Cross party group of 35 MPs call on Chancellor to invest £500m towards developing green aviation fuels and technologies in wake of Covid-19
A group of 35 cross party MPs from across the political divide have urged the government to commit hundreds of millions of pounds towards decarbonising the UK aviation sector, arguing the recovery from Covid-19 offers a "golden opportunity" to invest in greener aircraft fuels and technologies.
A letter signed by MPs representing regions throughout the UK calls on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to "supercharge a green aviation recovery" to the Covid-19 crisis, which has devastated the airline industry and led to thousands of job cuts due to travel restrictions and plummeting passenger numbers.
Last week's letter therefore urges Sunak to commit £500m in funding, matched by industry, to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel production facilities in the UK, touting such fuels as a "here and now technology" it claims could boost the economy by £2.7bn and support almost 19,000 jobs.
Moreover, the Treasury should increase funding to the Aerospace Technology Institute to help develop more efficient planes as well as hybrid and electric aircraft, argue the MPs.
The letter the amid the current economic struggles for the sector there now exists "a golden opportunity to rebuild a great British industry in a way that protects and creates jobs, fuels a green economic recovery and futureproofs UK aviation for decades to come".
The intervention was led by members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Sustainable Aviation, chaired by the Conservative Party's Sir Graham Brady and Labour's Catherine McKinnell, with figures from the Lib Dems, SNP, and the DUP also among the 35 MPs signing the letter.
"Decarbonising aviation provides an opportunity for the UK to take a lead in this important global sector, and the sector is ready to work with Government to make this happen," the letter states. "Decisive action today will support not only a sustainable and world-leading UK aviation sector, but fuel a great British green recovery."
The UK has the third largest aviation industry in the world, representing 4.5 per cent of the nation's GDP, yet decarbonising the sector remains a major challenge for the UK's net zero aspirations, with airlines heavily reliant on carbon-intensive fossil fuels to fly.
Back in February, prior to the government enforcing lockdown restrictions aimed at combatting spread of the pandemic, the UK's aviation industry committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, but the industry has since faced major economic hardship as a result of Covid-19.
Thousands of job cuts have been announced by major airlines such as EasyJet and British Airways, with the latter even last week announcing plans to retire its entire fleet of 747 jumbo jet aircraft in the wake of the downturn in flight travel.
Responding to the letter, the Department for Transport said: "We have an ambitious economy-wide target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and we are developing a Transport Decarbonisation Plan to set out how we will achieve this."
It follows comments from the Prime Minister in Parliament last Wednesday, in which Boris Johnson promised to "examine the idea of a scrappage scheme for old and highly polluting aircraft" in order to incentivise airlines to shift to greener, more efficient planes.
Johnson also reiterated the government's recently announced plan to invest £3.9bn into the Aerospace Technology Institute and create a "Jet Zero" taskforce to develop zero emissions passenger planes.
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