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 - January to March 2007

26 March 2007


Leader - The Guardian - 24 March 2007

We have been negotiating with the US for greater competition in transatlantic flights on and off since 1977, which is why this week?s agreement has been acclaimed as historic. It certainly can?t be on the merits of the deal that has finally been reached between the European Union and the US. The dream of those pushing for the ?open skies? treaty was for greater competition on flights between Europe and America, leading to lower prices for customers and more jobs.

Open skies? Hardly. True, by next summer European airlines will be able to fly from any city in the EU to anywhere in the US. Their American rivals will have the same option. But both sides will need lots of cash to buy swingeingly expensive takeoff and landing slots. And however liberal Washington?s negotiators may have sounded, they still refuse to allow US airlines to be bought by foreign firms.

America had the whip hand throughout the negotiations: while US airlines can run internal flights within Europe their continental counterparts remain barred from American domestic markets. In any case, this week's deal will not make much difference to most British travellers. Our market is already fiercely competitive: with the trawl of the internet, and economy ticket between London and JFK can be yours for just over £200. No, the real beneficiaries are that gilded lot who sit in the front of the plane. Business class passengers may see their fares come down, but their victory should not be seen as a win for all.

We set off down the road of liberalising air travel a long time ago, which may be why this treaty looks like a throwback to an age when we were not so concerned about the environment. Tellingly, the EU?s own report into this deal?s impact discusses how it affects businesses and consumers ? but not the environment. Yet this agreement will put another 26 million passengers on planes over the next 5 years, a figure that green campaigners believe adds around 3.5m extra tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. How, does this fit with Europe?s new green agenda? Well it offsets any reduction in emissions that come from aviation?s inclusion in the European emissions trading scheme. That is, it takes us back to square one.

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? The transport secretary, Douglas Alexander, hails this agreement as a great deregulation, while the environment secretary, David Miliband, admits to the BBC Newsnight that increased air travel is bad for the planet. We can?t push for increased air travel and reduced environmental damage. The former is a luxury, the latter a necessity. This is a deal whose time has come ? and gone.

26 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2287 - 21 March 2007

UK finance minister Gordon Brown announced a series of measures to encourage reduced greenhouse gas emissions in a budget for the financial year 2007/8 on Wednesday. The environment ministry welcomed the budget as providing the "next steps towards a low-carbon economy".

Key announcements included a competition to develop the UK's first full-scale demonstration of carbon capture and storage, the winner of which will be revealed next year. A new UKP800m (E1.2bn) fund for projects that benefit the environment and reduce poverty in developing countries will be launched. Britain's landfill tax will rise next year.

For transport, there was a modest rise in fuel duty rates and an extension of lower duty on biofuels to 2009/10. Annual car tax is being cut for vehicles emitting under 120 g/km CO2 and increased significantly for the most polluting. A review is to be launched to look at what vehicle and fuel technologies could "decarbonise" road transport over the next 25 years.

For buildings, Mr Brown announced abolition of house purchase tax for most zero-carbon homes and an increase in funds for installation of domestic energy generation. All householders should have been offered help to introduce energy efficiency measures by the end of the next decade, he said. And incandescent light bulbs should be phased out by 2011.

OUR COMMENT: A pity that all these policies will be undone over the Atlantic if not over Europe.

Pat Dale

26 March 2007


Bush team takes heat over global warming science

Lucy Sherriff - The Register - 20 March 2007

The Bush administration has been meddling in climate research in a bid to downplay the importance of global warming, according to a memo released by the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The committee held its second hearing on federal interference in climate change science on Monday this week.

In his opening statement, representative Henry Waxman said although it is too early to draw firm conclusions about the White House's conduct, "some of the information the committee has already obtained is disturbing. It suggests there may have been a concerted effort directed by the White House to mislead the public about the dangers of global climate change".

He said that science should inform policy, and that if the Bush administration had turned this policy upside down "through raw political pressure, then it set our country on a dangerous course".

A memo later released by the committee says that the documents provided by the Council on Environmental Qualify (CEQ) suggest the White House was systematically trying to minimise the significance of climate change.

It says there is evidence that Phillip Cooney, former chief of staff of the CEQ, and his staff made almost 300 edits to a 10 year strategy document either to emphasise scientific uncertainty (181), or to diminish the human role in global warming (113).

It also cites evidence that the White House "played an active role in deciding when federal climate change scientists could answer media questions about their work".

James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said he had seen a gradual politicising of science over the past quarter of a century, but that in 30 years in government he has "never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it has now".

He has previously accused political appointees within NASA of trying to censor him.

In his own testimony, Cooney describes his editing as part of "the normal review process" of documents moving between different agencies.

He writes: "I had the authority and responsibility to review the documents in question... and did so using my best judgement, based on the administration's stated research priorities...I understand that my judgement and the administration's priorities are properly open to review."

26 March 2007


Green giants join forces to fight carbon emissions

Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent - 25 March 2007

Forty top British companies will next week launch an unprecedented campaign to shrink Britain's carbon footprint, by cutting their own energy use and trying to turn "green consumerism into a mass movement".

They will introduce promotions and new products to make it easy for people to save energy and cut emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. And they will set a "Blue Peter style" target for the total amount of carbon dioxide to be saved by the campaign.

The initiative - to be launched by Tony Blair next month - aims to counter a widespread feeling of helplessness among people who want to act to combat climate change, but fear that any contribution they make will be too small to make any difference.

It is being spearheaded by some of the country's best-known brands - including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, BSkyB, HSBC, the BBC, B&Q and 02, working with the Prime Minister's office, the National Consumer Council and the Church of England. Top businessmen - such as Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco, and James Murdoch, chief executive of BSkyB - are intimately involved.

The companies at the heart of the plans have all promised to clean up their own operations as a precondition of the campaign. "Our philosophy is that we will not ask customers to do something that we have not done", said one.

BSkyB, for example, has cut greenhouse-gas emissions from its sites by 47 per cent, buys all its electricity from renewable sources and has announced its intention to go carbon neutral. Last week it began a programme of enabling two million set-top boxes to switch automatically to standby when not being used, in an attempt to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32,000 tons a year.

Marks & Spencer aims to go carbon neutral within five years and Tesco plans to work out the carbon footprint of each of its businesses worldwide, publish the total on its website, and take measures to cut it.

Sir Terry Leahy says: "The key to success is to turn green consumption into a mass movement. By harnessing the buying power of millions of consumers we can drive change throughout the economy."

"Businesses like mine, with an international reach, have a particular responsibility to give a lead. This is about transforming our business model so that the reduction of our carbon footprint becomes a central driver of our business and not just some PR add-on."

He says that sales of organic food have risen by a "phenomenal 39 per cent" in the past year, and that labelling of the salt and fat content of food is "leading to the most extraordinary changes in buying behaviour, which in turn is driving innovation throughout the industry."

The company plans to label each product with its carbon footprint, believing that this "will send very powerful economic signals through the supply chain".

The move is part of a belated attempt by Mr Blair to cut carbon-dioxide emissions at home as he campaigns for a new global agreement to take over from the present arrangements under the Kyoto Protocol, when they run out in five years' time. So far, emissions of the gas have risen since he came to power in 1997.

He and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, are stepping up a lobbying campaign of world leaders - including President George W Bush - to try to get the G8 summit at Heiligendamm, Germany, in June to agree a limit on the amount of pollution the climate can tolerate. The aim is to get national allowances that can be bought and sold internationally, and provide help to developing countries.

The two leaders were boosted by the EU's agreement last month to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and increase renewable energy, both by 20 per cent by 2020.

26 March 2007


Rail Futures Online - 18 March 2007

Railfuture will be calling for better rail connections to Stansted if the Government allows the airport to expand.

There is already a good service from London but it is almost impossible to reach by rail from Bedfordshire or most parts of East Anglia.

The Government has been dilly-dallying for years over the East-West rail link ? ignoring the implications of expanding both Stansted airport and Felixstowe docks as well as large-scale house building in the region.

Now it must confront the issue of rail connections between Bedford and Cambridge. Combined with a rebuilt Bedford-Northampton line, the west and south Midlands could also gain rail access to Stansted.

Rail campaigners will be trying to ensure that the anti-rail bias of the Government Office for the East of England does not distort yet another transport scheme.

At least rail gets a mention in the launch by BAA of its public consultation on the possibility of a two-runway Stansted airport.

But the 14-week public consultation to consider the requirements for road and rail access to Stansted will mean that ideas have to go the The Government Office for the East of England.

GO-EAST, as it likes to call itself, has already been involved in developing a "surface access strategy" in conjunction with BAA, the Highways Agency, Network Rail, and the Department for Transport.

The proposals so far include:
Measures to reduce the growth in car travel to the airport
Longer trains to meet increased passenger demand
The Stansted Express to return to being a dedicated service for airport travellers at the busiest times of day
Additional trains on the West Anglia Main Line serving Harlow and Bishop's Stortford
New and improved coach and bus services to build on the success of existing services
Local road diversions to maintain connections between communities around the extended airport boundary.

The Highways Agency will be consulting over its proposals for widening the M11 south of Stansted between the M25 (junction 6) and the airport at junction 8, and on plans to improve access to the airport from the M11 and A120.

Responses to the consultation should go to: Transport Team, Government Office for the East of England, Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 8DF. Tel: 01223 372752. Fax: 01223 372862. Email: Transport.GOEast@goeast.gsi.gov.uk

OUR COMMENT: There may be a good service to Stansted airport but the commuter services are very crowded at peak times and depend on using seats on the Stansted Express when it is allowed to stop at Stansted Mountfichet, Bishop?s Sortford or Harlow. Rail DfT now regards standing room as the indicator of coach capacity, rather than just seats!

Pat Dale

26 March 2007


Ian Morgan - 24hr Dash Online - 19 March 2007

The ability of the planning system to deliver a high quality environment will be weakened under sweeping Government changes, rural campaigners warned today.

There are fears that changes proposed in the Barker Review of land use planning which favour economic growth above all the other needs of society will be harmful, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

At the launch of the CPRE's critique into the Barker Review Marina Pacheco, CPRE's head of planning, said: "Barker's controversial review of land use planning with its narrow focus on making the system faster and better for business, completely misses the point that planning is about getting the right development in the right place at the right time.

"The planning system needs to be used to address key environmental concerns like global warming, while improving the environment and quality of life.

"There is little evidence that planning is biased against development - in fact the opposite is the case.

"And it is not clear why planning for major infrastructure projects like nuclear power stations, airports and highways is facing further reform when new procedures, which have never been used, were introduced only 19 months ago.

"We urge the Government to take note of this critique which questions whether Kate Barker's evidence really does point to a planning system which is unresponsive, costly and inefficient."

Key arguments made in the critique include:

:: Barker's approach to planning is naive and simplistic because many of her apparent costs of planning, such as investment forgone or the extra expense to developers of complying with planning requirements, are really benefits of the system in the form of damaging developments prevented and/or poor quality developments improved.

:: The planning process is already biased in favour of developers who only need to get lucky once on a planning application for it to go through, while objectors have to get lucky every time to prevent development and have no right to appeal.

:: Protection for green belt is as critical as ever, and continuity of green belt boundaries is essential to prevent developers buying land up on the expectation of getting planning permission sometime in the future.

:: The Government should question the need for "big kit" infrastructure which is becoming harder to justify and should try and develop in a more sustainable way as a first step.

:: The planning system could contribute a lot more to reducing and adapting to climate change, but the growth and competitiveness agenda militates against this.

Ms Pacheco added: "We strongly believe that what Kate Barker sees as weaknesses in the system are actually strengths protecting our environment and quality of life."

"As the finishing touches are put to the Planning White Paper it is critical that the Government takes note of this damning critique and rethinks its approach to planning reform."

20 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2281 - 13 March 2007

The UK government proposed a legal requirement to slash national carbon dioxide emissions by 26-32 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050 in a draft law tabled on Tuesday. The initiative is the first of its kind in the world.

Under a climate change bill issued by the environment ministry, the government would set statutory five-yearly carbon budgets at least 15 years before each period, based on advice from an independent committee.

It would be required to report annually to parliament on progress in cutting emissions, and every five years on expected impacts of climate change and its proposals for adapting to it.

Finance minister Gordon Brown trailed the proposal in a speech on Monday evening. Carbon would now be counted in the same way as money, he said. "Just as we manage our financial budgets over the economic cycle with prudence and discipline, so we will have to manage our carbon budgets with the same prudence and discipline".

A strategy on moving Britain to a low-carbon economy issued alongside the draft law argues that all sectors of society will have to contribute and sets out plans for investment in low-carbon fuels and technologies, more efficient use of energy, a shift from energy supply to energy services and boosting decentralised energy production.

The government's proposal came amidst furious competition by Britain's leading political parties to outdo one another on green issues.

Mr Brown had to vie with Conservative opposition leader David Cameron for media attention on Monday as the latter delivered a separate speech on environmental issues. Menzies Campbell of the centrist Liberal Democrats accused both the other parties of talking too much and doing too little.

Both opposition parties are pressing for statutory carbon dioxide emission targets to be made annual rather than five-yearly. Environmental groups said the emissions reduction target should be strengthened to 75 per cent by 2050.

20 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2281 - 13 March 2007

The European emission trading scheme is already leading participating companies to cut carbon dioxide, Point Carbon said in a market survey published on Tuesday at the opening of its annual carbon markets conference in Copenhagen.

About two-thirds of 800 EU ETS participants approached said they had initiated internal abatement projects as a result of the EU ETS. Last year only 15 per cent responded in this way.

This is only the second strong indication that the EU ETS has triggered abatement, after an Italian study published last year. Prevailing wisdom up to now has been despite giving birth to a thriving carbon market the EU ETS has failed to cut emissions.

Jos Delbeke of the European commission welcomed the finding. He also emphasised the fact that hardly any companies said they were considering relocation as a means to comply with the EU ETS.

In other findings, over 80 per cent of respondents said they did not expect to be able to avoid having to cut their own emissions in phase two of the scheme by importing credits from the Kyoto protocol flexible mechanisms.

Point Carbon expects carbon allowances to average E21 in the period 2008-12, fluctuating between E8 and E32. It puts the chance that there will be sufficient international credits available to meet EU ETS demand at only 50:50.

Former American vice president Al Gore opened the conference by telling delegates he felt the USA was nearing a tipping point after which action to combat climate change could develop very quickly. He suggested that America and China might reach some kind of consensus on post-2012 actions by 2010.

Last week Point Carbon released figures from the report demonstrating the success of the EU ETS as a market.

20 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2281 - 13 March 2007

EU countries are still failing to send clear market signals in favour of lower CO2-emitting cars, carmakers complained on Monday. Sector group Acea called for harmonised taxation across the EU to encourage consumers to purchase lower-emission vehicles.

According to a new survey by Acea, only 11 of the EU's 27 member states now have some linkage to CO2 emissions in their national car tax systems, though this is up from just nine a year ago.

Where there are linkages to CO2, these vary enormously in design. Some countries link only one-off registration taxes to CO2, others link only annual circulation taxes. Even within each category almost no system is alike. Furthermore, the difference in tax paid by high and low CO2-emitting vehicles is generally relatively small (see table below).

Annual tax payable on petrol cars in selected countries
Rated emissions:120g/km200g/kmDifferential
Source: Acea

According to Acea, all this significantly impedes carmakers ability to sell low-CO2 vehicles. "Manufacturers face a fragmented EU market and are unable to exploit economies of scale", it explains.

The association called for all existing taxes to shift towards circulation taxes, in line with a directive proposed in 2005 but stalled in the council of ministers due to national sensitivity to EU involvement in tax measures.

CO2 should be the "key criterion" in setting tax rates, the group added. In addition, every gram of CO2 emitted should be taxed the same amount, so avoiding arbitrary thresholds - no existing national CO2-lined tax complies with this principle currently.

20 March 2007


Offsetting your carbon footprint takes decades

Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor - The Sunday Times - 11 March 2007

SCHEMES used by environmentally conscious consumers to cut their "carbon footprint" could take up to a century to deliver the promised benefits, a study has suggested.

Researchers found it takes that length of time for "carbon offsetting" ? which often involves the planting of trees in the developing world ? to absorb the greenhouse gases emitted by a single flight.

Dozens of fortunes have been made in recent years by entrepreneurs offering people and businesses the chance to neutralise their carbon emissions for a fee.

The new research, carried out by scientists at the Tyndall Centre, based at the University of East Anglia, and Sweden?s Lund University, suggests that such schemes may, in fact, do little more than salve the consciences of those paying for them.

"What we are seeing here is the emergence of a new and completely unregulated financial market," said Lund?s Professor Stefan Gossling, who led the study.

"These schemes may eventually recapture the carbon people emit now but will only finish the job after most of them have died. That is too long."

The schemes studied by Gossling included one offered by British Airways to its passengers.

20 March 2007


NewScientist.com News Service - 17 March 2007

AT THE back of Ernest Moniz's mind a clock is ticking. Moniz is director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His mental countdown marks the narrowing window of time that remains for the US to address a looming environmental disaster fuelled by the burning of mountains of cheap American coal.

"It's going to be used," says Moniz, who co-chaired a report - The Future of Coal - that was released this week. His assertion is the result of three years of economic modelling which predicts that coal consumption in the US will grow significantly by mid-century. "In virtually any scenario that we've explored, coal use increases - even when you place a substantial price on CO2 emissions."

Unlike oil, which is expensive and concentrated in geopolitically problematic locations, coal is plentiful in those countries where future demand is likely to be greatest, notably the US, China and India. Given that coal generates the most CO2 per unit energy of any fossil fuel, the implications for climate change are serious.

The report recommends a massive scale-up of technologies that capture the carbon released by coal burning and sequester it underground in porous rock formations. Such technologies have been tried on a small scale, but no single project covers the entire process.

"We believe the United States and the rest of the world is not demonstrating the necessary urgency," says Moniz. A big increase in funding is needed to develop infrastructure for CO2 capture. What is most needed, he says, is a regulatory framework to select geological sites for carbon sequestration on the scale of 1 million tonnes per year.

"Our understanding of the technology is better than most people realise," says Howard Herzog, who heads the lab's research on sequestration. A greater obstacle is the lack of incentive for utility companies to invest in carbon capture. "The key thing is to attach a price to carbon emissions," says Moniz. "Without that it can never cost less to capture and sequester CO2 than it would to simply let it go into the atmosphere."

The MIT report also urges Congress to ensure that existing coal-fired plants will not be exempt from future emissions charges. Without such legislation there could be a rush to build power stations with no provision for carbon capture. The Texas utility giant TXU, which has been in a fight with environmentalists over plans to build 11 old-style coal-fired power stations, said recently that it has dropped eight of them. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has said he will introduce a bill to block companies from building plants without carbon capture. The goal is to force owners to use up-to-date technology for storing carbon emissions.

According to David Keith at the University of Calgary in Alberta, who chairs the CO2 storage group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the US and Canada must start building commercial-scale coal-fired plants that incorporate carbon capture. The US government currently has plans for one, dubbed FutureGen, which is scheduled to begin operating in 2013. To be ready for the approaching coal rush, the MIT report calls on the Department of Energy to fund at least three projects on a similar scale. The report is available at web.mit.edu/coal - "The US and Canada must start building coal-fired plants that incorporate carbon capture"

20 March 2007


G8+5 talks expose deep divisions on climate

ENDS Europe DAILY 2285 - 19 March 2007

Environment ministers representing the world's eight leading industrialised countries and top five emerging economies managed to agree only the broadest brushstrokes of an agenda for combating climate change at a summit in Potsdam on Saturday.

German environment minister and meeting host Sigmar Gabriel insisted the meeting had not been a failure. Mr Gabriel had repeatedly stressed the talks aimed to lay bare national interests, especially of developing countries, rather than reach consensus on future action (EED 16/03/07 www.endseuropedaily.com/22842).

Both he and Yvo de Boer, head of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), told journalists that the meeting's achievements had exceeded their expectations.

Ministers agreed that climate change objectives must be combined with economic development goals. This was the key concern of developing countries.

They also agreed that industrialised countries will have to help developing countries adapt to climate change, further reduce their own emissions, and transfer technology to the developing world. Ministers endorsed the international scientific consensus on climate Change.

The discussions became heated when they became more specific. Mr Gabriel's contention that the carbon market was an essential tool to mitigate emissions in both the developed and developing world was opposed by the US. The latter also refused to endorse a proposal that developing nations should receive compensation from the developed world for voluntary efforts to protect their forests.

Developing nations need incentives to act on climate change, said Mr de Boer, however. Japan's environment minister pointed out that Brazil, lauded for its success in reducing deforestation, has suffered economically as a result. Besides job losses, it had seen only a sixth of the $1.2bn investment it was promised for its efforts 15 years ago.

The issue of how to ensure that developing countries invest in and are rewarded for climate protection will reappear at the G8 heads of government summit in Heiligendamm in June. There also, leaders will discuss specific emission reduction targets for the post-Kyoto period. This was "the elephant in the room" at the Potsdam talks, said Mr Gabriel - looming in the background but not discussed.

20 March 2007


New levy on Norwich air passengers

SHAUN LOWTHORPE:shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk - 12 March 2007

Norwich International airport is to levy a "terminal tax" to fund an £18m expansion plan, despite its owners resisting moves for a similar levy aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Omniport, which runs Norwich International, said the £3 airport development fee would be introduced from April 2 and those refusing to pay would not be allowed to board flights.

The move prompted renewed calls for Omniport to introduce a levy to pay for measures to cut aircraft carbon emissions instead of a charge to fund profit-boosting schemes.

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, who tried in vain to persuade the airport to introduce a passenger levy to fund a local carbon offsetting scheme in September 2005, said it was ironic Omniport now backed the idea to pay for its expansion plans.

And he urged the airport to look again at a local carbon tax. "Why stick this on the passengers? They seem to be living in a strange world up there," he said.

"Everybody else is talking about carbon emissions but they are not pushing it at all. This seems more about increasing their profits than anything. They are trying to encourage more people to fly, but they don't seem to have any environmental policy whatsoever. This will put people off and they will start going to Stansted."

When the airport was privatised in a £11m deal in 2004, supporters stressed it was the best chance of funding as the private sector was best-placed to attract investment. Around 450,000 passengers flew from Norwich in 2004 and the figure is expected to increase to nearly 800,000 this year.

Richard Jenner, airport managing director, said the levy, to be collected in special vending machines, was needed because growth had been faster than expected since the Omniport takeover.

Under the plans all outbound passengers will pay £3 with a £1 charge for children aged between two and 15 years old. Youngsters under two will travel free.

"We are trying to be transparent," he said. "These funds are going to allow us to get better facilities and extend the number and range of flights. We think the benefits far outweigh an extra £3 overall. This money will all be put back into development at Norwich Airport. Of the £18m between £12 and £13m will still be made up from private investment. This is a very small element."

The tariff will raise £4-6m in the next five years and be handled by the airport's transport services company NCP. Revenues will partly fund work like increasing the number of check-in desks, betters shops, improving the lounge side toilets, developing a new fire service training ground and introducing noise reduction facilities.

Other terminals operating a similar payment method include Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Newquay.

"Without this small charge made to every passenger it simply would not be possible for us to put this level of investment into the airport," Mr Jenner said. "The growth will double the number of jobs created by Norwich International within the next five years as well as providing more choice, better value and greater comfort to passengers."

A survey out yesterday showed more than three quarters of travellers are demanding a carbon offset flight tax to allow for "guilt-free" holidays.

While 94pc of travellers surveyed by lastminute.com disagree with the new Government Flight Tax, 78pc would be prepared to pay twice as much as the new tax if the money went towards offsetting the environmental impact of their flights.

12 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2279 - 9 March 2007

The leaders of the EU's 27 member states adopted a "bold and ambitious" programme of measures on climate protection and clean energy on Friday. Shortly before lunchtime, leaders emerged from talks to announce agreement on binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energies by 2020.

The outcome delighted the European commission. Leaders had signed up to virtually every single proposal in a major package of climate and energy proposals in January, the EU executive said (see full details of agreement in separate article in this issue).

European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU now had "the most ambitious climate protection strategy anywhere in the world". UK prime minister Tony Blair described the meeting as a "true triumph" for the German EU presidency, adding that the agreement put Europe "in the lead on climate change".

Whether to make a target for boosting the share of renewable energy binding or not was the most contentious issue at the summit meeting. Leaders finally backed it, providing it is shared "fairly and equitably" between countries, and takes into account different national "circumstances, starting points and potentials".

German chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that agreeing differentiated national targets contributing towards the overall 20 per cent goal will be a "difficult task".

Mr Barroso promised new legislative proposals on renewables in the third quarter of this year, adding that binding national targets will be agreed in cooperation with each member state in turn.

The summit conclusions recognise the contribution of nuclear energy to meeting "growing concerns about safety of energy supply and CO2 emissions reductions". This is widely seen as a concession to France and other pro-nuclear countries, designed to win their support for a binding renewables goal.

However, the text adds that issues of nuclear safety and security are "paramount" in the decision-making process, and there is no mention of a target demanded by France for increasing the share of "low-carbon energy".

12 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2279 - 9 March 2007

Heads of government committed the EU to a series of short and long-term targets and measures on climate protection and clean energy on Friday. Almost all of them are based on proposals tabled by the European commission in January.

* A binding unilateral EU commitment to cut greenhouse gases by at least 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The target will be fleshed out through differentiated national targets along the same lines as the burden sharing agreement underlying the EU's current Kyoto protocol emissions commitment.

* A broader objective for all industrialised countries, including the EU, to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2020. The EU would aim to meet it if other developed countries made "comparable efforts" and leading developing countries made "adequate commitments".

* Beyond 2020, developed countries should be aiming at collective cuts in emissions of 60-80 per cent by 2050.

* A comprehensive EU energy action plan for 2007-09, containing the following priority measures:

    - A binding target of a 20 per cent share of renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020. This figure will be broken down into differentiated national targets, taking account of countries' varied circumstances, starting points and potentials.

    - These national targets will be set out in proposals for a comprehensive directive on the use of all renewable energy resources, expected from the commission in the third quarter of 2007.

    - By 2020, all member states must achieve a 10 per cent minimum binding target for the share of biofuels in overall EU transport fuel consumption. The binding nature of the target is subject to production being sustainable, second-generation biofuels being available, and successful amendments to the fuel quality directive.

    - A non-binding commitment to reduce the EU's energy consumption by 20 per cent compared to projections for 2020 through improvements in energy efficiency. This will be achieved primarily through implementation of an EU action plan on energy efficiency (EED 19/10/06 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/21881).

    - A proposed European strategic energy technology plan, expected in 2007, designed to strengthen research into renewable, low carbon and energy efficient technologies.

    - The "effective separation" of supply and production activities by energy network operators, guaranteeing equal and open access to network infrastructure.

* A request to the European commission to consider expanding the EU emissions trading scheme to cover not only land-use, land-use change and forestry but also surface transport.

OUR COMMENT: Surface transport only? Not aviation?

Pat Dale

12 March 2007


David Miliband gives his views

Times Online - 11 March 2007

?On Tuesday, when the government publishes its Climate Change Bill, we will set out to become the first country in the world to establish in law a timetable to become a low-carbon economy. The bill will enshrine our determination to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050, with interim goals as well as annual reporting to parliament to help us get there.

The benefits will be threefold. By creating a long-term trajectory for emissions reductions we avoid damaging lurches in policy. By providing a framework for business we give incentives for technological innovation. By showing that we are serious about emissions reductions, we get a fighting chance of bringing India and China on board.

The energy security and climate change rationale for a low-carbon economy is overwhelming. But its achievement will require political left and right to drop their shibboleths. The left needs to embrace markets, individual empowerment and nuclear power; the right needs to embrace Europe, social justice and wind farms. No wonder climate change is classic territory for thinking that is bold Labour not old Labour.

The starting point for Britain?s transformation into a low-carbon economy is mundane. Energy efficiency is the Cinderella of climate change policy. But 8m cavity walls and millions more roofs without insulation offer us the chance to save money and help the environment. But we need to go much further.

Britain?s energy mix is wrong ? low-carbon nuclear is declining and renewables produce less than 5% of electricity, with coal and gas filling the gap. Yet wind energy worth one-fifth the electricity baseload is held up in the planning system. Tidal power is an obvious option for an island nation. And carbon capture and storage technology ? which buries underground 85%-90% of the carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations ? is already being used in Norway. In transport the Lotus-built Tesla is a fully electric car with a top speed of over 130mph and a battery range of up to 250 miles. In Brazil three-quarters of the cars run on ethanol. It is not utopian to think of Britain becoming a ?postoil economy? over the next 20 years.

The practical solutions to climate change exist or are on the horizon. The question is to how to get people, businesses and government to drive the change.

Government targets are not enough. Nor is David Cameron?s exhortation to social responsibility ? it?s nice to have but insufficient. The instinct of progressives to set high and rising standards for goods and services makes sense ? hence mandatory emissions levels for cars, mandatory carbon capture fittings for power stations (both agreed in Brussels last week) and tighter building regulations until from 2016 every new home is a zero-carbon home.

But the world?s greatest market failure ? as Sir Nicholas Stern said of global warming ? needs the power of the market to be redirected to climate stabilisation. Carbon trading puts a price on pollution. It already exists in Europe, through the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and covers half of the UK?s greenhouse gas emissions. Done right, it will drive the private sector to meet scientific goals and generate funding for investment in low-energy infrastructure in the developing world. London is the best place in the world to develop the market.

Within an overall ?carbon budget?, companies are allocated carbon allowances, declining each year, as the carbon budget gets tighter. Companies that cut their emissions get to sell their spare allowances and make money. Those that do not can buy allowances. Carbon markets offer efficient ways of cutting our environmental footprint, but they require government to create and enforce them.

The Climate Change Bill will set out ?enabling powers? that will allow government to bring forward schemes to extend carbon trading across the economy. The priority in the short term will be to extend carbon trading across main carbon-emitting industries. So in the EU, we want to see aviation brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme. We are also consulting on a UK carbon trading scheme for 5,000 large organisations.

In the long term, however, the implications could be even more radical. Carbon trading could be extended to emissions by individuals, which account for 44% of UK emissions. Each of us could have a personal carbon allowance, with those whose carbon footprint is less than their allowance able to earn money selling their allowances to those who need more. The Tyndall Centre suggests this would be broadly socially progressive ? in general the poorer you are, the lower your emissions.

The main barrier is the transaction costs of creating a new system. But with a new credit card called Ice about to be launched that will automatically count up your carbon emissions when you buy products, even this barrier does not seem insurmountable. If the banking system automatically can count up your carbon footprint, at least on the four main transactions that account for most of our carbon ? electricity, gas, petrol and aviation ? personal carbon trading could be a long-term option.

We need political parties to challenge their ideological traditions and make the tough decisions that this challenge requires. In practice, that means helping new wind farms through the planning system and accepting that nuclear power will be part of the energy mix of the future. It means accepting that carbon markets are the future.

The only way they can be created is by an active state and an active European Union.?

12 March 2007


'Greener skies' - says George Osborne

Press Release by the Conservative Party - 11 March 2007

The Conservatives are today launching a consultation on how to use environmental taxes to reduce the rapid growth in carbon emissions from aviation.

Those who argue that we must stop flying altogether are wrong. But we will be unable to meet our national and international targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions unless we reduce the rapid predicted future growth of aircraft emissions.

Any solution will require a combination of international cooperation and national action. The focus of this consultation is what can be done at the national level. In particular, the current system of aviation taxation in the UK is fundamentally flawed - Air Passenger Duty is not directly linked to carbon emissions and provides no incentives for airlines to use more fuel-efficient aircraft. Even the Government admit that it is a "blunt instrument". The consultation asks for submissions in response to three main policy ideas:

* Charging fuel duty and/or VAT on domestic flights

* Replacing Air Passenger Duty with a per-flight tax based more closely on actual carbon emissions

* Introducing a 'Green Air Miles Allowance' so that people who fly more frequently pay tax at a higher rate

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: "At the Conservative Party conference last year I outlined how I wanted to rebalance the tax system away from taxing the good things towards taxing the bad. Today we are publishing our consultation document on the future of aviation taxation. This is a detailed, serious and thorough analysis of the weaknesses of the current regime whose problems have been summed up by Treasury Minister John Healey when he described it as a 'blunt instrument'."

"Our Greener skies consultation sets out credible proposals for curbing the future growth of emissions from air transport. Our consultation shows how this can be done in a way that does not tax people out of their one foreign holiday a year but instead focuses on dirtier aircraft and more frequent fliers. It is important that people understand that for each additional pound raised in aviation tax, there will be a matched reduction in family taxes so the overall tax burden will not rise."

"With our principle of pay as you burn not pay as you earn we are proving we are prepared to take tough and long term decisions for a strong stable economy and a cleaner environment."

Principles underlying reform

The document sets out five principles that a reformed system of aviation taxation should satisfy:

1. The aim of any reform should be to reduce the overall growth in emissions from aviation

2. International cooperation is of primary importance in addressing the environmental impact of aviation, but there remains a crucial role for national policies

3. Any new environmental taxes should be replacement taxes, not additional taxes, with any extra revenues offset by equivalent reductions in other forms of taxation

4. Any reforms should link tax incentives more closely to carbon content and provide better incentives for fuel efficiency

5. Any reforms should ensure that the distributional impact is not regressive

Questions for consultation

The document then sets out five questions on which we would like to consult:

1. What is the correct balance between international and national action to address the environmental impacts of aviation?

2. Is there an immediate case for charging fuel duty and/or VAT on domestic flights?

3. Is there a case for replacing APD with a per-flight tax based more closely on actual carbon emissions?

4. If some element of per-passenger taxation is maintained, is there a case for introducing some form of annual 'Green Air Miles Allowance' so that people who fly more frequently pay tax at a higher rate?

5. What other steps are needed in order to reduce the growth in aviation emissions?

Why do we need greener flights?

Those who argue that we need to stop flying are wrong. However, unless we act to reduce the growth in emissions from aviation we will be unable to meet our domestic and international targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

* Official Government statistics show that, including domestic flights and international departures, aviation currently contributes 5.5% of the UK?s CO2 emissions.

* Aviation?s contribution to global climate change is often cited as 2-3%. However, this refers only to carbon dioxide. Evidence suggests that water vapour and nitrous oxides emitted at high altitude boost the greenhouse impact of aircraft by a factor of 2 to 4. The true contribution of aviation to climate change is thus estimated to be in the region of 4-9% and growing rapidly.

* Even under the Government's 'best case' scenario, aviation will account for 24% of the UK's carbon emissions by 2050. The Tyndall Centre has estimated that, with unconstrained growth, aviation could account for more than 100% of the UK's target carbon budget by 2050 if its full environmental impact is taken into account.

What is wrong with the current system?

International cooperation is of primary importance in addressing the environmental impact of aviation, but there remains a crucial role for national policies:

* While the inclusion of aviation within the EU ETS is a welcome development, there are several reasons why this is not likely to be a sufficient solution. For example, the European Commission itself admits that including aviation in the scheme will do little to constrain demand for air travel. Current proposals also take no account of the indirect warming effects of aviation emissions, which increase their impact by between 2 and 4 times.

* The current system of aviation taxation in the UK is fundamentally flawed. Aviation is under-taxed relative to other industries due to the lack of fuel duty and zero VAT. In addition, Air Passenger Duty is not directly linked to carbon emissions and provides no incentives for airlines to use more fuel-efficient aircraft. Even the Government admit that it is a "blunt instrument" that is "not designed for environmental ends".

* The taxation of aircraft fuel for international flights is governed by international agreements which will take time to renegotiate. In the meantime there is a role for national policies that are compatible with existing international agreements.

* Without urgent action to reduce the rapid growth of emissions from aviation, there is a danger that aviation-intensive lifestyles and travel patterns could become harder to change in future. As a significant aviation hub, there is potentially scope for the UK to show global leadership in addressing the environmental consequences of aviation.

* Evidence on the current mix of passengers supports the conclusion that a tax on aviation would not be regressive. For example, about half of the population do not fly in any one year, 80% of flights are taken by those in the top half of the income distribution, and the average income of leisure flyers is almost double the national average.However, we should try to find policy solutions that do not end up turning air travel into the preserve of the better off. Our 'Green Air Miles Allowance' idea is one potential way to address this.

12 March 2007


High-earning men blamed over climate changing emissions

James Randerson, Science Correspondent - The Guardian - 10 March 2007

Working men earning more than £40,000 a year are responsible for the lion's share of climate change emissions from personal travel, according to a Oxford University survey. It found that one in five people are responsible for 61% of climate change emissions from private transport and that most of these are well-off men.

Christian Brand at the university's transport studies unit, who carried out the research with Brenda Boardman, said that discussions about reducing emissions usually focused on the average carbon footprint. "Our work shows there's a huge range," he said.

While most people emitted between one and three tonnes of CO2 in total through their personal travel in the previous year, the top 10% had an average of 19.2 tonnes of CO2 from flying alone. The data came from a survey of leisure travel using all modes of transport by 456 people at 278 addresses in Oxfordshire.

The survey points to aviation as the biggest single source of emissions, closely followed by car use. The impact from air travel on global warming is higher than its carbon emissions alone because gases and water vapour are released at altitude. Taking this effect into account, the team calculated that aviation's share of climate impact is 70.4%. "Air travel is so cheap - mainly because there is hardly any tax paid on it - that people start thinking of that as their first mode of transport when it comes to leisure travel," said Dr Brand.

Tony Juniper, of Friends of the Earth, said: "Finding ways in which the message can be got through to the people with the biggest carbon footprint would be a way of getting some easy wins. That needs to be reflected in policy, for example changing the way in which vehicle excise duty is levied to discourage people from buying big gas guzzlers and putting more of a signal into the price of a flight ticket."

The danger was that even if large numbers of people changed their behaviour a small minority could blow targets out of the water. Peter Cox, a climate expert at Exeter University, believes the rich would be able to buy themselves higher emissions. "Putting a tax on a unit of carbon wouldn't hit them particularly hard."

8 March 2007


House of Lords - 5 March 2007

Airports: Stansted

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall asked Her Majesty's Government: What steps they will take to ensure that BAA's latest plans for the expansion of Stansted Airport are consistent with government policies on environmental protection and carbon emissions.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, BAA is taking forward expansion plans for Stansted Airport in accordance with the Government's White Paper on the future of transport. In the 2006 progress report on the White Paper, the Government made it clear that major decisions on airport capacity need to take into account not only their local environmental effects but also the wider context of aviation's climate impact. All planning applications will be subject to the planning inquiry process.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. He will be aware that his predecessor and other Ministers have consistently denied that the Government are pursuing a predict-and-provide approach to airport expansion or to any other form of transport infrastructure. Does he agree, however, that BAA's rationale for the expansion of Stansted Airport is based entirely on that rather discredited planning model, as the language of its public documents reveals? Is he aware that if Stansted Airport is expanded, carbon emissions there will rise from the present 5 million tonnes per annum to 12 million tonnes per annum? In view of everything we now know about the urgency of addressing climate change, not to mention the devastating impact of the expansion on local communities, will he explain why the Government are still supporting BAA's ambitions in this arena?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we support airport development in the right circumstances, which means making better use of existing airport capacity as a priority ahead of building the targeted additional infrastructure supported in the White Paper and ensuring that where new capacity is required, its provision is in line with our environmental obligations.

Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, does the Minister agree with Sir Nicholas Stern's report that aviation is responsible for only 1.6 per cent of global emissions? Do the Government agree with Sir Ron Eddington's report that there is a strong economic case for additional capacity at UK airports while tackling the environmental case?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we recognise the need to address climate change, as the Stern report makes clear. We have to balance the important economic driver that airport development is with our environmental obligations. We fairly set that out in the response to the 2004 White Paper in the follow up report that was published last December.

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, the Minister is really saying that we are going to go on emitting and hope that someone else is going to stop emitting to allow us to expand airports. Will the Government commit themselves to embarking on a programme where visits by Ministers and officials in this country or in close Europe are transferred to the railways as a concrete step to reducing aircraft emissions?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, Ministers take great care in deciding their choice of transportation for visits. From personal experience, we think very carefully about these matters. It is obviously important that we set a good example in terms of using the most sustainable forms of transportation available. The fact is that Ministers are required to make long journeys and the most efficient and effective use of a Minister's time is surely of great importance. One would expect that that is how they would behave.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, will my noble friend admit that the Government, or, indeed, any Government around the world - or opposition political parties for that matter - have no serious policy to stop the growth of air travel because it is too popular? Would it not be better to seek global agreement on setting up a major fund to seek to try in some way to find technological changes to prevent aircraft emitting these emissions?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, that is precisely what the Government are investing in. We have international commitment, and we are committed to working through the International Civil Aviation Organization to achieve that very point. Clearly, we need to ensure that we reduce emissions and that any expansion in civil aviation is reflected in an increased commitment to protecting the environment long term because we know of the impacts of emissions over the longer term.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, have the Government taken into account the great increase in stacking, which would undoubtedly take place, with a very bad effect over Cambridge, for instance, which, last time the whole matter came up, objected fiercely to an increase?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, of course there will be impacts from any increase in journeys and visits through Stansted Airport. We clearly have to take very careful accounts of those. The planning inquiry process does exactly that.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, the Conservative Party has a policy on Stansted Airport; it is "no second runway". My leader and the shadow Secretary of State for Transport that the Conservative Party announced a policy for no second runway at Stansted; I make that quite clear to this House.

Last week it was announced that there would be a new runway on the M11, costing something like£50 million. Yet we desperately need infrastructure for other things in Essex. Would the Minister support investing in that roundabout rather than in other infrastructure in Essex?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am rarely completely puzzled by questions from the Opposition, but did I hear the noble Lord correctly? I thought he asked whether we invest in a new runway on the M11. I do not know if that was the question, but it seems a bit wide of the mark if it was.

Viscount Simon: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the 1,000 year-old Hatfield Forest is already being damaged - I cannot say destroyed - by current emissions from the M11 and Stansted Airport? If the M11 is widened to four lanes each way, if there is a new runway and if the number of aircraft take-offs and landings increase, it will be totally destroyed. Will the Government support that?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not know Hatfield as well as I did when I was younger and lived in Essex, but I doubt very much whether, even on current projections, Hatfield Forest will be completely destroyed. The noble Lord makes a very important point: that we have to consider very carefully the impact on the environment of aircraft emissions or, for that matter, emissions from motor vehicles. Clearly, those things are very important. They feature in considering these things and of course we look very closely at such issues at all times.

OUR COMMENT: The Key question ? Do the claimed economic benefits outweigh the environmental damage? One might also ask if any airport can truly be ?an economic driver?? It provides a transport service that may be quicker when speed is essential, but it is not a primary producer of goods - a service industry is dependent on the producer and the public for its business.

Pat Dale

8 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2275 - 5 March 2007

An "overwhelming" majority of European citizens believe that the best way to tackle energy-related climate challenges is through EU-level actions, according to a Eurobarometer survey published on Monday.

The poll was published to coincide with EU leaders' spring summit later this week. Energy and climate issues will feature highly at the meeting (EED 02/03/07 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/22741).

More than 25,800 European citizens in the 27 EU member states were questioned in February. Nearly 90 per cent said they were concerned about climate change. Those living in southern countries including Spain and Greece were most worried.

Eighty-three per cent of those questioned agreed that the EU should "set" minimum shares for renewable energy in each member state. European leaders are undecided whether to back the European commission's proposal that each country should take on binding renewables targets.

According to the survey, Europeans consider environmental issues when choosing electricity suppliers. They also take energy efficiency into account when buying household appliances. Measures such as financial support are the best way to help citizens upgrade the efficiency of their homes, they say.

A majority of Europeans believe that use of nuclear power should decrease, and that the EU should introduce high safety requirements for plants.

EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the survey proved that European citizens expected the EU to "shape a common European response to face energy and climate challenges".

In a related development, commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has set up an advisory group of experts to advise him on climate and energy issues. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday and will discuss issues relating to EU leaders' meeting and this year's G8 summit. Participants include Nicholas Stern, advisor to the UK government, and Claude Mandil, director of the international energy agency.

8 March 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2277 - 7 March 2007

The UK government plus business and environmental groups on Tuesday launched a manifesto for the European emission trading scheme (EU ETS) post-2012, including clear, ambitious reduction targets to at least 2030.

The manifesto calls on the European commission to be clear about how far it thinks reductions should be achieved within the EU. But it also requests a guarantee that at least some credits from Kyoto's flexible mechanisms will be accepted by the EU ETS post-2012.

All businesses should be exposed to the full cost of carbon in the long run, the manifesto continues. Diverse energy supplies should be promoted and market distortions minimised. It calls for more harmonised implementation of the EU ETS across member states. Expansion must be "managed carefully", it says.

The manifesto was released the morning after UK environment minister David Miliband suggested that Britain and the EU should aim to become a post-oil economy over the next 15-20 years, emulating a pledge already made by Sweden.

In a speech, Mr Miliband called for policy makers to consider bringing road and rail transport into the EU ETS after 2012, contradicting recommendations made by a UK parliamentary committee just last week .

OUR COMMENT: Nothing about the inclusion of aviation?

Pat Dale

8 March 2007


Carbon Trading

Times Online - 6 March 2007

Sir, We call on European industry and governments to work together to secure a sound footing for the EU emissions-trading scheme post-2012. European heads of state are holding crucial dialogues this week on future emissions reduction targets, and discussions are taking place across Europe on the future shape of emissions trading.

Carbon trading in Europe is working. It?s not perfect, but we have learnt some valuable lessons from the first years of the scheme. It has already put a price on nearly half the carbon emitted in the UK and EU, and provides flexibility in delivering emissions reductions.

This year is a key one if we are to secure a long-term future for emissions trading as well as moving towards a global deal on climate change post-2012.

DAVID MILIBAND Environment Secretary
ALISTAIR DARLING Trade and Industry Secretary
JOHN CRIDLAND Deputy Director-General, CBI

8 March 2007


Tony Blair talks the talk on climate change. But a new investigation reveals that the government's strategies for cutting carbon dioxide emissions are
little more than a sham.

George Monbiot - The Guardian - 5 March 2007

"If we do not motivate ourselves to take the decisions commensurate with the gravity of the threat that we face," said Tony Blair at the launch of the Bill Clinton's climate initiative last year, "we will betray in the most irresponsible way the generations to come. That is not something I want on my conscience as a political leader."

Well, it looks as if he is going to have to live with it. Blair has had 10 years in which to tackle Britain's contribution to global climate change, and he has blown it. His bold initiatives and stirring speeches now look like little more than greenwash. For the first time, we have the figures to prove it.

With Channel 4's series Dispatches, I commissioned a team of environmental scientists at University College, London, to conduct a peer-reviewed audit of the government's planned greenhouse gas reductions. The scientists, led by Professor Mark Maslin, estimated the real impact of its carbon-cutting policies. Nothing quite like this has ever been done before. The results are staggering.

The government has two formal targets for reducing Britain's climate-changing gases. The first is the one set by the Kyoto protocol, which commits the UK to a 12.5% reduction by 2012. The second is its long-term goal of a 60% cut in carbon dioxide by 2050. This target will be made legally binding later this year.

Last year the government's Energy Review found that to show "real progress" towards the 2050 target, by 2020 the UK's greenhouse gas emissions would need to be reduced to between 143 and 149m tonnes a year. This means a cut of 29 to 31% on 1990 levels. We asked Maslin's team to assess the policies that are supposed to deliver it.

For an audit, the 2020 aim is more useful than the 2050 target. If we are to have a realistic chance of hitting it, the necessary policies must already be in place or in development. While the Blair government would be only partly responsible if we fail to make 60% by 2050, it will carry almost all the blame if we do not reach its milestone in 2020.

Our audit reveals that the government's assessment of its own policies is wildly optimistic. Instead of a 29-31% cut by 2020, it is on course to deliver a reduction of between 12% and 17%. At this rate the UK will not meet its 2020 milestone until 2050. This result suggests that the government's claim to be "leading the world on tackling climate change" is simply another product of the Downing Street spin machine. Its carbon-cutting policies are little more than a sham. Take transport, for example. The government expects that national transport emissions (not counting international flights) will rise by 4m tonnes between 1990 and 2020. Maslin's team discovered that the real increase will be between 7 and 13m tonnes.

Faced with a vocal and powerful motoring lobby, Blair's government has sought to cut emissions in three ways, all of which are failing. The first is a voluntary agreement, struck in Brussels with the major motor manufacturers. In 1998, the car makers promised they would reduce the average emissions from new cars from 190 to 140 grams per kilometre in 10 years. The deadline is next year, and they will miss their target by half: the real figure is likely to be 164 grams.

The second mechanism is the tax we pay to put a car on the road - vehicle excise duty (VED). In 2001, the government replaced the flat rate for VED with a graduated tax. Owners of the most fuel-hungry cars would have to pay more than owners of efficient models. Seven bands were introduced, starting with A (for cars that produce less than 100 grams per kilometre) and rising to G (for those producing more than 225 grams).

A survey carried out by the Department for Transport found that to encourage most drivers to switch to a less polluting model, you would need a difference between the bands of at least £150. The government's Sustainable Development Commission went further: if the tax were to be really effective, the top whack should be £1,800. But the government's top rate is £215, and the average difference between the bands £35. When you are shelling out £65,000 for a Range Rover, is that really going to make a difference?

The third policy is to encourage us to switch to biofuels - diesel or alcohol made from plants. By 2010, the government wants 5% of all our transport fuels to be made this way. By 2020, the EU wants to raise this to 20%. But there are two massive problems, which the government consistently refuses to address. The first is that beyond a certain point, the production of fuel begins to compete directly with the production of food. A study conducted last year by Sarasin, a Swiss bank placed "the present limit for the environmentally and socially responsible use of biofuels at roughly 5% of current petrol and diesel consumption in the EU and US". Already, when only a tiny fraction of our transport fuel comes from plants, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that the demand for biofuels has helped to cause a "surge in the prices of cereals" to "levels not seen for a decade". All over the world, the poor are feeling the effect.

The second problem is that the new market has stimulated a massive expansion of destructive plantations, especially of oil palm. Palm oil planting is the major cause of tropical deforestation in both Malaysia and Indonesia. As the forests are cut down, the carbon in both the trees and the peat they grow on turns into carbon dioxide. A study by the Dutch scientific consultancy Delft Hydraulics found that the production of every tonne of palm oil causes 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This makes oil palm 10 times worse than petroleum. Already nine new palm oil refineries are being built, in Malaysia, Singapore and Rotterdam, specifically to meet the growing demand from the European biofuel market.

The government urges us not to worry - a "second generation" of biofuels will eventually become available, made from straw, wood and waste. But there is no guarantee that these will out-compete their cheap but destructive rivals, or that they will be ready before the last rain-forests in south-east Asia have been felled.

In every sector the audit found similar oversights, elisions and deceptions. In housing, for example, the government has loudly proclaimed its intention to use better building regulations to make new houses more energy efficient - by 2016, it says, every new home in the country will be "zero carbon". But since the energy efficiency regulations were first introduced in 1985 there has not been a single prosecution for non-compliance. Building inspectors treat the energy rules as a joke - in one recent survey they dismissed them as "trivial" and "not life threatening". A study by the Building Research Establishment of new houses passed by the inspectors found that 43% of them did not meet satisfactory energy standards.

But the biggest greenwash of all involves flying. Under the Kyoto protocol, the pollution from international flights does not count towards a country's emissions. The government has taken this as a licence to ignore flying even when setting its own targets. The emissions simply do not appear on the balance sheet. Otherwise it could not justify its instruction to the UK's airports to double their capacity between now and 2030.

Because they were assessing the government's own programme, the auditors didn't produce figures for aviation. But even the government proposes that carbon emissions from planes will rise by 10.5m tonnes between 1990 and 2020. Had it been incorporated into the audit, this figure would have reduced the cuts for the whole economy by 2020 to between 8 and 13%.

But the government's figure is almost certainly a wild underestimate. It counts only half the emissions from planes flying to and from our airports, on the grounds that only half the passengers belong to this country. In reality, 67% are UK citizens. It also ignores the other greenhouse gases - especially high-level water vapour - that flying produces. If increases in international flights were counted in the national total, they could wipe out all the cuts in the UK's emissions between 1990 and 2020.

What makes these failures most shocking is that Blair's government took office in 1997 with a massive head start. When John Major left office, the UK was one of the few nations on course to meet its Kyoto commitments, with plenty of emissions to spare. That advantage has already been squandered. Today the UK is turning out slightly more carbon dioxide than it was in 1997 (though other greenhouse gases have declined) and we will just scrape in beneath the 2012 Kyoto bar, while on course for dramatically missing our 2020 and 2050 targets.

Instead of real action to deal with the greatest menace of the 21st century, the government has sold us a set of fake policies, designed to make us feel better about ourselves, without political pain. Next time Blair gives a heart-rending speech about his legacy to future generations, don't believe a word of it.

1 March 2007


Statement by the Minister - 27 February 2007

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Douglas Alexander): I am today announcing a Highways Agency consultation on plans for widening the M11 between junctions 6-8. Copies of the consultation documents have been placed in the libraries of the House.

Over the next two decades, the East of England is set to grow substantially in terms of both housing and jobs. The draft East of England plan, which is currently out to consultation on my Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government's proposed modifications, contains full details.

This growth can only be accommodated by providing the necessary infrastructure in terms of effective road and rail links within the region and to London. In this context, my Department has been working with the Government Office for the East of England and developers to identify what road improvements might be needed in the region. Our analysis indicates that the M11 between junctions 6-8 will become very congested in the period before 2021 unless improvements are implemented. The expected growth of Stansted airport, including the possibility of a second runway, will add to that congestion

Regional growth and the expansion of Stansted airport will also impact on the West Anglia Main Line in the next two decades. The Eastern Regional Planning Assessment for the Railway, published in February 2006, took account of these factors in identifying the priorities and options for further development on this route up to 2021.

My announcement today demonstrates the Government's commitment to the longer term development and economic prosperity of the East of England region and the need for strong transport links Widening of the M11 is also important to the growth of Stansted airport and this consultation fits with BAA's parallel announcement today on its surface access strategy for a second runway. In line with the policies in the Future of Air Transport White Paper, BAA will pay a contribution to the costs of these improvements to the extent that the airport will benefit.

In addition to options for widening the M11, the Highways Agency is also consulting on plans to improve the junction access to the airport from the M11 and A120. The airport is expected to fully fund this development.

OUR COMMENT: A very convenient announcement at the same time as BAA's parallel consultation and at the outset of the public inquiry into the full use of the existing runway. What choices do local residents have? One government department awards them thousands of extra homes, another extols the virtues of an extra runway at the nearest airport - and so, in order to accommodate all the extra road traffic and add to the dangers of climate change (supposed to be the government?s priority) the M11 - already congested at peak time - will be widened but the trains only lengthened. With up to 80mppa at the airport and 508,000 new houses, these measures are not going to prevent massive traffic congestion if the government persists with these expansion plans. They make nonsense of the whole concept of sustainable development. We, or our children, will be living in a noisy, polluted, built up sprawl, short of water and qualifying to head the table of carbon polluters. All because the government mistakenly believes UK plc can have its aviation cake and still remain a green and pleasant land.

Pat Dale

1 March 2007


Statement by BAA announcing the consultation on surface access
to the airport needed for a second runway

(Not from the magicians' weekly) - 27 February 2007

"Our strategy focuses on reducing the growth in car use" says BAA

1 March 2007


No way out of the Transport Emissions Problem via Innovation

Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent - Reuters - 26 February 2007

OSLO (Reuters) - A surge in transport in the European Union is jeopardizing goals for cutting greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Monday. Emissions from transport, led by a near-doubling in aviation traffic, rose on average by 25 percent across Europe from 1990-2004 even as most EU nations managed to cut emissions from other sectors such as industry or agriculture.

"The environmental performance of the transport sector is still unsatisfactory," the EEA said in a report covering EU nations along with some details of outsiders Turkey, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. "This tendency threatens both Europe's and individual EU member states' progress toward their ... targets" under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, it said in a 44-page report. "Therefore, additional policy initiatives and instruments are needed."

"Transport -- bottom of the Kyoto class again," it said. Transport, based mainly on burning oil, accounts for about a fifth of European emissions of heat-trapping gases from human activities. Cars and trucks account for more than 90 percent of transport emissions, ahead of ships, planes and trains. From 1990-2003, passenger transport volumes in Europe grew by 20 percent, the EEA said.

More people own cars and often drive further, for instance to out-of- town shopping malls. Air transport alone surged by 96 percent, aided by cheaper flights. Under Kyoto, the European Union has to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008- 12. Emissions were 0.6 percent below 1990 levels in 2004.

"Technical advances, such as cleaner, more fuel efficient engines are very important but we cannot innovate our way out of the emissions problem from transport," said Jacqueline McGlade, head of the Copenhagen-based EEA. It said road transport was polluting less but air quality in cities was still above EU limits. One in four EU citizens lives less than 500 metres from a road carrying more than 3 million vehicles a year, it said.

And transport was creating other problems, such as noise and slicing up landscapes with new roads. The EEA also said Europe spent 270-290 billion euros in transport subsidies a year, some of them environmentally damaging. The report said greenhouse gas emissions from transport had grown fastest in Luxembourg, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Romania. All had gains exceeding 90 percent from 1990-2004. In the same period, emissions fell only in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Estonia.

Emissions from international flights are now excluded from Kyoto but the EU Commission wants them to be part of an emissions trading scheme. It also wants tighter emissions rules for cars, saying industry goals are insufficient. The EEA said a 2005 study of the EU projected that road and aviation passenger transport volumes would rise by 36 and 105 percent respectively between 2000 and 2020, by when the Commission wants deeper cuts in overall emissions. Freight transport was also rising, because more goods were being transported and over longer distances.

1 March 2007


Action Today to Protect Tomorrow

Press Notice - The Mayor's Office - 28 February 2007

The Mayor's Climate Change Action Plan

Action Today to Protect Tomorrow - The Mayor's Climate Change Action Plan sets out
a path for London to tackle this challenge and to deliver London's CO2 targets.

The core message of the Climate Change Action Plan is that Londoners do not have to reduce their standard of living for London to play its part in tackling climate change, but we do all have to change the way we live.

We have to move from a high energy-use, wasteful economic model to one that conserves energy and minimises waste. In other words we have to be more efficient.

As our focus is on efficiency, many of the measures advocated in this plan will deliver net financial benefits over a relatively short period of time, as well as cutting emissions. And as the government's comprehensive 'Stern Review' of the economics of climate change demonstrated, it will be far cheaper to invest now to reduce carbon emissions, rather than ignore the problem and face far higher costs in the future.

The report is available to download in its entirety or by each individual chapter.

Here are the links for those interested:

Climate change
The Mayor's approach
The science
Climate change in London
Climate Change Action Plan
London's Urban Heat Island
C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group
What's new and events
Do your bit

On Aviation (summary):
The Mayor will:
- seek to influence EU and international aviation policy
- work with aviation industry for emissions reductions
- challenge need for future runway expansion at UK airports
- educate Londoners and advocate alternatives to air travel
- lead by example (Mayoral team travel)

1 March 2007


Times Online - 25 February 2007

The British mandarin behind a gloomy report on climate change has had to run
a gauntlet of American economists, reports Dominic Rushe from New York

PUNCH 'Sir Nicholas Stern' into Factiva, the news clippings database, and you'll find only 38 references to him in the American press over the past 12 months.

In Britain the quality papers alone have mentioned him more than 501 times (make that 502). Earlier this month the economist turned global warming guru set out to redress the balance. It hasn't been an easy journey.

Commissioned by the government to look at the impact of climate change, Stern published his review last October and it makes sober reading.

Unless drastic action is taken - and soon - 200m people are likely to be displaced by floods by 2050, Stern concluded. According to his 600-page report the global economy could shrink by between 5% and 20% over the next two centuries because of the likely disruption to people's way of life caused by global warming.

Taking action now to reduce carbon emissions would involve a 'significant but manageable' one-off cost of 1% of global economic output by 2050.

Not taking action would be disastrous: 'Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and economic depression of the first half of the 20th century,' wrote the former World Bank chief economist.

Until recently America's ruling party was in a state of denial about global warming. President George W. Bush appeared to believe it was a hoax. His critics accused the former Texan oilman of letting the world burn to protect business interests.

Mid-term elections have given the Democrats the upper hand in Washington and global warming has become a hot topic, fuelled by former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and his Oscar-nominated documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Stern was in Washington this month to address Congress about his report - an audience, it would be fair to assume, more receptive to his words than at any other point in the Bush administration.

Stern pressed Congress to consider adopting new regulations, funding new technologies and establishing a system of trading carbon-dioxide-emission credits to try to limit gases that spur global warming.

'Leadership in the world's largest markets sets the pace elsewhere,' he told the Senate's energy and natural resources committee. 'Now is the time to act urgently, strongly and internationally.'

But while the politicians were at least paying lip service, America's academics were taking their gloves off.

On a trip to Yale, Stern was compared to the Wizard of Oz, his frightening picture a projection of badly flawed economics.

Unlike Bush, it is not that Yale's economists doubt that the earth is getting hotter, or that human activity is the cause of global warming. The clear implication is that Stern overstated his case for political reasons.

Stern's biggest critic is William Nordhaus, an expert on the economics of global warming at Yale. In a public debate Nordhaus said the report 'commits cruel and unusual punishment on the English language', adding that the British government's opinion on climate change was no more infallible than its prewar view about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Fellow Yale economist Robert Mendel-sohn was blunter still. He was 'awestruck' by the report, comparing Stern to 'The Wizard of Oz'. 'My job is to be Toto [Dorothy's terrier, which unmasks the wizard],' he added.

Commenting on the dispute, Paul Joskow, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?s Centre for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, said: 'I don't think that there is a disagreement in terms of policy. The US needs to get on board and control greenhouse gases.'

Even Nordhaus has called Stern 'fundamentally correct in sign if not in size'.

'The problems have been with the way in which the analysis in the report has been packaged,' said Joskow.

Academics felt the damage attributed to climate change was 'chosen from the high side of the probability distribution' and likely costs 'from the low side', Joskow said.

More criticism will soon be forthcoming. Harvard economics professor Martin Weitzman, in a soon-to-be published report in the Journal of Economic Literature, has made another attack on Stern's methodology. He argues that the UK government official overcooked his figures.

The Stern report is biased toward gloom, argues Weitzman. According to 'a generous interpretation of its not-so-great economic analysis,' the report 'has its heart in the right place' but its numbers do not back up its 'alarmist tone', he writes.

The main economic objection to Stern centres on 'the discount rate'.

Stern's headline numbers assumed that a dollar of economic damage prevented a century from now (adjusted for inflation) is roughly as valuable as a dollar spent reducing emissions today. The figure makes the cost of disaster to our grandchil-dren equal to the cost of the same disaster to ourselves. Morally, the approach is unimpeachable; economically, its critics argue it is a nonsense.

The world's economy is set to grow at 4.1% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Already today's dollar is looking like it is worth less than it will be worth tomorrow. If growth rates continue at present levels, then in 100 years' time there will be no comparison between the two figures. A richer and more technologically advanced society will be better able to deal with tomorrow's problems than we are today, argue Stern's critics.

The Stern Review team has begun to address these criticisms and published a defence of its methodology. The easiest part of the argument to follow is that 'business-as-usual emissions of GHGs (greenhouse gases) could radically reduce the standard of living of future generations'.

But his critics say it is still Stern's convictions, not his numbers, that buttress his argument. 'I think very highly of Nick,' said Joskow. 'There's always a question if you are an economist: should you be stepping over the line and become a politician and a promoter' Nick has come to believe that this is a very serious problem, and drastic measures need to be taken. The very large numbers in the Stern review are at best speculative.'

The report has certainly ignited a heated academic debate. But so far Stern's words do not appear to have reached a mass audience in America in the same way they have in Europe. All this parsing of discount rates is unlikely to change that.

Surveys show that Americans are becoming more conscious of climate change. Millions more will become aware of the debate if Gore's documentary bags tonight's Oscar.

'These kinds of problem get you all tied up with the dilemmas of the infinite. We don't know a lot of things and 100 years away is a very long time,' said Joskow.

'Getting away from the precise numbers, the fact that it has helped to invigorate a debate about climate change and how we deal with it is very good. Maybe that was the intent: to shock people and get them to think.'

24 February 2007


Sinead Holland - Herts and Essex Observer - 22 February 2007

The row over global warming was heating up this week, fuelled by Stansted airport's second runway plans.

New government guidelines mean estimates of the airport?s greenhouse gas emissions have been revised down - despite doubts from the District Council. Using the new information Stop Stansted Expansion now predicts BAA?s Essex operation is currently responsible for around 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide - more than 6 times the total for the rest of Uttlesford, which is one of the country's worst polluters.

While airlines are anticipating future falls, the anti-expansion campaigners project that full use of the existing single runway - with around 35 mppa - will cause 7m tonnes, or 9 times the district total. The proposed second runway is expected to increase emissions to 12m tonnes, which represents 15 times the total produced by domestic use, road transport and industrial and commercial activity in the area.

Uttlesford has adapted the SSE estimates, and the district's energy officer, Jake Roos argued that the new guidelines understated the scale of the problem. The projections are based on 50% of flights - excluding incoming aircraft. He said: 'There's an argument to be made that as 63% of people using the airport are British,, the percentage for emissions should be 63% too.'

Meanwhile the airport operator and airlines counter that the impact of aviation has been exaggerated. Stansted's second biggest carrier, Easyjet, has just published a corporate and social responsibility report about climate change. Chief executive Andy Harrison conceded there was a 'clear and present danger', but said 'there's a time for a proper debate of the sort that has been largely missing of late."

'Given that aviation only accounts for 1.6% greenhouse gas emissions, grounding every aircraft in the world would have a miniscule effect on climate change yet a vast impact on our economies. So, airlines have a responsibility to do what they can and governments have a responsibility to ensure the right behaviour.'

He predicted major advances in technology that would reduce emissions in future. Easyjet claims its current business practices have already reduced pollution by 27% compared with traditional carriers.

BAA has also pledged to continue its anti-pollution programme setting a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% by 2010.

OUR COMMENT: It should be noted that BAA's promised reduction in CO2 applies only to its airport business, not to the planes and other businesses that use the airport. Possibly the same applies to Easyjet's claim. Aircraft technology is not that advanced! Neither is it likely to be within the forseeable future. It is also a misrepresentation to suggest that reducing a global % of only 1.6 will achieve nothing worthwhile. How many million tonnes of CO2 does that represent? Reducing the UK's carbon dioxide output means everyone sharing the action necessary, however small, and that includes the aviation industry. It certainly means no airport expansion!

Pat Dale


How does expansion cut our emissions?

Herts & Essex Observer - 15 February 2007

We know that Stansted airport is not the cause of climate change, but it has unquestionably contributed to such change and, at a time when the call is to reduce carbon emissions, do we just ignore that call and condone projects that will do the reverse?

Of course, the overall problem has to be tackled on a global basis and every effort should be made by both developed and emerging nations to ensure that steps are taken to secure a satisfactory environment for future generations. But we cannot reach any acceptable outcome if we say yes to projects such as Stansted expansion and reject others that may be of greater benefit to mankind at large. How can we see the changes in climate that are happening today and then just choose to ignore them?

A recent vote in the Observer, on-line, showed 65% did not support expansion - a sizeable majority. One would hope that in a democracy some notice would be taken of that result, which reflects the general view taken ever since the first Stansted public inquiry was held more than 20 years ago.

If there are people who think that carbon emissions could be reduced by scientific means alone, then shouldn't the government and BAA wait until such hopes are fully realised before promoting and developing potentially damaging projects?

At the same time, expansion at Stansted is not just about carbon emissions and aircraft noise, it is also about the associated infrastructure and the impact on the quality of life. If anyone is in any doubt about the detrimental effects of airport expansion, they should visit west London and note the impact Heathrow has had.

Many of us continue to use our cars for short journeys, but we are being overwhelmed by the ever-increasing levels of road traffic. Are we too indulgent to realise that the same could happen with air traffic?

E. Piercy
Hatfield Heath.

24 February 2007


Official greenhouse gas figures hugely underestimate
Britain's contribution to climate change, a report concludes

BBC Online - 19 February 2007

Christian Aid says adding in emissions from UK-funded operations in other countries would raise the UK's share of the global total from 2% to about 15%.

British companies wanted globalisation, it says, and must take responsibility for the associated emissions. The charity is calling on the government to ensure that companies measure their emissions thoroughly.

"Our research reveals a truly staggering quantity of unreported carbon dioxide is emitted around the world by the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange," said Christian Aid's senior climate change analyst, Andrew Pendleton.

"The government should now oblige companies to report their emissions properly," he told the BBC News website. "In our view, this is a litmus test of how serious they are about climate change."

Heavy footprint

Working with the environmental research company Trucost, Christian Aid attempted to calculate emissions associated with FTSE-100 companies.

"While only 2.13% of the world's CO2 emissions emanate from the UK's domestic economy," says the report, entitled Coming Clean, "through the process of globalisation, CO2 is emitted around the world on Britain's behalf, in China, India, Africa and elsewhere."

"Britain's apparently light carbon footprint rapidly begins to assume a much greater profile when worldwide investments made with British money, through the mighty City of London, are taken into account."

Not everyone would agree with the charity's conclusion, but its argument is that Britain benefits from those investments, either by bringing cheap goods to the UK or by creating profits which flow back into the British economy, so the emissions ought at least to be accounted for within Britain. Using this methodology, the UK would account for between 12% and 15% of the global total.

Disclosure sought

Researchers also found that few companies are fully aware of their own emissions, even those relating directly to activities such as heating their buildings and running vehicles.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which aims to persuade companies to release data on emissions, has recorded a gradual rise in the numbers prepared to make their figures public.

Is big business really green?

But Trucost found that only 16 of the FTSE 100 report emissions according to the internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP). "Some of the largest companies are beginning to get it, and you have companies like Marks and Spencer and Tesco and BSkyB all beginning to seek leadership positions," said Trucost's head of corporate services Neil McIndoe.

"Almost all of them have environmental policies, and sometimes they're very similar to each other, basically because they copy and paste the wording from the website of the one next door. But across the FTSE 100, you're lucky if you can get 20% of companies to tell you anything in numbers about the environment."

Trucost and Christian Aid argue that full disclosure is essential to the proper functioning of a global carbon market, which according to the forum of global legislators meeting in Washington last week is essential if greenhouse emissions are to be constrained.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it has been actively involved in supporting the work of the Carbon Disclosure Project. A spokesman said: "We facilitated the distribution of the CDP questionnaire to FTSE companies in 2006, so as to assist investors in attaining more climate-related information on UK plc than before."

"The last CDP round generated the highest-ever response rate in 2006, with 72%, or 360, of the FT500 companies responding, up from 47% of companies that responded in 2003."

24 February 2007


EU governments back emission trading for aviation

ENDS Europe DAILY 2267 - 21 February 2007

Airlines should be included in the European carbon trading scheme (ETS), EU environment ministers agreed almost unanimously on Tuesday. Most also said there should be no initial exemption for flights to and from non-EU destinations. But there was no consensus on when carbon caps should be first applied to the sector.

In their first public debate on draft legislation to include aircraft emissions in the ETS, ministers strongly supported the main lines of European commission proposals tabled last year. Only Hungary expressed doubts over the concept of the aviation sector's inclusion in carbon trading.

Environment council chairman Sigmar Gabriel emphasised the importance of tackling aviation if the EU is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020. "All other efforts are rendered useless if we lose grip of the aviation sector," he said.

But a majority of ministers opposed the commission's proposal to restrict emission trading to intra-EU flights during the first year and to extend it to all flights only after this twelve-month period. It should immediately apply to all flights landing at and taking off from EU airports, they argued, to minimise competitive distortion. Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas proposed the two-step approach after threats of legal action by US officials.

There was no consensus on when aviation should be included in the ETS. Some, like the Netherlands, said all flights could be included from 2011. Others, including Belgium, Poland, Latvia, Spain and Austria, argued for 2013. This was more realistic for including all flights at once, they said, and coincided with the end of a review of the ETS.

All member states appeared to support the notion of a cap decided at EU level with allowances allocated centrally from Brussels. Many also voiced support for distributing allocations through grandfathering on the basis of average emissions in 2004-6.

Several, especially new member states, said the distribution of allowances should take into account the differing levels of aviation development in different countries. Young, fast-growing airlines with comparatively cleaner aircraft than older, more established ones, should not be penalised, they said.

Other member states called for an allocation mechanism that would soften the impact of carbon caps on flights to isolated areas or those heavily dependent on tourism. Finland suggested different benchmarks for intra-EU and intercontinental flights. Several member states proposed more auctioning.

Mr Dimas reiterated his promise to issue proposals to combat non-CO2 greenhouse gases from aviation, specifically nitrogen oxides, by 2008.

18 February 2007


Herts & Essex Observer - 15 February 2007

A shake-up of aircraft routes in the skies above Stansted, showing towns and villages around the airport affected, were downplayed by the authorities this week.

A Sunday Times report at the weekend featured a graphic showing two new flight paths over the Saffron Walden area and new stacking areas north of the terminal for planes circling while waiting to land at Luton or Stansted.

But the Observer was told by an official from NATS - formerly National Air Traffic Services - which is responsible for managing Britain's air traffic control systems, that the report, which was based on a leaked document, was premature and contained inaccuracies. "We don't have a proposal at this stage. We've not established the geographical area which might be covered" said the spokeswoman.

'The Sunday Times has put together what they consider a generic graphic. We don't work with graphics but with maps. We don't have any maps at this stage because its an evolving process.'

NATs constantly redesigned routes for aircraft and the process took between 2 and 5 years from concept to implementation, which included public consultation, she explained.

She admitted that the body was evaluating what would be needed for an increase in air travel in the South East generally and the proposed second runway at Stansted would feed into that overall picture. Consultation would be later this year.

The supposed leaked document obtained by the Sunday Times was probably ?very old and likely inaccurate?. 'We started off this process by talking informally to the planning officers in local authorities because they are the experts, to understand what kind of things we need to take into consideration - like housing developments, or hospitals for example', said the spokeswoman.

'We do that over a wide geographical area because at the outset we don't necessarily know what area we are looking at. The plans go through several drafts, bits added and bits taken out. We are still at that stage.'

The spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to offer any indication of which areas around Stansted might be affected.

In its G2 documentation published on January 30th, BAA Stansted says NATs' proposed new arrangements for the South East were to be implemented by 2009 and those for G2 would be brought forward at a later date.

OUR COMMENT: If changes in routes may be made by 2009, how will this affect BAA's predictions on noise and air quality for the expansion of G1?

Pat Dale

18 February 2007


Plan to cram skies with stacked planes 'frightful'

Cambridge News - 13 February 2007

CAMBRIDGESHIRE skies could be crammed full of planes if plans to create two new flight paths and stacking areas get the go-ahead.

Stacking areas, allowing up to four planes to circle while waiting for a landing slot, would feed Stansted, Luton and London City airports. It is not yet known exactly where in Cambridgeshire the flight paths and stacking areas would go.

Today (Tuesday, 13 February), Coun Sebastian Kindersley, who represents villages directly underneath one possible site, said the idea was "frightful". Coun John Reynolds, deputy leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said the authority had already voiced its concerns. Both said there was a direct link with the Government's support for a second runway at Stansted.

Laurence Wragg, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), warned people on the ground could be breathing in kerosene fumes and CO2. If the plans go ahead thousands of residents could have their rural quiet shattered by the noise of jet engines and more air pollution.

Coun Kindersley, Gamlingay, said: "It's frightful. One of the areas they are looking at is the border between Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire - exactly where I live and the villages I represent."

"We already have positioning of planes for Stansted and Luton while they are getting ready to start their descent, although they're already pretty low by that time to go into their respective airports. So we are already suffering. If we get jets stacking above us it's going to be very busy and we suffer quite badly from aircraft noise. We don't want it."

Nats, the company that manages Britain's air traffic control systems is behind the scheme.

The number of flights over the UK is expected to double from 2.4 million a year to five million in 2030. Britain's 15 air corridors will be used more heavily and four new flight paths are being proposed altogether.

Coun Reynolds said the county council felt it was far more important to improve road and rail networks than increase flight path capacity and was concerned the move would pave the way for the expansion of Stansted.

He said: "More aircraft flying in the skies above Cambridgeshire will have an adverse impact, even if there is mitigation in terms of emissions. If we get more late night flying and early morning flying there will be a noise impact.

"People might think Stansted is a long way away but there could be a lot of over flying and that will mean the noise impact, especially for communities in South Cambridgeshire, could be quite significant."

Mr Wragg, chairman of both the CPRE's aviation advisory committee and the East of England region, said: "Sometimes aeroplanes dump fuel, although they say they do not, and that makes pollution even worse. It's always harmful - we do not want to have to breathe in kerosene fumes and CO2, it's not good for us."

Lee Murphy, Stansted spokesperson, said the airport has no final say on how air space is carved up but it would work closely with Nats, in particular alongside discussions for the proposed second runway. Public consultation is likely this year.

Council demands guarantees from BAA

A COUNCIL is demanding answers to questions about the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport. Uttlesford District Council wants BAA to guarantee that if a second runway is built one would be used for take- offs and one for landings.

It wants BAA to promise not to seek planning permission until it has consulted on road diversions and connections and has considered maximising public transport links.

Uttlesford wants a full assessment on the effects on quality of life of massive expansion and is asking for the airport's health impact assessment to be published before BAA submits its planning application. It also want BAA to justify the net economic benefits of a second runway including carbon emission costs.

Council leader Mark Gayler said: "We will do all we can to stop the character of Uttlesford being damaged beyond repair. The impact of a second runway at Stansted would be disastrous."

A spokesman for BAA said: "The answers to the questions posed by Uttlesford District Council can either be found in the extensive information recently published about our second runway development proposal or will be the subject of thorough examination as part of the public inquiry process."

18 February 2007


MEPs demand 30 per cent carbon cut by 2020

ENDS Europe DAILY 2262 - 14 February 2007

The European parliament called on Wednesday for the EU to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2020 whether or not other industrialised countries do the same. The demand goes beyond the European commission's proposal that Europe should commit unilaterally to no more than a 20 per cent cut.

In a resolution on the major package of energy and climate proposals adopted by the commission on 10 January, the parliament endorsed the idea that all industrialised countries should cut emissions 30 per cent by 2020. An amendment tabled by the Socialists and Greens was added to the effect that "all internal EU policies" should be based on achieving 30 per cent.

The resolution calls for a binding obligation on carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars to an average 120 grams per kilometre by 2012, whereas the commission has just proposed a weaker binding target of 130g/km.

Parliament wants to include aviation and maritime transport in post-2012 climate commitments, ensuring they make emissions reductions "equivalent to those in other sectors by 2020". There is also a clear call for the promotion of combined heat and power generation

The resolution also calls for an EU target for "ultra-low or non-CO2 emitting energy technologies" to provide 60 per cent of electricity by 2020. The commission considering proposing a similar target in its January package before dropping the idea. Such a target is generally seen as likely to favour nuclear power and carbon capture and storage.

On renewable energy, the parliament calls for a higher target than proposed by the commission - a 25 per cent share of all EU energy by 2020 rather than 20 per cent, which it calls only a "good starting point". The resolution also demands the reinstatement of specific renewables targets for the electricity and heating and cooling sectors.

13 February 2007


Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 9 February 2007

BAA has ruled out selling Gatwick or Stansted airports to head off a Competition commission inquiry. The UK?s dominant airport owner, whose prize asset is Heathrow, also warned that only a business with its monopolistic structure could fund the expansion of south-east England?s biggest flight hubs.

The Office of Rair Trading said in December ot was considering a full investigation of BAA, which in tuirn said that a £9.5bn investment plan for Heathrow and Stansted would be more expensive under separate owners.

Stephen Nelson, BAA chief executive, rejected yesterday the OFT?s suggestion that disposals could head off a referral. Responding to the OFT consultation he said BAA?s new majority owner, the Spanish construction company Ferrovial, had no interest in breaking up an asset with long-term prospects.

He said: ?The airports are not for sale. We have got lonr-term investors who look at this over a 40 to 50-year time horizon, not 10 to 15 years.? He said a growing UK population and economy would guarantee air travel growth for decades, with passengers expected to grow from 228 mppa to 465 mppa by 2030. ?Why would we want to do deals around airports given the fundamental strength of the assets?"

About 9 out of 10 passengers in south-east England travel through BAA owned facilities, with 8 out of 10 in Scotland travelling via BAA.

OUR COMMENT: So much for BAA?s claims of ?sustainable development? and their support for an EU aviation trading scheme as a measure to ?control? expansion. All hot air! It's expand, expand, and forget the rest of the economy and the need to deal with the threat of climate change in a responsible and fair way. Why does the government listen to such dangerous views?

Pat Dale

13 February 2007


BAA insists break-up will raise charges

Alistair Osborne - Telegraph Online - 8 February 2007

BAA has told the Office of Fair Trading that any break-up of its London airports monopoly would lead to higher landing charges and reduced investment in new terminals and runways.

In its response to the OFT, the Spanish-controlled owner of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted called for an overhaul of the regulatory system and said the competition watchdog had not set out a compelling case that its airports can compete more significantly, and serve the consumer better, under separate ownership.

The OFT will make its final decision on whether to refer BAA to the Competition Commission shortly. It has already said it plans to do so. Airlines including British Airways and Ryanair have called for the break-up of BAA but its chief executive, Stephen Nelson, said they "want it both ways... break-up and tight pricing."

He said the industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, forces BAA to keep its charges lower than if its three London airports were in separate ownership.

Mr Nelson added that the CAA's proposed cut in allowed returns would deter any owner from investing.

13 February 2007


Focus - Jonathan Leake and Richard Sadler - The Sunday Times - 11 February 2007

Labour wants to cut CO2 emissons but it is also pursuing a dramatic expansion of Britain?s airways.
Can the circle be squared?

"Sod them, let?s fly," shouted full-page advertisements in several newspapers last week - and, for a moment at least, thousands of readers were taken in.

Under the headline, 'Flying, your patriotic duty', a fictitious businessman called Sir Montgomery Cecil railed against the 'miserable' green lobby and urged us to 'enjoy ourselves and keep on flying'. Far from cutting back, we should aim to fly more 'since many destinations might soon become uninhabitable'. 'I'm bored of the tofu mafia and their climate change hysterics', added Cecil. 'I didn't fight in two world wars to see communist liberals tell me, or my shareholders, what to do.'

The adverts were, of course, a spoof, designed to shock consumers into action and to lampoon the (fast dwindling) number of people who either don't believe in or don't care about climate change.

Unfortunately, Cecil's adverts appear to have been missed or perhaps even taken literally by the government. Evidence of its intention to allow aviation to expand on a massive scale is provided in a document leaked to The Sunday Times from Nats, the company that emerged from National Air Traffic Services and now manages Britain's air traffic control systems.

It wants to restructure Britain's existing air corridors and add new ones in preparation for a doubling of the number of flights over the UK from 2.4m a year today to almost 5m by 2030. A confidential aeronautical map drawn up by Nats points to sharp increases in the number of aircraft using the 15 or so air corridors that criss-cross Britain, and the creation of several new flight paths and six new stacking areas where aircraft fly in circles while waiting for landing slots.

The terms of Nats's licence from the Civil Aviation Authority, the industry regulator, require it 'to be capable of meeting, on a continuing basis, any reasonable level of overall demand' and to 'permit access to airspace on the part of all users'.

If approved, Nats's plans would mean hundreds of thousands of people - perhaps millions - suffering from aircraft noise where there was little or none before. They would also turn the aviation industry into one of Britain's biggest generators of greenhouse gases.

It is the kind of proposal that would delight Cecil but which leaves his creator, Peter Myers, a former City financier turned environment campaigner, spitting blood.

'Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us we had a maximum of 10 years to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions,' said Myers last week. 'The government promised to make reductions but all the time it has been planning the biggest aviation expansion the industry has ever seen. It is pure hypocrisy.'

The clash between green campaigners such as Myers and the aviation industry illustrates the conundrum that policy makers face around the world.

On the one hand, flying has become integral to our lives and our economy and is something most of us aspire to do more of. On the other, climate change, fuelled by flying, could contribute to the destruction not just of our own environment but of the destinations we want to fly to.

For people such as Tim Smith, a father of two from Suffolk, Britain's booming aviation sector presents more immediate concerns. His plight illustrates what could lie in store for hundreds of thousands of people across central England if Nats's plans are given the go-ahead.

Smith was looking for a peaceful corner of England in which to bring up his children and moved to the hamlet of Cornard Tye in 1999. 'One of the best things about this area was that you could sit in the garden and hear birds singing,' he said.

'Then one day I was sitting in my office at home when I heard a plane going over, then another and then another. When I rang the Civil Aviation Authority and asked what had happened they told me the air corridors had been changed.'

'We now get easyJets and Ryanairs one after another. Some fly so low we can see the wheels and the people inside, but even when they're flying higher, at five or six thousand feet, the noise is very loud.'

'I've effectively had a motorway put over my head. No one was told about it, no one has been consulted and there is no compensation - but it has completely ruined what I moved here for and now we want to move.'

Many more Britons could soon find themselves in the Smiths' shoes. The leaked Nats report states that the forecast increase in air traffic 'is not manageable within current airspace'. It goes on to propose new stacking areas, each covering up to 50 square miles, over north Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Dorset and around the borders of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

A stacking area is designated airspace where aircraft waiting to land can circle at 8,000ft-12,000ft while waiting to land. The proposed new stacking areas would feed into Stansted, Luton and London City airports.

A significant new flight path is also proposed over Cambridgeshire and Essex to ease air traffic congestion for Stansted and Luton. Nats also wants a second new flight path to run northwest from Cambridgeshire through Northamptonshire, Rutland, Leicester, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and heavier use of existing flight paths over Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, the West Midlands, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

The map and documents are early drafts and likely to undergo many amendments before publication as part of a public consultation due to start this year. However, the issue at hand - that Britain needs more air corridors to soak up aviation growth - is not going to go away any time soon.

'We are looking at 3%-4% growth a year,' said Simon Hocquard, Nats's general manager for air traffic strategy. 'We are seeing 2.4m aircraft movements a year now and that is likely to reach 3m by 2012 with continued growth after that. Our priority, above all else, is air safety and these measures are designed with that in mind.'

Steve Charlish, a commercial pilot who has led a campaign against increasing air traffic over the East Midlands, said: 'If Nats were proposing a new motorway or bypass you could object but one thing you cannot do is touch the airspace above because that is owned by the crown - you've got no right of objection.'

Nats is, however, merely implementing an expansion policy drawn up by the government and set out in its 2003 aviation white paper. In it Labour announced that it wanted to see new runways built at Stansted, Heathrow, Birmingham and Edinburgh. It also proposed increasing capacity at numerous other airports including Coventry, Doncaster, Lydd, near Dover, Kent International at Manston, Bristol and Wolverhampton. Overall, about 40 airports were given the go-ahead to expand.

Air travel has already increased fivefold over the past 30 years, with 216m passengers entering or leaving Britain in 2005. By 2030 that number is expected to grow to 470m a year.

The results can be seen all over the country. At Lydd, on the Dungeness peninsula in Kent, the owners of a small, private airfield have submitted plans for a new regional airport taking up to 2m passengers a year by 2015. BAA, the owner of seven British airports including Heathrow, plans to expand capacity at Southampton from 1.9m to 6m passengers a year by 2030.

Robin Hood airport in South Yorkshire, which opened at an old RAF base near Doncaster in 2005, is planning to fly to 40 destinations and to increase its passenger capacity from 1m to 2.3m.

Noise pollution is one thing. But how will such expansion affect greenhouse gas emissions? The Department for Transport claims that Britain's aviation industry generates about 32m tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to almost 5% of Britain's total annual emissions of 670m tons. But, as ever, the statistics tell only half the story. When calculating aircraft emissions, the department counts only flights out of Britain, not those coming in. This would be fair if only half the passengers were British but, in fact, the total is about 70%.

You then have to consider 'radiative forcing' - the phenomenon whereby greenhouse gases emitted at high altitudes have about three times more impact on global climate than those emitted at groundlevel. Put all these factors together and aviation in Britain is generating a greenhouse gas warming effect roughly five times greater than the transport department's figure of 32m tons suggests. By 2030 that will have risen to the equivalent of 400m tons, say critics.

Such statistics would not cut much ice with Sir Montgomery Cecil. ?As a businessman I have shareholders to think about, but these yoghurt-peddlers won't shut up about the poor and starving who don't even fly,' he raved.

'Even our prime minister says we should keep flying. His carbon footprint is 800 times more than the average person?s. Now that is what I call leadership.'

Flying: the facts

- Aviation is the world's fastest-growing form of transport. The number of passengers passing through Britain?s airports alone rose from 32m in 1970 to 216m last year.

- More than half the British population now fly at least twice a year

- British airports are a global success story with around 20% of all international passengers using UK airports

- In 2001 aviation contributed £13 billion to Britain?s gross domestic product - about 2% of the total

- British aviation employs 200,000 people directly and another 600,000 depend on it indirectly

- Aviation now generates about 64m tons of greenhouse gases a year, including landings and take-offs

- Emissions at altitude have about three times the impact of those at ground level

- About 4% of Britons report being very annoyed by aircraft noise - equivalent to 2.4m people

- About 22% of Britons, equivalent to 13m people, report having their sleep interrupted by aircraft noise

OUR COMMENT: Can this really be true? Plane Madness?

Pat Dale

9 February 2007


"Think global - act local" was the theme of
Stop Stansted Expansion's 2007 Community Conference on Sunday

Herts & Essex Observer - 8 February 2007

The growing contribution of air travel to the world?s changing climate and the threat to the local environment posed by BAA's expansion plans for Stansted were spelled out to the 200 plus delegates who gathered at the airport?s Hilton Hotel.

Proposed expansion of Stansted's single runway from the current 23.5mppa to its full capacity of 35mppa - which will be the subject of a planning inquiry later this year - would result in the airport?s carbon emissions reaching the equivalent of 7m tonnes a year, said SSE.

Executive committee member Peter Riding said that this equated to eliminating all the savings from switching 350m conventional light bulbs to low energy, taking 2.3m cars off the road or turning off the power to all 1.4m homes in Herts, Essex and Suffolk. A second runway would see CO2 emissions increase to 12m tonnes.

The conference of community leaders and politicians from across the East of England, environmental groups and grass-root SSE supporters was opened by Councillor Mark Gayler, leader of Uttlesford District Council, which in November refused BAA planning permission to upgrade the use of the single runway. The airport operator had gone for the cheaper option for the G2 second runway project, announced last week, because the financial viability for it was 'hugely questionable', he said. 'This is just one of the weaknesses we can exploit.'

He added: 'We are a strong community. Working together we are a formidable force. Consciousness in the wider community about the impact of aviation on the environment is growing. This is a battle we can win and, for our children?s futures, we must make sure that we do win.'

Essex County Council deputy leader Cllr Peter Martin said his authority would stand shoulder to shoulder with UDC.

Uttlesford MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, in his closing address to the 50 organisations represented, lambasted BAA for its spin. 'BAA's propaganda would have us believe in some Utopia where Boeings and butterflies could joyously coexist' he said.

A review of SSE's progress highlighted the four year delay to a second runway which campaigners and their allies have achieved. The original target of 2011 has been put back to 2015.

Campaign leaders said that local and regional concerns about noise from increased overflying and pressure on the region's creaking road and rail network remained key factors behind the overwhelming opposition to airport expansion plans across East Anglia.

9 February 2007


Commission opts for binding 130g CO2 car target

ENDS Europe DAILY 2257 - 7 February 2007

The European commission will propose legislation forcing carmakers to cut average carbon dioxide emissions from all new cars sold in the EU to 130 grams per kilometre by 2012, it revealed on Wednesday.

Its communication on reducing CO2 emissions from cars retains the EU's longstanding target of achieving an average 120g/km by 2012, but it will be left to softer "complementary measures" to make up the difference. Wednesday's announcement signalled a partial defeat for environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, who wanted carmakers to be forced to hit 120g/km.

The commission has yet to decide how the 130g/km obligation might be divided between individual car makers and models. EU enterprise commissioner Gunter Verheugen suggested on Wednesday that emissions reductions could be "differentiated" according to vehicle type. Larger cars may be required to deliver proportionally greater reductions, he added.

The complementary measures proposed to deliver the remaining 10g/km include the introduction of efficiency requirements air conditioning systems, compulsory tyre pressure monitors and maximum tyre rolling resistance limits.

While having no direct impact on measured exhaust emissions, cuts in fossil CO2 derived from an increased use of transport biofuels will also count towards the 120g/km target. It remains unclear how this contribution will be calculated in practice, but it will be driven by two recent proposals to revise the EU's fuel quality directive and establish a binding 10 per cent target for biofuels by 2020.

To stimulate consumer demand for more efficient cars, the commission will propose amendments to strengthen the fuel efficiency labelling directive. It will also invite manufacturers to sign up to an EU code of good practice on car marketing and advertising, and continue to encourage member states to base car taxation on CO2 emissions.

On top of measures on passenger cars, the communication proposes average CO2 emission targets for new vans of 175g/km by 2012 and 160g/km by 2015, compared with a 2002 average of 201g/km. It also encourages research and development efforts with a view to reaching a new long-term reduction goal for passenger cars of 95g/km by 2020.

The commission says it will wait for reactions from the parliament and council before tabling legislative proposals, which could happen this year or as late as mid-2008. Wednesday's communication was accompanied by the commission's response to the Cars 21 high-level group's final recommendations (EED 12/12/05 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/20012).

The communication was widely criticised by stakeholders on Wednesday. The European carmakers association Acea described the 130g target as "arbitrary and far too stringent" and said the costs would be "almost prohibitive". The new chair of the parliament's environment committee, Miroslav Ouzky, criticised the commission for tabling a "less ambitious proposal than originally envisaged".

9 February 2007


The government's chief scientific adviser calls for
genuine international action on climate change

David King, The Observer - 4 February 2007

Open any newspaper and the chances are you'll find an item on climate change. Friday saw yet another flurry of coverage with the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fourth assessment report on the science of climate change. What makes this report stand out from others?

The IPCC is a global body established in 1988 to provide independent, scientific advice on climate change. Friday's report is not new research, but, rather, a stock-take of the entire body of knowledge that exists on climate change. It builds on three previous reports and incorporates results from a further six years of research.

The report is the first of three to be published by the IPCC this year. Later reports will focus on the impacts of climate change and on the actions required to address the problem. This process has involved more than 2,500 scientists and 130 countries.

Where the lengthy, rigorous process of the IPCC comes into its own is in bringing together the different pieces of evidence from many strands of science and balances them to give as clear a view as possible on the overall state of knowledge. It is a process underpinned by extensive expert challenge and review. The resulting report is, I believe, a major achievement and a real advance in our understanding of climate change.

The last time the IPCC reported in this way was in 2001. Since then, climate science has moved on apace, with a vast increase in climatic data and ever-more sophisticated and numerous climate models to help us understand and predict climate change. Perhaps most significantly, we are studying a process that is happening in real time. Not only has science progressed in the last six years but so, too, has the 'experiment' we are effectively carrying out on our planet. As the impacts become larger, their cause becomes clearer.

The IPCC report's findings reinforce some stark messages. The evidence for warming is now unequivocal. There has been a 0.74C rise in global temperatures over the past century, much of this occurring in the last few decades.

The direct link between human activities and global warming is more clearly established than ever. This link can now be drawn not only with global atmospheric temperature, but also with the warming in the oceans, with sea level rise and in the pattern of atmospheric warming. The report confirms that warming resulting from human activity is around 10 times greater than that from changes in the Sun's activity. We have caused most of the recent observed warming.

For sea level, the previous IPCC report projected a rise by the end of this century of between 9cm and 88cm. This uncertainty has now been reduced to between 18cm and 59cm, though factors not well understood may yet mean that this range could be revised upwards.

The IPCC concludes that global temperature will rise a further 1.1-6.4C by the end of the century, influenced by how emissions grow. Well below the higher end of this range, the impacts would be devastating. The case for action is established beyond any reasonable doubt for all but the most ardent or ill-informed sceptics.

So how should we respond to this IPCC report? It does, in reality, offer few surprises. The increasingly worrying trend in the evidence has been clear to see. The report's value, I think, is in providing governments with a coherent and comprehensive assessment of the challenge we face.

The message for policy-makers is clear: climate change is not a passing fancy for environmentalists. It represents a challenge on a scale that will affect societies and economies across the world.

But I don't believe that it is only governments that should hear these messages. As individuals, we can make adjustments that together can have a big impact. As consumers, we can transform markets through our purchasing choices. And as concerned citizens, we can encourage governments, nationally and locally, to show leadership.

It is important to remember that, beyond the next two decades or so, the future severity of climate change and its impacts lies in our hands. We have the knowledge, technologies and capability to transform our economies, if we have the commitment to do so.

This is set to be a critical year. With the UK government continuing to lead, I am optimistic progress can be made towards the international framework we need post-2012, when the first Kyoto period ends. New impetus from the EU and G8 nations will be essential as we move towards the formal negotiations to be held in Bali towards the end of 2007; we must continue to engage emerging economies such as China and India.

Chancellor Merkel has taken climate change as a key theme for the German G8 presidency and there will be a discussion on it at the G8 summit. Over the next few months, we must take forward discussions on realistic stabilisation levels as well as developing a framework for the creation of a global carbon price and incentivise investment in low-carbon technologies.

The IPCC's work is vital in providing a solid foundation of evidence on which these crucial decisions can be made. We have lost 17 years since Kyoto. Now we have to act.

9 February 2007


Climate challenge will heat up the global economy, Barclays predicts

Jane Padgham - The Independent - 8 February 2007

Climate change will boost the global economy and dominate financial markets over the next 25 years, a leading investment bank has predicted.

In a new report, Barclays Capital challenges the conventional wisdom that global warming will have a devastating impact on economic growth. It believes the need to increase energy capacity by 50 per cent by 2035, while simultaneously reducing dependence on hydrocarbons, will spark an "energy revolution" reminiscent of the technology revolution which led to the dot.com boom.

"If ever the time were ripe for such an energy revolution, it is now," said Tim Bond, global head of asset allocation at Barclays Capital, and author of the report. "And like all historical adoptions of general purpose technologies, the process should prove immensely stimulative to economic growth."

Mr Bond says that those who couch the climate change debate in terms of the cost to growth are underestimating the impact of an energy revolution. Last year's Stern Review concluded that if temperatures rise by five degrees celsius, up to 10 per cent of global output could be lost.

"All of the historical changes in energy supply - from dung to wood to coal to oil - were stimulative for the economy concerned. Every major technological change was accompanied or followed by faster economic growth." he said. Like every revolution, there will be winners and losers, with the energy sector set to reap the biggest rewards.

In the meantime, current uncertainty over US climate change policy may be deterring energy investment, the report says. Until public opinion forces the US administration to address the issue, energy scarcity will intensify and prices will continue to soar. Indeed, futures markets suggest that oil prices, already at levels last seen during the 1970s oil shock in inflation-adjusted terms, will keep rising due to a worsening supply/demand imbalance. The same is true for the other hydrocarbon, coal.

"The impact of the replacement, restructuring and expansion of our energy infrastructure cannot be ignored," Mr Bond said. "Just as the personal computer cannot be un-invented, neither can the impending energy revolution."

The report is contained in Barclays Capital's annual Equity Gilt Study, which shows that equities were far and away the best-performing financial asset in 2006, as the stock market rally continued. Last year, money invested in stocks and shares grew by 11.4 per cent, still less than the 19 per cent growth seen in 2005.

In contrast, money invested in gilts shrank by 4.4 per cent as rising inflation wiped out nominal returns. Corporate and index-link bonds also suffered, falling by 4.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively. Cash returns edged up by 0.4 per cent.

Barclays Capital calculated than an investor who put £100 in the stock market in 1899 would now be sitting on £25,022 if all income had been reinvested and adjusted for inflation. The same money invested in gilts would now be worth £323. If the £100 had been kept in cash, it would have swelled to just £286, it said.

9 February 2007


Airport rules contribute to congestion, warns BAA

Alistair Osborne, Business Editor - Daily Telegraph - 7 February 2007

BAA will today call for a wholesale review of the regulatory framework governing its three London airports, arguing it is outmoded and contributes to growing congestion.

The airports operator, which owns seven UK airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, is expected to argue that the current system fails both BAA's airline customers and passengers.

The call for a comprehensive rethink will be made by new chief executive Stephen Nelson, as the company responds to the Office of Fair Trading's deadline for industry comment before it makes its final decision on whether to refer BAA to the Competition Commission. The OFT has already said it proposes to make the reference, which could lead to the break-up of BAA.

Mr Nelson, who took charge after BAA's £10.1bn takeover last summer by a consortium led by Spanish construction group Ferrovial, is poised to call for a wider debate on the approach of industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority.

He is expected to question whether the current system of five-yearly reviews, where the CAA uses complex formulae to determine BAA's landing charges, cost of capital and regulated assets, delivers airports that airlines and passengers want to use.

He is likely to question why landing charges at the world's busiest international airport, Heathrow, are only the fourteenth most expensive in Europe at a time when it is so full that even minor operational problems can trigger long delays.

Mr Nelson, who opposes any break-up of BAA, is also likely to point out that the regulatory framework does not incentivise the company to provide better service. While BAA must give a rebate of up to 3pc of charges for poor service, the regulator does not reward the company for good service.

BAA's call for a new approach to regulation will raise eyebrows at a time when the company finds itself battling with the CAA over the returns it can make on its regulated assets from 2008-2013 ? the next regulatory period.

The CAA is proposing no more than 6.2pc at Heathrow and 6.7pc at Gatwick, a sharp fall from the current 7.75pc and implying a reduction in cash flow of around £150m a year.

BAA has described the proposed change in the regulatory climate as "unprecedented" and warned any such move would imperil its plans to invest £1bn annually for the next 10 years.

These plans include the controversial second runway at Stansted, whose project costs BAA cut last week by £500m to £2.2bn, but airlines claim is still too expensive, and the redevelopment of terminals at Heathrow.

3 February 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2254 - 2 February 2007

Evidence that human activities are causing the planet to warm up is now "unequivocal", the United Nations inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC) says in its first full assessment since 2001 of the science behind climate change.

The panel issued its strongest warning yet over climate change on Friday, stressing that global warming is accelerating. Better modelling has improved scientific knowledge and "considerably" increased the level of confidence in predictions compared with previous assessments, it says.

Achim Steiner, director of the UN's environment programme, called on policymakers, especially in the US, China and India, to "get off the fence" and put in place strong greenhouse gas abatement policies. British environment minister David Miliband described the findings as "another nail in the coffin of climate change deniers", arguing that the debate over the science was "well and truly over".

The panel said there was clear evidence from satellite observations of human-induced increases in air and ocean temperature, "widespread melting" of snow and ice and rising sea levels. Even more warming would have occurred if emissions of air pollution had not offset some of the greenhouse effect, it added.

IPCC scientists said that stabilising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million - the lower end of a range above which dangerous climate change is thought to be likely - would require cutting emissions by around 490 gigatonnes over the next century compared to business as usual.

The IPCC groups 2,500 top scientists from 130 countries. It will present further assessments this spring on adaptation to climate change and mitigation policies.

The International energy agency (IEA) stressed the "urgent need for global coordinated action". WWF said it was a "clarion call" to governments to agree deeper emission cuts. The group also reiterated its call for EU leaders to back a 30 per cent reduction target for 2020 at their next spring meeting.


ENDS Europe DAILY 2254 - 2 February 2007

The UN intergovernmental panel on climate change's first full assessment of climate science since 2001 gives refined predictions in a range of areas including global temperature and greenhouse levels. The new figures were made possible by new satellite data and better modelling, it said.

ENDS offers a summary of the scientists' main conclusions:

* Global average surface temperature has increased by around 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past hundred years. The figure is higher than the last assessment's estimate of 0.6 degrees, due to a series of extremely warm years since 2001.

* Predictions for the period 1990-2100 show an increase in temperature between 1.8-4 degrees, a slightly narrower range compared with the previous estimate of 1.4-5.8 degrees.

* Concentrations of carbon dioxide have already risen from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to around 379ppm in 2005, while methane levels have risen from 715 parts per billion (ppb) to 1,774ppb over the same period.

* Greenhouse gas levels of 650ppm CO2 equivalent are likely to increase temperature by around 3.6 degrees, while 750ppm would lead to a 4.3 degree increase. Future levels are difficult to predict as they will depend on factors including economic growth, new technologies and policies, the scientists stress.

* Sea levels are likely to rise in the range of 18-59cm over the same period. Here too the predicted range has narrowed compared with the previous estimate (9-88cm).

* Regarding sea ice, the Arctic sea ice has already shrunk by about 2.7 per cent per decade since 1978, with the summer minimum declining by about 7.4 per cent. However, there is no evidence of such a trend in the Antarctic.

* It is "very likely" that precipitation will increase at high latitudes such as Europe and America and "likely" it will decrease over most subtropical land regions.

* There is evidence of an increase in the number of strong tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and typhoons, since the 1970s and this seems correlated with a rise in sea surface temperature. No changes have been observed for other phenomena such as tornadoes, lightning and dust-storms.


Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 2 February 2007

Water shortages, heatwaves, storms and floods are likely to be the result of global warming, caused by human actions, the biggest report yet on climate change will predict.

Global temperatures are likely to rise by about 3°C by 2100, according to the draft of the fourth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, convened by the United Nations and charged with assessing climate change science.

The rise - the "best estimate" of the scientists although some predict a rise of 2°C and some 4.5°C - would be enough to put a further 1bn to 4bn people at risk of serious water shortages and to cause much more intense storms. The difference in temperature between today's world and the planet's surface in the last ice age is only about 5°C or less.

The IPCC has produced its reports approximately every five years since 1988, but in the the six years since its last findings there has been a deluge of scientific studies on global warming.

Today's report will set the tone of the debate for negotiations around the renewal of the Kyoto protocol in 2012.

Experts from around the globe have been haggling over the final wording of the document this week in Paris. Mounting evidence of climate change means today's report will say there is a 90 per cent certainty that human actions, cutting down forests and burning fossil fuels, are shaping the climate. A decade ago, the IPCC was able to say only that human actions were "on balance" the likely cause.

One of the few bright spots in the otherwise gloomy picture is the prediction that sea levels are likely to rise between about 28cm and 43cm. The top range of this estimate is lower than that of the previous report, in 2001, which predicted a rise of between 9cm and 88cm. Although the Arctic ice cap is at severe risk of melting, much of the Antarctic ice cap may survive because in a warmer world there is likely to be more precipitation.

Today's Summary for Policymakers, drawing on research by 2,500 climate scientists, will deal only with the science of climate change. In April, a further section will set out the probable impacts of the warming in greater detail. A third section dealing with ways of preventing the worst outcomes will follow in May.

Paul Valdes, professor of physical geography at the University of Bristol and a contributor to the IPCC, said: "The report shows that changes to our current climate are happening more rapidly than expected, but it is not too late. We are already committed to some climate change, but what we do in the next few years is crucial. It is possible to reduce our emissions without endangering the economy or changing our way of life but we must start to act now."

OUR COMMENT: David Miliband, questioned on Channel 4 News, said that all developments, including airports with expansion plans, would have to provide a carbon emissions assessment of their plans. We await BAA's.

Pat Dale

1 February 2007


M.P. Scorns BAA Runway Plans

Press Release - 30 January 2007

?This benefits no-one in my constituency? was the immediate verdict of Saffron Walden M.P., the Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, on BAA?s announcement of their plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport.

"In the week in which a group of scientists has published the starkest warning yet about climate change BAA chooses this moment to unveil a blockbusting plan to triple the throughput at Stansted. When you set these proposals alongside their Eco newsletter of Autumn 2006 ('Working Together for a Sustainable Airport Environment') you quickly see how they speak with a forked tongue."

"The arrogance of BAA is breathtaking. They publish these latest plans before they have obtained planning permission for full use of the existing runway. As a child I was taught to digest the first course before reaching for the next! But it casts interesting light on their corporate attitude towards the forthcoming public enquiry into the first runway proposal. Perhaps they are confident that they have the Secretary of State in their pocket and that the public enquiry will be no more than a charade. What an insult to the people of Uttlesford!"

"The siting of the proposed second runway is the result of a supposed consultation. BAA would have received precious little support from local people for any option. It is no surprise to me therefore that BAA?s final choice has such a close resemblance to its original preferred placement. Any claimed improvements (and I welcome them for what they are) cannot mask the fact that any second runway amounts to an environmental catastrophe which will alter forever the rural character of a large swathe of Essex and Hertfordshire."

"If this Government, or more likely its successor, is prepared to take global warming seriously, measure will be introduced to make aviation cover its environmental costs. This is likely to put a brake on the growth in passenger numbers making the viability of a huge airport at Stansted extremely dubious."

"There are not employment benefits. BAA cannot fill existing jobs from within the constituency and its closest hinterland. So an enlarged airport will simply be a magnet to people from further afield and cause unacceptable pressure on local infrastructure. At last BAA seems to be waking up to the need for improved surface access arrangements. What they still cannot understand is that they are needed now, not tomorrow nor at some unspecified date in the future. There is not the slightest hint from the Government that it will fund what is patently needed."

"In short this is a deeply depressing announcement destined to rob Uttlesford over time of its reputation as one of the most desirable parts of England in which to live."


Press Release - 30 January 2007

Uttlesford District Council today reaffirmed its opposition to a second runway at Stansted, declaring it would have a hugely negative environmental impact.

It comes in response to the long-awaited announcement from BAA today of its preferred option for the planned expansion.

The authority will continue its absolute opposition to any new runway being built at Stansted. Nothing in BAA's announcement should be taken as affecting this position, which is supported by all political groups on the council.

BAA?s plans would see Stansted double in size and eat up a further 486 hectares of countryside. It would see 73 homes and 18 listed buildings destroyed or moved. Even though the plans now see the runway moved closer to the existing one, the impact on local communities remains disastrous.

UDC, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils and East Herts District Council responded jointly to BAA's G2 Options Consultation in March 2006 to ensure that any new runway proposal fully considered the impacts on their communities.

UDC believes that a second runway will have an unacceptable impact, both on the local community and the wider environment.

The expansion will place an unacceptable burden on roads and rail services. Land take from the countryside will cause irreversible harm to the continued protection of the countryside. The nation?s most valued landscapes and environmental resources, such as ancient woodland, important hedgerows, historic field patterns, archaeological sites and green lanes cannot be replaced. Many historic buildings will have to be destroyed, causing immense damage to the area's heritage.

In addition, the growth of aviation facilitated by a second runway will continue to add to global warming, potentially destroying the global environment for future generations.

Council leader Mark Gayler said: "Today's statement from BAA does absolutely nothing to make us re-think our position. We remain totally opposed to a second runway at Stansted. This development would be an environmental disaster, both locally and globally."

Councillor Alan Dean, chairman of UDC's Airport Task Group, said: "This proposal is in response to a misguided set of government policies. It will bring only harm to a wide area. We will fight BAA's plans until we win."

Cllr Jackie Cheetham, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, said: "Any second runway at Stansted will be an environmental disaster and will destroy the communities in the area."

Cllr Elizabeth Godwin, Leader of the Independent Group, said: "The countryside which will be destroyed cannot be replaced. Our communities do not want this and it is hard to believe that this is what the rest of the country wants.'

In November 2006 Uttlesford District Council turned down a planning application from BAA to increase passenger numbers using the existing facilities at Stansted. This will be the subject of a separate public inquiry, due to begin this summer.


Cambridge Daily News - 31 January 2007

THE planned £2 billion expansion of Stansted airport is vital to the region's economy according to business leaders - but councillors and environmentalists have expressed grave concerns.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, has welcomed plans announced yesterday (Tuesday, 30 January) by BAA for a second runway that would take the airport's capacity to 68 million passengers a year when it is fully developed in 2030.

But Uttlesford District Council, which has already blocked plans to increase the capacity of the current runway to 35 million passengers a year, has vowed to fight BAA and prevent an "environmental disaster".

And Coun John Reynolds, Cambridgeshire County Council's environment and transport cabinet member, expressed "deep concerns" about the impact on the environment and transport infrastructure.

BAA said the new runway could be in operation by 2015 when one runway would be used for landings only and the other for take-offs.

It estimates an opening cost of £1.4 billion rising to an overall £2.27 billion with further improvements by 2030, compared with the original Government estimate of £4 billion.

Mr Bridge said it is vital for the economic prosperity of the region to develop the "international gateway" to attract investment.

He said: "We very much welcome and support this. The key thing for economic growth is that it's essential we develop our international gateway. We are in international competition. We are competing with people on the other side of the water that would grasp the investment which would otherwise come here. If we don't have the right portal, we don't get the investment."

"We want to develop between 421,000 and 452,000 jobs in the region by 2021, that's in the regional spatial strategy. Without this, we are really going to struggle."

He said it was right that the planning process allowed opposition views to be heard "properly and sensitively" but said it needed to be streamlined. He added: "We hope common sense prevails. This will improve our economic prospects and life for the people of the region."

Nick Clarke, chairman of the Cambridgeshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), also welcomed the plans. The chief executive of Sawstonbased IT consultancy SysAdmins believes the second runway would herald more direct flights to the United States and have "trickle down" benefits for small business.

He said: "The rest of the world won't stand still while we consider if we want investment or not. This is the right positive message that UK plc is moving forward and that this is a good area to invest in."

But Coun Reynolds, a member of the East of England Regional Assembly, said: "Our general view is one of disappointment. We think it is extremely premature as there is a lot of capacity in the existing system. We are deeply concerned about the environmental impact - it is tremendous across a wide area."

And focusing on the impact on the region's transport infrastructure, he said: "There seems to be no competent measures to deal with transport except for the airport area."

BAA's scheme includes a new runway 3,048 metres long, around 42 aircraft stands and associated piers, a passenger terminal building with passenger, baggage and aircraft handling facilities, increased car parking, enhancements to the airport's bus and rail stations, and a new control tower.

Terry Morgan, managing director at Stansted, said: "We've welcomed nearly 24 million passengers in the last year. It's a success story that underpins our plans for growth at the airport."

Seventy-three properties and 18 listed buildings will be destroyed or moved by the scheme.

BAA said details of a consultation on the implications for the M11, A120 and the rest of the road network along with rail services to the airport will be "announced shortly".

Stansted is nearing its capacity of 25 million passengers a year. Uttlesford District Council's refusal of permission in November to expand the current runway capacity to 35 million passengers a year is the subject of a public inquiry expected to take place this summer.

And the council has reaffirmed its opposition to a second runway. It said nothing in BAA's latest plans would affect its position, which is supported by all political groups on the council. It believes a second runway would have an unacceptable impact on the local community and that the consequent growth of aviation would add to global warming.

Council leader Coun Mark Gayler said: "We remain totally opposed to a second runway at Stansted. This development would be an environmental disaster, both locally and globally."

And Coun Alan Dean, chairman of the council's airport task group, said: "This proposal is in response to a misguided set of Government policies. It will bring only harm to a wide area. We will fight BAA's plans until we win."

Carol Barbone, campaign director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said there is "overwhelming opposition" to a second runway in any location.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair - one of the biggest users of the airport - called the project a "£2.2 billion Taj Mahal".

He said: "At a time when Frankfurt Hahn can design and build a 15-million passenger terminal for less than ?100m, there is no justification for BAA to waste £1.4 billion on a similar-sized terminal. These figures show the BAA airport monopoly wastes money building goldplated Taj Mahals its airlines don't want and its passengers don't need. Ryanair will oppose these plans during the planning process and, if necessary, in the courts."

The National Trust said a second runway could have a devastating impact on nearby Hatfield Forest. Jenny Hawley, policy officer for the East of England, said: "BAA's plans would spell disaster for Hatfield Forest and the quality of life of thousands of local people. Peaceful enjoyment of this vital green space would be absolutely impossible and wildlife would suffer enormously."

And Greenpeace campaigner Emily Armistead said: "If we're serious about tackling climate change we can't simply let BAA get their way."

Steve Cox, executive director of strategy and development at the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), said: "The development of a second runway at Stansted Airport would have a hugely positive effect on the economy, not only in the immediate area, but also across the whole of the East of England."

"Stansted Airport already contributes £400 million to the regional economy, and the expansion would make the region even more competitive and attractive both nationally and internationally, helping our businesses form better links with companies in countries as far afield as China, India and the US. This type of development cannot be done in isolation though, so EEDA will be looking closely at all elements of the plan to ensure that the environmental impact is minimised, while ensuring that there are also excellent supporting transport links."

Good news for some . . . but not for others

A SECOND runway at Stansted could bring welcome relief to the residents of one Essex village. Currently the historic medieval town of Thaxted is under the flight path but, if BAA gets the go-ahead for a second runway to be built by 2015, all that will change.

BAA had originally said its preferred option would be a mixed mode runway but a surprise announcement that the two runways will be segregated - one for take- offs and one for landings - means a change to the flight paths.

Instead of over-flying Thaxted, aircraft will use a different route over the hamlets of Duton Hill and Tilty affecting far less residents, Terry Morgan, managing director of Stansted Airport, said: "The impact from the airport will increase but, with segregated mode, many villages close to the airport will get relief from airport noise."

However, while some residents of Thaxted were delighted at the news others remained sceptical and one - a parish councillor - flatly refused to believe it. Thaxted parish councillor Peter King said: "I just don't believe it. I am sure we will still get aircraft coming over and the bigger it gets the more aircraft there will be."

Adrian Lowe, a shopkeeper in the town, said: "I was born and brought up here and you do get used to the noise but if they stop flying over Thaxted it will be good news for us although not for Tilty and Duton Hill."

Terry Francis, of Duton Hill, said: "I am against expansion at the airport and if they get the second runway I will move."

Fay Barnard, who was brought up in Thaxted, said: "It is very noisy here especially at night and when I was young the aircraft used to keep me awake. It will be much better if they don't fly over the town."

The news brought a dilemma for Wendy Goodman, another Thaxted resident. She said she had always been opposed to a second runway but recognised that the change in flight path would be good news for Thaxted. "I don't know what to think now," she said.

Estate agent Carl Fisher said: "This is very good news for Thaxted. Property prices in Thaxted have already absorbed the impact from aircraft noise. The turnover is very good and property is selling at premium prices. Clearly an improvement in the reduction in aircraft noise will further enhance property values." He said that currently "a lot of people accept aircraft noise as part and parcel of living in such a great location."

OUR COMMENT: BAA are guilty of misrepresentation in presenting a segregated mode of use of the proposed two runways as of benefit to anyone living in the area. Even if there are fewer flights directly overhead in one of today?s noisy areas there will be far more traffic on the ground, all local roads will be filled to capacity to cater for an airport that will rival Heathrow ? assuming it can attract that amount of business. Stansted, in spite of praise from some business interests, has not provided a very effective 'gateway' for the East of England. Expansion has been based on UK tourist travel. Can this tourist explosion be encouraged to continue while the climate deteriorates?

Pat Dale

1 February 2007


Air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, a study says

Researchers studied 66,000 women in and around 36 US cities, finding pollution levels varied between four to nearly 20 micrograms per cubic metre. The University of Washington team said each 10 microgram rise was matched by a 76% rise in the chances of dying from heart disease or stroke.

It was not clear whether women are more susceptible to pollution than men, the New England Journal of Medicine said. However, women's coronary arteries are smaller and this might render them more vulnerable.

For women living within, rather than between, cities, the risk more than doubled, increasing by 128%, with each step up in pollution levels. Preventing these effects requires reducing the pollution at the source

All the participants were aged 50 to 79 and part of the Women's Health Initiative, a major US investigation into the causes of heart disease in women.

None of the women initially had any sign of heart disease. They were monitored for up to nine years to see which of them went on to suffer a heart attack or stroke, undergo bypass surgery, or die from cardiovascular causes.

A total of 1,816 women suffered one or more cardiovascular event. Data on the women's health were compared with air pollution readings from 36 metropolitan areas.

Scientists focused on tiny airborne particles called particulates, which are less than 2.5 microns across, and can lodge in the lungs. About 30 or 40 of the particles equal the width of a human hair. Normally invisible, they can be seen as dense clouds as they emerge from an exhaust pipe, smokestack or chimney, and are responsible for urban haze.


It was already known that fine particulates are associated with heart disease, but earlier studies did not look at the effect of local air pollution on previously healthy individuals. Researchers said the results suggested that for older women fine particulates are far more hazardous than was previously thought.

Lead researcher Professor Joel Kaufman, from the University of Washington in Seattle, said: "These soot particles, which are typically created by fossil-fuel combustion in vehicles and power plants, can contain a complex mix of chemicals. The tiny particles, and the pollutant gases that travel along with them, cause harmful effects once they are breathed in."

The researchers said it was unclear precisely how fine sooty particles might trigger heart disease, but one thought was that they accelerated the hardening and narrowing of arteries.

Professor Kaufman added: "Preventing these effects requires reducing the pollution at the source."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said the study suggested the risk was "greater than previously thought."

"This adds to the mounting evidence that air pollution should be taken seriously as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. When localized air pollution is particularly high, people with chronic lung disease or coronary heart disease should avoid staying outside for long periods."

30 January 2007


Plane Talk - 30 January 2007

'Plane Talk' - BAA's news sheet, has been sent to 180,000 houses in the area around Stansted airport. It has finally been decided that the best position for the second runway is more or less where it was originally sited, but the land take is smaller by 141 hectares (but still 486) and the runway itself is 452m shorter than in the original White Paper. Great savings are claimed for this saving in land, noise exposure is miraculously reduced, fewer houses (73 instead of 87) need be knocked down and ?only? 433 hectares of special/high quality landscape will be lost.

It will also cost £2,269m instead of £2,718. Residents of Burton End are assured that the western boundary will remain the same. No mention of any air quality deterioration or traffic problems - instead there is to be a consultation on Surface Access, involving both the Highways Agency and Network Rail.

BAA congratulates itself on listening to community concerns and claims that 'an acceptable balance can be achieved between environmental impacts and social and economic benefits'. This of course, is nonsense. In the context of the urgent need for act on reducing climate change the effects of a significant increase in the number of flights cannot be equated against a hoped for economic gain (probably a loss if tourist expenditure is taken into account). As the Stern Review on the 'Economics of Climate Change' has shown, high carbon developments will ultimately lead to economic loss.

It will be many months before any planning application is made. Meantime the preparations for the Public Inquiry on the Application for the full use of the existing runway will proceed.

Pat Dale


Press Notice - 30 January 2007

Building a new runway at Stansted will have a devastating effect on the local community, and cause more noise, more traffic and more pollution.

Aviation is already the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide in the UK. If the Government is serious about tackling climate change it must abandon its airport expansion plans and cut the anticipated rise in air travel by making the aviation industry pay for the environmental damage it causes.

30 January 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2247 - 24 January 2007

US president George Bush's shifted his position on climate change on Tuesday when he described it in a key speech as a serious challenge.

He also pledged to slash America's petrol consumption by 20 per cent over the next ten years in a bid to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

This was the first time that Mr Bush had mentioned climate change in his annual "state of the union" address to the US congress. Mr Bush also told members of the congress of the need to become "better stewards of the environment".

The speech is being seen as a response to the intense pressure the Bush administration is now under from the newly Democrat-controlled congress and increasing numbers of state governments. Earlier this week, ten major US firms urged the president to introduce a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Bush's change in tone is likely to be seen by EU leaders as a significant step towards America's possible engagement in international negotiations on a post-Kyoto regime.

Although it remains formally opposed to further global rules modelled on Kyoto, the US has agreed to start a dialogue with the EU on issues including carbon trading.

In his speech, Mr Bush called for higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and a five-fold increase in the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol by 2017. New technology is the way forward to achieve this, he said.

30 January 2007


Ryanair may walk away from Newquay

Cheapflights Online - 26 January 2007

Ryanair's battle with Cornwall County Council over a £5 levy on flights from Newquay Airport may see the airline pull out of the region.

Since the council announced in 2005 that it would introduce a fee to help pay for development of the airport, Ryanair has said it makes its link to Stansted uneconomic.

The BBC website says that Ryanair is now close to pulling out of Newquay saying they will make an announcement soon "in the light of the county council's ludicrous and extortionate development levy".

The airline dropped its morning service a few months after the introduction of the fee and now offers just a lunchtime departure from Newquay, with a mid afternoon return from London.

But Cornwall County Council say the £5 charge is necessary to ensure the airport stays open, while other airlines at Newquay, such as Air South West and Flybe have been willing to pay the charge.

24 January 2007


Merkel sets out presidency programme

ENDS Europe DAILY 2243 - 18 January 2007

Climate and energy are the "two biggest challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century," German chancellor Angela Merkel told MEPs yesterday as she presented the country's programme for its presidency of the EU.

Germany will be responsible for brokering an agreement on the official EU position on global climate policy post-2012 ahead of international talks later in the year. It will also kick off EU talks on a major package of energy and climate policies proposed by the European commission last week.


David Ibison in Stockholm - Financial Times - 18 January 2007

The cost of combating climate change could be 40 per cent lower than the figure given in last year's watershed Stern report on the economic impact of global warming, according to research to be announced today.

The research will be presented by Lars Josefsson, chief executive of Vattenfall, the Swedish power company, and is likely to attract particular attention as he is a special adviser on the environment to Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor.

Germany took on the presidency of the European Union on January 1 and Ms Merkel has made combating climate change a centrepiece of its rule. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's environment minister, will attend the talk by Mr Josefsson.

"The cost of limiting the concentration of greenhouse gases is equivalent to 0.6 per cent of the total gross world product - if all the identified potential is exploited," Mr Josefsson told the FT.

Sir Nicholas Stern, a UK economist, propelled climate change up the political agenda in a report that claimed global warming could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent if nothing was done, but that action today would cost 1 per cent of GDP.

Mr Josefsson's report says lower costs can be achieved using measures that "pay for themselves", such as insulation improvements and fuel efficient cars. But it also envisages more use of nuclear power and carbon capture technology.

The research, which was paid for by Vattenfall, forms part of a drive by Mr Josefsson to enhance the role played by the world's leading companies to combat climate change. He oversaw last week's announcement of the creation of the 3C initiative, in which 15 of the world's largest companies joined forces to devise "commercial solutions and market-based investments" to climate issues.

US companies such as General Electric, NRG Energy and Duke Energy signed up to the 3C initiative, a development Mr Josefsson said meant the interests of US business and climate protection were becoming increasingly aligned.

He hopes the revelation that tackling global warming could be much cheaper than first thought, and led by large businesses, will galvanise political leaders into addressing climate-related issues.

Mr Josefsson plans to present the research to business leaders in Davos this month and will travel to Asia to convince business leaders there to join the 3C programme.


ENDS Europe DAILY 2243 - 18 January 2007

All reputable carbon offset projects should use internationally certified emission credits, the UK environment ministry said on Thursday. The proposal threatens to turn Britain's exploding voluntary carbon market upside down and raises questions over the future of so-called voluntary emission reductions (VERs).

The ministry is proposing a voluntary code of practice for carbon offsets. To gain an official seal of approval, projects would have to use certified credits and fulfil a number of other requirements for calculating, pricing and communicating emission reductions.

Only four of Britain's approximately 61 offset providers would currently meet these standards, one offsetting company claimed on Thursday. This is mainly because the sector is overwhelmingly based on VERs.

Certified emission credits, in contrast, are those generated by the EU emission trading scheme or the UN Kyoto protocol's two project mechanisms, the CDM and JI.

Though there is now a voluntary international standard for VERs (EED 07/12/06 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/22214), the sector is essentially unregulated. Indeed, this is the key reason why the ministry believes their use in future should be discouraged - or at least not officially supported.

The voluntary offsets market has mainly relied on VERs for several reasons. By avoiding the bureaucracy involved in generating CDM credits, they can often be cheaper and quicker than certified credits.

Providers also insist that VERs often capture social and environmental benefits better than certified credits. They can also provide a better starting point for companies and inviduals just beginning to consider offsetting, the sector believes.

Reflecting these concerns, a group representing UK carbon market operators called on the government to reconsider its decision to focus entirely on certified credits. Britain's largest voluntary offset provider, the Climate Neutral Company reiterated a call for the government to deliver standards for VERs too.

Pure, a recently launched offset provider that uses only certified credits, strongly welcomed the ministry's announcement. Two of Pure's clients - hedge fund MAN group and financial advisors Grant Thornton - trumpeted themselves as the first companies to announce compliant offset schemes.

Environmental groups warned that carbon offsetting must not be seen as a panacea. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF all insisted that the focus must remain instead on cutting emissions at source.


BBC Online - 23 January 2007

Chief executives of some of the largest companies in the US have urged President George W Bush to introduce measures to tackle global warming.

The executives from nine corporations said Mr Bush should support a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Bush will address the issue in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, but will not introduce binding rules for emissions, the White House says.

President Bush has in the past rejected mandatory controls on greenhouse gases.

The US withdrew from the Kyoto protocol in 2001.

'Desire for clarity'

"We can and must take prompt action to establish a co-ordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection," the executives said in a letter to President Bush.

They have formed a group - the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) - which they intend to use to push for mandatory caps on greenhouse gases to cut them by more than 60% by 2050.

"It's time for the nation's political leaders to come together and act," Duke Energy chief executive Jim Rogers - a USCAP member - told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

Other members of the USCAP are CEOs of Alcoa, BP America, DuPont, Caterpillar, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, FPL Group and PG and E.

The pressure from big business stems from a desire for clarity, the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says.

At the moment, some states impose caps and the severity varies.

The White House said President Bush was going to make important announcement about energy efficiency and greenhouse gases.

But White House press secretary Tony Snow said "binding economy-wide carbon caps" are not part of Mr Bush's approach. Mr Snow added that the president believed that industry must come up with innovations to address the issue of climate change.

24 January 2007


G8 summit 'carbon offset' was hot air

Steven Swinford - Times Online - 21 January 2007

A GOVERNMENT pledge to offset the carbon emissions generated by the G8 summit at Gleneagles has been branded a 'sham' after project managers said it would take more than 21 years to reach the target.

The scheme, which involves making more than 2,000 homes in a South African township energy-efficient, is on the brink of collapse as it faces a £1m funding shortfall. Organisers now admit that even if they can plug the gap, it will not meet the pledge until 2029 at the earliest.

The revelation will embarrass the government, which has been warned by Sir Nicholas Stern, the economist and Treasury adviser, that Britain must "act now" to avoid an ecological disaster.

Last week ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced plans for a 'gold standard' for offsetting schemes to help fight climate change.

But Defra's own flagship scheme is in disarray. The G8 summit, held in July 2005, generated more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2 in transport and events.

Four months later Margaret Beckett, then environment secretary, said it would be the 'most sustainable' G8 summit ever.

She announced plans to offset the emissions "over two years" with an energy-saving project in Kuyasa, a township in Cape Town. It involves installing solar water heaters, low-energy light-bulbs and ceiling insulation in more than 2,000 homes.

Cape Town council, which is leading the project, believes reduced use of electricity will cut carbon dioxide output by a total of 6,500 tonnes a year. Because it was the first United Nations-certified gold standard project in the world, Britain pledged £100,000 to pay for credits for the 10,000 tons of carbon that are being saved.

To date, however, none of the money has been spent. Instead, organisers have struggled to find the 35m rand (£2.5m) needed to implement the measures. They have until the end of February to find a further 13.5m rand or risk the collapse of the project.

It has also emerged that the figure for carbon savings applies only over the 21-year life of the project. In the short term, it will actually increase carbon consumption, as residents are given electricity for the first time.

Yet funding has only been allocated to setting up the scheme and not towards the cost of maintaining the solar heaters and replacing energy-efficient bulbs.

Shirene Rosenberg, the council's resource conservation manager, admitted the savings would be made over 21 years. She said: "At this point it's tenuous but it is hanging on in there. It has been an uncalculated gamble for us."

A pilot project involving 10 houses was well received by residents.

Wazana Qwili, 83, is delighted with his new, energy-efficient house. "I'm very lucky," he said. "There are over 2,000 homes in Kuyasa that don't have a geyser or hot water shower."

His solar water heater, however, is equipped with a back-up powered by mains electricity. He now has a monthly electricity bill of 20 rand. Although he was pleased to have the heating, he said: "It gets harder to pay for it every month, but what can I do?"

Officials calculated the potential savings in emissions by predicting that all locals would have switched to conventional electrical power by 2028, if it wasn't for the green measures.

But Mike Childs, campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, warned future savings could not be guaranteed and said the basis for the project was "shaky".

Defra yesterday admitted it would take 21 years to reap the full potential benefits, but attempted to distance the government from the programme.

It said: "We were told the project was fully funded. Any shortfalls are not our responsibility as we are credit buyers only."

If the scheme fails to go ahead, Defra will put the money into a government-wide fund due to be invested in offsetting.

24 January 2007


Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 16 January 2007

The fight to cut greenhouse gases may be too reliant on unproven carbon capture technology, experts warned yesterday.

Sir Nicholas Stern advocated capturing carbon from coal power stations in his government-commissioned review of the economics of climate change, published in October. Yesterday, he highlighted its importance at the Royal Society of Arts in London, saying carbon capture and storage was likely to be a key component of any strategy for cutting greenhouse gases.

The European Commission, setting out its energy and climate change plans last week, also heavily emphasised the technology as a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon capture requires power stations, usually coal-fired plant as they produce most carbon dioxide, to capture the gas as it is produced and then compress and bury it in underground storage sites.

But David Porter, chief executive of the UK's Association of Electricity Producers, warned that the European Union might be over-optimistic: "They did seem to set a lot of store by carbon capture and storage.

"We are keen to see it exploited but it looks as though they expect it to become viable more quickly than is likely to be the case. It's not yet proven.

"If it can be made viable we will be delighted but we're not there yet."

Jon Gibbins, lecturer in energy technology at Imperial College, said: "You're pushing money down a hole in the ground [by burying carbon dioxide]. That's quite expensive."

Charlie Kronick, senior policy adviser at Greenpeace, also warned that the technology was at least 10 years off, while action could be taken now to reduce emissions, for instance through energy efficiency and renewables.

Carbon capture and storage is seen as one of the most important ways of reducing emissions, because the world is likely to continue to use large quantities of fossil fuels for decades, even as more and more electricity is generated from nuclear fission and renewable sources such as the wind and the sun.

The world's consumption of coal is rising as China and India build hundreds of new power plants to cope with soaring energy demand. However, some developed countries are also increasing their reliance on coal as concerns rise over energy security and the doubtful supply of oil.

For instance, in the UK, the Department of Trade and Industry said this month that electricity companies used 23 per cent more coal and 12 per cent less gas, which releases lower levels of carbon dioxide, in the third quarter of 2006 than they did in the same period a year earlier.

24 January 2007


David Adam, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 19 January 2007

UPDATE: The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has now told us that the story below is based on preliminary data for December, which it should not have published. It has withdrawn the data pending further analysis. As a result, the provisional annual growth rate for 2006 displayed on the Noaa website now does not include December, which means it is now lower than the 2.6ppm we reported. Pieter Tans, the scientist in charge of the data, said: "It doesn't affect the trend, there is definitely something there. CO2 growth in 2006 was still higher than average and four of the last five years have been higher than average."

Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought.

New figures from dozens of measuring stations across the world reveal that concentrations of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, rose at record levels during 2006 - the fourth year in the last five to show a sharp increase. Experts are puzzled because the spike, which follows decades of more modest annual rises, does not appear to match the pattern of steady increases in human emissions.

At its most far reaching, the finding could indicate that global temperatures are making forests, soils and oceans less able to absorb carbon dioxide - a shift that would make it harder to tackle global warming. Such a shift would worsen even the gloomy predictions of the Stern Review which warned that we had little over a decade to tackle rising emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

David Hofmann of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), which published the figures, said: "Over this last decade the growth rates in carbon dioxide have been higher. I don't think we can plausibly say what's causing it. It's something we're going to look at."

Peter Cox, a climate change expert at Exeter University, said: " The concern is that climate change itself will affect the ability of the land to absorb our emissions." At the moment around half of human carbon emissions are reabsorbed by nature but the fear among scientists is that increasing temperatures will work to reduce this effect.

Professor Cox added: "It means our emissions would have a progressively bigger impact on climate change because more of them will remain in the air. It accelerates the rate of change, so we get it sooner and we get it harder."

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (ppm). From 1970 to 2000 that concentration rose by about 1.5ppm each year, as human activities sent more of the gas into the atmosphere. But according to the latest figures, last year saw a rise of 2.6ppm. And 2006 was not alone. A series of similar jumps in recent years means the carbon dioxide level has risen by an average 2.2ppm each year since 2001.

Above-average annual rises in carbon dioxide levels have been explained by natural events such as the El Niño weather pattern, centred on the Pacific Ocean. But the last El Niño was in 1998, when it resulted in a record annual increase in carbon dioxide of 2.9ppm. If the current trend continues, this year's predicted El Niño could see the annual rise in carbon dioxide pass the 3ppm level for the first time.

Prof Cox said that an increase in forest fires, heatwaves across Europe and the Amazon drought of 2005 could have helped to drive up carbon dioxide levels. Such events are predicted to become more frequent with rising global temperatures. He admitted "the jury is still out" on whether the recent spike is evidence of a significant change, although some computer models predict that the Earth will start to absorb less carbon dioxide some time this decade.

"Over the past few years carbon dioxide has been going up faster than we would expect, based on the rate that emissions are increasing," Prof Cox said.

Figures presented to a recent UN climate conference in Nairobi showed that carbon dioxide emissions produced by the worldwide burning of fossil fuels increased by 3.2% from 2000 to 2005.

From 1990 to 1999 the emissions increase was 0.8%. But other experts think rising emissions could yet account for the anomaly. Pieter Tans of Noaa cited contrasting figures from the US Department of Energy, which show much sharper annual emissions increases, up to 4.5% in recent years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to announce more robust emissions data when it reports next month.

24 January 2007


Ofgem attacks carbon-cutting subsidies

Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 23 January 2007

Investors in renewable energy are profiting from a government-backed subsidy regime at the expense of taxpayers, the energy regulator Ofgem argued yesterday.

Calling for an overhaul, the watchdog complained the system was a "very expensive way of reducing carbon emissions compared to other alternatives".

Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem, said: "We support emphatically the government's aim of cutting carbon emissions and recognise that renewable generation has a part to play in achieving that aim. But we think that a review of the scheme could provide more carbon reductions and promote renewable generation at a lower cost to customers, who are already facing higher energy bills."

According to Ofgem's analysis, the cost per tonne of carbon saved under the current subsidy regime is £184 to £481. This is much higher than the costs of other policy measures, such as the European Union's emissions trading scheme, at £12 to £70 a tonne, the climate change levy at £18 to £40 a tonne, and the energy efficiency commitment, which ranges from bringing a benefit to a cost of £60 a tonne.

Calling for the system to be replaced, Ofgem said it was "leading to much higher returns for current renewable generators than investors expected or required".

At present, companies producing electricity from renewable sources such as wind, landfill gas and biomass - fuel derived from plants or animal waste that is burned with fossil fuels such as coal - qualify for "renewable obligation certificates" or ROCs. Under a rule known as the renewable obligation, suppliers must generate a certain amount of their output from renewable sources and they can purchase ROCs from wind farms and other renewable suppliers to make up this amount.

However, the price of a ROC, currently about £40, is linked to the wholesale electricity price. This means that if the price of electricity is high, as it is at present, renewable companies can profit doubly, both selling their electricity for more money and also receiving highly valued ROCs which they sell to generators.

Ofgem argues that this link with the wholesale electricity price should be broken to stop renewable companies making such high profits from subsidies. Its preferred option is a system that would see renewable generators selling their electricity to suppliers based on long-term contracts, containing a fixed subsidy value.

But wind companies said the government risked alarming investors in renewable energy if it changed the subsidy rules.

They claimed that changing the rules now would make it impossible for the government to meet its target of generating 10 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010. At present, about 5 per cent comes from renewables.

While admitting that high electricity prices were the main reason for the extensive profits to be made from renewable generation, the regulator said that electricity prices would have to fall steeply to make ROCs good value for money for the taxpayer.

24 January 2007


A study by the world's leading experts says global warming
will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought

Robin McKie, Science Editor - The Observer - 21 January 2007

Global warming is destined to have a far more destructive and earlier impact than previously estimated, the most authoritative report yet produced on climate change will warn next week.

A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.

The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries.

'The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role. Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document - that's what makes it so scary,' said one senior UK climate expert.

Climate concerns are likely to dominate international politics next month. President Bush is to make the issue a part of his state of the union address on Wednesday while the IPCC report's final version is set for release on 2 February in a set of global news conferences.

Although the final wording of the report is still being worked on, the draft indicates that scientists now have their clearest idea so far about future climate changes, as well as about recent events. It points out that:

* 12 of the past 13 years were the warmest since records began;
* ocean temperatures have risen at least three kilometres beneath the surface;
* glaciers, snow cover and permafrost have decreased in both hemispheres;
* sea levels are rising at the rate of almost 2mm a year;
* cold days, nights and frost have become rarer while hot days, hot nights and heatwaves have become more frequent.

And the cause is clear, say the authors: 'It is very likely that [man-made] greenhouse gas increases caused most of the average temperature increases since the mid-20th century,' says the report.

To date, these changes have caused global temperatures to rise by 0.6C. The most likely outcome of continuing rises in greenhouses gases will be to make the planet a further 3C hotter by 2100, although the report acknowledges that rises of 4.5C to 5C could be experienced. Ice-cap melting, rises in sea levels, flooding, cyclones and storms will be an inevitable consequence.

Past assessments by the IPCC have suggested such scenarios are 'likely' to occur this century. Its latest report, based on sophisticated computer models and more detailed observations of snow cover loss, sea level rises and the spread of deserts, is far more robust and confident. Now the panel writes of changes as 'extremely likely' and 'almost certain'.

And in a specific rebuff to sceptics who still argue natural variation in the Sun's output is the real cause of climate change, the panel says mankind's industrial emissions have had five times more effect on the climate than any fluctuations in solar radiation. We are the masters of our own destruction, in short.

There is some comfort, however. The panel believes the Gulf Stream will go on bathing Britain with its warm waters for the next 100 years. Some researchers have said it could be disrupted by cold waters pouring off Greenland's melting ice sheets, plunging western Europe into a mini Ice Age, as depicted in the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow.

The report reflects climate scientists' growing fears that Earth is nearing the stage when carbon dioxide rises will bring irreversible change to the planet. 'We are seeing vast sections of Antarctic ice disappearing at an alarming rate,' said climate expert Chris Rapley, in a phone call to The Observer from the Antarctic Peninsula last week. 'That means we can expect to see sea levels rise at about a metre a century from now on - and that will have devastating consequences.'

However, there is still hope, said Peter Cox of Exeter University. 'We are like alcoholics who have got as far as admitting there is a problem. It is a start. Now we have got to start drying out - which means reducing our carbon output.'

OUR COMMENT: It becomes even more clear that ALL sections of society must combine to help defeat the worst effects of climate change, AND that includes aviation, airlines, airports and their passengers.

Pat Dale

17 January 2007


Melting glaciers will destroy Alpine resorts within 45 years, says report

Alex Duval Smith in Paris - The Observer - 14 January 2007

The grandchildren of today's skiers are likely to know the white peaks of Switzerland only from the wrappers of chocolate bars. A remarkable report on climate change that will be handed to European governments this week will say that the effect of rising temperatures will mean an end to snow across large areas of the Alps.

The report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, will predict the disappearance of 75 per cent of Alpine glaciers within 45 years, a surge in avalanches and floods and the closure of all but the highest ski resorts.

The 130-page document, which is the first to assess the economic impact of global warming on European leisure, comes as resorts are struggling to get their skiing seasons off the ground. Today's Snowshoe Festival in 45 French resorts has been downgraded to 'a ramble' and, according to trade unions, 40,000 French seasonal workers have still not begun work.

Shardul Agrawala, author of 'Climate Change in the European Alps', said the report shows the impact of global warming is already very real. 'There tends to be a view that climate change is decades away and that it will affect faraway places. But if you look at the Alps, whose recent warming has advanced at three times the average world rate, you can tell it is happening already.'

A foretaste of how skiing is likely to be affected is revealed by current snow levels across the Alps. Very little fell before Christmas, leaving skiers facing barren slopes. 'There was a major fall at New Year but since then the weather has been mild,' said Betony Garner of the Ski Club of Great Britain. 'Very few resorts below 1,500 metres have much snow. Many people who booked in advance will have been disappointed and in the next few years I think we are going to see people holding off until they see the snow reports. Many resorts, particularly low-lying ones in Austria and Italy, are already thinking of moving into new markets, such as spas. However, skiers will keep trying to find snow no matter how difficult it is to get to.'

Victor Saunders, a British mountaineering and ski guide who lives in Les Houches, a resort near Mont Blanc, said there were fears that the Kandahar race, one of the fixtures on the world cup circuit, may never be held again.

'I went up to Cogne, a resort on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. It was 16C, spring weather in January. Each year it is getting warmer.'

The OECD report, using scientific assessments of the progress of climate change, aims to guide governments in policy-making to avert a human, environmental and economic disaster for an industry that caters for 70 million tourists and is worth ?50bn a year.

'Governments have been playing catch-up. There is a need to co-operate across borders and adapt,' said Agrawala. He claimed that within 20 years ski resorts below 1,050 metres - such as Schladming and Kitzbuhel in Austria and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany - will no longer be viable. In 100 years' time he expects only the highest resorts, such as Val Thorens (2,300m) or Tignes (2,100m), to be able to offer reasonable guarantees of snow.

'Winter sports will become much more of an elite pursuit. Downhill skiing will also become more dangerous because it is going to snow more than it does today at high altitude [because of increased precipitation], thus increasing the avalanche risk.'

The OECD report forecasts the death of the German skiing industry in favour of the Swiss Alps and the French purpose-built resorts, such as La Plagne, Les Arcs, Tignes and Alpe d'Huez. 'The losers will be the small resorts, which are often at low altitude. The winners will be vast ski conglomerates on the American model,' said Agrawala.

The economic damage caused by climate change will be accompanied by environmental changes. More rain and melting glaciers will bring erosion and floods on an unprecedented scale. Agrawala warned: 'The increasing trend to mechanically grade pistes - to remove bumps and allow skiing on thinner snow cover - enhances erosion.'

He also predicted that species would die out. 'There are more than 30,000 animal species in the Alps and 13,000 plant species. As climate changes, they move upwards. But there comes a point when they cannot move any higher.'

Agrawala denied that the OECD findings were alarmist or exaggerated. 'They are real. Many of the aspects of climate change are locked [in] - they will happen. Climate change is like a super-tanker; it takes time to stop. Measures taken today by governments will only be of benefit years from now. But we already know what is going to happen in the near future.'

Peak profile:

* The Alps account for 85 per cent of Europe's skiing area. The winter sports industry there is worth £64bn per year.

* Four of the warmest years in the region since records began were recorded in the past 12 years: 1994, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

* The range forms an arc from Nice to Vienna of about 1,200km (745 miles)

* The Alps, aka Europe's water tower, are the source of three main rivers, the Rhine, the Rhone and the Po.

* About 70 million people visit the Alps every year.

* From 1850 to 1980, glaciers in the region lost 30 to 40 per cent of their area. Since 1980 a further 20 per cent of the ice has been lost

* The summer of 2003 led to the loss of a further 10 per cent. By 2050 about 75 per cent of the glaciers in the Swiss Alps are likely to have disappeared, rising to 100 per cent in 2100.


Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor - Sunday Times - 14 January 2007

ROASTINGLY hot summers, monsoon-style winter rains and flooding, plus the destruction of much of the nation?s ecosystems and wildlife will make ?our green and pleasant land? almost unrecognisable by 2100, Britain?s biggest weather prediction experiment suggests.

Sir David Attenborough will present the near-apocalyptic vision of Britain?s future in a BBC documentary, Climate Change: Britain Under Threat, to be screened next Sunday on BBC1.

The experiment began a year ago when a documentary invited viewers to use their computers to run climate prediction models. More than 54,000 responded around the the world and together they became part of the largest climate prediction project ever undertaken.

The experiment is still running and would-be participants can join it at www.climateprediction.net.

The data generated was sent to Oxford University to be analysed and the result is the most detailed picture yet produced of Britain?s likely future climate.

Attenborough and co-presenter Kate Humble will reveal projected snapshots of Britain in 2020, 2050 and 2080. The overriding factor is a dramatic surge in average temperatures. By 2050 this will have risen by 2.5C.

By 2080 it will have risen by 4C. Attenborough will explain that such rises may seem small but are almost as great as the rise that lifted Britain out of the ice age of 12,000 years ago and made it temperate.

One consequence, according to a scientist featured in the programme, is that the typical Victorian terrace or semi will become intolerably hot in summer.

The warming will give Britain a climate ranging from semi-tropical in the south to Mediterranean in Scotland, accompanied by long droughts in summer and intense winter rainfall.

There may also be an increase in storm surges, when a combination of strong winds, tides and atmospheric conditions sharply raise sea levels


Sally Williams - Western Mail - 13 January 2007

SNOWDON will lose its snow cover by 2020 as a result of climate change, Welsh academics warned today.

Scientists say measurements show significant warming on Snowdon over the past 30 years, with average spring temperatures rising by about 2.5C.

Work in conjunction with the University of Wales, Bangor, has shown that in the past 10 years snow levels have decreased by about 35%.

This equates to the winter snowline moving up the mountain by 560m. But the current snowline is only about 300m from the summit.

Simon Bareham, senior climate change adviser to Countryside Council for Wales, fears the snowline could soon disappear altogether, along with a number of rare species.

He said, "So far this season, from September until now, we have seen the least accumulation of snow on top of Snowdon since records began 14 years ago.

"We have a weather station on Snowdon and we have only seen a couple of snowfalls this winter. There is no snow on the summit today.

"In the 1960s, during bad winters we would see snow on Snowdon from September right through until May."

He said key species such as the rare Snowdon Lily are under threat because they will lose their habitat to robust hillside invaders like bracken.

Mr Bareham added, "The Snowdon Lily is a relic of the last Ice Age. Along with other Alpine plants on the summit, it relies on harsh winters to survive.

"Without the snow, they will be forced off the mountain as their habitat disappears.

"We will also lose our more common cold-loving species like the dwarf heath and heathers."

He said because South Wales is likely to be affected more by global warming than North Wales, he predicts the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains and the Cambrian Mountains will also be snow-free by 2020.

The Snowdon snowline is one of the Welsh Assembly Government's climate change indicators for Wales, together with the onset of the first daffodils in bloom.

There are about a dozen UK indicators, including the formation of ice on Lake Windermere.

Mr Bareham added, "Daffodils have been in bloom in Wales since the first week of December. And yesterday I saw a summer cherry tree in full bloom - it's crazy.

"People are not sure if it is the result of a late summer or a very early spring because the seasons seem to be blending together."

He said scientists have also been looking at the global pattern of climate change and how it affects Wales. They say the snow peaks of the world are now melting and retreating in the same way as the ice caps of Greenland.

Andy Warrington, a project manager with renewable energy firm Dulas, based in Machynlleth, Powys, said, "We are not seeing much of a snow season in the Alps this winter.

"It is not just the snow but the whole sweep of climate change issues that worries me."

Tackling climate change

The receding Snowdon snowline and climate change in Wales will be the topic of an Assembly Sustainable Energy Group event at Cardiff Bay on Tuesday, January 16, from 6pm. Speakers include Simon Bareham, Claire Bennett from WAG Climate Change and Environment Strategy, and Chris Mills from the Environment Agency.

17 January 2007


Chris Walker - The Independent - 14 January 2007

"You must try the snake soup, and I'd recommend that with pink champagne." Some offers are irresistible, and the business elite of today's Hong Kong certainly live in their own way. But my bankers' dinner ended in disappointment. We had made the traditional trip up "The Peak" to enjoy the view on a warm winter's evening, but forget Kowloon or Victoria Bay - we could barely see to the end of our arms.

For anyone who has not been to Hong Kong for a while, the smog comes as a shock. It is all- pervading. In Hong Kong, the number of days with reduced visibility has tripled in the past three years, and most business people I met were thinking of leaving the city, fearing the effect pollution was having on their children. One recent survey discovered that 40 per cent of businesses were finding it harder to recruit overseas nationals because of this factor. Many ex-pats are relocating to Singapore.

Will Hong Kong, this thriving centre of capitalism, one day choke into extinction?

The problems come from the explosive growth of heavy industry upstream in the Pearl River Delta - where thousands of factories belch out smoke. The scale and speed with which this has happened is ample testimony to the "China effect". Environmental lobbyists have long castigated Americans as the planet's "filthy rich", but it is time we turned our attention to the East. You may be surprised to learn that China emitted more CO2 last year than the whole of Europe, and at current rates will overtake the US as the planet's main polluter within two years. Already, 16 of the world's top 20 most polluted cities are in China.

The growth in energy consumption is extraordinary - up 60 per cent since 2000. And most of this demand is being met by coal. China devoured 2.2 billion tons last year to generate 80 per cent of its electricity.

Feeding this demand has led to a boom in power station construction (over 500 built in recent years) and mining activity. Coal production has doubled in five years, but the ravenous demand still encourages the operation of a plethora of illegal mines. The Governor of Shanxi province, Yu Youjun, has taken to employing spy planes to identify illegal operations to be blown up. And with good cause: nearly 6,000 miners died in these death traps last year.

The environmental effects are starting to raise alarm. Official concern has led to a number of so-called green initiatives by the Chinese authorities backed personally by President Hu Jintao. Environmental impact assessments are under way and the government's target is for 15 per cent of China's total electricity output to come from renewable sources by 2020.

All I can say is, China better get a move on. Nearly 80 per cent of its river water is now considered polluted. It was highly symbolic when a recent expedition to save the Yangtse dolphin (a beautiful creature, once considered a god in China) reported a few weeks ago that it was too late. None could be found.

Chinese pollution affects more than China. To my mind, the evidence of global warming is piling up with extraordinary speed - whether it is a London without rain, the Alpine ski resorts without snow or a New York where bankers wore T-shirts last week. The pollution clouds from China blow across Korea and Japan and are even thought to be reaching the US. If viewed from space, vast sulphurous clouds blank out where Beijing and Shanghai should be on the planet.

A Shanghai steel trader met me as I landed in China with the words "welcome to the future". His beaming face portrayed the boundless optimism that is propelling China forwards. But if this future is one of poisoned water and smog-filled skies - forget it. It won't work.

17 January 2007


Downing Street says that belated US recognition of global warming
could lead to a post-Kyoto agreement on curbing emissions

Gaby Hinsliff, Juliette Jowit and Paul Harris - The Observer - 14 January 2007

George Bush is preparing to make a historic shift in his position on global warming when he makes his State of the Union speech later this month, say senior Downing Street officials.

Tony Blair hopes that the new stance by the United States will lead to a breakthrough in international talks on climate change and that the outlines of a successor treaty to the Kyoto agreement, the deal to curb emissions of greenhouse gases which expires in 2012, could now be thrashed out at the G8 summit in June. The timetable may explain why Blair is so keen to remain in office until after the summit, with a deal on protecting the planet offering an appealing legacy with which to bow out of Number 10.

Bush and Blair held private talks on climate change before Christmas, and there is a feeling that the US President will now agree a cap on emissions in the US, meaning that, for the first time, American industry and consumers would be expected to start conserving energy and curbing pollution.

'We could now be seeing the beginning of a consensus on a post-Kyoto framework,' said a source close to the prime minister. 'President Bush is beginning to talk about more radical measures.'

The move will be seen as part of a wider repositioning of the Bush government after its comprehensive defeat in last autumn's mid-term elections.

A change of heart on the environment was signalled earlier this month when the US administration unexpectedly announced that polar bears were now an endangered species because their habitat in the US state of Alaska had suffered from melting ice sheets caused by global warming. The government is now required to act on threats to the bears' survival. The EU has its own so-called cap and trade scheme, under which industries are given a quota of carbon dioxide emissions: if they exceed the limits, they must pay for extra credits that can be bought from cleaner industries - an incentive to firms to go green.

Downing Street is increasingly confident that the arguments pushed by Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the recent Treasury report on the cost of global warming, that doing nothing will eventually prove more costly than trying to avert catastrophe are now gaining in momentum. However, Stern warned: 'The US will work it out for itself. Nobody will be telling them what to do, and nobody should.'

Downing Street now expects a broad agreement between EU countries on a successor treaty to Kyoto to be thrashed out at the EU spring council, paving the way for an agreement at the G8.

Blair was also told in meetings with senior senators late last year that they would seek to push through measures on global warming which had been repeatedly blocked by the Republicans before the mid-term elections cost Bush's party control of both Houses of Congress.

But another source close to the negotiations warned that Bush had previously appeared to give ground on climate change, only to fail to make real concessions. The best hope could lie with a post-Kyoto deal for 2009, the source said - by which time Bush will be out of office.

Kurt Davies, research director on climate change for Greenpeace USA, said climate change was now expected to be one of the keynotes of the State of the Union address.

'The sands are clearly shifting on climate change for this administration, but there has to be a concrete follow-up,' he said. 'We were shocked last year when he talked about the US being addicted to oil, but then there was no follow-up to that.'

17 January 2007


UN adviser backs Blair?s view on climate change and air travel

Will Woodward, Kampala - The Guardian - 16 January 2007

Tony Blair's view that climate change cannot be tackled by clamping down om personal air travel has won support from the UN?s leading adviser on global poverty.

Jeffrey Sachs, the renowned American economist, told the Guardian: 'Finding a way to achieve economic development and environmental sustainability is the biggest challenge we face globally and it doesn?t lend itself to a simple answer. The climate change issue will not be changed by cutting air travel.'

Shadow chancellor George Osborne, accompanying Professor Sachs on a visit to Uganda, backed his comments. He said: 'You can do gesture politics, which is about 'we should not take our long haul holidays'. But for British people who are for the first time able to afford a foreign holiday I don't think telling them to fly is the answer.'

Mr Blair came under fire for saying that he would not cut back on foreign holidays. Downing Street defended him by arguing that action on climate change could not come at the expense of economic growth. The tension between the two issues has been illustrated in Uganda where Mr Osborne was told how increased fishing in Lake Victoria has put ecology at risk. 'Extraordinarily poor people don't have the luxury to devote a considerable part of their income to environmental needs, even if the degradation of the environment can do profound damage to them in the future'. Prof. Sachs said. He said aid could help sustainability.

OUR COMMENT: The comparisons made are not really comparable. Placing a cap on recreational air travel by removing tax subsidies, or limiting the expansion of airports, may deter those with lower incomes from flying, but it is hardly in the same category as solving the problem of an inadequate food supply that needs to be remedied in a way that ensures that future supplies are not affected. There are other ways to travel that produce less carbon - the act of flying from the UK to Europe is only one way of travelling and even today coach travel compares favourably with low cost flying. Long haul flights are essential for family and business visits, but can hardly be regarded as an activity that should be subsidised by encouraging 'low cost' long haul holidays. Potential public money would be better spent on more urgently needed help for those on low incomes - housing as a starter.

Pat Dale

13 January 2007


Captains of industry off the airport mark

Readers' Letters - Herts and Essex Observer - 11 January 2007

It is a sad reflection on the calibre of our so-called captains of industry when they make knee-jerk comments without regard for the facts ('Airport must grow to keep economy high', Observe Business 28th Dec.)

In criticising Uttlesford District Council's refusal of BAA's planning application for greater use of Stansted airport's existing facilities, CBI regional director, Richard Tunnicliffe says: "Improved air cargo and passenger facilities are vital to keep the UK competitive internationally.'

If Mr Tunnicliffe had taken the trouble to check BAA's application he would first of all have seen that no new facilities were proposed. He would also have seen BAA's own projections that approval of its application would lead to an extra 9,000 freight flights a year while refusal would lead to an additional 11,000 - a year!

Meanwhile, Jerry Golland, chairman of the Institute of Directors for the East of England, said: 'The application to increase flights on Stansted?s runway from the current cap of 25 mppa to about 35 mppa is hugely important for business and especially important to the many companies that rely on effective air transport links.'

Again, it is clear he did not check his facts. BAA's own forecasts show that expanding Stansted to 35m passengers a year would result in only an extra 300,000 business passengers and the number of foreign business visitors actually declines if the expansion is approved.

BAA explains the apparent paradox in its forecasts by saying, quite logically, that if Stansted is prevented from expanding beyond 25 mppa, it will focus more on freight and on high value customers, i.e. business passengers.

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

This goes some way to explaining why the boom in cheap holidays (driven largely by the fact that airlines are exempt from fuel duty and VAT) has led to the UK balance of payments deficit on tourism increasing from £2bn in 1995 to a record £19bn in 2005. It also helps explain why the streets of Prague and Budapest are teeming with British tourists while our own domestic tourist industry is struggling.

Mr Tunnicliffe and Mr Golland should consider whether the East of England would continue to be a thriving economy if we continue to disregard the global warming implications of our insatiable appetite for cheap flights.

Brian Ross
Economics Adviser to Stop Stansted Expansion.

13 January 2007


Inquiry will look at effectiveness of schemes
Compulsory link with air travel to be considered

Will Woodward, Environmental Correspondent - The Guardian - 12 January 2007

MPs are to investigate the practice of offsetting the environmental cost of personal travel, amid fears that the system is open to abuse.

The Commons environmental audit committee's inquiry, due to begin next month, was planned before Tony Blair's announcement that he would offset carbon emissions by his and his family's air travel. But it will throw fresh light on the offsetting system, which some environmentalists believe, is less effective than billed. Many environmentalists say that the only way forward is to curb air travel, which Mr Blair is resisting.

Tim Yeo, the Conservative chairman of the all party committee, said last night that he wanted to focus on the voluntary offset market, where private individuals pay for tree planting, improving energy efficiency or cleaning up carbon intensive industries. 'The difficulty about this is that it is completely unregulated and therefore there may be some dubious practices we don't know of,' he said, 'The second problem is establishing that what you are doing wouldn't have happened anyway'.

In some cases offsetting could be subsidising existing schemes, rather than funding new ones. 'Offsetting can be a very good thing - if the market is run in a reasonably open and transparent way' Mr Yeo said.

The Inquiry will consider whether there should be a compulsory UK or EU accreditation scheme for carbon offset projects and whether there is enough clarity in the market to enable consumers to confidently support different schemes. More broadly it will ask whether offsetting should become compulsory for air travel and whether there is any evidence that offsetting changes the behaviour of consumers.

A statement from the committee said: 'Some commentators have suggested that the practice allows prosperous western nations to continue to enjoy carbon intensive life styles at little extra cost while the most immediate effects of unabated climate change will be experienced in the poor countries of the world'.

The Blair family's flights to Miami for a winter holiday produced an estimated 11.98 tonnes of CO2 . It will cost him £89.92 to offset that, according to Carbon Care, the leading offsetting company. But Mr Blair told a press conference on Tuesday: 'I'm not going to be in the position of saying I'm not going to take holidays abroad or not use air travel. It's just not practical.'

The Prime Minister believes that the general public are more nervous of changing their lifestyles than the green lobby and opposition politicians are prepared to acknowledge. Downing Street insists that economic growth must not be put at risk.

A survey by Halifax travel insurance today finds that 10% Britons would consider making a financial donation to offset their travel carbon emissions. The same percentage said they were prepared to fly less to reduce the impact on the environment.

13 January 2007


The governing principles of science

The Guardian - 13 January 2007

I loved Tony Blair's insouciant self-exculpation for taking his family on long haul flights. Science, he explained, would soon come up with lighter and more fuel efficient planes, and that would help save the climate change problem.

If you think about it, that principle could be extended to most fields of government. Why bother with education, when soon science will find a way to implant a microchip in every child's brain? This will teach him or her to read, write and count, as well as providing a repository of all the world?s knowledge to be accessed at will.

We won't need police, since science will shortly isolate the criminal gene. Anyone committing a crime, whether rape or shoplifting will simply have the relevant part of the brain removed. And health will cease to be a problem.

If you've ever seen a science fiction film you'll know that any day now we will be able to walk into a machine while suffering from cancer, or a bad hip, purple and green lights will flash, weird electronic music will screech on the sound track and 10 minutes later we will walk out again, cured!

Iraq, of course, may prove to be more intractable.

10 January 2007


BBC News - 9 January 2007

Tony Blair said people should not be put off having a good time. He has been accused of giving "patchy" and "muddle-headed" leadership on climate change in the UK by his own sustainable development adviser.

And the PM's green views, in a Sky News interview, were "completely wrong", Jonathon Porritt told the BBC.

Mr Blair had said he would not give up flying, doubted any politician would tell people not to fly, and questioned the impact of UK-only climate action. But No 10 later said Mr Blair would offset emissions from his holiday flights.

'Energy efficiency'

During the Sky News interview earlier on Tuesday Mr Blair was asked whether he would give up long-haul flights. He replied: "I personally think these things are a bit impractical actually to expect people to do that. It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere. I think that what we need to do is to look at how you make air travel more energy efficient, how you develop the new fuels that will allow us to burn less energy and emit less. How - for example - in the new frames for the aircraft, they are far more energy efficient."

He added: "You know, I'm still waiting for the first politician who's actually running for office who's going to come out and say it (that people should not fly) - and they're not. It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere."

Demands placed on people had to be reasonable to prevent putting people off climate change sacrifices altogether, Mr Blair added.


He said: "Britain is 2% of the world's emissions. We shut down all of Britain's emissions tomorrow - the growth in China will make up the difference within two years. So we've got to be realistic about how much obligation we've got to put on ourselves."

Here in the UK, his leadership has been patchy, and frankly muddle-headed - said Jonathon Porritt of the Sustainable Development Commission.

"The danger, for example, if you say to people 'Right, in Britain, you know, you're not going to have any more cheap air travel', everybody else is going to be having it. So you've got to do this together and you've got to do it in a way that doesn't end up actually putting people off the green agenda by saying you must not have a good time anymore and can't consume."

Environment Secretary David Miliband said Mr Blair was setting an example by off-setting his air travel and using renewable energy in his house. "But what people want to know is that we are in the business of serious policy, not just gestures," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

That serious policy included plans for zero-carbon homes and international measures such as the EU's carbon-trading scheme and the Kyoto Protocol.

Later on Tuesday Mr Blair's official spokesman said the PM had decided that he would make his personal - as well as business travel - carbon neutral by investing in environmental schemes such as growing trees.

That decision was welcomed by Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the sustainable development commission, which reports directly to Mr Blair, who criticised the PM's earlier comments. Jonathon Porritt said Mr Blair was 'wrong' to believe in technology. He said that Mr Blair's was wrong to believe that technology "could get us out of the mess".

He also disagreed with Mr Blair that it was impractical to ask people to make changes, as there was a growing willingness among the public to do so.

"The irony here is that the prime minister's leadership, internationally, has been exemplary. He's done more than any other world leader to bring people to a sense of awareness about the importance of climate change. But here in the UK, his leadership has been patchy, and frankly muddle-headed," Mr Porritt said.

Scientific doubts

Some experts also disagreed with Mr Blair, with Dr Robert Noland, reader in transport and environmental policy, civil and environmental engineering, at Imperial College, London, said energy efficient aviation, even if they did help, would not reduce air travel's impact now.

"Even if these technologies are being developed now it could be 20 years before we see any impact in the aircraft fleet," he said.

Environmental groups added their criticism, with Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Mike Childs said: "It's disappointing that Tony Blair is refusing to set an example on tackling climate change."

He added: "Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide in the UK. "But rather than taking steps to curb the rise in air travel, the government is encouraging it by giving the aviation industry multi-billion pound tax breaks and allowing UK airports to expand."

10 January 2007


Angela Balakrishnan - The Guardian - 8 January 2007

By the end of today, the average British person will be responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the average person in the world's poorest countries will produce all year.

The startling statement is revealed today in a report by the World Development Movement (WDM), which says that while the least developed countries do not contribute to global warming, the millions who live there are most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

Eight days into the new year, the average UK citizen will be responsible for the production of 0.21 tonnes of carbon dioxide - the same amount as the annual tally for a person in countries such as Zambia.

"The poorest countries in the world, with 738 million people, make no contribution to climate change, but it is those same people who face the worst consequences," says Benedict Southworth, WDM director. "16,000 people are already dying every year due to climate change-related diseases and billions will face drought, floods, starvation and disease."

About 70% of Africa's population depend on agriculture for their livelihood but droughts over the past four years led to food shortages for 10 million people.

The report says that to prevent rising temperatures, each person can only emit 1.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. While the world's poorest and many developing countries meet this target, by February 10, the average Brit will have broken it.

The report also says that strong economic growth in China and India means they are often wrongly labelled as the main culprits. While India has 16.8% of the world's population it emits just 4.1% of the world's carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, China is the world's leader in solar power.

The WDM is urging the government to introduce legally binding annual targets to reduce emissions while also limiting the growth of aviation. "The UK began emitting more carbon per year than is currently sustainable in 1830," it said.

10 January 2007


Europe lights spark for low-carbon revolution

ENDS Europe DAILY 2237 - 10 January 2007

Europe must launch a "new industrial revolution" aimed at developing a low-carbon economy, the European commission said on Wednesday as it launched a major package of energy and climate policy proposals.

The EU executive called for Europe to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, rising to 30% if other industrialised countries will do the same. It promised a strategic energy technology action plan to accelerate innovation. And it unveiled a big shake-up of EU electricity and gas markets.

Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso hailed the proposals as "by far the most ambitious policy against climate change in the world". Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas called it "a leap forward to a low-carbon world".

EU leaders will be asked to endorse the package in March. The commission should issue new draft legislation on boosting renewable energies and improving Europe's internal energy market before the summer.

The plan's overall aim is sustainable, secure and competitive energy. The commission proposes that the EU should show international leadership in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, limit its dependence on external fossil fuel supplies and create a true internal energy market in which investment and renewables are encouraged.

Reflecting the proposals' scale and political sensitivity, the commission launched them simultaneously in several national capitals as well as in Brussels. Internet demand for the documents was so high on Wedneday that it sometimes exceeded capacity.

In addition to the greenhouse gas targets and energy technology action plan, key highlights include:
* Reaffirmation of a goal of a 20% improvement in ENERGY EFFICIENCY by 2020 - last October's energy efficiency action plan effectively becoming a core element of the new energy policy (EED 19/10/06 www.endseuropedaily.com/21881).
* A proposed binding target for the EU to achieve a 20% share of RENEWABLE ENERGY by 2020, plus a 10% target for BIOFUELS.
* Reaffirmation of the central role of EMISSIONS TRADING as a key mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases and the basis for international efforts to fight climate change.
* A commitment to install CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE in several fossil fuel power stations by 2015 and phase out plants without it.
* A political boost for NUCLEAR POWER, possibly leading to development of new EU rules on safety and security.
* Measures to make EU ENERGY MARKETS more competitive and to create European GAS AND ELECTRICITY GRIDS.

Altogether, the package consists of ten main papers plus a host of supporting documents:
* The overarching "energy policy for Europe"
* Post 2012 climate policy
* Strategic energy technology plan
* Renewable energy road map
* Renewable electricity progress report
* Biofuels progress report
* Sustainable fossil fuel power generation
* Nuclear illustrative programme
* Internal market for gas and electricity
* Gas and electricity infrastructure


ENDS Europe DAILY 2237 - 10 January 2007

Stakeholders from all sides responded quickly to the European commission's energy and climate policy proposals on Wednesday.

Green groups slammed the proposed 20 per cent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as "largely insufficient". NGOs were unanimous in demanding a unilateral 30 per cent target. Some argued that the commission had even fallen behind several leading EU member states on this issue.

Green group EEB called on Germany - which has backed 30 per cent - to "stick to its guns" during its current six-month EU presidency. However, in response to the package on Wednesday, German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel said he supported the 20 per cent target.

The UK government strongly backed the plan, which it called "groundbreaking and farsighted". The proposals mark "the opening of an intense six-month window of opportunity" that could lead to radical policies being agreed by the EU and G8 nations, it said.

Industry groups expressed concerns over the risk for EU competitiveness of committing to further reduce greenhouse gases ahead of other major emitting countries.

Nevertheless, business groups including the main EU employers' association Unice and chemical industry association Cefic welcomed the plans to liberalise energy markets.

Green energy producers were strongly critical of the commission's shift away from sectoral renewables targets. This will "undermine existing successful legislation" by creating a legislative vacuum and creating investor uncertainty, warned trade body Erec.

The group particularly criticised the commission's failure to propose specific legislation for renewables in heating and cooling.

In the European parliament, the proposal received support from the Socialist group. The two other main groups, the Liberals and the Conservative EPP group did not react immediately. The Greens strongly condemned the plan, arguing that only a 30 per cent reduction target could prevent temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius or more.

10 January 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2237 - 10 January 2007

The EU should commit to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, the European commission proposed on Wednesday as part of its energy/climate package.

The recommendation comes in a paper setting out a vision for global climate action after existing international emission targets expire in 2012. The EU must press all developed countries to cut emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, the commission says. Leading developing countries should begin making absolute reductions by the same time, it states.

Under the commission's plan, in the event of all developed countries agreeing to cut emissions by 30 per cent, the EU would do likewise.

The unilateral 20 per cent target will help stabilise the EU carbon market by signalling significant demand for emission allowances beyond 2012, the commission said. It will also provide incentives for investment in emission reduction technologies and low-carbon alternatives

EU heads of government will be asked to endorse the two targets when they discuss the package in March. International talks on what should follow the existing Kyoto protocol resume later in the year.

The dual-target approach represents a victory for industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen . But environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said the proposals were still the most ambitious in the world.

The commission finally dropped the idea of an EU "border carbon levy" on products from countries that do not commit to cutting emissions. The possibility was raised in early drafts of the paper but was opposed by EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson (EED 18/12/06 www.endseuropedaily.com/22282).

Domestically, the EU must extend and improve its carbon emission trading scheme, the paper says. It must boost measures to cut carbon emissions from cars and homes, and develop measures to curb emissions of other greenhouse gases, particularly methane.

Internationally the clean development mechanism should be used to encourage industry sectors in developing countries to take on reduction commitments.

An accompanying impact assessment says the global investments needed to create a low-carbon economy would cut GDP growth by only 0.19 percentage points annually, compared with an expected yearly growth rate of 2.8 per cent. The cost of inaction, meanwhile, could reach 20 per cent of GDP, according to the commission's analysis (EED 08/01/06 www.endseuropedaily.com/22352).

A separate paper on the EU's role in helping member states to adapt to the effects of climate change has been delayed and is now scheduled for February, officials said.

7 January 2007


EU's grim climate change warning

Andrew Bounds in Brussels - Financial Times - 5 January 2007

A dire set of predictions of the consequences of global warming in Europe is contained in a report for the European Commission. It forecasts that by 2071 climate change will cause droughts and floods that will kill 90,000 people a year while damage from rising sea levels will cost tens of billions of euros.

The Commission will endorse the report next week and use it to back its case for action to limit the rise in the world's average temperature to 2 degrees centigrade above 1990 levels. Ironically, those countries most committed to combating climate change, such as the UK and Sweden, would gain, with warmer temperatures bringing bigger crop yields and fewer deaths from cold.

Those around the Mediterranean who have been slow to act to curb greenhouse gas emissions, such as Italy and Spain, would suffer most from 'drought, reduced soil fertility, fire and other climate-change driven factors,' according to the study, a copy of which has been obtained by the Financial Times.

The report, which draws on existing material and new information from the Commission?s Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security satellite mapping project, posits two scenarios. One envisages a 2.2 degree temperature rise, the other a 3 degree rise.

Crop yields would rise by up to 70 per cent in northern Europe but fall by up to a fifth in the south, depending on the temperature increase.

'Plants and animals associated with certain geographic regions are moving - or dying,' the report says.

The sea level could rise by up to a metre. As soon as 2020 the total cost would be Euro4.4bn under the first scenario, Euro5.9bn under the more extreme one, rising to Euro42.5bn by 2080. Shoring up coastal defences and rebuilding beaches would save two-thirds of the money in the long run, reducing the cost to Euro2.2bn a year under the rosy scenario.

The ocean would acidify, hitting fish stocks. Fish would also migrate northwards. Droughts and floods would be more severe. The cost of a flood in the Danube basin, as suffered by Hungary a few years ago, could rise 19 per cent. An extra 240,000 people would be affected.

With 2.2 per cent warming, almost 29,000 extra people would die annually in southern Europe from 2071-2100. In the north, 27,000 would die from heat but 20,000 lives would be saved from the cold.

Northern Europeans would be able to holiday at home as the North and Baltic seas warmed. This would jeopardise the Euro100bn a year spent on holidays in southern Europe. 'The annual migration' in search of 'sun, sand and sea' is the single largest flow of tourists across the globe, accounting for a sixth of all tourist trips in 2000,' the report says.

The Commission also wants to include methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases produced by mining, agriculture and transport, in the emissions trading scheme. Reducing their output would slow global warming and save billions in public health costs, the report claims. They shorten the average European citizen?s life by eight months, it says.

The report has a hopeful conclusion. A Belgian government study last year found that cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the EU by between 15 and 30 per cent between 1990 and 2020 would have no overall effect on jobs, as new ones would be created in high-technology sectors such as renewable energy. 'Reducing global emissions in 2050 to a level that is 25 per cent below that of 1990 is both technically and economically achievable,' the study concludes.

7 January 2007


Virginia Marsh in Sydney - Financial Times - 3 January 2007

The seriousness of Australia?s environmental problems was underlined Wednesday with the release of data showing that the country appears to be experiencing the effects of global warming more deeply than other parts of the world.

In its annual climate report, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said 2006 had seen the warmest spring on record, with average temperatures up 1.42 degrees centigrade. The mean temperature for the year was 0.47 degrees above the 1961 to 1990 average. Average global temperatures in 2006 were 0.42 degrees above their 1961-1990 average.

2006 was consistent with longer term data, showing mean temperatures in Australia had increased faster than the global average since 1910, the bureau added.

'Most scientists agree this is part of an enhanced greenhouse gas effect,' said Neil Plummer, the bureau?s senior climatologist. 'Of Australia's 20 hottest years [on record], 15 have occurred since 1980.'

The bureau also warned that rainfall patterns were becoming more extreme. While overall rainfall in 2006 was in line with historical averages, this was because unusually wet weather in the north and west cancelled out drought in the southeast, parts of which suffered their driest year on record. This trend has also been experienced in previous years.

Many of Australia's most important resources projects are located in its north and west, from the world's biggest iron ore producing region in the Pilbara through to all the country's liquefied natural gas projects and several alumina, bauxite and gold mining operations.

The trend to more marked droughts, meanwhile, is afflicting the country's most important agriculture regions. Australia is usually one of the world's top three grain exporters and the sharp reduction in its expected wheat crop this year has already pushed up global prices.

This summer's dry weather in the southeast, the latest in a series of droughts, had been exacerbated by an El Nino weather system in the Pacific Ocean, the bureau added.

'Aspects of this multi-year drought are highly unusual and unprecedented in many years,' it said.

Publication of the bureau's report coincided with the first tropical cyclone of the season. The approach of Cyclone Isobel, off the country?s north-west, forced the suspension of production at at least two significant oil fields as well as the closing of BHP Billiton's Port Hedland iron ore export operations. Last year, Cyclone Larry caused more than A$1bn in damage to north Queensland, including the destruction of almost all of the country's banana crop.

The government has responded to growing public concern over climate change by, among other things, establishing a taskforce to investigate carbon trading systems, something it previously opposed, and through a number of water initiatives.

In his New Year message earlier this week, John Howard, prime minister, singled out tackling the country?s chronic water problem as one of four key priorities for 2007, alongside educational standards, security and maintaining low unemployment.

'This will require us more than ever to look at [the water] issue from a national perspective,' he said, urging the states to put aside regional rivalries.

But both Labor, the main opposition party, and environmental lobby groups say the government, which has maintained its opposition to the Kyoto protocol, is still not doing nearly enough on the environment.

'Without meaningful and urgent action on climate change, category-five cyclones are projected to become more frequent,' the Australian Conservation Foundation said yesterday. 'In 2007, we need the Australian government to respond to science by adopting a plan that dramatically cuts our greenhouse pollution.'

7 January 2007


EU energy-climate talks go to the wire

ENDS Europe DAILY 2234 - 5 January 2007

Arguments within the European commission over key elements of the major EU climate and energy package due out on Wednesday look set to continue until the last minute. The package will set out the commission's proposals for EU policy in these areas for the coming decade and beyond.

In particular, key details remain to be settled about the level of ambition of post-2012 EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energies.

An expected 2020 target for reducing EU greenhouse emissions reduction could still emerge anywhere between 15 and 30 per cent, according to figures close to the talks. There is also disagreement over whether initiatives such as emissions trading, clean development mechanism projects and efforts to combat tropical deforestation should count towards meeting the target.

It is looking likely that the commission will propose a binding EU target to source between 20 and 25 per cent of all energy from renewables by 2020. But whether additional sector-specific targets should be set for renewables as a share of electricity generation, heating and cooling, and transport has still not been resolved. The most likely indication at this stage is that the sector targets will be dropped.

An energy paper published by the centre for European policy studies at the end of December suggested the EU could set a minimum binding target for all renewable energy, and allow member states to go beyond it if they choose.

Commission officials met on Thursday in an attempt to resolve their outstanding disagreements. While the discussions were described by one insider as "constructive", differences of opinion remain, and senior officials will continue talking over the weekend before meeting on Monday to try and fix the all-important numbers.

If their aides are unable to reach accord, commissioners themselves will have to take the final decisions at their college meeting on Wednesday morning. By that stage there will be little room for manoeuvre, as the EU executive is under strong pressure from member states to publish the package on time. The German government has put the issue at the top of the agenda for its current six-month presidency of the EU.

7 January 2007


ENDS Europe DAILY 2234 - 5 January 2007

The price of carbon permits for the first phase of the European emission trading scheme (ETS) slumped further in the first week of 2007, ending on Thursday at a new record low of E4.88 per tonne. It has now fallen by 85% since its peak last April, and by a third in the last month alone.

Prices have been vulnerable ever since it emerged last spring that there was an oversupply of allowances in 2005. Europe's warmer than average winter is exacerbating the decline by depressing power firms' demand for fossil fuels, according to professionals.

Traders and analysts do not expect further significant falls in the immediate future. Indeed the price could even increase if a cold snap pushes up fossil fuel demand, Henrik Hasselknippe of analysts Point Carbon told ENDS.

In addition, it is unclear whether the 2006 market will turn out to be as oversupplied - or long - as it was in 2005. Point Carbon believes it will be comfortably long. Some other experts think it could be shorter.

Fortis Bank analyst Kris Voorspools, who notes that many forecasts were off by more than 100m allowances in 2005, told ENDS his calculations suggest the market could even be in balance in 2006. The European is due to reveal the final outcome for the year on 15 May.

Meanwhile, the price of phase-two allowances remains significantly higher than phase one, reflecting market expectations that supply will be restricted. Market players are watching the current dispute between the European commission and some countries over phase-two Naps closely.

Despite falling prices, activity on the European carbon market is continuing to increase rapidly, according to a separate report by Point Carbon. It calculates that

Nearly 818m allowances were traded in 2006, a three-fold increase in a year. Mr Voorspools estimates this could more than double again in 2007.

7 January 2007


BBC News - 6 January 2007

David Miliband was interviewed for the First News paper

Britons will have to change every aspect of their lives if they are to tackle climate change, Environment Secretary David Miliband has said.

Mr Miliband said changes would not be for the worse - but would respect the environment rather than abuse it.

The government should consider harnessing tidal power, and investing in technology to make zero-carbon cars cheaper and more accessible, he said. He was speaking to children aged nine to 12 for the First News newspaper.

"Every part of the way we work, go to school, the way we live is going to have to change. Not change for the worse, but change so that we live in a way that respects the environment rather than abuses it."

Support for developing countries

He also told the young journalists that the government would support developing countries as they too turned to green alternatives.

"They're worried that any decisions they'll make about the environment will compromise their ability to tackle poverty among their population. We have to show there will be money to follow going green and that's a really important part of the plan," Mr Miliband said.

Asked why "grown-ups messed up the world so much for us kids", Mr Miliband said "I think cos (sic) they've been short-sighted."

Tidal power

Regarding tidal power, Mr Miliband said it could provide the country's power needs.

"At the moment solar is really only good for heating your water, not good for powering the electricity in your house. Wind is better for that. But we also have to look at things like tidal power. We're an island so we have tides all around us and unlike the sun or wind the tides are always there, 365 days a year, twice a day, the tide is there so we need to look at all those options."

A government-backed report from economist Sir Nicholas Stern, published in October 2006, suggested that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20%. However, taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study said.

Two months later Chancellor Gordon Brown announced in his pre-Budget report that fuel duty would rise and air passenger duty would increase from £5 to £10 for most flights - moves criticised by green groups as being too little to seriously help climate change.

7 January 2007


Dogfight between pollution minister and cheap flights tycoon

Charles Clover, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 6 January 2007

A minister who accused the aviation industry of not taking climate change seriously was embroiled in a furious row with the head of Europe's leading budget airline, Ryanair.

Ian Pearson, the environment minister, branded the low-cost flyer as the 'irresponsible face of capitalism'. He said its chief executive, Michael O'Leary, was 'completely off the wall' for threatening to boycott the inclusion of aviation in the EU's carbon trading scheme. 'When it comes to climate change, Ryanair are not just the unacceptable face of capitalism, they are the irresponsible face of capitalism,' said Mr Pearson. 'O'Leary just seems to take pride in refusing to recognise that climate change is a genuine problem'.

Government sources said last night that it was a 'free for all' outburst which did not have the backing of David Miliband, the Environment Secretary. Mr Pearson said that British Airways was 'only just about playing ball' in backing emissions trading for flights within Europe, but not further afield. He described the attitude of several American airlines as 'a disgrace'. 'They just seem to be saying they don't want anything to do with the trading scheme and that they will take the EU to court if the transatlantic flights are included. It is completely irresponsible' he said.

Mr Pearson also criticised the German airline Lufthansa, for opposing a cap on aviation emissions even though the German government of Angela Merkel is making the fight against climate change a central issue of its presidency of the G8 group of developed countries. He said: 'Like every other industry, the airline industry has got to take its share of he responsibility for combating climate change and the EU's proposal is the vehicle by which they can do just that'.

The EU has proposed including all flights within Europe in the carbon trading scheme from 2011 then, a year later, expanding the scope to include all international flights that arrive at or depart from an EU airport.

Travellers will pay up to £6 more for each European flight under the scheme - £23 a flight if it is expanded to long haul flights - but airlines will still not pay the full environmental cost of their emissions. Mr Pearson has made it clear that he views the airlines' forecast of 142% growth in carbon emissions by 2020 as a threat to the government's plans to cut emissions by 60% by 2050.

He wants the EU to proceed faster in including airline emissions in its trading scheme. He also wants the British airline industry to take part in a voluntary scheme to offset the carbon it emits.

Environmentalists pointed out that Mr Pearson?s criticisms sat oddly with the government's backing for new runways at Heathrow and Stansted to provide for the growth in cheap flights.

Mr O'Leary said that Ryanair was Europe's greenest airline, being more efficient in terms of emissions per passengers than the regular flag carriers such as BA.

He said new taxes would not reduce emissions and added: 'Mr Pearson is a minister of a government which has, like Scrooge, this Christmas, doubled the air passenger tax on tickets from £5 to £10 grabbing another £1billion in taxes without doing anything to invest this money in the environment. When aviation generates just 1.6% of greenhouse gases, isn't it time the minister Pearson and other equally foolish politicians tackled the real causes of climate change, road transport and power generation? These so called 'environmental taxes' are just another way of greedy politicians grabbing more money from ordinary passengers'.

Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, said: 'Ian Pearson is right. Ryanair is an eco-dinosaur, but when it comes to actual policy there's little difference between the airline industry and Tony Blair. Both support airport expansion and think emissions trading is a good way to sweep the issue under the carpet. Tony Blair is the irresponsible face if hypocritical government'.

Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth?s aviation campaigner said: 'Government action to tackle rising emissions is urgently required. Plans to expand UK airports should be scrapped'.

7 January 2007


Councils ignore threat of climate change

David Adam, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 3 January 2007

Survey reveals few local authorities plan action
But Chelsea plans to get tough with gas guzzlers

Hundreds of local councils across the UK are ignoring the threat of climate change and taking no action to address the rising carbon emissions of their residents, a Guardian survey suggests.

Only a handful of councils polled said they were taking significant steps to tackle greenhouse gas pollution, with half admitting they had no plans to encourage more environmentally friendly behaviour.

The survey results come just weeks after Ian Pearson, climate change minister, claimed local authorities were at the forefront of the country's efforts to combat climate change. Launching new figures in November which showed emissions from households were higher than from the industrial, commercial and public sectors in about a third of local authorities, Mr Pearson said: "Everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change and reducing emissions. As estate managers, service providers and community leaders, local authorities are at the forefront of the fight to reduce carbon emissions. They have the power to make a great difference." The survey does show that the backlash against gas-guzzling cars has reached the spiritual home of 4x4 "Chelsea tractors".

The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea says it is planning regulations that would force drivers of the most polluting cars to pay more for residential parking permits, with those owning more fuel efficient vehicles given a discount. Camden in north London is considering similar action. It follows the move by Richmond council in south-west London to penalise behaviour that damages the environment when it announced that it would charge the drivers of gas-guzzling cars up to £450 a year to park outside their houses.

The Guardian contacted all 442 local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland to ask whether they had any schemes planned to change household behaviour, either through incentives or penalties. Of 64 local authorities that responded, 30 said they had no plans to tackle emissions. A further 26 said they had introduced only limited incentives to encourage green behaviour, most of which are aimed at meeting government recycling targets. Only six local authorities said they were taking significant steps to curb household emissions.

The survey comes as scientists prepare to issue the starkest warning yet that mankind is running out of time to address the threat of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report in February that will leave little room for doubt that human emissions are rapidly increasing global temperatures.

A spokesman for Eden district council in Cumbria said: "As a district council we only have limited resources we can put into climate change. We're doing some minor things but we don't have an overall policy, no." He said the council would develop an action plan in 2007.

Some councils have bucked the trend. Five authorities in north-east England have jointly pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25% each year to 2010. Woking in Surrey has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its council buildings and shopping centre by 77% in the last 15 years by constructing a series of mini power stations.


Leading by example
Ever wondered which are Britain's best performing councils on green issues? Ponder no more, we name the top 10

Terry Slavin - The Guardian - 3 January, 2007

When, just before Christmas, Uttlesford district council in Essex gave climate change as one reason for turning down plans for a huge expansion of Stansted airport, it showed how even the smallest of local authorities can man the barricades in the battle for the planet. And it is not alone; a survey by the Guardian has found that councils across the country are taking steps to cut CO2 emissions and prepare for the impact of climate change.

About half of all 410 local councils have signed up to the voluntary Nottingham Declaration, pledging to cut CO2 emissions in their localities. And now, the Department for Communities and Local Government has announced plans for all new homes to be zero-carbon by 2016, and published a draft planning policy statement on climate change that brings carbon considerations to the heart of the planning system.

So which councils are leading the way on the climate? In the absence of league tables, the Guardian consulted with the Energy Saving Trust, the Carbon Trust, the Local Government Association, and the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to arrive at the following contenders.

Greater London authority
In terms of leadership and getting its own house in order, top marks must go to London, where the mayor, Ken Livingstone, has embraced climate change as his over-arching priority. London was the first city in Britain to set statutory CO2 emission reduction targets of 20% by 2015, and 60% by 2050. On transport, the UK's first congestion charge has halved the number of people using their cars daily, and increased cycling by 72%. London has also led the way by setting challenging targets for the use of renewable energy, with its statutory planning guidance calling for 10% of renewables in all new major developments, and plans to double this. The city's new Climate Change Agency has struck up a commercial partnership with French energy company EDF to build highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) projects across the city, and is working with Greenpeace to build the first zero-carbon eco-suburb.

The West Yorkshire council runs a close second to London and in 2005 won an Ashden award for sustainable energy for its domestic solar project, which has put solar electric and thermal panels on 500 homes. It has also slashed emissions on its own estate, exceeding a target set in 1995 to reduce emissions by 30% compared to 1990 levels by 2005. It has now set another target to cut emissions by another 30% by 2020. Its track record on climate change dates from the 90s, when it was led by Sir John Harman, now chair of the Environment Agency. Kirklees' environment unit coordinates and manages £6m worth of projects and has a full-time staff of 195. It is one of IDeA's "beacon" councils on sustainable energy.

Shropshire county council
The council has both a corporate and community climate change strategy, with strong emphasis on sustainable transport and energy. It set up the Marches Energy Agency in 1995 to come up with innovative solutions to reducing emissions, and has the country's only petrol station with 100% biofuel. Led by Richard Davies, the agency seeks to create a bandwagon effect by focusing on individual market towns and villages and helping them develop a road map to reduce emissions (one small community, Ilam, is aiming to become the first community in the world to be incandescent light bulb-free). This month it will launch a carbon trading-type scheme to sell the CO2 savings from energy saving schemes in community buildings.

Aberdeen city council
The Scottish local authority has slashed CO2 emissions on its own estate by 31% over the past two years. Along with a wholesale switch to green electricity, it has a carbon management programme that includes energy audits, a street light replacement programme, a green travel plan for council officers, and energy efficiency measures in council homes. The council created the not-for-profit Aberdeen Heat and Power Company to develop CHP projects, the first of which provides heat and power for 288 flats in four tower blocks.

Southampton city council
Southampton has one of the oldest and most extensive district heating and cooling systems in the UK. It set up an energy services company, in partnership with French utility company Utilicom, to service more than 40 private and public owned buildings, and plans to expand the system throughout the city. The council's climate change strategy is linked to its air quality objectives, making it a statutory responsibility. It employed the first full-time climate change officer.

Nottingham city council
Nottingham has reversed traffic growth, has one of the oldest park and ride schemes, and in 2004 opened a 14km tram line that carries 23,000 passengers every weekday. It has applied to the government for approval to double the length of the tram system and expand park and ride.

Woking borough council
This town is famous for slashing CO2 emissions in its council buildings by 77% through energy efficiency measures and the pioneering use of low- and zero-carbon technologies. Woking's climate change strategy calls for a "carbon-neutral approach" to all future services, and its guide for developers calls for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels in new construction.

Leicester city council
This best practice beacon council has saved £1.5m in energy costs over five years by implementing a pioneering smart metering system in all 550 council buildings. By getting half-hourly data on water, gas and electricity use, the council was able to pinpoint wastage and take immediate action. The local authority offers training courses on installing low-carbon technologies, has a renewable energy loan scheme for residents, and has developed several small-scale CHP projects.

Cornwall county council
The county was the driving force behind the Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership, which brings together eight councils and 72 organisations, including businesses, community groups and the primary care trust. The partnership produced an energy strategy in 2004, setting out 32 actions to be delivered by all 72 signatories, including meeting challenging targets for renewable electricity.

This south London borough must be in the top 10 because of its groundbreaking prescriptive planning rule that all new commercial developments over 1,000 sq metres must have 10% of their anticipated energy needs met by onsite renewables. The rule, pushed through by the council's environment chief Adrian Hewitt, prompted a slew of imitators, including the Greater London authority - which wrote it into its London plan - and Croydon, which extended it to all residential developments. Merton persuaded the government to adopt planning policy statement 22, confirming the legality of the policy and its desire to see other councils emulate it. To date, 18 councils have done so and another 73 have Merton-type rules in their draft plans.

20 more bright sparks
High Peak (Derbyshire), Lewisham, Devon county, Bristol city, Hampshire county, Enfield, Oxford, Sutton, Wellingborough, Kent county, West Sussex, Derby city, Middlesbrough, Nottinghamshire, Sutton, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Croydon and Barnsley.

7 January 2007


We are clean

Letter to the Saffron Walden Reporter - 28 December 2006

MR DAVID Jenkins calls on councillors to 'come clean' over Uttlesford District Council's refusal of further growth in planes and passengers through Stansted's runway.

The officer report recommended refusal on nine grounds, one of which was climate change. The report did indeed say that it is not possible to show the direct impact on climate change of the extra millions of tonnes of carbon that would be emitted into the atmosphere from 40 per cent more planes using the airport had expansion been approved.

The Great London Smog of 1952 killed thousands of people. This led to the first Clean Air Act in 1956. No chimney was exempted because it was difficult to identify the direct effect of each household chimney's smoke in killing which elderly person. But smoke from most chimneys was banned because its collective effect was to kill people.

The Environment secretary keeps saying 'climate change has changed everything' but to date the Government has failed totally to address how aviation must change to control global warming. Instead, the Government's forecast growth in aviation would mean its impact on climate change would become larger than most other sources.

It took Government four years to get to grips with sulphur dioxide poisoning from smog some fifty years ago. Until today's Government gets to grips with carbon emissions from aeroplanes, Uttlesford is placing a brake on more greenhouse gases caused by Stansted airport. That's how we intend to 'come clean'.

Alan Dean
Member for Stansted Mountfitchet , Uttlesford District Council.
Chair of Stansted Airport Advisory Panel

SSE Recent News
News Archive