The pre-pandemic year 2019 should be the “peak year” for fossil fuel use in global aviation, the chief executive of Heathrow airport has said, as he urged the UK to lead on decarbonising aviation at the UN climate change conference.
The airport wants UK ministers to push for a cut in aviation emissions at the conference, scheduled to start on October 31 in Glasgow.
“We should aim for 2019 to have been the peak year for fossil fuel use in global aviation,” said John Holland-Kaye in a statement on Monday. “The UK government can show real leadership in decarbonising aviation at COP26,” he added, to protect the “benefits of flying for future generations”.
Global airlines aim to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as the industry recovers from the Covid-19 crisis, a target agreed by members of the International Air Transport Association a week ago. Aviation, which accounts for about 2 per cent of global emissions, is one of the most difficult industries to decarbonise, and Iata admitted the target was a significant challenge.
Passenger numbers at the UK’s biggest airport remained below 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels last month, while its EU rivals showed “stronger resurgence” over the summer.
North American traffic is a quarter of 2019 levels, the airport said in a statement on Monday, while cargo is close to 8 per cent down by volume, which reflects “the way in which travel restrictions have been damaging UK exports and supply chains”, the statement said.