Emissions targets hit by rise in air traffic

The benefits of persuading householders to save energy in the campaign against climate change are being wiped out by increased air traffic, government figures reveal.

Final figures for the year 2005, released yesterday, show that overall carbon emissions fell by 0.1 per cent on 2004. Householders cut their emissions of carbon by 4.6 per cent, but emissions from aircraft went up by 7 per cent.

While the figures were an embarrassment for a government committed to cuts in carbon emissions, the timing of their publication was a boon for Gordon Brown, whose much criticised air passenger duty comes into force today.

Mr Brown says it is a "green tax" brought into to curb air travel, the UK's fastest-growing source of carbon emissions. His opponents say it is just a way of raising money for the Treasury that will have no impact on travelling habits.

Most embarrassingly for the Government, the UK still emits more carbon now than it did when Labour came to power in 1997.

Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, said: "The Government must do more to ensure that the cost of flying reflects the environmental damage that aviation causes.And it should abandon plans to allow new runways to be built."