Green Mobility Policy Briefing 22 July, 2022

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Briefing: the UK government announces its Jet Zero Strategy to decarbonise domestic aviation; the UK government unveil a £273 million aerospace investment package at the Farnborough International Airshow; Transdev announce procurement of zero emission buses in Germany following promise of federal funding; EU car sales drop to lowest monthly point since 1996.  

UK government announces Jet Zero Strategy to decarbonise domestic aviation by 2040. In line with its commitment to help the domestic aviation sector on its net zero emissions pathway, the UK government this week introduced its ambitious Jet Zero Strategy. The plan outlines six decarbonisation measures, including a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) mandate to ensure at least 10% of jet fuel is made from sustainable sources by 2030. Accompanied by the development of new technology and infrastructure, the strategy hopes to enable “guilt-free, zero-emission hydrogen- and electric-powered regional flights for work and leisure”, says Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia and a member of the Jet Zero Council. However, the Jet Zero Strategy has attracted criticism from environmental groups such as Transport & Environment, who highlight the strategy’s failure to set out a pragmatic plan of exactly how it will help the aviation industry wean itself off fossil fuels. Specifically, the government failed to acknowledge the different types of sustainable fuels in its plan, whilst also failing to “properly address” the crucial non-CO2 climate impacts caused by aviation, such as those arising from contrails and nitrogen oxide. According to Matt Finch, Director of Transport & Environment UK, the Jet Zero strategy therefore simplyallows the sector to carry on polluting with impunity for the next 30 years”, and remains inadequate given the current climatic state.  By Agne Vaitkeviciute

At the EU-level, the aviation industry is set to achieve it's decarbonisation aims through a combination of technological and market based measures. Source: Destination 2050 (Click on image for a link).

The UK government unveils plans for a £273 million joint industry-government investment package for the aviation sector. Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow, the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, outlined how the government’s funding package, which represents a key component of its Jet Zero Strategy, will “help the sector seize on the enormous opportunities for growth that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight”. £155 million will be shared among 31 successful projects from the Aerospace & Technology Institute Programme, £105.5 million to 17 projects of the Future Flight Challenge and a further £12 million to the Regulators Pioneer Fund. The government argues the scheme will advance “low-carbon aerospace innovation” by developing “ultra-efficient manufacturing processes and technologies” in tandem with research into sustainable fuel-sources. One such initiative is the £6.7 million ‘High Density Aerospace Solar Power’ project led by Microlink Devices UK that aims to develop solar cells suitable for electric aircraft. Alongside this, the government outlined a Drone Ambition Statement, providing a clear indication of the government’s intention to integrate drones into transport systems. An independent report claims drones could generate £45 billion and 650,000 jobs by 2030. However, environmental NGOs and leading figures in the aviation sector have criticised the government’s policy. The head of climate policy at the Green Alliance, Helena Bennett, claims it is “placing bets on technologies that we are not certain can deliver emissions reductions”. The announcement comes at a time of widespread disruption in the aviation sector as it struggles to cope with pent-up demand in flights following the pandemic. The government says a final Jet Zero strategy will be published later this summer. – By Oliver Jenkins

Transdev receives federal funding to procure zero emission buses in Germany. Following the announcement earlier this year of €1.25 billion in federal funding to support the transition away from diesel buses until 2024, Transdev, a transport operator, has announced its intention to procure up to 460 zero emission buses for use in its existing German networks. Transdev’s decision has occurred against the backdrop of surging demand for zero emission buses throughout Europe: almost one in four newly registered urban buses in 2021 was zero emission across the continent. Germany’s Federal Transportation Minister, Volker Wissing, is keen to capitalise on this trend, targeting a 50% fleet penetration rate of city buses with “alternative, climate-friendly drives” by 2030. Through federal funding, Wissing hopes that “1,700 climate-friendly, quiet and state-of-the-art buses will be on the road throughout Germany” in the future. Transdev currently operates around 3,200 public transit buses in Germany, already boasting 40 electric buses, whilst being engaged in accelerating the transition towards zero emission public transit. Henrik Behrens, Managing Director of Bus Operations at Transdev Germany, called the receipt of federal funding a “huge boost for the mobility revolution in Germany”, stating that it will “support efforts for the use of climate-neutral vehicles in public transportation”. Whilst the surge in zero emission bus demand is cause for optimism, Transport & Environment suggest more must be done to sustain this momentum. In the absence of laws that require manufacturers to supply only zero emission buses, demand will quickly outstrip supply. Thus, Transport & Environment advocates a 100% sales target for zero emission buses from 2027, placing Europe in similar territory to California, a “touchstone for EU vehicle policy”. – By Sam Phelps

EU Car Sales Fall to Lowest Point for June Since 1996. EU passenger car registrations have hit their lowest point for the month of June since 1996, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). Across the Union, car sales shrank by 15% compared to the previous year, with Germany posting the strongest decline (-18.1%), followed by Italy (-15.0%) and France (-14.2%). According to ACEA, the decline can be attributed to supply chain issues and decreased output. However, declining vehicle registrations coincide with increasing cost pressures on households and a tightening of lending guidelines across most EU banks, and an increased awareness around how vehicle usage and traffic flows affect heat and air pollution in urban centres during the summer months. – By Thomas Hayden-Lefebvre