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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
North West: Guilt trip
Michelle Mayman
The Politics Show North West

Autumn leaves
Global warming: Is tree planting the antidote?

Are cheap flights costing the earth?

Research shows that each hour of air travel produces CO2 which can be offset by a quarter of a tree.

This means an average flight to Spain and back equals one tree.

For comparison:

  • car travel: each 1000km = half a tree
  • train/coach: each 1000km = one tenth of a tree

Michael Howard addressed a tourism conference in Oman and pledged to plant four trees to offset his flight.

We have been to see whether the tourists at Liverpool Airport will be planting a forest to cancel out their holiday - and it seems that they will.

Mersey forest

Liverpool Airport has just announced it is joining forces with Liverpool City Council to plant hundreds of trees to help offset some of the carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft using the airport.

There is a collection box in the departure lounge where passengers can donate to the tree fund, the airport matches it and pays for trees to be planted in the Mersey Forest.

The Mersey Forest is the largest of England's 12 Community Forests.

It covers 420 square miles of Merseyside and North Cheshire, and 1.6m people live there.

It is a network of woodlands and other habitats across 420 sq. miles of the project area.

Gesture questioned

It is a gesture that is appreciated but the validity of the scheme is questioned by environmentalists.

It comes in the week when the government announces it is to put the squeeze on Carbon Emissions by big business.

The UK govt has promised to cut its Carbon Emissions from businesses by 12.5% by 2012.

Target raised

It will mean the UK will almost double its targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The UK's decision is a surprise. The cut's are quite hardline compared to others in the EU - notably Germany which has just announced lax targets of 0.6%.

The Environment minister David Miliband says he is urging the European Commission to make sure that EU members impose the strictest cuts.

Emissions increasing

The UKs carbon emissions have risen for 3 years running. The govt says it is due to increased energy consumption and a switch from natural gas to coal.

The brunt of the cuts will affect electricity companies.

Exporting industries are allowed to emit as much Carbon as they need. All other companies need a permit to emit CO2.

The government already rations those permits.

Permits rationed

They will ration the quota of permits even more in order to meet its targets (the next quota cut comes in 2008).

Permits are now valuable commodities and are traded like any other commodity.

Companies which want to emit more than their permit can buy permits from other companies.

There is an incentive for companies to reduce emissions so that they can then trade their excess permits.

The announcement about the new targets is expected to increase electricity prices by 0.5% for domestic users.

Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan
Jim Hancock presents Politics Show North West with Gill Dummigan

The Confederation of British Industry says it risks Britain's competitiveness.

The Politics Show

Join Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan. The Politics Show returns on Sunday 16 July 2006 at 12:00 on BBC One.

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