The UK is hosting COP26 in November and in preparation to this important assembly, the COP hosted a climate and development meeting. On listening in, the president of the COP26 ministerial committee, Rt Hon Alok Sharma acknowledged that communities most vulnerable to climate change understand the challenges better than anyone. He said they are leaders when it comes to climate action. There was acknowledgement that a lack of solutions on finance, adaptation and debt are limiting climate action in the world’s most vulnerable communities and that it was vital to find some solutions. I’m so encouraged that there is recognition that it’s important that the international community collectively delivers and that we hold the solutions to the problems we are looking to address.
As the topic of the climate crisis gets louder, I’ll chip in that we know that women, indigenous peoples and younger generations are often impacted the most by climate change. We know too, that they also hold some of the most effective solutions. To remind the reader, in June 2019, the UK parliament passed legislation which required our government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. Doing so would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter. Sounds good to me. If the UK shows leadership, surely other countries can replicate and follow suit. More than 110 countries have committed to becoming carbon neutral by mid-century, but just six countries have net zero carbon targets in law. SIX.
The UK has pledged that by 2050, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by all the cars, homes and industry in the country will be net zero – which means that for every tonne produced, a tonne must be extracted from the atmosphere. Let’s have a look at how one of the UK’s carbon emitters – our aviation sector is dealing with the challenge.
The Jet Zero Council (now that rhymes with Net Zero!) is a partnership between industry and government to bring together ministers and chief executive officer-level stakeholders, with the aim of delivering zero-emission transatlantic flights within a generation. It’s an ambitious delivery of new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions.
The Jet Zero Council (JZC) will be the catalyst for zero-emission passenger flight across the Atlantic. How? I hear you ask? It will focus on developing UK capabilities to deliver both net zero and zero-emission technologies by developing and industrialising zero-emission aviation and aerospace technologies, establishing production facilities for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and commercialising the industry by driving down production costs. It will develop a coordinated approach to the policy and regulatory framework needed to deliver net zero aviation by 2050.
The Travel and Tourism sector contributes up to 10% of world GDP and is a major contributor to jobs, trade, wealth and well-being, especially in emerging economies. However, we all know too well that it can be a major contributor to the world’s carbon footprint, pollution, resource utilisation and damage to the environment. As we grow again as an industry, we are challenged, we have to be mindful and ensure we are not going to damage to ourselves and our planet. We need to take action to reduce our carbon emissions and halt warming of our planet, before it’s too late.
Are you as an individual or a business thinking about Net Zero targets? Before setting a net zero target, it is important that you develop a clear roadmap of the actions that will reduce your own emissions as far as possible in the first instance. To conclude, let me introduce the Net Zero Challenge. This is a sustainability engagement tool which will accelerate your net zero carbon journey by encouraging people in the industry to reduce their carbon footprint. You can compete against other organisations in the sector by the specific leader boards and reward employees for doing the right thing. Genius!
With just over 6 months to COP26 in the UK later this year, and the roadmap of getting the country and economy up and running again after lockdown because of Covid19, my hope is that the UK will lead the way to a sustainable recovery.