Sweeping emissions under the carpet
9th August, 2007
International aviation is the UK’s fastest-growing source of carbon emissions, and yet the government isn't even accounting for them. Peter Lockley explains why we urgently need to call a halt to airport expansion
If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably don’t need to be convinced about the urgency of climate change. If we are to keep within a temperature increase of 2°C, the UK needs to make cuts in its carbon emissions of 80-90% by 2050. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Research argues this case with great force and clarity.
These targets need to include emissions from all sources. Yet the Draft Climate Change Bill, the Government's flagship policy that proposes to set a legally-binding cap on our carbon emissions, excludes the fastest-growing source of all – international aviation. Emissions from aircraft are on course to take up our entire ‘safe’ carbon budget by 2050, and that’s before you account for the other climate impacts of aviation such as the effects of other exhaust gases at altitude, which make matters between 2 and 4 times worse.
Airline operators like to dismiss this problem by pointing to improvements in fuel efficiency. But whenever you hear that such-and-such a plane is 20% more efficient, remember that only a small number of these will be bought each year - aircraft are expensive and fleets are renewed very slowly. Even with all the gains the industry...
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