UK Aviation: Carbon Reduction Futures

The report was commissioned from Manchester Metropolitan University and Cranfield University by the Department for Transport in Spring 2008 to contribute to the evidence base on future opportunities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from UK domestic aviation. 

Options explored include engine and airframe technology, operational improvements, fleet management and other measures. The feasibility of these abatement measures is assessed, including their potential fuel savings, broad magnitude of costs, key drivers, take-up and timescale of introduction and interdependencies with other emissions.

The reader will wish to note that the work was commissioned before the announcement of the target to reduce aviation CO2 emissions below 2005 levels by 2050. Hence, the forecasts of UK domestic aviation CO2 emissions included in this work do not assume this target, and rely on DfT forecasts as published in November 2007, which were the latest at the time of taking forward the work for this project. The Department published more recent forecasts in January 2009, which were not however significantly different to those of 2007.

In addition, it should be noted that this report draws upon the best available information as at summer 2008.  Since, then, there have been some notable developments in technology. For instance, there have been more biofuels trials which suggest that such fuels may become commercially viable sooner than had been anticipated. 

Although there are significant uncertainties surrounding the technology options discussed in this report, and the costs and benefits associated with each, the work does provide valuable information on the broad orders of magnitude of relative effects. Several abatement opportunities at or below zero cost in the period to 2020 are also identified. These measures can save airlines money whilst also reducing aviation’s climate change impacts.

This report is just one piece of evidence to be considered alongside others’ work addressing similar issues, but provides a valuable contribution to this important area of research.

UK Aviation: Carbon Reductions Futures (782 kb)

Final report to the Department for Transport.

15 July 2009