UK Climate Targets May Block Airport Expansion

  • Date: 23/12/13
  • Patrick Wintour, The Guardian

Airport capacity in the UK may no longer be expanded as climate change committee says aviation emissions must return to 2005 levels by 2050.

David Cameron’s attempt to neutralise the toxic political issue of airport expansion until after the next election has been thwarted by the climate change watchdog, which has announced it will report this summer on the impact of the plans on the UK’s climate commitments.

The news is a blow to politicians who hoped they could avoid taking a view on a politically fraught decision until after the 2015 election, when the Davies commission will report on Britain’s airport needs.

The government’s climate change committee said it expected to report to parliament in the summer on the environmental implications of airport expansion.

Citing figures from Howard Davies’ interim report, the committee’s chief executive, David Kennedy, also said that the cost of long-haul flights would need to rise by up to £200 to curtail demand and stay within the UK’s carbon emissions targets.

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said last week that he would not allow expansion if it breached the government’s climate change commitments.

The Davies commission interim report, published last week, referred to the previous recommendations of the climate change committee, but was opaque on how those targets could be met, expansion permitted.

Ministers are committed by law to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 2005 levels, with emissions from aviation and shipping to be included in this target. The climate change committee has said this would require aviation emissions to return to 2005 levels by 2050.

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