Various stories on the Committee on Climate Change report on aviation

8.12.2009   (BBC)

UK aviation ‘must be given some growth room’

By Roger HarrabinEnvironmental Analyst

Heathrow can expand and people can fly more without ruining the country’s carbon
targets, says the UK government’s official climate watchdog.

It says this means other sectors of the economy must reduce emissions by 90%
to allow aviation some room to grow.

But the watchdog insists that the future increase in flying must be limited to
60%, not 200% as projected by the government.

This will mean that a new aviation policy will be needed, it says.

The Committee on Climate Change is an independent body set up under the Climate
Change Act to steer government policy.

It previously called for aviation to be brought into the global deal on climate
being debated in Copenhagen, Denmark over the next two weeks.

Today’s report on UK aviation says improved aircraft design will allow some carbon-free
expansion of aviation. High-speed rail would also allow people greater mobility
as they get richer.

Video-conferencing had the potential to increase sharply, too, it said.

The committee says taxes will go up as aviation is taken into the EU carbon emissions
trading scheme and the price of permits rises to a projected £200 per tonne by
2050. But it warns even this would not be enough to curb our desire to fly, so
other measures will be needed.

It does not recommend measures in the report, but the committee has discussed
ideas like levying extra taxes and issuing flying allowances.

Privately, members admit taxes would exclude the poorest from the benefits of
flying, whilst allowances would be administratively difficult and may smack of
social control. Other regulations may be necessary, the committee believes.

Environmentalists will be disappointed the report has not ruled out further expansion
at Heathrow.

Committee members say there is over-capacity in some parts of the country and
under-capacity in others.

If aviation is to be allowed to grow in a restricted way, the government will
have to decide where that growth should happen.

In absolute numbers, the committee’s calculations look like this: The aviation
white paper of 2003 envisaged growth in passenger movements from two million a
year currently to six million a year with rising income.

The committee says allowing 60% growth, the top limit must now be 358 million.
It now expects the government to factor these figures into its national aviation
policy statement due next year.

The average person in the UK earning more than £60,000 a year flies more than
four times a year. The question will be whether they can be allowed to fly still




Climate change report calls for passenger tax on flights to reduce CO2

by Dan Milmo     (Guardian)

Heavy taxes on passengers and a ban on expansion at regional airports will be
needed to curb Britain’s insatiable appetite for air travel, a
climate change report will say today .

But it will still be possible to build a third runway at Heathrow, add second
runways at Stansted and Edinburgh and permit an extra 140 million journeys a year
by 2050 without breaking the UK’s commitment to cutting carbon dioxide emissions,
according to the Committee on Climate Change.


                                                Dan Milmo on Heathrow’s third runway Link to this audio 

However, that 60% increase in air travel over the next four decades will come
at a cost of choking off expansion at other airports including Gatwick, Birmingham,
Newcastle and Bristol.

The committee – set up under the Climate Change Act 2008 to independently advise
the government on how to meet its legally binding targets – warns that the British
flying boom, stoked by the emergence of Ryanair and easyJet, is unsustainable.

If the aviation industry continues to grow unchecked, passenger journeys would
increase by 200% in the next 40 years, but that cannot be tolerated because carbon
dioxide emitted by carriers in 2050 must not exceed 2005 levels.

“This is a very challenging target,” said David Kennedy, the committee’s chief
executive. “Don’t be deceived by the fact that demand can grow. It will have to
grow by much less than if we didn’t care about carbon dioxide.”

Today’s report says ministers must consider measures including: a carbon tax
on passengers; limits on runway expansion; and restrictions on flights at existing
airports. Passenger growth will have to be limited to 60% over the next four decades,
compared with an increase of 130% since 1990, allowing the UK a maximum of around
370 million air travellers by 2050, from 230 million currently.

“Demand can increase, but only in a limited way,” added Kennedy. The committee
forecasts that unchecked airline growth would shatter emissions targets, increasing
passenger numbers by 200% to 695 million per year.

Asked if fares will also have to increase in order to choke off demand, Kennedy
said: “The price has to cut back some of the growth, so you do have to have rising

However, the report delivers a blow to campaigners against Heathrow expansion
by making the theoretical case for a third runway. According to government forecasts
an expanded Heathrow could handle a further 68 million passengers a year by 2030
— more than double current demand of 67 million a year — and still fit easily
within the committee’s growth projections. “You can see how you can do the maths
and have a third runway at Heathrow and be within the 60% limit,” said Kennedy.

If projections published by the DfT this year are correct, Britain could reach
the maximum permitted number of flights soon after 2030. According to DfT forecasts,
adding new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Edinburgh will be the equivalent
of an extra 131.2 million journeys per year by 2030. Not only would that leave
no room for new runways at Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and
Bristol, but it would bar those airports from increasing passenger numbers beyond
current levels.

Even with an anticipated carbon price of £200 per tonne passed on to fares, the
creation of a high-speed rail network, and more use of video-conferencing to cut
business travel, the committee warns that more action such as constraining airport
use might be needed in order to stop the population from flying. The report singles
out a “carbon tax” as one of the solutions, which would be levied on top of the
£200 per tonne carbon price.

“The policy instruments which could achieve this restraint include a carbon tax
on top of the forecast carbon price, limits on further airport expansion, and
restrictions on the allocation of takeoff and landing slots even where airports
have the theoretical capacity available,” the report says.

The report calculates that the aviation industry can limit 2050 carbon dioxide
emissions to 2005 levels – or 37.5m tonnes of CO2 a year – because aircraft manufacturers and airlines will improve the fuel efficiency
of their fleets by 0.8% a year. Including limited use of biofuels, that will slash
carbon dioxide emissions per passenger by 35%.

Under that scenario, which includes greater use of the A380 superjumbo and an
increase in the amount of seats sold per flight, the number of flights in and
out of the UK can increase from 2.2m a year to 3.4m.

Even then, aviation will account for a quarter of all UK emissions by 2050 because
other industries will have made tougher emissions cuts.

Environmental campaigners said the government should now scrap expansion plans
laid out in the 2003 aviation white paper. “Ministers have been influenced by
misleading greenwash from the aviation industry for far too long – this report
is a reality check which should put the nail in the coffin for government plans
to allow a huge expansion in air travel,” said Richard Dyer of Friends of the

The white paper had envisioned demand for flights growing to 465 million a year
by 2030 – a number that is now inconceivable under the committee’s projections.
It said the government could rewrite its airport policy – and choose which airports
expand at the expense of others – in a national policy statement that is now required
under the 2008 Planning Act. The act creates an infrastructure planning commission
that will refer to policy statements when it considers planning applications for
infrastructure projects such as airports.

The report also marks a potential transformation in the lifestyle of millions
of Britons who have benefited from a regional airport boom which gave cheap access
to the beaches and cities of Europe from an airport a few miles down the road.

If the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on capping growth in air travel is
accepted by ministers, then the majority of the UK’s remaining airports could
find themselves at a standstill while the likes of Heathrow take much of the allowed
growth. Under that scenario, prices will rise inexorably as demand for a weekend
break to Nice far outstrips supply.

One of easyJet’s most successful routes from Bristol International airport is
to Alicante in Spain — 50,000 passengers last year at £100 per return ticket.

A spokesman for the airline admitted that fares at regional airports could be
forced up if the likes of Bristol International, which handled 6 million people
a year and is aiming for 10 million by 2020, are barred from growing. “If you
follow the recommendations of the committee that might be the result.”

It is likely that the report will widen the schism between budget carriers and
regional airports on the one hand, and long-haul carriers such as British Airways
and international hubs such as Heathrow on the other.

EasyJet argues that airports serving heavily polluting long-haul destinations
should have the toughest curbs because their business plans are predicated on
transfer flights, which involve passengers flying into the airport on a regional
service. “Why shouldn’t the government manage that growth in an environmentally
responsible manner?

“Letting Heathrow grow means more transfer flights, which is more polluting because
you have to take two flights instead of one,” said the easyJet spokesman.

EasyJet’s comments will make for awkward reading among fellow members of the
Sustainable Aviation group, who include two of Heathrow’s biggest carriers – British
Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Sustainable Aviation declined to be drawn into the approaching fight over which
airports deserve to grow, saying that limiting emissions through technological
improvements was the answer, not cutting people’s right to travel.

Four ways to curb air travel, according to the committee on climate change

1     A carbon tax on flights, which could be imposed after airlines join the European
Union emissions trading scheme in 2012. The scheme alone is likely to force up
fares because airlines will have to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, but
the committee says that is not enough.

2     Limiting runway growth to a select number of airports, possibly Heathrow,
Stansted and Edinburgh.

3     Restrictions on take-off and landing slots at airports.

4     Setting out a new growth strategy for UK airports in a national policy statement.






Heathrow’s third runway passes the carbon test



Climate change advisers have decided that an extensive building programme at
Heathrow — including the construction of a third runway — can proceed without
jeopardising the Government’s carbon emissions targets.

The Committee on Climate Change will report today that 138 million extra passenger could use British airports
in 2050, an increase of 60 per cent, without breaching government targets to reduce
aviation emissions to below 2005 levels.

The assessment is built on a number of assumptions, including the introduction
of more fuel-efficient aircraft and a high-speed rail network. It also assumes
that the cost of flying will rise. The analysis will stun environmentalists and
local activists fighting against expansion at Heathrow. They had expected the
Whitehall advisers to make their case unequivocally.

It will also turn the attention of negotiators at the Climate Change Summit in
Copenhagen towards aviation — one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse
gas emissions.  


A third runway at Heathrow would attract between 24 million and 70 million more
people by 2030, according to government data. If it is allowed, as ministers and
the owners of Heathrow demand, some regional airports would be able to grow but
others would have to curb their expansion plans.

"You can see how you can do the maths and have a third runway and be within the
60 per cent limit," said David Kennedy, the committee’s chief executive. "You
could have a world where you have an extra runway at Heathrow, where you use it
and where you are within that 60 per cent demand growth rate. So they are not
inconsistent with each other."

The increase in emissions from aviation growth would be offset primarily by more
fuel-efficient aircraft, the report says. It predicts that a high-speed rail network,
which is supported by all the main political parties, would attract 90 per cent
of demand for travel between Scotland and the South. It adds that video-conferencing
could also reduce the volume of business travel.

However, it insists that constraining aviation growth to 60 per cent is an ambitious
target. It says that, left unrestricted, demand would more than double to 695
million passengers a year. Higher taxes and expensive carbon trading permits might
be needed to rein in demand, all of which will increase the cost of flying.

Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, welcomed the findings. "The committee’s
advice is consistent with the development of a third runway at Heathrow, which
is Britain’s only hub airport and is already running at full capacity," he said.
"A third runway, even when fully utilised, would only account for about 10 per
cent more UK flights than we have now."

The Conservatives dismissed the government aviation data as "wholly out of date
and not fit for purpose".

Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth both demanded that the Government tear up
plans to expand Heathrow.




See also



Committee on Climate Changes sets out options to meet the UK’s aviation emissions

Date Added: 8th December 2009


A report from the CCC today says that UK aviation policy should be based on the
assumption that demand growth between now and 2050 cannot exceed 60% if the UK
is to meet the Government’s target that aviation emissions in 2050 must not exceed
2005 levels.   However, the report says growth may need to be less than 60%, to
take account of non-CO2 effects of aviation emissions, and the uncertainties about
biofuels in future.   Even with the  anticipated carbon price, modal shift and increased
use of video-conferencing in business, it is unlikely that  demand growth will
be constrained to 60%.  
Click here to view full story…

The report is available to download from: