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Engaging with local authorities over UK airport issues, and with US and EU officials over global climate change measures

10th July, 2012

MPs and the media both remain very engaged in consideration of the UK’s future aviation strategy. As well as following recent parliamentary debates on aviation, Cait wrote an article  (subscriber access only) for ‘Headline Environment’ on our work to prepare for the draft policy consultation, and attended a meeting of the Department for Transport’s External Advisory Group, which confirmed that the consultation is still due out before Parliament breaks for the summer.

Among other issues, we are keen to ensure that aviation plays a fair part in the UK’s emissions reduction strategy. Cait attended the launch of the fourth annual progress report from the Government’s carbon watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, whose overall message was that while energy use has reduced as a result of the mild winter and falling real incomes, the underlying rate ofprogress is only a quarter of that required to meet future carbon budgets. Cait has also been engaging with BA over how to ensure that aviation emissions reduction targets are accurately portrayed to the public.

We have also been continuing our work on understanding how much capacity really exists at UK airports. Tim presented on AEF’s capacity research from 2011 at a meeting sponsored by WWF-UK which brought together local authorities surrounding Heathrow and the proposed new Thames Estuary airport to consider cross-cutting issues. Delegates also received the Executive Summary of AEF’s latest research paper, which addresses the latest update of DfT’s passenger demand forecasts. As we pointed out in a letter in the Evening Standard on 29th June, the figures indicate that it will be nearly two decades before we start running out of capacity, even without assuming any Government-imposed climate constraints.

Similar debates about airport capacity are taking place around Europe and Tim presented at a working group of the EU Observatory on Airport Capacity on issues related to how aviation works alongside other transport modes.

Tim has also continued to work on global approaches to emissions reductions. He joined senior US and EU officials to debate how to tackle aviation emissions at the Third TransAtlantic Issues Conference in Brussels, and met with officials at the European Commission to discuss work at the UN’s aviation body, ICAO, on a scheme for controlling the sector’s emissions.

In the meantime, the EU ETS remains the only mechanism in the world for regulating emissions from aircraft beyond domestic borders. AEF gave comment on this, and on our longer-term hopes for a global scheme, to a reporter for the New York Times.