Momentum to decarbonise aviation sector palpable reflects Matt Gorman of Heathrow on award of MBE

Matt Gorman, Director of Carbon Strategy, Heathrow reflects on the growing momentum behind decarbonisation as his life’s work is recognised with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

I’m delighted to say that I was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Friday for services to the “Decarbonisation of Aviation”. An unexpectedly emotional moment. One of my colleagues called it my “lifetime’s work” and when I looked back it is about 20 years I’ve been campaigning on, advising or working in aviation. It is also a sign that things are starting to shift in the sector. Within Heathrow that’s testament to leadership not just from me but our whole Exec and leadership team and a mobilisation across the company. And within our global sector, UK aviation players have taken a real lead. It’s also testament to the many campaigners, politicians and local communities who’ve been dogged in holding our feet to the fire.

I do think we’re at a real turning point on climate. I’ve concluded that the fight or flight mechanism is so deeply engrained in humans that we only really start to act when there’s a clear and present danger. The fact that climate has moved from a “will happen in future” to an “is happening now and we can see how bad it could be” has been really significant. That sense of danger has catalysed the kind of public, political, business and investor mobilisation we’ve seen growing over the last couple of years. Two quotes today summed that danger/action dynamic up. Sir David Attenborough telling G7 leaders the decisions they take on climate are the most important in human history. And Chris Stark of the Climate Change Committee in today’s Green Power List saying: “The move to zero carbon is permanent, so let’s celebrate being the generation that will get the job done.”

I remain really optimistic we can and will solve it. We may not solve it perfectly – we’re humans after all – but we’ll get there. The sense of momentum in the aviation sector at the moment is palpable – the last couple of years has been different to anything I’ve seen in the last 20. I think we’ll amaze ourselves how quickly things move this decade.