Select Committee on Environmental Audit Seventh Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  The quality of the Government response is poor and not of the standard we would normally expect. In rejecting so much of our report without adequate consideration or explanation and in such an overtly challenging manner, the Department for Transport is failing to address not only our concerns but the similar concerns expressed by many other organisations including the Sustainable Development Commission and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. (Paragraph 7)

2.  A policy which estimates future demand and then aims to satisfy almost all of it is self-evidently based on a 'predict and provide' approach. The Department for Transport should respond fully to our original conclusion, and explain why it believes it is wrong to describe the White Paper in that way, particularly when the Government is actively promoting growth on the scale envisaged. (Paragraph 10)

3.  The Government response fails to set out what detailed studies the Department for Transport has carried out to explore the social and behavioural impacts of the forecast growth in aviation, and the manner in which these impacts may vary for different rates of growth. It should do so, taking into account the growing sense that the real price of oil is unlikely to remain at the level assumed in the White Paper. (Paragraph 12)

4.  The Department for Transport must publish a formal statement of what it understands by sustainable consumption in the context of air travel. As part of this statement, it should explain how the projected growth from 180 mppa to 476 mppa by 2030 can be reconciled with the commitment made by the UK Government in Johannesburg to encourage more sustainable approaches to consumption; and it should also set out what policies it is pursuing to discourage unnecessary air travel. (Paragraph 13)

5.  We calculated the environmental impacts of the forecast growth in aviation to be minus £42 billion (net present value), but were unable to identify from departmental appraisals the total producer and consumer surpluses to set against this figure. The Department for Transport has entirely ignored this point and should respond in full to our original conclusion. (Paragraph 15)

6.  The Department for Transport should also respond to our conclusion that the Integrated Policy Appraisal appended to the White Paper was particularly weak in its assessment of climate change impacts and the difficulties posed by the growth in aviation emissions in the light of the Government's 60% carbon reduction target. (Paragraph 16)

7.  We expressed our astonishment at the lack of essential research to underpin the incorporation of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System, and recommended that the Department for Transport should set out what needed to be done and by when to achieve this goal. Our conclusion and recommendation was totally ignored, and the Department should now provide a full response. (Paragraph 18)

8.  We reject the accusation contained in the Government response that our figures for the impact of aviation in relation to other UK emissions are misleading and inappropriate. The underlying truth is not in dispute: that the global warming impacts from aviation are forecast to increase massively just as we are striving to make huge cuts in emissions from all other sectors of the UK economy. (Paragraph 22)

9.  Given the priority apparently being accorded to the need to tackle global warming, we find it bizarre that the Government response, in calculating aviation in relation to other UK emissions, assumes that there will be no reduction in greenhouse gases, other than carbon dioxide, over the next 50 years. In setting the 60% carbon reduction target last year, the Government failed to clarify how it relates to greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide and what baseline should be used to measure achievement against. It must do so as a matter of urgency. (Paragraph 25)

10.  Figures presented by the Government, both in the Government response and in Aviation and Global Warming, contain apparent inconsistencies. This reflects the poor quality of documentation and appraisal carried out by the Department for Transport in this area. It would be helpful if the Department could set out comprehensive and well documented statistics to inform further discussion of this topic. (Paragraph 27)

11.  We said last year that the airports consultation "fails to take on board the new direction in policy initiated by the Government's Energy White Paper; while the growth proposed in aviation—even on a constrained basis—would wreck the aspirations it contains." The Future of Air Transport White Paper has done nothing to alter our view: aviation policy remains the most glaring example of the failure of Government to put sustainable development at the heart of policy making. (Paragraph 30)

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 7 June 2004