Letter: CCC advice on a framework for reducing global aviation emissions

To: Rt Hon Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

From: Lord Turner


This letter sets out the Committee’s advice on a framework for reducing global aviation emissions, as requested by you on 14th July 2009.

The main messages of the Committee are:

Capping global aviation emissions

  • Aviation CO2 emissions should be capped, either through a global sectoral deal or through including (domestic and international) aviation emissions in national / regional (e.g. EU) emissions reduction targets.
  • Ideally all aviation CO2 emissions would be capped. It may be necessary, however, that there is an interim phase where the cap applies to all departing and arriving flights in developed countries with exemptions for intra- developing country flights.
  • The level of emissions reduction ambition under any international agreement should be no less than that already agreed by the EU (i.e. developed country net emissions in 2020 should be no more than 95% of average annual emissions from 2004-06).

Auctioning allowances in cap and trade schemes

  • Emissions allowances under a cap and trade scheme should be fully auctioned so as to avoid windfall profits for airlines that would ensue under free allowance allocation.
  • Aviation auction revenues are one of a number of possible sources for funding of adaptation in developing countries that should be agreed as part of a global deal in Copenhagen.
  • Significant R&D that is urgently required to support innovation in the aviation industry should be considered in the context of a global deal for aviation, and funded from aviation auction revenues or other sources.

Emission reductions within the aviation sector

  • Emissions trading will be useful for an interim period in providing flexibility to achieve cost-effective emissions reductions, subject to the caveat that the carbon price in any trading scheme should provide strong signals for appropriate demand management and supply side innovation.
  • The aviation industry should also plan, however, for deep cuts in gross CO2 emissions relative to baseline projections (e.g. for developed country aviation emissions to return to no more than 2005 levels in 2050) which will be required as a contribution to meeting the G8’s agreed objective to reduce total global emissions in 2050 by 50%.

Non-CO2 effects of aviation

  • Non-CO2 effects of aviation must be addressed as part of any international framework through commitment to a schedule for introduction of appropriate policy instruments (e.g. covering NOx, cirrus and contrails). Given current scientific understanding, early introduction of measures to reduce NOx emissions may be feasible and should be seriously considered.

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