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The size of the carbon emissions challenge

Candid assessments of the carbon emissions challenge, and how FlyZero is taking on the task.

By Chris Gear - FlyZero Project Director

05 March 2021 12:00:PM
Read time: 2 mins

Last week, Airbus shared that it expects the aircraft they sold in 2019 and 2020 to go on to produce more than 1bn tonnes of carbon-dioxide during their lifetimes (Guardian, 26 February 2021).

This is the first time Airbus has shared an estimate of the potential carbon emissions its commercial planes will generate and this candid assessment should be welcomed as it captures the size of the challenge the whole industry faces to radically reduce and ultimately eliminate carbon emissions.

Each year, aviation produces around 885 million tonnes of CO2 emissions which is around 2% of global CO2 emissions[1]. While technology developments have helped deliver impressive reductions in emissions per passenger, we need to go further faster to remain sustainable and for the UK to meet its commitments to fight climate change. We need a revolution and this is what FlyZero is setting out to achieve.

A challenge? Yes. But it also represents an opportunity to bring forward new technologies that deliver both environmental gains and economic returns for the UK – a market that it is said could be worth £4tn globally by 2050[2].

A major goal for FlyZero is to help the UK make the most of this opportunity by standing at the forefront of sustainable aviation in design, manufacture, technology and skills for years to come.

We’re off to a good start as our newly formed team of around 60 experts from across industry and beyond completed their first research ‘sprints’, intensive work to gather what is known about propulsion options and identify where further investigation is needed.

It’s not too late to be part of this exciting project as our new video explains…

In January, the ATI published its latest INSIGHT: Sustainable Aviation setting out a framework to guide investment into R&T projects offering potential sustainability solutions for air transport. To find out more and download the paper please click here.

 

[1] David S Lee - International aviation and the Paris Agreement temperature goals, a report commissioned by the DfT completed by Manchester Met Uni (2018)

[2] Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport speaking at Cranfield University in September 2019