Commons Gate

Future of Aviation (HC 499-iii)

Transport Committee 17 Jun 2009

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Evidence given by: Sustainable Development Commission: Andrew Lee, Chief Executive; WWF-UK: Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy; Aviation Environment Federation: Jeff Gazzard, Board Member; Brian Ross, Aviation Economics Adviser

Q278 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I am afraid, Mr Gazzard, when you started on about the cost of a taxi fare in Manchester and the flight to Prague you lost some of my support. I think Prague was a bad option because Prague used to be part of Eastern Europe where people were told where they could go and if they could go and how often they could go. That seems to be the line that you were taking for this.

Mr Gazzard: No, I do not think we have a kind of a green Stalinist view on this. Prague is one of the most popular destinations for what one might call completely discretional leisure activities. I am not suggesting for one moment that the people of Prague and their service industries do not deserve to have tourism.

Q279 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): You are suggesting that my constituents should not go there, they should go to Morecambe perhaps. (It is very nice in Morecambe!)

Mr Gazzard: The debate is not about where you go or how often, it is a decision about whether you do it in the first place and that was the point we were trying to make.

Q280 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I think Stalinist is fairly accurate, to be honest.

Mr Gazzard: He is dead and I am here today so I do not know if he can come to my support on that! I do not think that is true. I think there is an element of command and control in green politics and I think it would be foolish to deny that. However, the question that we started off with from the Chairman was where are we going with aviation growth and something has to give on this. If we are ten tons ahead in terms of our average CO2 carbon footprints as UK citizens we have to reduce that to two tons by the middle years of this century. If an average flight to and from Prague is about 0.8 of a ton now you can see how difficult it is to fit in two or three flights a year within two tons. That is on a personal level.

Q281 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): That is on the assumption that the aviation industry will not come to the challenge -----

Mr Gazzard: I have included in that 0.8 tons the average efficiency gain per year. The Committee on Climate Change have set out this conundrum that you have just raised very succinctly. Given the danger that unconstrained aviation emissions growth would make in terms of required reductions in other sectors, they would be impossibly large. Getting enough reductions across our economy from power stations, road transport and home heating to fund the growth in aviation is a very difficult task.

Mr Lee: I have a slightly different view of this. First of all, I would start off in terms of our global challenge. We need to reduce carbon emissions globally by more than 80% unless we are going to contend with highly dangerous levels of climate change which will have massive negative impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. We need to start with that. Within that we would accept totally that aviation is an important part of future society; a sustainable society will have aviation, people will fly. There will be people in the world who need to fly more than they do now for very basic reasons like keeping their family intact or finding work in other countries. The issue to me to start with is not who is benefiting in the UK and whether lower income people are flying slightly more or better off people are flying slightly more. The issue is how are we going to manage this globally because ultimately we have to have a global trading scheme. The EU ETS is only a stepping stone and we know that will probably deliver very little in terms of real reductions in emissions. Who is going to be flying? That is then about responsible choices in a market place and it is about who has access to the amount of CO2 that we can devote to flying in the world. That will certainly mean that in some countries - developing countries - more people are going to fly and I think there is a serious sustainability question for the UK as to how much of that global aviation carbon budget we can grab for ourselves. That is really quite a fundamental issue for the future. It is not about "fly and don't fly"; it is about making responsible choices and it is ultimately about global impacts of aviation, both the impacts of aviation induced climate change on the poorest people but also the fact that in many parts of the world people are going to need to have a basic level of access to markets and other things. We have to start off with that frame; that is what we should be talking about.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

The full transcript may be read here.

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB