Aviation: Decarbonisation

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at on 16 November 2021.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Chair, Transport Committee, Chair, Transport Committee

What steps he is taking with the Secretary of State for Transport to help support the aviation sector to decarbonise.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The Jet Zero Council, which is jointly chaired by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Business and for Transport, brings together industry leaders and the Government to discuss how best to reduce the impact of aviation on our environment. The recently published net zero strategy provides the framework, and the commitment made in the Budget to extend funding for the Aerospace Technology Institute to 2031 demonstrates the importance that the Government attach to making progress on this issue.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Chair, Transport Committee, Chair, Transport Committee

The issue with sustainable aviation fuel is not how to produce it—we can do that—but how to bring the price down so that there is a return on capital and an investment case for it, as there is for renewables. What more can the Government do to support sustainable aviation fuels, and does the Minister agree that we need a global approach to the solution?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the challenges of bringing the cost down, as is the case in so many areas of the net zero strategy, but progress is being made. We are keen to support the development of new technology solutions. He will know that we have set out an ambition for 10% of the UK’s aviation fuel to be SAF by 2030. We recognise the challenge of the cost, but I know that my hon. Friend, in his capacity as Chair of the Transport Committee, has announced an inquiry into the matter; I look forward to working with him and understanding the conclusions and proposals that he puts forward.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Transport)

It has just been revealed that the Transport Secretary is spending departmental money to lobby against the development of private airfields. This includes lobbying against plans to build a battery gigafactory at Coventry airport. What hope do we have of decarbonising transport when the very Cabinet member responsible for that brief is more interested in having somewhere to land his private jet? What conversations is BEIS having with the Department for Transport to ensure that it takes this matter seriously?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

I am not sure that this is Transport questions, but it is a question in that spirit. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State absolutely disputes the description that has just been given by the hon. Lady. On her question, there is a huge amount of work under way to try to decarbonise aviation, as demonstrated in the announcements last week at COP and the work that the Government have been doing for a number of years. We will continue to do that to ensure that we hit the net zero target by 2050.