Aviation and climate change: UK studies and Copenhagen begins

*UPDATE*

A quick follow-up on this – the UK climate change committee has delivered its view on the compatibility of aviation growth and the UK’s environmental targets – and believes passenger demand must be limited to a 60% rise on 2005 figures if it is to meet 2050 carbon targets. But while much of the coverage centres on a third runway for Heathrow – the report demonstrated the effect on demand that could be achieved if expansion is limited to London Heathrow, London Stansted and Edinburgh – the committee insists it is “agnostic” as to where airport expansion takes place. Read our story from ATI on this here and check out the full CCC report here

 

 

Plenty of talk about on aviation and the climate change issue at the moment with the start of the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen and the release of a number of relevent reports in the UK on the future strategy for its aviation sector.

First up today were the findings of a UK cross-party parliamentary transport committee which backed development of a third runway at Heathrow and suggested Gatwick might be a better choice for an additional runway for London, if required, then Stansed as current earmarked. It also suggested the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which aviation joins from 2012, might prove a weak tool for pushing development of low-carbon air transport.

Meanwhile tomorrow the UK’s Committee on Climate Change will deliver its view on how UK aviation emissions can be constrained up to 2050 in order to contribute to efforts to tackle climate change. And if that’s not enough, the Carbon Trust will formally publish its report on the likely economic impact on the airline industry of entry into the emissions trading scheme – for more on how they think some airlines could even increase profitability as a result, click here.

But of course the bigger picture, and dominating all the headlines today (and for the next two weeks no doubt), is Copenhagen, where global leaders meet to try and reach a successor agreement to Kyoto. Precisely what agreements emerge from Copenhagen in two weeks time, and how this impacts the aviation sector, is anyone’s guess (imagine 192 people trying to carve up the bill after a meal out – who had extra garlic bread? Who only had tap water? I didn’t have a starter and I left before pudding!)

For its part the aviation sector, which is pushing for a global sectoral approach and has set its own long-term targets, continues to press its case hard. And in particular it will be hoping to avoid aviation becoming subject to a tax, as a mechanism for helping to fund climate change projects in developing nations, along the lines of the International Air Passenger Adaptation Levy proposal floated by the Maldives on behalf of the group of least developed countries last year. You can read more about the airline response to such concerns in this FT report here.

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