Leaders urged to cap aviation emissions

Climate Change Committee says emissions from flying must be capped at Copenhagen talks

The government has been warned that an agreement to cap global aviation emissions must be reached at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen if countries are to successfully reduce global warming.

The Climate Change Committee said that overall emissions would have to be cut by 90 per cent if the aviation sector continued to grow. It should that an international agreement to reduce emissions from flying should be no less than the EU's target of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions from 2013 to 2020.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis and the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, the committee's chief executive, David Kennedy, said that aviation emissions will have to be reduced to their 2005 level by 2050.

"It is vital that an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal," he said.

"We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today, but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward".

He added: "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."

Unless action is taken soon, aviation emissions could account for 15-20 per cent of all CO2 produced worldwide by 2050, the committee said. It praised plans to include flying in the EU emissions trading scheme but said that a cap on emissions was the only long-term solution.

Greenpeace climate change campaigner, Vicky Watt, said that the committee's warning demonstrated the need for the government to abandon plans to build a third runway at Heathrow.

She said: "Any government of whatever stripe, were they to follow the committee's advice, would find it almost impossible to build a third runway at Heathrow.

"We already fly more than any other nation on Earth and other industries such as the power sector would have to reduce their emissions even further to create room for the aviation sector to grow even more. Electricity consumers could end up footing the bill.

"The only way to make the deep cuts in aviation emissions that we need is to stop building new runways, like the one at Heathrow."

A government spokesman said: "The UK now has the toughest climate change regime for aviation of any country in the world and we will bring international pressure for aviation emissions to be part of global deal on climate change at the Copenhagen conference later this year."