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CCC to report on new aviation emissions cap – 15 January 2009

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been asked by the Government to conduct a review into how UK aviation emissions can be limited to below 2005 levels in 2050. The aviation target will play a useful role in buttressing the UK’s overall commitment to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (below 1990 levels) in 2050.

As the Committee set out in its initial report, an 80% overall reduction does not require that all sectors reduce emissions by that amount. The report sets out a possible scenario in which aviation emissions would be at 2005 levels in 2050, while emissions across all other sectors of the economy would be reduced by an average of 89% , which together would deliver an overall 80% reduction.

The optimal mix of effort needs to be decided over time in light of the relative costs of emissions reduction across sectors. But given the danger that unconstrained aviation emissions growth would make required reductions in other sectors impossibly large, it makes sense to establish an absolute cap on aviation emissions.

The CCC has been asked to provide a report by December on the measures required to ensure that aviation emissions can be constrained within the limit set by the Government, and will keep under continual review the appropriate balance between different sectors’ emissions reductions required to ensure that the 80% target is met.

Chair of the CCC Lord Turner said:

“We are pleased to have been asked to conduct this very important review into aviation emissions. In order to avoid dangerous climate change it is vital that emissions of greenhouse gases in the UK are reduced by at least 80% in 2050. International aviation and shipping must be part of the Government’s climate change strategy and commitments should be made to reduce emissions in these sectors”.

Notes to Editors:
Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

The CCC is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the
Government on setting the first legally binding carbon budgets, and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The CCC also advises on what the UK’s long-term climate change target should be as a fair contribution towards a global deal.

Web address: www.theccc.org.uk/

Link to CCC’s first report “Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s contribution to
tackling climate change”: www.theccc.org.uk/reports/

International aviation and carbon emissions

In the light of the Government’s decision to set a UK target to reduce aviation carbon
emissions in 2050 below the level of 2005, and of the Committee on Climate Change’s own
proposals for their work on carbon emissions from aviation, the Government has invited the Committee:

  • to assess UK trends in international aviation emissions (using a range of appropriate methodologies);
  • to advise the Government on the basis for measurement for the UK target for aviation emissions in 2050
  • to assess the scope for reductions, including from improvements in technology and the effect of appropriate policy levers; and the implications of further aviation expansion beyond 2020

In addition, recognising the Committee’s recommendation (which the Government accepts) that international aviation emissions need to be covered a global international agreement, to advise the Government on an appropriate structure and/or international target regime to support a global deal; reporting to the Secretaries of State for Transport and for Energy and Climate Change by December 2009.

  • The UK should reduce Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (77% below 2005 emissions). This would be an appropriate UK contribution to a global deal aiming to reduce Kyoto gas emissions to between 20-24 billion tonnes by 2050 (about 50-60% below current global levels).
  • The UK emitted 797 MTCO2e greenhouse gas emissions in 1990. An 80% reduction on this level requires emissions in 2050 not to exceed 159 MTCO2e. Currently, emissions of greenhouse gases are at 695 MTCO2e (2006).
  • The 80% target should apply to the sum of all sectors of the UK economy, including international aviation and shipping.
  • In 2005: UK Aviation CO2 emissions amounted to 37.5MtCO2 (Million tonnes of carbon dioxide, based on the bunker fuels methodology) – this includes both domestic and international aviation.
  • In order to achieve the 80% target, if aviation emissions are kept at 37.5 MtCO2, remaining UK emissions will need to be kept at 121.5 MtCO2 or less in 2050.
  • Building a low-carbon economy, the CCC’s first report, sets out the analysis underpinning the recommendation that the UK should reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by at least 80% by 2050. It also proposes the level of the first three carbon budgets covering the periods 2008-12, 2013-17 and 2018-22.

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