached childish. If he had a gun with him, he might have killed Dr. Shaviv, because it was impossible for Levermann to kill Shaviv’s arguments.

    • As I turned into the service station May 2030 on my way from Santa Clara to Los Angeles, there was one of the 20 chargers free. We all charged with 0.5MW while ordering a take away meal. On my way to the counter I noticed the watt-meter on the wall saying 10MW. It would have been much the same on the service station on the other side of the highway, amounting to 20MW in total. Along the the highway 101 there are now 100 service station, thus the consumption on the 101 alone, it would be 2GW or about 1000 wind turbines during this blowy day, whereas it would have been 10,000 wind turbines yesterday where we had a high pressure and sunshine the whole day.
      In January 2030 I made the same trip. But instead of driving during the daytime, I had to drive by night, as I had an early meeting in L.A.. I visited the same service station on the 101, as I am at now. However, in January it was a cold cloudy night and for the last week, there had been very little wind. This was my misfortune, as both the grid and the service station’s batteries had run virtually empty and therefor electricity was only supplies to the main building and I had to stay over at the local motel. At the motel they could no longer serve hot meals, only sandwiches due to the electricity rationing. As I turned on the TV in the room, it was was dead. I had no other option than to go to sleep and hope the wind would pick up, thus allow a slow charging rate. Next morning we had 7m/sec winds and late in the afternoon my car had gotten enough juice for the last leg to L.A..
      That January 2030 I lost my customer.

      • In the late December of 2029 John McNamara had his Chevrolet Cruze confiscated by climate change enforcement police. On that same cold January night, not being able to charge for two days, on less than half a charge, John had to rush his imminently expectant wife to hospital. As the bad luck would have their journey ended about 5 miles down the road from your motel. In the middle of the night under mobile phone light a healthy baby boy was born on the back seat of their car. Boy was named Diesel Cruze McNamara.

  12. Dear Prof
    Shove it up your arse & die.
    Let’s assume that the UK unilaterally does this.
    What do we do?
    Hop on a ferry, or Chunnel train to France, I’m sure the French will happily fly us wherever we like.

  13. Wind powered planes-there’s the answer! The planes move so fast, they can generate their own electricity while they fly!!!!

    The “high flying” warmists can go on the inaugural flight over the arctic. Start the plane off with a battery charge, then turn on the generators mid flight.

    • Exactly. In their rush to judgment and force solutions, there is a real risk that they have overshot the facts, and we will be stuck in their truth(s), to the detriment of human, fauna, flora, and ecology.

  14. Fly or not, both people and things have to move from place to place. If there is no flying, what are the alternatives for doing this? Clipper ships, ox carts, catapults? And what are their climate impacts?

  15. Oh yes, lets just price my wife out of flying to see her parents once a year, and force her to combo buses, ferries and trains, adding several days to the journey in each direction, which of course she can’t afford to take because she has a JOB.

    God willing some soon-to-be-elected government will scrap all this nonsense. I knew it was too much to expect Bojo to do it – the man is fixated on his image in the end, and figuratively hugging the polar bears is great for your image in the circles he moves in – but I’d hoped he would at least slow things down instead of speeding them up.

    I had vague plans to convert my old jeep to electric once I had a little more money, as a practical engineering exercise, but after the currently signalled plan to ban all practical road vehicles by 2035, I’m tempted to toss those plans, knock off the filters, and roll coal with it instead. Maybe I’ll convert it to burn actual coal dust. The engine is old enough that the ECU would be jerry-rigged to deal with that, I think.

    I despair, some days.

  16. The only way to hit net zero carbon [dioxide] is with planned population schemes and to sequester the survivors in caves. Think “The Time Machine”.

  17. Same thing applies to all ocean-going, large cargo marine-transportation ships and passenger cruise ships as well.

    Can’t cover them with enough solar PV cells or windmills needed to directly power the necessary (electrical) engines for any realistic transit times.

    Can’t load them up with batteries sufficient to provide required horsepower over typical 3-5 days transit times.

    Can’t recharge them mid-ocean. Can’t swap-out batteries mid-ocean.

    Can’t provide an extension cord long enough (or in conductor diameters needed to minimize (I^2)/R losses) so they could operate using mainland grid electricity ;-))

    Going beyond the points in the above article, probably cannot even consider nuclear reactor power for COMMERCIAL ocean transportation, due to the tight and extensive protections needed against theft of radioactive materials and against terrorist attack . . . things that are only achieved with small nuclear reactors as used by MILITARY ocean-going vessels.

    • Solved Problem. Liverpool — San Francisco via Cape Horn on the Davy Crockett 90 days. You weren’t in a rush were you?

      • Exactly!

        A three-masted clipper ship (the fastest ocean-transiting, sailing cargo/passenger ship design of its era) had a top speed of about 250 miles/day, assuming continuous usable winds, and could carry up to 4,000 tons of “cargo”. —source: https://www.marineinsight.com/maritime-history/what-is-a-clipper-ship-2/

        In comparison, most of today’s fossil fuel-powered, ocean-going containerships have a design speed of about 660 miles/day (around 24 knots). The cargo deadweight of these ships ranging from 9,000 to 25,000 tons, or 2 to 6 times that of the sailing clippers of the past.

        And most of today’s fossil-fuel-powered, ocean-going passenger cruise ships have an average speed of about 550 miles/day (20 knots), with maximum speeds reaching about 830 miles/day (30 knots). In the larger sizes of this category of ocean vessels, the “cargo” deadweight—accounting for 5,000 or more passengers and a crew of up to 2,000, plus food and luggage, approaches that of the heaviest cargo ships, around 25,000 tons.

    • The obvious solution is to bring back the steam engine, powered with renewable wood pellets.

      Or perhaps we should go even farther back and build giant sails to capture all that renewable wind power.

  18. Reductio ad absurdum:
    How much longer must we endure calls for half measure like Zero Aviation? How dare you!? The Earth is dying, people. You say net zero emissions by 2050; I say you do not understand the problem. I say you are killing our children and their future. CO2 has been declared a pollutant by the EPA, but not a “criteria pollutant”. The effects of global warming are being felt across this nation and the world, now. The increasingly bizarre, severe weather is absolutely connected to a warming climate. This inaction is outrageous.

    The Center for Biological Diversity has said: “To achieve the necessary emission reductions, the Center is urging the Obama administration to declare carbon dioxide a “criteria pollutant” under the Clean Air Act and set a national pollution cap no greater than 350 parts per million (ppm), the level scientists and countries agreed not to exceed because it will cause catastrophic global warming.”

    Even this is not enough. Stop the pussy footing! Today I am calling for a worldwide atmospheric CO2 pollution cap of Zero. Zip. Nada. We can pull the filthy stuff directly out of the air and bury it underground in saline aquifers, a process known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). We have the technology. We may never get to 0 ppm, but surely 50 ppm or at least 100 ppm is achievable.

    There will be nay sayers. Skeptics never rest. Deniers will be the end of us. Their talking points have been a constant drum beat. “You will kill all plant life”, they will say. Like they know anything or care about the Earth and kids. We do not have the time and energy to debunk each of their pathetic claims. They are pure evil. While it pains me to say it, it may be necessary to put more than a few up against the wall, if you take my meaning.

    Full disclosure: They say I have too much time on my hands.

    • For a start how about banning attendance at the COP 26 Gorbals Warming Summit to any delegate who arrives by air? The British press hates hypocrisy.

  19. A zero carbon dioxide economy would really disrupt travel. Not only flying but driving as well. We would
    be back to gravel roads as there would be no tar or cement for new roads or road repairs.

  20. “The only way to hit net zero [carbon] by 2050 is to stop flying”

    No, no, no

    Also forget about smartphones, cars, bananas, mangoes, strawberries in winter, cheap toys from China, holidays in Turkey or Bahamas, meat from Argentina, …

    Except the richest 3% still will have it all, of course.

    Wish I could add a /sarc tag here.

  21. From the boxed except from Julian Allwood given in the above article: “Regardless of prices or incentives, new energy generation, transport and industrial processes require . . .”

    Really? I can guarantee you that any “new energy generation” technology that would offer utility-scale electricity at a LCOE rate ($/kWh or equivalent) that was, say, 10% the cost of next least-expensive technology (without incentives in either case) would be an instant hit and would predominate world energy generation within 5 years, and NOTHING would stand in the way of that happening!

  22. What is wrong with these so called intellectuals?
    They work in their universities in their Ivory Towers and have lost the way to think rationally
    ( if they ever could )
    The ONLY way to reduce carbon emissions in a meaningful way without destroying the worlds economy is to use nuclear power and plenty of it .
    There is no other solution and any professor suggesting otherwise has not got the intellect to work that out for them selves .
    The general population of all developed countries are not going to give up their standard of living and agree to let the people who think they are the elite to carry on their exclusive life styles .
    The general population of all democratic first world countries will not allow their politicians and academics
    to destroy their standard of living in a vain quest of restricting the emission of a minor trace gas.
    I was born in the 1940s and brought up without electricity and I would guess that these people could never imagine living like that .
    Graham

  23. A commercial electric plane would be all batteries and a half dozen passengers and land with the same weight as it took off. Long flights would require recharging or battery changes. You would be better off training swans to pull gliders.

  24. When will the Chinese and Indians and Americans stop flying their airplanes?

    Or will the UK be the only place where airplanes are banned?

    A futile gesture, it is. The people proposing these things still haven’t realized that they are demanding the impossible. And are doing so to solve a CO2 problem that doesn’t exist.

  25. All of this pondering about how a country would operate with zero carbon is moot.

    The country that does not follow the zero carbon track will be coming over the border with fossil-fueled war machines and place all of the inhabitants into servitude.

    By 2050, Kim Jong Still-Ill-but-getting-Better will be able to threaten every country foolish enough to not have the wherewithal to fight back

  26. The good thing about airways is that I have so far never seen construction or maintenance works up there.

    We need no bridges, tunnels, switches. At en-route altitudes you can’t hear nor readily see us fro ground. Unlike trains we don’t devalue thousands of miles of roadside real-estate and upon administrative agreement, new ways are open within minutes.

    We don’t cut thru animal habitats, hit cows or trailer-trucks.

    Statistically the safest transport, even safer than elevators.

    Then check the numbers of what goes above your head, day and night. Amazing throughput capacity, isn’t it ?

    So my advice Mr.Professor is to concentrate your tenure maintenance efforts on something more sensical, such as the impact of humanity over Jupiter climate.

    Or reorient your career to a field with fewer intellectual requirements.

  27. Heathrow Airport has 2 runways each about 2 miles long. It used to have 6 and then 3. You can fly to just about anywhere on the planet and for that an airliner will only use 1 of the runways. So for any journey to places like Paris or Moscow or New York or Tokyo only 2 miles of surface is required at the start and another 2 miles of surface at the end regardless of distance. Flying is the one transport where there is minimal surface disruption. That will go over the heads of most environmentalists (pun intended) as one bright spark complained that aviation never pays any road tax.

    • No road tax, it is true. But taxes are typically 30% of economy flights, and up to (and sometimes more than) 50% of business class flights.

      Not as much as car & truck fuel tax in most developed countries, I’ll admit, but more than people realise.

      • Zig Zag
        Quite. My parents generation appeared to have a better sense of general knowledge than current generations and it’s not getting better. A few years back I took issue with an Independent newspaper journalist, John Rentoul, who was ranting about aviation. This is part of what he said:
        “…air travel is the most energy- hungry thing most people can do ….. You can drive a car up and down the length of the UK for years…… before you burn up as much petrol as your share of a single plane trip”.
        You can guess how successful my efforts at correcting this ignorance was. Zero.

  28. Professor of Engineering and the Environment. Really? He’s not very good at maths then. Aviation accounts for about 2/3% of world oil consumption. So stopping aviation will bring about net zero?

  29. Well, if everyone were to stop flying there would be no need for aircraft. That means every Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, etc. factory would be boarded-up. All the workers, engineers, food services, maintenance people, etc. would be sent home forever. All airports would be similarly locked-up. No need for pilots or air-traffic controllers either.

    Perhaps these crackpot professors will oversee the conversion of those empty buildings into homeless shelters for the newly unemployed.

  30. Well, the prof might want to ground the planes, but perhaps someone grounded in reality should explain a basic fact: a democratic or representative republic will never accept the grounding of planes.

    While people might consider all the jobs directly linked to air travel (companies, pilots, attendants, mechanics, etc), does anybody consider all the other jobs affected? What about the travel industry – hotels, car rentals, restaurants? Then there are the destinations. How much would major resort areas lose – Orlando, Vegas, NYC, London, Paris, island get-aways? Then there are the ‘little guys’ – Uber drivers, taxi drivers, tour guides, souvenir shopkeepers. And how much would Disney, Universal Studios, Vegas casinos, and on and on, spend to defeat such an effort, to keep the visitors coming? And don’t forget, governments at all levels reap billions in taxes on all this. Besides destinstion cities like Orlando, NYC, and Vegas, expect hub cities like Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Charlotte, and numerous others to fight such a proposal tooth and toenail.

    I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people are, or know someone, dependent in some way on air travel. If you want to ground airlines, you must first take over government and cancel all elections. Let’s see them try it.

    • ” a democratic or representative republic will never accept the grounding of planes.”
      Well, in nominally democratic (but mostly socialist) South Africa, its national airline SAA is dead broke and in the hands of rescue planners. It’s an attempt to stop the closure of the airline, which LOSES millions of (foreign currency) dollars every day. Since the majority of the populace are poor and simply don’t fly, the general consensus is to SHUT THE DAMN THING DOWN! But, as proved above, the government as owner doesn’t want to do this, and are willing to pour a continuous stream of taxpayers’ money into the airline.
      Maybe the fact that National and Provincial MPs (to say nothing of ministers and deputy ministers) fly for free has something to do with it?

  31. This will be the next Marxist Famine. Made by centrist extremists. Yes a supposed paradox.
    The so called political center is now full of radical people.

  32. Time we required university sabbaticals to be one year in three and spent in the real world they pontificate about, not at another university polishing up the letters after their name. We should require our governments make it a condition of university funding. Then all the woke idiots could find out that no one cares out in the real world, that people are too busy looking after their families and making a living and that their lovely theories are utterly irrelevant to real life. Cambridge and Oxford have given a great deal to the world, now they are living in the alternative universe of Phillip Pullman. At some point in the future, they may even be held accountable for the disaster they have inflected on us by the people’s commissars they are so keen to inflict upon us, but not of course themselves. .

    • Yeahbut…

      Please stop mickey mann coming down under for his taxpayer-funded sabbatical next time. We have enough Climate Scientologists here already.

      • oh pleeease stop him,
        Id love to see Bransons face on reading this
        mr offsets plans many many more planes

  33. Interestingly, there was recently a presentation given to the GWPF by professor Gautum Kalghati on electrification of UK transport. On the electrification of aviation he had this to say.
    “A A320 airbus Neo can carry 266 Mw Hours of fuel, and a battery that contained this amount of energy would weigh 1940 tons – that’s 19 times the MAUW of the aircraft and at 1 Mw, would take 11 days to charge.”

    I give the link to the Youtube here: https://youtu.be/NNRk4iGreSw

    • In that case just take the wings off and lay down rail lines. That’s not difficult as they just have to cut vast swathes through whatever forest, hill or town that is in the way and then enough steel, concrete and balast to cover the entire length of wherever it has to go.

      • You forgot to mention the overhead electrified trolly lines and periodic electric power stations (every 100 miles or so, powered by solar or wind or hydro or nuclear) because, of course, diesel as currently used to power 99+% of railroad freight in the US is a carbon-containing fuel and must be eliminated.

        • You are already behind!
          The electric trolley lines are already installed on the Autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt.

          I’ve never seen them in use, but if I did, I would wonder about the craziness involved in generating stable German grid electricity at night with lots of coal (cos they closed their NPPs), and then carting the energy over 100s of kms to be used on the German autobahn to power who knows in an inevitable traffic jam by having only ONE LANE available for it.

          Surely somebody must understand Diesel fuel is the densest most compact fuel source for commercial vehicles, which is why buses, lorries and most other heavy vans use it?

          Germans never were the most logical people but..why all this?
          virtue signalling

  34. There will never be net zero C02 on the planet. How stupid does one have to be to even propose such idiocy? I guess being a professor makes one dumb enough.

  35. I’m not sure why all the negative comments–for once they are telling the truth. You can’t get to zero carbon with out ending the burning of all fossil fuels. That the idea of doing so is nuts doesn’t change the fact that it is the only way.

    Off topic–why didn’t the ice core evidence that temperature change precedes CO2 change end this global warming nonsense? If the ice core data is true, and no one has said otherwise, then it follows that it doesn’t matter how much fossil fuel we burn. Our burning fossil fuels doesn’t change the physics that the ice core data demonstrates. Why are there any lukewarmers? The ice core data should have ended the discussion.

  36. I have said this before. Air travel is the most fuel-efficient mode of transportation we have due to high ridership, low wind resistance and no rolling resistance. If an aircraft gets 0.5 mpg and carries 200 passengers, it is getting 100 passenger miles per gallon. If aircraft were grounded, people would be forced to take less fuel-efficient means of transportation, resulting in a net increase in the burning of fuel! In this example, if an aircraft travels 100 miles, it moves 200 passengers and burns 200 gallons. If 200 people travel by car (alone) at 25 mpg, they burn 800 gallons. When aircraft are grounded, there is an increase in fuel consumption.

    I am not worried about the future of aviation. When the day comes that jet fuel is scarce, they will probably just switch to liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The only question is where the power will come from for electroysis of water. Will it be a power plant burning coal, natural gas, geothermal, or nuclear?

    This is where Luddites fail. When a commodity becomes too rare and too expensive, the result inevitably is a substitution. Necessity is the mother of invention. At first we relied on horses, mules and oxen. If that had continued we would be drowning in manure. Then came the canals, then the railroads. Steam engines burned wood, then coal. Then along came the diesel-electric engine. And in high density Europe, the electric train. As they say trains are a one-dimensional solution to a two dimensional problem. Then came cars and aircraft. The Luddite assumption is that technological progress stops there. It doesn’t.

    Everything depends on energy. The more abundant energy is, the faster and cheaper transportation becomes. We don’t expect a flux capacitor to come along anytime soon :o) . Energy is abundant on the planet. It is only a matter of our willingness to use it.

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