Aviation Strategy Green Paper: AirportWatch position on aviation carbon emissions
The government consultation on its Aviation Strategy Green Paper ends on 20th June. For those wanting to respond, there is some guidance from AirportWatch on carbon emissions. This says the Aviation Strategy must take into account the likely implications of a shift to higher climate ambition for the UK’s aviation plan than the current Committee on Climate Change guidance, which is only approximately in line with an 80% cut in UK carbon emissions, from their 2005 level, by 2050. Due to the Paris Agreement and the UK aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2050 (the CCC guidance in May) the target of UK aviation being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 by 2050 is far too high. Aviation growth as envisaged in the Green Paper cannot in this context be justified. The Government should accept the CCC recommendation that international aviation (and shipping) emissions should be part of Net Zero target, and formally included in the UK carbon budget. Aviation must make a fair contribution to reductions in actual UK CO2 emissions (without offsets), first by capping aviation emissions at their existing level and then reducing them along an established emissions reduction pathway. See further details …
Aviation Green Paper: AirportWatch position on aviation emissions
‘Aviation emissions – like those for every other sector – must now begin the process of
systematic reduction, as an essential contribution to the UK achieving Net Zero’
Total transport emissions already exceed 35% of the UK carbon budget and are set to continue to rise as a proportion of that budget. The Committee on Climate Change’s Net Zero report included a number of recommendations in relation to aviation, with further advice to be set out in the coming weeks by way of a letter to the Department for Transport.
While both the Government and Parliament have yet to reach a view on the CCC’s ‘net zero’ advice, the Aviation Strategy must now take into account the likely implications of a shift to higher climate ambition for the UK’s aviation plan.
Aviation growth as envisaged in the Green Paper cannot in this context be justified. We therefore call on the Government to:
- Accept the CCC recommendation that international aviation (and shipping) emissions should be part of Net Zero target, and should in future be formally included within the UK carbon budget.
- Develop, commit to and then implement the aviation carbon reduction policy framework that will consequently be required as an integral part of a wider reduction framework for UK transport as a whole. This is what the Aviation Strategy should deliver.
- Accept that aviation must make a fair contribution to reductions in actual UK carbon emissions (without recourse to offsets), first by capping aviation emissions at their existing level and then reducing them along an established emissions reduction pathway, noting that CCC has suggested that this could be achieved at a negative abatement cost. CCC has modelled scenarios which indicate that emissions from UK aviation can be reduced towards 21 MtCO2e or lower.
- Undertake a detailed study of all aspects of how demand management can be applied to UK air travel as part of the carbon reduction policy framework, in accordance with various scenarios including holding demand at its existing level e.g. no higher than 300mppa.
- Explore as part of that demand management regime (and in conjunction with the Treasury) the opportunities for the taxation of aviation.
- Re-evaluate and cease policy support for all individual proposals for airport expansion, and growth in demand generally, until they can be demonstrated to be compatible with the established aviation carbon reduction pathway, and an acceptable distribution of flight opportunities between UK airports. Withdraw the DfT’s policy support for Heathrow expansion and its Making best use of existing runways document.
 That is emissions from surface transport (chpt 5 in CCC NZ technical report) + aviation & shipping (chpt 6).
 CCC Net Zero – the UK’s contribution to stopping global warming May 2019 page 263
 Notwithstanding the introduction of CORSIA in 2021, the UK Government will need to show greater ambition for the aviation sector and needs a plan based on domestic efforts.
 CCC p.225 table 7.3; and see p.154 table 5.1 for the potential to halve gCO2 per passenger-km 2017-50.
 CCC Net Zero technical report pages 165,173-175, and 177-79.
 For example, T&E has published a study on an intra-EU kerosene tax, and Fellow Travellers has developed a proposal for a Frequent Fliers Levy.
Word document of the statement:
The DfT consultation on the Aviation Strategy Green Paper is at
The advice from the Committee on Climate Change, in May 2019 said:
Ten years after the Climate Change Act became law, now is the right moment to set a more ambitious goal. Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change.