Down To Earth: What's Wrong With Flying

Merrick, 20th July 2007ce

Next month sees the Camp for Climate Action take place near Heathrow Airport. As pressure mounts for people to stop using aeroplanes, there are some questions that need answering.

Demanding people stop flying? Isn't that a bit unrealistic?

We'd love to say we could carry on, but the science is very clear. We have to drastically cut carbon emissions and mass aviation takes us over safe levels.

There's no point in going for an easier objective if it's not going to actually work. We need to join the dots between what we know we should do and what we actually do.

So many vital social changes were unrealistic. As if the economy could keep going without slavery! As if women would ever get the vote! As if we could nationalise the medical profession and just give out free treatment to everyone! But some people see it's necessary and start pushing for it; as everyone else, even those with something to lose, see the justice of the case, the change occurs.

We're already seeing the beginnings of a change - flying is being seen as damaging. Once we're clear that offsetting is fraudulent (which I'll explain in a minute), we have to conclude that flying is simply socially unacceptable.

It's hard to imagine that being a widespread view, but then cast your mind back. Imagine going round in the 1970s telling people they shouldn't smoke in front of their children. It was socially acceptable, normal, everyone was doing it because they liked it. If we'd ignored the facts because it didn't fit with the view of the people doing the wrong thing, where would we be now?

You could similarly look at the 70s macho bravado about being able to drink-drive. And at least drink-driving only risks lives; climate change definitely kills.

No matter what our political inclinations, all of us felt America's pain for weeks after 9/11. According to a Christian Aid report1, climate change is likely to kill over 180 million people this century in sub-Saharan Africa. That's more than ten 9/11s a week. To keep flying is to inflict that. It makes a mockery of our concern about aid and debt relief.

Who are you to say I can't have my holiday?

I'm not saying it. The climate is. Everyone loves sunshine and adventure, and all of us would love to be able to travel wherever we want. But the science demands other things. We have to drastically cut carbon emissions swiftly if we're to have a habitable future. When we have to make cuts, surely we should start with the high-emitting luxuries.

Everyone has a right to a break

Yes they do. But everyone has a right to life too. And climate change is already impinging on that. The World Health Organisation conservatively estimates that 150,000 people a year are already dying from the effects of climate change2.

It's those without welfare systems, those in the hotter places that are suffering the most, and that will get worse.

The IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri has made clear, 'it's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit'3.

Their right to life beats your right to the break of your choice. You still have a right to a break; but it'll have to be a different kind.

Flying is no worse per passenger mile than a car

Rarely true, but often broadly comparable. However, you can't cover 10,000 miles a day in a car. For many drivers, their annual aviation emissions are worse than their car's4. A jumbo jet's emissions in 80 seconds are worse than your electricity for a whole year5.

More, these figures often talk about the emissions and ignore the damaging effect of emitting at altitude. The scientific term is 'radiative forcing'. That this exists is universally accepted. The exact figure has been the subject of debate, but it now becoming accepted as 1.3 times worse than emitting on the ground6.

And car use is not a nice clean yardstick. Comparing aviation to something else unsustainable is ridiculous.

It's possible for people to fly and stay within a safe carbon limit

Technically, yes. But find me one person that does. Anyone who can afford to fly does it as a luxury, after they've paid for the more essential things in their life that cause emissions.

Aviation, by its very nature, is the preserve of the rich, who are the largest emitters in other parts of their lives. More likely to be car owners, have large houses to heat, etc.

But I offset my flights

Offsetting is a fraud. There is a simple and, when you think about it, very obvious reason why it's nonsense.

Your emissions happen now. A ton saved today is very different to a ton saved over a few years. The emission is doing damage in the time between emission and absorption. If we keep offsetting a day's emissions over a period of years, we can never catch up. It's like putting water in the bath by the bucketload and saying you'll stop it overflowing by taking it out by the spoonful.

So, if it is to be a real offset, it'd have to save the emissions in the same timeframe as they're released. That's not one or two low-energy lightbulbs for a flight to Malaga, it's tens of thousands. Come to me with an offset receipt for £50,000 for your holiday and then we'll start talking about the injustice of the rich buying luxury pollution at the expense of poorer nations' necessities.

Just because you donate to the RSPCA doesn't mean you have the right to kick your dog. To stay have any real chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, we have to be dishing out the low-carbon technologies, planting the trees and stopping flying.

If you're calling for airports to be closed you're living in fairyland

I think you fail to understand the seriousness and urgency of the problem. Keeping them open is a commitment to runaway climate change that will dry rivers, see sea levels flood farmlands, make drought move across presently fertile areas; it will take away the essentials of survival for hundreds of millions of people, wipe out entire ecosystems and cause the deaths of up to a third of all species. Quite possibly within the lifetimes of people alive today. If you think a week in Barbados, a wedding in Auckland or a meeting in Strasbourg is worth that, it's you that's living in fairyland.

What are we going to do instead, a rainy weekend in Bognor?

Much of the sane response to climate change is about reducing consumption. We're not kidding ourselves that it's going to be as sunny holidaying in Rhyl as Malta. But a lot of the reduction will be positive; relocalising means spending more time near where you live. Who wants to do more commuting?

We can transform our lives into something we don't feel we need to escape from. With less stress there's less need to have a break. There's more time with the people you love. There's a regeneration of community and a stronger sense of roots in your town.

By the same token, holidaying domestically gives a stronger sense of understanding and identity with your country.

Our grandparents did not consume like us and our grandchildren will not be able to. We have to recognise that it was a blip in consumption for a couple of generations and make the transition back down as comfortable as possible for us and those who follow. If it carries on unchecked, climate change will have drastic effects well within the lifetimes of most of us alive today; there's a good dose of self-interest here!

Cheap flights help the poor fly more

Firstly, climate change is a global phenomenon, and in global terms - the only way to look at climate change - anyone who flies is not poor.

Most people will never fly out of straightforward poverty. And if they did fly, the climate couldn't take it. It is intrinsically unsustainable and inequitable.

But even in the UK, cheap flights aren't the poor starting to fly, they're the rich binge-flying.

Even on budget airlines, around 80 per cent of trips are by people in the top three social classes, A, B and C17. Most of the growth predicted for 2030 by the government will be the wealthiest 10 per cent flying overseas at weekends8.

People with second homes abroad take an average of six return flights a year9. The richest 20% of the population take half of all flights, while the bottom 28% only take 8%10. The aviation industry's own figures show that the poorest 10 per cent of people rarely fly at all. Nor are they likely to fly over the next 30 years, because of the overall cost of trips11.

The average income of a Stansted user is over £50,000 - and that's a 'budget airport'!12

Budget airline Ryanair doesn't advertise at all in the Sun, Mirror, News of The World or the Star. It spends the majority of its press-advertising budget on a single publication - The Daily Telegraph13.

Most people in Britain won't fly at all this year14.

The aviation industry already enjoys a unique zero tax regime on all manner of its elements from fuel to tickets to in-flight meals. Giving tax breaks to this particularly destructive industry to address 'flight poverty' is ridiculous. Why not drop the tax on wines to address champagne poverty while you're at it?

But cheap flights help the young go off and discover the world and become spiritually fulfilled.

Only the young of those who, in global terms, are very wealthy. And it is now clear that they do it at the expense of the world's poorest. We can all understand a lot about the world and feel genuine compassion for those elsewhere without having to personally go there first. In fact, we need to do so; to say we're going to wait until loads of us have been to, say, Arctic polar bear habitat before we act to save them is to damn them to extinction.

But isn't the new Heathrow East terminal all eco-friendly?

Firstly, construction is incredibly carbon intensive. Every tonne of cement is responsible for around a tonne of CO2 emissions.

Like the third runway, the new terminal is a long-term investment in Heathrow being a very large airport, facilitating a huge and disastrous amount of flights.

Obviously, all buildings should be done in as environmentally friendly a way as possible. But that's really not the problem with Heathrow. It's the planes. If someone's coming to spray sewage all round your house it doesn't matter if they wipe their feet on the way in.

But I recycle and use my bike and do my bit, aren't I allowed this one treat?

Just like the government's airport expansion undoing all the good it's doing on climate change, so your flight undoes much of the good you do elsewhere. It's not a small treat like the occasional mango. A return flight to America is beyond a safe level of emission for the year, before you do anything else like buy a potato or a bus ticket. The scale of the damage done by flying is huge - 11.5% of the UK's climate impact even though only a minority of people will do it this year15.

But the plane is taking off anyway whether I'm on it or not

Stop kidding yourself. You know that when you buy something it stimulates demand, and when you don't buy something it discourages supply. If you don't buy as many apples then, yes, the shop will still have them in stock. But they'll stock less tomorrow. It's a knock-on effect that will mean fewer flights.

But it's a big sacrifice for me to make for such a tiny effect

Once you know aviation is unethical then, like other immoral acts, you should want no part in it. It's not only about your power as a consumer, it's also about having a clear conscience. Just because something is socially acceptable doesn't make it morally acceptable.

But more, it's about setting an example to those around you. If the people who know about this won't change their lives, who will? How do we expect change to happen - by us all keeping going until the last person agrees to stop before any of us do? Or by showing that it can be done, starting here and now with you?

The government should compel people to fly less

Yes they should. But they'll do it quicker if we make it plain that it won't be political suicide. There was enough of a fuss when Gordon Brown put air duty up to £10 (which wasn't actually a real increase, just a reversal of the cut he made in 2001). What better way - indeed, what other way - is there to show compulsion measures are acceptable except by cutting demand?

To carry on doing something you know is wrong until laws stop you is absurd. If you know you shouldn't punch your child you don't keep smacking them going, 'well, I should - thwack! - stop it but lots of other people - thwack! - are hitting their kids too, so I'm just - thwack! - going to carry on until the police come round and - thwack! - stop me from doing it'.

What about Richard Branson and Boeing making biofuel for planes?

It's very likely to be fruitless. There are very particular problems with biofuels in planes. Biodiesel forms a gel at the kind of low temperatures planes are subjected to.

Again, we're looking for a miracle unknown breakthrough technology to be discovered, developed, mass produced and have totally replaced the current global fleet in the next decade or so. It's simply not going to happen in time.

And in fact, let's hope it doesn't work. Biofuels for cars are far worse for the environment than burning oil; there's every reason to believe biofuels for planes will be the same. A recent study found, because of forest clearance and soil decomposition, carbon emissions from making palm oil biodiesel are at least ten times worse than from burning oil16. The Virgin airline tests with coconut oil have come from such tropical lands.

And, as with biodiesel and ethanol for cars, where would you be growing all this? To grow oilseed rape for the UK's cars would take nearly five times the UK's arable land17; we can safely assume we'd need at least several UKs for our planes. Meanwhile, we need the forests we'd clear to plant this stuff to stay up to slow the warming process. The crunch is worsened by the increasing population; there are 6 billion of us now, by 2050 there'll be 10 billion and every one of them will need to eat; that will mean more forest falls, exacerbating climate change.

Branson's looking at using soya. The big soya growing region is Brazil. One of the main causes of Amazon deforestation is soya production, mostly for livestock feed. Imagine how that'd expand if we were to grow our plane fuel too. Taking down the Amazon forever for a brief luxury is outrageous. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Virgin rainforest destruction'.

He's trying to look a bit greener by saying he'll use old newspapers. Try telling that to anyone - expert or layperson - without them bursting out laughing.

If Branson were to ground his fleet until the fuel existed, we could take him seriously. Until then, he's just like Heathrow's new eco terminal or BP putting solar panels on a handful of petrol stations. It's a decoy to make us feel like they've got the problem in hand instead of decrying them as the climate criminals they are.

Investing in new clean technology without disinvesting in the dirty technology is like saying you'll lose weight by eating more burgers as long as you think you'll to go on a diet some time in the distant future.

The government's White Paper said there'll be a 50% cut in aviation emissions by 2020 thanks to new technology

Yes it did. By misquoting a report by the Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in Europe that said we could do that if we found some breakthrough technologies that we don't know what they are and that certainly don't exist18.

What about the poor in foreign countries who depend on tourism?

Sea level rises have already ruined vast areas of Bangladeshi farmland. Sea temperature rises are moving the rainfall in eastern Africa, drying up farmland in Ethiopia and starving people off their land. Climate change - driven by luxury consumption such as flying - is taking food from the poorest people on earth. Tropical diseases are spreading further and further from the equatorial zone. Should we wait until they get here before we do something, or do we care about those who are suffering for our luxuries?

Already the inhabitants of the pacific island nation of Tuvalu are having to permanently evacuate their home because of rising sea levels. People on islands in the Maldives - a favoured luxury holiday destination - face the same prospect.

We can't seriously suggest that depriving millions of people of their food, water and health is alright because a few thousand get some tourist money. Most tourist destinations employ people at poverty wages, the wealth goes to the few. This, coupled with the diversion of precious water for swimming pools and golf courses makes tourism often do more harm than good.

If the effects were being felt in our country, or even in any Western country, there's no way we'd be doing it. If we really felt that people in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tuvalu and elsewhere were fully human, we'd never fly again. If it were Lincolnshire being flooded out, we'd all be pitching in to the relief effort, and certainly stop exacerbating the catastrophe. But we take our luxury at their expense because we really do believe their right to life is actually less than our right to a holiday. They are lesser humans, we are racist.

But aircraft are only 2% of global emissions

That figure's commonly quoted; Ryanair prominently used it in their recent advertising, and the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that it was untruthful and banned Ryanair from repeating it19.

For just one number it is wrong in an amazingly large range of ways.

Firstly, it's out of date. It's a reliable figure - from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change- but it's from 1992. Aviation has grown exponentially in the last fifteen years; the EC estimates that aviation fuel use increased by 73% between 1990 and 2003, and projects an increase of 150% by 201220.

Secondly, it's misleading because it doesn't measure the real effect. Because they emit at altitude, the warming effect is worse, making aviation more than 5% of our emissions and rising fast. For an activity only a tiny minority of people do, it's way out of proportion. It is still fastest growing emissions sector.

Thirdly, it's a global emissions figure. In the UK, where we can really affect things, it's a much bigger proportion.

It's a whopping 11.5% of our climate impact15. That's more than our cars emit, yet it's from a smaller proportion of the population. Most of us are motorists but most of us won't fly this year.

The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commits us to keep emissions below levels that risk dangerous climate change. It also says that the higher emitters bear greater responsibility. That's us.

Globally, aviation emits around the same amount as all human activities in Africa21. When we've got to make cutbacks, it's obviously aviation that goes.

Australia, the UK, Canada, the aviation industry, they all keep saying 'we're only 2% of global emissions'; but it only takes 50 lots of that to make 100%. Everyone's using everyone else as an excuse to do nothing. Unlike electricity generation or food production and supply, aviation is the one industry for which there is no helpful low-emission technology to ease us out of the problem, the one industry that needs to be all but eradicated. Fortunately - unlike food and heating - aviation is a luxury we can live without.

Shouldn't they just tax the fuel?

It's amazing you can pay VAT on a chocolate biscuit but not on a plane ticket to Dusseldorf. It's amazing you pay tax on car fuel but not aircraft fuel. But the fuel can't be taxed for flights abroad; Article 24 of the 1944 Chicago Treaty expressly forbids it, and it's all but impossible for a government to wriggle out of that.

Hasn't aviation been added to the European Emissions Trading Scheme?

Yes it has, but this is more likely to mean that the EU-ETS will collapse than reduce emissions from aviation. The impossibility of taxing the fuel - or even tickets for internal European flights - means that aviation will be cheap and so keep expanding. If we're to keep within the cap of the EU-ETS, other industries will have to contract. This is unlikely to happen at a fast enough rate to stay within the limit. The only place to go from there is for the EU-ETS to be ignored and cease to apply.

What about these new efficiencies - towing planes on to runways and whatnot?

They can only reduce emissions by a small amount.

And any good done there is being undone by the huge growth in the number of flights. The climate doesn't distinguish between emissions from a one-tonne flight or two half-tonne ones.

Isn't the government doing something about it?

Yes. They're making it worse.

They expect a doubling or even trebling of air passengers in the UK by 2030. They are deliberately and gladly encouraging it by pushing for expansion of 21 airports. Their projected increase is equivalent to a new Heathrow every five years.

The government wants carbon dioxide emissions stabilised at the equivalent of about 550 parts per million by 2050 ('equivalent' because it doesn't just includes CO2 but other greenhouse gases - the standard unit is 'carbon dioxide parts per million equivalent' or 'CO2ppme'). Given the projected rate of growth, by 2050 aviation will account for all of our emissions, and could be up to twice as much22. And that's before we turn on a single light or heat a single room.

Worse, and most crucially, that's before we address the inadequacy of aiming for 550ppme by 2050 when the science demands 450ppme by 2030.

Why do we need that big cut? How bad could it get if we don't?

In order to have a good chance of avoiding runaway climate change, we need to keep the global temperature from going more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. We're already at 0.7, and the gases we've released probably commit us to another 0.6. So, at current rates, we've got about 30 years to stabilise at 450ppme.

Even then, we're likely to see almost all coral reefs die and the collapse of the arctic ecosystem, leading to the extinction of polar bears.

The conservative and sober Stern Report, even though it aims for 550ppme, concedes that at that level 'there is at least a 77% chance - and perhaps up to a 99% chance, depending on the
climate model used - of a global average temperature rise exceeding 2 degrees C'23, giving us a '30-70 percent' chance of exceeding three degrees and 'a 24 percent chance that temperatures will exceed 4 degrees'24.

But though the odds drop - though not by enough to make anyone sleep easy at night - there's a crucial point to realise. Once we're beyond two degrees, the problem is no longer ours to do anything about. Forests dry, die and burn, releasing their carbon. Peat bogs dry and decompose, releasing their carbon. Emissions cause warming which causes more emissions which causes more warming. After about two degrees the biosphere is the big emitter and we will be mere spectators and victims. If it does keep rising after four degrees, there will be nothing we can do to stop it. The Stern target that the UK government uses is all but a guarantee to exceed two degrees.

At four degrees - which Stern and the government think has a 1 in 4 chance of happening - Stern says 'the proportion of land experiencing extreme droughts is predicted to increase from 3 percent today to 30 percent', 'entire regions may be too hot and dry to grow crops', 'rising sea levels will result in tens to hundreds of millions more people flooded each year' and 'global food production is likely to be seriously affected'.

At six degrees, the upper limit of what's predicted for this century, we risk truly terrifying consequences. Around 250 million years ago a series of volcanic eruptions poured enormous quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in short space of time. The global temperature rose by six degrees in a few decades. Over 90% of species died, life itself nearly ended. The biosphere took 150 million years to get back to full strength.

So we're all doomed then?

No, far from it. Climate change is the most serious threat humanity has ever faced and time is short. But if you noticed your kitchen on fire you wouldn't sit there in the living room saying you were doomed and watch it spread through the house.

We are probably the last generation that can do anything about climate change. With that realisation comes the duty to act on it. We still have time, but not for long. Make it count.

We are surrounded by ways to make a difference. One of the biggest, simplest and most immediate can be done by you right now, this second. You can decide to stop flying.

We don't just need to stop flying, we need to make many other changes too, and to tell our friends and colleagues why we're doing it. If they too are reasonable people with a conscience, they will recognise the justice of it and act likewise.

Flying is such a colossal source of emissions, and it is a luxury with no safe alternative. The aviation industry cannot ever be run sustainably. So it just ignores sustainability and, as every company with shareholders is obliged to do, keeps trying to expand in order to maximise profits at the expense of all other considerations. Yet, precisely because this industry can never be sustainable, it must be reined in swiftly.

They are a powerful lobby with friends in very high places. As Chris Mullin MP told the House of Commons, 'during my 18 undistinguished months as Aviation Minister, I learned two lessons about the aviation industry. First, its demands are insatiable; secondly, successive Governments have always given way to them'25.

Aviation is a special case because corporations and governments have kept it out of the upcoming Climate Change Bill, the Kyoto Treaty and other faltering first steps to controlling emissions. It means that this one is entirely up to us.

More than any other source of emissions aviation has to be cut by grassroots action, it has to be those who can afford to fly but choose not to.

Our choosing to stop flying is a great first step. But as other people will take more and more flights, we need to do more. We have to make this more than a personal lifestyle choice and into a public campaign that makes flying socially unacceptable and makes government policy changes inevitable.

All the great reports and words will remain just that without a movement to animate them. Collective action has to be more than sixty million guilty individuals changing light bulbs at the behest of rock stars. It's essential those of us who know that BP, Branson and the Beastie Boys aren't going to save us make ourselves heard before the corporate stampede to claim the issue drowns out our voices and hopes.

The anti-roads campaigns of the 1990s were comprised of a wide variety of people who knew enough to make a stand. Within a short time, the idea that there were other values than the industrial ones, and that providing more roads didn't solve congestion but actually encouraged car use were understood and agreed with. The government had no choice but to listen. The roads budget collapsed and we went into a far saner policy of trying to manage demand rather than provide for it.

We're at a similar stage with aviation. The huge growth planned for airports will take us beyond a safe level of emissions, but the sane alternative is possible.

Heathrow's third runway faces vehement opposition not only from locals and environmental groups, but also from establishment figures like Ken Livingstone and even the Conservatives. It's eminently winnable. Local people are running a brilliant campaign, but there's not enough of them and it's a fight that belongs to us all. If we stop this one, we prevent millions of flights from ever happening.

More, we make it the high water mark for expansion. Once this campaign is won the whole idea of expansion is called into question and discredited. Other campaigns around the country and the world will stand a greater chance of success. As we pull back from the brink, we encourage others to do the same.

The Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow will be a springboard for this burgeoning movement to move on up. It's time to step up and act with the boldness that the times ask of us.

The Camp for Climate Action
14-21 August, near Heathrow Airport
24 hours of mass action from noon on Sunday 19th

  1. 'The Climate of Poverty; Facts, Fears and Hope', Christian Aid, May 2006.
  3. 'Billions face climate change risk', BBC News website, 6 April 2007
  4. 'Aviation and Global Climate Change' (2nd May 2000, Friends of the Earth, the Aviation Environment Federation, the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection and HACAN/Clear Skies) calculates that the average UK motorist produces 2255 kg of CO2 in one year, while one return flight from London to Miami produces 2415 kg of CO2 per passenger.
  5. Assumes;
    CO2 emissions: 0.17kg/km per passenger (as cited in footnote 4)
    Seat occupancy: 370 passengers
    Distance of return flight: 14,207km (London-Miami)
    Journey time 9 hours 40 minutes (580 minutes) each way (average for London-Miami)
    Radiative forcing of 1.3 for emission at altitude

    0.17 x 370 = 62.9kg/km for the whole plane.
    14,207 divided by 580 = 12.25km/min (average speed of 735 km/h, or 457mph)
    62.9 x 12.25 = 770.525 kg/min
    770.525 x 1.3 = 1001.68kg/min equivalent

    This is around half the average individual emissions for domestic gas and electricity use (2088.57kg/CO2).

    Let's do the maths again, being really generous to the aviation:

    Assumptions as above except:
    CO2 emissions: 0.11kg/km per passenger (UK government figure)

    0.11 x 370 = 40.7kg/km for the whole plane.
    14,207 divided by 580 = 12.25km/min (average speed of 735 km/h, or 457mph)
    40.7 x 12.25 = 498.58 kg/min
    498.58 x 1.3 = 648.154kg/min equivalent

    This is around 75% of the average individual's household electricity emissions for a year (854.38kg/CO2).

    I go into it in even more detail (including sources for the domestic energy consumption) here; [link]
  6. 'Aviation and The Global Atmosphere', IPCC, 1999 says 2.7 and this has been the generally accepted figure.

    However, for reasons more to do with accounting than science, it is becoming common to use 1.3. Details explained here: [link]

    The UK government uses a factor of 2.
  7. Civil Aviation Authority 2002, cited in 'The Sky's the Limit: Policies for Sustainable Aviation', Simon Bishop and Tony Grayling, Institute for Public Policy Research, May 2003, page 65.
  8. Department for Transport, cited in Friends of The Earth factsheet 'Aviation: The Plane Truth'
  9. HACAN/ Clear Skies, 2005, cited in 'Facts and Figures: Aviation', Transport 2000
  10. Civil Aviation Authority Passenger Survey Report 2005, table 17, shows 44% of flights are taken by social groups A and B, 8% taken by social groups D and E.

    According to the Market Research Society, approximate proportions of the population in the different social categories are: A - 3%, B - 20%, C1 - 28%, C2 - 21%, D - 18%, E - 10%
  11. Friends of The Earth factsheet 'Aviation: The Plane Truth'
  12. Civil Aviation Authority Passenger Survey, 2005, table 16.4

  13. Information from spreadsheet leaked to George Monbiot from media communications agency. 'Flying Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ', The Guardian, 13 Jan 2009

  14. Ipsos MORI poll, 'Attitudes Towards Air Travel', commissioned by pro-aviation lobby group Freedom To Fly, January 2002

  15. Aviation minister Gillian Merron, written answer to the House of Commons, 2 May 2007
    [link] says in 2005 aviation was 6.3% of UK emissions. From this she extrapolates that it is about 13% of our climate impact.. The calculations are wrong but the figure is almost right. They use an uplift factor of 2, whereas (for reasons explained here) more recently it's become usual to use 1.3. However, the government only count emissions from departing flights, whereas flights taken by UK citizens account for 70% of UK flights. So, if we take the 6.3% of emissions Ms Merron cites, multiply by 1.3, then divide by 50 and multiply by 70, aviation acounts for 11.5% of our climate impact.
  16. Delft Hydraulics in cooperation with Wetlands International and Alterra, December 2006.
  17. 'Feeding Cars, Not People', George Monbiot, The Guardian, 22 Nov 2004.
    His maths works like this: 'Road transport in the United Kingdom consumes 37.6 million tonnes of petroleum products a year. The most productive oil crop which can be grown in this country is rape. The average yield is between 3 and 3.5 tonnes per hectare. One tonne of rapeseed produces 415 kilos of biodiesel. So every hectare of arable land could provide 1.45 tonnes of transport fuel. To run our cars and buses and lorries on biodiesel, in other words, would require 25.9m hectares. There are 5.7m in the United Kingdom.'
  18. This was pointed out by the government's own House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 'Environmental Audit Third Report', 10 March 2004.
  19. European airlines to trade emissions allowances', New Scientist, 19 December 2006.
  20. ASA adjudication, 18 July 2007
  21. 'Aviation and global climate change', ibid.
  22. 'Growth Scenarios for EU and UK Aviation: Contradictions With Climate Policy', report produced for Friends of The Earth by Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, 16 April 2005
  23. Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, HM Treasury, October 2006, Executive Summary
  24. Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, HM Treasury, October 2006, Chapter 13, p295
  25. Chris Mullin MP, House of Commons, 28 Nov 2002 (Chris Mullin was Aviation Minister from July 1999 to February 2001).