Dear Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport,
We write this open letter on a matter of national and global importance: Jet Zero. This is the government’s proposed strategy to make UK aviation net zero by 2050 and the consultation ends today. We are academics and researchers from the University of Leeds with expertise in climate science, meteorology, transport, nutrition and other fields of research.
On 9 August, the United Nations published the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This sent a ‘code red’ warning to humanity and could not have been clearer. If we fail to act urgently, we will face climate breakdown - wildfires, floods, extreme heat, drought, sea level rise and human migration on a vast and unprecedented scale. But there is also hope. We can keep global temperature rise below 2C and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change if we reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels.
However Jet Zero’s proposals would allow UK aviation emissions to increase up to 2030 from 2019 levels. This flies in the face of very clear advice from the UK Climate Change Committee to the government: measures to limit demand for flying should form an integral part of meeting our emissions reduction targets, alongside exploring the longer term technological innovations set out in Jet Zero. This dual approach of innovative technology and demand management is essential in order to be absolutely sure of meeting our targets. The IPCC's report makes it starkly clear that it is vital to meet our net zero targets. As the UN Secretary General recently said “there is no time for delay and no room for excuses". Aviation demand management must be sufficiently responsive and flexible to keep emissions reduction targets firmly within sight through the inevitable successes and failures of new technology.
We call on the government to expand the remit of Jet Zero to embrace demand management measures in order to give future generations the chance of a liveable future.
Professor Stephen Mobbs MBE, Executive Director, National Centre for Atmospheric Science
Professor John Marsham, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Professor Ian Brooks, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Professor Paul Chatterton, Urban Futures, School of Geography, University of Leeds
Professor Jillian Anable, Transport and Energy, The Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
Professor Megan Povey, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds
Professor Janet Watson, Co-director of the Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems, University of Leeds
Professor Helen Steward, School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds
Professor David Hesmondhalgh, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds
Dr Debbie Rosen, Science and Policy Manager, CONSTRAIN, Priestley Centre, University of Leeds
Dr Marina Baldissera Pacchetti, Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Dr Paul Brockway, School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds
Dr Malcolm Morgan, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
Dr Sally Cairns, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
Dr Joey Talbot, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
Dr David Palma, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
Dr Louise Jennings, Associate Professor of Medical Engineering, School of Mechanical Engineering
Dr Ipek Demir, Associate Professor and Director of Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds
Dr Gabriella Alberti, Associate Professor in Work and Employment Relations, Leeds Business School, University of Leeds
Dr Jeremy Davies, Associate Professor of English, School of English
Dr Stefan Skrimshire, Associate Professor, School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds
Dr Leslie M Meier, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds
Dr Chris Paterson, International Communication, School of Media and Communication
Dr Gillian Proctor, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds
Dr Roger Brock, Senior Lecturer, Classics, University of Leeds
Ciarán McInerney, Digital Health and Patient Safety, School of Computing, University of Leeds
Anya Schlich-Davies, researcher, School of Earth and Environment
Simon Moore, Media and Communications Officer, Communications,University of Leeds