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Leap in aviation emissions

February 1, 2006

Figures released by Defra show that while the UK’s overall carbon emission have more or less stabilised, emissions from international aviation are spiralling out of control – they grew by a staggering 12% in 2004.

Aircraft emitted 33.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2004, twice as much as in 1992, and now account for around 6.5% of all the UK’s emissions. This does not take into account the climate damage that aircraft cause in other ways, which is thought to multiply the effect by between 2 and 4 times.

Last year research by the Tyndall centre suggested that aircraft would account for the UK’s entire sustainable carbon emissions in the next 30-40 years. These estimates now look conservative – if growth continues at the sort of rate seen in 2003-4, we will reach the point in the next 15-20 years when the entire UK economy will have to have zero emissions to make room for aviation, if we want to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change.