Aviation growth must be constrained and emissions capped, says UK Government's climate change adviser
Lord Turner and David Kennedy take aviation emissions questions on behalf of the CCC before the UK Parliamentary Transport Committee in May
Wed 9 Sep 2009 – The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the UK Government ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks that global aviation emissions should be capped as part of a wider global agreement. The CCC said that developed countries will need to take the lead in making significant reductions in cutting aviation emissions, ensuring that these are no higher – and possibly lower – than 2005 levels in the period to 2050. If left unchecked, the CCC said global aviation emissions could account for 15-20% of all CO2 produced in 2050 and a “new and ambitious” aviation policy was required.
The recommendations were outlined in a letter from the CCC to Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband. The UK Government had asked the Committee for advice on the options to reduce global aviation emissions in advance of the UN climate change summit in December.
The CCC said that in order to reduce gross UK aviation emissions in 2050 to 2005 levels, it would require cuts in emissions of 90% by other sectors in order to achieve the Government’s legally-binding pledge to reduce overall UK emissions by 80% in 2050.
In the letter, the CCC argues that other developed nations should accept similar targets for aviation to complement the 80% goals recently committed to by the G8.
The CCC advises that all aviation CO2 emissions should be capped either through a global sectoral deal or by including international aviation emissions in national emission reduction targets. It said the additional aviation non-CO2 effects that contribute to global warming, such as NOx and contrail-cirrus, should also be addressed within a global deal on aviation.
Whilst supporting the inclusion of aviation emissions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012, emission allowances should be fully auctioned as it believes airlines will benefit from windfall profits ensuing from a free allocation of allowances.
Although airlines will refute this argument, they will welcome the Committee’s advice that auction revenues should be a potential source for climate adaptation funding and that funding for aviation R&D should be identified as part of a climate deal in order to undertake radical innovation in engine, airframe and fuel technology.
The CCC said that emissions trading and offsetting offer useful short to medium term flexibility for meeting aviation targets but the aviation industry should plan for deep cuts in its own emissions. Significant domestic action is required, it advised, as “there is likely to be very limited scope for the aviation sector to meet 2050 targets through the purchase of credits.”
David Kennedy, the CCC’s Chief Executive, commented: “It is vital that an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal. We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today, but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward. Such a cap together with deep emissions cuts in other sectors would limit the risk of dangerous climate change and the very damaging consequences for people here and in other countries that this would have.”
The CCC will be publishing a full report on December 8 on how the UK can meet the 2050 target to reduce gross aviation emissions back to 2005 levels including consideration of scope for improvements in technology, appropriate policies required and the implications for further aviation expansion.
The CCC is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act 2008 to advise the UK Government on setting the first legally binding carbon budgets, and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The CCC also advises on what the UK’s long-term climate change target should be as a fair contribution towards a global deal.