Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 795-799)




  795. I apologise for keeping you waiting. Can I ask you to identify yourselves for the record?
  (Professor Hoskins) I am Brian Hoskins.
  (Professor Ekins) I am Paul Ekins.

  796. Professors, do you have anything to say to start the session or would you like to go straight to questions?
  (Professor Hoskins) We would like to give a little bit of background to the report we wrote. Last year, around this time, we were thinking about what our next major report would be and we considered that we had many things to say about aviation and we certainly felt with the discussion that was around in the country this was concentrating very much on the local airport issues. We felt there was an important message that was not being discussed, which was the more global issues, the large scale issues, and we felt that if we were really going to influence policy in this area we could not do our usual large report, our weighty one, which takes about 18 months, so we had to do a shorter version. We then announced this in July last year and produced our first report of this sort within five months of that, last November. That is what we did. We were able to do this partly because there was a very authoritative International IPCC Report and also because we had the expertise on the Commission. We are not saying the local issues are not important, they are important, but we were trying to highlight the larger scale issues we felt were being neglected.

  797. That is helpful. What contributions do total climate change emissions, UK national and international flights make?
  (Professor Hoskins) If we take the Treasury figures in the background document to their consultation on aviation and the environment they encapsulate quite nicely that UK aviation contributes about 5% of the UK carbon emissions. It is projected in 2020 to take about 11% of those emissions and then an important thing to bear in mind in all of this is that aviation for its sins has a bigger effect on climate than almost any other thing we do because there is this multiplication factor that the carbon alone is not sufficient to tell you the impact on climate. There is a factor of about 2.7 which gives its real effect on the greenhouse effect, and that contrasts with most other areas of activity that have an effect about half that. The suggestion from those figure is that by 2020 about 22% of the UK's greenhouse impact will be associated with aviation, so about one quarter of the UK's impact on climate change will come from aviation: the carbon emissions from this sector will have grown over a period when we are trying to decrease them overall.

  798. Can you quantify the difference between that and, for example, surface transport?
  (Professor Hoskins) Currently aviation is about 18% of surface transport. By the time we get up to a few decades hence certainly in their greenhouse impact they will be comparable.

  799. Comparable?
  (Professor Hoskins) Yes, in their greenhouse impact with the figures that are around, that is the sort of situation we will be reaching. In terms of the carbon emissions they might be half or somewhat less, but in terms of the total impact they will be getting comparable.

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