Aviation CO2 emissions should be capped and aviation growth cannot exceed 60% if the government is to hit its targets to limit aviation emissions.
All departing and arriving flights in developed countries should be subject to the cap and rail needs to be promoted as an alternative to short-haul flights, according to a report from the Committee on Climate Change.
The report comes as world leaders meet at the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, to try and agree a deal to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
The Climate Change report states:
“Ideally all aviation CO2 emissions would be capped.
“However, an interim phase where the cap applies to all departing and arriving flights in developed countries with exemptions for intra-developing country flights may be necessary.”
The government has set its own targets to limit CO2 emissions at the same level in 2050 as they were in 2005.
To do this the government must limit the increase in the number of flights to 60% – not 200% as projected by the government.
The report states that without significant technological improvements and a big shift to rail on domestic and short-haul flights this target is unachievable.
The report also suggests improvements in video-conferencing technology, more fuel efficient aircraft, capacity restrictions at some UK airports and an increased use of biofuels could help the government achieve its CO2 target.
The report also states that the targets are unachievable if the UK acts alone and all the initiatives must be taken in an EU-wide context.
Committee chairman Lord Turner concludes:
“The key implication from our analysis is that future airport policy should be designed to be in line with the assumption that total aircraft traffic movements should not increase by more than about 55% between 2005 and 2050, ie from today’s level of 2.2 million to no more than around 3.4 million in 2050.”
The advice stands at odds with the Transport Committee, which has just confirmed its support for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow.
The Transport Committee argue that without the extra infrastructure passengers will simply use other European airports – severely damaging the UK economy.