Aviation emissions must be accounted for in carbon budgets, AEF says in evidence to CCC
The Committee on Climate Change put out a call for evidence last year, on its 5th Carbon Budget, which will cover the period 2028-32. The Government must legislate the level of the 5th Carbon Budget by June 2016. The CCC has recommended that the CO2 emissions from international aviation must be accounted for in the setting of the 5th carbon budget to provide the appropriate framework for future climate change policy. But the CO2 emissions from international shipping are fully included. AEF, the Aviation Environment Federation, say it is particularly important to have aviation CO2 properly included now as the Government has indicated its theoretical support for a new runway in the South East, which could significantly increase the scale of the UK aviation emissions challenge. It is disappointing that the CCC did not recommend formal inclusion of aviation in the carbon budget, which would provide greater certainty in relation to the sector’s future development. AEF believes that the CCC’s recommended approach of setting the budget with a view to aviation’s formal inclusion in future budgets provides a ‘next best’ alternative. The CCC has long recommended that in order to allow for aviation’s future inclusion in carbon budgets, Government should plan on the assumption that emissions from the sector in 2050 should not exceed their level in 2005 – 37.5 MtCO2 – allowing for a 60% growth in aviation passengers between 2005 and 2050.
Aviation emissions must be accounted for in carbon budgets, AEF tells parliamentary committee
The Energy and Climate Select Committee has published evidence submitted in response to its inquiry into the fifth carbon budget. AEF’s response argues for the importance of accounting for aviation emissions in carbon budgets, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The Energy and Climate Committee – a cross party group of MPs – is considering the advice of the CCC and the challenges likely to face the Government in delivering the budget.
Carbon budgets cover five-year periods and ensure that the UK is on-track to deliver the legislated long-term target of an 80% cut in total emissions by 2050. The Government must decide on the fifth carbon budget by June this year, taking account of the CCC’s advice published in November. CCC’s recommendations for the overall level of carbon budgets have so far all been approved by Government.
AEF’s submission to the inquiry supports the CCC’s recommendation that aviation emissions must be accounted for in the setting of the fifth carbon budget to provide the appropriate framework for future climate change policy. Following the CCC’s recommendation ensures that aviation emissions remain part of the overall UK picture. We argue that this is particularly important now as the Government has indicated its theoretical support for a new runway in the South East, which could significantly increase the scale of the UK aviation emissions challenge.
We were disappointed that the CCC did not recommend formal inclusion of aviation in the carbon budget, which would provide greater certainty in relation to the sector’s future development. However, we believe that the CCC’s recommended approach of setting the budget with a view to aviation’s formal inclusion in future budgets provides a ‘next best’ alternative.
Download the AEF response:
All the responses to the CCC call for evidence on the 5th carbon budget can be seen at
The CCC says:
“This report presents the Committee’s advice on the fifth carbon budget, covering the period 2028-32, as required under Section 34 of the Climate Change Act 2008.
The Committee recommends that the fifth carbon budget is set at 1,765 MtCO2e, including emissions from international shipping, over the period 2028-2032. That would limit annual emissions to an average 57% below 1990 levels. This balances a range of factors the Committee must consider, keeps the UK on its cost-effective path to the 2050 legislated commitment to reduce UK emissions by 80% on 1990 levels, and continues the UK’s historical rate of emissions reduction.
To date, in line with advice from the Committee, four carbon budgets have been legislated. The Government must legislate the level of the fifth carbon budget by June 2016.
The Climate Change Act sets out how the Committee is legally required to advise on, and how the Government must set, carbon budgets. In particular the budgets: • “must be set with a view to meeting … the target for 2050”; and [among a large number of other things] it m ust take account of “the estimated amount of reportable emissions from international aviation and international shipping for the budgetary period or periods in question”. ”
And it says:
“International aviation should continue to be allowed for in the size of the budget for other sectors, but not formally included. We recommend that the budget should be met without recourse to carbon units (i.e. credits).”
“Recommendation: On the current scope of carbon budgets (i.e. without formally including emissions from international aviation and shipping), we recommend a fifth carbon budget level of 1,725 MtCO2 e, implying emissions in 2030 57% below those in 1990.”
The CCC’s proposed budget: “Allows for emissions from international aviation and international shipping, whether or not the government decides to include them formally in carbon budgets.”
“On international aviation, we recommend that it is not included at this stage; we will provide further advice following decisions expected at ICAO in 2016, and recommend that the Government revisit inclusion at that point.”
More detail at
Written evidence submitted by the Aviation Environment Federation (FCB0013)
We warmly welcome the opportunity to provide evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into the fifth carbon budget. Given our interest and expertise as an organisation, we have responded only in relation to the appropriate treatment of international aviation emissions under the Climate Change Act.
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the principal UK NGO concerned exclusively with the environmental impacts of aviation. As well as supporting our members with local issues, we have regular input into international, EU and UK policy discussions. We engaged with the Airports Commission throughout its work programme, including being called to give evidence on climate change to a panel of commissioners in July 2013, and we provided both written and oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee in relation to its recent inquiry into the policy implications of the climate change, noise and air quality impacts of Heathrow expansion. At the UN we are the lead representative of the environmental umbrella organisation ICSA, which is actively engaged in the current talks aimed at agreeing global climate measures for aviation.
Our submission to this enquiry supports the CCC’s recommendation that aviation emissions must be accounted for in the setting of the fifth carbon budget, effectively increasing its stringency for other sectors while ensuring that aviation emissions remain part of the overall UK picture. With the Government having indicated its theoretical support for a new runway in the South East, which could significantly increase the scale of the UK aviation emissions challenge, it is particularly important that the fifth carbon budget reflects the need for aviation to play a part in delivering the 80% emissions cut to which the UK is legally committed in order to provide the appropriate framework for future policy. While we are disappointed that the CCC has not recommended formal inclusion of aviation in the budget, which would provide greater certainty in relation to the sector’s future development, we consider the CCC’s recommended approach of setting the budget with a view to aviation’s formal inclusion in future budgets to provide a ‘next best’ alternative.
………. and the response can be seen in full at
It is a long response, but to just take a short extract from it – copied below
AEF strongly supports the CCC’s recommendation that the 2050 target enshrined in the Climate Change Act should apply to all sectors including aviation, and that the level of the fifth carbon budget must reflect this.
The Climate Change Act treats emissions from international aviation and shipping differently from those of other sectors (and from domestic aviation emissions), on the basis that the accounting methodology for these emissions was unclear when the Act came into force. Until these methodological issues are resolved, emissions from international aviation and shipping are not formally included in carbon budgets.
Nevertheless the Act requires that
(i) emissions from these sectors should be included as soon as possible, and
(ii) in the interim they must be taken into account in the setting of carbon budgets for other sectors.
This reflects an understanding that in order for the UK to deliver its fair share of climate mitigation, it must ensure that the economy-wide 80% emissions cut applies to all sectors of the economy. EU wide targets similarly apply to all sectors, including aviation.
The CCC has long recommended that in order to allow for aviation’s future inclusion in carbon budgets, Government should plan on the assumption that emissions from the sector in 2050 should not exceed their level in 2005 – 37.5 MtCO2 – allowing for a 60% growth in aviation passengers between 2005 and 2050. AEF considers this a generous target. In June 2015 the CCC recommended that Government should by 2016 set out a policy plan for delivering the target. Since this is a less stringent target than the economy-wide 80% cut in 1990 levels of emissions, other sectors would need to make up the shortfall by delivering emissions cuts of 85% on average.
The Government’s legislated carbon budgets so far reflect the need for emissions from aviation to be included in the long term by setting aside ‘headroom’ for them in line with this recommendation. Similarly the Government’s statement in 2012 on the treatment of aviation and shipping emissions under the Climate Change Act specifies that “Government reaffirms its overall commitment to the 2050 target and recognises that emissions from international aviation and shipping should be treated the same as emissions from all other sectors, in order to reach our long-term climate goals.” It is important that the Government continues to account for aviation in this way.
Formal inclusion of international aviation in the fifth carbon budget would be desirable and – we believe – possible, but is less important than ensuring its emissions are accounted for.
While CCC had previously recommended formal inclusion of international aviation emissions in carbon budgets, the advice from November 2015 was that given recent changes to the policy landscape, inclusion of these emissions should be postponed.
Specifically, CCC argued, the fact that aviation’s inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading
System has been scaled back pending possible agreement at the UN’s aviation body this October on a global ‘Market Based Measure’ (MBM) for aviation makes it hard at present to define an appropriate accounting methodology for aviation in the context of carbon budgets.
AEF made the case, in response to the CCC’s call for evidence on the fifth carbon budget, for aviation’s inclusion in the fifth and future carbon budgets on the basis that this would provide certainty in relation to the working assumption that aviation must be included in the 2050 160 Mt emissions target for the UK as a whole.
We argued both that (i) complications in relation to the approach to accounting for aviation emissions will have been removed prior to the commencement of the fifth carbon budget in 2028 and that (ii) in fact, whatever the outcome of current policy discussions, a solution can be drawn up to tackle emissions, with various possible approaches available.
It remains our view that formal inclusion of international aviation in the fifth carbon budget is both possible and desirable. Nevertheless it is not critical as long as the current approach of setting aside headroom with a view to the sector’s future inclusion is continued, and as long as the Government accepts the need to develop appropriate policy measures to ensure that emissions from the sector are on a path consistent with the long term goal. Should it become apparent that other sectors are not on a path to delivering 85% emissions cuts, or should the overall ambition of the Act be increased, or should a methodology be agreed for including aviation’s non-CO2 effects on climate change alongside CO2, the leniency afforded to aviation may have to be reviewed in future.
….. the full AEF response is at
Environmental Audit Committee says Government must act by 2016 to ensure aviation carbon cap is met
The Environmental Audit Committee report says the Airports Commission said the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) was the expert in this area, not it. Therefore the EAC says: “The Government cannot credibly rely on the Commission’s analysis as evidence that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within the limits set by the 2008 Act …..We recommend that the Government give the CCC the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s forecasting of aviation emissions and the feasibility of its possible carbon policy scenarios. The Government should act on any recommendations they make. … Before making any decision on Heathrow expansion, the Government should publish an assessment of the likely impact on the aviation industry – particularly regional airports – and wider economy of measures to mitigate the likely level of additional emissions from Heathrow. …any Government decision on airport expansion should be accompanied by a package of measures to demonstrate a commitment to bringing emissions from international aviation within the economy-wide target set by the 2008 Act. They should also, as a minimum, commit to accepting the CCC’s advice on aviation in relation to the 5th carbon budget, introducing an effective policy framework to bring aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 no later than autumn 2016….”
Committee on Climate Change says additional policies are needed to keep UK aviation CO2 below 37.5MtCO2 cap
The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice on the level of the 5th carbon budget, covering the period 2028-2032. The CCC states: “While UK demand for international aviation is likely to grow considerably, emissions must be limited. Previous analysis by the Committee concluded that, based on the available evidence, aviation should plan for its emissions in 2050 to be no higher than those in 2005. That requires strong efficiency improvements to balance demand growth of about 60%.” And …” International aviation emissions should not formally be included in carbon budgets at this stage, though carbon budgets should continue to be set on track to a 2050 target inclusive of these emissions. We will provide further advice following the ICAO negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.” (The CO2 emissions from shipping will be included in the 5th carbon budget.) UK aviation CO2 emissions are currently set to overshoot the 37.5MtCO2 level even without any new runways and to be higher still if a runway is added at either Heathrow or Gatwick. The CCC says in a scenario where emissions are not capped and only low ‘carbon abatement’ options (such as technology improvements) are available, aviation emissions could be as high as 51.9 Mt by 2050, underlining the need for policy action to address the gap.