UK Jet Zero Consultation – Flying Workers into Danger

19 Sep, 2021

Safe Landing responded to the UK Government’s Jet Zero’ consultation, which aimed to lay out various scenarios for UK aviation to reach net zero by 2050.

Pilots and safety critical aviation workers are trained to always have a plan B. If we find ourselves with an uncertain outcome and we don’t have a credible back-up plan, we have failed to manage the risk – we’ve failed to do our job. That is precisely what the UK Jet Zero scenarios propose. If we go down this path with huge uncertainty and it fails, then we have no back-up. The jet fuel has been burned, the temperature has risen, there is no going back. There will be no Safe Landing. 

The Jet Zero consultation proposes 4 scenarios, all of which involve close to unconstrained growth of aviation: from 273m passengers in 2018, to around 460m in 2050. Despite using the words ‘uncertain/uncertainty’ 18 times in their own Evidence & Analysis paper, all scenarios rely entirely on successful development and adoption of unproven technology to achieve net-zero emissions.

What if the promised developments don’t happen? We believe in the precautionary principle. We should act now to reduce aviation emissions, while simultaneously developing the technology to help us meet our obligations. Should technological developments prove to be successful, they can be added into the picture. If not, we’ve still met our obligation.

As aviation workers within this technically-minded sector, we’ve assessed the options relied on by the Jet Zero scenarios, and believe they are overly-optimistic and improbable. In some cases, they are dangerous to the environment, the economy, society and our own industry.

We can see clearly that curtailment of air traffic is necessary. We can also see that realistic pricing of emissions, in line with our obligations under the Paris Agreement, is inevitable and will have an impact on demand. This fact needs to be recognised and planned for by the government, the regulators and industry. If we fail to recognise this and return to ‘business-as-usual’ growth based on improbable technological developments, we risk having the rug pulled from under us, and will face a cliff-edge of sudden demand reduction. We would like to avoid an industry crash by seeing such policies applied through early design, rather than late disaster. If there is to be any security for those of us in the industry, we recognise that a credible path to net zero for aviation is essential. Jet Zero is not that path.

Read our full response.

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