Tuesday, July 5

Denmark wants all its domestic flights to be carbon neutral by 2030: a plan for which technological development is lacking

Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, spoke about climate change in your New Years speech, warning of the introduction of a carbon tax (an idea that the European Union already raised in summer) and also the idea of ​​achieving, in a context of rising temperatures, that all domestic flights are carbon neutral by 2030: “We have to be able to make our domestic flights completely eco-friendly.”

“Collectively, we must be as impatient as the planet needs us to be. Rising temperatures are destroying it. This year we will decide on an ambitious new CO2 tax to ensure that companies that pollute pay for their emissions themselves. This also applies to air traffic: Traveling is living, and that is why we fly, but at the same time it is detrimental to our climate. […] We have to make ecological fly “, He said the prime minister.

Five-year plan and measures to be revealed

Although the carbon tax will be managed this year, Frederiksen’s idea is that by 2025 there will be at least one national route that is neutral in emissions, and by 2030 all domestic flights are “completely green” in this sense.

The minister has announced the intention, but not the concrete measures: the state of the CO2 absorption technology will be key

The concrete way to achieve this has not yet been announced, but there are some measures that could be part of the plan to achieve carbon neutral flights. For example, the use of electric airplanes, which, although they are still in the development and prototyping phase, for the second half of the decade could well be real options for short distances, something ideal in a country of 43,000 km² like Denmark. To give context, the surface of Spain is more than 500,000 km².

Electric airplanes would directly suppose emission-free itineraries, but if we cannot trust everything to them, the pure option of neutral emissions, which is a simple concept: you can generate as many emissions as you are able to absorb. The complex thing is usually to carry it out, so one of the first measures is usually to begin to reduce these emissions as much as possible, and then propose measures aimed at absorbing those that remain.

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From reforestation to mechanical trees to reducing emissions

Those CO2 absorption measures that compensate for what is emitted go through some such as the traditional reforestation, making an exact calculation of the amount of CO2 to see to what extent the flights of each company are compensated, but there are also others where technology comes into play. For example, with atmospheric CO2 extractors, something that Bill Gates He referred -Speaking in the future- as “one of the greatest advances in the world.” It is expensive and inefficient today, but possible.

There are also ideas such as mechanical trees, born in the heat of a boom in research in this area for four years that, from the outset, have made the idea of ​​absorbing CO2 even minimally profitable. It’s still more than complicated, but at least it doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it did very recently. Indeed, Frederiksen spoke of the ongoing work of researchers and private enterprise as part of developing the solutions that will make that goal possible.

This is how Spirit of Innovation flies, Rolls-Royce's fully electric plane with a 400 kW engine

Background, a paradigm shift: after years watching a boom in aviation and welcoming airlines with open arms low cost that have allowed several generations to travel as much as the previous ones could not even dream of, we move on to one “shame to fly“As residual as it is incipient, especially when it comes to domestic flights with alternatives such as rail. Already in 2019 the European Union announced through its president Ursula von der Leyen the arrival of fares for airlines that would make flights more expensive within the framework of a plan to combat emissions.

Sweden announced a similar plan for 2030 and from January 1, 2022 discriminate rates to the airlines based on the climate impact of the airplane model that makes each trip.


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