This article was last updated on March 22, 2023
Air Travel in a Carbon-Free Future
I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve been hearing a great number of stories from friends and acquaintances about the misery of air travel since pandemic travel restrictions were modified. It almost seems as though someone doesn’t want the organ donor class to use air travel, isn’t it? While it may just be that my tinfoil hat is a bit tight today, the information in this posting will show just how that possibility could become a reality in the not-too-distant future.
To almost no fanfare, back in 2019, a report commissioned by the United Kingdom government laid out a very clear and thorough plan to completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. To put this report into its proper context, it is important to remember that former UK Prime Minister Theresa May changed the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Act to commit to eliminating ALL greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom by 2050. This excludes the use of carbon offset credits which are currently being used by both individuals and businesses to offset their carbon emissions. In this posting, we’ll look at the overall plan by the authors of the Absolute Zero report, focussing on one key aspect, that of air travel. When reading this posting, please keep in mind that there is a complete lack of original thinking among elected officials which suggests that the UK’s plan could well be adopted in some form or another by other Western governments around the world.
UK FIRES, the organization that created the Absolute Zero strategy states the following about its vision for the future:
“With fewer than thirty years to attain zero emissions, UK FIRES is uncovering the lowest risk path to zero emissions prosperity in the UK by 2050 by:
1.) Optimizing current industrial techniques with new decision making tools
2.) Uncovering gaps in the business space to be filled in by entrepreneurship, finance and policy
3.) Extensive public engagement through innovative communication channels”
UK FIRES states that living with zero emissions by 2050 means electrifying everything and using only electricity that is generated by either renewable sources or nuclear power plants. It is important to note that the concept of zero emissions is far different from the idea of zero net emissions which is the current mantra of most governments and industries.
Here are the academics behind UK FIRES:
The Absolute Zero report opens with the following:
“We can’t wait for breakthrough technologies to deliver net-zero emissions by 2050. Instead, we can plan to respond to climate change using today’s technologies with incremental change. This will reveal many opportunities for growth but requires a public discussion about future lifestyles.
We have to cut our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050: that’s what climate scientists tell us, it’s what social protesters are asking for and it’s now the law in the UK. But we aren’t on track. For twenty years we’ve been trying to solve the problem with new or breakthrough technologies that supply energy and allow industry to keep growing, so we don’t have to change our lifestyles. But although some exciting new technology options are being developed, it will take a long time to deploy them, and they won’t be operating at scale within thirty years.“
The authors claim that to achieve the goal of zero emissions by 2050, all sectors of the economy will have to adapt with some industries (i.e. the fossil fuel industry, marine shipping and air travel and shipping) will become extinct. Here is a graphic which shows the changes that will be required to achieve the zero emissions goal by 2050 for key sectors of the economy:
Here is another graphic showing how the world will look after 2050:
As promised, let’s look at one key aspect of the world today; the current widespread use of air transportation. As you may have noticed on the two graphic which map the future, the authors clearly state that air travel will become “extinct”. The report notes the following:
1.) Between 2020 and 2029, all United Kingdom airports will close with the exception of Heathrow, Glasgow and Belfast. Transportation between airports for transferring passengers will be by rail.
2.) Between 2030 and 2049, all three remaining airports in the United Kingdom will close.
3.) Beyond 2050, the development of electric airplanes will occur with these aircraft using synthetic fuel because the fossil fuel industry will be extinct.
Here is a graphic showing the energy and emissions consequences of a person travelling a kilometre by various means showing the high impact of flying:
Here’s a pertinent quote from the report:
“The (mode shift) figure shows both the energy and emissions consequences of a person travelling a kilometre by different modes: these two figures are closely correlated except for flight, where the emissions at high altitude cause additional warming effects. The figure underlines how important it is to stop flying – its’ the most emitting form of transport and we use planes to travel the longest distances. A typical international plane travels at around 900km/hour, so flying in economy class equates to 180kgCO2e per person per hour (double in business class, quadruple in first class, due to the floor area occupied.) Flying for ~30 hours per year is thus equal to a typical UK citizen’s annual emissions.“
Please note that flying in business and first classes (i.e. the domain of the global ruling class) are responsible for far greater emissions than the much-beloved “cattle class”, the domain of the organ donor class.
Here’s another quote with my bolds:
“The two big challenges we face with an all electric future are flying and shipping. Although there are lots of new ideas about electric planes, they won’t be operating at commercial scales within 30 years, so zero emissions means that for some period, we’ll all stop using aeroplanes…
The two critical forms of equipment that cannot be electrified with known technology are aeroplanes and ships. Although Solar-Impulse 2, a single-seater solar-powered electric aeroplane circumnavigated the Earth in 2016, it is difficult to scale up solar-powered aeroplanes due to the slow rates of improvement in of solar cell output put unit of area. Meanwhile battery-powered flight is inhibited by the high weight of batteries, bio-fuel substitutes for Kerosene face the same competition for land with food and there are no other ready and appropriate technologies for energy storage. As a result, under the constraint of planning for zero emissions with known technologies, all flying must be phased out by 2050 until new forms of energy storage can be created.“
When it comes to travelling and how an individual can reduce their personal carbon footprint, here are the recommendations of the authors:
1.) Stop using aeroplanes
2.) Take the train not the car when possible.
3.) Use all the seats in the car or get a smaller one
4.) Choose an electric car next time, if possible, which will become easier as prices fall and charging infrastructure expands.
5.) Lobby for more trains, no new roads, airport closure and more renewable electricity.
Let’s summarize. By 2030, the authors of the report recommend that only three airports in the United Kingdom remain open with all airports to close by 2049. While this seems far-fetched on the surface, if we look at how governments negatively impacted air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that, given the generous use of fear porn, people will pretty much fall in line with government diktats no matter how extreme they are.
Governments have granted themselves unfettered powers which will allow them to do as they wish when it comes to putting an end to travel by air all in the name of a zero emissions future. That said, one thing that we can assure ourselves of is that the ruling class is not about to give up their right to travel the globe by private jet, after all, it’s all about “rules for thee but not for me” just like the useless eater class experienced over the past three years. In other words, enjoy flying while you can.
In a future posting, I’ll take a look at some of the other recommendations made in the Absolute Zero strategy handbook.