The worlds first ever net zero transatlantic flight – what to expect!

27th May 2022

Emily Baker

Any form of transportation that uses fossil fuels contributes to climate change, although we have seen over the years an increase in electric vehicles and infrastructure that support in combatting this issue from a road travel perspective. Despite there still being a long way to go, it is positive we are seeing some action!

However, air travel as expected, causes the most damage to the environment due to the emissions being released directly into the higher regions of the atmosphere and up until now we have seen no efforts to combat this high impacting element of travel. Therefore, to see the government confirm the first ever net zero transatlantic flight is set to take place in 2023 is exciting, however, when can we expect a new era of guilt-free flying and is their approach enough?

The announcement took place on 14 May 2022, as part of the government’s commitment to drive forward the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry, which not only has the potential to deliver significant carbon savings but also support up to over 5,000 UK jobs, and over 13,000 global exports, making it an all-round economic and climate achievement.

However, counter yet plausible views from a variety of green groups suggest that there is not enough focus on electric and hydrogen-powered aircrafts, which while they take longer to commercialise, could result in far lower lifecycle emissions. As their current strategy to achieve this flight next year, is to use sustainable aviation fuel, a biofuel with a smaller carbon footprint, that does still have an impact. In addition to this, despite this being a positive step in the right direction, making a full transition to all UK transatlantic flights to be net-zero, could take decades.

It is important to note that this is a step in the right direction, but I think it is equally important to be realistic that this may not be the most efficient approach and the possibilities of guilt-free flying is still a while away. It will however be exciting to see the progress of this initiative and a UK wide achievement when that flight takes off!

You can read the full government announcement here.  

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