Government should halt airport expansions says CCC

The Climate Change Committee has issued a damning 2023 progress report, saying the government has lost its leadership position on climate change by failing to act decisively to move away from fossil fuels. CCC says priority actions and policies are needed in a range of areas, including a framework to manage aviation capacity overall. All planning decisions must have full regard to the imperative of Net Zero. There has been a lack of urgency, and much of the responsibility rests with the DfT, now led by Sec of State Mark Harper. Will he act quickly and decisively?

The CCC’s recommendations for aviation include:

  • No airport expansions should proceed until a UK-wide capacity management framework is in place to annually assess and, if required, control sector GHG emissions and non-CO2 effects.
  • After a framework is developed, there should be no net airport expansion unless the carbon-intensity of aviation is outperforming the Government’s emissions reduction pathway and can accommodate the additional demand.
  • Continue innovation and funding for aircraft efficiency measures, hybrid, full electric and hydrogen aircraft development and airspace modernisation.
  • Demand-mitigation measures should be used to address price imbalances between aviation and low-emission forms of surface transport (eg rail travel).
  • Taxes should send clearer signals to consumers on the high emissions cost of flying (eg by reversing the 2021 cut in Air Passenger Duty).
  • Fair funding mechanisms should be used to ensure alternatives are affordable (eg invest in low-emission alternatives for journeys where domestic flights are faster/cheaper than surface transport).
  • Fiscal policy should be used (eg taxation, quotas or a frequent flyer levy), alongside improvements in broadband, to embed positive behaviours that have arisen during the pandemic, replacing business travel with videoconferencing and online collaboration.
  • The price of flying should be raised to the point that it acts as an effective signal to consumers that aviation has high emissions costs.
  • Start to track the carbon-intensity of, and demand for, different aviation ticket types (e.g. business, first class, economy class), and demand for private flying, to help understand how demand-side measures could reduce the carbon intensity of flying.
  • Confirm when the Jet Zero Strategy will undergo its first five-yearly review and begin work in 2023 to understand what policy framework or mechanism would need to be in place for additional measures within the sector to be rapidly deployed in the late-2020s if the Government is not on track to meet its aviation pathway. These measures could include demand reduction policies.
  • Continue to monitor seat occupancy over the period to 2027, during recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that the sector either returns to prior occupancy levels or routes are adjusted to account for low occupancy rates. Consider regulating aircraft occupancy standards if the trends do not return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
  • Start monitoring non-CO2 effects of aviation – including through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) for eligible aeroplane operators – and set a minimum goal of no further additional warming after 2050 from non-CO2 effects, research mitigation options and consider how best to tackle non-CO2 effects alongside UK climate targets without increasing CO2 emissions.

The letter from Lord Deben and full report can be downloaded from this link to the CCC website.

In light of this, applying for a further near-doubling of capacity at Luton Airport, after having just doubled it in 5 years, is grotesque. To label it “Green Controlled Growth” just shows the depths to which Luton Rising will stoop in its grab for cash. And to propose adding 70% more night flights proves it cares nothing for the health and wellbeing of local residents. Luton Airport expansion must be stopped!

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