Tony Juniper: Aviation is fastest-growing source of C02 emissions

Share
Related Topics

To fly or not to fly? Many of us facing a long journey, or even a short one, would not even consider the question. Cheaper flights to ever-more destinations prove irresistible to the travelling public, while business travel is seen as inevitable in a global market place.

But increased demand for flights threatens the future of our planet. Aviation is the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide emissions, the biggest cause of climate change. And because the pollution is released at a high altitude, it has a greater impact.

Extreme climate events have already become more frequent. In 2003, the heatwave in Europe resulted in 26,000 premature deaths and cost $13.5bn (£7.5bn). Around the world, climate change already kills 160,000 people every year.

At home, the risk of droughts, floods, and freak storms is expected to increase. Sea levels are rising, with forecasters predicting an increase of 88cm by 2100. If carbon dioxide emissions do not peak and then decline within the next 10 to 15 years, scientists say, the result may be an abrupt change in climate, with devastating consequences.

Technology can play a part in tackling the problem. Aircraft are becoming more fuel efficient, reducing emission levels. But this is happening at a rate of just 1 per cent a year, while flights are increasing by 5 per cent.

Individuals can make a difference. By choosing to spend holidays in the UK rather than abroad, or by using the train. But the scale of the problem is such that tackling climate change cannot be left to personal choice. Government action is required.

Current aviation policy allows forunchecked growth of aviation fuelled by market demand driven in turn by falling ticket prices. New runways at London airports and new airports will cater for a predicted trebling in the number of flights. Aviation is effectively subsidised, with no tax on aviation fuel, and no VAT on domestic flights. Air passenger duty on cheap flights has been reduced.

An easy first step for the Government would be to increase air passenger duty in the next budget. Options also exist to add a European-wide kerosene tax and introduce a European-wide emissions charge. Yes, this would make flying more expensive, but cheap flights are not after all a human right.

Friends of the Earth wants a new law to tackle climate change, committing the Government to making annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions of 3 per cent. By introducing a legal framework, emissions can be reduced in a manageable way. Aviation is of course a global business. But by taking strong action at home, the Government can show international leadership.

Tony Juniper is executive director of Friends of the Earth

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A couple stand in front of a beautiful cloudy scene  

In sickness and in health: It’s been stormy but there are blessings in the clouds

Rebecca Armstrong
Chancellor George Osborne (C) wears a high visibility jacket as he makes a visit to the Prysmian Group factory and speaks to factory manager Steve Price  

Keep the champagne on ice – there are some clear and worrying signs that the economy is slowing

David Blanchflower
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?