Climate Change Briefings & Information
Aviation already accounts for about 13% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. That is about 6.5% of the actual carbon dioxide emitted, though that is somewhat underestimated, as it does not take account of the carbon on return flights to the UK.
The present rapid growth of air travel, if allowed to continue unchecked, would mean the UK would find it almost impossible to meet its 2050 target for reducing emissions by 80%.
The aviation industry routinely claims aviation emits about 2% of global carbon emissions. This is not the full story. As planes fly at altitude, they also cause formation of cirrus cloud in the upper atmosphere, which affects the climate – though the science is complicated and the precise extent of the problem is not known. The effect of the cirrus cloud, and the NOx and other gases emitted, and their interactions in the atmosphere, means the effect of aviation emissions on the climate are around double those of just the CO2 itself.
A study published in May 2009 showed that global aviation accounts for 3.5% of human climate impact if cirrus cloud is not taken into account. And 4.9% globally if it is included. http://aef.org.uk/?p=479
Air travel is increasing rapidly. Even in the developed countries like the UK, the industry would like to double by perhaps 2030 or 2040. Elsewhere in the newly expanding economies, air travel is growing by 4% or more per year. And the global industry plans to keep to a rate of growth of this order of magnitude.
To get the liquid fuels the industry will need, as Peak Oil begins to make its mark, the industry is desperately searching for alternative fuels, from either biofuels or from other sources, such as from coal. Without these sources it can neither grow at the rate it would like. The industry hopes, unrealistically, that biofuels will enable it to keep its carbon emissions down.
Committee on Climate Change:
The advice from the Committee on Climate Change to the UK government, that number of air passengers (= demand) could grow by only 60% of the 2005 level by 2050 is at
• Committee on Climate Change, report on “Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change” published on 1.12.2008. The section on aviation is (31 pages) is “Chapter 8: International Aviation and Shipping”
• Committee on Climate Change, 4th Carbon Budget report. Published 7th December 2010. The Carbon Budget says international aviation and shipping should be included, and it is vital that UK aviation emissions in 2050 are no higher than in 2005. Also that, as technologies to cut aviation emissions are not readily available, other sectors of the economy will need to cut by 85% in 2050 in order to let aviation grow by 60%. The Fourth Carbon Budget Also press release and key points
Non-CO2 impacts of aviation, including cirrus cloud from contrails
At present, there is no agreed figure for the amount of climate altering effect that is produced by aircraft at high altitude, including cirrus cloud formed by contrails, in addition to the effect of CO2 they emit. The UK government uses a multiplier of 1.9 for this extra impact by planes. An article in New Scientist in August 2011 presented evidence from a German scientist that contrail cirrus ended up covering 0.6% of Earth’s surface – an area 9 times as great as that covered by line contrails as they emerge from the planes.
Climate Change Bill:
• FOE briefing on why aviation must be in the Climate Change Bill (May 2008)
Climate Change – various briefings:
Emissions from planes and other forms of travel
and Older GHG conversion factors Previous GHG conversion factors 2007
EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS):
What % of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions are from aviation?
6.3% given in that answer.
New Report by IPCC authors. Globally aviation contributes 3.5% if cirrus cloud is not taken into account, and 4.9% if it is. 21.5.2009
• The same report estimates that CO2 accounts for 6.3% of total UK emissions and 9.8% of all greenhouse gases, but excluding cirrus. Using a multiplier of 2.8 to take account of cirrus, (compared to a multiplier of 1.9 if cirrus is excluded) the UK figure is nearer 17% than 13%. http://aef.org.uk/?p=479
AirportWatch short briefing on Copenhagen
• AirportWatch short briefing on Copenhagen (Nov 2009)
Airport maps showing routes and CO2 emissions per route
There is now a very interesting website, with details on all UK airports, that has been created by Jeremy Birch, from Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE). The website has information using maps and graphs, in a very user-friendly way. It shows each airport, with a map indicating the routes it serves – domestic and international in different colours. The width of the lines gives an indication of the proportion of carbon emissions that come from that route (approximately). There is also information on the top destinations, numbers of passengers, rate of growth (or contraction) and growth or decline of routes. (May 2009). http://www.awsw.co.uk/allco2/index_co2.html
Briefing on Aviation and Climate Change
“Clearing the Air: The Myth and Reality of Aviation and Climate Change”
by T & E (Transport & Environment) – European Federation for Transport and Environment
The report intends to satisfy the many demands for information and analysis on the issue of aviation and climate change coming from policymakers, the media and interested citizens. It brings together the findings of recent studies in light of the current political debate and discussions taking place about a range of policy options.
“Clearing the Air: The Myth and Reality of Aviation and Climate Change” – by T & E
“Dying on a jet plane”:
Inequality, flying and the global injustice of climate change – a report by the World Development Movement (March 2007)You pay the aviation industry £173 every year… It is widely reported that aviation pays no tax on fuel and no VAT. WDM calculates that the net impact of these factors results in an effective subsidy to UK aviation in 2007 of £10.4 billion….so that the richest 18% of the UK can enjoy cheap flights… The average salary of passengers using British airports is £48,000 … which cause climate change that hits the poorest people in the world. WDM report – “Dying on a jet plane”