Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 73-79)

Wednesday 4 June 2003


  Q73  Chairman: Welcome, Mr Mans and colleagues. I am sorry we are such a long way from each other in this room. It is because it is being televised. I should tell you, Mr Mans, you are sitting exactly where the Prime Minister always sits.

  Mr Mans: I think it is best I do not comment on that, Chairman.

  Q74  Chairman: Welcome and welcome in your case Mr Mans, back to the House of Commons. Is there anything you would like to add to the memorandum which you kindly sent us before we begin to examine you?

  Mr Mans: I do not think so, but you might want me to introduce the two people I have brought along. On my far left is Colin Beesley, who is head of environmental strategy at Rolls-Royce, and his expertise is in the manufacturing area. On my near left is Dr Hugh Somerville, who is the former chair of IATA, the International Airline Transport Association Environmental Committee. He is also a member of the IPCC for its 1999 report on aviation and he obviously is knowledgeable about the air transport part of the equation.

  Chairman: Yes. I must also apologise for the fact that we may have to be fairly tight on timing because we are expecting a vote at some stage. I hope it will not interrupt our proceedings but we are having three panels of witnesses this afternoon so it may compress things slightly, so I apologise for that in advance. However, let us lead off on the questioning. Mr Ainsworth wants to go first.

  Q75  Mr Ainsworth: Thank you, Chairman. Good afternoon. I want to begin by exploring the scale of the problem that we are talking about and looking at in the course of this inquiry. I notice in your submission under point 7, the fifth bullet point under that, you say that the contribution of aviation to the UK CO2 inventory is around 0.5%. This figure contradicts the figure used by the Treasury, which says it is 5 %. Are we looking at a typo here or are we looking at a fundamentally different basis of evaluation?

  Mr Mans: I think the best thing I can do is to ask Dr Somerville to answer that because it is a matter which we have obviously discussed beforehand.

  Dr Somerville: Good afternoon. I think the point there is a distinction between what is UK domestic and what is total fuel loaded in the UK. The UK domestic emissions amount to a relatively small sum, that is if you take sectors in the UK, for example between Aberdeen and London. But if you then take any sectors London to Paris and any outbound flights plus the other return flights plus all the fuel loaded in the UK you will get to the 5% figure or something close to it.

  Q76  Mr Ainsworth: Is it reasonable, in your view, to exclude international flights from calculating the impact of aviation on the environment here?

  Dr Somerville: No, we do not believe they should be excluded. The question is at the moment domestic emissions are already allocated to national inventories under the Kyoto Agreement and globally they account for something like one-third of the total. The international emissions are not allocated and it would be reasonable to allocate, possibly, given whatever the UNFCCC comes up with in terms of allocation—it would be reasonable to come up with, for example, half of the total involved in international flights between the UK and other destinations.

  Q77  Mr Ainsworth: But you have not done that in submitting your evidence to us?

  Dr Somerville: No, we are merely making the distinction between the total of 5% and 0.5%. At the moment only 0.5% is allocated to the UK.

  Q78  Mr Ainsworth: Okay. It would help the Committee to be working from a consistent set of statistics but this is one of the problems we have got. If we stick with the Treasury's document there is an estimation that aviation emissions by 2030 are going to rise by between 67 and 77 million tonnes of CO2. Is that a figure you recognise?

  Dr Somerville: What we recognise—and nobody can predict the future—is that aviation emissions will grow. The figure you quoted was how many million tonnes?

  Q79  Mr Ainsworth: Between 67 and 77 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

  Dr Somerville: We believe that what will in fact happen is that aviation emissions in a healthy, normal economy will grow at something like 3 to 4 % per year. What you have to remember is that nobody can predict the future. For example, in the last year IATA's revenue passenger kilometres have actually fallen by 18.5%, which would account for several years of growth within what I am saying. So it is extremely difficult to predict an accurate total. That figure may or may not turn out to be true; it is one estimate.

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