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Aviation is an important part of our lives, bringing benefits to people, businesses and our national economy through global connectivity of people and goods.  Demand for air travel continues to grow as more people want to take advantages of these benefits, to learn, to enjoy a holiday or to build their businesses and careers. 

But like all forms of fossil-fuel powered forms of transport, aviation has adverse impacts on the environment.  Aircraft are noisy and tailpipe emissions have an impact on air quality around airports, as well as contributing to global warming through CO2 and other emissions.  Currently, aviation accounts for about 2% of global CO2 emissions, but but this is set to increase as other modes of transport move to less carbon-based fuels.  Furthermore, the whole aviation system has further adverse impacts on the environment through its manufacturing, operations and waste disposal processes. 

The Government has set a legally binding target for the UK to reach net zero by 2050 and has published a Jet Zero Strategy setting out what will be needed to ensure that aviation plays its part in meeting this target.

The CAA has where we can lead, influence or facilitate improvements in aviation’s environmental performance:

  • A Regulatory Function: for example, certifying new aircraft technology to established safety standards, deciding whether the design of controlled airspace can be changed, ensuring consumers are protected and setting price and service quality standards at certain airports;
  • An Advisory Functions: collaborating on and reviewing research into the effects of noise and emissions, and providing advice on how they can be mitigated or reduced. This work is usually undertaken for or on behalf of the UK Government, and can include providing advice, guidance and best practice, in the UK and internationally; and
  • A Commercial Function: for example, monitoring noise around UK airports, publishing information regarding noise and emissions levels, and advising on management and mitigation.  Work is undertaken for a range of customers including the UK Government, public authorities; the aviation industry; and local communities.  The CAA also works with innovators to help them prepare for the regulatory certification process by testing their innovations in a safe environment through a regulatory sandbox approach

Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy sets out how we are working with the whole aviation and aerospace systems to address environmental performance in an agile, ambitious and credible way.

In June 2022 we set up our Environmental Sustainability Panel, a non-statutory body of independent experts which acts as a critical friend to support and challenge us as we deliver our Environmental Sustainability Strategy.