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Aviation emissions set to be left out of key UK climate policy

Press release

International aviation should form part of the UK’s climate strategy, but need not be included in the 5-yearly budgets that will constrain UK emissions under the Climate Change Bill, says the Government’s advisory body.

The Government-appointed Committee on Climate Change has today announced its advice that the UK target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions needs to increase from 60% by 2050 to at least 80%, and that this should include the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions.

But because of a lack of international agreement over how emissions from these sources should be reported, they should be left out of the five-yearly budgets that will apply to other UK sectors, says the Committee. Instead, emissions from planes and ships should be monitored and reported separately. If they do not achieve the 80% reductions required, then other sectors, such as electricity suppliers, will need to cut their emissions by more than 80% to make up the shortfall.

“We welcome the fact that the Committee wants the UK’s aviation emissions to be taken into account by 2050”, said AEF’s Director, Tim Johnson, “to do otherwise would have undermined the credibility of the whole strategy. But we haven’t yet seen any plan for how the Government can achieve this. The longer we go on allowing aviation emissions to grow, without including them in our carbon budgets, the harder it will become to make the big, 80% emissions cut by 2050 that experts are saying is essential.”

The Committee’s interim advice was contained in a letter addressed the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Milliband. No comment was made about what proportion of the UK’s reductions may come from buying ‘carbon credits’ from other countries. Critics believe this could water down the effectiveness of UK targets.