Feasibility of Zero Emissions Airport Operations in England by 2040

The UK Government has set a target for the UK aviation sector to reach net zero by 2050, as part of the government’s wider commitment to reducing UK emissions, in line with the Paris Agreement.

To support this target, a consultation was launched in summer 2021 on plans to develop a ‘Jet-Zero’ strategy, which will ensure the UK is at the vanguard of progress on reducing aviation emissions and continues to drive international progress. This consultation included a proposal for a zero-emission target for airports operations in England by 2040. A short, further technical consultation is to be published in the second quarter of 2022. Responses to both consultations will inform the Jet Zero Strategy which will be published later this year.

Following this consultation, and in support of the development of the strategy to formalise this target, the Department for Transport is seeking to strengthen the evidence base of emissions from airport operations. Whilst airport operations are responsible for only 5% of air transport sector emissions, there are still significant ways in which airports and their users can reduce emissions and contribute their part to addressing climate issues within the sector. The objective of this study is to provide analysis showing the emissions sources at English airports and whether the innovations available will make zero carbon emission airport operations feasible by 2040.

“This report is another key enabler of helping airports understand the opportunities to reduce their negative impact on the climate.

“The approach was to map the emissions and published decarbonisations strategies across English airports covering; Scope 1 and 2 emissions and Scope 3 emissions excluding flight operations and surface access journeys to or from the airport. In addressing the emissions, the report presents the current landscape and outlook of known technologies and innovations which are available now or likely to be ready before 2040. To further aid decision makers, it also assesses the technical and commercial viability of achieving zero emissions by 2040.”
Mark Aizlewood, Aviation Sustainability Team Lead, Connected Places Catapult
“Mott MacDonald is pleased to be working in partnership with Connected Places Catapult and the Department for Transport to make aviation sustainable by 2040. Our ambition is for technically and commercially feasible decarbonisation solutions to be brought forward as soon as possible to reduce environmental impacts. In this thought leadership study we have assessed the feasibility of airport ground operations to have zero carbon emissions by 2040. This will help airports, users and policy makers understand the wide range of innovations which exist today, identify remaining technological and commercial challenges and set out next steps to formulate a roadmap to decarbonise.”
Tim Beggs, Project Principal – Aviation, Mott MacDonald
Feasibility of Zero Emissions Airport Operations by 2040
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