Tag Archives: aviation

Including flights abroad in the UK’s climate target is a huge step forward

This post is by Greg Archer and Matt Finch of Transport & Environment.

If holiday makers ignore the cost of flights they quickly max-out their credit cards and create a cash crisis. If countries omit their international aviation (and shipping) emissions from their national carbon budgets they run the risk of overshooting their climate targets and contribute to frying the planet. So the UK’s decision to include our international flights and shipping emissions in its sixth carbon budget is not just good accountancy, it is a huge step forward towards limiting these pernicious, invisible and, to date, largely unmanaged emissions.

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Is the promise of waste based aviation fuel sending us down a blind alley?

This post is by Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the Aviation Environment Federation.

Scientists in America have found a way to massively reduce emissions from flying by using a new fuel made from waste, a BBC news headlines announced on 15 March. It sounded like the kind of scientific breakthrough that almost everyone would want to see: tackling waste and reducing emissions while allowing people to carry on flying. In fact, the story went on to report, the new fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 165 per cent suggesting that one way to lower emissions would be to fly more.

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Will the government do the right thing about aviation emissions?

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This post is by Matt Finch, UK policy manager at Transport & Environment .

Cutting aviation’s carbon emissions is a challenge, but it’s achievable. In previous years, discussing this would have resulted in a frown, a shrug and a sigh: “It’s simply too hard”, people would say. However, in recent years technology has advanced and the opportunity to do so is here. The UK government has started to take action by setting up the Jet Zero council. This council, composed of both senior government ministers and industry leaders, has an ambitious aim: the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced last year that its goal is to “demonstrate flight across the Atlantic…. within a generation…. without harming the environment”. So far, though, there has not been a meaningful policy introduced that would start to bend the curve towards achieving this aim.

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Airport expansion plans show that national and local decisions are at odds on climate

This post is by Agathe de Canson and Jo Furtado, policy advisers at Green Alliance.

Last week, the French government scrapped plans to expand its largest airport, Roissy Charles de Gaulle, citing environmental concerns. A few days later, Leeds City Council voted to expand Leeds Bradford Airport.  

Aviation emissions accounted for seven per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, but this figure will inevitably grow if demand increases, making it harder still to limit the emissions of a sector that has no straightforward way to decarbonise. Airport expansion, like road expansion, increases demand, so will make it much harder to reach our climate goals. 

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Why the government can’t continue to ignore international aviation and shipping in its climate plans

This post is by Ryan Leung, policy assistant at Green Alliance

The UK is about to set its 2030 climate target (otherwise known as its Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC) as part of the UN COP process in which countries increase their ambitions on national plans to tackle climate change. 

Currently, emissions from international aviation and shipping are not included in national targets like NDCs and carbon budgets because they are covered by international processes. But there are good reasons for the UK to have domestic targets for international aviation and shipping too, and now is it the time to put them in place.

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Carbon offsetting is controversial, but unfortunately we need it

intext-blubell-forestAs an environmentalist, I’m not a big fan of offsetting. Not only does it probably lead to increased pollution, absolving us of responsibility for our emissions, but carbon credits have also been notoriously poor at actually delivering the carbon reductions they claim. I’ve not set foot on a plane since 2011 as I struggle to justify flying, even with a carbon offset. Read more

What the Heathrow ruling means for future government decisions with a climate impact

This post is by Katie de Kauwe, lawyer at Friends of the Earth.

intext-heathrowThe government’s policy giving the green light to Heathrow expansion and establishing the need for more airport capacity in the south east was ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal on climate grounds last month. This ruling follows years of work by the legal team at Friends of the Earth (myself included), along with our external solicitors at Leigh Day, and barristers (David Wolfe QC at Matrix Chambers, Peter Lockley at 11KBW and Andrew Parkinson at Landmark Chambers). And, of course, the absolutely tireless work, campaigning and commitment from local residents who are the unsung heroes of the piece. Read more

This is how the UK can manage its flying addiction

People boarding plane, travelersThis post is by Greg Archer, UK director at Transport & Environment.

The UK has a flying addiction that, if left unchecked, will wreck its climate commitments. In the past 20 years the number of passengers flying to and from the UK has doubled and more Britons travelled abroad in 2018 than any other nationality, making us one in 12 of all international travellers. Read more