Skip to content

The reality of “carbon neutral” growth, and submitting more evidence to the Airports Commission in the UK

Discussions about how to tackle aviation emissions internationally have continued in May, with Tim presenting at the Air Transport Action Group’s workshop in Montreal which preceeded ICAO’s climate change colloquium. His main message to delegates highlighted that the industry’s proposed plan for stabilising international aviation emissions at 2020 levels was in fact impossible to achieve without a market-based measure, and that the potential for in-sector reductions would only be realised if states and industry work together to deliver the forecast improvements.

In terms of UK aviation policy, various bodies have been publishing views on airport capacity. Both the business lobby group London First and the Transport Select Committee – a body of MPs keen on transport issues – have published reports calling for growth at Heathrow. AEF web comment highlighted both gaps in the economic case being made in the studies, and the mis-quoting of the findings of the Committee on Climate Change in relation to the level of aviation growth that would be compatible with climate targets. Meanwhile another body of politicians – the Transport Committee of the London Assembly – has published a report arguing against Heathrow expansion and in favour of a better use of existing capacity. AEF evidence to the committee was quoted in relation to demand forecasting, the small proportion of business demand and climate change.

We have also continued to provide evidence to the Airports Commission (and advice to other NGOs on the Commission’s work) and in May submitted a detailed response to the paper on climate change, having also met several times with the Commission to discuss its analysis. As one of the organisation’s concerns is that the UK could miss out economically by taking action on climate change while other European states expand their airports regardless, we have been liaising with campaigners elsewhere in Europe to consider how best to highlight the fact that all EU states have committed to emissions cuts of 80% by 2050, matching the UK’s climate law. The Airports Commission has also this month published sift criteria for expansion proposals, names of its expert advisory panel, and a paper on Airport Operating Models.

Finally, with the Government due to review its guidance to the CAA (the industry regulator), on the role of air traffic management in minimising environmental impacts, Cait met with representatives of both the CAA and the Department for Transport to discuss the contents of its forthcoming consultation.