Azara Blog: EU aviation will allegedly ruin EU climate goals

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Date published: 2007/09/04

The BBC says:

European Union proposals to reduce the climate impact of flying will not work, a report concludes.

The EU plans to include aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

But analysts at the Tyndall Centre, a prestigious UK climate research body, say this will have minimal effect without a major rise in carbon prices.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) which funded the study wants mandatory efficiency goals for aircraft, tax on aviation fuel and curbs on airport expansion.

Once again the BBC prints what looks just like a press release for a special interest pressure group, this time the FoE, without any critical analysis of their claims. The BBC would not print a press release from the aviation industry without some critical comment. And any report funded by a special interest pressure group is obviously suspect to start with, especially one which just happens to justify the positions that the special interest pressure group has taken all along (as of course they always do, otherwise they would never see the light of day).

Needless to say, the "prestigious" Tyndall Centre can do a perfectly reasonable analysis, no matter what the bias. But the bias should be made clear by the BBC. Here the bias is in the assumptions underlying the report. The assumptions pretty much trivially lead to the desired conclusion. So one key assumption is that the world should not go above 450ppmv CO2 equivalents. Once upon a time that would have been 550ppmv. Since the world is already at 380ppmv and climbing, this is a big assumption. A second key assumption is that we should no longer aim to cut emissions by certain percentages (relative to the 1990 level) by some dates or other in the future, instead we should not allow more than a cumulative amount of emissions, period. A third key assumption is that we should ignore what is going on in the rest of the world and just apportion some fraction of that cumulative amount to the EU. It is easy enough to justify making these assumptions, but it is easy enough to justify other assumptions, which would lead to other conclusions. Unfortunately the BBC just prints the FoE sound bites without pointing any of this out.

If the FoE spent more time and money trying to make the aviation industry more environmentally friendly and less time and money on press releases, the world would be a better place.

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