Appendix B - Note of stakeholder workshop on low/zero emission aviation


As part of the Scottish Government’s consultation on developing an aviation strategy officials held a series of virtual meetings with aviation stakeholders to discuss the key themes set out in our discussion document: aviation’s transition to net-zero, Scotland’s international connectivity, Scotland’s domestic connectivity and air freight.

This note summarises the main points from the stakeholder workshop on the transition to low and zero emission aviation, held on the 3rd of December 2021, where participants discussed relevant questions from the consultation document. A summary of each discussion is provided below.

The feedback from all of the stakeholder workshops, together with the responses to the SG’s online consultation, will inform the development of the Scottish Government’s aviation strategy, which is expected to be published in 2022.


  • Airlines UK
  • Stop Climate Chaos
  • Petroineos
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • AGS Airports Limited
  • Knowledge Transfer Network
  • Transform Scotland
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Aerospace Technology Institute


The discussion document explains what the Scottish Government aims to achieve in this area:

“To reduce the environmental impact of aviation, in line with the Scottish Government’s commitment to be a net-zero nation by 2045.

For Scotland to benefit economically from the transition to low and zero emission aviation.”

The discussion document also contains more detailed information on what activity is already underway in this area, for example CORSIA, the UK ETS and the R&D support currently available.


A summary of the main points arising from each discussion is provided below. Comments have been anonymised, as agreed with participants in advance.

Discussion 1: What more does the Scottish Government and industry need to do to enable the transition to low and zero-emission aviation?


The Aerospace Technology Institute shared some of their early findings from the FlyZero project, which indicate that hydrogen powered aircraft is the most feasible option for short haul aviation. They also outlined the support available for the development of more efficient, as well as low and zero emission, aircraft.

Stakeholder views

  • Recognition of the challenges of switching to hydrogen/ electric aircraft and that they would not be suitable for a lot of Scotland’s international routes.
  • Stated the importance of both private and public sector investment in order to bring these new types of aircraft to market.
  • It was suggested that international standards could help speed up the use of these types of aircraft and one environmental NGO suggested that a government mandate on their use would also be needed.
  • The need to invest in the supporting infrastructure was highlighted and aviation representatives suggested that government could support airports to put this in place.
  • The importance of considering the whole supply chain – from production to transportation to storage – was also stressed, as well as the need to consider how aviation’s demand for hydrogen/renewable electricity might impact on other sectors and policy aims.
  • Another suggestion was to increase the environmental ambition of CORSIA and the UK Emissions Trading Scheme to incentivise airlines to use these aircraft.
  • Scottish Government could play a coordinating role, to help bring the different strands of activity together to form a coherent, deliverable plan.

Discussion 2: What can the Scottish Government do to help increase the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF)?


The Knowledge Transfer Network outlined the different feedstock and production processes used for sustainable aviation fuels and the proposed sustainability criteria under the UK Government’s SAF mandate.

Stakeholder views

  • Saw the possible economic and environmental opportunities from the production of SAF in Scotland and suggested that there could be a role for government in starting this up/providing investors with the confidence to spend the large sums of money which would be needed.
  • Referenced the work that the UK Government was doing in this area, including considering a ‘Contract for Difference’-like mechanism for SAF as well as the SAF mandate consultation.
  • Environmental NGOs welcomed the emphasis on high environmental criteria for SAF and noted the need to learn the lessons from the use of bio-fuels in other areas.
  • Recognised the challenges around feedstock supply. Environmental NGOs suggested that demand reduction also needs to play a role here, as less SAF would be needed if there were fewer flights. Some aviation industry representatives suggested that power to liquid fuels using carbon capture, or ring-fencing a certain amount of feedstock for SAF could be the answer. The need to align with agricultural policy was also mentioned, as this could help with feedstock supply.

Discussion 3: What do you think the Scottish Government can do to help ensure a just transition for the Scottish aviation sector?


Officials outlined what is meant by just transition principles and the wider work that the Scottish Government is doing in this area. The Just Transition Commission identified four components to achieving a just transition: pursue an orderly and managed transition which creates benefits and opportunities for people across Scotland; equip people with the skills and education they need to benefit from this transition; empower and invigorate our communities and strengthen local economies; share benefits widely and ensure burdens are distributed on the basis of ability to pay.

Stakeholder views

  • Some considered that there may be different interpretations of what is meant by ‘just transition’ and what it would entail – it would be useful for the Scottish Government to clarify.
  • Environmental NGOs suggested that just transition could not be done on a sectoral basis, but needs to be across the economy. So while there might be fewer jobs in aviation due to the need to reduce demand, government should seek to ensure that there are other good quality jobs that people can do instead and support them in acquiring the new skills they need to do this.
  • Aviation industry representatives stressed that decarbonisation needs to be done in a way that does not deter/stop people from coming to Scotland – a lot of economic and social benefits arise from air travel.
  • Have the skills in Scotland needed for SAF use and production. However, hydrogen is more challenging and, as well as needing the safety regulations in place, it would be helpful to have guidance to help organisations train their staff for its safe transportation, storage and refuelling.
  • Too early to determine what skills workers might need for the use of electric/hybrid aircraft until it’s clear which kind of aircraft will be used and how they will be recharged.

Discussion 4: What else do you think the aviation strategy should try to achieve?

Stakeholder views

  • Environmental NGOs commented that the discussion document is lacking a strategic consideration of how much aviation there should be in future and the role that demand management needs to play in reducing aviation emissions.
  • Reference was made to the Element Energy report on decarbonising the transport sector in Scotland and how the aviation strategy should consider where aviation sits in the sustainable travel hierarchy.
  • Environmental NGOs suggested we should approach decarbonising aviation, like we do waste (reduce, reuse, recycle). First, we should seek to reduce air travel, then for the air travel which can’t be avoided we should use low/zero-emission aircraft and finally for routes where can’t use hydrogen/electric aircraft we should use SAF.

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