Jet zero: Imposing frequent flyer surcharges to try to encourage us to fly less won’t work

YOU’LL be aware of the frequently referred term net zero, but let me introduce you to jet zero.

Governments have stated their intention to switch to sustainable aircraft fuel by 2050.

This date is destined to be a year of reckoning.

That’s because it’s 27 years away and politicians can kick problems down the road of reckoning.

Airplanes contribute significantly to climate damage. Some 2.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from planes.

The technology is not in place to allow us to fly guilt free. And year on year we fly more.

Many countries are considering imposing frequent flyer surcharges to try to encourage us to fly less. Taxing cigarettes, alcohol and petrol to death hasn’t stopped us smoking, drinking or driving (maybe there’s a clue here).

Tax Debt Concept. Woman With Heavy Box Full Of Tax Debt Carrying
Photo: Adobe Stock

It all comes down to investment in alternative technologies. And that costs money.

In the UK, The Royal Society looked at the three other alternatives currently being discussed:

  • Biofuel from crops – London Heathrow is the largest global user of biofuels – but this represents just 0.5% of the airport’s fuel. (It would require more than half of the UK’s farming land to produce sufficient to supply the UK aviation needs). So that’s not going to happen.
  • Fuel made from Hydrogen produced with green electricity – but countries do not generate sufficient renewable electricity to make enough green hydrogen. So that’s not going to happen. Plus existing aircraft engines cannot use hydrogen based fuels.
  • Ammonia and synthetic fuels – under consideration, but they need even more green hydrogen. So that’s not going to happen.

Governments lead us all to believe that innovation will save the day. Without adequate investment there is no chance.

The airline industry self-regulates. They offer promises without consequences.

A prime example; In 2010 Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic said that by 2020 10% of its fuel would be biofuel.

In 2021 Virgin Atlantic announced it would be using 10% alternative fuels by 2030.

Get my point?


So said one of the co-founders of the Green Party in the UK, Michael Benfield last week.

His point carries weight.

We have succeeded in helping to educate, but we have failed in dealing with the battle for environmental survival.

Martin Tye is the owner of energy switch company Mariposa Energy. Contact him on +34 638145664 or email him at


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