UK's new environment minister to omit aviation emissions from climate change legislation
Fri 17 Oct 2008 – The UK’s new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, has announced that the Government has accepted the proposal put forward last week by the Climate Change Committee that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 80%, instead of the previously proposed 60%, by 2050. However, the minister has decided not to include aviation and shipping emissions in the legally binding target.
In his first statement since the formation of the new Department of Energy and Climate Change, he told Parliament there were uncertainties about how to allocate emissions from international flights and shipping, but “they too should play their part in reducing emissions”. He argued aviation had no credible way of showing it could be driven by renewables.
Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, said: “Miliband’s admission that pollution from international aviation and shipping will be dealt with outside the bill is a sign that these industries are being picked out for special treatment yet again.”
The Independent newspaper quotes officials saying the Government is “working hard” to secure international agreements to curb emissions from air and sea travel.
The Guardian newspaper, meanwhile, reports Miliband tried and failed last week to persuade his EU counterparts to exempt the aviation sector from a commitment in the EU’s own climate change package which obliges States to move to a 20% energy mix from renewable sources by 2020.
Writing in the same newspaper, Green MEP Caroline Lucas, voiced her criticism on the issue. “What we are saying is that aviation fuel must, as has always been foreseen, be included in the figures used to calculate what constitutes total energy consumption. Removing it would dilute the commitment, not to mention the political consequences of opening up the whole Pandora’s box of individual member states’ national targets.”
A meeting of EU leaders earlier this week saw splits between western and eastern European countries on the EU’s flagship climate change commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels, rising to a 30% reduction if a global climate change agreement can be reached. Some, notably Poland and Italy, argued that they would not be bound by the targets because of the economic crisis facing their country’s industries, others that their heavy industries would remain dependent on fossil fuels for some time to come.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi directed his anger in particular at the Emissions Trading Scheme, which from 2013 will mean that all big EU industries, including aviation, have to buy permits to emit carbon dioxide. “It is ridiculous that we are selling the right to pollute,” he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, has made reaching a deal on the package a top priority but it is likely to involve significant compromises and concessions in order to secure the support of member states by the end of December.