Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - October to December 2006

28 December 2006


Leader - Financial Times - 21 December 2006

It can be frustrating for a tidy person to live with messy flatmates. On carbon emissions, the European Union feels that, while it is making an effort to be tidy, other countries are making the mess worse. The EU, resentful, is tempted to punish the rest of the world by taxing its goods and its aeroplanes. But if you are the only tidy person in a messy household, punishments will do nothing but make you unpopular.

This week Peter Mandelson, EU trade commissioner, dismissed a French proposal for a tax on imports from countries that have not ratified the Kyoto treaty. The EU also delayed, but did not drop, plans to include US and Asian airlines that land in Europe in its carbon emissions trading scheme.

European frustration is understand-able. The cost of EU carbon permits makes it harder for the continent's industries to compete with those who can pollute for free. The EU cannot, meanwhile, tax only European-based airlines on transcontinental routes without destroying their businesses.

But unilateral sanctions will not work. If Europe taxed countries that have not signed Kyoto, China, the US and India would retaliate and the EU would lose. The EU is big. It accounts for 7.5 per cent of the world's population and much more of its economy. But it is not big or rich enough to impose its will.

It is therefore very unlikely that the EU could agree to such a tax. Germany, for example, depends on its US export market. Even if a tax were agreed, the World Trade Organisation would probably consider it illegal under the rules that govern international trade.

This does not mean sanctions should never be used against countries that do not sign an environmental treaty. The Montreal protocol, which ended the production of chlorofluorocarbons, allows for trade barriers against those who do not join in. That stopped countries free-riding on others' effort and made Montreal one of the most effective treaties ever signed.

But there are two differences between Montreal and an EU tax on foreign carbon. The Kyoto protocol, unlike Montreal, does not allow for sanctions. And Montreal was supported by every significant industrial power.

Without that universal support, all European sanctions will do is annoy those the EU needs to persuade about climate change. The EU's best hope is to act on its own carbon emissions and wait for political change in the US.

Extending carbon emissions trading to aircraft would be a step forward. But the EU should stick to domestic flights and should cover private jets, which it currently plans to exempt. That would demonstrate that the scheme is practical and can cut emissions with the lowest possible economic cost.

The EU needs to persuade more of its global housemates to act on climate change. Only once it has done so can it consider bullying the minority of countries that do not join in

OUR COMMENT: Why be fearful of unpopularity? ? especially when it's the right thing to do.

Pat Dale

28 December 2006


Aviationwatch.eu Online - 20 December 2006

European Commission plans to integrate air transport into the EU emissions trading system are too weak to substantially reduce the climate impact of the sector according to T&E, a network of sustainable transport groups. The scheme must be accompanied by additional measures applied to all other sectors such as a tax on fuel and VAT on tickets.

Jos Dings, director of T&E said, "After ten years of talk, we welcome the world's first multilateral plan to cut aviation emissions. But the European Parliament and ministers must quickly agree to an end result that actually encourages airlines to cut their emissions rather than giving them a free ride."

"At the moment it looks like the Commission has simply ticked off several items on the industry's wish list, namely free emissions permits, no firm commitment to introduce fuel taxes or deal with non-CO2 impacts, and 75% less emissions covered in the first year of the scheme. Rather than a plan to reduce emissions from aviation, this looks like business as usual and the likelihood of massive windfall profits for the industry" said Dings.

According to a WWF report published on Monday airlines stand to make windfall profits of ?3.5 billion as a result of the proposal for emissions permits to be mostly given away rather than auctioned. This absurd consequence would occur because airlines are likely to follow the example of power companies and pass on the market price of permits to consumers even though they received them for free.

Airlines have complained that that it is unfair to apply a stricter auctioning policy to them than other sectors already in the EU-ETS. However, the emissions cap for airlines is to stabilise emissions at around 90% above their 1990 level. Conversely, all other sectors must cut emissions in line with Kyoto targets i.e. to 8% below the 1990 level. The aviation sector could therefore be given around double the free permits other sectors receive.

"It is stunning that the aviation industry can talk about 'fairness' with a straight face. The fuel tax exemption enjoyed by the sector is worth ?35 billion alone, not to mention the lack of VAT on tickets and the ?20 billion European taxpayers have paid out in rescue aid to airlines." said Dings.

28 December 2006


Harlow Star - 22 December 2006

HARLOW MP Bill Rammell is standing his ground against a second runway at Stansted Airport despite renewed calls by the Government for growth.

Mr Rammell reiterated his opposition to another runway at Stansted in light of the progress report into the Government's 2003 Aviation White Paper, which has concluded the airport needs expansion to remain economically in touch with its European neighbours.

However, it also states the runway would be subject to environmental targets and be ready by 2015, four years later than the date originally sought for completion.

The report flies in the face of Uttlesford Council's refusal earlier this month to allow airport owner BAA to expand to 35 million passengers a year at Stansted on its existing runway. A separate application will now go before Uttlesford planners for the second runway.

Mr Rammell told the Star on Monday: "I think the report makes clear that a new runway at the airport, which I have consistently opposed, will be delayed even further, and I will continue to be opposed.

"The report also makes clear that the Government is moving forward on the carbon emissions question."

He added: "I don't think passenger growth can go unchecked and I have both written to and spoken to ministers making clear my opposition.

"What's reassuring is that if it does happen, which I don't think it will or should, it will be some way in the future."

Mr Rammell said the timing of the announcement with the Treasury-financed Barker Report, which called for major planning decisions to be handed back to Whitehall, was purely coincidental.

"I know conspiracy theories are very popular but there is no link between this report and the timing of the Barker Report," he added.

Peter Martin, Essex County Council planning, environment and culture cabinet member, said: "This is vandalism of Essex. A second runway at Stansted is not the answer."

Stop Stansted Expansion's Carol Barbone added: "This is not a progress report at all but the very opposite. It shows the Government remains wedded to the past and unable to grasp the very real need that the key priority is to address climate change, not to build new runways."

BAA chief executive Stephen Nelson said the country could still secure green growth but added: "We cannot turn our back on growth.

"The country needs new runways to accommodate growing demand for flying. Passengers are already suffering delay and congestion because of a lack of airport capacity."

28 December 2006


London-on-Sea: the future of a city in decay

Roger Highfield - Daily Telegraph - 27 December 2006

A recent map reveals how Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Canary Wharf will be among the areas at risk of flooding according to a new estimate of rising sea levels.

The need for new defences is underlined by a study that concludes that levels may rise more quickly in the coming decades than previously thought - by as much as an additional metre (39in) over the next century, according to Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, a leading climate expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

A sea level rise of a metre or more would be "very bad news" for major coastal cities, greatly increasing the risk of devastating storm surges. Particularly at risk are cities on or close to North Atlantic shores, such as London, according to his study in the journal Science.

Dr Nassos Vafeidis of the University of the Aegean, Greece, and Prof Rob Nicholls of the University of Southampton and colleagues have weighed up the impact of rising levels on the Thames Estuary, where 1.25 million people currently live, 1.5 million commute and there are assets worth up to £100 billion.

27 December 2006


Airlines win smoother path to carbon market

ENDS Europe DAILY 2230 - 20 December 2006

The European commission tabled plans to bring international aviation into the EU emission trading scheme on Wednesday after making last minute cuts in the face of opposition from America and unease among airlines.

Europe must show leadership but also openness to continue dialogue with partners around the world to ultimately create a global emission trading system for aviation, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas told journalists in Brussels.

Under the proposal aviation would join the EU ETS, as expected, from 2011. But only intra-EU flights would be covered for the first year. The change follows hints by US officials that America might take legal action if its airlines are included in the scheme (EED 30/11/05 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/19933).

The commission was set to recommend that airlines should have to buy 10% of their emissions allowances in 2011-12.  It has finally proposed limiting auctioning to the average across the rest of the EU ETS, which will be considerably lower. It is important to treat all industries fairly, Mr Dimas said on Wednesday.

There is no longer a suggestion that airlines could have to surrender twice as many allowances per tonne of CO2 emitted if laws to curb nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are not implemented by 2010. Instead, the commission says it will put forward a proposal on NOx in 2008.

In other respects, the final proposal is unchanged from a draft on which we reported earlier this month (EED 08/12/06 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/22221).

An EU-wide cap aims to stabilise emissions at 2005 levels for three consecutive trading periods - 2011-12, 2013-17 and 2018-22. Free allowances will be distributed according to tonne-kilometres flown. Airlines can buy allowances from anyone but sell any surplus only to other airlines.

Kyoto credits can be used to a limit that is the average of limits set by member states in their Naps. The commission forecasts no significant impact on EU ETS prices because it expects additional demand for allowances to be soaked up by Kyoto credits.

Airlines responded positively to the commission's decision to limit its ambitions for the scheme. The Association of European airlines welcomed removal of "some of the more extreme elements".  British Airways said it remained concerned at the plan to cover all flights to and from EU airports from 2012.

Environmental groups were unhappy. Brussels-based NGO T&E estimated that emissions would be reduced by only 3%, or less than the sector's current annual growth.  "This looks like business as usual and the likelihood of massive windfall profits for the industry," it warned.

27 December 2006


Andrew Bounds in Brussels and Fiona Harvey in London - Financial Times - 18 December 2006

The inclusion of foreign airlines in the European Union's carbon emission trading scheme is to be delayed to head off a transatlantic showdown.

The US and Asian countries reacted angrily to plans to force all airlines that land and take off in the EU to pay to pollute. Washington had served notice it could take legal action against the EU if it included non-EU airlines in 2011, when the scheme is extended from industry to air travel.

On Monday, however, officials in the European Commission, the EU's Brussels-based executive, thrashed out a compromise confining the scheme to travel within the EU, and therefore to EU airlines, before extending it to all air traffic in 2013. EU officials hope a global aviation carbon trading scheme could be up and running by then, defusing scope for a dispute with big trading partners.

In agreeing the staggered approach, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas bowed to Jacques Barrot, transport commissioner, and Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner. The proposal is set to be agreed by the Commission tomorrow and must be approved by member states and the European parliament.

?We will be able to learn how to integrate airlines in the system and promote the benefits from a political and practical point of view,? said a Commission official, who did not wish to be named.

To avoid the problems that plagued the wider trading scheme, which saw national governments being overgenerous in the allocation of permits to industries, Brussels will take direct control of the allocation of permits to airlines.

Some 10 per cent of permits will be auctioned, helping to set a market price, with airlines receiving the rest for free. Mr Dimas had wanted more auctioning of permits but colleagues resisted as the ceiling for the wider scheme is 10 per cent.

But environmental groups called for more of the airlines' emissions to be auctioned, for fear that airlines will try to profit from emissions trading, as UK power generators do at present, by passing on to consumers the notional costs of buying permits despite receiving 90 per cent of them free of charge.

The scheme will add up to ?39 ($51) to the cost of a return long-haul ticket by 2020, according to an impact assessment seen by the Financial Times, based on a carbon price of ?30 a metric tonne. Current prices are below ?10 a tonne.

The extra charge could make private jet travel more attractive for business executives, since they would be exempt, though they pollute more per passenger.

However, the paper argues that ?demand for aviation is, in general, not very price sensitive? so airlines could pass on the costs to passengers. Indeed, it anticipates that emissions trading will hardly affect air travel at all. Instead of growing by 142 per cent between 2005 and 2020, it would rise by 135 per cent.

OUR COMMENT: It is surprising that other business sections are not objecting to subsidising aviation. Do they really believe that a failure to expand the number of flights would imperil their own business? Do they really have any difficulties getting aircraft space now? Crowded airports do cause delays, but airport congestion could be relieved without having extra flights, or passengers ? BUT ? such improvements can only be paid for out of profits which today means more flights. However, perhaps the government could charge a higher airport passenger duty and direct the money into an airport improvement fund with a cap on the number of flights ? as part of each airports' development plans.

Pat Dale

27 December 2006


Leader - The Guardian - 21 December 2006

Like a vapour trail left by a jet plane crossing a crowded sky, yesterday's news that the EU will include aviation in its carbon-trading scheme from 2011 was less substantial than it appeared. The announcement carried a superficial drama, a sense of action being taken against an industry, which, uniquely, pays none of the costs of the pollution it causes. The giveaway was the industry's energetic welcome. If the scheme had amounted to anything, Europe's airlines would have been squealing.

Air transport is not the biggest cause of climate change; it is not even the biggest polluter in the transport sector. But road users, who emit more carbon, do pay a crude penalty for doing so in the form of petrol duty. Airlines pay nothing on fuel. To make a difference, any trading scheme needs the clout to cost them (and their passengers) money ? and soon. Instead, the EU intends to hand the industry billions of euros of free carbon credits, based on average emission levels since 2004, in a scheme that will not begin for 5 years.

As the Institute of Public Policy pointed out this week, the proposal amounts to a £2.7bn windfall of free credits. It is true that airlines will have to buy any credits they need over this limit, but even the EU says the cost to passengers will be no more than 9 euros a ticket by 2020, or less than a couple of gin and tonics on Ryanair.

Such indulgence of aviation is routine: it came in another form this week when the Scottish executive announced more subsidies for airlines to persuade them to fly from Edinburgh and Glasgow. As a result easyJet (which says it is ?thrilled? with the new support) is now selling tickets to Munich from the Scottish capital for £21.99. This insane scheme will send stag weekenders to German beer-halls against all environmental logic.

The divergence between rhetoric and action is just as great between Sir Nicholas Stern's report on climate change and the Department of Trade's update of the aviation white paper, which it slipped out last Thursday. The latter offers a token nod towards green goals (Bristol airport is switching to biofuels and Luton is thinking about getting some solar panels) but sticks with the assumption that aviation will grow massively. The consequence, as Sir Nicholas points out, is that pollution will grow too.

Airline flights account for about 1.6% of global emissions, which is not a lot. But the impact is worsened by other gases that are produced and because they are injected into the outer atmosphere. Without restrictions, air travel could cause 5% of a much higher level of emissions by 2050. Sir Nicholas's report backs a proper trading scheme in greenhouse gases, to include airlines, in which credits have real international value.

But he questions the practicality of applying such a scheme to air travel in the near future and suggest that taxing jet fuel might be a sensible move first. The updated white paper ignores this, pointing to the EU trading scheme. Airlines and ministers alike, are using the plans as an excuse for avoiding other more effective, and immediate, action.

The challenge of all emissions trading is that someone, somewhere has to pay if the growth in greehouse gases is to be checked. Sir Nicholas makes a powerful case for a ?deep and liquid? trading system with real bite. Instead, like pretend money in a game of monopoly, carbon credits are being handed out to polluters for free, to play with as they wish.

Even the EU scheme has no central cap. The UK's own emissions trading scheme peters out, incredibly, at the end of this month. The Treasury is still consulting on what should happen next week: weakness echoed in a different form yesterday in its review of energy efficiency schemes which found them ?confusing and difficult?.

OUR COMMENT: Meanwhile greenhouse gas emissions are rising fast, pollution from airlines is growing even more quickly and queues at check-ins from Humberside to Heathrow get longer. Something has got to change: does it have to be the climate?

Pat Dale

19 December 2006


Too harsh a carbon-trading regime will damage the fight against
climate change, argues BA chairman Martin Broughton

The Observer - 17 December 2006

This is a crucial week for those of us who are committed to ensuring that aviation plays its full part in the battle against climate change. On Wednesday the European Commission meets in Brussels to decide whether to endorse proposals for the world's first carbon trading scheme for airlines.

For the past seven years, British Airways has led the way in advocating emissions trading as the most environmentally effective method of limiting the impact of air travel on global warming. A trading system means you must either cut your own emissions, or bear the considerable (and increasing) cost of failing to do so. So you might expect that we would be delighted at the prospect of the EU forging ahead with plans to include aviation in its existing trading scheme.

Sadly, we are not. In fact we have grave concerns that the commission is about to set back the cause of carbon trading by adopting plans that are too far-reaching to have a chance of success. In drafting the proposals, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas has allowed idealism to get in the way of pragmatism. There are two issues of particular concern: the geographical scope of the proposal and the methodology for capping aviation's carbon allowances.

The plan to include all flights in and out of the EU as well as all those within the EU is overly ambitious and self-defeating. It will undoubtedly lead to international disputes, as non-EU states and airlines challenge the right of the EU to apply the scheme to them.

The Americans are already reaching for their attorneys, and many Asian and Middle Eastern carriers will line up behind them. If legal action fails, there will be the option of regulatory retaliation against EU operators.

The net result would be a critical delay before any scheme could be implemented - and the delay would be seized on by our critics as proof of our unwillingness to tackle our climate change impact in any serious way.

Our other objection is that the plans treat aviation differently from other sectors already in the EU scheme. For example, up to 40 per cent of aviation's emissions cap would be auctioned to the highest bidder, whereas the existing scheme provides for free initial allocations to participating industries.

There is no case for this kind of punitive discrimination against aviation, or for arbitrarily increasing European airlines' costs and weakening their competitive position against operators in the rest of the world.

Aviation's contribution to global warming is frequently overplayed. According to the recent Stern report, worldwide aviation produces 1.6 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions - less than a sixth of the contribution from road transport. Stern estimates that aviation's figure will reach 5 per cent by 2050 if the industry takes no mitigating action.

If we look at UK aviation's share of global carbon emissions, it is barely 0.1 per cent. So anyone who thinks that strangling UK aviation will solve global warming is sadly deluded.

Airlines provide a public service. People want to travel. They want to do business - to meet customers, suppliers and investors - because they want to create wealth for their families, staff and communities. And they want to experience different cultures in an ever more interconnected world. There is nothing ignoble, selfish or antisocial in this. It reflects the reality of how people want to live their lives and earn their livelihoods in the 21st century.

Our critics claim that carbon trading is some sort of soft option for airlines - a cunning ruse for avoiding green taxes or for passing the buck to other sectors of the economy. These assertions are nonsense. The UK's spurious version of a green tax, air passenger duty, has just been doubled, and now costs British Airways £400m year. It cannot be avoided.

Meanwhile, the idea of passing the buck in relation to climate change is irrelevant and absurd. Climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution. The way to tackle it is to reduce emissions globally. The relative contributions from individual industries or countries do not matter - provided that the overall total is heading downward. That is why an international mechanism like carbon trading is essential, as Stern recognised.

So there is much at stake when the commission meets on Wednesday. It can press ahead with an unrealistic proposal that will go nowhere and delay effective aviation emissions trading for years.

Or it can create a simpler, workable scheme, based on intra-EU flights only, which would establish a model for the rest of the world and demonstrate beyond doubt aviation's seriousness about addressing climate change.

OUR COMMENT: Can he really be serious? Every section of society and of business could make special pleading for favoured treatment. There is no reason why aviation should enjoy emission subsidies when other industries and individuals have to actually reduce their emissions. If business needs become frustrated by a shortage of flights then recreation seats should be sacrificed. Is there really much hardship in suggesting that people should consider taking alternative transport for some of their European holidays?

Pat Dale

19 December 2006


EU deal will let airlines carry on polluting

Charles Clover, Environment Editor - Daily Telegraph - 18 December 2006

Air travel will cost more but airlines will be able to go on expanding for decades without reducing the pollution they emit under an EU agreement to be published next week.

A leak of the EU carbon trading proposals comes as a report says airlines could make windfall profits of up to £2.7 billion as a result of the way the Government has chosen to deal with the soaring levels of greenhouse gases emitted by the expanding aviation industry.

Carbon trading is seen by the Government as key to offsetting pollution from aviation, which has the fastest growing emissions predicted for any sector because of plans to build new runways at Heathrow and Stansted, re-affirmed last week by Douglas Alexander, the Transport Secretary.

A rise in aviation emissions of 142 per cent by 2020 is forecast because of the Government's plans for expanding airports and cheap flights, which environmentalists say are totally incompatible with its stated aim of tackling climate change.

Mr Alexander said last week that the Government intended to ensure that aviation should meet its climate change costs and limit noise and pollution. But, he added, "at the same time we must ensure that the UK has the airport capacity it needs to enhance its economic performance".

However, a leak of the European Commission's proposals for including aviation in its carbon trading scheme - in 2011 rather than 2008 as the Government had wanted - shows that emissions trading would only trim the growth in air travel by a maximum of 2.9 per cent over the 15-year period.

Air travel would still expand 135 to 138 per cent over that period, according to a draft of the environmental impacts of the proposal leaked to environmentalists.

Put another way, the Commission admits that its proposals would achieve a delay of only three to six months in the growth in aviation emissions by 2050.

Airlines would, essentially, be able to pass on the costs of buying emissions permits to their customers while doing very little to reduce their emissions. They would instead buy carbon credits from other industries, at home and abroad, that had managed to cut their emissions.

Brendon Sewill, who chairs the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: "The emissions trading scheme is meaningless in terms of reducing the damage done by aviation. Moreover, all the claims made by the aviation industry about its economic importance are made false by the huge tax subsidies it still receives."

The Government's favourite think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, warns today that if the airlines are simply given the first allocation of carbon permits they stand to pocket up to £2.7 billion in windfall profits.

Leaks indicate that they will be given 90 per cent of their allocations. The IPPR says airlines will simply pass on the cost of buying the extra credits to passengers and make money out of trading the rest of the permits.

19 December 2006


Jonathan Brown - The Independent - 16 December 2006

Sir Montgomery Cecil, the president of Unlimited-Spurt - an organisation supposedly committed to aviation growth, which campaigns under the slogan "Sod them. Let's fly" - is emerging as an unlikely champion of the environmental movement.

In a full-page advert that appeared in newspapers yesterday, Sir Monty urged supporters to cut out a coupon and send it to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown. It says: "I admire your brave refusal to take action on climate change. Perhaps you should also forget your Aids and immunisation initiatives in Africa."

The adverts are of course a spoof, and Sir Montgomery a figment of the advertiser's imagination, an attempt to heap ridicule on Government and big business for their alleged failure to act decisively over CO2 emissions.

This week's attack on Mr Brown follows one in October which targeted the Department for Transport. Backed by a number of environmental groups, Sir Monty quoted figures saying 150,000 people die each year as a result of climate change, adding: "That's a risk we're prepared to take".

The ad so inflamed the Society of British Aerospace Companies, which represents firms such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce, that it complained, along with a dozen members of the public, to the Advertising Standards Authority. The complaint is still being considered.

Enoughsenough.org, the group behind the most recent advert, has a track record of taking on leading corporate figures such as the supermarket boss Sir Ken Morrison and the Ryanair founder, Michael O'Leary.

Its director, Peter Myers, a former corporate financier turned eco-activist, said Sir Monty was typical of most business leaders. "The difference between him and other CEOs is that he speaks transparently. The others cover themselves with social responsibility reports while 99 per cent of them are plundering the earth's resources and turning it into junk and waste," he said.

Mr Myers said the £20,000 spent was easily recovered by the publicity generated by the controversy. More than 30,000 people logged on to the Unlimited-Spurt website after the first was published. It was named ad of the week by Creative Review and praised by The New York Times.

According to Provokateur's Joshua Blackburn the campaign is unique. "A lot of people were confused and taken in by it while others were genuinely annoyed - which is good. For us it was a win-win situation. If people got what it was about that meant it was an effective piece of communication. If they got wound up about it that was good too."

Those on the receiving end of the campaign feel they are being harshly treated. Paul Everitt of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, said the ads were an "unfair reflection" on the industry and the Government which he said was creating new climate-friendly technologies in the face of unprecedented pressure from the expansion in aviation across the world. "This is a group that would prefer to see aviation return to being the preserve of the rich," he said

A Treasury sources said: "We remain committed to taking the real action necessary, both domestically and internationally to reduce climate change emissions, and that is what people will get with Gordon Brown, not silly gimmicks and stunts."

19 December 2006


BA chief in green challenge to Brown

Alistair Osborne in Calgary - Telegraph Online - 16 December 2006

Willie Walsh says APD is 'just a revenue-raising measure with no direct environmental benefit'. The chief executive of British Airways has challenged the Chancellor to prove that the £400m a year he is levying in tax from the airline's passengers is being used to promote environmentally friendly projects.

Willie Walsh wrote to Gordon Brown on Thursday expressing his annoyance at the doubling of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the Pre-Budget Report for passengers flying out of British airports.

From February 1, the levy rises from £5 to £10 for short-haul journeys in economy class and to as much as £80 for long-haul trips in first and business-class.

Mr Walsh said BA passengers would now be contributing "more than four times the cost of offsetting the CO2 emissions from the airline's entire worldwide fleet. We can legitimately claim to have done our bit. The Chancellor's got the money. The challenge is to get him to put his money where his mouth is."

He said APD was "just a revenue-raising measure with no direct environmental benefit", pointing out that, while it is levied on environmental grounds, it is used to support general public expenditure. He urged that at least £87m of this revenue should be ring-fenced for spending on emissions-reducing renewable projects in developing countries, thereby offsetting all the airline's emissions.

The sum is calculated as the cost of buying carbon credits to compensate for the 16m tonnes of CO2 emissions the airline causes annually from its passenger and cargo operations. The current going rate on carbon trading schemes is around €8 (£5.50) per tonne.

In his letter, he has asked the Chancellor whether he intends to drop APD when airlines join Europe's emissions trading scheme, due in 2011. "If he doesn't, we pay twice, it's a double whammy," he said. "Taxes are a blunt tool. People who fly with us and other airlines expect an answer." He is under no illusions over the importance of cutting airlines' environmental impact. "When people ask me what is the biggest challenge facing the industry, I say it is the environment."

BA has long lobbied to join Europe's emissions trading scheme, which he said gives airlines an incentive to reduce their environmental impact.

The airline had started a voluntary scheme in the run-up to 2011 where passengers could pay a sum, matched by BA, to offset emissions caused by their flight, with the typical cost for a short-haul journey about £5. Mr Walsh has told the Chancellor he is scrapping the scheme in protest at the doubling of APD.

He added there had been no consultation on the doubling of APD, which was effectively "a retrospective tax" on passengers who had already bought tickets for flights after February 1. BA has decided to pay the tax for such passengers, at a cost of £11m.

Mr Walsh was speaking in Calgary, Canada, where the airline has just launched a new five-weekly service from Heathrow.

17 December 2006


Environmentalists hit at government over Heathrow expansion

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 12 December 2006

Campaigners fear U-turn over climate change policy
Aviation chiefs say larger site is vital for economy

Opponents of the proposed Heathrow expansion accused the government of undermining the fight against climate change yesterday as environmental campaigners warned of a massive increase in pollution if a third runway gets the go-ahead.

The government is expected to reaffirm plans on Thursday to expand one of the world's busiest airports. Airline executives have described the anticipated move as a "quid pro quo" for the increase in air passenger duty in last week's pre-budget report, triggering accusations of a government U-turn on environment policy from the green lobby yesterday.

Friends of the Earth pre-empted the announcement by warning that carbon dioxide emissions from Heathrow flights will rise by 40% if the runway is built by 2017. The project will allow 500 more daily flights from the airport, increasing its annual carbon output from an estimated 13.9m tonnes to 21m tonnes. Heathrow aircraft account for 2.3% of British carbon output, according to Friends of the Earth, representing nearly half the aviation industry's contribution.

Richard Dyer, aviation campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "If Heathrow is expanded, this airport alone is likely to be responsible for a large proportion of future UK carbon dioxide emissions. The government must abandon its policy of allowing a massive growth in air travel if it is serious about tackling climate change. This means scrapping plans to expand UK airports, including Heathrow."

The environmental warnings come after the chancellor, Gordon Brown, reiterated support for expanding Heathrow in the pre-budget report last week. The Department for Transport will outline the government's plans on Thursday when it publishes a progress report on its aviation industry white paper.

The case for Heathrow's expansion hinges on its importance to the British economy, which aviation executives say outweighs the negative environmental consequences. Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, has warned that multinational companies would quit Britain if a third runway were delayed. According to a recent study by Oxford Economic Forecasting, a third runway would generate economic growth of £7bn per year, while implementing the original white paper proposals, which include new runways at Stansted and Birmingham, would generate £13bn per year.

A coalition of local authorities launched a group against the runway yesterday, comprising representatives from 12 London boroughs. The 2M group, which claims to represent the 2 million people who would be affected by the project, said ministers would be left "in no doubt about the scale of opposition to their plans".

Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth council, south London, said: "The government talks the talk on the environment but does nothing to check the industry's insatiable desire for growth. As local government leaders we have a duty to speak up for our residents and defend their quality of life."

Meanwhile a delegation of airline representatives met Treasury officials yesterday to warn that the rise in air passenger duty will hit customers who have pre-booked flights that leave after February 1, when the increase kicks in. Airlines said the rise would add an estimated £100m to ticket prices.

17 December 2006


Press Release - Friends of the Earth - 12 December 2006


The Government must respond to the Stern Review by scrapping plans to allow a huge expansion in UK airports when Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander publishes his progress report on the 2003 Aviation White Paper later this week (Thursday 14 December), says Friends of the Earth.

The Aviation White Paper supported airport expansion - including the building of four new runways - to accommodate a substantial growth in air travel, even though this would have a disastrous impact on efforts to substantially curb UK carbon dioxide emissions.

In October, the Treasury-commissioned Stern Review, the most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change, was published. It warned that unless we take urgent action to tackle climate change, the environmental, human and economic costs will be huge. Friends of the Earth says that the Government must take action following the Stern Review to cut UK carbon dioxide emissions. Emissions have risen under Labour despite repeated promises of significant cuts.

In a letter published in The Times on Monday (11 December), the main opposition parties, and influential MPs, academics and environmental organisations called for an aviation policy rethink because ?the Government's policy of building four new runways to accommodate massive growth is short sighted and cannot be reconciled with tackling climate change and environmental protection?.

Friends of the Earth's aviation campaigner Richard Dyer said: ?The anticipated growth in air travel threatens to destroy Government plans to tackle climate change. Scientists predict that by 2050 aviation alone could be responsible for half of the UK's carbon dioxide target. We still have time to act. But it requires Government urgency. Douglas Alexander must review his department's disastrous aviation policies and scrap plans to expand UK airports.?

?Bringing aviation into an EU Emissions Trading Scheme is not a solution to the industry's impact on climate change. It will not happen for a number of years and is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the growth in air travel. There is a role for ETS, but we need other measures too to ensure that aviation plays its part in the development of a low-carbon economy.?

?Four fifths of all UK trips abroad are within Europe. Many of these destinations could easily be reached by rail. Governments and the travel industry must do more to boost investment in rail travel and make it easier and cheaper for people to use the train.?

A Friends of the Earth briefing on aviation and climate change can be found at: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/alexanders_first_test.pdf

Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide in the UK
Carbon emissions from UK aviation increased by 11 per cent in 2004 alone and are estimated to increase four fold between 2000 and 2050. Aviation emissions are estimated to have between two and four times the climate change impact of carbon emissions alone due to complex chemical reactions at altitude.

There is no prospect of a significant technological breakthrough that will reduce aircraft emissions. Gradual improvements might manage 1.2 per cent per year reduction in emissions . But this is inadequate to counter the current growth in passengers of 6.4 per cent per year.

Oxford University recently concluded that it will be impossible to meet the UK's 60 per cent carbon reduction by 2050 climate target without curbing aviation growth. Recent research by the respected Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research [8] found that a more ambitious 90 per cent cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 - and around 70 per cent by 2030 - is necessary. Tyndall also warned that aviation could account for all of this target within 30 years.

Friends of the Earth is calling for the Government rethink aviation policy, including:
* Airport expansion plans to be cancelled;
* A further increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) - there was a modest rise in last week's Pre Budget Report - and a commitment to increase it annually as an interim measure until other effective economic measures to reduce air travel growth and reduce emissions are available;
* Honesty and openness from the Government about the scale of the challenge and necessary solutions to enable the aviation industry and public to plan and adapt for the future.

Friends of the Earth's The Big Ask campaign
Through The Big Ask climate campaign, Friends of the Earth has led the call for a new law to tackle climate change and the need for it to require annual cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions every year. The demand is supported by around two thirds of all MPs, all the main opposition parties and a wide coalition of organizations.

The Government has announced that a new climate change law will be introduced, and is currently consulting on the details of what it will contain. It must include aviation emissions and annual targets that will force successive governments to take serious action to tackle climate change, and to implement policies that will actually achieve them. (www.thebigask.com).

The Airportwatch Rethink! campaign
Friends of the Earth is also part of the Airportwatch coalition, which is calling for a fundamental rethink of aviation policy and not a mere progress report


The Review is available on the DfT website, www.dft.gov.uk. Briefly, the government policy is as before, but with rather more emphasis on the prospect that the environmental problems of an expanded Heathrow can be solved, and so plans for a third runway can go ahead.

However, a large part of the Report is devoted to explaining the measures that the government is taking to contain the effects of climate change, and admitting that no measures to date have been agreed on how to contain international aircraft emissions (domestic are included in the Kyoto agreement - these are expected to increase and presumably other sections of industry and society are expected to compensate for aviation's gluttony).

We are told that dealing with international emissions is firstly a matter for the ICAO, which has as yet produced no suggestions. This will not, it is implied, prevent the government from leading demands for aviation to be included in the EU carbon emissions trading scheme. The scheme is explained i.e. that those who have difficulties in reducing carbon emissions can buy allowances from those able to reduce quickly (no mention that aviation is never going to reduce emissions as long as flights are allowed to increase in number!).

In addition it is hoped that airlines will follow the government's example and allow their passengers to buy into schemes that offset carbon emissions, especially in the third world (how many trees for that weekend in Spain?). And airports are urged to calculate their carbon emissions ? though it is not clear whether this is to include flights as well (if so, Stansted please note).

The Oxford Economic Forecasting has reviewed its previous forecasts and, as might be expected, finds that the increase in flights to date is as forecast, therefore, future increases can therefore be confidently predicted as before. Once again the alleged economic benefits of a big expansion are listed out - they include people's aspirations to fly! Since the tourist balance of payments is well into the red this is a somewhat questionable inclusion.

So, the mixture as before, BUT a clear recognition that aviation's favoured position with regard to climate change has to be sanitised. The case for special treatment has not though been made. It is either ?pie in the sky? (the green aircraft) or, reliant on other sections of the economy subsidising aviation.

The Review still concedes that expanding airports plans must be approved by the planning system, must show that the economic benefits outweigh the environmental disbenefits, and environmental laws must not be breached.

So, BAA have still to make their case. So far they have failed to demonstrate that the further expansion of Stansted is essential to the local, regional or national economy. Only, more outgoing tourist flights, more noise, more pollution, more damage to Hatfield Forest, and more traffic congestion both on rail and road.

Pat Dale

17 December 2006


The unstoppable growth of aviation
Going through any British airport is hardly fun
But we are dealing with a problem of success

Hamish McRae - The Independent - 13 December 2006

So Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted seem likely to be split up. That must be the odds-on bet for BAA's three London airports, following the decision yesterday by the Office of Fair Trading to refer it to the Competition Commission. The OFT said it found evidence of poor quality and high charges, and that there was a need for more competition.

Most people who have to go through the London airports would probably agree. Monopoly is almost always bad news for customers. Going through any British airport these days (with the possible exception of Prestwick, where you are greeted like a long lost friend) is hardly a bundle of fun. But Heathrow does seem to have gone downhill since BAA was taken over by firm of Spanish builders, Ferrovial, last spring. And while it might seem a bit rough to break up the monopoly so soon after the business had been sold, the possibility of an OFT reference was made clear at the time. No one forced Ferrovial to buy BAA in the first place.

So at one level this is a story about an unloved monopoly being scrutinised by the regulators, with, I expect, the predictable ending. But it is also a story at two broader levels: what is to be done about air transport for London; and more broadly still, how can the booming South-east of England best cope with the pressures of growth?

The first thing to be said about the air transport network for London and the South-east is that it works remarkably well under the circumstances. The five London airports (BAA's three plus Luton and City) handled 130 million people last year, far more than any other place on the planet. That is 2 per cent of the world's population. Most large conurbations manage with two airports, maybe three. The fact that London has five spreads the load, particularly the travelling time to and from the airport for travellers and workers alike.

Heathrow is the most efficient airport in the world in terms of land use; Gatwick in terms of runway use. The UK pioneered railway access to airports, reducing congestion in the vicinity. No one pretends that the situation is ideal and there are showpiece airports elsewhere that make ours look scruffy. But the most admired ones are pretty dinky: Singapore and Munich handle fewer people than Gatwick. But we are dealing with a problem of success.

We then should have a thoughtful discussion about the best way to manage the growth of air transport. I personally don't feel too much sympathy with people who live near Heathrow. They chose to live there. Presumably they were aware there was an airport there when they moved in and that it might grow - though actually it has grown no more quickly that most airports. Much the same argument applies to Gatwick.

The case of Stansted is different because there was a sudden expansion, from which long-standing residents will have suffered. But the plain fact is that most home-owners in London and the South-east have benefited from economic growth, not least because of the value of their homes, and rising air transport is a key part of that growth. It creates jobs. And while having housing near such jobs may not be a recipe for peace and calm I did see an estimate that Heathrow workers had on average a shorter commute than workers at any other major airport.

None of this is to down-play the truth that we should seek to manage the environmental and other costs of air transport. I think there is huge scope for both carbon offsets and carbon trading to help us enjoy the benefits of growth without increasing the weight of our footprint.

But we do have to make travel nicer. That means a thoughtful, measured customer-centric response to demand rather than a shrill politicised one. We have to make it nicer for people going through airports and nicer for workers in them. We have to make the growth as kind to the environment as is practicable.

That leads to the wider issue of managing the conflicting pressures on the environment of London and the South-east. This is a huge issue: one that involves land use, patterns of home-building, what should happen to the Green Belt and so on. The starting point is to try to understand why there should be such pressure on one particular spot, and that is not easy. The population weight of the UK seems to be moving inexorably southwards by a mile or two a year, leading to ever-greater pressure on housing and the infrastructure. So what is to be done?

One response would be to try to push the growth back. That was certainly tried from the 1940s to the 1970s. Manufacturers were encouraged to set up distant plants, plants that subsequently closed. Government jobs were moved out of the South-east - still are being moved - with the effect of crowding out private-sector jobs in the areas they go to. But these policies have in general been unsuccessful. London and the South-east have tended to continue to outpace the rest of the UK both in terms of growth of output and population.

At the other extreme would be a hands-off policy, one that has been applied with success to some specific areas, such as London Docklands. Nothing is perfect but the development of Canary Wharf must already be one of the most successful examples of urban regeneration in the world. As more residential accommodation is built on its fringes, it will become a more balanced community too. It also has the effect of re-balancing the central London area, creating another central business district to rival the City and the West End. In another 50 years London will have become a true three-centre agglomeration.

Hands-off is not appropriate everywhere, so were the expression not so devalued there should be a search for a middle way. There are two possible models for this. One, which the Government seems to be heading towards after a wobbly start, is a loosening of existing planning within a specified framework. In other words there will be certain regions, such as the Thames Gateway, where expansion will take place. But the central government will decide broadly what forms that should take.

The alternative is competing local authorities. So you would for example encourage Croydon to use its proximity to Gatwick to try to become a focus for more up-market development. If one authority became overly restrictive, as the City did prior to Canary Wharf, then it would lose out. This model would fit in well with a break-up of BAA: it would be in each airport's interest to help the economy of its hinterland and vice versa.

The big point here is that growth invariably creates strain. But anyone who worries about this, as I think we all do, needs to recall what lack of growth does. Stagnation is not much fun either.

11 December 2006


Air passenger duty is doubled

Kevin Done and Roger Blitz - Financial Times - 6 December 2006

Airlines and travel groups on Wednesday attacked the doubling of air passenger duty, accusing the chancellor of imposing a ?poll tax on the skies? that would hurt ordinary travellers and be an ineffective way of tackling global warming.

Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer, said that all rates of air passenger duty (APD) would be doubled with effect from February 1 ?in recognition of the environmental costs of air travel.?

Tour operators demanded a meeting with the chancellor, saying his decision to introduce APD will cost the industry £20m because 4m holidays from February are already booked and increases in APD below 2 per cent are absorbed by the industry.

For short-haul travel within the European common aviation area the duty per departing passenger in the UK will be increased from £5 to £10 on economy fares and from £10 to £20 on business class fares. For long-haul flights the duty has been raised from £20 to £40 on economy fares and from £40 to £80 for business and first class fares.

Mr Brown said that the lowest rate of £10 would apply to more than 75 per cent of journeys. The increase in duty would secure extra resources for ?our priorities such as public transport and the environment.? The amount raised by APD will rise from £1bn to £2bn a year.

But British Airways and others attacked the move. BA called the increases "highly regrettable" and Martin Broughton, its chairman, warned there was a serious risk that airlines could become ?demonised? in the same way as tobacco companies and smoking.

BA said that air passenger duty was ?an extremely blunt instrument that provides the Treasury with extra funds for general public expenditure without any benefit to the environment whatsoever.? The increase in air passenger duty was ?revenue-raising pure and simple with aviation being treated as a cash-cow.?

The doubling in the flat-rate duty will have the biggest impact relatively on the lowest airlines.

EasyJet, the leading UK low cost airline, said that the doubling of air passenger duty on environmental grounds represented ?a complete U-turn of government policy.? In the aviation white paper three years ago the government said it recognised ?that because of its blunt nature air passenger duty is not the ideal measure for tackling the environmental impacts of aviation.?

The Federation of Tour Operators described the timing as ?a punitive windfall tax?, while First Choice, whose shares fell on Wednesday nearly 2 per cent, said it was already implementing its own environmental measures and should be exempt from the increase.

Gary Shiels, tax partner at PwC, said the narrow margins in the travel industry meant holidays would cost more than just the rise in air passenger duty. ?This will increase consolidation of the industry," he said.

Both airlines and travel groups called on the government to support the inclusion of the aviation industry in the EU emissions trading scheme.

Friends of the Earth, the environmental group, said the increase in duty was not sufficient to tackle aviation emissions.

Jeff Gazzard, spokesman for the GreenSkies Alliance environmental group, said the ?alarming? growth in aviation emissions from rising volumes of air travel would continue unless the government ?raises the duty again and again to reach an environmental target to either stabiliise or reduce greenhouse gases from air transport.?

OUR COMMENT: The green intentions expressed by some airlines have not lasted very long!

Pat Dale

11 December 2006


Airlines snub emissions plan after Treasury doubles duty
Tax hike leads to shelving of flagship scheme to cut greenhouse gases
and sparks row between ministers

Tim Webb and Abigail Townsend - The Observer - 10 December 2006

A tax raid by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, on UK airlines has ruined a flagship government scheme to reduce the industry's carbon emissions.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have pulled out of the scheme, put forward by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in protest at the doubling of air passenger duty, imposed by Mr Brown in his pre-Budget report last week.

Defra has been forced to cancel tomorrow's planned launch of a consultation for the scheme. A spokesman could not say when the plans would be resurrected.

The department wants to introduce a voluntary code for business, under which companies will offset their carbon emissions by investing in clean energy projects such as wind farms. The code would regulate businesses not covered by the European Emissions Trading Scheme - these could include retailers, for example, as well as airlines.

Officials raised the proposals last month and asked the Association of British Travel Agents to host tomorrow's launch alongside senior airline executives. The cancellation of the launch will trigger a furious row between Defra, headed by David Miliband, and the Treasury.

A few UK airlines had voiced reservations about Defra's plan before the pre-Budget report. A spokesman for one big carrier, who did not want to be named, complained that it was a "one-size-fits-all" code, and should have made allowances for the fact that it is harder to reduce an aeroplane's emissions than those of, for example, a shop.

But airlines - which do not pay fuel tax and are under pressure to participate in the European scheme - were still broadly supportive until the Chancellor pounced.

Mr Brown doubled the duty per passenger, raising it to £10 on economy-class, short-haul flights and £40 on long-haul flights. But the airlines, which were not consulted, say they cannot be expected to pay this tax, an estimated £1bn annually, as well as the cost of Defra's scheme.

An easyJet spokesman said: "We were looking to join up with Defra on this. But we are disappointed with the mixed signals we have had from the Government over the last few days."

It is understood that BA did not commit to the scheme, and has now decided to rule it out.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: "We question the validity of such a scheme in the current atmosphere of higher taxation and the need to find technological solutions to reduce emissions."

A tax raid by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, on UK airlines has ruined a flagship government scheme to reduce the industry's carbon emissions.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have pulled out of the scheme, put forward by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in protest at the doubling of air passenger duty, imposed by Mr Brown in his pre-Budget report last week.

Defra has been forced to cancel tomorrow's planned launch of a consultation for the scheme. A spokesman could not say when the plans would be resurrected.

The department wants to introduce a voluntary code for business, under which companies will offset their carbon emissions by investing in clean energy projects such as wind farms. The code would regulate businesses not covered by the European Emissions Trading Scheme - these could include retailers, for example, as well as airlines.

Officials raised the proposals last month and asked the Association of British Travel Agents to host tomorrow's launch alongside senior airline executives. The cancellation of the launch will trigger a furious row between Defra, headed by David Miliband, and the Treasury.

A few UK airlines had voiced reservations about Defra's plan before the pre-Budget report. A spokesman for one big carrier, who did not want to be named, complained that it was a "one-size-fits-all" code, and should have made allowances for the fact that it is harder to reduce an aeroplane's emissions than those of, for example, a shop.

But airlines - which do not pay fuel tax and are under pressure to participate in the European scheme - were still broadly supportive until the Chancellor pounced.

Mr Brown doubled the duty per passenger, raising it to £10 on economy-class, short-haul flights and £40 on long-haul flights. But the airlines, which were not consulted, say they cannot be expected to pay this tax, an estimated £1bn annually, as well as the cost of Defra's scheme.

An easyJet spokesman said: "We were looking to join up with Defra on this. But we are disappointed with the mixed signals we have had from the Government over the last few days."

It is understood that BA did not commit to the scheme, and has now decided to rule it out.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: "We question the validity of such a scheme in the current atmosphere of higher taxation and the need to find technological solutions to reduce emissions."

11 December 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2222 - 8 December 2006

The European commission's draft proposal to incorporate aviation in the EU emission trading scheme is "overly ambitious and self-defeating", British Airways has warned.  The comments, made this week by chairman Martin Broughton, reflect rising unease in the industry over parts of the plan.

BA and other airlines have supported bringing the sector into the ETS.  But they have insisted on a "simple" and "practical" scheme that would only apply to intra-EU flights. Antagonising non-European airlines could simply lead to delays in getting the sector into the ETS, BA argues.

In contrast, the commission is scheduled to announce on 20 December a directive including all aircraft taking off from or landing at EU airports in the ETS from 2011. The prospect has also generated criticism - including threats of legal action - from US officials. 

America wants its own airlines excluded from the scheme. BA also objects to the commission's plan to require many allowances for airlines to be auctioned rather than distributed free of charge.

 "There is no case for this kind of punitive discrimination against aviation, or for arbitrarily increasing European airlines' costs and weakening their competitive position against operators in the rest of the world," Mr Broughton said.

The draft proposal, seen by ENDS, recommends setting an EU-wide cap on aviation CO2 emissions at 2005 levels - more specifically the average of 2004-6.  It would be unrealistic to set a 1990 baseline since the sector's emissions have increased by 87% since then, it notes.

It recommends maintaining this cap for three consecutive trading periods: 2011-12 (the last two years of phase II of the ETS and of the Kyoto compliance period), 2013-17 and 2018-22.

An increasing proportion of allowances would be auctioned in each period - 10% rising to 20% and then to 40%.  In comparison, EU member states can auction UP TO 10% of allowances for industry in phase II of the ETS.

Airlines will be able to meet obligations by buying allowances from other airlines, other industries or the Kyoto flexible mechanisms.  Kyoto credits could be used up to a limit that is the average of limits set by member states in their plans for industry participants.

Those allowances distributed free will be handed out to airlines according to the number of tonne-kilometres they fly.  Should an airline end up with surplus allowances, it could only sell these to other airlines.

For the time being only CO2 emissions are being taken into account.  However, the draft suggests that airlines could be required to surrender up to twice as many allowances per tonne of CO2 emitted if laws to curb nitrogen oxide emissions are not implemented by 2010.

OUR COMMENT: So much for green aviation promises. Only those that are ineffective will be considered by the airlines. Clearly firm government action will be required. Perhaps the most effective would be to halt all airport expansion and tax aircraft emissions.

Pat Dale

11 December 2006


Ross Clark - The Telegraph - 10 December 2006

Treasury officials, who commissioned Kate Barker's report into reform of the planning system, must have been delighted with some of the headlines that accompanied the report's publication last week. "Home improvements to be made easier", was one verdict; "Loft conversions and house extensions to be put on fast-track". At last, we are enticed into thinking, the Govern-ment has decided to get off our backs.

True, one of Miss Barker's proposals was that homeowners should no longer be required to submit formal planning applications if they could persuade their neighbours to approve their extensions. Whether this will mean much in practice is another matter: to judge by the bitter disputes over fences and leylandii hedges, neighbours will prove far harder to please than local authority officials. And in any case, homeowners will still be obliged to present their home improvements for inspection by local authority building control officers, even for the trifling business of replacing a window frame.

But if anyone does find it easier to build a conservatory as a result of the Barker proposals, it may well come at a price: less opportunity to object to a nuclear power station being built over the back fence. The Government's real purpose in seeking to streamline the planning system is not to make life a little easier for us but to make business a lot easier for itself.

In future, suggests the report, planning applications for large infrastructure projects should not go through local planning authorities: they should, instead, be processed by a new, centralised Planning Inspect-orate. Public inquiries should be shorter, subject to strict time limits and, most significantly of all, should not deal with the issue of whether, say, an airport is actually needed: that would already have been decided by central government when it drew up its innocent-sounding "statement of strategic objectives".

In other words, if you wake up to find plans for a new runway at the bottom of your garden, you will no longer be allowed to object on the grounds that expanding airports is somewhat contradictory to the Government's frequent warnings of climatic apocalypse unless we slash carbon emissions ? the case argued by Uttlesford District Council in refusing planning permission for expansion of Stansted airport.

In future, the right of you and your local councillors to object to a new airport will be limited to remarking on details of the plans, such as the colour of the boundary fence. More-over, not even your local MP will have a chance to object in Parlia-ment: the proposed Planning Inspectorate would decide on large infrastructure projects in private, obviat-ing the need for ministers to announce decisions in front of our elected representatives. Taking planning decisions out of the hands of ministers, argues Kate Barker, will "remove from the planning process any suggestion of bias or unfairness". Really? True, ministers are not above favouring businesses and individuals who have wined and dined them at Wimbledon or loaned them villas for their summer holidays; but at least their actions are very much in the open, making them liable to get caught out. What makes Miss Barker think that faceless quangocrats, invisible to the general public, are so incorruptible?

The Government has yet to respond to the Barker report. It says it will do so in a White Paper next year. But if I were the head of a construction company with a large corporate entertainment budget, I think I would be smacking my lips in anticipation of the opportunity to do more business behind closed doors and rather less in front of the pesky public.

11 December 2006


East Anglian Times - 2 December 2006

THE decision to block expansion plans at Stansted Airport has been labelled a ?crass dismissal? of the need for economic development - potentially costing the region thousands of new jobs.

Uttlesford District Council has rejected an application to increase the number of passengers using the existing runway by ten million a year to 35 million. Its announcement came amid increasing concern about climate change and calls from environmental campaigners and local residents to resist expansion.

Airport operator BAA immediately announced it would appeal against the verdict and has now received the backing of GMB, Britain's general union, which said it was ?deeply disappointed and concerned?

Gary Pearce, regional organiser, claimed the extra passengers would have led to 3,000 new jobs in the area by 2014. He said: ?The UK needs extra air capacity in the south east if we are going to continue to create employment, tourism opportunities and build a successful UK economy. The Uttlesford district councillors have failed to understand the national significance of this application and have displayed a crass dismissal of the region's future labour requirements.?

But the council remains defiant and said it was disappointed at BAA's decision, saying it would stand by its decision and ?robustly? defend the appeal.

Council leader Mark Gayler said it had been vital to examine the application carefully and work in an ?open and transparent? way with the involvement of all interested parties.

He said: ?This brought us to a position where we were able to make a decision that will stand up to close scrutiny. We are therefore confident that we can defend our decision rigorously.?

An application to introduce a second runway at Stansted is ongoing, but campaigners believe this week's rejection could spell the end for the plan.

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called on BAA to ?do the decent thing? and respect the council's decision. It will launch an appeal today to raise £100,000 to challenge BAA at an expected public inquiry and more than £10,000 has already been pledged by members of the community.

The group claims for some people living in the shadow of the airport's flightpaths, the expansion plans could see more than 100 extra planes a day filling the skies.

Letter to the East Anglian Times, 6th December 2006

Sir, The GMB trade union should have considered the issues more carefully before condemning Uttlesford District Council's decision to refuse BAA's planning application for Stansted expansion ("Union angry at Stansted snub", EADT, 2 December).

Gary Pearce, regional organiser for the GMB is quoted as saying that the extra passengers would have led to 3,000 new jobs in the area by 2014. This is true but it is not a 'free lunch'. One man's new job at Stansted could be another man's redundancy notice in Suffolk.

Stansted's principal role is to transport millions of UK residents to spend their money overseas and last year the UK had a record £19bn balance of payments deficit on overseas tourism. This has spiralled - from just £2bn ten years ago - alongside the rapid growth in cheap leisure flights.

The result is that the streets of Prague and Budapest are teeming with British tourists whilst our own domestic tourism industry is struggling in many parts of the UK. When more and more people choose an overseas leisure break, jobs are lost in our own domestic tourism industry.

The tourism industry in the East of England provides 185,000 jobs many of which are in rural and coastal areas where alternative job opportunities are limited.

By contrast, Stansted currently provides 11,000 jobs and already cannot find enough people locally to fill the available vacancies. Increasingly, airport employers are having to turn to Central and Eastern Europe to find the employees they need.

In short, there is no strong economic or employment case for expanding Stansted and, from an environmental perspective, some very serious issues arise not least in the context of the need to tackle climate change.

Air travel is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide emissions and if Stansted were to expand as proposed by BAA, its annual emissions would increase from the equivalent of 7m tonnes of carbon dioxide at present to 12m tonnes. To put this into context, this is the same as is produced annually by 4 million average family cars.

If we ignore the issue of climate change or just assume that it is someone else's problem there will be far more than 3,000 jobs at risk. The East of England region is particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change.

Responsible trade unions such as the GMB should - like everyone else - be focused on addressing the issue of climate change. It is the priority which stands above all other priorities. It's even more important than being able to have your stag night in Prague for £20 return.

Uttlesford District Council should be commended for taking a stand.

Brian Ross
Economics Adviser to Stop Stansted Expansion
Bishops Stortford

6 December 2006


Cambridge News - 5 December 2006

STANSTED Airport will be at the centre of a major debate following the refusal of an application to make maximum use of its current runway.

BAA has announced it is to appeal against the decision by Uttlesford District Council not to allow it to expand from the current 25 million passengers a year limit up to a maximum of 35 million.

And while people living near the airport regard this as a victory for the area in terms of noise and environment and nationally in terms of global warming and climate change, businesses in the Cambridge area claim refusal could put development of the region in jeopardy.

The airport already has permission for the infrastructure needed to cater for maximum use of the runway.

The application did not seek to change the night flight regime, extend the current airport boundary or involve any development relating to a second runway.

What it did hope to do was lift the current limit on air traffic movements to make full use of the single runway. The airport is fast reaching its maximum passenger limit and has estimated it will reach 35 million passengers a year by around 2014.

At present there are 11,500 people employed at the airport. It is estimated that in 2015, with maximum use of the runway, that figure would go up to 16,800.

In January, BAA will reveal the location of its proposed second runway, which will be followed by public consultation on road and rail access for a tworunway airport.

This would give Stansted a capacity of around 70 million passengers a year. The earliest date for the second runway to open would be 2013.

BAA claims that, by rejecting its application, Uttlesford has flown in the face of Government policy, which has called on all major South East airports to make full use of available capacity. It "firmly rejects" every single one of the council's reasons for refusal.

Meanwhile, John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, has called into question the whole planning process which allows relatively small district councils such as Uttlesford to make major decisions affecting a large part of the country.

Mr Bridge questioned the capability of councillors to decide such complex planning issues and their ability to remain unbiased when local government elections were due to take place in Uttlesford next May.

"Are they aware of the true economic implications of their decision?" he said. "Our competitors in the international market place must be rubbing their hands with glee. Here we are trumpeting about the Olympics in 2012 when we are not in the position to expand an international gateway."

Martin Garratt, director of The Greater Cambridge Partnership, warned that the growth of the area as one of the few high-tech centres could be put in jeopardy by freezing passenger numbers at Stansted.

The partnership operates within a 25-mile radius of Cambridge and represents businesses, statutory authorities, universities, the private sector and organisations such as the CBI.

Mr Garratt said services to America and the Far East from Stansted needed to be developed and there should be a balance between environmental issues and the need to ensure that high-tech companies were able to compete globally.

A spokeswoman for easyJet, one of the main lowcost carriers at Stansted, said that overall the airline supported expansion, but it needed to be done efficiently and with local and environmental considerations taken into account.

"The decision is in some ways positive because it generates a process which will take it to the next level and the Government will look in detail at the airport's plans," she said.

Uttlesford district councillor Alan Dean, who represents Stansted and addressed the planning committee, said the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Changehad raised the debate about global warming.

"According to many experts, unconstrained growth in aviation threatens to undo all other attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emission and to minimise climate change," he said.

"Full use of the single runway at Stansted would contribute about half the domestic carbon emission from all of us living in the East of England."

Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, said: "This is far from the end of the story. There will be a public inquiry. Will an independent inspector be brave enough to uphold the council's decision? What would the Secretary of State do? There is a daunting hill to climb. Uttlesford has produced a trip wire for BAA."

Sir Alan also referred to the likelihood of an inquiry into BAA's monopoly position in terms of ownership of London's three main airports - Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow.

Stop Stansted Expansion has launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to challenge BAA at the public inquiry. More than £10,000 has already been pledged by members of the community, but the pressure group needs the £100,000 as soon an as possible to enable it to commission specialists to challenge BAA.

Brian Ross, economics adviser to Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "BAA's own forecasts show that expanding Stansted from 25 to 35 million passengers a year would result in only an extra 0.3 million business passengers and the number of foreign business visitors actually declines if the expansion is approved.

"Stansted is, of course, predominantly a leisure airport providing cheap flights to Europe. You cannot fly from Stansted to Brussels, Frankfurt or Paris - three of Europe's leading business cities - but you can fly every day of the week to Tenerife and Torremolinos."

Mr Ross said cheap flights had resulted in Britain's own tourism industry struggling to make ends meet.

The inquiry is expected to start in the spring of next year and will last for around four to five months. It is likely to be 2008 before the outcome is known.

The case for refusal: Uttlesford District Council

THE council argued BAA had understated the impact of air noise on communities and more information was needed from the Government on how much demand it envisaged at Stansted.

It added the economic benefits of an expanded airport were not shown to outweigh all other factors.

Expansion could lead to congested roads around the airport and proposed rail access improvements were not sufficiently clear to ensure they would take place at the appropriate time. The council also cited increasing evidence of the adverse effects of climate change which would make it premature to grant planning permission in advance of Government response to research in the Stern Review.

The case for an appeal: BAA

BAA said the application was based on the latest national planning policy in The Future of Air Transport. The application was also in accordance with the adopted Uttlesford structural and local plans.

BAA said the council had not discussed with them ways to counteract the negative impact of the scheme. It claimed none of the reasons for refusal properly justified preventing further growth in passenger numbers.

The refusal of the application on grounds relating to climate change and the Stern Review was "incoherent". Nothing in the Stern Review could lead the council to believe a halt should be called on further growth.

OUR COMMENT: If Stansted expansion is so vital for business in the region, why don't more business travellers use the services provided? The majority of the passengers are travelling for recreational reasons. And, why has the permitted number of freight flights not been used up?

Pat Dale

6 December 2006


BAA in break-up inquiry

Dominic O'Connell - The Times - 3 December 2006

THE Office of Fair Trading is poised to refer BAA to the Competition Commission, a move that could herald the end of the monopoly ownership of London's main airports.

Aviation-industry sources said last night the OFT, which has been examining airport ownership since the shock announcement of an inquiry in June, was expected to deliver its verdict within the next fortnight. Some think it could come as soon as this week.

The sources said it was not certain that the OFT would ask for the Competition Commission to undertake an inquiry, but that was the most likely outcome. ?We are not planning for any other eventuality,? one said.

A referral could bring an end to BAA's long-standing ownership of the three largest airports serving the capital, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

It has owned and operated the trio since it was privatised as the British Airports Authority in 1987.

Having been quoted on the stock market for 19 years, BAA went private this year in a £10.3 billion takeover led by the Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial.

A break-up is unlikely to come overnight. If a Competition Commission inquiry is ordered, it will take up to two years to complete.

BAA executives say that even if there is a referral, they will fight to preserve the monopoly. Earlier this year Stephen Nelson, promoted to be BAA's chief executive after the Ferrovial takeover, said a break-up would be ?a poisonous cocktail for consumers?, leading to less investment in new runway capacity and terminals.

But BAA's airline customers have pushed hard for a full Competition Commission investigation.

Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive, cited ?poor performance? by BAA, and said the two airports earmarked for expansion by the government, Stansted and Heathrow, should not be owned by the same company.

The airlines' mood was not improved by the security chaos at UK airports over the summer caused by the uncovering of an alleged terrorist bomb plot. Airlines blamed BAA for some of the problems.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, has been an even harsher critic of BAA, claiming its management of the London airports has deteriorated since the takeover by Ferrovial.

City sources believe Ferrovial won't be unduly worried about a break-up.

?There is a strong argument for there being greater value for them if they are forced to sell one or more of the airports. They would keep Heathrow, which is the cash cow, and dispense with Gatwick or Stansted,? one banker said.

If the OFT does act this week, it will spark a regulatory logjam for the airports company.

On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will release its provisional findings on BAA's landing charges from April 2008. It is expected to recommend a signficant reduction in the amount BAA earns by reducing its allowed cost of capital.

The CAA announcement will trigger a separate referral to the Competition Commission on the narrow issue of airport charges.

Meanwhile, BAA and major airlines will this week release a report by consultants Oxford Economic Forecasting that will highlight the importance of the aviation industry to the UK economy.

The report is expected to stress aviation's role in promoting UK productivity, and will be seen as a counter to lobbying efforts by environmentalists to curb the growth of the industry.

6 December 2006


Hemscott News Online - 5 December 2006

LONDON (AFX) - British Airways PLC hit out on Tuesday at plans by the Civil Aviation Authority to allow airport operator BAA to hike charges at its UK airports.

BA said it was 'extremely disappointed' that the CAA is proposing to allow BAA, which is owned by Spanish construction firm Grupo Ferrovial SA, to raise charges at London's Heathrow airport by RPI inflation plus 4-8 pct each year between 2008 and 2013, against the current level of RPI-plus 6.5 pct.

The CAA is also proposing to eliminate the cap on prices charged to airlines by London Stansted and to cap Gatwick's prices at RPI inflation plus or minus 2 pct, compared to the current rate of RPI plus 0 pct.

BA said airport charges were increasing by 50 pct during the current five year charging period, although passengers had yet to see improved facilities and services. It said it believed charges should increase no faster than inflation during the next five years.

BA's general manager of airport policy, Paul Ellis, said: 'To advocate another 50 pct rise over the next five years cannot be justified. 'Passengers deserve world class facilities and excellent service levels without a further hike in charges.'

The CAA also proposed a lower cost of capital at 6.2 pct and a 1 pct annual operating efficiency improvement in the review of price controls for UK regulated airports owned by BAA.

BA said it believed BAA could make the infrastructure investment needed at Heathrow with a cost of capital of 5.6 pct and that the operating efficiency target was not challenging enough.

The airline said it would continue to lobby the CAA and the Competition Commission during the consultation on airport charges in the next 12 months.

6 December 2006


Strip ministers of power to approve transport projects, says Eddington

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 2 December 2006

Former BA chief looks to MPC as planning mode
Road-pricing scheme 'only way to ease congestion'

Ministers will be stripped of the power to approve major transport projects such as a third runway at Heathrow airport under sweeping reforms proposed yesterday by a government-commissioned report.

Sir Rod Eddington, the former chief executive of British Airways, warned in a major report on Britain's transport needs that the current planning regime was "a recipe for paralysis" and should be replaced by an independent planning commission. The new body would have the final say on airport expansions, major road construction and new rail links. That power currently resides with ministers.

Sir Rod, whose findings have been welcomed by the government, said the planning commission would be similar to the Bank of England monetary policy committee, which is independent of the Treasury and sets UK interest rates.

He said: "A change of government might lead to new thinking on financial matters in political circles but the MPC ensures that it does not change the way the Bank of England acts." He said the new planning commission would be "just as democratic".

'Recipe for paralysis'

"It puts the ministers in the right place -at the beginning of the process. The current system is a recipe for paralysis," Sir Rod said, citing 37 separate planning applications for Heathrow terminal 5.

His comments came in the same week that Uttlesford district council refused planning permission for an expansion of Stansted airport, triggering a public inquiry whose conclusions will be accepted or rejected by a minister.

Elsewhere in the report, Sir Rod ruled out a root-and-branch overhaul of the transport network, which he said had "the right connections, in the right places". But he said sustained investment would have to be made in key areas to prevent congestion on roads, railways and runways damaging the economy.

"The transport links we have are sufficient but we need to improve the capacity of key links," he said. Sir Rod strongly favours a nationwide road-pricing scheme that would charge drivers about £1.28 a mile (80p a kilometre) at peak times. He also argues in favour of more roads and a third runway at Heathrow.

The proposals were immediately criticised by the environmental lobby yesterday. Stephen Glaister, professor of transport at Imperial College and an adviser to the report, warned that road pricing would fail unless the public were persuaded of its benefits. Local authorities must be allowed to reinvest the proceeds in local infrastructure, as with the London congestion charge, he said.

"Unless you get the trust issue sorted out nothing is going to happen. Road pricing will not happen unless it's absolutely clear that the money is kept for local purposes and overseen by a local body. That is what we have in London," said Professor Glaister.

Convincing the public

Sir Rod said considerable work was needed to win over the public, which could mean a national road-pricing system would take a decade. But he warned that road pricing had to happen because extra roads alone would not cope with traffic growth: traffic on motorways and inter-urban A roads in England is expected to rise by at least 40% by 2015, according to the Department for Transport.

Sir Rod said: "There is no alternative to road pricing. Some 80% of the journeys that take place in the UK are by car. We cannot build roads quickly enough to cope with the amount of cars in use."

The government has already revealed plans for road-pricing schemes, and a road transport bill will give local authorities greater powers to introduce them, with Manchester and Birmingham among the cities preparing to charge drivers. Plans range from the London-style congestion charge to a sophisticated pay-as-you-drive scheme that bills drivers according to their route, length of journey and time of day.

Malcolm Taylor, a director at the engineering company Faber Maunsell, said the report contained "nothing new" on road pricing and criticised its failure to endorse a high-speed London-Glasgow rail link. He said: "Rail is the only serious contender to the environmentally unfriendly short-haul air market. But ambitious rail schemes will take 20 to 30 years to build ... this appears to be yet another review that's a lost opportunity."

Tom Winsor, the former rail regulator, said: "I have real doubts whether ministers will put the resources into transport that this document recommends."

Explainer: Government study

The Eddington transport study makes five key points. The first is to improve the capacity and performance of the existing transport network rather than pour billions of pounds into massive projects. It says the infrastructure is in place but is becoming too congested.

The second recommendation is to invest in areas that are vital to the British economy but where transport links are overused and congested: cities, motorways and railways between urban areas, ports and airports. For instance, a national road-pricing scheme could bring benefits of up to £25bn a year by 2025.

The third point reflects Sir Rod's background as a FTSE chief executive: invest where demand for transport infrastructure is strong and where further growth is predicted, with the expectation that building extra capacity will generate more jobs and business activity.

The fourth recommendation is to shake up local government control of transport and overhaul the planning system.

Finally, the report says the government must ensure the right delivery system is in place to support a new transport policy.

Underpinning this is a commitment to countering transport's contribution to carbon emissions. Sir Rod says all forms of transport should meet their environmental costs.

6 December 2006


Barker proposes a central body to determine major projects

BBC News Online - 5 December 2006

The Barker report into changing England's planning laws has recommended the creation of a new national body to decide on major building projects, such as airports.

Opponents of airport expansion say such a move would mean local communities would have less of a say than they presently do, but supporters believe a speedier planning process will benefit the economy.

BRIAN ROSS, Member of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, commented:

It is very clear from Kate Barker's many criticisms of the current planning system that she is heading in the same direction as last week's Eddington report which called for a streamlining of our planning system - essentially to make it easier or quicker for developers to get approval for their projects.

Both Barker and Eddington try to provide assurance that democratic accountability and public participation will need to be maintained - but it is clear from reading Barker and Eddington that they envisage a more centralised and far less democratic and participative approach overseen by some new quango, an unelected Planning Commission.

It's a blatant attempt to marginalise the input into planning decisions from local community groups The government has commissioned these two reviews and it will now use them as justification for new planning legislation, probably in 2008-9, following a white paper next year.

The purpose of the legislation will be to make it easier for the government to deliver its controversial airport and housing policies in the face of widespread local opposition.

Our advice: If it ain't broke, don't fix it, especially since the government hasn't even given the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act time to settle down.

KEITH JOWETT, Chief executive of the Airport Operators Association:

Clearly the UK has historically been burdened with a planning regime that can take a very, very long time to address some important national issues, so speeding those up is important.

In all the years since the last world war, only one new full length runway has been built in the UK, at Manchester, whereas three runways have been built at Paris Charles de Gaulle in the last generation.

The growth of aviation and the economies that depend on them, has been vastly helped on the continent compared to here, and we are losing ground very rapidly.

It is vitally important that the local community be engaged in the details of planning proposals, and there is a national interest that has to be considered that will have a local impact.

It's not just the airports, it's the economies like London's which are losing out That local impact is important, but it shouldn't stop the national requirement proceeding, in an appropriate fashion.

There were earlier proposals from this government some years back which gave us some concern, as in some cases they completely removed the local consultation process, and we wouldn't want to see that.

Airports like Heathrow, have been at maximum capacity for many, many years already. They have lost a huge amount of ground to continental competition. And it's not just the airports, it's the economies like London's, which are losing out.

6 December 2006


BAA Online - 5 December 2006

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today published its initial price control proposals for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for the period 2008-13. In response, Stephen Nelson, BAA Chief Executive Officer, said, ?Taken at face value, the incentives in this opening proposal are unsatisfactory and give cause for significant concern. Uncertainty over incentives, coming at time when we face a number of major investment decisions, may directly affect the quality of the passenger experience for years to come.

?We have plans to invest £9.5 billion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted over the next 10 years to deliver new airport facilities that will result in much needed improvements for passengers travelling through our airports. We are already transforming Heathrow with our £4.2bn Terminal 5 project which will open in March 2008. But long term investment on this scale requires a consistent and supportive regulatory framework. In our view, the initial price control proposals contain an unprecedented and negative shift in this framework that could be interpreted as a reversal of the CAA's previous policies in this area.?

Commenting on the CAA's recommendation to de-designate Stansted, Stephen Nelson said: ?We are reserving our judgement on this recommendation until we have had the chance to review it alongside the OFT's study of the UK airport market.?

6 December 2006


The government has not set strict enough targets for cutting
carbon emissions from transport, a group of MPs has said

E-politix.com Online - 4 December 2006

Commons environmental audit committee expressed doubt that the government "appreciates the magnitude and urgency" of cutting CO2 emissions.

It has been looking into government policy in this area and published a report on its findings on Monday.

The committee said it was concerned about the Department for Transport's reliance on CO2 projections for 2050 as evidence that its policies are on the right track.

The report calls for more investment for emerging technologies such as carbon-capture and storage, off-shore wind and cuts in council tax and stamp duty for homes built to "high environmental standards".

And in an open letter to Gordon Brown, the committee's chairman, Tim Yeo, urged the chancellor to increase environmental and transport taxes, encourage incentives to promote greater fuel and carbon efficiency in cars and to raise taxes for air travel.

Yeo said: "The Department claims that its policies are on the right track - but its own projections of future carbon emissions suggest that CO2 from transport will be no lower in 2050 than in 1990. This contrasts with the government's targets for the UK as a whole to make carbon cuts of at least 60 per cent from 1990 levels by mid-century. This is precisely the lack of ambition, the sense of entitlement owing to transport as a special case, that we highlighted throughout our report."

"We wonder whether DfT truly appreciates the magnitude and urgency of this issue, no matter the array of climate change policies it can point to."

Yeo also raised questions over the government's plans to expand airport capacity. "On aviation, the government deserves praise for its efforts towards including the aviation sector in the EU emissions trading scheme," Yeo said.

"But we are concerned that the department has rejected our recommendation that it embark on a fundamental rethink of its airport expansion policy. We remain to be convinced, for instance, that the government's decision that there should "only" be two extra runways in the South East rather than three really is proof that it is has a sustainable aviation policy."

"Whether even these runways are ever built in practice is perhaps another matter," he added.

6 December 2006


Nick Miles - BBC News, Washington - 2 December 2006

US Democrats want to emphasise climate change in Congress
The issue of climate change and global warming hardly registered on the political radar in the United States during the recent Congressional elections.

On 7 November however, the Democratic Party secured both houses of Congress and that political shift is likely to mean a change of emphasis over key environmental issues.

The US is the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter but the country has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol that sets limits on those gases.

Instead President George W Bush has emphasised the need for innovations that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"America is addicted to oil," he said in this year's State of the Union address. "Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy, the best way to break this addiction is through technology."

Democratic hope

Now that the Democratic Party has taken control of both houses of Congress there is hope amongst senior Democrats that they will be able convince the president that caps on greenhouse gases are needed as well.

"We have an opportunity to put an emphasis on issues of clean energy, renewable energy, global warming, climate change, in a way that wasn't possible during the last several years," says the incoming Democratic Party head of the Senate energy committee, Jeff Bingaman.

President Bush says America is addicted to oil

Mr Bingaman supports set federal limits on greenhouse gases. He recently co-authored a letter to President Bush urging him to work with the Democrats to develop solutions to the global warming problem.

As in other areas of legislation, the Democrats are emphasising bi-partisanship. That is a necessity, rather than a sign of magnanimity.

There are still enough Republicans in the Senate to filibuster legislation - basically talk until it runs out of time for a vote, and if that does not happen the president can still wield his veto.

"If you stake out an extreme position you'll pass nothing," says Raymond Kopp, an analyst at Resources for the Future, a environmental think-tank.

"The Democrats have got to put in place sound policy, start it slow and give it a chance to ramp up over time."

Evangelical environmentalists

The Democratic Party's electoral victory has given it momentum over the issue of climate change and that is being bolstered because of the growing support of evangelical Christians - a group usually more closely allied to the Republican Party.

The Reverend Jim Ball is part of a new coalition of evangelical churches in favour of more stringent legislation to combat global warming being mooted by the Democrats.

Their starting position is that the poor are going to be most affected by global warming, so it is a Christian duty to do something about it.

But Mr Ball recognises that "we're not yet at Congressional Nirvana. Many democrats come from coal states and oil and gas states. So this issue isn't just a Republican versus Democrat issue".

He is right to be cautious.

The US is the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter
There are still large numbers of people who are sceptical about the significance of climate change.

A recent poll carried out by the Pew Research Center in Washington suggested that only two out of five Americans think global warming is caused by human activity and only one in five were personally worried by climate change.

People in 15 countries, rich and poor, were asked that question. Concern in the US was the lowest of them all.

If there is ambivalence amongst the public about global warming, there is outright scepticism from some groups.

"There's a lot of global warming hysteria out there," says Myron Ebell from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

"The facts are that the earth hasn't been warming up very quickly, that the predictions of coming catastrophe over-estimate the amount of warming that is likely to occur."

Supreme Court case

So for Mr Ebell, with the prospect of emission cap legislation, these should be dark days.

Well - only up to a point. He is optimistic that the Democrats will in fact achieve very little.

Concern over global warming ranks low in US polls

"We've already heard that the Democrats are going to have lengthy Congressional hearings into global warming," says Mr Ebell.

"There'll be a great deal of rhetoric and that will gain them a lot of support in suburban constituencies, but in terms of passing major environmental legislation I don't see them going anywhere."

Whatever legislation comes, it will be incremental.

Public opinion is divided on global warming. It is not driving the politicians forward at breakneck speed.

It could in fact be the courts that give the issue added impetus.

The US Supreme Court has just begun hearing arguments over whether the government should regulate certain greenhouse gas emissions.

The case is limited to whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to regulate vehicle emissions of four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Lawyers for the state bringing the case, Massachusetts, argue that the EPA has to apply the law and use its authority to address global warming. Environmentalists hope a ruling in their favour would force changes in the policies of President Bush's administration.

6 December 2006


Christmas woe looms as airport row festers

Saffron Walden News - 30 November 2006

Passengers face long queues and travel chaos at Stansted Airport this Christmas ? with Ryanair and BAA locked in a bitter battle over who is to blame.

The airport expects to cater for a record number of passengers between Christmas and the New Year ? in excess of the 500,000 that travelled last year.

And while Ryanair claims BAA is threatening to ruin Christmas because it has not provided enough security staff, the airport has hit back saying Ryanair is failing to cooperate.

Ryanair's head of communications, Peter Sherrard, said he had been warned by BAA that there could be long queues at the airport this Christmas because of security problems.

He claimed that BAA had had 4 months to recruit staff and eliminate airport queues and added: ?Why have all of the UK's other airports returned to normality since August while BAA is still failing to provide satisfactory service for passengers?.

?The BAA airport monopoly has confirmed that it takes just two weeks to train security staff and with 700 security staff already in place for 14 security check points in Stansted, there is no excuse for the travel chaos BAA's complacency will inflict on thousands of passengers this Christmas.?

A spokesman for Stansted airport said: ?It is about time Ryanair stopped mischief making and worked with us to find a solution. ?Recruiting, training and screening security staff takes 6 weeks.

?This blame game does not help the passengers. Our top priority is to make sure they are safe and secure. We have asked Ryanair to open check-in desks earlier but they won't change their processes. Ryanair is not helping us at all. They are not adapting, they are acting as if nothing has happened, whereas easyJet has been cooperative and is opening check-in desks earlier.?

The spokesman urged all passengers to check the BAA and individual airline websites before travelling to ensure they knew the latest regulations concerning hand baggage. Passengers should also arrive at the airport two to three hours before their flight.


Pat Dale

30 November 2006


The Leader - The Guardian - 30 November 2006

In medieval Essex, the hundred of Uttlesford was a quiet part of the countryside famous for producing fine wool and saffron stems. But the crocus flowers that supplied the saffron have given way to a new employer, Stansted airport. It has been growing fast on the back of the low-cost flying boom and has applied for planning permission to expand passenger traffic by 40%, even before a second runway is built.

Yesterday, Uttlesford District Council, responsible for planning permission at Stansted, took a stand, At a meeting, councillors voted against allowing expansion. No small council has ever tackled a decision as big as this with such ingenuity. It launched a website on the issue to inform and mobilise residents and cleverly turned local objections into a national; issue by pointing out the gap between government rhetoric on the environment and its support for bigger and busier airports. It even has had the cheek to ask ministers to consider whether the recent Stern report on climate change means they should think again about the rise in air passenger numbers.

Some of this may be dismissed as a smart form of nimbyism. Uttlesford residents, who were named this year as the most polluting in Britain in terms of carbon emissions, certainly need to put their own houses in order. But the council is doing its job, reflecting concerns and challenging government to explain a confused policy. In the end, Whitehall may over-rule the council's decision by public inquiry. But local democracy will have had its say.

OUR COMMENT: Local democracy wants more than ?its say?! It wants the government to follow a firm, fair and logical climate change policy. Terry Morgan, BAA Stansted's chief executive, when interviewed on channel 4 television news, admitted the double standards of the present policies. When asked how he justified expansion in view of the urgent need to take action to reduce carbon emissions he responded by repeating BAA's oft-claimed support for the inclusion of aviation in the EU carbon emissions trading scheme. When asked how that would prevent emissions from increasing with thousands of extra flights, he pointed out that the government would be allowing aviation extra allowances of carbon which would be compensated for by others making further reductions.

This is the inevitable result of the present government's policy. To achieve reductions, and at the same time increase the number of flights, one or more sections of our society will have to take even tougher measures to compensate. Is this fair? Are more and more recreational flights a sufficient justification? We can assure the Guardian that local residents are very busy reducing their own domestic emissions! Uttlesford Council now has its own specialist energy adviser.

Pat Dale

30 November 2006


Toby Allanson - Herts & Essex Observer - 30 November 2006

BAA and Uttlesford District Council locked horns yesterday as councillor's unanimous refusal of permission to increase flights on the existing runway at Stansted was greeted by tears and cheers.

BAA Stansted managing director Terry Morgan accused the authority of flying in the face of government policy and against the interests of leisure and business travellers, who saw the airport as an affordable gateway to worldwide destinations.

He said after the meeting: "We intend to immediately appeal against this decision and will take our case to a public inquiry. No-one should be in any doubt that we remain very confident of the case we have made and this will be fully recognised at the inquiry.

"This application is all about growth on the existing runway at Stansted, it has nothing to do with our plans for a second runway. That will be a separate planning application next year. Having said that, we are disappointed Uttlesford District Council has been unable to support our application".

BAA wants up to 35 m travellers a year to pass through the terminal – 11.5 more than at present – and passenger flight numbers to rise from 241,000 to 264,000 a year. Uttlesford District Council planning officers deemed the plans "unacceptable" on several grounds, including environmental and noise issues.

At yesterday's extraordinary meeting of the development control committee, Councillor Richard Harris said the area was suffering enough already from aircraft noise and light and air pollution and accused Stansted of being home to a "live now, pay as little as possible" culture.

Councillor Alan Thawley, referring to the Stern Report on the economics of climate change, said: "All the scientific arguments since the 1960s have shown a global catastrophe is about to happen, and its coming very, very close. It takes an economic report to focus minds that there has been a problem growing all that time as the result of a very crass society."

Councillor Jackie Cheetham, who represents Takeley, said granting permission would only increase problems her constituency was already suffering. "Because of the threat of airport expansion this village is starting to lose its heart and soul and identity".

Afterwards SSE chairman, Peter Sanders, pledged the campaign group's support to Uttlesford for the inquiry. "This should assist the UDC in minimising the cost burden while also sharing technical expertise to strengthen its case".

CBI regional director Richard Tunnicliffe said airport growth was key to the region's continued prosperity and competitiveness.

30 November 2006


Carbon emissions show sharp rise

Richard Black, Environment Correspondent - BBC News - 27 November 2006

The trend towards increased energy efficiency is levelling off.

The rise in humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide has accelerated sharply, according to a new analysis.

The Global Carbon Project says that emissions were rising by less than 1% annually up to the year 2000, but are now rising at 2.5% per year.

It says the acceleration comes mainly from a rise in charcoal consumption and a lack of new energy efficiency gains.

The global research network released its latest analysis at a scientific meeting in Australia.

Dr Mike Rapauch of the the Australian government's research organisation CSIRO, who co-chairs the Global Carbon Project, told delegates that 7.9 billion tonnes (gigatonnes, Gt) of carbon passed into the atmosphere last year; in 2000, the figure was 6.8Gt.

Improvements made in the last 30 years appear to be stalling

Corinne Le Quere: "From 2000 to 2005, the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5% per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than 1% per year," he said.

The finding parallels figures released earlier this month by the World Meterorological Organisation showing that the rise in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 had accelerated in the last few years.

Intense findings

The Global Carbon Project draws its data from a wide range of sources, including measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and studies on fossil fuel use.

From that data, researchers have extracted two trends which they believe explain the sharp upturn found around the year 2000.

The assumption is we will solve the problem by controlling demand; but regulating at the point of use is clearly not working

"There has been a change in the trend regarding fossil fuel intensity, which is basically the amount of carbon you need to burn for a given unit of wealth," explained Corinne Le Quere, a Global Carbon Project member who holds posts at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey.

"From about 1970 the intensity decreased - we became more efficient at using energy - but we've been getting slightly worse since the year 2000," she told the BBC News website.

"The other trend is that as oil becomes more expensive, we're seeing a switch from oil burning to charcoal which is more polluting in terms of carbon."

The Project does not have data on precisely where this is happening, but there is anecdotal evidence of increases in charcoal burning in parts of Asia and Africa.

There have been suggestions that as temperatures rise, carbon sinks - natural systems which absorb carbon dioxide - may become less efficient; but Professor Le Quere said there is no evidence that this is happening systematically.

"The land sink has been very much affected by recent droughts, especially in the northern hemisphere," she said, "but the ocean sink looks relatively stable and it doesn't seem there is a global trend."

Upper limits

How emissions will change over time is one of the factors considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body responsible for collating and analysing climate data for the global community.

Australia under John Howard is increasing coal exports.
"At these rates, it certainly sounds like we'll end up towards the high end of the emission scenarios considered by the IPCC," commented Myles Allen from Oxford University, one of Britain's leading climate modellers.

The "high end" of IPCC projections implies a rise in global temperature approaching 5.8C between 1990 and the end of this century.

"We need to think about radical alternatives to the belt-tightening approach," said Professor Allen. "At the moment the assumption is we will solve the problem by controlling demand; but regulating at the point of use is clearly not working."

At the recent United Nations climate summit in Nairobi, a number of delegations, including those of Britain, Australia and the US, pointed out that they had managed to grow their economies without significant increases in carbon emissions.

But, said Corinne Le Quere, the latest data shows this approach will not be enough to curb emissions in the future. "Improvements that have been made in the last 30 years appear to be stalling," she said. "We are going to need a real decrease in emissions."

30 November 2006


Dimas makes good on promise to be tough on Naps

ENDS Europe DAILY 2215 - 29 November 2006

The European commission has demanded that member states set much tougher caps on carbon emissions in their national allocation plans for the second phase of the EU's emission trading scheme. In decisions taken on ten plans (Naps) on Wednesday the commission called for an average cut in emissions of seven per cent compared to draft Naps submitted by governments (see separate article, this issue).

"Today's decisions send a strong signal that Europe is fully committed to achieving the Kyoto target and making the trading scheme (ETS) a success", environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said. The commission has the right to veto Naps it believes are too generous to industry.

Carbon market analyst Point Carbon said the commission's strictness went "way beyond" what they had expected. "It is obvious that the commission has done its utmost this time to avoid in the second phase a repeat of the failures of the first phase," said Henrik Hasselknippe of Point Carbon's ETS unit.

Environmental NGOs welcomed the commission's decision to lower emission quotas, though some said the decision was still not strict enough. They also criticised the commission for not demanding enough changes to the way allowances are allocated.

In its original guidance on second-phase Naps the commission recommended a six per cent cut across the EU relative to emissions in the first phase. Nevertheless, Mr Dimas recently said 17 Naps proposed emission caps about 15 per cent above 2005 emissions This suggests the 15 remaining member states could face even tougher judgements than those delivered today.

Wednesday's verdict concerns Naps from Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These represent 42 per cent of allowances distributed in the first phase. All except the UK have been told to cut their allocation to firms. Five have been told to make cuts of at least 25 per cent.

France was also due to be judged in Wednesday's announcement but withdrew its draft Nap on Tuesday night to make "significant improvements", Mr Dimas said. He said the plan would be re-submitted within the next two weeks.

30 November 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2215 - 29 November 2006

The European commission has demanded an average seven per cent cut in carbon emissions allocated to industry across ten member states in national allocation plans for the EU emission trading scheme's second phase. The cut is much deeper than had been expected (see separate article, this issue). The commission has also ordered a series of additional changes to several of the allocation plans (Naps).

The biggest reductions are asked of Latvia (57 per cent), Lithuania (47 per cent) and Luxembourg (32 per cent). Similar cuts were demanded of these countries in the scheme's first phase. But all other member states except the UK have also seen their proposed caps slashed (see table).

The Confederation of British industry (CBI) welcomed the commission's strictness, which it said avoided putting UK business at a competitive disadvantage. In the run-up to the decision other business figures called for a tough line on the Naps.

In a surprising development Germany has been asked to make further cuts after already announcing a reduction from 482m to 465m tonnes in its annual allocation. The new target is 453.1m tonnes. "We are taking note of the Commission's decision, even if it is difficult to understand for us," said environment minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Germany is also targeted in a commission decision to outlaw "allocation guarantees" that fix allocation methodologies for certain firms and sectors from one trading period to the next. These contravene EU state aid rules and could lead to a "high-degree of free allocation for carbon-intensive production modes stretching far into the future," the commission said.

On a related point the commission said member states could decide to auction more of their allocations later without requiring additional commission approval. This was welcomed by the Greens who said they hoped it would "stimulate a proper discussion on auctioning".

Sweden and Ireland both saw their proposed limits on firms' ability to buy Kyoto protocol flexible mechanism credits tightened by at least half, to 21.9 per cent and ten per cent of overall credits respectively. Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said the commission's guiding figure was still ten per cent but that leniency was possible, for example if a country was not in line to meet its Kyoto target.

The commission says its revisions to Naps were based primarily on three factors: whether the member state was on target to meet its Kyoto target; how the proposed cap related to emissions growth expectations and reduction potential; and whether the use of Kyoto credits remained supplemental to domestic action.

Annual Carbon Caps in National Allocation Plans

Proposed cap
(m tonnes)
Approved cap
(m tonnes)
Germany 482 453.1 6
Greece 75.5 69.1 8.5
Ireland 22.6 21.1 6.4
Latvia 7.7 3.3 57
Lithuania 16.6 8.8 47
Luxembourg 3.95 2.7 32
Malta 2.96 2.1 25
Sweden 25.2 22.8 9.5
UK 246.2 246.2 0
TOTAL 924.0 860.2 6.9
Source: European Commission

30 November 2006


Grant Ringshaw - The Times - 26 November 2006

SILVERJET, a business-class long-haul carrier, is to become the world's first carbon-neutral airline. Under the plan, Silverjet - a tiny company that has yet to start flights - will include a compulsory carbon charge in its ticket prices.

Passengers will be awarded carbon points for each flight, which can then be used to invest in green projects chosen by the airline. These projects include wind-power generation in India, free light bulbs for poor families in Jamaica, and a programme that uses carbon credits to improve energy efficiency on the island.

British Airways gives passengers the option to pay a fee to offset the carbon emissions created by their flight. The charge for a return flight to Johannesburg, for example, is £13.30.

Silverjet floated on AIM earlier this year, raising £25m from investors. The company is due to start its all-business-class flights from Luton to New York at the end of January. Tickets will cost about £999, undercutting average business fares of £2,260.

Silverjet, which is working with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, said the exact cost of the carbon charge had yet to be calculated, but was likely to be between £10 and £20 for each passenger.

Lawrence Hunt, chief executive of Silverjet, denied that the airline was jumping on a green bandwagon. He said: "As grown-up people we all have to do something about climate change and as the management of an airline company we can do something material. If the airline industry does not do something about it then it will get regulated to hell by the European and UK governments."

The move comes as the industry has been accused of being the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases and come under particular fire in the wake of the Stern Report into climate change. Critics claim that by 2050 aviation will account for all the carbon permits that will be available under the EU's emissions-trading system.

Some airline chiefs have reacted angrily. Andy Harrison, chief executive of low-cost airline Easyjet, recently described the claims as "alarmist crap". Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, has said the aviation industry is responsible for a mere 2% of EU carbon emissions.

30 November 2006


Airports watchdog threatens to cut BAA landing fees

Liz Chong, Thomas Catan - The Times - 24 November 2006

Bid price thrown into question
Fears Ferrovial has overpaid

The operators of Britain's airports were dealt a fresh blow yesterday when the industry regulator threatened to curtail their income from airlines.

BAA, which was bought by Spain's Ferrovial for £10.3 billion in August, was told that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was considering tougher caps on the fees it charges for airlines to land and park at its three London airports.

The prospect of lower income throws the economics of Ferrovial's acquisition into doubt. The Spanish infrastructure group borrowed heavily to buy BAA and promptly saw traffic disrupted and security costs rise as a result of the terrorist threat that brought Heathrow to a halt this summer.

Shares in Ferrovial fell by as much as 7 per cent as traders feared that the CAA could substantially dent the Spanish group's income.

The regulator is due to hand down an initial decision next month which will set out the prices BAA can charge airlines from 2008 to 2013.

The CAA said yesterday that it was considering a "marked reduction" in the rate of return BAA earns from capital. The regulator uses this rate to help it to calculate the tariffs that BAA can charge.

Addressing a conference in Rome, Harry Bush, the CAA's head of economic regulation, said that this reflected low interest rates and higher corporate debt levels.

Analysts noted that the CAA had emerged as the latest regulator to signal its discomfort with the use of leveraged buyouts in the utilities and transport sectors.

Regulators have recently come under fire for setting high tariffs, which have led to a flurry of takeovers by pension funds and private equity houses seeking access to steady revenue.

Giorgio Medda, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said: "This could affect future appetites of private equity for utility and airport assets.

"The regulator is sending a message here that the value these buyers think there is is not actually up for grabs. They have to give some value to the customers."

Shares in Ferrovial closed down 3.2 per cent at €75.3, denting a year-to-date gain of 29 per cent.

BAA said last night: "We look forward to seeing the CAA's proposals and working constructively with them on the 2008-13 settlement."

But the CAA also warned British Airways and other airlines that overall charges for Heathrow would continue rising. Dr Bush said the "direction of prices at Heathrow is likely to remain significantly positive in real terms". At present, BAA can raise charges for Heathrow at inflation plus 6.5 per cent a year.

British Airways, which pays £220 million a year in landing fees at Heathrow, complained last night that prices are climbing about 50 per cent in the current review period. It called for the CAA to cap price rises at the rate of inflation.

Ferrovial's defenders in Madrid have pointed out that future tariffs must ensure that BAA can pay for its ambitious spending plans in the UK.

BAA has pledged to spend about £1 billion a year until 2016 to upgrade London's airports. Backed by the Government, the company is also building a new £4.2 billion terminal at Heathrow and is planning a second runway at Stansted.

30 November 2006


El Pais - English Edition - 26 November 2006

Authority may impose tougher caps on airport operator levies The share price of Spanish builder Ferrovial fell sharply on Thursday after the UK airport regulator indicated it may impose tougher caps on the levies its BAA unit can charge airlines.

Ferrovial's share price closed down 3.21 percent at €75.30 after having hit a low at one point of €72.50 on volume of 1.98 million shares.

"The CAA's ... current assessment, taking account of the reducing cost of debt generally and the increasing proportion of debt in company financing compared to that assumed in 2003, points towards a marked reduction in the cost of capital allowed compared with the 7.75 percent allowed in 2003," the UK Civilian Aviation Authority's director for economic regulation, Harry Bush, said at a conference in Rome.

The CAA is due to announce next month initial maximum limits on charges BAA levies at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports for the period 2008-2013.

The current caps for the five-year period through to march 2008 are £8.51 per passenger at Heathrow, £4.73 at Gatwick, and £5.83 at Stansted. Bush also spoke of the continuing need for improved efficiency in costs and operating procedures at BAA's airports.

Ferrovial, along with its consortium partners Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Singaporean government's GIC Special Investments acquired BAA in August of this year for £10.1 billion (€14.6 billion).

Just days after taking over the reins of BAA, Ferrovial was hit by draconian security arrangements at the airports managed by the British operator. Airlines claim BAA had failed to invest adequately to beef up its capacity to handle the threats.

"The enhanced security standards imposed on the airports following 10 August severely tested both airports and airlines, and showed that more could be done to improve the way they work together," CAA's Bush said Thursday. Unless they do, passengers suffer. BAA is already discussing these issues with its airline customers.

He said the CAA would consider the costs involved in complying with the enhanced security arrangements.

Ferrovial, along with other Spanish builders, have used the proceeds from a massive construction boom to diversify into other businesses which offer steadier flows of income.

30 November 2006


Labour unwilling to tackle cheap airlines
Carbon trading seen as best way to beat pollution

Larry Elliott, Economics Editor - The Guardian - 25 November 2006

Gordon Brown will adopt a softly-softly approach to taxes on air travel in next month's pre-budget report as the government seeks to fulfil its ambitious pledges on tackling climate change without a confrontation with popular cut-price carriers.

Reflecting the government's view that a full-scale attack on the cheap flights offered by companies such as Ryanair and easyJet would be politically impossible, the chancellor is planning to announce increases in air passenger duty on December 6, but has no intention of using the tax system to price passengers off planes.

Mr Brown believes that the price of tickets should better reflect the cost to the environment from the airline's industry's carbon emissions, but along with other senior ministers considers it unrealistic for the government to announce punitive increases in airline taxes.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, called the idea of raising taxes to protect the environment "horse shit" earlier this month and ministers are aware of the political risks in taking on the fast-growing sector. Ryanair has been offering seats for nothing, with travellers paying only the passenger tax and baggage handling fees.

Treasury sources have made it clear that the pre-budget report will announce green measures designed to cut down on carbon emissions and this will include raising air passenger duty, currently levied at between £5 for the lowest class of travel to European destinations and £40 on long-haul.

Air travel was specifically mentioned by Sir Nicholas Stern in his report on the economics of climate change earlier this month, and environmental groups had been hoping that the government would use the PBR both to raise taxes on the industry and to rule out further airport expansion.

Instead, the chancellor will rely on plans for a beefed-up international system of carbon trading as a way of coping with the pollution from air travel, with ministers hopeful that California, the largest state in the US, can be brought into the European carbon trading scheme. This is the approach favoured by Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, who warned in the aftermath of the Stern review that the government risked damaging the economy if it singled out the airline industry for punitive action.

Senior ministers also believe that aviation's emissions can be tackled through technological improvements. They believe a fully-fledged international carbon trading scheme would give the private sector the incentives it needs to come up with energy-efficient planes and cleaner fuel.

The Stern review said the aviation industry accounted for 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but that its impact on climate change was higher as a result of the gases being released at high altitude. Under "business as usual" projections, carbon emissions from aviation are forecast to rise to 2.5% of the total by 2050.

According to the review: "The level of the carbon price faced by aviation should reflect the full contribution of emissions from aviation to climate change."

The report added that it was possible to tackle airline emissions either through higher taxes or carbon trading, with the choice of instrument "likely to be driven as much by political viability as by the economics".

OUR COMMENT: Can Gordon Brown answer the question put to Terry Morgan? Who will compensate for an increase in carbon emissions from more air flights?

Pat Dale

28 November 2006


Council set to reject Stansted expansion

The Guardian - 27 November 2006

The dangers of climate change will be used this week as a reason to ditch a plan to double passenger numbers at London Stansted airport, the home of Ryanair. A local council is expected to turn down planning permission, partly on the grounds that the Stern Review and other studies have highlighted the danger of rising carbon emissions.

The move will be a huge blow to operator BAA and its new parent company Ferrovial of Spain, which paid £10.5bn for the airports operator earlier this year. It also highlights the contradiction in government policies between encouraging aviation – a major carbon dioxide polluter – and trying to halt global warming.

Planning Officers from Uttlesford District Council, the local authority for Stansted, have recommended the application be dumped when the development control committee meets on Wednesday.

"The importance of climate change as a global issues and the mounting research evidence to support a policy review has increased in recent months. Given all the emerging information, coupled with the timing of the Stern review, in the course of the application, it is considered that it would be premature to grant planning permission," says their report.

There should at least be clarification by the government as to whether part of its response to Stern and other recent research will be to withdraw or amend its air transport white paper, they add.

Council officers also refer to last year's Tyndall Centre report showing that the rapid growth in air travel threatens to wipe out the other savings in carbon emissions, and they highlight a recent report from Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute which called on the government to confront the contradictions in its policies.

The Institute concluded: "Unless the rate of growth in flights is curbed the UK cannot fulfil its commitments on climate change". The council officers have recommended refusal on 8 other grounds too.

The expansion of Stansted's terminal building would be expected to lift the total number of regular passengers and cargo annual flights through the Essex airport from 186,000 to 265,000.

26 November 2006


Victory for Stansted Campaigners as Expansion Plans are Halted

Essex Chronicle - 23 November 2006

Campaigners are celebrating after the expansion of Stansted air traffic was grounded by planning officers.Airport operator BAA wants to replace the current annual cap of 25 million passengers flying from the airport with a limit on the number of flights, allowing passenger growth to 35 million by 2014.

But when Uttlesford District Council development control committee meets on Wednesday (November 29) members will be recommended to refuse the application.

Officers say the proposal would have a major impact on residents, citing concerns over noise, air quality, effect on climate change, road and rail networks and water consumption.

They added there is also a weak economic case in light of the Stern Report on global warning.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) chairman Peter Sanders, called for a fundamental review of airport expansion policies: "We are obviously delighted with the officers' recommendation which we believe is entirely justified."

"BAA keeps claiming it listens to local people and wants to be a good neighbour in partnership with the local community, and if it's serious about this it will not appeal."

Campaigning mother-of-five Maggie Sutton, of Broxted, who lives close to the flight path, will be putting the SSE case to planners when they consider the application to lift the cap and raise the annual flights from 241,000 to 264,000, of which 243,500 would be passenger flights.

With bigger aircraft being slowly introduced campaigners fear this could escalate the passenger level way above 35 million.

A Stansted Airport spokesman said: "We are studying the officers' report and recommendations with great care and now await the outcome of next week's decision."

BAA says an announcement is expected in January on the outcome of consultation on a second runway development.


Saffron Walden Reporter - 22 November 2006

AIRPORT operator BAA's bid to increase the number of passengers passing through the terminal has received a setback this week.

BAA wants the cap, which was imposed by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) in 2003 limiting 25 million passengers per annum to pass through the airport, withdrawn to allow 35 million passengers a year to use Stansted by 2014.

But UDC's planning officers have recommended to councillors to refuse the application citing a negative impact on people's quality of life as one of their eight reasons of objection.

The council's development control committee will now decide whether or not to follow the recommendation in a meeting at 2pm on Wednesday.

In their report to the committee, planning officers John Mitchell, Roger Harborough and Jeremy Pine also say inadequate measures taken to prevent increased noise affecting the local community and increased pollution levels potentially damaging Hatfield Forest and East End Wood are reasons why BAA's application should be turned down.

Possible congestion on local motorways, unclear information on whether improvements to the rail structure would be carried out effectively and the potential adverse effects on climate change are also cited by the planning officers as factors behind their recommendation to the committee.

Reacting to the recommendation, which was made public on Tuesday, Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders said: "We are obviously delighted with the officers' recommendation which we believe to be entirely justified by the evidence presented to them on both sides of the argument.

"We would be astonished if members of the development control committee did not endorse this unanimously when they meet next week."

He added: "I very much hope BAA will respect the decision of our local, democratically elected council. BAA keeps claiming that it listens to what local people say and that it wants to be a good neighbour working in partnership with the local community. If BAA is serious about this, it will not appeal the decision."

A BAA spokesperson said he would not comment on the details of the planning officers' report and were waiting for the final decision on Wednesday.

"We are studying the officers' report and recommendation with great care and we now await the outcome of next week's decision."

The planning officers' report also states BAA have made inadequate provision for the increased efficiency of water usage and the possible economic benefits are not clear, particularly in light of the recent Stern Report on climate change.


Jan Moller - Dunmow Broadcaster - 22 November 2006

Stansted Airport's bid to take annual passenger numbers to 35 million within eight years looks set to be refused.

BAA lodged its scheme with Uttlesford Council in April to expand the airport from its limit of 25 million passengers.

Between May and September, a series of public meetings were held to discuss various aspects of the proposed expansion, from nois to transport and air quality.

The airport also wants to increase the number of air transport movements from 241,000 a year to a possible 264,000.

Councillors will make the final decision on November 29, guided by planning officers, who cite nine reasons for refusal, including the impact of noise, air quality and local quality of life.

The application was originally to be decided in September, but was postponed after the Highways Agency said it needed more time, and railway operators failed to lodge their comments.


Saffron Walden Reporter - 22 November 2006

ONCE again, BAA's response to the disclosure of factual information which it finds uncomfortable is to shoot the messenger, in this case SSE. ('Passengers pass on the train; Railway use drops by 500,000', Reporter and Broadcast, 16 November.)

It is of course an old politician's trick to deal with the revelation of embarrassing facts by simply attacking your opponent.

SSE fully accepts the value of bus and coach services in augmenting public transport access to Stansted Airport and we included the bus and coach statistics - as well as the car and rail statistics - in the figures we published last week.

In examining the pressure on our roads, however, it is important to recognise (the perhaps obvious point) that buses and coaches have an impact on road congestion whereas trains do not.

But even leaving aside this impact, there was a 500,000 decline in the number of Stansted passengers using the train last year compared to an extra 700,000 passengers travelling to/from the airport by car.

BAA avoids answering these factual points and instead suggests that a £2.5m investment in a new bus and coach station is proof of its commitment to public transport.

It is not. What is needed is investment by BAA of several hundred million pounds in upgrading rail access to its airport including a second tunnel and multi-racking of bottlenecks to increase the hourly train capacity and reliability, particularly on services to Liverpool Street.

The airport is handling 23 million passengers a year compared to less than 4 million just ten years ago. It will take more than a shoestring budget to deal with the backlog of infrastructure investment that should have been made to keep pace with this.

Brian Ross
Economics Adviser to Stop Stansted Expansion


Dunmow Broadcaster - 22 November 2006

THE COMMITTEE report from the council's officers for the November 29 meeting was published on Tuesday, November 21.

It contains a recommendation to committee members. It will be down to councillors to decide at the meeting whether to accept the recommendation.

I have heard rumours about how this might play out, the council caving in and agreeing to the application or refusing it and sparking a major national debate on issues such as climate change. We will all know a bit more in a couple of days' time. What is guaranteed is controversy.

There was an interview with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Independent newspaper. "Put it (aviation) in the European Emissions Trading System, that's the single most important thing you could do. But the danger is that if we prevent people in Britain taking cheap flights, and people in Europe were still able to, you wouldn't make a great deal of difference except making travel a lot harder for low income families."

So the Prime Minister doesn't want to limit poorer families from flying. But they don't fly much anyway, according to last week's report from the CAA.

He clearly won't be able to restrict better off families from flying. So what's the point of Emissions Trading if it has no effect on the escalation of greenhouse gas emissions from more and more aeroplane journeys? Smoke, carbon and mirrors, I suggest!

Cllr Alan Dean
Airport Advisory Panel chairman, Uttlesford District Council


Saffron Walden Reporter - 22 November 2006

HOW WILL the date November 29, 2006 go down in the history of Uttlesford? Will awareness of integrated, "joined-up" government influence planning in Uttlesford?

Will all relevant government policies and all current thinking on economic, health and environmental welfare come into the equation when councillors exercise their judgment to weigh officer "recommendation" in balance with "material considerations"?

Will future generations have cause to despair of, or admire, planning officers and members of Uttlesford's development control committee when analysing the history of our land in 50 years time?

On Sunday morning I walked in Hatfield Forest. More than 50 years ago my husband, as a child, also walked in Hatfield Forest.

Soon I shall be walking through the forest with another grandchild.

Will that grandchild's grandchildren be taken to walk along its paths and through its meadows?

Will they climb exhausted stumps of ancient trees, watch the birds by the lake, learn to ride a bicycle in safety?

In the end, will common sense prevail?

Suzanne Walker
The Old Post Office, Radwinter

26 November 2006


UK Civil Aviation Authority Indicates Emerging Thinking
on Price Regulation of BAA's London Airports

Press Statement by Civil Aviation Authority - 23 November 2006

Speaking at the Global Airport Development conference in Rome today the CAA's Group Director, Economic Regulation, Dr Harry Bush, indicated that the CAA was on track to set out in December its initial proposals on the issues involved in setting BAA's price caps for the period 2008-13. He said that, while the CAA's proposals remained to be firmed up, some directions were emerging, and it was timely to give some indication of these in respect of Heathrow and Gatwick. However, as the CAA identified in its December 2005 consultation paper, the regulatory challenge at Stansted is somewhat different and remains under consideration.

The CAA has been engaged with its advisors in a detailed evaluation of the issues around the setting of an appropriate cost of capital for BAA's airports. Dr Bush commented that:

"For capital intensive businesses, in particular Heathrow which has been engaged in a substantial and continuing investment programme, the setting of an appropriate return on capital is of key importance to both the airports' incentives to invest and airport users' charges. It is therefore incumbent on the CAA carefully to identify the key issues, some of which will undoubtedly benefit from Competition Commission scrutiny next year from a cross-regulator perspective. In the meantime, the CAA will be exhibiting its own preliminary analysis of the emerging evidence on cost of capital, including from market developments. In so doing, it will be mindful of the continuing need to incentivise investment, so that airlines and passengers benefit in a timely way from enhanced facilities and extra capacity, and to pay due regard to regulatory consistency and commitments. It will also consider the risks to investment over time of too low a cost of capital as compared with the impact on airport charges arising from setting the allowance too high."

"The CAA has made it clear that the choice of financing arrangements is a matter for the airports‚ owners. It is not the CAA's intention to accommodate any particular set of financing arrangements but rather to take a view on an allowance that would permit an efficiently financed company to earn its cost of capital while undertaking the continuing investment planned at the airports." "The CAA will be setting out its thinking in full in December but its current assessment, taking account of the reducing cost of debt generally and the increasing proportion of debt in company financing compared to that assumed in 2003, points towards a marked reduction in the cost of capital allowed compared with the 7.75 per cent (real terms, pre tax) allowed in 2003."

Dr Bush also spoke about the continuing need for improved efficiency in costs and operating processes at BAA's airports. He indicated that the evidence the CAA had assembled suggested that, while in some areas BAA was a good performer, the challenge was to bring the rest to the standard of the best as well as to seek continuous improvement generally.

Dr Bush cautioned against mechanistically translating any reductions in the cost of capital allowance, or increased efficiencies, into price caps, in particular at Heathrow:

"The need to remunerate investment undertaken since 2003, not currently reflected fully in prices; to pay for ongoing investment; to reflect lower traffic growth at Heathrow than forecast; and to recognise legitimate cost pressures, not least on security, mean that the direction of prices at Heathrow is likely to remain significantly positive in real terms."

The CAA wrote to BAA airports and airlines in September encouraging them to work together at BAA's airports to overcome difficulties arising from enhanced security standards. Dr Bush commented:

"The enhanced security standards imposed on the airports following 10 August severely tested both airports and airlines, and showed that more could be done to improve the way they work together. Unless they do, passengers suffer. BAA is already discussing these issues with its airline customers. The CAA welcomes this and wishes both sides to give consideration to how best to build greater resilience into current arrangements so that any future changes in security requirements could be better dealt with. In particular, the CAA wishes consideration to be given to the appropriateness of the current passenger queuing standard, and whether staffing up for a faster processing of passengers in normal circumstances would provide a more secure base against which to cope with security changes to the benefit of passengers. The CAA will want to consider the cost implications in its reviews alongside other operating cost issues."

26 November 2006


Ryanair Hikes Guidance As Quarterly Profit Rises 24%

Aude Lagorce - Easybourse Online - 6 November 2006

LONDON (Dow Jones) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe's largest low-cost airline, on Monday posted a 24% improvement in quarterly profit, helped by increased traffic and fares, despite "intense competition and very high fuel prices," and lifted its 2007 forecast.

The carrier also proposed a stock split and said it intends to return money to shareholders by the end of 2007. And on its 1.48 billion-euro takeover offer for Irish rival Aer Lingus Group, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O' Leary told journalists Monday it's unlikely to succeed unless the airline's employee shareholders decide to back it.

Net income for the second quarter advanced to 213.4 million euros ($271 million), or 27.45 euros a share, from 172.5 million euros, or 22.35 euros a share, a year earlier, topping consensus forecasts. Sales climbed 27% to 689.9 million euros.

Ryanair (RYAAY) raised ticket prices by 9% in the first half of the year and expects a further increase in the third quarter as larger rivals British Airways Plc (BAB) and Air France-KLM (AKH) keep fares higher with continued fuel surcharges.

The budget airline carried 11.5 million passengers in the quarter, 21% more than in the year-earlier period. Fuel costs increased 34% to 169.9 million euros. Shares were last up 3.3% in London afternoon trading after rising as much as 3.9% earlier in the day.

Raised guidance, cash returns

Ryanair lifted its outlook for the year, saying it expects net profit to grow 16% to 350 million euros this year compared to an earlier forecast for growth of 11%. The no-frills operator also said that significant traffic growth and a benign yield environment are expected to lead to a 2% to 3% rise in average fares, also known as yields, in the third-quarter, compared to a previous forecast for a decline of around 5%. Fourth-quarter yields may be slightly lower and average fares are expected to be flat over the total winter period, Ryanair added.

The oil-price environment is also improving. Ryanair said it has used the recent weakness in oil prices to hedge 50% of its requirements for the third quarter at a cost which is 10% lower than in the comparable period last year.

O'Leary told journalists Monday that Ryanair is likely to return some cash to shareholders, in one way or another, before the end of calendar 2007, regardless of whether the offer for Aer Lingus succeeds. The exact amount and the method are still under consideration, O'Leary said. But he brushed aside the notion that Ryanair could adopt an annualized dividend policy. "I would be very reluctant to commit to a very boring annual dividend policy in an industry which is very cyclical and volatile," O'Leary said.

Ryanair profit unharmed by terror alert

In contrast to what happened at British Airways, (BAB) O'Leary said Ryanair's profit wasn't hurt by the terror alerts in August. Earlier this month, BA said profit unexpectedly slipped in the second quarter as demand slowed in the wake of the foiled attacks. British Airways estimated the disruption cost 100 million pounds.

Ryanair is suing the U.K. department of Transport for 3 million pounds, the amount the low-cost carrier claims the terror alerts cost, and has said it would give the money to charity. O'Leary seemed doubtful that BA really suffered such a hefty impact from the disruptions. "It wouldn't be the first time that carriers have used oil surcharges or other events to cover up [poor] results," O'Leary said.

Staffing problems at Stansted; Aer Lingus offer

Ryanair continues to campaign for the breakup of BAA Plc, the company that operates London's major airports. The no-frills carrier said it opposes BAA's plans to build new runway and terminal facilities at its London hub in Stansted, saying they "do not meet user needs."

The operator also said it remains "deeply concerned" about continued understaffing at security checkpoints at Stansted, which it says has led to repeated passenger and flight delays since tougher security measures were introduced in the summer.

Ryanair, which has already built a 19.2% stake in Aer Lingus, also continued to argue the potential benefits of its offer. Under the deal, Ryanair said it would reduce its rival's operating costs further, lower its fares and scrap fuel surcharges. It would also retain the Aer Lingus brand and its Heathrow slots and upgrade its long-haul service.

O'Leary said he expects members of the trust to reject the offer and, therefore, for the bid to fail. He would not be drawn on whether Ryanair would increase its offer. Aer Lingus's management, the Irish government, unions and pilots have rejected Ryanair's offer.

O'Leary said Ryanair would be happy to remain a minority, albeit vocal, shareholder. He underlined that Aer Lingus was a one-off opportunity and said Ryanair has no plans to buy another airline.

26 November 2006


EU "must get real on energy-climate policies"

ENDS Europe DAILY 2212 - 24 November 2006

In a major environmental policy intervention, EU enterprise commissioner Gunter Verheugen has circulated to colleagues a ten-point blueprint for reconciling and "binding together" policies for environmental sustainability, competitiveness and energy security.

Europe can be a global leader, but if it moves too fast it will harm its economy without saving the world environment, he warns. His analysis bears a striking resemblance to elements of America's approach to climate change.

The commissioner set out his proposals in a letter to commission president Jose Barroso on 21 November (see link to the letter below). Its existence became public on Friday, sparking immediate strong reactions. The European parliament's Green group called it a "bizarre outburst" and said it would call for a plenary debate on the letter and its implications.

Mr Verheugen's detailed proposals read like a lesson in realpolitik. Highlights are:

* The EU should adopt a twin-track approach to long-term GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION TARGETS: modest unilateral commitments to show willingness, backed by more ambitious targets that Europe would be willing to take on in concert with other emitters.

In the near-term, Europe's unilateral commitments should be lower than has recently been proposed by many others. Mr Verheugen suggests that 15% is the highest achievable by 2020 without sending costs escalating. In 2005 EU leaders agreed to call on all industrialised countries to cut by 15-30% by the same time.

* The EU EMISSION TRADING SCHEME must be strengthened and extended. Mr Verheugen calls for harmonisation at EU-level of rules on allocating emission allowances and the treatment of new entrants and closures.

He also suggests that private cars should be brought within the scheme, suggesting that Mr Verheugen sees emission trading as the way out of the current row over the EU's voluntary agreement with carmakers. "We must avoid the proliferation of stand-alone schemes" for different sectors, he states.

The EU ETS should be dramatically expanded at the end of the second trading period in 2012, the commissioner suggests. The scheme should become the "docking system" for trading systems across the globe, he adds.

* Europe must create a SPECIAL FRAMEWORK FOR ENERGY-INTENSIVE INDUSTRIES exposed to international competition, says the commissioner. EU competitiveness and the global environment will both suffer if policies simply encourage such firms to relocate to other world regions.

* Mr Verheugen calls for an ambitious INDUSTRIAL POLICY to help develop and bring to market environmental technologies and "make Europe the front-runner in environmental industries. He calls for a review of European technology initiatives and of the competitiveness and innovation programme of EU funding. Additional "technology push" measures will be needed for the car industry even after it is brought into the EU ETS, he adds.

* The commissioner calls for EFFICIENT INTERNATIONAL AND EUROPEAN INSTRUMENTS to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the cheapest way while stimulating innovation. This requires a "very ambitious" approach to the Kyoto project mechanisms CDM and JI, which "provide our best hope for developing global markets.. and generating real progress across the globe".

Use of the schemes should be strongly encouraged, and barriers to their use removed. The EU should look to create a European CDM investment fund. It should also consider earmarking international development aid, Mr Verheugen writes.

* The EU should rethink its approach to RENEWABLE ENERGIES, setting a binding EU-level target to "create a truly internal market for renewables in the EU" while avoiding targets for individual technologies. Existing renewables promotion schemes such as green and white certificates could be linked to the EU ETS "to ensure coherence".

26 November 2006


Heathrow disaster 'is certain'

James Clench - The Sun - 23 November 2006

AIR traffic controllers at Heathrow are in revolt over a new computer system which they believe will trigger a mid-air crash.

The Electronic Flight Progress System is set to replace the existing control method at the world's busiest airport in January. But alarmed senior staff complain that jets VANISH from the new screens because EFPS can't cope with Heathrow's sheer volume of traffic.

In one damning letter sent to BA chief Willie Walsh which has been seen by The Sun, a controller warns: "We are totally convinced that if EFPS is installed there will be a major disaster at Heathrow."

Staff, some on over £100,000 a year, claim that:

Nearly all 55 controllers have FAILED advanced training on a £1.5million simulator replicating peak traffic;

Vital information is TOO SMALL to read on screen due to the number of planes;

Badly-designed screens mean planes DISAPPEAR from view;

National Air Traffic Services (Nats) bosses have REFUSED to see sense because they have spent tens of millions of pounds on the system; and

Controllers will simply slow down traffic flow to a CRAWL to avoid mistakes - thereby hitting airline profits.

Our whistleblower said: "Senior controllers aren't just warning that there might be a mistake - they are insisting there WILL be a crash if this changeover goes ahead. These people are not militant union types who can't handle change, they are the creme de la creme of air traffic control. They are scared stiff the money men will railroad them into EFPS because they've thrown so much cash at it."

EFPS - designed by Canadian firm NavCanada - has been adopted successfully at Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. But they have less traffic than Heathrow and operate longer at night. This means they never deal with the intensity of traffic Heathrow controllers manage, which can be more than 100 movements an hour.

Staff are set to start using the system when they move into a new £50million control tower in January. The touch-sensitive display screens are meant to reduce verbal contact and will replace Heathrow's existing "paper strips" method.

Our source said: "This system was designed nearly ten years ago and air traffic has increased hugely since then. At busy periods, planes fall off the screen. One experienced controller has already presided over a crash over the Channel in training. Controllers want to fail themselves but the NavCanada trainers keep telling them they will be OK."

He added: "It would be madness to ignore the people who have to use this system. The result would be disaster."

A Nats spokesman said: "We would never introduce a system unless it was safe. Training has been under way for more than a year and the majority of our controllers have passed. No one will be forced to use the equipment unless they are confident to do so."

The spokesman added: "The system is used at 15 airports in Canada, including the multi-runway Toronto, which handles as many flights as Heathrow."

26 November 2006


Brown to raise duty on 4x4s and air travel

Christopher Adams, Political Correspondent - Financial Times - 23 November 2006

Air travellers and owners of gas-guzzling cars, like the drivers of widely demonised four-wheel drive vehicles, face a substantial increase in taxes as part of Gordon Brown's pre-Budget report.

The chancellor, anxious to steal a march on David Cameron's Conservatives on the environment, is preparing to increase the top rate of duty for the most polluting new cars.

A rise in air passenger duty is also expected to be announced in the wake of the Stern report on climate change, which called for urgent action to tackle global warming. The duty currently ranges from £5 for the shortest flights up to £40 for long-haul premium fares.

Mr Brown is said by Whitehall insiders to believe that targeted increases in indirect taxation, designed to penalise some of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions, could have a part to play in persuading motorists to choose less polluting cars.

He has also come round to the view that higher air passenger duty, which was frozen in this year's Budget, could improve environmental performance in aviation. However, the chancellor is to tread carefully on the broader issue of "green" taxes, and is understood to be opposed to a bigger package of increases that could have raised billions of pounds for the Exchequer.

A reintroduction of the fuel-duty "escalator", which put up the duty on petrol by 6 per cent over inflation until Mr Brown ordered a freeze in 1999, is unlikely, in spite of a recent fall in international oil prices.

Instead, the chancellor will use the pre-Budget report to voice strong support for an international market in carbon trading to cut emissions. Building on Sir Nicholas Stern's findings, he is expected to back moves to link the European Union's fledgling trading scheme with those being developed in north-eastern US states and California.

Details of his plan were revealed to the Financial Times as it emerged Gunter Verheugen, the EU's industry commissioner, while backing an extension of emissions trading to cars and airlines, has warned José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, against moving faster than the rest of the world to tackle climate change.

He argued in a letter that "our environmental leadership" could undermine the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries.

In Britain, the debate over green taxes intensified last month with the leaking of a memo from David Miliband, environment secretary, setting out a number of proposals, including unfreezing the escalator. But a senior Whitehall insider said the Treasury was wary about raising environmental taxes as a proportion of gross domestic product.

Nevertheless, Mr Brown will be courting controversy, with airlines and supporters of 4x4s, who have also been threatened with an increased £25 a day charge to drive through central London under proposals from Ken Livingstone, the city's mayor.

26 November 2006


Daily Mail - 22 November 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair has started an online debate with Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper on the solutions to climate change.

The Big Ask climate debate is being hosted at www.foe.co.uk and anyone can take part.

The pair launch the debate with short articles outlining what they think needs to be done to tackle global warming.

Members of the public are invited to add their thoughts and comments over the course of the following week with Mr Blair and Mr Juniper posting their responses on November 29.

The debate comes one week after the Government announced in the Queen's Speech that it would introduce a Climate Change Bill.

This will be debated in Parliament before becoming law. The Big Ask campaign is calling for the Government to ensure that the Climate Change Bill commits the UK to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 3% year on year.

Tony Juniper said: "Over the next few months, politicians will be debating what action the UK should take to tackle climate change. What they do will affect us all so it's vitally important the public get involved in the debate."

"I will be pressing the Prime Minister to introduce annual targets for cutting the UK's carbon dioxide emissions. But everyone can have their say in The Big Ask Climate debate at www.foe.co.uk ."

OUR COMMENT: There is still time to respond

Pat Dale

23 November 2006


Uttlesford District Council planning officers recommend refusal

Press Release by Uttlesford District Council - 21 November 2006

BAA's application for planning permission to enable increased use of the runway and removal of the cap on 25 million passengers a year will be determined at a meeting of Uttlesford District Council's Development Control Committee on 29 November 2006.

The Council's planning officers have today issued their report, recommending that the application be refused.

The full report is available via this link - www.stanstedexplained.info/events under the heading '21 November - Officer Recommendation'.

The meeting of the Development Control Committee will be held at the Council Offices, London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4ER starting at 2:00pm. The meeting will be held in public in the Council Chamber. The proceedings may be viewed live on the Stansted Explained site www.stanstedexplained.info via a webcast. The normal arrangements for public speaking at the beginning of the meeting will apply. One objector, one supporter and the applicant may address the Committee. They will each be limited to 3 minutes. Objectors and supporters wishing to speak will need to agree which of their respective numbers will do so. Anyone wishing to speak should contact the Committee Section on 01799 510430 to notify the Clerk.



That Planning Permission be refused for the following reasons:


1 Inadequate mitigation measures are proposed to address the effects of noise on the local community, to the detriment of the amenity of the occupiers of buildings in the vicinity of the airport, and the cognitive development of primary school children, contrary to policies BIW9 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and GEN2 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

2. The absence of a Quality Of Life assessment means that inadequate consideration has been given to the impact of air noise on the culture and leisure activities of nearby communities, although evidence from consultees suggest these impacts are significant. As a result the effect of the development on local communities is uncertain, and no proportionate mitigation measures can be put forward, to the detriment of amenity and contrary to policies BIW9 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and GEN2 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

Quality of Life

3. The absence of a Quality of Life Assessment means that the effects on the cohesion of local communities caused by the pressures on the nature and character of residential accommodation arising from the presence of a rapidly-growing airport has not been given due consideration. As a result the effect on local communities is uncertain, and no proportionate mitigation measures can be put forward, to the detriment of amenity and contrary to policies BIW9 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and GEN2 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

Air Quality

4. Increased pollution arising from the consequences of the proposed development could give rise to an increased risk of vegetation damage in Hatfield Forest and East End Wood. Insufficient real data is available to ensure an accurate assessment. As a consequence inadequate contingency measures for mitigation and/or compensation measures have been made, to the detriment of biodiversity and contrary to policies NR5, NR6, NR7 and BIW9 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and ENV7 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

Water Conservation

5 Inadequate provision is made for increased efficiency in the use of water, to the detriment of water conservation strategies and contrary to policy EG4 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and GEN1 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

Surface Access - Road

6 With the exception of the requirements of the Highways Agency the proposed obligations and conditions do not satisfy the requirements of the highway authorities. Without adequate mitigation measures there could be congestion on the local highway network to the detriment of the free flow of traffic and highway safety, contrary to policies T1 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and GEN1 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

Surface Access - Rail

7 The mechanisms and measures proposed for rail access improvements are insufficiently clear to enable the local planning authority to have reasonable certainty that they will take place in a proportionate and timely manner, and as a result there could be increased reliance on the use of the private car to the detriment of national and local transport policies and the principles of sustainable development, contrary to policies T1 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan and GEN1 of the Uttlesford Local Plan

Climate Change

8 In the light of the Stern Review, the proposed Climate Change Bill put forward in the Queen's Speech and the increasing evidence of the adverse effects of climate change it would be premature to grant planning permission in advance of clarification by the Government as to whether its response to the Stern Review and other recent research will include direct implications for the aviation industry beyond the provisions of the Air Transport White Paper.

Economic Benefits

9 The forecast economic benefits of the proposed development, particularly in the light of the costing of economic consequences of climate change set out in the Stern Report, have not been demonstrated strongly enough for them to be so over riding as to outweigh all other factors, with or without mitigation, to the detriment of the principles of sustainable development and contrary to policy BIW9 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Structure Plan.

23 November 2006


Local Transport Today - 16 November 2006

Airport owner BAA could be poised to prioritise a new third runway at Heathrow ahead of a second runway at Stansted, a decision that would represent a reversal to what the Government's 2002 air transport White Paper proposed.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh hinted at the possible change of thinking in a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society this week. Walsh said he hoped, and believed, that BAA's attitude to expansion at Heathrow was "about to alter" as the impact of its change of ownership took effect.

"Grupo Ferrovial [who bought BAA earlier this year] needs no reminding that Heathrow is its greatest commercial asset," said Walsh. He added that a second runway at Stansted could prove commercially unviable for a "very long time". BA wants to see Heathrow expanded because it is the company's main UK base. Stansted has developed into an airport for low frills airlines who are opposed to paying higher charges to fund a second runway.

The DfT's air transport White Paper said that the top priority for expanding aviation capacity in the South-East was a new runway at Stansted. The White Paper said that a new short third runway at Heathrow could be built after Stansted was expanded, but only if ministers were satisfied that a third runway would not lead to air quality standards in and around the airport being breached. The DfT said at the time that as many as 14,000 residents near the airport were already exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide above EU limits and that the figure could rise to 35,000 if a third runway was built.

Walsh said the air quality issues about a third runway now seemed "manageable". "Our own air quality monitoring has indicated quite clearly that NO2 concentrations - most of which are produced by road traffic and general urbanisation rather than airport operations - are declining." He said BA's own monitoring sites in Harlington, the residential area most vulnerable, showed a significant decrease in NO2 levels since the time of the White Paper.

"On a rolling annual average basis, levels have not breached the EU limit of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre since early 2004," he said. The number of residents exposed to NO2 levels above the EU limit was "nothing like 14,000 and quite possible zero," he said.

A new 2km third runway would increase Heathrow's capacity from 470,000 flights a year to between 650,000 and 700,000. The Government is expected to publish a progress report on its Air Transport White Paper next month and is also soon expected to publish the findings of the Project Heathrow team that was set up to look again at pollution level forecasts for in and around the airport.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN Clearskies that opposes Heathrow expansion, said that BA's air quality monitoring technique was "very dodgy" and the methodology was no longer used by the British Government or approved by the EU. However, he speculated that Walsh's upbeat comments suggested that the Project Heathrow work was also coming to the conclusion that air quality issues were no longer a barrier to a third runway. Stewart said a third runway would be "bad for the environment and probably unnecessary for the economy".

OUR COMMENT: Have BAA Stansted been informed?

Pat Dale

23 November 2006


Slow talks could leave climate deal in 'tatters'

Andrew Grice, Political Editor - The Independent - 20 November 2006

A new global agreement to tackle climate change may be scuppered by cumbersome international bodies and a lack of political will, David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, fears.

He warned that politics was now lagging dangerously behind the science on global warming and feared that negotiations on a new deal might drag on so long that there would be a "gap" in 2012 when the Kyoto protocol's first stage runs out.

To ensure deeper cuts in carbon emissions from then, he said, agreement in principle would be needed by the end of next year. "If we have a gap in 2012, we would have a very serious problem. The whole system would be in tatters," he said.

Mr Miliband was speaking yesterday after returning from a United Nations conference in Kenya involving 189 countries, which ended without a major breakthrough but agreed to keep talking about a "son of Kyoto" treaty.

In an interview with The Independent, he said: "The political institutions and their speed are out of sync with the scientific needs of the issue. There was real progress on important issues in Nairobi but the gap between the science and the politics remains large, with industrialised and developing countries divided by priorities and divided among themselves."

The Environment Secretary admitted that politics had not yet "gone global" but national governments had to "find ways to cut through short-term self-interest and assert long-term mutual interests".

In Nairobi, he was frustrated that the negotiating bloc representing poor nations included countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which had very different interests to the poorest African states in the same group.

He did not believe the solution was to "rip up" institutions such as the UN but for political leaders to give greater urgency to climate change. He said the issue was too important to leave to environment ministers, and should involve prime ministers, foreign and finance ministers.

"We need to raise the political prize. We must be under no illusions. It will take a big acceleration. It will not be easy," he said.

Mr Miliband believes a major push will be needed in 2007 to ensure the 189 nations agree a negotioting mandate by the end of the year because detailed negotiations and then ratifying a new protocol could each take a further two years.

He pleaded with America, which opted out of the Kyoto agreement, to join the global effort and believed it would eventually bow to the inevitable. "It is obvious the problem cannot be solved without the Americans, and they have a huge amount to contribute and gain by coming in," he said. "I think it is a matter of when, not if, for all countries, but I simply don't know whether that means months, years or decades."

He added: "I can't think of a better legacy for George Bush than to spend his last two years forging a bipartisan commitment to put America at the heart of a global deal. It would make a huge difference to the world and it would be a huge opportuntity for America, with an energy infrastructure market worth an estimated $20 trillion."

Nairobi was the first international conference on climate change where the scientific evidence was not disputed - even by the US, where pressure on the Bush adminstration to act has been increased by the Democrats' victory in the midterm elections.

The Treasury-ordered review by Sir Nicholas Stern, which made the economic case for action, has had a big impact around the world. When he spoke at a fringe meeting in Nairobi with Mr Miliband, 450 people turned up. " I know they did not come to hear me," said the Environment Secretary. "Nick Stern is now an international rock star in the climate change world."

He said last month's Stern report unquestionably changed the nature of the debate. "The science has been clear for some time, but now the economics has a whole new dimension. Delay is more costly than action."

During his visit to Kenya, Mr Miliband saw at how climate change will affect the poorest nations hardest even though they account for a tiny proportion of carbon emissions. In the north of the country, he met nomadic tribespeople suffering from drought, and spent a morning in a slum in the middle of Nairobi where one million people live in 2 sq km.

A new global agreement to tackle climate change may be scuppered by cumbersome international bodies and a lack of political will, David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, fears.

He warned that politics was now lagging dangerously behind the science on global warming and feared that negotiations on a new deal might drag on so long that there would be a "gap" in 2012 when the Kyoto protocol's first stage runs out.

To ensure deeper cuts in carbon emissions from then, he said, agreement in principle would be needed by the end of next year. "If we have a gap in 2012, we would have a very serious problem. The whole system would be in tatters," he said.

Mr Miliband was speaking yesterday after returning from a United Nations conference in Kenya involving 189 countries, which ended without a major breakthrough but agreed to keep talking about a "son of Kyoto" treaty.

In an interview with The Independent, he said: "The political institutions and their speed are out of sync with the scientific needs of the issue. There was real progress on important issues in Nairobi but the gap between the science and the politics remains large, with industrialised and developing countries divided by priorities and divided among themselves."

The Environment Secretary admitted that politics had not yet "gone global" but national governments had to "find ways to cut through short-term self-interest and assert long-term mutual interests".

In Nairobi, he was frustrated that the negotiating bloc representing poor nations included countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which had very different interests to the poorest African states in the same group.

He did not believe the solution was to "rip up" institutions such as the UN but for political leaders to give greater urgency to climate change. He said the issue was too important to leave to environment ministers, and should involve prime ministers, foreign and finance ministers.

"We need to raise the political prize. We must be under no illusions. It will take a big acceleration. It will not be easy," he said.

Mr Miliband believes a major push will be needed in 2007 to ensure the 189 nations agree a negotioting mandate by the end of the year because detailed negotiations and then ratifying a new protocol could each take a further two years.

He pleaded with America, which opted out of the Kyoto agreement, to join the global effort and believed it would eventually bow to the inevitable. "It is obvious the problem cannot be solved without the Americans, and they have a huge amount to contribute and gain by coming in," he said. "I think it is a matter of when, not if, for all countries, but I simply don't know whether that means months, years or decades."

He added: "I can't think of a better legacy for George Bush than to spend his last two years forging a bipartisan commitment to put America at the heart of a global deal. It would make a huge difference to the world and it would be a huge opportuntity for America, with an energy infrastructure market worth an estimated $20 trillion."

Nairobi was the first international conference on climate change where the scientific evidence was not disputed - even by the US, where pressure on the Bush adminstration to act has been increased by the Democrats' victory in the midterm elections.

The Treasury-ordered review by Sir Nicholas Stern, which made the economic case for action, has had a big impact around the world. When he spoke at a fringe meeting in Nairobi with Mr Miliband, 450 people turned up. " I know they did not come to hear me," said the Environment Secretary. "Nick Stern is now an international rock star in the climate change world."

He said last month's Stern report unquestionably changed the nature of the debate. "The science has been clear for some time, but now the economics has a whole new dimension. Delay is more costly than action."

During his visit to Kenya, Mr Miliband saw at how climate change will affect the poorest nations hardest even though they account for a tiny proportion of carbon emissions. In the north of the country, he met nomadic tribespeople suffering from drought, and spent a morning in a slum in the middle of Nairobi where one million people live in 2 sq km.

23 November 2006


'Nightmare' expansion of British airports predicted

Barrie Clement, Transport Editor - The Independent - 21 November 2006

The spectacular growth in the demand for air travel is far out-stripping government forecasts and could lead to a "nightmare" expansion at Britain's biggest airports and the acceleration of global warming, according to analysis of official figures.

The increase in passenger flights is more than 50 per cent higher than predicted in the 2003 government White Paper, data from the Civil Aviation Authority reveals.

Under present government policies of predicting growth in demand and then providing the capacity, Stansted would expand from the present one runaway to four, Local Government Association researchers argue. The White Paper provides for one additional runway at the Essex airport, but fails to put a cap on any further expansion.

Heathrow's planned third "short haul" runaway would have to be extended to take intercontinental flights and Gatwick's capacity would double to two runways.

However there would have to be expansion at all major airports to meet demand in 2030 if present trends continue, according to the report from the association's Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group (SASIG). The group, which represents 60 local authorities near airports, argues that one way to meet the rising number of flights would be to resurrect the idea of a major new airport away from centres of population. The only logical site might be the Thames Estuary - an option rejected by the White Paper.

Richard Worrall, chairman of SASIG, said the official document was "in tatters" because demand had "significantly" exceeded predictions. While the Government was about to publish a review of progress measured against the White Paper, it should be "rewritten from scratch".

He added: "It is now time for those politicians who claim to have so-called green credentials to either put up or shut up.

"We accept that the UK economy and its people have much to gain from a successful aviation industry. But there is universal recognition that the aviation industry is one of the fastest growing contributors to global warming."

In the absence of an "international catastrophe" every five years or so, Britain would run out of runways in 15 years, he said.

Growth had been ahead of government predictions for six of the past eight years. Only 9/11 and its aftermath stalled the rate of increase. Ministers had forecast a 4.6 per cent annual rise in demand, but over the past three years it had increased by around 7 per cent. If the average growth rate since 1998 continued, the White Paper estimate of 500 million passengers a year would be reached by 2021 not 2030.

Some 780 million passengers a year could be passing through British airports in 2030 - rather than the document's upper estimate of 600 million. Every year after 2030 there could be an extra 15 to 25 million passengers seeking to pass through UK airports, the research predicts.

A Department for Transport spokesman denied the White Paper supported unconstrained growth. "It supports making better use of existing capacity as a priority and targeted infrastructure enhancements over the long term." He said the Government did not agree with the group's forecasts of future demand. "If they were to be true, it would only serve to underline the extent to which our policy is not about providing for unlimited growth."

23 November 2006


A climate of resistance to change

Ed Crooks - Financial Times - 20 November 2006

People are worried about the potential effects of climate change but are dubious about changing their life-styles to prevent it.

The findings of a Harris Interactive poll for the FT on energy attitudes illustrate clearly the challenges governments face in making policy in this area.

Only 15 per cent of people trust Russia to be a reliable energy supplier, and 77 per cent believe that man-made global warming is a fact.

But they are much less convinced of the need to do anything about it. Doubts about building new nuclear power stations, supported by only a third of the public, are matched by reluctance to accept a high price for fighting climate change.

The questions were asked earlier this month, immediately after the publication of Sir Nicholas Stern's review of the economics of global warming, which was enthusuastically endorsed by both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

But people seemed reluctant to commit to Sir Nicholas's proposed strategies for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Asked whether, in general terms, they would accept restrictions on purchases or behaviour to fight global warming, 56 per cent said they would strongly or somewhat support them, while only 21 per cent would oppose them.

That was the weakest level of support in any of the five countries surveyed by Harris, but still a clear majority. The others were France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Asked about specific restrictions, however, support was weaker. Only 44 per cent strongly or somewhat supported a charge on air travel to reduce the environmental damage it causes.

And as in the other countries, when asked to think about specific amounts of money they might be called on to give up to combat climate change, the British public were resistant to making sacrifices.

Sir Nicholas suggested that rich countries might eventually have to forgo about 2 per cent of national income to keep global warming within acceptable limits: roughly equivalent to a week's wages.

According to the poll, only 21 per cent of the population would be prepared to give up that much. Just under a third would not be prepared to pay anything at all, while 36 per cent would pay less than a week's wages.

If governments are to act on Sir Nicholas's advice,it seems they will have todo so gradually to avoid significant political cost.

The detail of the poll results, however, showswhy both Labour and the Conservatives have identified climate change as oneof the issues on whichthey want to campaign.

Younger people and those living in the south are more likely to see global warming as a threat, and are more prepared to accept the price of tackling it.

Answers to some of the questions show women to be more supportive of policies to curb emissions.

Women are, for example, significantly more likely than men to accept restrictions on their purchases and behaviour.

The deepest gender divide, however, is over nuclear power stations. Men are on balance in favour, with 48 per cent supporting new nuclear build and 24 cent opposing it. But women are against, with only 18 per cent in favour and 43 per cent against.

David Cameron's strategy - of trying to attract younger people, southerners and women to the Conservatives, sounding good on climate change while refusing to commit to too many costs, and remaining reticent about investment in nuclear energy - looks like a very sensible one.

23 November 2006


Tories and LibDems to challenge Labour over carbon targets U-turn

Andrew Grice, Political Editor - The Independent - 21 November 2006

Labour MPs have backed away from the idea of passing a law to ensure Britain cuts its carbon dioxide emissions each year to combat climate change.

Backbenchers who had called previously for emissions to be cut by 3 per cent a year have signalled they will not rebel against the Climate Change Bill announced in the Queen's Speech last week even though it will not include annual targets.

Earlier this year, 412 MPs, including 202 Labour backbenchers signed a Commons motion calling for a 3 per cent annual reduction in emissions. But five prominent green campaigners in Labour, including three who backed the original call, have softened their demands. In a new motion yesterday, they welcomed the Bill and said that "effective outcomes" mattered more than "political gestures".

The retreat follows warnings by Tony Blair and his ministers that an annual reduction in emissions could not be delivered in unforeseen circumstances such as a bad winter. Labour MPs have also been reassured by a plan from David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, to include five-year targets in the Bill and make an annual progress report to Parliament.

Elliot Morley, the former environment minister, who has tabled the new motion, said the MPs now wanted to "push the boundaries" of the Bill so that every possible mechanism could be used to curb emissions. "The important thing is the outcome," he said. "You can get yourself wrapped up in targets and lock yourself into some difficult decisions which could have a huge impact on the economy and not get much benefit on emissions."

Alan Whitehead, another former minister, said what mattered most was to ensure mechanisms were put in place in the next 10 to 15 years to ensure the Government would achieve its long-term target of cutting emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Other green campaigners who have signed the conciliatory motion include Colin Challen, Rob Marris and Mark Lazarowicz, who all backed the original move to impose 3 per cent a year cuts.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats will join forces to try to amend the Bill and could defeat the Government in the House of Lords, where they can outvote Labour by voting together. Peter Ainsworth, shadow Environment Secretary, said: "We will certainly try to strengthen the Bill. The idea of short-term, annual targets is a necessary discipline that would ensure rigour. We don't support a crude annual target and accept the need for some flexibility."

Chris Huhne, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "You need a benchmark against which the annual report can be measured. The target could be adjusted for the weather and the business cycle. But a five-year target is quite unacceptable. It would run beyond the normal life of a parliament."

Labour MPs have backed away from the idea of passing a law to ensure Britain cuts its carbon dioxide emissions each year to combat climate change.

Backbenchers who had called previously for emissions to be cut by 3 per cent a year have signalled they will not rebel against the Climate Change Bill announced in the Queen's Speech last week even though it will not include annual targets.

Earlier this year, 412 MPs, including 202 Labour backbenchers signed a Commons motion calling for a 3 per cent annual reduction in emissions. But five prominent green campaigners in Labour, including three who backed the original call, have softened their demands. In a new motion yesterday, they welcomed the Bill and said that "effective outcomes" mattered more than "political gestures".

The retreat follows warnings by Tony Blair and his ministers that an annual reduction in emissions could not be delivered in unforeseen circumstances such as a bad winter. Labour MPs have also been reassured by a plan from David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, to include five-year targets in the Bill and make an annual progress report to Parliament.

Elliot Morley, the former environment minister, who has tabled the new motion, said the MPs now wanted to "push the boundaries" of the Bill so that every possible mechanism could be used to curb emissions. "The important thing is the outcome," he said. "You can get yourself wrapped up in targets and lock yourself into some difficult decisions which could have a huge impact on the economy and not get much benefit on emissions."

Alan Whitehead, another former minister, said what mattered most was to ensure mechanisms were put in place in the next 10 to 15 years to ensure the Government would achieve its long-term target of cutting emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Other green campaigners who have signed the conciliatory motion include Colin Challen, Rob Marris and Mark Lazarowicz, who all backed the original move to impose 3 per cent a year cuts.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats will join forces to try to amend the Bill and could defeat the Government in the House of Lords, where they can outvote Labour by voting together. Peter Ainsworth, shadow Environment Secretary, said: "We will certainly try to strengthen the Bill. The idea of short-term, annual targets is a necessary discipline that would ensure rigour. We don't support a crude annual target and accept the need for some flexibility."

Chris Huhne, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "You need a benchmark against which the annual report can be measured. The target could be adjusted for the weather and the business cycle. But a five-year target is quite unacceptable. It would run beyond the normal life of a parliament."

23 November 2006


Global climate talks make "solid" progress

ENDS Europe DAILY 2208 - 20 November 2006

A fortnight of international climate change talks in Nairobi, Kenya, has agreed a work plan to begin discussions for a post-2012 successor to the Kyoto protocol, scheduled a review of the protocol for 2008 and adopted several initiatives to help combat climate change in developing countries.

The talks closed with three days of ministerial talks that ended on Friday. As expected, the talks did not lead to major breakthroughs in the search for a future global climate policy architecture. Instead, the EU welcomed "solid progress" and green groups "small steps forward".

"The EU has achieved all its main priorities and continues to lead the battle against climate change," Finnish environment minister Jan-Erik Enestam said. Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said the meeting had shown it was "increasingly clear that global emissions need to be halved by mid-century".


Countries with greenhouse gas reduction targets under Kyoto agreed a "detailed work plan" spelling out the steps needed to agree post-2012 commitments. By next February each must submit data that will be used to derive these targets. But there was no consensus on a deadline for deciding future caps.

The conference also agreed to undertake a comprehensive review of the protocol's operation in 2008. Developing countries had pushed for a later review but the EU secured the earlier date by agreeing that the review "shall not lead to new commitments for any party".

In the second round of a dialogue between industrialised and developing countries on long-term climate policy, discussion focussed on the economic challenges of, and market solutions to, climate change. Debate on a possible mechanism allowing developing countries to adopt voluntary Kyoto targets was put off until next May.


Delegates finalised a five-year programme of measures to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change. They also agreed to set up an adaptation fund that could eventually total E300m, but failed to decide which body should administer it.

The conference also settled the rules for a separate fund that will finance adaptation, technology transfer and emission mitigation efforts in developing countries. In addition, Germany pledged E24m and Italy E8m to a new EU fund to spur investment in developing countries.

UN secretary-general Kofi Annan announced the "Nairobi framework", a coalition of six UN agencies that will work to direct clean development mechanism (CDM) projects to African countries. There was also agreement to make the CDM process more transparent. A consultation on carbon capture and storage will lead to a decision in 2008 on whether to include the technology in the CDM.

16 November 2006


Background Note - Climate Change

Briefing from Department for Trade and Industry - 15 November 2006

"My Government will publish a Bill on climate change as part of its policy to protect the environment, consistent with the need to secure long-term energy supplies."

The science of climate change is indisputable - climate change is an issue of critical importance and urgent action is needed both at home and internationally to tackle it.

The Stern Review sets out the economic case for action on climate change, and concludes that the cost of inaction will be far higher than tackling climate change now. It also makes clear that the costs are lowest in the context of multilateral action. That – and the fact that half of UK emissions are already controlled by an EU scheme – is why one of the most important issues we will be considering in drawing up legislation is how best to relate domestic and international policies.

We have already set out significant steps to strengthen the domestic programme on climate change – most recently by publishing the UK Climate Change Programme and Energy Review.

By putting in legislation a long-term goal and setting out a framework for achieving this, the Government is providing business with certainty over the intentions of this and future Governments, and re-confirming the UK's commitment to taking action to meet our climate change goals.

The legislation would:

* Put the Government's long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 into statute. We would also consider appropriate interim targets;
* Establish an independent body – the Carbon Committee to work with Government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy.
* Create enabling powers to put in place new emissions reductions measures needed to achieve our goals; and,
* Set out improved monitoring and reporting arrangements, including how the Government reports to Parliament.

Taken together these represent an ambitious, coherent package. This legislation would demonstrate our commitment to taking action at home and so strengthen our ability to be global leaders in developing a future framework for climate change. The Government is determined to promote the widest possible debate across the country and in Parliament about the contents of the Bill.

As Stern has emphasised, the benefits of strong early action on climate change outweigh the costs. And as the Government spelt out in our Energy Review in July, we need to see the challenge of lowering emissions alongside the need for security of energy supplies.

We need to ensure that the investment which comes forward over the coming years moves us towards a low carbon economy based on low carbon energy sources. That is why we are developing this Bill alongside our work on the Energy White Paper. The Bill would aim to put in place a credible legislative framework for achieving our long-term carbon goals. The Energy White Paper to be published next year will set out the specific measures we will bring forward to help us deliver our carbon and energy security of supply goals, taking in to account issues of competitiveness.

The energy review conclusions included a wide range of proposals, many of which are being taken forward through consultations in anticipation of the Energy White Paper next year.

The proposals include ways to save energy, for example by undertaking a major drive for households, business and Government to use less energy by and improving the energy efficiency of new and existing housing. There are also proposals to encourage cleaner energy by making a continuing strong long-term commitment to carbon pricing, strengthening support for renewables and tackling barriers to the development of low carbon technologies.

In the context of secure energy supplies we are taking steps to ensure we have the right framework for companies to; invest to maximise production from UK oil and gas reserves and invest in new energy infrastructure and power stations in a timely way. We will also continue international pressure to liberalise markets in the EU and ensure open and competitive access to energy reserves elsewhere in the world.

An Energy White Paper will be published in March 2007.

16 November 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2205 - 15 November 2006

The British government is to propose two new laws aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and road congestion, Queen Elizabeth II announced on Wednesday as she delivered the government's annual legislative programme.

Speaking at the parliament's traditional state opening for the 2006/2007 session, the monarch said the government would publish a bill on climate change next year. The law will establish in law a long-term goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

The law will also create a carbon committee to oversee reduction efforts. The government said a separate consultation would consider "appropriate" interim targets to help achieve the 2050 goal. Groups such as Friends of the Earth want fixed yearly reductions of at least three per cent, a call supported by the two main opposition parties.

Also announced was a draft bill on road transport to reduce congestion in cities and improve public transport. Key aims are to develop road pricing throughout the UK and give local authorities more freedom to introduce their own transport schemes.

The speech drew mixed reactions. Green group WWF welcomed the proposed climate bill but criticised the government for failing to propose a marine bill it promised in 2005. According to the Liberal Democrats party, this was a "blow" to the marine environment since current laws are "utterly inadequate" to protect it.

16 November 2006


Christopher Adams, Political Correspondent - Financial Times - 14 November 2006

David Cameron will commit the Conservatives to a tough regime of annual targets to cut greenhouse gases, publishing a climate change bill that would hand consider-able powers to an independent panel of businessmen and academics.

The Tory leader will seek to outflank the government on global warming and increase his party's appeal to younger voters by promising a more stringent system of emissions targets than Tony Blair has so far backed.

Mr Cameron is expected to publish detailed proposals tomorrow, the day of the Queen's Speech, for a bill that would set an overall target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050.

The draft legislation would set up a climate change commission to set annual targets six years in advance and monitor the government's progress in meeting them. Additional "framework"targets would be set for 2015, 2020, 2030 and 2040.

Ministers would be obliged to set out a strategy to parliament, on which MPs would vote, and make annual reports to the Commons. Revised annual targets could be set if the government failed to meet the targets, forcing ministers to return to parliament with fresh strategies.

The commission would be staffed by up to 12 independent experts, six nominated by ministers and six by the Royal Society. Each commissioner would serve for six years and come from a scientific, economic or business background.

The proposals go a good deal further than Labour has in setting out how a statutory target-based system for cutting emissions would work and could win the support of Labour MPs who want an annual system. The government is backing the 2050 target, as well as interim ones, and is expected to publish its bill in December or early January.

Peter Ainsworth, shadow environment spokesman, said: "The point of the bill is to change the mindset in Westminster and Whitehall."

16 November 2006


Blair faces revolt over C02 targets

Nigel Morris - The Independent - 13 November 2006

Tony Blair faces a major Commons revolt over his refusal to commit Britain to annual cuts in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

The opposition parties and more than 200 Labour MPs have demanded that the Climate Change Bill, which will be announced in this week's Queen's Speech, include a promise to reduce C02 emissions by 3 per cent each year.

But the Prime Minister is resisting the demands, insisting that annual legally-binding targets would be too inflexible. He argues that without "pretty heavy" tax measures an unusually cold winter would scupper hopes of achieving that year's planned reduction.

Without a compromise, the Government looks certain to trigger a rebellion on a scale that could wipe out its majority.

Ministers have agreed a Bill that will set out the aim of cutting C02 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, but critics argue that it can only be achieved by the discipline of annual targets. Michael Meacher, the former environment minister, who tabled the motion demanding yearly reductions, said Mr Blair's preference for targets over a longer period such as 10 years was a mistake. It could mean action being delayed until the seventh or eighth year and then the target being abandoned as impossible.

16 November 2006


EU to hit airlines with unilateral CO2 emission caps

Bruno Waterfield - Eupolitix. Online - 15 November 2006

"If the climate change impact of the aviation sector continues to grow at the current rate, it would significantly undermine reductions made by other sectors to combat climate change."


Airlines flying into and within Europe are to be hit with EU CO2 emissions rules by 2011 under Brussels proposals to be tabled on December 20.

Leaks of draft legislation come as environment commissioner Stavros Dimas intervenes in UN climate change talks held in Nairobi on Wednesday.

He is pushing for more action to combat climate change on the world stage after 2012, when existing Kyoto targets expire.

"Kyoto is a first step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions but the international community will need to take much more ambitious action after 2012," he will say.

But the EU is set to go it alone with new emissions controls on aviation, proposals that are set to spark US and free trade protests as non-European airlines are hit by higher costs.

Industry and Washington back a global agreement on aviation emissions but the EU has grown impatient, especially after the US refused to sign up to the existing Kyoto deal on climate change.

The move to include aviation under EU CO2 emissions ceilings by January 1 2011 will include all flights inside Europe and trips to and from non-European destinations.

If countries, such as the US, introduce their own schemes to cut aviation CO2 emissions the EU will drop rules covering flights leaving Europe.

"Emissions from all flights arriving at and departing from EU airports should be included," states a leaked draft. "[The proposal] can thereby serve as a model for the expansion of the scheme worldwide."

"A pragmatic and precautionary approach is required… If the climate change impact of the aviation sector continues to grow at the current rate, it would significantly undermine reductions made by other sectors to combat climate change."

The new proposals are set to trigger intense New Year lobbying from the air industry and the US.

"This European proposal is something we and our industry are watching very, very closely," Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines in Fort Worth, Texas, told the International Herald Tribune.

"We could see another trade war," warned David Henderson, a spokesman for the Association of European Airlines.

Key to the plans will be the level that the EU sets for CO2 emissions, due to be pegged at 2004 to 2006 levels, hitting growth in Europe's burgeoning aviation industry, according to Reuters reports.

"From 2011 emissions from the aviation sector will be subject to a cap and aircraft operators will be required to surrender allowances to cover their emissions," states the draft.

Under the EU's current emissions trading scheme - which exempts aviation - national governments allocate CO2 targets for industry and companies must then purchase credits if those ceilings are breached.

Draft proposals will see airlines forced to buy 10 per cent of credits through an auction system in the first two years from 2011; the other 90 per cent will be free-of-charge.

From 2013, airlines will be required to buy 20 per cent and, starting in 2018, operators will have buy 40 per cent, to discourage airlines from selling unused credits to improve their profits.

16 November 2006


Is our air space getting too congested?
High or low lights of our skies?

Richard Cornwell - Ipswich Evening Star - 14 November 2006

TODAY we ask 30 tough questions, in a bid to get to the bottom of what is happening in our skies. Felixstowe editor RICHARD CORNWELL pins the Civil Aviation Authority for the facts.

WHEN we glance up at the sky and wonder just how many planes are up there, we trust the authorities know the answer, and that limits are in place.

But today there are few facts to go on. The Civil Aviation Authority which is responsible for safety and economic regulation of British aviation, as well as consumer protection in commercial aviation, doesn't keep a record of the numbers involved. It also admits nobody sets a limit on flights, as long as the air traffic controllers can cope.

The Evening Star launched Air Fair? campaign two years ago amid growing public concern over the numbers of aircraft, noise from planes - especially late at night - and the effect of vapour trails and fumes on the atmosphere.

When the capacity of the Clacton Airspace - which includes the Felixstowe area - was increased by 30pc two years ago, there was little publicity about it. Only one council in Suffolk brought the matter into the public arena, while officers responded at other authorities. Suffolk Coastal, which has been affected the most, didn't bother to respond at all.

Although it is too late to help this area now, the CAA says the concern over consultation has been recognised and from March next year changes will be introduced to make sure the public have their say.

So it's time we knew some facts.

Here's our 30 questions and the CAA's answers:

1 Q: How many commercial planes are crossing Suffolk daily and annually (2005 figure) on flights to or from UK airports and foreign destinations? Which UK airports?

A: The CAA does not keep a record of aircraft movements in controlled airspace. Annual data on civil air transport movements at airports are available on the CAA Economic Regulation Group's website www.caa.co.uk/statistics .

2 Q: In particular, how many are using the controlled airspace over the Felixstowe peninsula each day?

A: Please refer to answer 1.

3 Q: How many planes are "overflying" the Felixstowe peninsula - ie not stopping at airports in the UK, simply heading for destinations further afield?

A: Please refer to answer 1.

4 Q: What is the maximum number of planes per day which could use the flight corridor over Felixstowe?

A: Any limitation on the maximum number of aircraft that could use controlled airspace would result only from air traffic control capacity constraints.

5.Q: How many are cargo planes and how many passenger flights?

A: The CAA does not keep records that detail the breakdown of flights within a particular volume of en-route airspace.

6 .Q: What are the proportions of daytime and night-time flights?

A: The CAA does not keep records that specify a breakdown of day/night-time flights.

7. Q: Are there rules which govern night-time flying over urban areas? Do flights have to stop by a certain time?

A: There are no regulatory limitations on the hours of operation of controlled airspace except as determined at airports in accordance with local requirements or agreements.

8. Q: Who decides how many flights can take place over an area?

A: The number of flights in an area of controlled airspace is limited only by the capacity of the air traffic control system.

9. Q: What issues are examined concerning the wellbeing of the population living on the flight path?

A: The Secretary of State for Transport under section 70 of the Transport Act 2000 gives guidance to the CAA on environmental objectives relating to the exercise of its air navigation functions. The Guidance is available on the CAA website and lists the CAA's environmental Directions, also given by the Secretary of State under the 2000 Act. The CAA's statutory duties extend to taking the environmental impact of airspace change proposals into account when considering these proposals in accordance with the Airspace Change Process.

10. Q: Changes were made to the Clacton Airspace in 2004, which has since resulted in a big increase in the number of planes flying over Felixstowe. What extra capacity did the change create?

A: The 2004 change - known as the Clacton Airspace Change - was mainly to the north and east of Felixstowe and has been successful in expanding airspace capacity and reducing air traffic delays. The changes reflect the growth in air travel that has occurred in recent years.

11. Q: Has this capacity been reached yet - if not what is the increase in usage of the airspace since the change was brought into effect?

A: The CAA is not aware of any particular capacity constraints in respect of current airspace arrangements.

12. Q: When would the maximum capacity be expected to be reached, bearing in mind the government's predictions for the increase in air travel in the years ahead?

A: NATS (formerly known as National Air Traffic Services) is the UK en route air traffic service provider and would be responsible for assessing any need to establish new, or modify existing, controlled airspace to accommodate an actual growth in air transport movements.

13. Q: Is the Clacton controlled airspace the busiest in the UK? How does it rank with other areas?

A: The Clacton sector is known to be one of the busiest in the UK because of its proximity to the airspace boundaries of neighbouring states and due to its proximity to a significant number of international airports.

14. Q: How much is air travel currently increasing per year, ie number of flights?

A: There were 2.3 milllion air transport movements (landings and take-offs of commercial aircraft) at UK airports in 2005, six per cent more than in 2004. More data on air transport movements at UK airports and passenger numbers are available on the CAA website.

15. Q: We understand the lowest planes can fly over Felixstowe is 8,500ft under the changes which were made in 2004. Can they fly lower than this, or is this the absolute limit?

A: The base of controlled airspace immediately above the town of Felixstowe was not amended when the Clacton airspace change came into effect and remains at 5,500 feet. However, the base of the controlled airspace to the northwest and north of Felixstowe reduced from 13,500 to 8,500 feet and 10,500 feet respectively and has remained constant since the implementation of the 2004 changes. The remaining airspace between the surface and the base of controlled airspace is available to other users according to requirements. The majority of military training and civil recreational and instructional flying takes place outside controlled airspace; civil aircraft are bound by the Rules of the Air Regulations.

16. Q: What are the heights planes are allowed to fly over Ipswich? We understand this area can be used as a "holding area" for planes bound for Stansted.

A: The base of controlled airspace in this area is 8,500 feet. A Holding Pattern called LAPRA is located to the north of Ipswich in controlled airspace with a lowest holding level of 15,000 feet and is available when the ABBOT Hold at Sudbury is full. These Holding Patterns serve both Luton and Stansted Airports.

17. Q: Can further changes be made to the airspace without public consultation?

A: Please refer to answer below.

18. Q: There was concern over public consultation in 2004 when the county and district councils were asked for their views (responses then made by officers or not at all) and the wider public was not informed of the changes or their implications. Have there been moves to improve this system since to involve the public more fully? If so, how?

A: The CAA understands the importance and supports the need for public engagement on changes to airspace arrangements. Under revised arrangements set out in the Airspace Change Process Guidance Document (CAP725) due to be implemented on 31 March 2007, Airspace Change Sponsors will be required to engage and formally consult with all Regional, County, District and Borough Councils and unitary authorities whose areas are affected by the proposed changes. Airspace Change Sponsors are also required to publicise the consultation through the local media (such as local/regional newspapers and radio stations) to promote greater public awareness of the proposed changes. Other consultation events are also encouraged such as utilising open/public meetings as well as providing access to consultative material at some local libraries and via the Internet.

19. Q: The 2004 changes led to a judicial review in the High Court. Has this process been completed yet? If so, what was the outcome?

A: The case was 'stayed' by virtue of the parties reaching a settlement. This was without prejudice to the statutory duties of NATS or the CAA in respect of the consideration given to any future airspace change proposal, in particular, to consider all of the environmental impacts and to make a balanced decision based on the proper assessment of those impacts.

20. Q: There is growing environmental concerns about the impact of aircraft flying over urban areas - in the Felixstowe area, noise is the main concern, with air pollution and the effect of contrails blotting out the blue sky as secondary concerns. What role does the CAA have in protecting the public from these problems - and if not, whose role is it to do so?

A: Please refer to answer to Question 9.

21. Q: Have any assessments been carried out of the noise from the planes and the public's perception of the increased noise over the past few years?

A: The Government commissioned MVA to carry out research into the perception of aircraft noise. The study, entitled 'Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE)' commenced in 2001 and is continuing.

22. Q: What measurements have been taken to examine air pollution from fumes and vapour trails over the area?

A: The CAA is unaware of any such measurements.

23. Q: What are the effects on the atmosphere of the vapour trails?

A: The CAA publishes an environmental information sheet on the subject of 'contrails', on its website www.caa.co.uk (airspace policy/ documents/ environmental information)

24. Q: Why are planes flying over Felixstowe when there is so much open countryside with fewer people living in it both north and south of the area?

A: The dimensions of these various areas of controlled airspace have been configured for maximum operational efficiency and are required to dovetail with complex arrangements over London to the south and west and with our continental neighbours to the north and east.

25. Q: Which UK airports are the planes flying to and from, and which countries are they travelling to and from?

A: At the lower altitudes the aircraft are mainly flying to and from Stansted and Luton. At the higher altitudes they include aircraft to and from a wide range of airports in the south of the UK and the Midlands. At the very higher levels they will include overflying traffic not landing at or departing from a UK airport. Luton and Stansted flight schedules will provide information on destination countries.

26. Q: At what height are these aircraft flying?

A: Variously, at minima of 6,000, 9,000, 11,000 feet and above, up to 45,000 feet, depending on the precise location (the boundaries of four different portions of controlled airspace now abut over the Felixstowe peninsular) and depending on whether the aircraft are arriving, departing or overflying.

27. Q: Could the current flights not be made to fly higher to cut noise?

A: The dimensions of these various areas of controlled airspace have been configured for maximum operational efficiency. Aircraft already usually fly as high as possible for as long as possible as this minimises fuel consumption. Increasing the height at which aircraft fly in controlled airspace could compromise the application by air traffic controllers of safe vertical separation and the onus placed on them to operate the airspace expeditiously and efficiently, which could, in turn, require aircraft to fly longer tracks over the ground in order to lose altitude.

28. Q: Are there restrictions concerning flight heights over populated areas?

A: Yes. The rules do not permit an aircraft in transit over any congested area of a city, town or settlement to fly below 1,000 feet above the highest fixed obstacle within 600 metres of the aircraft, except when landing and taking off. As there are no airports in the immediate vicinity of Felixstowe, there is no requirement to fly at this height and commercial air transport aircraft are operated within the confines of controlled airspace, which has a base of 5,500 feet immediately above Felixstowe.

29. Q: Commercial flights have only been using the airspace over Felixstowe regularly since the closure of Bentwaters and Woodbridge military air bases. Have you got figures for the past ten years to show air traffic crossing the area, both for Suffolk and for the Felixstowe peninsula corridor?

A: Commercial aircraft have been flying over Felixstowe for many years. The closure of Bentwaters and Woodbridge has no relevance to the activity currently taking place in controlled airspace over the Felixstowe area. As indicated in other answers, the CAA does not keep records of the use of controlled airspace.

30. Q: Which is the body people should complain to if they have concerns?

A: To the Department for Transport regarding UK aviation environmental policies or to the CAA in respect of general matters concerning the operation of airspace at:

Directorate of Airspace Policy
Focal Point for Aviation Related Environmental Complaints
K6 CAA House
45-59 Kingsway
London WC2B 6TE

In 2005, UK airports handled 229 million passengers - a rise of more than six per cent on 2004.

Air traffic controllers in the UK handle around 6,000 flights a day landing and taking off.

Do you think there are too many planes overhead?

Write to Star Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

16 November 2006


No-frills airlines had 'little impact on growth'

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 16 November 2006

Low-cost airlines, regarded by many environmental groups as one of the leading causes of surging air travel and rising carbon emissions, are largely blameless, a controversial report by the Civil Aviation Authority said yesterday.

"No-frills airlines do not appear to have significantly altered overall traffic growth," said Harry Bush, CAA group director for economic regulation.

The report says the low-cost carriers have revolutionised the short-haul market in the past decade in terms of the level and type of fares offered and the range of choice for passengers of airlines, airports and destinations. However, "contrary to common perceptions" the no-frills airlines appeared to have had little impact on overall rates of traffic growth.

There is little evidence of any marked change in the income and socio-economic profile of air passengers as a result of the arrival of Ryanair, EasyJet and the host of other low-cost carriers.

The report says the profile of no-frills and full-service leisure passengers has changed little over the past 10 years. It is still the better-off who travel by air.

Mr Bush said passengers on no-frills airlines closely resembled those on full service airlines. The main effect of the growth of the low cost carriers "has been to provide further opportunities to those in middle and higher income groups to fly more often".

The report shows that the average annual rate of growth in short-haul traffic in the past 10 years was similar to that before the arrival of the no-frills airlines.

The average growth of combined UK domestic and UK/European Union passenger traffic was 5.6 per cent a year in the years between 1975 and 1998, before the low-cost carriers had much presence, and between 1998 and 2005, the period in which they became a force in short-haul aviation.

Their biggest impact has been on the rival full-service and charter airlines, which have been forced to cede a large part of the aviation market to the new breed of competitors, losing almost half the market.

Last year no-frills carriers, dominated by Ryanair and EasyJet, accounted for 42 per cent of total UK-EU traffic and for 49 per cent of total domestic traffic. Their share of UK-EU scheduled traffic was 52 per cent. The biggest losers have been the charter operators, as travellers have moved away from package holidays.

One area where the low-cost carriers are playing a significant role in social change, however, is in the migration of workers from east Europe, in particular to the UK and Ireland. In the early years of the no-frills carriers their business was dominated by outbound traffic, but this picture is changing rapidly, says the report.

"Inbound traffic on no-frills carriers has increased significantly, particularly with the opening of routes to eastern Europe, most notably Poland." This had coincided with a rise in the number of eastern Europeans taking up jobs in Britain after the enlargement of the EU. "But we cannot say that without the low-cost carriers there would be no Polish plumbers," said Mr Bush. "People might have come by bus anyway."

OUR COMMENT: Quote from Press Release by SSE 11th November 2006

"The average income of UK leisure passengers travelling through cheap flights mecca Stansted Airport topped £50,000 in 2005 for the first time according to the CAA‚s 2005 Passenger Survey Report. The actual figure was £51,141 a year, dispelling the Government myth that cheap flights are somehow democratising air travel by providing opportunities for poor people to fly."

"The CAA survey also shows that 83% of passengers using Stansted Airport in 2005 were A/B/C1s - the most affluent socio-economic groups, whereas only 7.7% were D/Es - the poorer members of society."

"The difficulty, of course, for those on lower incomes is that it is all very well to buy a cheap flight to Marseille, Milan or Madrid but a weekend break for two could still cost the best part of £500 when the cost of the hotel, meals, taxis - and of course the airport car parking bill at Stansted - are added together."

16 November 2006


James Hore - EADT Online - 15 November 2006

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to expansion at Stansted Airport have accused its operator BAA of relying on the region's roads to cope with millions of customers.

They spoke out after latest figures revealed nearly 12 million people a year are travelling to and from the Essex airport by road, while the numbers using trains has dropped by 500,000.

Peter Sanders, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said BAA's "reliance" on roads contradicted Government policy placing greater focus on public transport.

But BAA have hit back, saying campaigners fail to point out that of Stansted's 23 million passengers annually, less are using cars to get to the airport, meaning the increase is due to increased bus use.

It pointed out Stansted has the highest public transport use by passengers of all the UK airports and is also in the top four in Europe.

Figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority revealed 4.8 million airport passengers used the train to access Stansted last year compared to 5.3 million in 2004, despite an overall 5% increase in the number of passengers.

At the same time, the number of Stansted's passengers who arrived at or departed the airport by road increased by 700,000 to 11.7 million.

Mr Sanders said: "Local people need very little reminding about the growth in road congestion or of the overcrowding on many of our train services to London arising from the rapid expansion of the airport in recent years.

"BAA has consistently failed to keep pace with the airport's expansion by investing in the proper rail infrastructure needed to cater for the rapid growth we have seen in passenger numbers.

"It is astonishing that even in the case of BAA's present planning application which, if approved by Uttlesford District Council, could eventually enable Stansted to handle 45 million or even 50 million passengers a year, BAA continues to claim that there is no need for any new investment in rail infrastructure or road improvements."

But a BAA spokesman said: "Those who are serious about Stansted and its future understand the truth and they are supporting the important work we are doing to get people out of private cars and on to public transport."

"We are number one in the UK, and take great pride in our record of achievement. SSE is ignoring the vital role bus and coach plays in providing public transport alternatives at Stansted. "We have made substantial investments in new services which has seen bus and coach use grow by over 250% over the last five years - that's a real success story that has given passengers real choice."

16 November 2006


More Delay by BAA Over Second Runway Proposals

From Press Statement by SSE - 16 November 2006

BAA announced yesterday that it is to delay for a third time the announcement of proposals for a second runway at Stansted is a further mark of the company's incompetence and disregard for the local community which now faces another uncertain Christmas as a result.

At the start of the consultation into the proposed siting for a second runway (December 2005) BAA stated that it would announce the outcome of the consultation in 'Summer 2006'.

On 6 July 2006, BAA issued a press statement saying that the announcement would be delayed until the autumn.

On 25 October 2006, BAA advised the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee that the announcement would be made within four to five weeks - i.e. by the end of November.

On 15 November 2006, BAA issued a press statement confirming that the announcement would be made in January 2007.

The public consultation ended in March. How long does it take BAA to digest the fact that 89 percent of local people are opposed outright to its plans for a second runway - whatever BAA's preferred location?

This latest delay also suggests that BAA is still trying to work out which corners to cut in order to satisfy its new Spanish owners and persuade the very sceptical Ryanair and Easyjet to fund its proposals.

13 November 2006


On a wing and a whisper: the airliner to end runway noise
Design would reduce fuel use, say engineers
'Flying wing' could be in the air by 2030

Alok Jha, Science Correspondent - The Guardian - 7 November 2006

Engineers have unveiled what they hope is the future for commercial airliners – a radical "flying wing" designed to be so quiet that no one outside an airport will be able to hear it.

The SAX-40 would be 25% more fuel efficient than modern planes and carry 215 passengers up to 5,000 nautical miles at a maximum speed of 600 mph. The blended wing design concept, which could come into commercial service by 2030, is a result of the £2.3 million Silent Aircraft Initiative, SAI, a three year collaberation between Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"It's got a bold aim – by starting from scratch to design an airplane that has noise reduction as a major consideration – so quiet that its noise would be imperceptible outside an urban airport in the daytime", said Anne Dowling of Cambridge University, who lead the British side of the project.

Though airliners have been in commercial service for more than half a century their basic design has not changed. A tube like fuselage with engines hanging under the wings has been the default design because it can easily be scaled up and down in size and is easy to maintain. Blending the fuselage and wing has been confined mostly to military planes such as long range stealth bombers.

Engineers chose this shape for the SAX-40 because it is more aerodynamic and produces less air turbulance over the body, hence less noise. Using hundreds of microphones engineers tested the sound produced by many of the new components. Their simulations predicted the aircraft noise would be 63 decibels at the airport perimeter, the equivalent of standing on a busy street.

"It's the integral system design that enables the low noise, and not one particular technology" said Zoltan Spavosky of MIT.

The primary noise reduction idea has been to put the engines above the body of the aircraft. This allows the fuselage to screen the noise from the ground by reflecting sound noise upwards The wings have been simplified, removing the need for flaps and slats – a major source of noise when a plane lands.

"On approach to land, the flow over the wings and the landing gear produces much of the noise," said Dr Spakovsky. Half of the noise an aircraft makes on its approach to a runway is produced this way, and the faster it approaches the more noise it makes. The blended wing of the SAX-40 means the whole body provides lift for the aircraft, allowing it to make a slower approach.

Other ideas include lining the engines with sound absorbing materials and making them longer so that acoustic mufflers can be added to the ends. They also have adjustable nozzles that keep noise down at take-off but open up at cruising altitude to maximise fuel efficiency.

"We set a major target for low noise but at the beginning we didn't know what the impact would be for fuel burn", said Prof. Dowling. "The design has reduced fuel burn and noise but probably if we scrapped the noise we could go still further in terms of reduced fuel burn."

The engineers calculated that the SAX-40 would achieve 149 passenger miles per gallon compared with 121 for a Boeing 777. By comparison a Toyota Prius hybrid car gets 144 passenger miles per gallon.

John Green, of "Greener by Design", which promotes sustainable aviation, said he was initially sceptical about the silent aircraft initiative. "Three years on I have to concede that the SAI has surpassed my expectations by quite a margin" he said. "The team has produced a high risk but credible design."

The conceptual design will now be carried forward by the industrial partners in the silent aircraft initiative. Several dozen companies were involved, including Rolls Royce and British Airways.

Further development of the SAX-40 into a commercial airline could take several decades – the new Airbus 380, for example, took17 years to design and build.

"This is a conceptual design and there are many technological barriers that need to be overcome to introduce these technologies into commercial use", said Cesare Hall, an engineer at Cambridge University. He outlined challenges such as developing the strong composite materials needed to produce the oval-shaped hull and improving modern jet engines to work with the SAX-40 design.

Professor Dowling said: " What we've shown here is the kinds of technologies and trade-offs and advantages they might bring. There are significant technological challenges to be overcome if we're to see an aircraft based on that concept. Some of the individual technologies one might see on more conventional aircraft in the nearer future."

OUR COMMENT: The future of flying, within reasonable limits, looks promising. BUT these developments are too far away to deal with the more immediate problem of climate change. Action has to be much quicker. Airport capacity should not be increased NOW. We must wait and see if these green planes are practical and can be produced commercially.

Pat Dale

13 November 2006


James Randerson and agencies - The Guardian - 9 November 2006

The world has less than a decade to reverse the growth in greenhouse gas emissions if dangerous climate change is to be avoided, according to a report from a thinktank that goes further than the landmark Stern review last week. Lord Stern's report said that unless greenhouse emissions were tackled the world faced an economic downturn on a par with the great depression.

Yesterday's report from the Institute of Public Policy Research suggests Lord Stern's analysis was too conservative and governments need to move further and faster. To minimise the risk of a 2C rise - seen as the threshold for dangerous climate change - the authors say global carbon dioxide emissions would need to peak between 2010 and 2013. By 2015 to 2020 the world would need to be cutting carbon emissions by 4%-5% annually and by mid century CO2 levels should be 70%-80% below what they were in 1990, say Paul Baer and Michael Mastrandrea, experts in risk analysis.

The government's "aspiration" is to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. "It is the timetable for action, above all, that our research shows we urgently need to rethink," wrote Simon Retallack, head of the IPPR's climate change team, in a foreword to the report. "We do not have decades in which to bend the CO2 curve: we have less than 10 years. The gap between what is necessary and what seems feasible clearly looms large. But if we want to avoid significant risks of appalling global harm we will need to re-examine what is feasible."

If the global average temperature rises by more than 2C, the report predicts, more than 2 billion people will be affected by drought and some of the world's most diverse ecosystems, including coral reefs and the Amazon rainforest, will be severely damaged.

But Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, told the Guardian in an interview ahead of publication of the Stern review that it was looking increasingly unlikely that the world would be able to stay below the 2C threshold. Carbon dioxide levels are 383 parts per million and rising at 2ppm per year. He believed it would be politically realistic to stabilise CO2 at between 450 and 550 ppm, which would translate into a global average temperature rise of 2.2 to 3.5C.

Yesterday Tony Blair received a petition signed by 150,000 people and delivered by six children. The petition, from the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, called for a climate change bill in next week's Queen's speech to cut UK CO2 emissions by at least 3% annually.

13 November 2006


Christopher Adams and Fiona Harvey - Financial Times - 10 November 2006

George W. Bush should bury differences with Democrat opponents and lead a "bi-partisan" drive to put the US at the heart of a Kyoto II deal on climate change, according to David Miliband, the environment secretary.

Mr Miliband told the Financial Times he could think of "no greater legacy" for the US president, weakened by a drubbing in the mid-term elections, than reaching a global agreement that bound polluters to cutting greenhouse gases.

His comments reflect hopes in London that the Democrat majority in Congress could, in time, lead to a change of direction in US policy on global warming.

Speaking ahead of international climate talks in Nairobi next week, at which Britain is expected to try to inject fresh momentum into stalled talks on a post-Kyoto framework, the environment secretary admitted in an interview that there was little likelihood of a breakthrough "in one fell swoop".

But he challenged the White House to abandon its scepticism about climate change. Mr Bush has refused to join the Kyoto protocol, which imposed on developed nations mandatory targets for cutting carbon emissions. "I can think of no greater legacy from the last two years of the Bush administration than to lead a bipartisan drive in America to put America at the heart of a global, binding long-term emissions reduction agreement," said Mr Miliband.

Senior government insiders, while hopeful of movement from the US, privately believe this could take many months. Mr Miliband, although evangelical on the need for action to tackle global warming, is not talking up the likelihood of US backing. Instead, he believes that Nairobi should be seen as the start of efforts "to break out of the log jam".

Mr Miliband said the Stern review had removed another argument for those opposed to action on emissions. Sceptics used to base their objections to Kyoto on criticism of climate science, but when the scientific evidence became overwhelming many shifted to a stance holding that action on emissions was too costly and should be left to the future when new technologies would make it easier. The Stern review came to the opposite conclusion, that taking urgent action was the cheapest option.

As a result, said Mr Miliband, the argument had shifted again, with opponents saying the UK should not have to take action on climate change until bigger emitters such as China did so. He said: "It's a case of after you, Claude." Tackling that objection would require an international agreement on emissions that involved all countries.

He will also argue next week in favour of adapting to the effects of climate change and advocate the expansion of fledgling markets in emissions trading, such as the European Union's which endeavours to set a price on carbon, and investment in low-carbon technologies.

Just as important, he will say, is the adoption of "hard targets" to cut emissions. Britain will push for a deal on tackling global warming to top the agenda for next summer's summit in Germany of the Group of Eight richest nations.

The UK, said Mr Miliband, was on track to meet its Kyoto commitments but had to do better. However, he declined to say whether the government was considering raising "green" taxes and refused to comment on a leaked memo that showed him giving thought to increasing taxes on gas-guzzling vehicles and air travel.

Amid a Conservative charge on the environment, and with David Cameron, Tory leader, calling for a shift towards green taxation, there has been debate within government about what steps to take. Next week's Queen's Speech will include a climate change bill that sets long-term emissions targets and could pave the way for an emissions trading scheme between big businesses such as supermarkets and hotels.

Mr Miliband said: "The chancellor will set out options at the end of the month or the beginning of next month, whenever the pre-Budget report is. The government has internal discussions before then, it has external discussions after that, so I'm not going to say anything about that."

13 November 2006


Aviation "in EU ETS by 2010" says Dimas

ENDS Europe DAILY 2201 - 9 November 2006

Carbon dioxide emissions from air travel will be included in the EU's full carbon trading scheme (ETS) from 2010, half way through its second phase, according to the European commission.

On Thursday, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas promised legislative proposals by the end of the month.  He said that all flights entering and leaving EU territory would have to be covered by allowances under the system.

In July, the European parliament urged the commission to instead establish a stand-alone trading system for aviation as a first step to including the sector in the ETS.  MEPs fear that air travel could have a distorting effect on the existing trading system, that could harm "less protected" industries .

But Mr Dimas said that the commission's analysis showed that including aviation in the scheme would have "a minimal impact" on other sectors.  He added that the estimated 2010 inclusion date for aviation would depend on how quickly EU institutions can agree on the proposals.

Later, Mr Dimas welcomed a statement organised by environmental group WWF and signed by 50 leading economists calling for a strengthening of the ETS.  While emission trading is "the appropriate policy to manage greenhouse gas emissions", economists fear that the system could be undermined by inadequate implementation.

The economists urged Mr Dimas to propose an EU-wide emissions cap from the scheme's third phase starting from 2013 rather than letting countries set their own.  Otherwise, necessary emission cuts won't be made, they warned.  Mr Dimas promised that the question of a central cap would be addressed in the review, which will be launched on Monday.

Also on Thursday, WWF published its own assessment of the six largest EU countries' national allocation plans for the second phase of the EU ETS.

The report echoes widespread criticism of the plans, saying France's shows "zero ambition", and describing Poland's planned 17 per cent increase in allocations for the second phase as "Europe's most ridiculous cap".

13 November 2006


Global growth in carbon emissions is 'out of control'

The Independent - 11 November 2006

The growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels over the past five years was four times greater than for the preceding 10 years, according to a study that exposes critical flaws in the attempts to avert damaging climate change.

Data on carbon dioxide emissions shows that the global growth rate was 3.2 per cent in the five years to 2005 compared with 0.8 per cent from 1990 to 1999, despite efforts to reduce carbon pollution through the Kyoto agreement.

Much of the increase is probably due to the expansion of the Chinese economy, which has relied heavily on burning coal and other fossil fuels for its energy.

Dr Mike Raupach, chair of the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of researchers who compiled the latest figures, warned yesterday that emissions were spiralling out of control.

"This is a very worrying sign. It indicates that recent efforts to reduce emissions have had virtually no impact on emissions growth and that effective caps are urgently needed," he said.

Current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are 380 parts per million (ppm), about 100ppm higher than before the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. Some computer models predict damaging and irreversible climate change if carbon dioxide levels rise above 450ppm or 500 ppm.

The rate of increase of emissions suggests it may soon be impossible to avoid some of the worst-case scenarios, said Josep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project. "On our current path, we will find it extremely difficult to rein in carbon emissions enough to stabilise the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 450ppm, and even 550ppm will be a challenge," he said. "At some point in the near future, we will miss the boat in terms of achieving acceptable levels."

Based on current trends, carbon dioxide concentrations are likely to increase to 500ppm this century. The last time the planet experienced levels as high as 500ppm was about 20 or 40 million years ago, when sea levels were 100 metres higher than today.

The Stern report earlier this month warned that the uncontrolled release of greenhouse gases could lead to a rise in average global temperatures of up to 5C by 2100 - about the same temperature difference between now and the last ice age.

Scientist have warned that global temperatures will continue to rise for many decades after carbon dioxide concentrations have stabilised due to the environmental inertia of the world's climate system.

Dr Peter Falloon, a climate impact scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre, said the latest findings did not augur well for attempts at averting climate change.

"It's not what we want or hope to see. The concern comes from the fact that the greater the emissions are now, the harder it will be to bring them down in the future," he said. "It takes 30 or 40 years to realise the change in carbon dioxide emissions. It highlights how important it is to take quick and effective action now."

Professor Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre in London, said: "This is more very bad news. We need a 60 to 70 per cent cut in emissions, but instead, emission levels are spiralling out of control. The sum total of our meagre efforts to cut emissions amounts to less than zero."

OUR COMMENT: No airport expansion! Keep Stansted at 25 mppa!

Pat Dale

13 November 2006


New research on National Allocation Plans shows urgent action needed

Statement by the Carbon Trust - 8 November 2006

The EU ETS is the central pillar of implementing CO2 emission reductions in the EU and has emerged as the backbone of the emerging global carbon market.

The carbon price and its stability are defined by the scarcity created by government allocations. Most EU countries have now submitted proposals for their allocations in Phase II, the Kyoto period of 2008-12. New research for the Carbon Trust carried out by Climate Strategies and ENTEC, shows that the current allocation plans will not deliver the robust and stable carbon price that is necessary for efficient business investment in low carbon solutions.

Professor Michael Grubb, chief economist at the Carbon Trust, said: "If the current national allocation plans are allowed to stand, it could seriously undermine the credibility of the EU ETS and the mechanism of carbon trading as an effective way to tackle carbon emissions. A more consistent approach to national allocations across Europe is essential. Energy intensive sectors need a level playing field to avoid competitive distortions, and all companies need a robust carbon market to ensure that their investments take into account the long term realities of a carbon constrained world.

If nothing is done, inflated allocations could become the Achilles heel of the European response to climate change and Kyoto implementation. The EU Commission and Member States should consider very carefully whether any of the plans, other than those of Spain, Italy, and the UK, are fit for purpose"

(i)Total allocations
The currently proposed allocations for Phase II will not deliver a robust carbon market. Collectively, they exceed a simple trend projection of emissions. Given the likely availability of emission credits from Clean Development Mechanism projects carried out in developing countries, they imply a high risk of carbon prices that are too low to offer any significant incentive to reduce emissions.

This outcome would be at odds with declared European positions on climate change. It would undermine European authority on the issue as well as business confidence in the credibility of government targets and incentives.

For many countries, the proposed allocations represent inadequate cutbacks in relation to Kyoto targets. This would place increasing pressure on Government Treasuries to make up the shortfall by purchasing international emission credits, which could strain Kyoto compliance.

The current allocation plans make little use of auctioning, which could increase the stability and credibility of the system, reduce perverse incentives arising from excessive free allocation, and generate revenues to help for example with government purchase of allowances.

Two fundamental changes are required to create a robust carbon market. Compared to the current proposed allocation plans, total free allocations should be cut back 300-400MtCO2/yr, and 100-200MtCO2/yr should be re-injected back into the market through auctioning.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme:
Key points on proposed allocations for Phase II (Kyoto period, 2008-12)

(ii) Comparison of allocation plans
It is important to compare the efforts being made in different countries, particularly amongst the energy-intensive traded goods sector. At the same time, countries are in different positions in terms of growth prospects and distance from Kyoto targets, partly due to actions already taken. Based upon the draft NAPs, as summarised in the Figure below, we conclude:

Among the current proposed allocation plans, Italy and Spain are proposing the most significant cutbacks, more than 10% reductions below the sector emissions in 2005, followed closely by the UK. No other countries are proposing significant reductions below 2005 levels.

The UK will comfortably exceed its Kyoto commitment, and based on an "equal share of effort" analysis, Spain and Italy will be close to their Kyoto commitments. All other countries fall short on this measure.

Austria and Finland are notable for allocations which leave a huge gap relative to their Kyoto target.

The Netherlands, Belgium and France also fall short, owing to provisions for 'new entrant reserves' which would allow a big expansion and take these countries much further from their Kyoto targets. Sweden's huge New Entrant Reserve would also take it some distance from a Kyoto-consistent allocation.

Germany has a special responsibility as it is by far the largest emitter (more than 20 per cent of EU total), and will host the EU and G8 Presidencies next year on a platform of leading the fight against climate change. However, its proposed allocation would result in a net increase in national emissions, and provisions in the plan are designed to protect the construction of new coal plant. These features are inconsistent with stated German goals on climate change commitments and targets.

Almost all the Accession Countries are allocating a big increase in emissions, which in many countries would breach even the existing scope to increase under their Kyoto targets. Such increases are in sharp contrast with historical trends and are not credible.

Even in the three countries proposing significant cutbacks, they are placed almost entirely upon the power sector and most allocate growth close to 'business as usual' needs in other sectors. The UK plan fails to make any cutbacks at all outside the power sector, but in other respects, especially its use of auctioning, is one of the most robust plans.

The NAPs need to provide an effective incentive, with a fair distribution of effort across Europe. They must do so in ways that are consistent with national Kyoto commitments, the EU's international position, and the business need for a robust carbon market against which to make the investments necessary for a low carbon future. The EU Commission and Member States should consider very carefully whether any of the plans, other than those of Spain, Italy, and the UK, are fit for purpose.

Data are incomplete for some allocation plans. The Italian and Spanish plans are in draft, not yet submitted to the European Commission. Italy has indicated that it may revise its plan before formal submission. UK, German, Sweden and France adjusted for changes in installation coverage between Phase I and Phase II.

Source: Carbon Trust, drawing upon commissioned research by Climate Strategies and ENTEC. The full Climate Strategies research reports will be released at press conference in Brussels, 9 November 2006, and downloadable as from 12.30 Central European Time from www.climate-strategies.org.

13 November 2006


Visitors to an exhibition about aircraft noise voiced concerns
over the amount of air traffic over Sudbury

Sudbury Online - 10 November 2006

BAA officials explained the findings of a three-month study of aircraft noise over Sudbury, at the town hall.

Visitor Joan Cousins, 73, of Recreation Walk, Great Cornard, said: "We get planes coming over in the early hours of the morning, waking us up."

Maurice Holland, 74, also of Recreation Walk, said: "It is not just planes from Stansted either, but also Heathrow and Luton. Sometimes they are so low you can see their numbers. I do not see it ever altering. There is too much money involved and too many people flying these days."

The report found that noise levels from planes reached between 52 to 69 decibels, the equivalent of quiet street noise to that heard inside a car.

Other noise, including that from other sources, including cars and roadworks, was recorded at between 52 and 75 decibels.

BAA Stansted noise communications manager Viki Hughes said: "There are no set government levels for noise levels on arriving planes, which is the noise people in Sudbury hear from Stansted. The Government only sets noise limits on departing planes. So we do not have anything to measure against."

"We will have another noise monitor in town in future to see if levels have gone up. The theory is they should not, as planes get quieter."

She said that not all the aircraft which came over Sudbury were from Stansted. There were only 300 arrivals a day and not every one of those was going over Sudbury.

She added: "I want to reassure everyone living in Sudbury area that we are listening to what residents have to say. We want to respond positively to their concerns and take action."

Alan Line, chairman of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group said: "I live in Kersey and we get lots of aircraft. They come over in streams. There is also the question of pollution - the Co2 emissions."

Dick Histead, also a group member, said "You can say the emissions for one aircraft are small but think about the thousands that fly over."

BAA is also delivering 10,000 Plane Talk leaflets, explaining the report's findings.

OUR COMMENT: 52 decibels noise level is NOT a "quiet street". Noise is also far more oppressive when it is overhead - the bulk of the sound from aircraft is in the lower frequencies and these can also be perceived as vibration. The noise levels BAA claim that they measured are not as high as is suffered by those living nearer to Stansted where overflying aircraft can reach as high as 80 and above decibels at some places.(our measurements!). However, Sudbury is the site of the gathering of the planes before they commence to descend, and so the number of planes can create a summation of continuous sound that seems to fill the skies.

Pat Dale

9 November 2006


Times poll shows the gulf between words and action on the environment

Philip Webster and Peter Riddell - The Times - 8 November 2006

Britons exaggerate how green they are, with most mistakenly believing that they are following energy-saving practices, a Times poll shows.

The Populus poll carried out after the publication of the Stern report on climate change shows that the majority of people believe they have already changed their habits to become green.However, the reality is that they are still burning energy unnecessarily, analysis of the findings shows.

The Times can also disclose that David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, is investigating ways to encourage people to take responsibility for their own energy consumption. He is considering plans to issue every Briton with a "carbon credit card", which he predicts would be the world's biggest loyalty card. People would use cards to buy electricity, gas and fuel to persuade them to cut emissions in their personal life.

Everyone would have a set entitlement to consume and would win cash back if they used less than their allowance. But individuals wanting to consume more than their limit would have to buy spare points off the more thrifty.

Mr Miliband is to use a planned climate change Bill to prompt a public debate on the carbon choices that people can make to reduce emissions. Interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday the Environment Secretary praised a pilot scheme introduced by the Royal Society of Arts: "It is definitely the sort of radical idea we should be thinking about," he said.

The discrepancy between what people say they do and what they actually do is a measure of how far green campaign messages, embraced by the leaders of the main parties, have been absorbed by the public. It indicates that people now believe energy-saving lifestyles to be socially acceptable, a step change from attitudes a few years ago.

In general, women are greener than men, and Liberal Democrat supporters greener than Tories. Unskilled workers, with a lower car use than others, are the most inclined to back recycling of household goods and to use public transport.

More than half of those questioned (53 per cent) say they would "personally be willing to pay significantly higher petrol prices, car tax and air fares as part of efforts to cut back on carbon emissions to address the problem of climate change". The ambiguity of public attitudes is shown, however, by the finding that nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of voters say the introduction of "new green taxes on things like petrol and airline tickets would only be acceptable if other taxes were cut, so people were not paying higher taxes overall".

More than half (53 per cent) say that "people who don't recycle everything that can be recycled should be subject to fines by their local council".

The findings were welcomed by Mike Childs, head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth, who said that people now understood the environment's importance: "It shows there's a public willingness to change but to get us to follow through will take some carrots and some stick."

Philip Sellwood, of the Energy Saving Trust, said: "Our research shows that 40 per cent of people are doing nothing at the moment in terms of reducing energy usage with only 41 per cent undertaking small energy-saving measures."

David Cowdrey, of the WWF, said the public frequently deluded themselves on how environmentally friendly they were. The only answer was to ban non-energy efficient bulbs, improve recycling schemes and remove standby functions.

Populus interviewed 1,510 adults aged over 18 between November 3 and 5. More details: www.populuslimited.com

9 November 2006


BBC News - 8 November 2006

A parish council based near Stansted Airport is to take it's fight for better homeowners' compensation to European Court of Human Rights.

Takeley Parish Council believes house prices in its village will be badly affected by the proposed second runway. It says the scheme of payouts offered by the British Airports Authority (BAA) is only being given to 500 households but should apply to 12,000.

BAA said however: "We are confident the scheme is working properly."

"Takeley Parish Council has already had its case thrown out of the UK courts," a spokesman continued.

"The High Court has agreed three times that this is the right scheme. This is a desperate attempt by the council to find someone who will agree with them."

Currently houses within a certain radius of the airport are offered a Homeowners Support Scheme to ensure they do not lose out on the property market. Under the scheme BAA, which owns Stansted Airport, is promising to buy property at a market rate, index-linked from June 2002.

But Takeley Parish Council claimed the scheme is unfair, as not all homeowners qualify for a compensation package.

'Environmental costs'

It says its battle which has been the subject of an ongoing legal challenge in the High Court for the past two years has reached stalemate in the British courts and it wants a judicial review of BAA's decision.

Richard Buxton, the solicitor advising Takeley Parish Council, said: "At heart this is a case that is based upon human rights considerations. We believe that the Strasbourg court is likely to be interested, both for access to justice reasons and for the underlying issues."

"They may be further improved if such issues can be shown not simply to be a question of people seeking compensation for breaches of the various human rights provisions, but of the need to properly cost the environmental costs of projects like new runways."

9 November 2006


Benefits of climate action outweigh costs

Nicholas Stern - Financial Times - 7 November 2006

Tackling climate change effectively requires a global collaborative effort. This must be based on a common understanding of the magnitude of the challenge and of what is required to reduce the risks. It is therefore critical that the issue is widely discussed. I hope that my review on the economics of climate change will provide a building block for this important debate.

Now, one week after publication, I am keen to respond to some of the questions that have already arisen and to explain some further thinking about what I believe to be an innovative new approach to looking at this problem.

The key innovation of the analysis underpinning the review is to focus on the economics of risk. The effects of climate change are potentially very large, are permanent, are subject to uncertainty and will only be fully felt many decades into the future. Using the standard approach to the economics of risk and time, we estimate the costs of unabated climate change to be between 5 per cent and 20 per cent of global consumption ˆ higher than some previous estimates. Why is this so?

First, crucial advances of the science in the past few years have allowed estimates to be made of the probabilities of temperature rises associated with increases in the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These estimates point to significant risks of temperature increases above 5°C under a business-as-usual scenario by the early part of the next century. This is a huge change ˆ equivalent to the difference in temperature between now and the last Ice Age. Previous studies have mainly focused on 2-3°C temperature rises (and our results for such temperatures are not out of line with these studies).

Second, we have taken account of the impact on wellbeing across the full range of possible outcomes, including worst- and best-case scenarios, and have explicitly built in aversion to risk. Risk aversion entails giving more weight to the worse outcomes, as people routinely do in their daily lives, for example, in buying insurance. That, together with the risks of higher temperatures, is what drives our results. These results are supported by a detailed analysis of the economic impacts of climate change at the regional and country level.

The review examines the application of discounting to the particular characteristics of climate change. How much we discount the future depends on how much richer we expect to be. But climate change implies that strongly divergent paths for future growth are possible, so that the use of a single discount rate is inappropriate. Moreover, an examination of discounting cannot avoid the ethical issues involved in allocations between generations, some of which are very distant in time.

The bottom line is that the less weight you attach to the future simply because it is the future, the less you will value investments in a stable climate. If you consider that the needs of future generations should be represented in decision-making, the case for strong mitigation is overwhelming.

Comment has also focused on our estimates of mitigation costs. These estimates are based both on a survey of the economic literature and on our own calculations. Like everything in this area, there is some uncertainty. Factors including the rate of cost reduction for new technologies, the quality of policy and the evolution of fossil fuel prices make a big difference to costs.

We give a central estimate for costs of 1 per cent of gross domestic product per year by mid-century, with a range of plus or minus 3 per cent, reflecting the uncertainties. That is manageable and that is why we say that you can be green and grow. The same literature on costs of mitigation is being surveyed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We are confident that they will publish a range next year in which ours will be centrally placed.

Action on mitigation will also have benefits above and beyond the impact on climate change. New technologies will provide new economic opportunities. As yesterday's World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency shows, they can also deliver greater energy security and improved economic efficiency.

This review is offered as a contribution to the discussion, not as a final word. We hope the approach and results will be discussed and taken forward by others, including at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings in Nairobi this week and next. This debate is critical to our future prosperity and way of life.

Nicholas Stern

9 November 2006


David Cracknell - The Sunday Times - 5 November 2006

PETER HAIN today raises the spectre of making the rich bear more of the burden for reducing carbon emissions by relating green taxes to income.

The Northern Ireland secretary, campaigning to become deputy prime minister under Gordon Brown, also suggested "innovative ways" were needed to stop the super-wealthy "racing away" from those on average incomes.

Hain advocates introducing "progressive" green taxes to hit those on big incomes hardest, rather than slapping levies on flights, petrol and rubbish.

"I wouldn't rule out progressive taxes on the green agenda," he said in an interview with GMTV's The Sunday Programme. "That's a matter for the chancellor. What I am saying is just be very careful that we're not ignoring the need for social justice.

"I'm just saying a knee-jerk banging £20 on an EasyJet or Ryanair flight, which is where David Cameron seems to be, is not really the answer."

Hain also hit at the super-rich and big City bonuses. "There is a problem about those right at the top just racing away over the horizon and those on average and below-average incomes staying behind. We need to find a way of addressing that."

The chancellor is set to reject calls for green taxes in this month's pre-budget report. He is likely to push the need for global co-operation and energy efficiency in his response to the Stern report on the economics of climate change.

Thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square, London, yesterday to seek urgent action on climate change.

9 November 2006


International Energy Agency fears carbon dioxide levels will rise faster
than predicted as emerging nations turn to coal for power

Oliver Morgan and Richard Wachman - The Observer - 5 November 2006

The International Energy Agency will this week revise its estimate of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years - and predict an even more dramatic acceleration because of increased reliance on coal to produce electricity.

The IEA's warning, expected in World Energy Outlook, its comprehensive annual snapshot of international trends, comes only a week after the Stern report painted a grim picture of global environmental and economic damage, unless action was taken to reduce emissions.

The IEA, the energy arm of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, makes clear that, without government intervention, emissions will rise radically as developing economies continue to rely on fossil fuels. This is already forecast to account for more than four-fifths of global energy demand by 2030. China and India will account for 80 per cent of the additional demand for coal over the period.

It has revised its predictions over the past year as gas prices have remained high and coal has become more attractive as an energy source. However, the IEA believes governments can mitigate the increase in emissions by increasing efficiency, reducing demand for fossil fuels, and introducing policies to increase the use of alternative forms of power.

China is currently engaged in a massive expansion of energy generation to fuel its dynamic economic growth. It is currently building one coal-fired power station every week and last year constructed generating capacity equivalent to the entire UK electricity system.

The IEA believes that savings from measures to encourage clean energy production will eventually far exceed the initial investment costs of switching from fossil fuels. The group is also expected to make clear that it believes governments should encourage the development of nuclear power stations, which create little carbon dioxide.

Pressure for companies to adhere to climate change guidelines emerged last week from Institutional Shareholder Services, the world's largest shareholder activist group, whose members comprise investment funds with more than £1 trillion under management.

ISS research director Doug Cogan said the organisation was working on a new code of best practice and was prepared to 'name and shame' firms that flagrantly disregarded its recommendations.

ISS recently hit out at a decision by US firm Texas Utilities to invest in coal-fired power stations. Cogan described the decision as 'unacceptable' and said it represented financial risk for investors as many US states are introducing schemes that aim to curb carbon emissions.

The shareholder group said that its guidelines on climate change covered several broad areas. The first was board oversight, which meant that companies should set up committees with specific responsibility for environmental issues. Cogan mentioned BP as an example of a firm that took its responsibilities seriously - chief executive Lord Browne has established a climate change taskforce.

Second, firms should be obliged to disclose what they were doing to combat global warming when raising fresh capital. They should also produce corporate sustainability reports and set targets to cut carbon emissions in absolute terms, not as a percentage of output.

Eventually, accounting standards could be introduced to ensure compliance, but these would have to be developed internationally.

9 November 2006


BAA to Face Challenge in European Court of Human Rights

Press Statement on behalf of Takeley Patish Council - 5 November 2006

Takeley Parish Council is taking its claim for fairer treatment for local residents blighted by BAA's airport expansion proposals but excluded from existing compensation schemes to the European Court of Human Rights (EctHR).

The move follows protracted discussions with the High Court and, latterly, the Court of Appeal which have resulted in an effective stalemate over permission to proceed to full judicial review of BAA's plans for restricted compensation through its narrowly drawn Homeowner Support Scheme (HOSS).

Takeley's access to justice has been severely impeded by a refusal from the courts to issue a protective costs order which would have limited the parish council's exposure to BAA and Government fees. Without such an order and in the face of exorbitant fees from the airport developer's counsel, the financial risks to the parish would have been too great.

Richard Gordon QC and Sarah Ford of Brick Court Chambers, barristers acting for the parish, recommended a switch to the ECtHR in the absence of any likelihood that the parish could put its case to the UK courts in a cost effective manner.

The move will add to the pressures on BAA and its new owners Ferrovial, reinforcing the community‚s continued hostility to airport expansion plans. It comes just weeks before Uttlesford District Council's decision on BAA's application for unlimited passenger use and more aircraft movements on the single runway, as well as the imminent announcement on BAA's intentions regarding the siting of its proposed second runway, both due before the end of November.

BAA's refusal to accept responsibility for the problem of generalised blight has been the subject of an ongoing legal challenge in the High Court over the last two years led by Takeley Parish Council with financial backing from a number of other local parish councils.

Most recently, the parish had initiated proceedings against an earlier High Court ruling that there was no legal force to the obligation placed upon BAA by the Government "to put in place a scheme to address the problem of generalised blight resulting from the runway proposal" as required by the Air Transport White Paper of December 2003 (para 11.41). In the absence of the Protective Costs Order which was being sought to reduce potential liabilities on the part of the parish, this action has now been dropped in favour of taking the case forward in Strasbourg.

Richard Buxton, the solicitor advising Takeley Parish Council, commented: "At heart this is a case that is based upon human rights considerations. We believe that the Strasbourg court is likely to be interested, both for access to justice reasons and for the underlying issues. They may be further improved if such issues can be shown not simply to be a question of people seeking compensation for breaches of the various human rights provisions, but of the need to properly cost the environmental costs of projects like new runways."

Approaching the European Court of Human Rights will, say the parish council, provide more affordable access to justice without the potential for a substantial liability to costs through the UK system.

9 November 2006


An elemental economist

Comment by Chris Giles - Financial Times - 4 November 2006

This week saw the unusual spectacle of a prominent economist turned salesman. Hawking the prospect of an economic downturn on the scale of the great depression unless the world slashes greenhouse gas emissions, Sir Nicholas Stern, the UK government's adviser on the economics of climate change and development, sent a stark message to the world.

The costs of doing nothing about climate change were present and permanent, he said: "We calculate that the damages from business as usual would be equivalent to at least 5 and up to 20 per cent of consumption a year." In contrast, the costs of removing most of the risk were1 per cent of gross domestic product a year. "That is manageable; we can grow and be green."

As if to reinforce the sales pitch, Tony Blair, the prime minister, added: "What the Stern review shows is how the economic benefits of strong early action easily outweigh any costs . . . for every £1 we invest now, we can save at least £5 and possibly much more."

Sir Nicholas' 600-page report made waves in many parts of the world. His photo was on the front page of the South China Morning Post; it led the television news in Hong Kong, European governments took notice, and American blogs, if not the mainstream media, dissected the simple message that doing nothing about global warming costs more than taking action.

Naturally, the report was not without its critics, including some eminent climate economists. Richard Tol, professor at Hamburg University, described the findings as "alarmist and incompetent". Meanwhile, some US commentators accused Sir Nicholas of joining the crazy gang of environmentalists. Sir Nicholas would cheerfully concede he is part of a "crazy gang", but this would strictly be his long-standing passion for Wimbledon Football Club, which earned that nickname in the 1980s as it rose from being a minnow to win the FA Cup in 1988. But in every other respect there is nothing crazy about Sir Nicholas' past or reputation.

Born 60 years ago, he was a brilliant mathematician who earned a first-class degree from Cambridge University. While studying at Peterhouse College, he met his wife to be, Susan, 40 years ago this Sunday. His concern for world affairs was shown by his active participation in the United Nations society at Cambridge. His talents were spotted by professor James Mirlees, now Sir James and the 1996 Nobel laureate for economics, who recalls Sir Nicholas' transition from maths to economics as one of the quickest he ever encountered. "He was bright enough that new and difficult concepts weren't burdensome," Sir James says, adding, "he was concerned to do things that matter for the world."

His political convictions led him into development economics. Rather than studying countries from afar, he made a point of living with the poor for long periods, such as an eight-month stint in Palanpur, a village in north India, in 1974. During a stint in China he developed a passion for green tea, cups of which still fuel him through the day.

As his career progressed, Sir Nicholas developed a reputation for efficient management, a rare talent among academic economists. In 1994 he became chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Seen as a safe pair of hands he was appointed World Bank chief economist in 2000, at a time of institutional turmoil. Joseph Stiglitz, the previous incumbent and 2001 Nobel economics laureate, had "thrown all the balls into the air and created havoc", according to a senior global economic policymaker. Sir Nicholas was quickly able to develop a good working relationship with James Wolfensohn, the then president of the bank. This was no small feat. Mr Wolfensohn has a reputation as an extremely difficult but often brilliant man, prone to shout at staff.

With such a track record of success in bringing top class economics into difficult bureaucracies, everyone thought his move to the UK Treasury in 2003 - as second permanent secretary, head of the Government Economics Service and head of the Budget - would be another triumph. His mission was to improve economics within government, using evidence to set policy, rather than using economists to dream up justifications for the policies already decided.

It did not work. The reasons are disputed, but in spite of Sir Nicholas' evident diplomatic skills, he never entered the small coterie of advisers who had the ear of Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, whose reputation as a difficult man to work for is well established. In 2004 and 2005, senior Treasury officials would roll their eyes at the mention of Sir Nicholas and mutter darkly that the seniority of his title did not reflect his influence in Mr Brown's -Treasury.

His civil service career was rescued by Mr Blair, who made him the director of policy and research on the Commission for Africa. His position reviewing the economics of climate change was the natural extension of that project. But in selling the results of his review's work, he will find the going will become tougher. The review has provided academic underpinning for existing UK policy. Lord Lawson, chancellor of the exchequer between 1983 and 1989, mocked him as simply "doing his master's bidding".

There is little doubt that some of the assumptions chosen raise the apparent costs of doing nothing while reducing those of taking action. Professor Dieter Helm of New College, Oxford, a noted expert on climate change economics, says, for example, that the costs of decarbonising the world's economy by 2050 would be much higher than 1 per cent of GDP. "It is a great mistake to tell people costs are low and they can continue their lifestyles, while solving climate change."

Worse, Sir Nicholas faces a hard sell because the costs and benefits of preventing climate change are unevenly distributed. The costs will hit those alive today the hardest, while benefits will be felt only by our grandchildren's grandchildren. Rich countries need to make the biggest compromise yet they are not the most vulnerable to global warming. It all adds to the inertia likely to prevent action.

To get the global agreement needed, for example, the US must accept it will pay China huge sums to decarbonise its economy, just as the communist state develops and competes with the US to become the economic powerhouse of the world.

Sir Nicholas' product is, by general acclaim, a reflection of the man: a serious piece of work that has convinced quite a few hitherto sceptics. Turning it into something a selfish world wants to buy will be a much taller order.

9 November 2006


An elemental economist

Christopher Adams - Financial Times - 4 November 2006

Predictions that ministers are to raise a raft of green taxes on middle-income families to combat climate change were dismissed yesterday as "scare stories" by David Miliband, the environment secretary.

His comments, in the wake of the Stern report on climate change, which called for urgent action against global warming and investment in new low carbon technologies, appeared designed to ease voters' fears that the government is planning a "green" tax raid to swell Treasury coffers.

In an interview with the BBC's Sunday AM programme, Mr Miliband said that "any green taxes have to sit alongside the government's overall approach to taxation and expenditure.

"That means looking at fairness, at the impact on businesses, and obviously critically, the stability and growth of the economy . . . the horror stories that have been painted for low- and middle-income Britain, I think, are scare stories," he said.

This week the government will step up efforts to convince business of the potential opportunities in Sir Nicholas Stern's findings. A Department of Trade and Industry study will say that the size of Britain's energy, water and waste industries could double in size to £46bn over the next decade.

"Stern is stark but the opportunity is clear," Alistair Darling, trade and industry secretary, said ahead of publication. "Climate change can be the driver of a new green industrial revolution."

A government advisory group is expected to look at how public sector organisations should spend money to help research and development ideas reach the commercial marketplace.

While playing down suggestions that the government was preparing a shift towards green taxation, as the Conservatives have proposed, Mr Miliband said Labour needed "to make sure that the environmental agenda is built into an economic and social agenda".

He cited London's congestion charging scheme as an example of how the government would proceed. A bill to facilitate the roll-out of pilot road pricing schemes elsewhere is expected in this month's Queen's Speech.

Separately, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, the centre-left think-tank, has called for an urgent rethink of the policies of both industrialised and developing countries to combat global warming. The report says the world has less than 10 years to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

9 November 2006


Benefits of climate action outweigh costs

Christopher Adams, Political Correspondent - Financial Times - 4 November 2006

Nigel Lawson launched a stinging attack on Tony Blair's climate change strategy last night, describing his calls for targeted cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as "absurd" and predictions of disaster "alarmist".

In the first heavyweight riposte to the Stern report, Lord Lawson challenged the conclusions that hundreds of billions of dollars had to be spent to slash carbon emissions. The former Conservative chancellor suggested Mr Blair was trying to scare people into accepting questionable findings.

Sir Nicholas Stern's report attempted to quantify the economic cost of acting now to beat global warming which, it said, would be just 1 per cent of world economic output by 2050 against the cost of failure to act, which, it warned, would knock between 5 and 20 per cent off world consumption.

It said floods could displace up to 200m people and melting glaciers could cause water shortages for one in six of the world's population. Mr Blair and Gordon Brown, chancellor, endorsed his recommendations for an expansion of carbon trading, under which big industrial polluters buy credits to emit greenhouse gases, and tostabilise carbon emissions.

But in a Centre for Policy Studies lecture, Lord Lawson said the report had added "disappointingly little to what was already the conventional wisdom".

"If scaremongering seems a trifle harsh, I should point out that, as a good civil servant, he was simply doing his masters' bidding," he said of Sir Nicholas, who is the head of the government's economic service. "As Mr Blair's guru, Lord Giddens, the inventor of the so-called third way, laid down in this context in a speech last year, 'In order to manage risk, you must scare people'."

The science of climate change was "highly uncertain". He accused the Royal Society, which hosted the report's launch, of preventing the funding of scientists who did not share "its alarmist view". Adapting to climate change was "far and away the most cost-effective approach" to take.

There was a "clear case" for government money to be spent on improving sea defences and a powerful argument for aid to be directed at poorer countries, including Bangladesh, most at risk from rising sea levels.

Curbing carbon dioxide emissions, along the lines of the Kyoto accord under which countries agreed to assigned limits, was an "absurd response" that would do "virtually nothing". An alternative solution would be to cool the planet quickly, if needed, by "blasting aerosols into the stratosphere so as to impede the sun's rays".

9 November 2006


BAA refuses to pay fines for passenger queues

Dominic Kennedy - The Times - 4 November 2006

BAA is refusing to pay fines of £1.7 million for keeping passengers waiting too long in security queues at Heathrow and Gatwick, claiming the alleged liquid bomb plot made delays inevitable.

The airport operator is being rebuked and warned over its future conduct by the Civil Aviation Authority for deciding unilaterally to withhold agreed payments to airlines.

The regulator accuses the newly Spanish-owned company of an "inappropriate course of action" and says it will face close scrutiny from now on.

BAA was widely criticised for subjecting passengers to cancellations and long queues when tough security measures were imposed by the Government following the discovery of the alleged bomb plot in August.

In a surprise disclosure that will further anger airlines, the airports operator admits it has failed to recruit any extra security staff at Gatwick.

It warns that long delays are likely to continue through Christmas to the end of the year as cold weather means more passengers will be wearing coats and jackets that will have to be put through X-ray machines.

New European security rules imposed from Monday, forcing everyone to put liquids such as toothpaste and shampoo in clear bags which need separate X-raying, are also expected to add to waiting times.

The target is that 95 per cent of passengers must be checked within ten minutes. BAA has long struggled to cope. In the early months of this year, just 47 per cent of passengers were cleared on time at Heathrow Terminal 4.

BAA has asked the regulator to suspend security queuing fines at Heathrow and Gatwick from August to the end of December. It has already stopped paying the penalties and would only do so if forced. The maximum it could be fined for that period is £1.7 million.

9 November 2006


PM's vow to tackle global warming hit by plans to treble flights
Airport expansion will treble flights by 2030, flying in the face of vows
to cut global warming

Ian Herbert, Colin Brown and Jonathan Brown - The Independent - 2 November 2006

Britain's airports are planning to treble the number of flights by 2030, despite the recent Stern report's grave warnings about the environmental effects of expanding air travel in the UK.

From a third runway at Heathrow to a £25m terminal expansion at Glasgow and 50 extra aircraft stands at Luton, the airports' expansion proposals are revealed in a 25-year master plan to be presented this autumn to the Department for Transport.

The Government asked for the proposals three years ago when it published an aviation White Paper encouraging expansion. The revelation of their scale will embarrass Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who led calls for action against global warming.

If Britain's 71 airports carry out their plans, carbon emissions from the industry will increased by an estimated 10 million tonnes.

On top of the well-documented plans at Stansted and Gatwick, Luton airport reveals that it wants to quadruple passenger numbers, from 7.5 million to 30 million a year, while Bristol will treble its own numbers from four million to 12 million a year. Manchester airport, already northern England's biggest, projects another vast increase in numbers, from 22 million a year to 50 million, which it expects to more than double its revenue to £2.1bn.

Some airports have vastly exceeded the White Paper's ambitions - including Glasgow, which expects to grow from eight million to 24 million passengers, and Newcastle from five million to 18 million.

Last night, Tony Blair was facing calls to re-examine the aviation strategy in the wake of the Stern report, which warned that if the industry ploughs capital now into "high-carbon" developments, emissions cuts later on will be much more expensive.

Michael Meacher, Labour's environment minister at the time of the White Paper, led the calls for a rethink and revealed that he had objected to the Department for Transport policy inside government.

He said: "If you build new airports on the scale envisaged in the White Paper, you can kiss goodbye to the Kyoto targets. Aircraft greenhouse gases are the fastest rising of any sector - in the order of 10 per cent, and possibly treble that in 20 years. It is utterly incompatible with the requirement to deal with climate change and the Stern report makes that absolutely clear."

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said the Government's strategy of "predict and provide" was now "completely implausible". He said: "The whole strategy will have to be rethought in the light of the Stern report. It is inevitable there will be tax introduced and a slowdown in growth of aviation which will leave their projections looking very odd."

When the White Paper gave airports the green light to expand, an overriding concern was how to prevent the fivefold increase in UK air travel - that has been witnessed over the past 30 years - being soaked up by the London airports alone.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, an enthusiastic advocate, saw regeneration benefits in plans to develop airports. But the master plans which the Government encouraged then - scheduled to be the subject of a progress report by the Transport Secretary, Douglas Alexander, next month - now sit uncomfortably with the pledge to tackle climate change.

Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute warned last week that the UK could not fulfil its commitments unless flights were curbed. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research also warned that if the growth of Britain's aviation sector continues at current levels, its carbon emissions alone will exceed by 134 per cent Britain's entire output of greenhouse gases in 2050.

Jason Torrance, the campaigns director for the environmental transport organisation Transport 2000, said aviation, with its 4 per cent annual growth in passengers and 5.5 per cent increase in cargo traffic, stood alone as a "rogue sector".

"The industry constantly says increasingly-efficient engines will get us out of the fix," he said. "But the new Airbus superjumbo A380 is only 12 per cent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 747, which was built 40 years ago, while the aviation industry emissions in just 13 years have risen by 89 per cent."

Jon Stewart, of the campaign group Airport Watch, said that while public attention was focused on high-profile environmental protests at Heathrow and Stansted, other airports were quietly increasing numbers. "Manchester has a highly ambitious master plan and it is in places like that where, by stealth, flights will increase," he said.

A senior Whitehall official indicated last night that Mr Alexander's forthcoming airports progress report would not curtail the expansion plans but that flights would be curbed by the EU carbon trading scheme - a policy that Greenpeace estimates would increase the cost of many flights by as little as £15 and have little effect. "The Government's strategy is still in place. That will not change," the official said.

The airport problems coincide with a report by the all-party Commons International Development Committee, that calls on ministers to take action on its "positive rhetoric on climate change" by publishing a plan with "measurable targets" within six months.

The Prime Minister will urge Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to back the UK in seeking to include aviation in carbon trading across the EU when he meets her tomorrow.


The expansion plans tabled by every British airport are projected 25 years into the future but the environmental consequences are being felt already.

At a public inquiry in Cheshire this week, Manchester airport pursued plans to lay a 1,500-place car park in green belt land. The airport's barrister insisted that the plan would reduce the volume of traffic created by families who deliver and collect passengers.

But a senior planning officer, John Knight, expressed dismay at the airport's failure to invest in public transport.

Elsewhere, the Council for the Protection of Rural England is concerned about development plans at Bristol which has neither rail nor motorway links.

Edinburgh citizens are fighting plans for a railway tunnel under a proposed airport development. And Coventry airport developers have launched a second appeal over its expansion plans, despite Birmingham airport being just 12 miles away.

3 November 2006


£3.68 trillion: The price of failing to act on climate change
Landmark report reveals apocalyptic cost of global warming

Gaby Hinsliff, Political Editor - The Observer - 29 October 2006

Britons face the prospect of a welter of new green taxes to tackle climate change, as the most authoritative report on global warming warns it will cost the world up to £3.68 trillion unless it is tackled within a decade.

The review by Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and published tomorrow, marks a crucial point in the debate by underlining how failure to act would trigger a catastrophic global recession. Unchecked climate change would turn 200 million people into refugees, the largest migration in modern history, as their homes succumbed to drought or flood.

Stern also warns that a successor to the Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions should be signed next year, not by 2010/11 as planned. He forecasts that the world needs to spend 1 per cent of global GDP - equivalent to about £184bn - dealing with climate change now, or face a bill between five and 20 times higher for damage caused by letting it continue. Unchecked climate change could thus cost as much as £566 for every man, woman and child now on the planet - roughly 6.5 billion people.

The 700-page report argues that an international framework on climate change covering the globe will be necessary, and that different countries may opt to reduce emissions differently. Options range from many more green taxes to carbon trading.

Stern's verdict will create fierce political debate, with a growing belief in government that taxes on activities such as driving or flying will have to rise.

A leaked letter from the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, to the Chancellor, in the Mail on Sunday, proposes a range of 'green' tax increases.

Stephen Byers, the former cabinet minister and member of an expert panel of international politicians on climate change, is meanwhile urging new taxes to help change behaviour, including a 'global warming premium' on exotic fruit, vegetables and flowers flown thousands of miles across the world.

'There will need to be a global response [to Stern], but it must also filter down to change at domestic level,' he told an audience of businessmen in China this weekend. 'For the Labour party there must be no no-go areas for policy debate. The politics of taxation is changing and we need to be leading the debate, not playing catch-up. We should consider how we can change the structure of our tax system in a way which benefits the lowest-paid and penalises environmentally damaging activity.'

Byers is the first of several senior Labour figures expected to go public over green taxes, reflecting views within Downing Street that the public now fears climate change sufficiently to pay more for gas-guzzling activities. Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary, is expected to join the debate, while Alan Milburn raised the issue in a recent speech. Such interventions will irritate the Chancellor, who regards taxation as his turf, particularly in advance of his autumn pre-budget report.

Air freight is one of the most lightly taxed areas of transport since aviation fuel is tax-free and there are no passengers to pay duty. Yet green campaigners say the planet can ill afford the thousands of 'food miles' travelled by exotic produce. One kilo of kiwi fruit flown from New Zealand to Europe discharges 5kg of carbon into the atmosphere. Other options include hiking car tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles and cutting stamp duty on the purchase of energy-efficient houses. Byers will argue tax rises should be offset by cuts elsewhere.

The Stern report will advocate extending the European 'cap and trade' system - under which carbon emissions are capped at a certain level, with businesses which need to emit more forced to buy spare emissions quotas from low-polluting businesses around the world, encouraging industry to find cleaner and cheaper ways of operating.

He will also urge a doubling of investment in energy research and a speedier Kyoto process - meaning that negotiations with the US will have to be undertaken while George Bush is still president. International governments had hoped to deal with a more sympathetic successor after 2008.

Downing Street and the Treasury believe that the report marks a decisive moment in international politics. Stern's is the first heavyweight contribution by an economist rather than a scientist and senior officials believe he will make what might seem a hopelessly ambitious timetable credible. 'This will give us an argument to make,' said a Whitehall source. 'I think we are at a tipping point in terms of the debate, as we were at a tipping point in 2004/05 in terms of the science.'

Stern's forecast cost of 1 per cent of global GDP is roughly the same amount as is spent worldwide on advertising, and half what the World Bank estimates a full-blown flu pandemic would cost. Without early intervention, he estimates the cost would be 5-20 per cent of GDP, some paid by governments, some by the private sector. But he stresses that unilateral action will not be enough - if Britain shut down all its power stations tomorrow, the reduction in global emissions would be cancelled out within 13 months by rising emissions from China.

Stern will advocate new funds to help Africa and developing nations adapt, but will argue the key challenge is from emerging nations such as China and India. Emissions from China are nearly level with the US and likely to increase as the Chinese get more cars and electrical goods - up to 30 million households are likely to get digital TVs alone in the next few years. Britain will push this week for more energy-efficient consumer goods.

The Tory environment spokesman, Peter Ainsworth, who has argued green tax should rise as a proportion of overall taxation, said he hoped the Stern report 'spurs the government into being much more proactive than it has been'.

Britain's share of revenue from green taxes is lower now than in 1994, partly because of the freezing of petrol duty after fuel protests.

Green taxes are controversial because if they do change behaviour, tax income falls, emptying Treasury coffers. But supporters argue that, over time, the tax system could be shifted back towards more personal taxation.

3 November 2006


Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, is on a mission to tackle climate change - and that includes tackling the aviation industry head on, he tells John Vidal

The Guardian - 31 October 2006

Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, is these days possessed of one great idea. Climate change, and how to avert it, consumes him. It now informs all his decisions on transport. It is top of his agenda for social housing and new building developments. He reads about it in his spare time. He talks about it to anyone who will bend an ear, and he will travel to the ends of the earth if necessary to cut deals with other politicians, to steal the best ideas from other cities and to communicate with anyone the scale and the urgency of the problem.

Last week Sir David Attenborough went to City Hall to talk to staff about the acceleration of change. When former US vice-president Al Gore's film on climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth" was released, Livingstone hired a cinema and invited staff to watch it. He bought 20 copies of Jared Diamond's book on the ecological collapse of civilisation and gave them to colleagues yesterday, the day after the Stern review warned of economic mayhem unless climate change is tackled, Livingstone signed up to Friends of the Earth's lobby for a law to reduce national emissions annually.

"In a practical sense you can see climate change is now top of the London agenda and is being personally driven", says one of his colleagues, impressed at how Livingstone has linked the social and environmental issues. "People used to see the congestion charge and public transport from the point of view of social inequality and the functioning of the city. They are all still core issues but they are not separate to climate change, they are integral to it now. He had to focus on things such as the public-private partnership (for the London underground) in his first term. Now he has more time the emphasis has changed. It helps having a strong green contingent in the assembly, because there is very little disagreement."

Livingstone admits his position has changed, is changing, as information emerges. "I think what is happening is absolutely terrifying. When I first ran for mayor in 2000, the scientific consensus was that we would reach the climate change tipping point round the second half of the century. Depending on which scientific evidence you look at, it's down to between 2 and 10 years. There's no time for more studies or surveys."

"I just do not think that politicians understand the implications, which at the very extreme is the end of most large life forms. If we slip into irreversible climate change, it means hundreds and millions of people emigrating and deaths. It means the poorest being hit hardest."

As mayor he has one arm tied behind his back, he says. If it were up to him he says he would legislate against almost anything that adds to the problem. He would ban inefficient light bulbs, bang on carbon taxes, and massively increase the cost of air fares. "I think that every city is doing something quite well", he says, "We should take the best from around the world. We could take the plastic bag tax from Ireland, and the packaging laws from Germany. We should put them together."

"But the one big thing that no one is tackling is aviation. Emissions are completely undermining the reductions achieved elsewhere", Livingstone says. But there have been serious contradictions in his positions. His proposals for the London Plan, which will determine development in the city from 2008 onwards, says "major airport expansion will be needed in the south-east "to meet London's economic needs". Is that not arguing that Londoners should be able to travel by air more? "I am no longer sanguine about that," he replies, " When we drafted the London Plan in 2002, we were nowhere near getting the alarming information that we are today. We have to address it. We are now preparing amendments to the Plan against any further runway capacity in the south-east".

While Livingstone has no direct power over future developments at Gatwick or Stansted, observers say that the significance of his withdrawel of support for the growth of these two airports – he has always been against the expansion of Heathrow – is that he is now challenging the aviation industry head on, as no other major politician has been prepared to do. His target is not business travellers, he says, who would need tickets to be massively more expensive to reduce the number of flights they take, but the frequent leisure fliers.

"All tickets should reflect the impact of carbon emissions of that journey," he insists, "instead of £12 o£15 for a ticket it should be 5 or 6 times that. A lot of Labour Party people say that that the dramatic growth in air traffic is the poor getting on the plane for the first time, but its not that at all. Half the population never gets on a plane. What's happening is that relatively few people, instead of going away once a year on holidays are going 3 or 4 times a year to Barcelona or Prague or wherever. That's all very nice, but not at the cost of the continuation of life on planet earth".

The article goes on to describe the policies that Livingstone is putting in place for London, including a statutory carbon reduction of a 20-% reduction by 2010 and a 60% reduction by 2050. Aviation is responsible for 30% of London's pollution.

3 November 2006


The Walden Local - 1 November 2006

A big question mark was hanging over the future of cheap air flights from Stansted this week following the government's threat to hit the aviation business with green taxes in a bid to deal with global warming issues highlighted by the Stern Review last week.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said it was no longer acceptable for aviation fuel to be untaxed and for air travel to be lightly taxed and campaigners claimed this meant that cheap flights would become a thing of the past, that passenger numbers would be slashed.

Cllr Martin Foley, who is leading a bid to end night flights at Stansted, said: "This is not before time. The polluter must pay and airlines are the fastest growing polluters we have some control over. Cheap flights should at least cover the cost of their pollution but I don't think they are sustainable".

A BAA spokesman said: "BAA believes that the polluter should pay and that fares are likely to rise as a consequence. We have led the campaign to include aviation in the EU emissions Trading Scheme at the earliest opportunity and this has been backed by EU Environment Ministers. But introducing taxes doesn't address the issue of the environment – taxing people out of air travel is not the right approach and will affect the poor the most. The low-cost airlines which dominate Stansted operate modern fuel efficient aircraft with very high load factors".

But Stansted Cllr Alan Dean was unmoved. "BAA is in denial about its contribution to climate change and seeks to minimise its relevance in its latest environmental statement sent to the Council. It says that because extra aircraft emissions from a fully used runway would be small when set against the immense global total they can be ignored. They also hide behind the government's failure to achieve an international agreement to control aviation emissions and the Essex and Herts county councils' head-in-the-sand acquiescence".

Andy Harrison, easyJet Chief Executive said: "We strongly agree that we can grow and be green at the same time but it is important to understand that taxation is not the answer. Taxes don't help the environment – they only fill a government's coffers and burden the economy. There are more effective solutions right under our nose. Airlines could significantly reduce CO2 emissions if Europe's governments would reform their medieval Air Traffic Management Systems and stamp out the ailing national airlines that fly old half empty aircraft."

Carol Barbone, of Stop Stansted Expansion said: "At present aviation pays no tax on fuel, parts or planes which means that the demand for flights is artificially stimulated to the disadvantage of more sustainable forms of transport. We are calling on the government to re-think its aviation policy since, at stansted airport alone, global warming emissions would rise from the current 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to 12 million tonnes if expansion on the single runway was approved. A second runway would take the figure to 23 million tonnes. It remains to be seen whether Gordon Brown will act on the Environment Secretary's recommendations, but one thing us clear, doing nothing is not an option."

OUR COMMENT: EasyJet are not going to achieve green growth with their planned new fleet. Even the greenest plane on the market, the Boeing "Dreamliner", only claims a 20% reduction in fuel use. At the moment there is no such possibility in aviation, the only "green " solution is – no growth at all.

Pat Dale

3 November 2006


Ryanair chief "too busy" to trade carbon emissions
Suggests cheap flights are the wrong target

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 2 November 2006

Ryanair has dismissed calls for green taxes an aviation as the "usual horseshit" and warned that extra levies on airlines will not put people off flying. Michael O'Leary, chief executive of the low-cost carrier, also ruled out joining the EU carbon emissions trading scheme, seen by some airlines as their best hope of avoiding punitive taxes as governments consider curbing the industry's contribution to the greenhouse effect.

"It's the usual horseshit that we hear," he said. "There is a fundamental misunderstanding about aviation and environmental taxes at the moment. No one knows what they are talking about."

Mr O'Leary's comments follow the publication this week of the Stern Report, which warned of catastrophic economic consequences if climate change is not tackled.

Mr O'Leary said aviation accounted for a "Mickey Mouse" 3% of carbon emissions across the EU, compared with 25% from road transport, which he said had not been affected by petrol levies and other charges. He added that Ryanair's growth will not be affected by further taxes because its ticket prices will remain more competitive than its rivals.

"Taxing aviation will not affect the growth of Ryanair one iota" he said, "We will continue to grow like gangbusters because the price differential between Ryanair and easyJet and British Airways will not change". Recent economic studies contradict Ryanair, pointing to evidence that a price increase of 1.5% is enough to put some people off flying.

A leaked memo from the environment secretary David Miliband, at the weekend urged the Treasury to consider raising air-passenger duty and introduce VAT on certain flights. Low-cost airlines have come in for specific criticism from the environmental lobby because they are the fastest growing in the industry and encourage "frivolous" air travel.

Speaking at the launch of an in-flight gaming service in London yesterday, Mr O'Leary said the government should focus on British Airways, which he says operates a "gas-guzzling" fleet of older aircraft. "If people are serious about tackling the miniscule contribution of aviation, what they ought to be tackling are the operators of the old gas-guzzling aircraft like BA or those who run 2 flights to get you to your destination, unlike low-fares airlines".

A spokesperson for BA said the claims were "just not trues" because the airline's 280 strong fleet has an average age of 10 years and it has started replacing its oldest long-haul aircraft.

Mr O'Leary also ruled out joining the EU carbon emissions trading scheme, which British Airways and other European airlines are pressing to join. The scheme is seen by many industry executives as the least worst option facing airlines, who fear that political momentum is gathering behind measures to tackle airline growth.

"I am far too busy doubling Ryanair over the next few years to be joining any carbon emissions trading scheme" Mr O'Leary said. Ryanair describes itself as the "most environmentally friendly" airline because it is overhauling its fleet of Boeing aircraft with new fuel efficient planes.

Mr O'Leary also dismissed Sir Richard Branson's pledge to invest £1.6bn in renewable energy in the next decade as a "PR stunt" because the billionaire expects to fund the promise from the profits of his transport interests, which include the Virgin Atlantic airline and Virgin trains. "I doubt if the profit will get to that sum over the next 100 years, let alone the next 10" he said.

Richard Dyer, aviation campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said aviation had to be tackled because its carbon emissions are expected to grow much more quickly than those of road transport or power generators. According to an Oxford University report aviation will account for a quarter of UK carbon emissions by 2050 – up from 5.5% now – if no action is taken. "Road transport and power generation are not growing nearly as fast as aviation", said My Dyer, "It is a problem for the future and that's why we have to curb demand now."

3 November 2006


CAA: 'Relax airline ownership rules to reduce air fares'

Michael Harrison, Business Editor - The Independent - 27 October 2006

Air fares would come down if the current highly restrictive rules governing the ownership and control of national airlines were scrapped, the UK's aviation regulator said yesterday. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) argued that liberalisation need not compromise safety standards and would lead to increased efficiency by encouraging more cross-border investment and lower financing costs.

Under the present rules, a UK airline has to be majority-controlled by British nationals in order to gain landing rights in countries outside the European Union. Airlines operating within the EU must be majority owned by EU investors.

The rules, enshrined in a series of bilateral agreements between individual countries, have thwarted past attempts at airline mergers. The proposed takeover of the Dutch carrier KLM by British Airways, for instance, failed because BA could not guarantee being allowed to continue flying from the Netherlands to countries such as the United States if KLM was no longer Dutch- owned and controlled.

The CAA paper said these "anomalous" restrictions were in sharp contrast to the lack of rules governing ownership of other industries, including highly sensitive ones such as oil, utilities and defence. Sweeping away these rules would mean lower prices and greater choice for consumers.

The CAA said, however, that only airlines from countries which were prepared to reciprocate by liberalising their own aviation markets should be allowed to benefit from the abolition of ownership controls elsewhere to prevent "free riders".

Harry Bush, the CAA's director of economic regulation, said: "Aviation is far adrift from most other sectors of the global economy in retaining anachronistic controls on the nationality of airline ownership and control. Aviation must embrace reform of ownership and control rules if it is to move forward in a sustainable way."

OUR COMMENT: Hasn't the CAA heard of climate change? Has anyone sent them a copy of the Stern Report?

Pat Dale

31 October 2006


Government's Climate Bill Step in Right Direction

Friends of the Earth Press Notice - 30 October 2006

A new law to tackle climate change, announced by Environment Secretary David Miliband, is an important first step in the fight against global warming, Friends of the Earth said today (Monday). But the organisation added that any legislation must include firm annual targets to ensure the UK meets its commitment to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

The statement, which followed an announcement by the Chancellor Gordon Brown at the launch of the Stern Review, commits the Government to setting up an independent Carbon Committee to work with Government to reduce emissions, with a long term target of 60 per cent by 2050.

Friends of the Earth Executive Director Tony Juniper said: "It is good to see the Government responding to the urgent need to take action on climate change by putting forward new legislation with emission reduction targets in the Queen's Speech. If this law is going to be effective, it must include tough annual targets that translate long-term targets into real world policy change. If you can use annual targets to keep the economy on track, then surely they also provide a tool for keeping our carbon emissions on track."

Friends of the Earth's Big Ask campaign is urging the Government to introduce new legislation to tackle climate change with annual targets to bring down carbon dioxide emissions. The campaign has gained cross-party support, with more than 400 MPs supporting calls for the Bill and thousands of people around the country calling for action. The campaign urges the Government to set targets in law so that the trajectory is clear to industry and investors; and demands transparency with annual reporting to Parliament.


A tough package of measures to reduce UK emissions, including legally-binding annual targets, must follow the publication of the Stern Report, Friends of the Earth urged today. The report, which looks at the economic costs of climate change, shows that governments can afford to act – and must to do so urgently – to avoid disastrous economic costs. Friends of the Earth said Britain must continue to show leadership at an international level and should use this report to persuade other countries to act.

The report says that measures to tackle climate change will have economic benefits and that an investment of just one per cent in the global economy will avoid costs of 10 per cent.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the Chancellor Gordon Brown's announcement that there would be a new legislative framework on climate change, but said given the Government's current poor record on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, annual targets are crucial to provide an immediate drive to policy goals.

Friends of the Earth Executive Director Tony Juniper said: "This report turns the conventional attitude to the economics of climate change on its head. For too many years industry lobbyists have claimed that action on climate change was not affordable, but this proves this is not the case. The good news is that we have the economic and technological ability to avert catastrophe. Government measures to reduce emissions here in the UK are a welcome first step towards tough legally binding annual emissions cuts. This will provide the framework needed to drive innovation and provide business confidence."

"The Stern report will provide valuable ammunition to support the UK's leadership role at the international climate talks in Nairobi next month – and should help persuade more reluctant countries to act. The Kyoto Protocol must be strengthened and new ways found of bringing other countries on board – but the Government will have a stronger case if it is committed to action at home."

The report highlighted the costs of inaction and warned of the global impacts, with the threat that millions of people will be displaced as a result of increased drought and rising sea levels. Access to water will become a major issue and millions of species could die out. But Sir Nicholas Stern said that the cost of tackling the problem was affordable and that polluters had to be made to pay.

Friends of the Earth said that green taxation was an essential part of a broad package needed to tackle rising emissions, with money raised used to help make alternatives to flying and motoring cheaper and more attractive.

The environmental group urged the Government to ensure that a new law on climate change includes annual targets. It must also review existing policies on road and airport growth which will lead to further rises in carbon dioxide emissions.

Tony Juniper continued: "If the world is to avert global economic, social and environmental catastrophe, then a broad package of measures is needed at a national and international level. The technology exists to take us forward to a clean green low carbon future but emissions across the EU as a whole are still rising. Governments need to recognise the urgent need to embrace such change and adopt climate friendly policies at every level."

More information...

In summary David Miliband has said the Bill will contain 4 key elements:

* It will put the Government's long term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050 into statute. How the target is defined and set, and how we measure and report on our progress, are fundamental issues that we are still considering. We will also consider appropriate interim targets.

* It will establish an independent body – the Carbon Committee – to work with Government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy. Its advice will be open, transparent, equitable and mindful of sectoral and competitiveness impacts, including the need to secure energy supplies at competitive prices.

* It will create enabling powers to put in place new emissions reduction measures needed to achieve our goals.

*It will improve monitoring and reporting arrangements, including how the Government reports to Parliament.

See www.defra.gov.uk/news/latest/2006/climate-1030.htm for the full release from DEFRA.

31 October 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2195 - 30 October 2006

The world must act now to curb greenhouse gas emissions or face truly enormous costs from global warming in future, including world-wide recession and social upheaval, concludes an eagerly awaited report released by the UK government on Monday.

The report was produced by a team of economists led by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern.  Its conclusions triggered immediate calls for stronger, more urgent actions to combat climate change across Europe and as far away as Australia.

Launching the report in London, UK prime minister Tony Blair said the world was facing "nothing more serious, more urgent, or more demanding of leadership" than climate change.

British climate expert Michael Grubb said the report had finally "closed a chasm that has existed for 15 years" between scientists and economists on climate change.  One environmental group predicted that it would prove a "tipping point" in the global debate on climate change.

The Stern report concludes that the worst impacts of climate change could be avoided at a cost of 1% of global GDP per year by 2050 with action now.  "Delaying action, even by a decade or two, will take us into dangerous territory," it concludes.

On the other hand, if greenhouse gas emissions continue increasing at their present rate, the cost could be 5-20% of GDP per year "now and forever".

The report advocates stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at 450-550 parts per million (ppm). Anything higher would substantially increase the risks of very harmful impacts, while only marginally reducing the costs of emission cuts, it concludes.

On the other hand, aiming for an even lower peak in greenhouse gases would indeed produce unbearable costs and simply not be feasible, it concedes.

Strong policy signals are needed to take full advantage of existing emission mitigation options, it continues. The report identifies three key policies to tackle rising emissions.

First, carbon must have a price on it, whether through emissions trading, tax or regulation. Second, there must be policy support for low-carbon technologies - these could be worth at least US$500bn by 2050 - and finally, barriers to energy efficiency improvements must be removed.

An international consensus on long-term goals and a global framework for action is also needed, it concludes. Such a framework should include: widespread emissions trading, more investment and cooperation in research and development, action to reduce deforestation and measures to support adaptation.

31 October 2006


Low-cost carrier late and unfriendly says survey
Heathrow named worst airport, Singapore the best

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 26 October 2006

Ryanair has been voted the world's least favourite airline as its ultra-frugal approach to flying wins millions of customers but very few fans. The Dublin-based airline is joined on the list of aviation shame by Heathrow, which was voted the world's least favourite airport in a survey by travel website TripAdvisor.

In a poll of 4000 travellers around the world, unfriendly staff were cited as the worst part of the Ryanair experience, followed by delays and poor legroom. Low-cost travel fares badly in the study, with easyJet coming second to its Irish rival in a questionnaire of British flyers.

Ryanair has transformed itself from an industry minnow to one of Europe's biggest airlines over two decades. However, its obsessive focus on the bottom line has dented its public image. In one infamous incident it charged a man with cerebral palsy £18 to use a wheel chair, while in another example of cost-cutting zeal, pilots and cabin crew pay for their own training and uniforms.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary is the industry's most outspoken executive, having advocated the shooting of travel agents and urged passengers concerned about the environmental impact of flying to sell their cars and walk instead.

Ryanair said: "The 42 million passengers who will fly with Ryanair this year have listened to real trip advice and choose Ryanair for the lowest fares and the best punctuality".

Ryanair's most recent outburst against the aviation establishment came this week, when the airline lashed out at the owner of Stansted airport, its UK base. The company urged thousands of passengers who suffered delays in the half-term rush to send all their complaints to the executive of BAA, Stansted's parent.

BAA has been criticised by airlines and passengers recently because of delays at its biggest airport, Heathrow, following the August terror scare. The TripAdviser survey underlined Heathrow's problems by voting it the world's least favourite airport, based on criteria including ease of navigation and clean toilets.

A spokesman for BAA admitted that the world's busiest international airport is struggling for breathing space, as 68 mppa flow through a facility designed to handle 45 million flyers. The airport will be less of a bottleneck when the new Terminal 5, designed to take 30 million people a year, opens in 2008, he added. BAA is drafting plans to enlarge the central security areas at Heathrow, which became clogged in August when a temporary escalation in security guidelines forced the cancellation of around 2000 flights. The airport is also hiring hundreds of new security staff.

Changi in Singapore was voted best airport. Terrorism is the biggest concern for travellers, according to the survey, with 44% saying it was an important factor, followed by natural disasters and bird flu.

Elsewhere in the survey, Ayr was tipped as an unlikely hotspot for global travellers. The seaside town in western Scotland was voted one of the world's top ten "hot" destinations next year, achieving a higher ranking than Marrakech in Morocco and the Greek island of Naxos in research based on web searches and travel site postings. TripAdviser said Ayr "can brace itself for a major influx of visitors from around the world next year".

31 October 2006


Bidding for the environment

Leader - The Guardian - 26 October 2006

Economists regularly argue that the best way to tackle climate change is to put a price tag on the environment. As it happens, in recent weeks a bidding war has broken out over the issue – not in dollars or carbon trading futures but between Britain's major political parties.

In contrast to political debates on migration, for example, this bidding war is a virtuous one, a race to the top rather than the bottom, as the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour seek to burnish their eco-credentials. The fruits could be seen on the front page of this newspaper yesterday, in the government's plans for a climate change bill that will set out long-term targets for cutting Britain's carbon emissions, perhaps as early as the Queen's speech to parliament next month.

The change to the political climate has been as eye-opening as the environmental damage being revealed by scientists. After some initially glacial progress, parties are now moving quickly. For Labour the abrupt policy shift dates from Tony Blair's decision to add climate change to the combined G8 and EU agendas of last year. For his part, David Cameron has transformed a party whose previous environmental policies had been marked by scepticism and bandwagon-jumping on the road fuel tax protests of 2000 (all the more shameless since the protests were aimed at the fuel escalator first introduced by a Conservative government as a sensible environmental measure).

Yet so far the debate has, to paraphrase, been tough on carbon but not on the causes of carbon. Will the government's new climate change bill contain significant measures? Time is short and ministers are still working on the detail - Tony Blair yesterday would not even confirm that the bill will appear in the Queen's speech. But the fact that David Miliband, the environment secretary, is able to hurry such a bill into place at this late stage says a lot about the serious political positioning going on.

More important, at this stage, than the detail of the bill is the framework it erects, specifically the horizon it uses for cutting emissions. Groups such as Friends of the Earth favour year-on-year cuts arguing that annual targets maintain focus and responsibility. But the new bill is said to offer to year targets – the danger being that governments will punt the hard decisions it involves too far into the future, cramming cuts into the last year or two of the decade.

Ministers say they are concerned with cumulative emissions as much as final targets – and so they should be. Whatever the timeline, a climate change bill that fails to include a sophisticated mechanism to lower the trajectory of emissions as well as set targets would be foolish – and a gift to an opposition which claims the government is over-cautious.

31 October 2006


Hugh Williamson in Berlin - Financial Times - 24 October 2006

Global warming could endanger the political stability of entire nations, with a failing climate leading to more failed states, Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, told the Financial Times yesterday.

Disputes over access to water and food resources were exacerbated by climate change, Ms Beckett said. "There are nations in a very delicate condition and [global warming] will tip some of them over into being failed states."

She said states in "eastern Europe, Asia and Africa are suffering great tensions" and referred to Darfur, the war-torn region of Sudan, as an example. Water disputes between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were also matters of concern, she added.

Ms Beckett is expected today to use a speech during her first visit to Berlin since taking office in May to call on Germany to stress the climate change agenda during its presidencies in 2007 of the European Union and Group of Eight industrialised countries. She will say that "of all the countries in the world it is Germany which at this moment matters most" on climate change.

Ms Beckett welcomed German statements last week that it would focus during the G8 presidency on building international consensus on climate measures for the period after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

She suggested that Washington, an opponent of the Kyoto process, could change its stance if US initiatives were successful. California has launched an emissions trading programme, while dozens of cities are pursuing greater energy efficiency. If these efforts were successful it would "have an effect" on the administration of President George W. Bush, she predicted.

The EU also needs tighter energy partnerships with supplier countries, including Russia, she said, but criticised Vladimir Putin, Russian president, for Moscow's unwillingness to ratify an EU energy charter treaty covering energy supply and market access issues.

Europe's governments want to give out permits to emit 15 per cent more carbon than they did in 2005 under the EU's trading scheme, the European Commission said yesterday. Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, said he would reject many of the 17 allocation plans for 2008-12 filed with Brussels, Andrew Bounds reports from Brussels.

"Many of these national allocation plans have to be completed and they will be sent back," he said. "We are determined to meet our Kyoto targets."

Mr Dimas has called for a 6 per cent cut on allocations for the first, 2005-7 stage of the scheme. Governments over-allocated then and many power companies made windfall profits selling them on.

OUR COMMENT: What about policies to reduce emissions? At the moment the government, in the case of aviation, seems to be putting all its energy into including aviation into emissions trading. BUT, what is the point of emissions trading if the results do not achieve lower levels of greenhouse gases? The EU is concerned – read on:

Pat Dale

31 October 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2190 - 23 October 2006

The European commission is likely to reject several national plans for the second phase of the EU emission trading scheme after an initial analysis revealed that many EU states are proposing allocations significantly higher than actual emissions levels in the first year of the scheme.

"Much to my regret, taking the first 17 notified national allocation plans [for 2008-12], they propose a cap about 15% above actual emissions in 2005," environment commissioner Stavros Dimas told journalists at a meeting of environment ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

Many allocation plans (Naps) will have to be sent back with a request for further reductions, Mr Dimas added.  His comments are the first indication of the commission's opinion of the plans.  The commission has the right to block any plan it feels does not put the member state onto a path of compliance with the Kyoto protocol.

In response Finnish environment minister and council president Jan-Erik Enestam stressed that not too much weight should be placed on reported emissions levels for a single year.  The contribution of hydroelectric power can vary widely from year to year, for example, he said.

By implication, verified emissions in 2006 or 2007 could be significantly higher.  This would reduce the impression that member states allocated too many emission allowances in their plans for the scheme's first phase.

A commission official confirmed that member states had resisted pressure to make an explicit reference to 2005 emission levels for assessing second phase allocation plans in a resolution on climate change adopted by the council (see separate report, tomorrow's issue).

31 October 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2190 - 23 October 2006

EU leaders have expressed a "very, very strong desire" to take action on climate change, including emissions from aviation, British prime minister Tony Blair said at an informal summit hosted by the EU Finnish presidency in Lahti on Friday and Saturday.

In a joint letter addressed their European colleagues ahead of the meeting, Mr Blair and Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, called for urgent action on climate change, arguing that the world has reached a "catastrophic tipping point".  Leaders have a window of only 10-15 years to avoid "serious consequences" for the economy and people's safety, the two prime ministers said.

At the meeting, heads of governments agreed that the EU must show "strong leadership" on the issue, and reiterated that improving energy efficiency is key priority.

Discussions focused on energy issues and EU relations with Russia in this area.  Among other issues discussed was innovation policy and competitiveness, including a proposal for a European technology institute.

31 October 2006


Christopher Adams, Political Correspondent - Financial Times - 23 October 2006

Tens of billions of dollars will have to be pumped from the world's richest countries and big industrial polluters into tackling climate change, says a government-commissioned review that warns of an impending catastrophe.

The report by Sir Nicholas Stern, former World Bank chief economist and a senior British civil servant, proposes a massive expansion of fledgling markets in tradeable greenhouse gas permits to cut carbon dioxide emissions and promote spending by poorer countries on cleaner fuels and energy.

Tony Blair, prime minister, and Gordon Brown, chancellor, will use the findings to propel the issue of global warming up the international agenda and to try to persuade a sceptical George W. Bush, US president, of the need for immediate action.

But the report is likely to get a cool reception in Washington and could prove controversial with some economists who have disputed a number of its assumptions.

Sir Nicholas, asked to examine the economic implications of climate change, will advocate the setting of an international market price for carbon emissions - in effect a financial penalty on polluters - as part of a menu of options.

Power generators, heavy industry and airlines, already targeted in a European Union scheme, would be among those most affected.

Developing countries, predicted to be the biggest contributors to future growth in greenhouse gas emissions, would earn valuable credits for investing in low-carbon energy projects.

The report is not expected to be prescriptive on whether governments should raise "green" taxes to punish polluters. But it will acknowledge that taxation and regulation, as well as trading in emissions permits, can be used to set a carbon price.

It will warn of the need for urgent action by industrialised countries and developing nations alike. Drawing on the scientific evidence for global warming, Sir Nicholas is expected to argue that the economic cost of acting now will be much less than if decisions are delayed. He will point to scientific evidence suggesting that global warming is close to a tipping point, after which some of its effects could be irreversible and even accelerate the process of climate change.

"The tone is alarming," said an economist familiar with the report's thinking. "What he says is that we are not on a sustainable path."

One senior Whitehall official said the review would be "a vehicle to take on the doubters internationally".

The US, the world's biggest source of greenhouse emissions, is likely to resist the report's key recommendation of linking markets in carbon permits to the development of low-carbon energy projects in poorer countries.

By allowing such projects to generate emissions credits, the aim would be to create an efficient, liquid mechanism analogous to government bond markets. Such a mechanism already exists on a small scale, but its future is uncertain.

Sir Nicholas will argue that "scaling up" the trading of permits could direct billions of dollars towards the development of cleaner fuels and power generation in nations such as Brazil, China and India that are projected to account for much of the future growth in greenhouse gases.

Treasury officials declined to say whether the chancellor would adopt the findings as policy.

The report is not among the reviews feeding into the pre-Budget report, but is nevertheless likely to influence government thinking.

31 October 2006


Will this mean that Stansted expansion could breach the law?
EU air quality compliance gap highlighted

ENDS Europe DAILY 2190 - 23 October 2006

A study of Europe's urban environment has shown that most cities do not fully comply with EU air quality rules. Produced by Italian research institute Ambiente Italia for Belgian bank Dexia, the study was released ahead of Monday's council agreement on air quality in Luxembourg, on which we will report in tomorrow's issue.

The study surveyed 26 cities earlier this year, looking at 20 environmental indicators such as air quality, public transport and waste and water management.

Fine particles are "the worst emergency" facing EU cities. Emissions data show "widespread criticality", the study says. In three quarter of cities surveyed, daily concentration values were exceeded more than 35 days a year, the current tolerated levels. In six of them, concentrations were more than three times over these levels, it says.

Regarding nitrogen dioxide (NO2), several major cities like London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome have average annual concentrations that are more than double the EU's 40ug/m3 target for 2010, while nearly half of 26 cities have at least one hotspot with emissions above this target. Only six are already compliant: Heidelberg, Goteborg, Nicosia, Saragossa, Tampere and Turku.

The study also shows a contrast between northern and southern cities in areas of environmental management such as waste management and introduction of Agenda 21 local sustainability plans.

OUR COMMENT: BAA admits in their Environmental Statement on plans for expansion of Runway 1 that the present statutory limits for PM10 in 2010 (at present under review) will be breached in 2014. They hope that the Review will change these limits. At the moment both MEPs and Commissioners are recommending the limit should remain, possibly allowing some delays until 2015. This will meet the recent recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

Pat Dale

31 October 2006


Report on Stansted Airport Employment Forum - 23 October 2006

A GOVERNMENT minister admitted the country had a skills deficit as he addressed an employment forum hosted by BAA Stansted.

Key speaker Bill Rammell, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, told over 80 guests from the private, public and voluntary sector organisations that the deficit had to be addressed, but said the Government needed help from businesses.

He told the meeting, held on Friday at the Radisson Hotel that skills were "the lifeblood" of the economy. "But compared to many other countries, despite progress, we have a skills deficit," he said.

"Only by addressing this will we retain our competitive edge in a world where rapidly-growing economies like China and India put a huge premium on education and skills. It's also the best way of ensuring higher standards of living for local people.

"The Government is committed to turning the skills situation around, but we can't do it alone. We need the business community to play their part. That's what I'm encouraging local businesses to do in Harlow, and why I'm supporting important initiatives like this employment forum here at Stansted."

OUR COMMENT: Mr Rammell was addressing the wrong meeting - a high proportion of Stansted jobs are semi-skilled or unskilled.

Pat Dale

31 October 2006


Fancy a quiet life? Don't go to Slough

Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor - The Times - 23 October 2006

ANYONE seeking peace and quiet should head north to the windswept and rugged terrain of Northumberland. The county is the most tranquil place in England, according to a new audit by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Runners-up as havens for solitude and wilderness are Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

The worst place for noise, congestion and pollution is Slough, which sits under the flight paths into Heathrow and is near the M4 corridor. It even beats parts of Central London such as Piccadilly Circus. Luton, on the M1 north of London and with its "no frills" airport, follows next in the league table for constant noise and intrusion.

It is unsurprising that some of the most sparsely populated parts of the country, including Dartmoor, Devon and the Fenlands, are the most tranquil locations. But the study also identifies important pockets of open space inside and around cities and towns that give residents an outlet from urban living and must be saved from further development.

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of the CPRE, is calling on conservationists, planners and construction companies to use the study to safeguard tranquil areas. A map was created after 1,300 interviews with visitors to the countryside, to establish their definitions of tranquility. They spoke of birdsong, stars, sounds of the sea and streams, children playing and the wonders of the landscape.

Tom Oliver, the CPRE's head of rural policy, said: "We have managed to establish the most important attributes in the countryside that promote well-being. We are now able to recognise the quality of human habitats and their contribution to overall well-being. The map must now be used to improve the quality of life in England."

The report, Saving Tranquil Places, claims that tranquility reduces stress, and exposure to nature helps to reduce blood pressure and heart attacks, increasing mental performance and soothing anxiety. Studies by the World Health Organisation have indicated that people living near airports, industry or noisy streets are at risk of stress, sleep disturbance and increased blood pressure.

Tranquility is also important to rural economies. Rural tourism is worth almost £7 billion a year and supports 186,200 jobs and 12,250 businesses.


* New housing - 27 square miles of greenfield sites, equivalent to the size of Southampton, vanish under concrete each year

* New roads - Traffic levels are projected to increase by 30 per cent by 2015

* New airports and flight paths - Air passengers are predicted to rise from 229 million last year to 401 million by 2020

* Increased light pollution - Between 1993 and 2000 light pollution increased 24 per cent nationally and the amount of truly dark night sky was down from 15 per cent to 11 per cent

31 October 2006


Airline Travel News Online - 17 October 2006

UK politicians are being asked to act to curb the demand of low-cost flights to stop people becoming addicted to highly polluting cheap air travel, researchers are warning. A hard-hitting Oxford University report is pushing for the UK government to take action on air travel and climate change.

The report urges raising taxes on aviation, warning that action is needed to halt the rapid expansion of the industry, which threatens to produce vastly more greenhouse gases by the middle of the century.

The report by Sally Cairns and Carey Newson for the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University is the most comprehensive examination to date of the challenge faced by the UK Government in reconciling its aviation policy with its targets to tackle climate change.

The report, "Predict and decide: Aviation, climate change and policy" will be launched at 11.00 on Tuesday, October 17th 2006, House of Lords Committee Room 3A, House of Lords, Westminster. This event is hosted by the all-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group.

The report synthesizes the latest research into the social, economic and environmental issues surrounding aviation policy, and concludes that:

- Aviation is set to consume a large proportion of the UK's carbon budget, under even the most conservative growth forecasts and allowing for all realistic improvements in technology.

- Public awareness of these issues has grown steadily and support for restraining the growth in air travel now outweighs opposition, with a majority in favour of airlines paying for environmental damage, even if this means higher fares. These findings give the lie to politicians' oft-repeated fallback that there are no votes in taxing air travel.

- Cheap flights have not made aviation a socially-inclusive activity; on the contrary they are enabling the well-off to develop air-dependent‚ lifestyles which may prove hard to alter once they become engrained.

- The economic case made for continued expansion neglects factors such as the negative impacts that cheap flights have on the UK tourism industry, the public revenue lost through on-going tax exemptions, and the drastic carbon cuts that will be required from all other sectors if aviation is allowed to expand unchecked.

- The mechanisms to tax air travel are simple and readily implemented - for instance a rise in Air Passenger Duty. The Government's preferred solution of including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is complex, unlikely to be implemented for several years and even then its outcome is highly uncertain.

Government policies are identified as doing little to slow down emissions from air travel which the report highlights as one of the fastest growing sources of damaging climate-changing emissions.

Jeff Gazzard, Aviation Environment Federation Board Member, said: "This isn't the first time that serious academic research has highlighted the Government's failure to control the climate change impacts of flying. Comment is always better accompanied by progressive and intelligent policy analysis - and this latest report has pulled together a number of convincing public opinion attitudinal surveys that show very strong support for green taxes on air transport. These findings give the lie to politicians' oft-repeated fallback that there are no votes in taxing air travel. There clearly are."

Jeff Gazzard added: "This doesn't mean the end of flying - what it does mean is that we can start to sensibly and pragmatically control & reduce the runaway climate change impacts of this sector. The polluter - the passenger - must & should pay. And as MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee recent inquiry into aviation's carbon emissions impacts uncompromisingly stated: "The Department should implement demand management measures straightaway".

"We hope the new Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander, will personally read the Oxford University report, react immediately and fundamentally rethink current air transport policy - urgent action is needed to control and reduce aviation's emissions."

23 October 2006


George Parker in Lahti and Sarah Laitner in Brussels - Financial Times - 20 October 2006

Britain and the Netherlands will today attempt to force climate change to the top of the EU's agenda, warning that the world is only 10-15 years away from "a catastrophic tipping point".

Tony Blair, British prime minister, and Jan Peter Balkenende, his Dutch counterpart, will urge EU leaders to put Europe at the forefront of efforts to save energy and cut carbon emissions.

In a joint letter ahead of an EU summit in Finland today, the two say Europe should work with countries such as China and India to develop low carbon technologies and set world standards.

"We have a window of only 10-15 years to take the steps we need to avoid crossing a catastrophic tipping point," the two prime ministers claim.

They back EU legislation for new energy efficiency standards, tightened emissions trading and moves to bring carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants to zero.

The move may help to divert attention from the awkward main business of the summit, a debate with Vladimir Putin on the EU's energy relationship with Moscow.

EU leaders hope to present a united front in calling for an equal energy partnership with Russia, just as Moscow tightens its grip on the oil and gas sector to the detriment of western companies.

The Kremlin has made it clear it has no intention to sign up to the transit protocol of the energy charter treaty, which would give third parties access to the pipelines of Gazprom, the Russian energy group.

There are fears in Lahti, the lakeside town hosting the summit, that European leaders will send out mixed signals to Mr Putin with pro-Russian countries such as France and Germany striking a softer tone than harsh critics such as Poland.

Matti Vanhanen, Finland's premier will tackle Mr Putin on Russia's tough treatment of Georgia after a spying dispute and over the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaja.

Europe yesterday stepped up efforts to cut its energy bill with a plan designed to reduce energy use by 20 per cent within 14 years.

The EU Commission proposal targets wasteful products such as standby modes on electrical appliances, boilers and computers, as well as cars and houses. Tax breaks could be offered to companies and individuals.

Andris Piebalgs, EU energy commissioner, said the plan could cut millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, and reduce the "direct cost" of the union's power consumption by over €100bn ($126bn, £67bn) a year by 2020.

23 October 2006


Christopher Adams in London and Andrew Bounds in Brussels - Financial Times - 19 October 2006

Britain will today lead a charge to bring forward the timetable for making the world's major airlines pay for the cost of their pollution.

Senior UK ministers will argue at a meeting today in Germany for their inclusion in the European Union's greenhouse gas trading scheme within two years.

The ministers are expected to propose that flights leaving airports in EU member states, including those on long-haul routes, should begin paying for their carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 or as soon as is practically possible.

Airlines have long been expected to be included by 2013 at the latest, and European Commission officials have privately suggested 2010 as a probable starting date.

Britain is demanding an accelerated timetable, believing that swifter action is needed if the EU is to set an example to the rest of the world. The call to include all flights out of Europe, rather than just intra-EU flights, will be contentious with the US. The UK would expect the backing of Scandinavian countries and France but it could also meet strong resistance from Germany.

Douglas Alexander, UK transport secretary, and David Miliband, environment secretary, will use a visit today to Germany - which is about to assume the EU presidency - to press the case for the aviation industry's speedy inclusion in Europe's scheme.

Their trip comes before the publication at the end of this month of a government study of the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern, which is expected to argue forcefully for tough emissions trading and other mechanisms to promote low-carbon fuels.

Gordon Brown, chancellor, will use the findings to boost his "green" credentials as he prepares for a contest to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister next year.

The European scheme, based on tradeable permits, is designed so that power stations and industrial plants are given allowances to produce a fixed level of carbon dioxide and they must pay for any excess.

In a speech today, Mr Miliband will say that aviation is a"test case" of the ability of European governments to reconnect with citizens and tackle the problems posed by climate change.

Mr Alexander, a political ally of Mr Brown, told the Financial Times he would press the German government, which takes over the EU's rotating presidency in January, for the inclusion of aviation "from 2008 or as soon as possible thereafter".

But European diplomats yesterday expressed scepticism about whether such a swift timescale was feasible - not least because of existing problems with the emissions trading scheme.

British Airways has signalled its support for aviation's inclusion in emissions trading but warned the government against "punitive taxes". It wants an internationally agreed approach and favours an intra-EU scheme as a start.

23 October 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2189 - 20 October 2006

The UK wants the EU to include emissions from planes in its carbon trading scheme (ETS) from 2008, environment minister David Miliband said on Thursday. The European commission is to present draft legislation on to revise the scheme by the end of the year but has so far shown no signs that it is considering such early coverage of the aviation sector.

Mr Miliband said the "starting point" for EU talks on the legislation should be to include aviation from the start of the ETS's second phase. This starts in just over a year and would represent an extremely tight timetable for inclusion: the deadline for governments to allocate carbon allowances for this phase of the scheme has already passed.

In any case, Mr Miliband said, aviation should be included "well before" the third phase starts in 2012. The British government has led the push for aviation to be included after its airports and airlines decided trading would be the most favourable way of dealing with their climate impacts.

Mr Miliband was speaking in Berlin at a meeting with German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel as he prepares Germany for its stints next year as chair of the G8 and president of the council of ministers. As chair of the environment council Mr Gabriel will lead talks on a revision of the ETS.

The British minister set out a vision of the EU as an "environmental union" that would push for much tougher internal and global action to tackle climate change. "[Europe's] raison d'etre in the 21st century must be to prevent the exploitation of the planet," he said. The common agricultural policy should move "from a solution to food security to a solution to today's problems of climate and energy security," he said.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, a report from Oxford university in the UK urged the British government to tackle the aviation sector's climate impact by increasing passenger flight duties and curbing domestic airport expansion rather than emission trading.

23 October 2006


Climate change 'will cause refugee crisis'

Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor - The Independent - 20 October 2006

Mass movements of people across the world are likely to be one of the most dramatic effects of climate change in the coming century, a study suggests.

The report, from the aid agency Tearfund, raises the spectre of hundreds of millions of environmental refugees and says the main reason will be the effects of climate - from droughts and water shortages, from flooding and storm surges and from sea-level rise.

The study, "Feeling the Heat", says there are already an estimated 25 million environmental refugees, and this figure is likely to soar as rain patterns continue to change, floods and storms become more frequent and rising tides start to inundate low-lying countries such as Bangladesh or some of the Pacific islands.

Tearfund says that without urgent action, world governments will lose the fight to tackle the world water crisis and the growing threat of climate-change refugees in catastrophic numbers.

The report calls for governments at the UN Climate Change conference, beginning in Nairobi in a fortnight, to move towards a global framework for cutting climate-changing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that goes beyond the existing climate treaty, the Kyoto protocol, and to commit billions more to help poor countries adapt to the coming changes.

"There will be millions more thirsty, hungry and ill poor people living in high-risk areas of the world by the end of the century," the report says. "It makes sense politically, economically and morally, for governments to act with urgency now."

Andy Atkins, advocacy director of Tearfund, said one of the most devastating impacts of climate change was on water supply. "In some parts of the world, floods, storms and poor rainfall are beginning to have catastrophic effects, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people," he said.

This process will be steadily exacerbated, the report says, by the differing yet equally serious changes predicted to be part of a warming world. While some parts of the globe may experience much less rainfall and thus drought, others regions will have much more intense rain likely to bring about flooding. Sea-level rise , which a recent report suggested could be up to 50cm by 2050, would at that rate breach 100,000 kms (62,000 miles) of coastline around the world.

The report says: "As floods, drought and storms increase climate change will have a potentially catastrophic impact on water supply, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Poor people - like the 80 per cent of Malawi's population who farm small plots - are reliant on rain for their harvests, and are least able to adapt to climate change. By exacerbating existing water stresses, climate change impacts many other areas of human development such as health and even industry."

It goes on: "Already, there are an estimated 25 million environmental refugees - more than half the number of political refugees. Experts such as the ecologist Norman Myers suggest this figure could soar to 200 million in less than 50 years. Unseen and uncounted, millions are already on the move in search of greater water security. In some countries, the exodus began years ago."

In the report's foreword, Sir John Houghton, former chairman of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says politicians' strong words on climate change must now be matched by sufficient investment and strong action to cut global emissions, and help for the poorest nations adapt to climate change on their doorstep. A key to this will be helping poorer nations manage existing water supplies more efficiently.

"If your house is on fire, do you urgently try to save it, or throw your hands up in despair and walk away?" Sir John says. "Well, the house is on fire and it requires much more determined efforts to bring it under control and put it out. The UN climate change conference in Nairobi is an opportunity for failings to be addressed. Time is running out on us and world governments need to act much more responsibly, effectively and quickly."

The devastating impact

The report cites examples of where water problems are already causing a mass exodus or movement of people. They include:

* Poor crop yields are forcing more and more Mexicans to risk death by illegally fleeing to the US.

* One in five Brazilians born in the arid north-east of the country are moving to avoid drought.

* The spread of the Gobi desert, at a rate of 4,000 square miles a year, is forcing the populations of three provinces in China to abandon their homes.

* In Nigeria, 1,350 sq miles of land is turning to desert each year. Farmers and herdsmen are being forced to move to the cities.

* The population of Tuvalu, a group of eight Pacific islands north-east of Australia, is already being evacuated; nearly 3,000 Tuvalans have left so far.

23 October 2006


Sima Adhya - Financial Times - 4 September 2006

Climate change is allowing life-threatening diseases to spread from tropical areas to northern Europe, the British Association Science Festival will hear tomorrow, writes Sima Adhya.

Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacterium found in salty waters warmer than 20°C, was previously a problem only in the US Gulf states, says Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia. But now cases of infection have been reported in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and in northern parts of the US.

The UK has had no known cases yet, although sea temperatures off the south coast have exceeded 20°. The infection can be caught in sea water through open wounds or by handling infected shellfish. It kills 50 per cent of those who contract it. "There are clear signals that infectious diseases are already spreading because of climate change," says Prof Hunter.

A toxic alga previously restricted to tropical waters, Ostreopsis ovata, has moved into the Mediterranean. More than 100 people in Italy were taken to hospital this summer, suffering from various symptoms of algal poisoning.

18 October 2006


UK needs travel curbs, report says

Riazzat Butt - The Guardian - 18 October 2006

Britain will miss its climate change targets unless it curbs the country's rate of air travel, scientists have warned. A report, published yesterday by Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, says the government's aims to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 are unrealistic, even with the most conservative growth forecasts and allowing for technological advances to reduce damage.

The Report, called Predict and Decide: Aviation, Climate Change and Policy, says that aircraft currently produce about 5.5% of the country's emissions. But aviation could account for about a quarter of total emissions by 2050 unless new policies are introduced soon.

Dr Brenda Boardman, the project leader from the Institute, said the government had to confront the contradictions in its policies. "If the government wants to be confident about meeting its targets, it has to undertake demand management".

The report found that British holidaymakers were in favour of airlines paying for environmental damage even if it meant higher fares.

18 October 2006


ENDS Europe DAILY 2184 - 13 October 2006

A majority of member state governments has backed a revision of environmental objectives in the EU's transport policy. Ministers debated a review of the European commission's 2001 transport white paper in Luxembourg on Thursday at their regular meeting of the council of transport ministers.

In a summary of the debate the Finnish presidency of the EU said a majority of countries supported white paper's goal of decoupling increasing mobility levels from their negative environmental and social effects.

At the same time they stressed that the EU "must continue" to shift transport to more environmentally friendly modes "where appropriate", especially for long distance journeys. Green groups have accused the commission of wanting to drop this objective in favour of a softer approach.

Ministers also stressed the "important contribution" that initiatives like intelligent transport systems can make in increasing the efficiency and sustainability of transport. Several of them insisted on the need to carry out full impact assessments including economic, environmental and social issues in all aspects of EU transport policy.

Transport commissioner Jacques Barrot confirmed that the European commission will publish a methodology for calculating the external costs of transport in mid-2008. Ministers were split on the degree to which external costs should be internalised.

On aviation, the UK called for an urgent timetable for bringing the sector into the EU emission trading scheme. The call was supported by France and the Netherlands.

Green group T&E welcomed the ministers' "constructive" debate, but said it wanted to see concrete action on impact assessments.

OUR COMMENT: If the emission scheme is to reduce carbon emissions, then aviation cannot continue to expand at the proposed rate. Confused thinking, as the report above comments.

Pat Dale

18 October 2006


EU urged to auction more ETS Allowances

ENDS Europe DAILY 2183 - 12 October 2006

A Cambridge University economist has called for EU states to auction as many allowances as possible in the next phase of the European industrial emission trading scheme (ETS).  Speaking at a Brussels workshop on Wednesday, Dr Karsten Neuhoff said a shift away from free allocation was crucial to avoid a distorted carbon market.

In the longer term, free allowances should be gradually phased out altogether under state aid rules, he said.  Dr Neuhoff also advocated a shift to benchmarking away from allocations based on historic emissions (known as grandfathering), and a minimum carbon price to stabilise the market and incentivise investment in clean technologies.

Matthias Duwe from Climate action network (CAN-Europe) echoed Dr Neuhoff's arguments, saying that more pollution should always bring higher costs to a company.  Green MEP Claude Turmes argued that if Germany were to give free allowances to coal power plants for the next fourteen years, this would be as bad for competition as for the environment.

The workshop, organised by CAN-Europe, brought together MEPs, commission officials, NGOs and academics.  Peter Zapfel, representing the commission, confirmed that the EU executive will publish a review of the ETS in the coming weeks accompanied by in-depth studies on specific issues like auctioning.

He stressed that the review was about improving the EU ETS based on practical experience, not reinventing the concept. Any changes advocated in the review would only apply post-2012, he said.

Mr Zapfel also confirmed that 17 phase-two national allocation plans (Naps) have now been submitted to the commission.  On Thursday the European commission announced infringement proceedings against the remaining eight latecomers: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

Finland and Cyprus are the only two countries to have submitted plans The former is allocating an average 39.6m allowances per year to installations.  This is roughly mid-way between the first phase cap and actual 2005 emissions.  The cap on credits from Kyoto's flexible mechanisms varies by sector from 12 to 35 per cent.

Cyprus has allocated an average of 6.45m allowances per year to installations, up 13% from its first phase plan. Cyprus, like Malta, has no Kyoto target.

18 October 2006


CDM's progress and prospects under Debate

ENDS Europe DAILY 2183 - 12 October 2006

A lengthy project approval process and continued uncertainty over post-2012 global climate policy threaten to undermine Kyoto's clean development mechanism (CDM), stakeholders warned at a conference in London earlier this week.

Speaking at Carbon Finance 2006, industry expert Pedro Moura Costa predicted that as little as half of the 1.1bn tonnes of carbon credits due from CDM projects by 2012 will actually materialise.  Mr Moura Costa heads EcoSecurities, a leading player in the development of CDM projects.

This would severely undermine the effectiveness of what has become the leading global mechanism for industrialised countries and companies to invest in greenhouse gas emission reductions in developing countries in return for carbon credits.

Mr Moura criticised the CDM project approval process as slow and convoluted, including excessive regulatory teams and checks, frequent changes to procedures and documents, and a lack of transparency.  These shortcomings are jeopardising opportunities to cut emissions particularly by smaller companies and in poorer developing countries, he added.

A larger shadow hanging over the CDM is the continued absence of a post-2012 global climate policy framework, which would solidify the scheme's long-term future.  Some project developers warned that the uncertainty was having a material effect on the types of projects proposed, although others said overall interest in CDM showed no signs of abating.

Damandeep Singh, representing project developers in India, told ENDS new projects tend to be small and do not tackle energy efficiency.  Other delegates predicted that projects with the highest sustainable development benefits (and longest pay back times) will increasingly be eclipsed by industrial gas projects bankable until a year before 2012.

Clarity on a post-2012 climate policy framework is not expected before 2009 but UN climate change framework representative Janos Pasztor told conference delegates the carbon market is here to stay.  He also expressed the feeling, shared by many in industry, that getting the ball rolling on CDM is more important than getting each project exactly right.

Hans Juergen Stehr, vice chairman of the CDM executive board, outlined next steps for the scheme.  He welcomed greater transparency and said the board was working to broaden methodologies to see more projects accepted. He added however, that no agreement had been reached on proposals to include carbon capture and storage in the CDM.  Various delegates felt more resources were vital if the board was to address all of Mr Moura's concerns.

18 October 2006


High speed rail could wreck climate

Rob Edwards - Sunday Herald - 15 October 2006

A NEW high-speed rail link between Scotland and England could help wreck the climate, not save it, as it would increase pollution by encouraging more people to travel. A major report to be unveiled tomorrow challenges the growing green assumption that a regular 186mph train service from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London would benefit the environment.

Its high cost - up to £32 billion - could only be justified by a huge increase in the number of journeys made, the report says. And this would increase emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

The report was written by David Spaven, chairman of Transform Scotland, a campaign group involving 64 environmental and public transport organisations. He said: "Lobbyists for a high-speed railway to Scotland claim environmental benefits which give the concept a 'green glow'. But an expensive new dedicated route could create more environmental problems than it solves. The most sustainable solution looks like upgrading the existing network to get faster journeys which will coax people on to the train."

Spaven's report concludes that much of the recent research on high-speed rail links fails to properly investigate environmental impacts. The few studies which have examined the issue concluded that high-speed rail could have serious environmental drawbacks.

Research by Atkins consultants suggested ticket prices would have to be so high they would not attract enough passengers away from air services to reduce the number of flights.

Professor Roger Kemp from Lancaster University, who was the project director for Eurostar trains from London to the continent, has highlighted the huge amount of energy needed to enable trains to reach high speeds.

Spaven is not opposed to high-speed rail in principle. He accepts that for some journeys in Europe it may replace air travel and cut climate-wrecking pollution. But he is not convinced it is the right solution for travel between Scotland and England. He is also worried an "obsession with speed" could worsen the problems railways are meant to be solving. It came down to a choice between providing ever-more mobility, he said, "or recognising the limits to growth and the need to manage transport demand down to a sustainable level".

The cost of a high-speed link between Scotland and England has been estimated at between ?11bn and ?14bn by Network Rail, which runs Britain's railways. A faster "Maglev" train that uses magnetic levitation could cost up to £32bn.

More benefits would come from much smaller investments in upgrading the main east and west coast lines, Spaven argued, which could cut journey times to London to below four hours. Other lines in Scotland should be electrified, aviation should be taxed and airport expansion prevented.

Spaven, who has chaired Transform Scotland since its formation in 1997, is stepping down this month. The group will now reassess its policy on high-speed rail.

Pressure for a new high-speed rail link between the north and south of England has increased with the formation earlier this year of the lobby group Greengauge21. Headed by Jim Steer, a leading transport specialist, it argued that a link would "extend the range of the London effect".

"A larger part of the country can exploit the opportunities of the world city economy," the group's manifesto stated. "This means businesses in the Midlands and north can participate in the economic advantages enjoyed by the south."

Network Rail's deputy chief executive, Iain Croucher, said: "A [high-speed] link is one way of releasing capacity on existing routes in a way that has a good business case." But he added that other steps could be taken. "Much can be delivered out of tweaks, timetabling and small-scale investment in enhancements, but you can't do this forever."

18 October 2006


Desmond sells London City airport

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 12 October 2006

London City airport was sold yesterday by Dermot Desmond, the Irish financier, in one of his most lucrative deals.

It was bought by a consortium comprising American International Group (AIG), the US insurance and financial services group, and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a recently formed joint venture between Credit Suisse and General Electric's GE Infrastructure fund.

The deal placed an enterprise value of about £750m on the business, well above early analysts' estimates.

It provided sale proceeds of about £650m to Mr Desmond, who bought the airport for only £23.5m in 1995 from Mowlem, the UK construction group.

Mr Desmond's other interests include the largest shareholding in Glasgow Celtic football club, online gambling with the Betdaq betting exchange, a majority stake in Daon, the biometrics company, and a holding in the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados.

The ownership of all five London airports has changed hands in the past two years. This summer, BAA, owner of Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, was bought by a consortium led by Ferrovial of Spain.

AIG trumped offers from groups including Sacyr Vallehermoso, the Spanish infrastructure concern teamed with Axa, the French insurer; Fraport, the Frankfurt airport group with the Deutsche Bank infrastructure funds; and Balfour Beatty, partnered at one point with Merrill Lynch.

Located in London's Docklands, London City was built by Mowlem and opened in 1987. It racked up losses for the construction group in the early years but began to expand in the second half of the 1990s after the group sold out to Mr Desmond.

A Docklands Light Rail (DLR) link from the heart of the City of London opened last December. Passenger numbers have risen from 556,000 in 1995 to 2m in 2005 while the number of take-offs and landings has risen from 18,434 to 70,912 in the same period.

The airport has become one of the most popular destinations in south-east England for private and corporate jets. In 2012, it will be the closest airport to the London Olympics.

The airport master plan, published this year, expects passenger volumes will rise to 8m by 2030 and take-offs and landings increase from 71,000 a year to 170,000 in the same period.

18 October 2006


Silverjet to fly in face of BA and Virgin Atlantic

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 13 October 2006

Silverjet, the first UK-based, all-business-class, long-haul airline is to start flying between London and New York in late January.

Lawrence Hunt, Silverjet chief executive, said the group would launch an initial daily service between London Luton and New York Newark airports on January 25 and was aiming to have expanded to three daily services on the route by December next year.

The company, which is listed on Aim, raised £25.3m in a share placement with institutional and other investors in May.

It has been promotedby Mr Hunt, a UK entrepreneur and a member of the Foyle's of London bookshop family.

Silverjet will add to the challenge posed to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic on their key, highly lucrative transatlantic route by a number of start-up, all-business-class airlines led by Maxjet and Eos, the two US carriers that both began flying between London Stansted and New York's JFK airport late last year.

The all-business-class carriers are seeking to draw lucrative premium passengers from BA, Virgin Atlantic and US carriers such as American Airlines and Continental Airlines, either through lower fares or improved service.

Elysair, a French all-business-class start-up, is being launched in December between Paris-Orly and Newark airports.

Mr Hunt said Silverjet was aiming to offer an average business class return fare of £999 compared with more than £3,000 from the established airlines.

Silverjet, which will be the first scheduled long-haul carrier based at Luton, will also offer a 30-minute check-in time before departure and will operate from the business aviation terminal rather than the commercial one.

The airline said it was planning to develop more low-fare, all-business-class services on long-haul routes from Luton once the existing service had become established and profitable.

Mr Hunt said the group had identified more than 30 routes out of London where it believed its business model could be profitable.

Silverjet intends to operate a fleet of twin-aisle Boeing 767-200s each with 102 seats that convert into inclined flat beds.

18 October 2006


Ferrovial and Hochtief in talks on sale of Budapest hub

Mark Mulligan in Madrid, Christopher Condon in Budapest and Kevin Done in London -
Financial Times - 13 October 2006

Ferrovial and Hochtief, the German construction group, are in advanced talks on the sale of Budapest airport, in what could lead to the Spanish infrastructure group's first disposal of part of BAA since its £10.1bn ($18.8bn) acquisition of the UK airports operator in June.

Both companies yesterday refused to comment on reports that they were close to completing a deal. However, another person familiar with the process said a regulatory statement on the talks could come "within the next few weeks".

BAA, the world's biggest airports group, acquired Budapest airport for £1.3bn last December, in the world's most highly valued airport deal.

It paid Ft465bn and pledged an additional Ft100m for development projects in return for a 75 per cent stake and a 75-year operating concession. BAA beat Hochtief, which bid Ft400bn in the final round. The other bidder was Fraport, also of Germany.

Any change of ownership of Budapest airport would require the approval of the Hungarian government. According to Hungary's privatisation agency, the terms of the privatisation prevents any resale without government approval before 2012.

Because the initial privatisation proved controversial, drawing criticism from unions and opposition politicians, the Hungarian government is likely to scrutinise any resale closely.

Traffic has increased 9 per cent in the 12 months to the end of August. The airport last year handled traffic of 8.1m passengers, up nearly 25 per cent on volumes in 2004. Growth has been driven largely by low-cost airlines.

The sale of BAA to a Ferrovial-led consortium immediately sparked speculation that the Spanish group would offer to sell the airport to the German company.

Hochtief had appealed against the original sale to BAA, claiming its bid was technically superior to that of the UK group.

Ferrovial, meanwhile, has said it is mainly interested in BAA's UK assets, which include most importantly London Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports, as well as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports in Scotland and Southampton airport.

It is understood that Ferrovial is planning the gradual break-up and sell-off of BAA's international operations, as part of the effort to reduce the debt burden built up through the takeover.

Apart from Budapest it is also considering the sale of BAA's controlling stake in Naples airport in Italy as well as minority stakes in several Australian airports.

11 October 2006


Airwise News - 5 October 2006

Britain wants to curb rising aviation greenhouse gas emissions through a European trading scheme and possibly a tax on passengers, rather than a British tax on jet fuel, climate change minister Ian Pearson said.

Emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from aviation rose 85 percent between 1990 and 2004 says the European Union, and its part in mankind's total contribution to climate change is set to rise.

Britain favours a tough approach to including the sector in a European carbon trading scheme -- which caps industry emissions but allows firms to buy pollution cuts from each other -- rather than a unilateral tax on jet fuel, Pearson said on Thursday.

"I don't think a unilateral (fuel tax) approach would be effective," he told a conference on aviation and the environment, referring to possible resulting distortions to flight paths.

But Britain was also considering a tax on air passengers, possibly through requiring them to offset emissions by funding green initiatives like tree-planting.

"We are exploring using this (air passenger duties) to capture emissions costs. We should maybe move to a mandatory (offsetting) system perhaps linked to APD."

Britain wants to include all flights in and outside Europe in the EU carbon trading scheme, rather than just flights within Europe, Pearson said, ahead of proposals the European Commission will detail next year.

"I think that would be the wrong way to go," he said of just including flights within the EU.

Including flights outside the EU could set up a battle with the United States which has so far taken a softer approach on capping greenhouse gas emissions.

"Some countries outside the EU might have a problem with that," Pearson said of his viewpoint, but added he saw no legal barrier to the move.


11 October 2006


Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 10 October 2006

Ryanair, the Irish low cost airline, on Tuesday intensified the already fierce battle that is being waged in the Spanish aviation market by announcing the launch of an operating base in Madrid.

Spain has become the main focus for the expansion of the low cost carriers in Europe after the UK and Germany, and the move by Ryanair into Madrid comes only weeks after EasyJet, its UK rival, announced its own plans for a Madrid base.

Ryanair announced an initial network of 14 routes to and from Madrid, including Dublin, Paris-Beauvais, Brussels-Charleroi, Gothenburg, Marseille and Eindhoven as well as Nottingham East Midlands and Bournemouth in the UK. Initially at least it is avoiding head-to-head competition with EasyJet.

It said it would base three aircraft in the Spanish capital, which will become its 18th base in Europe. It planned to carry 1m passengers a year on the Madrid routes which would begin operations in late November.

The airlines are expanding in Madrid to take advantage of the big increase of capacity at Madrid's Barajas airport, which has doubled the number of runways from two to four and has opened a new fourth terminal.

EasyJet, which will already operate 9 routes to and from Madrid by the end of this month, will base its first three aircraft in the city from February next year, when it will add six more routes including two domestic services to La Coru~~na~~ and Oviedo and will add frequencies on some existing routes.

EasyJet said that it was increasing its capacity to and from Madrid, its 17th European base, by 140 per cent and expected to reach 2m passengers a year by the end of 2007. Overall it forecast a rise in its Spanish traffic from 7.5m last year to 10m.

The launch of a base in Madrid will open a second front for Ryanair, which is already expanding fast from its first Spanish base at Barcelona-Gerona.

Two weeks ago it said that it was doubling the number of aircraft based in Gerona from four to eight in March next year and would add 17 more routes taking the network to 40 destinations. Passenger numbers to and from Gerona were forecast to rise to 4m a year with its total Spanish network rising to 9m passengers a year including the new Madrid base.

The opening of Madrid bases by Ryanair and EasyJet in Madrid poses tough competition for Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier, which is already facing heavy pressure from other low cost carriers across Spain.

Vueling, the Spanish low cost start-up which began flying in July 2004, is developing bases in both Madrid and Barcelona. It hopes to have a fleet of 16 180-seat Airbus A320s by the end of 2006, rising to 25 in 2007.

Iberia has itself been cutting loss-making short-haul routes, but has responded to the competitive threat by leading the start-up of another low cost carrier, Clickair, from a base in Barcelona. It started flying two weeks ago with three aircraft and plans to operate a fleet of 30 A320s by the end of 2008.

The battle for the Spanish market has also been joined by Spanair, a subsidiary of SAS Scandinavian Airlines, which is aiming to increase its passenger volumes by 50 per cent by 2010 to 15m with the focus of expansion on creating a Barcelona hub.


What happens if Ryanair takes over Aer Lingus?

Jeff Sillitoe - The Guardian - 9 October 2006

Ryanair is used to causing a stir, not least among the 42 million passengers who take advantage of its low-cost fares every year. The airline's ultra-frugal approach to business has sparked some high profile confrontations with customers, such as charging a man with cerebral palsy £18 to use a wheelchair.

However, it was the turn of Irish politicians to attack the airline on Thursday after it launched a daring £1bn take-over bid for its Irish counterpart, Aer Lingus.

The combined carrier would be one of Europe's biggest, with 50m passengers travelling 300 routes. The Irish government, which owns a quarter of Aer Lingus, is determined to block the deal, saying it will create a monopoly and therefore hurt consumers by pushing up prices.

Ryanair has pledged this will not be the case and that Aer Lingus's average short-haul fare will fall by 2% a year over the next 4 years. It has also vowed that Aer Lingus will be run separately, so that both airlines will continue to compete with each other where they share destinations.

If Ryanair is true to its word, passengers on shared Aer Lingus/Ryanair routes – including Dublin to London, Dublin to Liverpool, and Dublin to Edinburgh – will not incur fare increases if the two flyers combine. But the temptation to get more money out of people flying from Dublin to the UK will still be there. Ryanair will have to weigh the financial benefit of ticket price increases against any damage to its low-fare image. "Price is the best form of loyalty" says Mike O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive.

There is also plenty of competition for the Dublin to London route. BMI, Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways all fly between the capitals. Frequent flyers between Ireland and the UK therefore need not worry. Ryanair is committed though, to dropping all unprofitable Aer Lingus routes. So if you are a regular user of an Aer Lingus route that doesn't make much money, it could be time to look up the coach table.

OUR COMMENT: Ryanair is spreading its wings - and its potential bases. Will this help if Stansted airport increases its charges to pay for its "gold plated" runways?

Pat Dale

7 October 2006


Stricter air pollution standards could reduce deaths in polluted cities by 15%

WHO Media Centre - Geneva - 5 October 2006

The World Health Organization (WHO) is today challenging governments around the world to improve air quality in their cities in order to protect people's health. The call comes as WHO unveils its new Air Quality Guidelines with dramatically lower standards for levels of pollutants. WHO believes that reducing levels of one particular type of pollutant (known as PM10) could reduce deaths in polluted cities by as much as 15% every year. The Guidelines also substantially lower the recommended limits of ozone and sulphur dioxide.

WHO Air quality guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide -
summary of risk assessment

The Air quality guidelines for the first time address all regions of the world and provide uniform targets for air quality. These targets are far tougher than the national standards currently applied in many parts of the world - and in some cities would mean reducing current pollution levels by more than three-fold.

Air pollution is estimated to cause approximately 2 million premature deaths worldwide per year. More than half of this burden is borne by people in developing countries. In many cities, the average annual levels of PM10 (the main source of which is the burning of fossil and other types of fuels) exceed 70 micrograms per cubic metre. The new Guidelines say that, to prevent ill health, those levels should be lower than 20 micrograms per cubic metre.

"By reducing particulate matter pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre as set out in the new Guidelines, we estimate that we can cut deaths by around 15%," said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health and the Environment. "By reducing air pollution levels, we can help countries to reduce the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer which they otherwise would be facing. Moreover, action to reduce the direct impact of air pollution will also cut emissions of gases which contribute to climate change and provide other health benefits."

Given the increasing evidence of the health impact of air pollution, WHO revised its existing Air quality guidelines (AQGs) for Europe and expanded them to produce the first guidelines which are applicable worldwide. These global guidelines are based on the latest scientific evidence and set targets for air quality which would protect the large majority of individuals from the effects of air pollution on health.

"These new guidelines have been established after a worldwide consultation with more than 80 leading scientists and are based on review of thousands of recent studies from all regions of the world. As such, they present the most widely agreed and up-to-date assessment of health effects of air pollution, recommending targets for air quality at which the health risks are significantly reduced. We look forward to working with all countries to ensure these Guidelines become part of national law," says Dr Roberto Bertollini, Director of the Special Programme for Health and Environment of WHO's Regional Office for Europe.

Many countries around the world do not have regulations on air pollution, which makes the control of this important risk factor for health virtually impossible. The national standards which do exist vary substantially, and do not ensure sufficient protection for human health. While the World Health Organization accepts the need for governments to set national standards according to their own particular circumstances, these guidelines indicate levels of pollution at which the risk to health is minimal. As such, the new WHO guidelines provide the basis for all countries to build their own air quality standards and policies supporting health with solid, scientific evidence.

Air pollution, in the form of particulate matter or sulfur dioxide, ozone or nitrogen dioxide, has a serious impact on health. For example, in the European Union, the smallest particulate matter alone (PM2.5) causes an estimated loss of statistical life expectancy of 8.6 months for the average European. While particulate matter is considered to be the main air pollution risk factor for human health, the new Guidelines also recommend a lower daily limit for ozone, reduced from 120 down to 100 micrograms per cubic metre. Achievement of such levels will be a challenge for many cities, especially in developing countries, and particularly those with numerous sunny days when ozone concentrations reach the highest levels, causing respiratory problems and asthma attacks.

For sulfur dioxide, the guideline level was reduced from 125 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre: experience has demonstrated that relatively simple actions can rapidly lower sulfur dioxide levels and directly result in lower rates of childhood death and disease. The guideline level for nitrogen dioxide remains unchanged; however, meeting these limits, which are essential to prevent the health consequences of exposure such as bronchitis, remains a great challenge in many areas where car traffic is intensive.

The guidelines propose progressive interim targets and provide milestones in achieving better air quality. "Building upon the work carried out for several years on air pollution, WHO has now set new targets which Member States can refer to in setting policy. The countries can measure their distance to these objectives, estimate the health impact of current pollution levels and benefit from health gains by reducing them," says Dr. Michal Krzyzanowski, Regional Adviser for Air Quality, of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, coordinating the process of the Guidelines' update from the WHO office in Bonn.

OUR COMMENT: The emphasis on lowering levels of PM10 particles has direct implications for the Stansted expansion application for maximum use of the existing runway. BAA have forecasted that future EU statutory levels will be exceeded in 2014. Now the WHO is recommending even lower levels. Can expansion still be seriously considered?

Pat Dale

7 October 2006


Tania Branigan - The Guardian - 3 October 2006

Conservative activists yesterday snubbed ambitious green tax plans put forward by David Cameron's advisers, by voting in favour of budget flights despite their environmental impacts.

John Gummer, the former environmental secretary, and head of the party's quality of life task force, said carbon taxes would undoubtedly be imposed. Zac Goldsmith, the environmentalist and fellow task force member, urged the Tories to shift taxes "away from good things like labour to bad things like pollution", while the author and eco-campaigner Jeanette Winterson encouraged the Tories to become the party of the land again.

But in a separate conference debate, members rejected a motion suggesting cheap flights were a "false economy" by 57% to 43% indicating the difficulties the conservatives will have in setting out a green agenda.

Party spokesmen played down the issue in speeches yesterday, although Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary, said that green taxes should rise as a proportion of total tax, and warned: "It's no good ministers bleating about climate change and then supporting a trebling of airport capacity."

Chris Grayling, the shadow transport secretary, did not discuss flights. But he told activists: "Tackling the environmental impact of road transport doesn't mean driving cars off the roads. It's the technology that needs to change."

The policy review groups are not due to report back until next summer .But Mr Gummer told a policy review fringe meeting: "People need to pay the price of travelling short distances, and therefore make a proper price, which they don't do at the moment."

He added: "You have to take decisions which allow the free market to deliver a low carbon economy… You have to make people pay the price of carbon."

Steven Norris, who is leading the transport policy group has already suggested that a shift to green levies - including a tax on flights - is inevitable.

Mr Goldsmith, editor of the Economist, told activists that the market was blind to the value of the environment and promised that "green growth" was possible if the two were reconnected. "Just as no one would welcome growth based on violence or prostitution, similarly we have to learn to reject growth based on environmental degradation" he warned.

Tory members cheered Jeanette Winterson as she suggested "global warming is an even bigger threat than George Bush". She told the conference she was not a Tory, but added: "Our planet is more important than anybody's politics… I don't know if David Cameron can. I know Blair and Brown can't."

Winterson added that she was "really cross" that she had paid VAT to install a geothermal heating system, adding: "I would like to see a system where ordinary people could make a difference in their homes and not be taxed up the arse while doing it."

OUR COMMENT: This sounds like a green conversion! Let us hope that these policies will be promoted and that Local Authorities will also take note.

Pat Dale

7 October 2006


Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 3 October 2006

The owner of Heathrow airport, BAA, put aside months of hostilities with the airline industry yesterday to warn that a flying tax would damage the economy. Stephen Nelson, chief executive of Britain's largest airport operator, said a tax on the aviation industry would not have the desired effect on the environment but would cause inconvenience to many people by pricing them out of aeroplanes.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference yesterday, he said a carbon emissions trading scheme was the best option for mitigating the environmentally damaging effects of flying.

"A tax to price people out of flying would not deliver the required environmental result", he said, "It would also damage people's quality of life. Of course we have to minimise the negative effects of flying, but the best solution is an emissions trading scheme, which would be both effective and popular."

Under a trading scheme airlines would buy permits to cover their carbon dioxide output above a certain limit, or sell them if they undershot their target. The aviation industry is taxed by the airport passenger duty charge, which levies airports on every traveller going through terminals, but support has been growing for a further tax on flying.

Aeroplanes account for 2% of global carbon emissions, which is expected to rise to 15% by 2050. Mr Nelson also pointed to a YouGov poll for the British Air Transport Association (BATA) which showed that 51% of Conservative voters backed an admissions trading scheme as the best way to cut aviation pollution.

Roger Wiltshire, chief executive of BATA said: "We think the beauty of emissions trading is that it targets the emissions rather than trying to make a futile attempt at pricing people out of air travel. It would be generating tax income without any environmental benefit".

Chris Grayling, the shadow transport secretary, refused to rule out a tax on flying yesterday, but said that the Conservatives were considering "all options". "We are not in the business of driving the aviation business overseas. But we are lookinjg very hard at how to address the environmental impact of aviation."

Last week Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, urged governments to intervene if necessary. "If the industry does not get its act together then governments should impose some of these things on to the industry" he said.

The Virgin tycoon spoke as he unveiled a plan to cut emissions by 25% in 2 years. He has also proposed an industry body to combat the effects of aviation on the environment. His proposals have received a lukewarm response from some parts of the environmental lobby and aviation industry who have questioned the need for another action body when Virgin helped establish the Sustainable Aviation group last year.

OUR COMMENT: The logic of BAA's and BATA's arguments is very curious. How can a carbon emissions trading scheme cut pollution without cutting the use of fuel, and so reducing pollution. In the present state of aircraft technology buying a new up-to-date plane will reduce fuel use and so emissions, but by no more than 20%. This will not be enough to stop carbon levels rising if the number of flights increases. Carbon trading schemes are intended to reduce carbon emissions by setting reduction targets. Reduction targets mean at the very least, no extra flights for the foreseeable future until if and when a truly green plane arrives. Both BAA and BATA need also to consult their own statistics. People who fly frequently are mainly the better off. Why? – because the air ticket covers only the journey, not the expenses of the holiday.

Pat Dale

7 October 2006


The Report below highlights the shortcomings of a scheme
without proper targets

ENDS Europe DAILY 2178 - 5 October 2006

Europe's industrial emission trading scheme (ETS) risks failing to deliver any net domestic emission reductions at all in its second phase unless the European commission cracks down on lax national allocation plans (Naps), green group WWF warned this week. The commission is expected to issue its assessment of a first group of Naps in November.

WWF identifies "very weak" national emission caps and "extremely generous" rules on Kyoto project credits purchased abroad as the key problems. Together, these effectively transfer emission cuts to developing countries and act as a disincentive to clean technology investments in the EU, it warns.

If the scheme does not deliver domestic emission reductions then this would breach the underlying ETS directive, which requires use of project mechanisms to be "supplemental" to domestic action, WWF says.

Its statement draws on analysis by consultancy Ecofys of nine draft or final Naps for the 2008-12 trading period (from Germany, the UK, Poland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands). Collectively these account for 80% of emissions in the ETS.

Current caps suggest "minimal effort" will be needed to cut emissions below business as usual scenarios, Ecofys concludes. It calculates that the shortfall in allowances could be as little as -0.6%. In any case the recent release of verified 2005 emissions by the trading sector showed that business as usual scenarios are often inflated, it notes.

In addition, all the countries analysed are proposing to allow companies to cover their obligations partly through foreign JI or CDM credits. The UK and Netherlands are restricting their use to 8% of a company's obligations, but Ireland and Spain have set a limit of 50% and Portugal has no limit at all.

There are likely to be hundreds of millions of tonnes-worth of these credits on the market, and they are likely to be cheaper than the average cost for European industry to cut its own emissions, Ecofys predicts.

Supply is expected to exceed demand even after allowing for purchases by governments to meet national emission obligations, it adds. WWF complains in addition that many non-CO2 JI and CDM projects "contribute little to sustainable development, a transition to renewable energy or greater efficiency".

The result is that companies could end up being able to meet their small emission obligations "many times over" by buying foreign credits.

7 October 2006

$1,000,000,000,000: THE COST OF CAPPING

Philip Thornton, Economics Correspondent - The Independent - 30 September 2006

The cost of curbing the soaring emissions of harmful gases that are blamed for causing global warming has been estimated at $1 trillion by a major study of the cost of climate change. The volume of emissions of the gases that cause global warming will double by 2050 unless rich countries agree to take significant policy steps to cut energy use, it shows.

The report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers, lays bare the potential damage to the environment of the industrial revolution in China and India. It puts a price of $1 trillion (£526bn) on the cost of sorting out the problem spread over the next generation. The bill is equivalent to a year's output of the economy of Canada, and less than half of the total stock of debt that has been built up by Britain's households. But it is less than the cost in terms of environmental catastrophe and loss of life that scientists fear will happen as temperatures and sea levels rise. "It is implicit from our findings that a trillion dollars certainly is a cost worth incurring," said John Hawksworth, the chief economist at PwC and author of the report.

Turbo-charged growth in emerging economies is helping to drag billions of people out of poverty across Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe. But according to PwC, the price will be paid by sharp rises in global energy consumption and carbon emissions. They say it means the rich nations that have done most to cause the problem must take more drastic action to reduce their environmental impact.

The report comes as the environmental community awaits a key Treasury-commissioned report on the economic cost of climate change. Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, is expected to conclude that it will be cheaper to act now to curb energy use than to pay for the cost of symptoms later.

His findings, which will be presented to G8 environment ministers during a closed-door session at a summit in Mexico next week, will also outline the financial impact of global warning. Sir Nicholas will reject the alternative argument that the world should maximise economic growth to build reserves to meet the costs of the final reckoning.

PwC said it had attempted to put a price on slowing the growth in carbon emissions because it was impossible to calculate the cost of climate change. "If sea levels rise and a lot of people in Bangladesh drown do you calculate the loss of their lifetime earnings, even though they will be lower than for the UK? It is a difficult moral question," Mr Hawksworth said.

PwC's analysis shows its projections for economic growth of the seven largest emerging economies (E7) - Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and Turkey - imply global carbon emissions will double by 2050. PwC estimates that assuming countries continue with current policies to reduce energy use by 1 per cent a year, emissions will rise by 7 gigatons of carbon (GtC) presently to about 15 GtC by 2050.

Mr Hawksworth said if the world abandoned its recent achievement on cutting energy intensity by 1 per cent a year - then emissions would treble to 24 GtC. Even a radical strategy - which he calls "green growth" - of boosting the share of non-fossil fuels used in energy from 12.5 per cent to 30 per cent, combined with a slightly tougher cut in energy intensity use - would keep emissions only at current levels. "This business as usual approach is clearly unacceptable," Mr Hawksworth said. "Ideally even more needs to be done but this would be challenging enough to achieve."

PwC's report gives a wish list of measures that could deliver lower emissions than exist now by 2050 . These include: energy efficiency improvements beyond the historic trend; road pricing where proceeds are not given back to motorists; investment in hydrogen-based technologies; a major switch from coal to has, nuclear and renewables, particularly in China and India; and expanding carbon capture and storage - taking carbon at source and storing underground or undersea.

The West is sensitive to being seen as lecturing developing countries, or insisting they make the cuts the G7 never made until now. China and India have ratified the Kyoto protocol but do not have to meet the targets to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases.

7 October 2006


Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst - BBC News, Monterrey - 5 October 2006

The US remains one of the highest emitters of polluting gases

Climate talks between the world's top 20 polluters have ended with an unusual level of agreement on the urgent need to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

But delegates at the Mexico talks also stressed the massive gap between the politics and science of climate change. Several said they had never known such a positive atmosphere. Nobody doubted the reality of climate science anymore. The UK claimed the talks a success, saying they brought together ministers from developed and developing nations.

Dirty path
Politicians from China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia and other growing nations sat alongside G8 members to hear presentations on climate science, economics, technology, business and policy.

For all the positive mood of the meeting, it is hard to be optimistic
Business leaders from the World Economic Forum in Davos expressed a need for strong targets from governments on greenhouse gases.

There was a clear message from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and British government-backed economist Sir Nicholas Stern that it was better - and cheaper - to cut greenhouse gas emissions now than to wait for the climate to change then try to adapt.

The IEA said much could be achieved with existing technology, although far greater investment was needed.

The World Bank outlined its framework for investment in clean technology to help developing countries expand energy supplies without having to follow the dirty path of the West.

US objections
But Bank representatives made it clear that there was no sign of the $20 billion (£10.6bn) investment programme heralded by the UK Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The US, which was present at the talks, is objecting to parts of the proposal. The Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, told the BBC that the US was now acting urgently to tackle greenhouse gases - then later admitted that the country's emissions would continue to rise.

Another US delegate agreed that the world would face inevitable sea level rise because of climate change.

But when informally asked if the US opposition to mandatory CO2 cuts had changed in any way in response to a surge in concern over recent science of climate change, economically replied "no".

There have been rumours in the US media that the Department of Energy has been in talks with business about mandatory CO2 caps.

But a source here in Monterrey said the White House Council on Environmental Quality (a hard-line group of advisers with close links to the US oil industry) have ruled that out. But the US is by no means the only sticking point in climate talks.

Low odds
The Russians - who hope they will benefit from a warmer world - did not turn up to Monterrey. It is rumoured that their invitations were sent too late because of recent political turmoil in Mexico. Climate change could wipe out economic growth in some regions.

The Chinese were present, outlining ambitious plans to match their concern with climate with a big programme of investment in energy efficiency. But the Indians despatched only their concerned environment minister, instead of their unconcerned energy minister who has far more sway over India's emissions.

So, for all the positive mood of the meeting in this spectacular northern Mexican city, surrounded by towering limestone mountains, it is hard to be optimistic.

The UK Environment Secretary David Miliband said there had been real and practical progress but warned that the pace of action had to be much faster or CO2 emissions would be 137% higher than in 2003 by 2050. Business as usual, he said, was not an option.

One delegate told me he thought the pace of political ambition on emissions was so slow that we had a 1,000-1 chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. He later sent me a text message to assert that he had been overly pessimistic. The odds, he said, were only 100-1. The chances were bad, he said, but it was still worth fighting on.

7 October 2006


The economic aspects of airport expansion

Report from Friends of the Earth - 5 October 2006

Full Report     Summary of the Report

Despite considerable environmental impacts, in particular its contribution to climate change, the Government and aviation industry frequently justify airport expansion on the grounds of the huge benefits it will bring to the UK economy. Friends of the Earth believes that although airports do contribute to the economy, that the economic case for further expansion is questionable and unproven.

We have examined the economic case for airport expansion made by the Government and aviation industry. We found it to be weak in three main ways:

• The economic benefits are exaggerated
• The economic costs of environmental damage are ignored
• The economic costs to other sectors of the economy have not been considered

In conclusion the report finds that airport expansion has far lower real economic benefits than asserted, and that these benefits are outweighed by the economic costs of environmental damage, and economic costs to other sectors of the economy.

The report argues that it would be better for the UK economy and the environment for the Government to rewrite its Aviation White Paper to remove its plans for airport expansion. The Government has the opportunity to do this in its review of the Aviation White Paper later this year. Any policy rethink must result in measures that will control aviation emissions so that they are consistent with wider carbon reduction targets.

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