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Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
'Scapegoat' claim over plane CO2
Boeing 777
Plane makers such as Boeing are working on more efficient airliners.
Air transport is being used as a scapegoat for global warming, a group for UK commercial pilots has claimed.

The British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) says "half truths and untruths" have made passengers feel guilty about taking a flight.

In its report, Balpa says air travel accounts for only 2-3% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

But some environmentalists say that share will increase significantly because of a greater number of flights.

Balpa disagrees, saying the contribution of air travel to global carbon dioxide emissions will only rise to 6% by 2050.

Pie chart showing UK carbon emissions
1. Manufacturing 25.5%
2. Road transport 25.7%
3. Civil aviation 0.5%
4. Other transport 1.3%
5. Commercial 14%
6. Residential 26.5%
7. Agriculture/forestry 1.3%
8. Military transport 0.6%
9. Industrial processes 2.5%
10. Waste treatment 0.1%
11. Exports 2.4%
Figures apply to flights within the UK. If international flights from the UK are included, the total is an estimated 6.3%.
Source: Defra 2005

Chairman Mervyn Granshaw said the latest jets were more carbon efficient than the newest high-speed trains on longer journeys.

"Our report clearly shows that technological advances now being researched will cut aircraft emissions still further," he said.

"It would be inappropriate and premature to restrict air transport at this time.

"The damage that would be done not only to our industry but to tourism and to the economies of developing nations would be enormous."

'Pure propaganda'

He said the industry would play its part in addressing carbon dioxide emissions and that air travel had become "an easy target".

"No-one is calling for any dramatic cutback in car travel - the biggest polluter of all transport modes," he added.

Campaign group Greenpeace said the report was "pure propaganda".

Its director, John Sauven, said: "This report is pure propaganda. The aviation industry should be embarrassed by this nonsense.

"The authors assume everyone drives a top of the range 4x4 across continents, before taking the QE2, then jumping on a Maglev bullet train and still they have to conclude that flying is worse for the climate."

'Distorted science'

The Green Party also criticised BLPA for "putting profit before the climate".

Darren Johnson, Green London Assembly member, said: "This is not the first time that an industry has distorted the science of climate change in order to protect its profits.

"It would be wholly wrong to take the word of interested parties over the considered and overwhelming international scientific opinion."

The Balpa report has been presented to the government.

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