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Transport Select Committee fails to grasp climate nettle – again

11th December, 2009

The House of Commons Select Committee on Transport returned to the subject of aviation in Dec 09. Unfortunately,  their conclusions can only be described as ‘heads in the sand’.

The Select Committee published  a ‘First Report of Session 2009–10′ together with oral and written evidence on 8th Dec 09. They still believe that we should continue building runways and encouraging more air travel, despite the ever-increasing warnings about the climate impact of such policies.

Damning evidence was presented, for example from the World Development Movement:

.. even using the Department for Transport’s central case for aviation growth and multiplier for the non-CO2 impacts of aviation, aviation will make up 70% of the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.  For the UK to meet its targets for reducing emissions, whilst allowing for this level of aviation growth, then by 2020 other sectors will have to reduce their emissions by 54% on 1990 levels and by 2050 by 94% on 1990 levels. Neither the UK government nor the Committee on Climate Change has set out any scenario under which emissions from all other sectors can be reduced so drastically. And it is unclear why aviation should be allowed to expand its emissions if all other sectors have to drastically reduce theirs.”

But the Select Committee’s findings were:

a) aviation and climate change are global in nature, and global solutions are the only realistic response. [Ie, we should not act in the UK until all other countries act!  But, illogically, the committee has not come out against unilateral action by UK in respect of its Climate Act and target of 80% cuts!]

b) aviation should be treated equitably in climate change policy – it should not be demonised or assigned symbolic value beyond its true impacts. [If it were treated “equitably”, aviation would have to achieve 80% cuts in emissions like the rest of the economy, not be absolved of responsibility as the Committee wants!] 

c) carbon reduction measures should be cost-effective and take account of the economic value of aviation. [Surely they should take account also of the costs – climate, other environmental, social and economic – of aviation.]