International aviation and shipping emissions are likely to be included in the UK government’s net zero target, it has emerged – but not until after 2023.
The intention to review carbon accounting emerged after ministers and advisers, including climate activists, held the first meeting of the Department for Transport’s net zero board.
The board includes representatives from business, technology, motor manufacturers and the transport industry, as well as campaigners, including a founder of Plane Stupid and a director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, which uncovered the VW diesel scandal. The team will help shape a transport decarbonisation plan, to be published later this year.
Transport accounts for a third of the UK’s CO2 emissions, but the figure excludes international aviation and shipping.
The DfT is understood to be considering the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, which last month again urged the government to include all such emissions in its targets.
The DfT’s decarbonisation plan is expected to call for a change in policy, but only once the government has attempted to secure internationally binding reductions in emissions through the International Maritime Organisation, whose strategy will not be settled until 2023.
The initial meeting, attended by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, transport minister Rachel Maclean, and the minister for clean growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, focused on steps for a green recovery from Covid-19. Shapps said the board would “play an integral part in our green recovery”.
Maclean said the pandemic had led to people making huge changes in work and travel, adding: “We want to capitalise and build on the new habits people have developed, as well as champion the power of new, cleaner technologies on our road to a green recovery.”
The government has promised to spend £2bn to increase cycling and walking, although board members pointed out that it was dwarfed by the £27bn promised for renewed road-building, with cars responsible for the vast majority of transport CO2 emissions.
Stephen Joseph, a visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire’s smart mobility unit, said: “Ministers were very clear that transport is a very big problem for climate – and the reductions they have planned only go halfway to where they need to get to by 2032.”
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will publish its recommendation on the level of the Sixth Carbon Budget in December 2020. The Sixth Carbon Budget, required under the Climate Change Act, will provide ministers with advice on the volume of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period 2033-2037.
Committee on Climate Change progress report to government – much more needed to cut aviation CO2 (now 8% of UK carbon)
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published their progress report, for 2020, on the UK government’s efforts on reducing CO2 emissions. It has a lot to say on aviation – far more than in its 2019 progress report. They say that iInternational aviation and shipping (IAS) should be formally included in UK climate targets, in the carbon budgets, when the Sixth Carbon Budget is set, and net-zero plans should be developed. This has been a key demand, from environmental experts. At present aviation emissions are just taken account of. The CCC say that aviation accounts of 8% of the UK’s CO2 emissions (a briefing note in Feb 2020 for Parliament said it was 7% in 2019). The CCC also say that the UK’s airport capacity strategy should be reviewed in light of the country’s net-zero target. Due to the dramatic impact of Covid on the aviation sector, the CCC say a household & business survey is needed, of long-term travel expectations due to the pandemic. They add that action is also needed on non-CO₂ warming effects from aviation, which probably account for double the climate impact of the CO2 alone, emitted at altitude. They say ICAO’s CORSIA scheme should be strengthened.