More planes = more emissions, part 2


Plane below

The aviation industry loves to crow about its efficiency gains while steadily increasing the number of planes in the sky. They call this sustainable aviation and pretend that it's tackling their emissions. We're sceptical, and according to Australian scientists at the Centre for Climate Law and Policy, we are right: any efficiency gains are being outpaced by the increase in planes and flights.

According to the Centre's Associate Director, Andrew Macintosh, "at the moment the gains [the aviation industry's] making through technological advances and improvements in the way they operate the aircraft are being offset by the massive increase in the size of the market." In other words, small gains in efficiency are wiped out by everyone flying more, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with half a brain.

Macintosh also expressed doubt that the industry could keep growing without massively increasing its emmissions and that this would make it almost impossible to hit climate change targets. This echoes the concerns raised by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research who found that if aviation continued to grow, it would not only wipe out its own efficiency gains, but could end up accounting for our entire CO2 allowance under the Kyoto Protocol. Sustainable growth, eh?

Viking boffins raid aviation industry greenwash


Viking raiders

The Journal of Sustainable Tourism recently published a paper by pair of Scandinavian academics, entitled, "It Does Not Harm the Environment! An Analysis of Industry Discourses on Tourism, Air Travel and the Environment". In a nutshell, they show that aviation industry spin-doctors lie through their teeth, using a limited set of deeply flawed, broadly irrational, and fundamentally dishonest arguments to misrepresent their contribution to climate change in order to keep people flying. Say what?

The authors ask why, with growing awareness of the problem of climate change, does consumer behaviour with regards to air travel not appear to be changing at all – despite the fact that 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions released through tourism-related transport in the EU come from air travel. They go on to analyse some of the aviation industry's discourses (chat) around air travel's environmental impact in an attempt to find an answer.

Flying Matters versus the Climate Change Bill


Everyone's favourite pro-aviation group, Flying Matters, has been hard at work. They'd like international aviation left out of the Climate Change Bill, and have written to lots of MPs asking them not to listen to the science.

Luckily one of them sent us a copy, which we have kindly transcribed for you. For your viewing pleasure we present: why aviation should get special treatment. Please take one pinch of salt and retire to enjoy:

Greenwash my jets, Branson tells students

Richard Branson, part-time eco-warrior, part-time carbon criminal, spent today opening a new university and asking students to help him 'think green'. Branson wants students to pitch into his efforts to reduce the emissions from his growing fleet of trans-Atlantic aircraft.

"Among ideas the entrepreneur is inviting undergraduates to consider are lightweight seat to improve fuel efficiency, Virgin Atlantic uniforms made from recycled materials and energy efficient facilities at airport terminals."

Our spy-in-the-sky reports that Mr. Branson's suggestions met with hushed giggles from the students, who pointed out that grounding Virgin aircraft and stopping plans for space tourism might do more for reducing emissions than dressing trolley dolleys in costumes made from old duty-free bottles.

Greenwashing the skies

We're slowly becoming more aware that the forecasted growth rates for aviation threaten all our efforts to stop climate change wiping us off the planet.

While the aviation industry has some insightful arguments in this debate - such as people generally liking flying and wanting to fly more - this "end of the world" effect is a bit of a problem for their marketing departments.

Darling's pie in the sky

There has been much speculation over Alistair Darling's first pre-budget report and his plans to green the aviation industry.

The chancellor has suggested replacing duty on tickets with a charge based on the type of plane and the distance it will be travelling. This will, he claims, encourage airlines to increase their efficiency (by reducing per-passenger emissions) and to use the latest and most efficient planes to further reduce their tax bills.

More planes = more emissions


Once again the aviation industry has failed to get its sums right, as BA's attempts to greenwash their recent purchase of a bunch of mega-planes fails to ring true.

BA purchased 12 Airbus A380s and 24 Dreamliners, totalling 36 planes. Willie Walsh justified the purchase, stating that "These aircraft set the gold standard when it comes to environmental performance in the key areas of carbon dioxide emissions, local air quality and noise."

easyJet in self-serving 'campaign'

Hot on the heels of their dodgy dossier, easyJet have launched a campaign to save the planet by encouraging more of us to piss off to Barcelona for a night on the town.

According to easyJet's national advertising campaign, flying could reduce its emissions by 50% in just 10 years - but the Government and 'greedy Gordon' are conspiring to ensure this doesn't happen. Only scrapping APD will save us all from climatalogical oblivion.