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27 November 2023

UK Government Leads the Way Towards Decarbonising Air Travel as New Global Agreement Takes Flight

Framework agreed by the international aviation sector to reduce aviation fuel emissions by 5% by 2030.

The world’s aviation community has come together in Dubai this week and agreed a key next step today (24 November 2023) towards the decarbonisation of our skies.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reached a compromise agreement, at its Third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) to a framework to reduce emissions from aviation fuel by 5% by 2030. Contributing to the global aviation sector’s aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050, today’s agreement confirms countries’ commitment to scale up the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Today’s agreement outlines the support available to those countries at the beginning of their SAF journey and enables them to take part in the global aviation energy transition. It’s only through a shared global ambition that we can scale up and build the industry we need for the future.

The framework includes a new global target to reduce emissions by 5% by 2030 using cleaner fuels. This is underpinned by a comprehensive package of policies and supporting measures to ensure all regions of the world can start producing and using SAF as soon as possible.

The UK played a leading role in the negotiations and, working with our allies, stressed the importance of achieving our collective global aspirations on decarbonisation.

The UK remains committed to further action in this area, with our domestic SAF mandate requiring 10% SAF in the UK fuel mix by 2030, delivering a 7% reduction in carbon emissions. Last week, we announced a further £53 million from our Advanced Fuels Fund to scale up the UK SAF industry and help see 5 commercial SAF plants under construction by 2025. We also launched the UK Clearing House, a national hub to support the testing and approval of new advanced fuels for aviation.

UK Aviation Minister, Anthony Browne, said: 

Sustainable aviation is a promise that the global sector wants to make a reality – that’s why today’s agreement is so important – not only giving a renewed commitment to delivering a net zero future, but outlining the next steps in the industry’s flightpath towards it.

While the UK sought to secure greater ambition, this is a significant moment in our path to sustainable flying. The UK remains steadfast in its commitment to decarbonise international aviation.

This deal shows that, when the world comes together and cooperates, we can bring about real change.

Demonstrating the UK’s climate leadership, Aviation Minister Anthony Browne chaired a meeting of the UK-convened International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition and addressed the conference on the opening day. The coalition has a diverse membership of 62 governments and organisations committed to leading the way to net zero aviation by 2050.

The agreement reached provides clear, short-term direction for both investors and operators who are already transitioning and gives confidence to those looking to invest in cleaner aviation fuels. ICAO will reconvene by 2028 to further bolster and build upon the agreements set out today.

A future of sustainable flying is already becoming a reality as the industry gears up for the first 100% SAF-powered transatlantic flight, with up to £1 million of support from government. The flight, operated by Virgin Atlantic in partnership with technical partners, will fly from London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport on 28 November 2023.

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