The Renewable Energy Centre released a statement today which highlighted that the publicity surrounding aviation and climate change was becoming more and more prevalent.
In the space of twenty four hours, Richard Branson flew the first Boeing flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam which was powered partly by biofuel and protesters gained access to a stationery plane to protest against the proposed new runway at Heathrow.
Air travel currently accounts for 6.3 percent of the UK's C02 emissions with predictions from the government that this will rise to between 10 and 16 percent by 2020. Aviation is seen as the biggest threat to the EU emissions targets the government has set out to achieve. In the light of the ongoing campaigning at Heathrow over its expansion and with a new runway the increase of flights from 300,000 to over 700,000 many believe that relying on the EU Emissions Trading scheme will not be enough to meet the 2020 targets.
Campaigners have suggested raising air taxes in a bid to counter the reduction in air fares and cut emissions and others have raised operational factors such as reducing the amount of time engines burn before take off, improvements in air traffic control and landing procedures. The Renewable Energy Centre stated that the government needed to be clear on its stance regarding aviation and that reducing C02 emissions on the one hand while promoting the increase of emissions on the other was both a contradictory and confusing message.
With the successful flight of the Virgin Boeing to Amsterdam on Sunday it is clear there is a pathway open for planes to use biofuel. The Renewable Energy Centre said it fully recommended that the government invest in the development of this technology in order to curb the rising emissions from the aviation sector. It stated that the numbers of people using air travel was unlikely to reduce over the next decade and as a result they would be prepared to bear the additional costs biofuels may incur per flight.
Richard Branson in a statement to the press said "Today marks a biofuel breakthrough for the whole airline industry. Virgin Atlantic and its partners are proving that you can find an alternative to traditional jet fuel and fly a plan on new technology, such as sustainable biofuel. This pioneering flight will enable those who are serious about reducing carbon emissions to go on developing the fuels of the future which will power our aircraft in the years to come."
Although only one engine of the Boeing was powered by the biofuel, made from coconut and babassu oil from Brazil and the Philippines it was as Captain Geoff Andreason said "a momentous day."
Richard Simmons, Managing Director at The Renewable Energy Centre said "Aviation is becoming a real issue for the UK in terms of emissions and although the UK has several airports, it is really all about Heathrow. The Government is currently releasing report after report on its renewables strategy while approving infrastructure which will serve to continue to add to our C02 emissions. A clear strategy needs to be put in place with taxes on flights to cover investment in biofuels and emissions trading. People are not going to stop flying just because flight costs increase; it is now firmly part of our culture and in order for us to be responsible for our planet each individual should bear part of the burden."
The Renewable Energy Centre stated it fully supported the development of biofuels for aviation and urged the government to clarify its stance and policy on aviation and emissions.
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