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The priority is to reduce aviation pollution – not to offset

We should not expect the developing world to solve our green house gas emissions problem for us. Take a look at Air Traffic Worldwide – it is clear where the pollution originates.

The priority is to reduce the pollution by flying less and flying more efficiently. The decision to raise Air Passenger Duty will do nothing to encourage the airlines to be more efficient and to be less polluting – the passenger pays the same duty whether they fly more efficiently or not. There is no linkage between pollution and duty and therefore no incentive to reduce pollution.

The priority is to reduce aviation pollution – not to offset. It is our responsibility as polluters to reduce our emissions; we should not be buying permits to pollute at bargain prices from the developing world.

On 1st December the Climate Change Act became law commiting the British government to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been established under the act to advise government about how to achieve the target, a target which is legally binding.

The CCC's first report Building a low-carbon economy ? the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change
was published on December 1st.

It is the duty of the Committee on Climate Change to give advice to the government on international aviation. The CCC reports that ?By 2050 UK related international aviation CO2 emissions (using the bunker fuels methodology) could, under DfT’s central scenario, account for around 35% of the UK’s GHG emissions cap implied by our preferred global emissions reduction scenario.? The CCC reports that this forecast assumes ?that a new production aircraft in 2025 flying in an improved operational environment will be 40-50% more fuel efficient compared to a 2006 new production aircraft flying in a 2006 operational environment. Reducing emissions below forecast would require use of either biofuels or hydrogen.? ( p.305)

The Climate Change Committee concludes that

?Recognising the importance of including international aviation emissions in the UK’s climate mitigation strategy, we propose that the Committee reports annually on UK trends in international aviation emissions (using a range of appropriate methodologies), their climate impact, developments in, and the success of, abatement efforts and appropriate policy levers.? (p.306)

The CCC clearly expects to see reductions in emissions driven by the EU Emission Trading Scheme. The CCC argues that whilst there should be not limits on use of credits bought from within the EU, the use of offset credits should be ?tightly controlled? (p.xxi).

The Committee emphasises the responsibility for polluters to reduce their emissions and not to rely on carbon offsets purchased form the developing world.

“The Committee recognises the benefits of carbon markets, which can help achieve emissions reductions at least cost and drive emissions reductions in developing countries. But we believe that it is essential for rich developed countries to achieve significant domestic reductions to drive the development of required low-carbon technologies and to be on the path to meeting the deep domestic emissions cuts that will be required in the longer term.” (p.xxi, emphasis added)

Cheap carbon offsets purchased from the developing world do not meet these policy priorities – although some of them do benefit poor communities.

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