IPPR: ‘Put green warnings on adverts for flights’
Simon Retallack, the IPPR’s head of climate change, said: “The evidence that
aviation damages the atmosphere is just as clear as the evidence that smoking
kills. We know that smokers notice health warnings on cigarettes, and we have
to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way. But if we are to change people’s
behaviour, warnings must be accompanied by offering alternatives to short-haul
flights and by steps to make the cost of flying better reflect its impact on the
environment.” The report recommends large and clearly visible warnings such as
Flying Causes Climate Change. Estimates of average emissions from the flight
in question alongside the average individual’s emissions from energy use, to put
the flight in context. (Independent and IPPR press release)
By Joe Churcher (Independent)
Published: 05 April 2007
Ads for flights, holidays and cars should carry tobacco-style health warnings to combat the public’s “addiction” to polluting transport and reduce climate change, a think-tank recommended yesterday.
The Institute for Public Policy Research also said carbon offsetting charges should be included in fares as part of radical efforts to cut CO2 emissions.
As thousands of Britons prepare to travel abroad for Easter breaks, the IPPR said highly visible warnings, such as “Flying Causes Climate Change”, could put some people off air travel.
Forcing car makers to label new vehicles according to their green credentials and advertising the contribution of driving to climate change could also change behaviour, the report concludes.
Simon Retallack, the IPPR’s head of climate change, said: “The evidence that aviation damages the atmosphere is just as clear as the evidence that smoking kills. We know that smokers notice health warnings on cigarettes, and we have to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way.
“But if we are to change people’s behaviour, warnings must be accompanied by offering alternatives to short-haul flights and by steps to make the cost of flying better reflect its impact on the environment.”
Thursday 5 April 2007
IPPR Press Release:
Aviation should get cigarette-style health warnings
The Government should introduce cigarette-style health warnings on all
advertising for air travel, holidays that include flights, and at airports,
according to new research to be published by the Institute for Public Policy
Ahead of the Easter weekend get-away ippr argues that providing consumers
with highly visible information about the impacts their flying has on the
environment will make people think more about the implications of their
travel. The report says it would work in a similar way to health warnings on
cigarette packs which help to encourage people to give up smoking. The
Large and clearly visible warnings such as Flying Causes Climate Change.
Estimates of average emissions from the flight in question alongside the
average individual’s emissions from energy use, to put the flight in
context. For example: The average individual in the UK emits 4400 kilograms
of CO2 per year. A return flight from London to Perth, Australia, on average
emits 4500 kilograms of CO2 per person.
For domestic and short-haul flights a comparison of emissions for the same
journey if using alternative forms of transport such as rail or coach. For
example: A return flight from London to Newcastle on average emits 120
kilograms of CO2 per person while the same journey by train emits 39
kilograms of CO2 per person.
Simon Retallack, ippr Head of Climate Change, said:
“The evidence that aviation damages the atmosphere is just as clear as the
evidence that smoking kills. We know that smokers notice health warnings on
cigarettes, and we have to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way.
But if we are to change people’s behaviour, warnings must be accompanied by
offering people alternatives to short-haul flights and by steps to make the
cost of flying better reflect its impact on the environment.”
The report also recommends that:
Carbon offsetting of flights should be the default option, with passengers
being required to opt-out rather than having to opt-in.
Aviation taxation should be changed to reflect the true environmental cost
Increases in aviation taxation should be matched with improvements to rail
transport to make it a viable alternative to domestic and European flights.
The UK should work with other EU member states to better integrate the
fragmented European rail network.
All new cars should be required to carry emissions labelling in showroom
displays and in advertising.
All car advertising should carry bold and visible warnings about the
contribution of driving to climate change.
Notes to editors:
Positive Energy: Harnessing people power to prevent climate change, by Simon
Retallack and Tim Lawrence with Matthew Lockwood, will be published in
April. It sets out a series of recommendations on how to stimulate
climate-friendly behaviour through changes in domestic energy use and
The CO2 figures for each example plane journey given are taken from Climate
Care’s Carbon Calculator
Journey / CO2 kilograms per person (kgpp) flying / CO2 kgpp by train
London to Newcastle / 120 / 39
London to Paris / 110 / 27
London to Edinburgh / 140 / 43
London to Madrid / 290/ 101
Climate Care calculates that a return flight to Perth, Australia emits 4500
kilograms of CO2 per person, which is more than the 4400 kilograms of CO2 an
average individual in the UK emits in an entire year.
The number of passengers flying abroad from the UK rose by about 65 per cent
between 1994 and 2004, and the number flying within the UK rose by about 70
per cent over the same period. More than 70 per cent of passengers flying
from UK airports are UK citizens.
Almost 90 per cent of flights are for holidays and visiting friends. The
number of people choosing to take their holidays abroad increased by 48 per
cent between 1995 and 2003, while the number choosing to take holidays
within the UK fell by almost three per cent.
Just 1-5 per cent of respondents to a poll by the Central Office of
Information said they offset their emissions from flying.
Offsetting companies estimate that in 2005, 34,000 tonnes of CO2 was offset
by UK customers, representing less than 0.5 per cent of the UK emissions
Because of other effects (from water vapour, ozone reactions and contrails)
each tonne of CO2 emitted from aviation has an enhanced warming effect on
the climate compared with emissions from land-based sources.
The Department for Transport estimates that domestic aviation and
international departures together account for 5.5 per cent of the UK’s CO2
emissions, but this rises to the equivalent of 11 per cent if this enhanced
warming effect is included.
According to the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University,
business as usual scenarios show emissions from aviation growing to between
four and ten times their 1990 levels by 2050.
The Government has proposed establishing a voluntary Code of Best Practice
for carbon offsetting to UK customers. It would be based on the use of
certified credits from the established Kyoto market, through sources such as
the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). These credits are
backed by an international framework and institutions to ensure that real
emission reductions take place, as well as providing a clear audit trail.
However, as the code is voluntary, there is no certainty that companies will
adopt it, and on its own, it is unlikely to lead to a significant increase
In July 2005 the Government introduced a colour-coded labelling scheme for
new cars, on a voluntary basis. The label displays the Vehicle Excise Duty
band and running costs of the vehicle, and identifies its environmental and
economic performance. The label takes on a similar A-G rating form and style
to the domestic appliance labels and the forthcoming energy performance
certificate in homes. The voluntary nature of the scheme means that many
showrooms do not display the car label on vehicles.
Heath warnings on cigarette packets and other tobacco products were first
introduced in Europe in 1992. Following research showing a relationship
between the size of the warnings and the impact on smokers, they were
increased in size. For example, by 1994 33 per cent of all surfaces of
cigarette packs in Canada had to contain a health warning. Most European
countries have followed suit, including the UK in 2003.
According to the Department of Health, large written warnings have prompted
more smokers to attempt to quit than previous smaller warnings. Evidence
from the UK indicates that the introduction of the current written warnings
in 2003 increased their salience to smokers. The percentage of smokers who
noticed warning labels ‘often’ or ‘very often’ increased from 42 per cent in
2002 to 81 per cent in 2003.
Research in the Netherlands on the introduction of large warnings in 2001
Around 90 per cent of smokers and 70 per cent of non-smokers recognised a
change to health warnings on cigarette packs just weeks after introduction.
Thirteen per cent of smokers indicated that they were less inclined to
purchase cigarettes as a result of the new warnings.
Within weeks of introduction 71 per cent of smokers had claimed to have
discussed the warnings and this level of interest was proved not to have
waned after four months.
26 per cent of smokers who ‘intended to stop at some stage’ felt that the
warnings increased their motivation to quit.
8.6 per cent of smokers said they were smoking less as a result of the
warnings. Only 0.7 per cent said they were smoking more.
According to Action on Smoking and Health: ‘Research has shown that the
larger a health warning is, the more impact it has on persuading a smoker to
give up: labels that occupy 30 per cent or more of each of the largest sides
on the cigarette pack have been found to be strongly linked with smokers’
decisions to quit or to cut down their smoking. In addition, health warnings
can have a cumulative effect – older smokers have reported that they start
to become afraid of the warnings after seeing them on cigarette packets
Matt Jackson, ippr senior media officer, 020 7339 0007 / 07753 719289 /