Call for cap on aviation emissions

A A A

Worldwide greenhouse gas emissions from flying must be limited as part of a global deal to tackle climate change, the committee set up to advise the Government on the issue said today.

Ahead of the UN meeting in Copenhagen in December designed to thrash out a new international agreement on cutting greenhouse gases, the Climate Change Committee said in a letter to ministers that aviation emissions must be capped under a wider deal to reduce greenhouse gases.

Rich countries should take the lead, making sure their aviation emissions are no higher - and possibly lower - than they were in 2005 by 2050, the committee urged.

The cap on aviation emissions could come through a global deal governing the whole industry or as part of national and regional targets for reducing greenhouse gases, the letter to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said.

Any deal to reduce emissions from flying should be "ambitious", and aim for no less than the EU's current plans which require a 5% reduction in emissions from 2013 to 2020.

But the committee's chief executive David Kennedy said such measures would not force people to fly less than they currently do.

"It is vital that an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal," he said.

"We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today, but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward.

"Such a cap together with deep emissions cuts in other sectors would limit the risk of dangerous climate change and the very damaging consequences for people here and in other countries that this would have."

In the UK, bringing emissions from flying back to 2005 levels by 2050 could - alongside cuts of 90 per cent in greenhouse gases across the rest of the economy - deliver the 80 per cent cut in overall emissions to which the Government has signed up.

Without steps to stop growth in emissions from flying, planes could account for as much as a fifth of all carbon dioxide produced worldwide by 2050, the committee warned.

All aviation emissions should be capped, but there could be a period where flights in and out of rich countries would be targeted, while those between developing countries were exempt, the letter suggested.

The committee said it supported plans to include flying in the EU-wide emissions trading scheme, which would give the aviation industry a certain number of "carbon credits" to cover some of their output and let them purchase allowances from greener companies to make up the shortfall.

But all allowances must be auctioned to the industry rather than given away for free, to prevent them receiving the kind of windfall profits energy companies have benefited from under the free allocation system.

And in the long term real cuts must be made, rather than rich countries relying on "offsetting" their emissions by purchasing credits from poorer countries under international trading schemes.

Funding for research and development is needed under a global deal agreed on climate change, to deliver the innovative engine, aircraft and fuel technology that will be needed to cut emissions from flying.

The deal could also agree to use funding from the auctioning of carbon allowances to airline companies to help people, particularly those in poor countries, cope with the already-inevitable impacts of warming global temperatures.

A Government spokesman said: "The UK now has the toughest climate change regime for aviation of any country in the world and we will bring international pressure for aviation emissions to be part of global deal on climate change at the Copenhagen conference later this year.

"We will take full account of the Committee's advice as we continue to press for international aviation to tackle climate change at Copenhagen."

But environmental campaigners renewed their calls for an end to airport expansion in the wake of the advice from the committee.

Friends of the Earth's aviation campaigner Richard Dyer said: "International aviation emissions must be curbed as part of global plans to avoid catastrophic climate change."

Greenpeace climate change campaigner Vicky Wyatt said any government would find it "almost impossible" to build a third runway at Heathrow if it followed the committee's advice.

The chairman of aviation group FlyingMatters, Brian Wilson, said: "I'm delighted that the committee are not seeking to ensure people fly less than today - particularly as most people have only recently been able to afford foreign travel.

"Only an international agreement coupled with the technological advance to which the aviation industry is committed will effectively deal with aviation's emissions.

"Neither unilateral action by the UK nor trying to prevent people travelling will secure the public's support - support which is essential if we are to reach, and deliver on, a deal at Copenhagen."

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century