Open letter to Grant Shapps about the government’s Jet Zero strategy

Barry White

Earlier this month 38 academics and other staff at University of Leeds wrote an open letter to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport about the government’s proposed strategy to make UK aviation net zero by 2050. It was reprinted in the Yorshire Bylines and is reproduced below.

‘Dear Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport,

We write this open letter on a matter of national and global importance: Jet Zero, the government’s proposed strategy to make UK aviation net zero by 2050. 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.

Yours sincerely,

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…’

and 34 others. The full list is published at:



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