Carbon emissions cap may halt 3rd Heathrow runway
19.9.2009 (Evening Standard)
by Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow came under fresh assault today as the Government’s own climate change adviser
called for deep cuts in Britain’s carbon dioxide emission levels.
The Committee on Climate Change proposed a global cap on aviation emissions and
warned that households and industry would have to slash their carbon output if
flights were to be protected.
Its report came as leading Labour backbencher Jon Cruddas also urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to abandon his plans for the third runway at Heathrow, a move that puts at risk
a swathe of marginal seats in west London.
Mr Cruddas, who told the London School of Economics that Mr Brown was heading for defeat at the next election, said it made environmental
and political sense to halt the new runway before it was too late.
The Tories are firmly against the idea and have already warned companies not
to sign contracts on the deal.
The committee, which was created by the Climate Change Act last year, said that
Britain may have to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 90 per cent by 2050 so
the aviation sector can continue to grow.
The move would mean even bigger cuts than the 80% drop on 1990 levels already
planned for homes, cars and industry.
David Kennedy, the committee’s chief executive, said for the first time that
Heathrow’s new runway could be included in its review of the issue this December.
He questioned whether it was “plausible” to double demand in air travel. “We
could take it upon ourselves to talk about Heathrow in our aviation review,” he
The committee says that, if left unchecked, global aviation could account for
15 to 20% of all the man-made CO2 produced in 2050.
Mr Kennedy, who admitted to flying long-haul with his family every two years,
told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the runway was “an open question”.
“It is vital an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal,” he added.
“We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today,
but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward.”
Green groups pointed out that just 10 % of the population are currently responsible
for 50% of all flights.
Critics claim that exempting aviation will therefore impose unfair costs on motorists
Hugh Raven, of the Sustainable Development Commission, said that aviation should
not be allowed a “disproportionate” share of Britain’s emissions.
He added: “Why is [the Government] prepared to treat aviation so differently from every
other sector of the economy?”
In a letter to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, the committee says the aviation industry will have to cut emissions to 2005
levels by 2050.
The experts say planes might use biofuels or aviation might cut emissions below
2005 levels through new technology. Airlines may also buy permits in international
To read the full letter from the CCC – click here for letter
Government to be challenged by Committee on Climate Change over expanding aviation
The Government is likely to be challenged by its own climate change advisory
body on its decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow and permit a doubling
in air travel by 2030. The Committee on Climate Change believes rapid expansion
of air travel is inconsistent with the Government’s legally binding commitment
to cut overall CO2 emissions by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. Allowing aviation
to expand at the rate proposed by the Government could place an unacceptable burden
on other industries to achieve the cut.
Air passenger numbers grew from 102 million in 1990 to 240 million in 2007 and
are due to reach 470 million by 2030. In a letter published today, the committee says that if aviation emissions are
at 2005 levels in 2050 the rest of the economy will have to make 90% cuts to achieve
the overall 80% emissions reduction target. The Committee also says airlines
cannot rely indefinitely on offsetting their emissions by buying allowances. 9.9.2009 More …..