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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Aviation 'huge threat to CO2 aim'
Aeroplanes at Heathrow
Aviation is blamed for causing much of the UK's pollution
UK homes, firms and motorists will have to cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero due to air travel growth, a study says.

Even if such growth is halved, the rest of the economy will need cuts beyond targets set for 2050, said the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

The government predicts UK air passenger numbers will rise from 180 million to 475 million by 2030.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley wants to see aviation included in international emissions agreements.

'Serious underestimation'

The government's target of a 60% cut in CO2 by 2050 is based on the amount in the atmosphere that scientists say is safe to avoid dangerous climate change.

But the report said that ignoring aviation had led to a "serious underestimation" of the effort needed.

"If the UK government does not curb aviation growth, all other sectors of the economy will eventually be forced to become carbon neutral," said Dr Kevin Anderson, who led the research at the Manchester University research centre.

"It will undermine the international competitiveness of UK industry."

We need to look at how we can encourage new technologies in the aviation sector that reduce emissions
Environment Minister Elliot Morley
The report called for a change to current rules, under which aviation and shipping are not considered part of a country's CO2 output.

Aviation is regarded as especially polluting because of the large amount of fuel used at high altitude.

"At the moment aviation is completely outside the Kyoto agreements and all international and national targets and it doesn't make sense for aviation to be outside," Mr Morley told BBC Breakfast.

"We will be pressing, at the next October environment ministers council, for European aviation to be included within the emissions trading scheme to actually have a cap in trade in relation to CO2."

The trading scheme would allow companies wishing to expand to buy unused carbon entitlements from firms that had reduced CO2 emissions, the minister said.

Taxing question

Mr Morley also said: "The new Airbus is bigger, quieter and more fuel efficient than existing aircraft, so I also think we need to look at how we can encourage an acceleration to... new technologies in the aviation sector that can actually reduce emissions."

He added that there was no evidence to suggest a tax on aviation fuel would cut emissions.

Aviation is a rogue sector and its environmental impact is out of control
Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper
"The evidence is that people will simply pay the tax and continue to travel and we won't actually stop the growth," he said.

But Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: "The Department of Transport's own models on aviation growth show dramatic reductions in air travel when assumptions are added for fuel taxes and other factors.

"Aviation is a rogue sector and its environmental impact is out of control.

"Climate change is the most urgent challenge facing humanity and yet aviation policy is doing the opposite of what is needed."

The findings are part of a five-year study into CO2 emissions over the next 45 years by the Tyndall Centre.

The report, Decarbonising the UK, describes ways of cutting CO2 emissions from road transport, housing, industry and coal-fired power stations.

It also looks at the role of renewable energy, nuclear power and hydrogen fuel in providing low carbon energy supply.

Guardian Unlimited Minister says tax could cut airline pollution - 31 hrs ago
The Sun Jet pollution fears - 38 hrs ago
MSNBC Cut air travel for environment? - 39 hrs ago
Washington PostScientists: Cut Air Travel for Environment - 41 hrs ago
The Scotsman All householders, motorists and businesses will have to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution to zero to allow - 44 hrs ago
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