The UK government is to raise its initiative against airline emissions as part of a new international treaty on climate change.
The government’s Committee on Climate Change, which was set up last year, is urging for an international treaty to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are no higher than 2005 levels by 2050.
This would mean that emissions from airlines could increase in the short to medium term but would have to be brought down sharply thereafter.
World leaders are set to meet for the Copenhagen summit on climate change in December, however it is expected that there will be insufficient time to push through this bill.
However David Kennedy, the committee’s chief executive, said the government must aim for a commitment. It also might be possible for the issue to be left open pending further talks next year.
“It is vital that an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal,” he told the Financial Times.
“We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward.”
“Such a cap, together with deep emissions cuts in other sectors, would limit the risk of dangerous climate change and the very damaging consequences for people here and in other countries that this would have.”
Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and shipping were not included in the 1997 Kyoto agreement, but this is due to expire in 2012, and any deal made in Copenhagen in December would succeed the protocol.
The European Union is currently the only region with plans to cap emissions from aviation, as airlines will be included in the emissions trading scheme from 2012. The US has been a staunch critic of the measures.
However if left unchecked, global aviation emissions could account for 15 to 20 per cent of all CO 2 produced in 2050, according to the committee.
Radical innovations in aircraft body, engine and fuel technology would be required to cut airline emissions, the committee has acknowledged, suggesting that funds should be devoted to aviation research and development under any deal forged at the Copen-hagen summit.