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.