The Committee on Climate Change has warned the UK government the decision to allow expansion at Heathrow Airport must be consistent with the commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Emissions from aviation are a relatively small but increasingly important source of UK greenhouse gas emissions - making up six per cent of total emissions in 2014.
However, since 1990, aviation emissions have doubled while economy-wide emissions have reduced by more than a third.
The CCC is a statutory body set up to advise the government on emissions targets.
Its role is to monitor overall progress against carbon budgets and the pledge to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Following the announcement about the government’s preferred option to expand capacity at London Heathrow Airport, and in light of the recent UN-led agreement on controlling global aviation emissions, the government should now publish a strategic policy framework for UK aviation emissions, the CCC argues.
A statement released earlier said: “This should include a plan to limit UK 2050 aviation emissions to 2005 levels (implying around a 60 per cent increase in passenger demand), which the committee has previously advised is an appropriate contribution to the UK’s 80 per cent target for 2050.
The government should also consider strategic options and innovation priorities to pursue deeper cuts in aviation emissions, consistent with the objective in the Paris Agreement to move towards overall net zero emissions in the second half of the century, added the CCC.
Aviation emissions are currently below the level they were in 2005.
Ensuring aviation emissions do not exceed 2005 levels by 2050 could be partly achieved with continued improvements in fuel and operational efficiency and use of sustainable biofuels.