Allowing for growth in the aviation sector could require all other areas to reduce their emissions by 90 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050, the committee on climate change has suggested.
In a letter to ministers, the committee – chaired by Adair Turner and set up to advise the government last year – said the additional reductions would have to be taken into account as the world seeks a global deal.
An attempt at replacing the Kyoto protocol will take place in Copenhagen this December and the committee has warned that, in order to keep the aviation sector running at 2005 levels in 2050, other areas will have to take up the slack.
“The committee’s analysis suggests that cutting gross aviation emissions in 2050 to 2005 levels together with 90 per cent emissions cuts in other sectors would achieve the required economy wide 80 per cent emissions reduction in the UK,” Lord Turner wrote in the letter, sent to transport secretary Andrew Adonis and energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband.
“It is reasonable to assume that this target could be applied more widely to achieve the G8’s objective to reduce developed country emissions by 80 per cent in 2050.”
The government committed to achieving total cuts of 80 per cent by 2050 only last year in the Climate Change Act.
CCC chief executive David Kennedy denied the proposals were soft on the aviation industry.
He said the government expected carbon emissions from aircraft in Britain were expected to double from their current 35 million tonnes in the next 20 years and that this would have to be halved.
“It’s not that aviation is off the hook,” he told the Today programme.
“There’s a lot to do – what we’re saying is actually very challenging for aviation.”