Emission trading scheme - a license to print money


Sorry to go all Daily Mail on y'all, but you really couldn't make it up. The emissions trading scheme, the Government's preferred method of reducing aviation's contribution to climate change, is likely to generate up to £4 billion in windfall profits for the industry.

A report commissioned for the DfT and Defra into the effects of the ETS, reveals how the scheme will reward airlines with too many free credits, which will then be sold on by industry. The airlines are expected to use the spectre of the trading scheme to raise their own prices, charging customers for the emissions generated by their flight - despite recieving 96-97% of their current emissions in free credits.

My day trip to Parliament

Dunwoody and a runway

In my years of campaigning I've come up against some tough opponents. Riot police in fields of beans behind the Camp for Climate Action; over-zealous security guards determined to keep carbon criminals operating; even angry businessmen prevented from getting to work. But nothing had prepared me for the wrath of Gwyneth Dunwoody.

Yesterday, five of us entered the Transport Select Committee inquiry into "the Future of BAA". After thirty minutes of whinging from Easyjet, BA and American Airlines that BAA weren't helping them profit from the 'cheap' flights bonanza, BAA's head honchos took the stand.

Predict and it shall be provided, part one

Criswell predicts!

You can call the Heathrow consultation many things, but there's one phrase the Government doesn't want you to use: 'predict and provide'. But what does predict and provide mean - and is it a fair description of the industry's unprecendented expansion plans? In the first of two articles, I'll focus on how a phrase that was once transport policy gospel fell into ill repute.

For years, transport policy was based around a growth model, whereby the Department for Transport would "provide road capacity where and when it will be required". This primarily applied to traffic growth - road building - and it was widely (and erroneously) held by civil servants that the "main drivers of traffic growth [were] outside policy control"; they felt that income was the primary driver of growth - and who in the 80s was going to suggesting reducing that?

Still no aviation in the Climate Change Bill

Climate change is pants

Whoops! The shiny new Climate Change Bill received its first scintillating reading in the House of Lords this week.

For all the fanfare which greeted the first national binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions, a few things seem to have slipped through the cracks – most notably that the Government seems to have forgotten to include aviation emissions in their reduction targets. Whilst this handy omission will probably make it easier to balance the books come 2050, it’ll make for a truly toothless piece of legislation in its current form, not to mention a fairly nonsensical one.

Ruth Kelly has cake, eats it

Plane cake

Yesterday Ruth Kelly appeared at an aviation conference, attended by the great and good of the aviation industry. She regaled them all with a speech which called for... well, business as usual really, with a dash of greenwash.

Kelly has totally bought the premise that economic growth and environmental salvation are intrinsically linked. Sadly this is utter tosh: our society is only able to produce goods and services at the rate it does because of our wanton disregard for the environment. As far as aviation is concerned, you have to ask who you trust more: the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research (prognosis: aviation expansion cannot co-exist with climate change targets) or Rod Eddington, former head of British Airways (motto: keep on flyin').

A loophole big enough to fly a jumbo jet through

As you're probably aware, Labour is deadly serious about climate change. They're seriously thinking about possibly making a start.

Their latest attempt comes in the form of the Climate Bill, a serious piece of legislation which will set a series of legally binding carbon budget periods lasting five years each. Unfortunately the draft target for 2050 is inadequate: a 60% reduction on 1990 levels, and more pertinently, the bill excludes Aviation - the fastest growing source of greenhouse gasses in the UK. The draft bill - before consultation - had a built-in loophole you could fly a jumbo through, and everyone knew it.

Brown: Not so much James Bond as Dr. No

Well that didn't take long, did it? Rather like the moment Timothy Dalton first stepped onto our screens and arched an eyebrow as James Bond, it has taken very little time to realise that Gordon Brown is, quite simply, the wrong man for the job.

As scientists warn us in increasingly desperate terms that we have just 100 months to stabilise emissions of greenhouse gases, we look to Downing Street for a super-hero armed with the latest cutting edge technology to save the world. Instead we are presented with a man who is utterly unconvincing in the role.

Activists still have a vital role to play in tackling aviation growth

The relationship between Labour and industry means that parliament won't do enough.

I was pleased that your leader (A different kind of turbulence, August 20) recognised the climate campers' scientific argument that inaction on climate change now will cost lives later. As the leading climate researcher Dr Kevin Anderson said last week, "the government cannot reconcile current aviation growth with its stated position on climate change. Even with the latest more efficient aircraft, the climate-change imperative demands that air-travel growth be severely curtailed." However, I was stunned by the Guardian's notion that because nowadays "nearly all politicians will at least pay lip service to green issues", the merits of "Swampy-style activism" have been undermined. Equally, the idea that there has been a "big political shift ... since 1996" is not reflected by the facts.

Flying too close

The government has formed a cosy relationship with the aviation industry. No wonder environmentalists are preparing for direct action.

The aviation industry used to lobby government. Now it seems they practically are the government. If anyone's still in any doubt of Brown's plans to trample over popular opposition to airport expansion, his most recent appointments give a glimpse of Labour's cosy relationship with the airline industry and lay out the battle lines the green movement will have to face in coming months.

Confusion in the House of Lords

The House of Lords debated the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and aviation yesterday.

Lord Woolmer, the poor fool, who'd clearly tumbled from a rather boozy Members' Club lunch to introduce the Committee Report manages some tremendous internal inconsistencies. Compare, for instance:

"There is no case for demonising aviation and aviation emissions; they are not a current threat to tackling climate change."

with his earlier statement:

"If aviation emissions continue to grow by 3 per cent a year for 40 years, they will triple. If the growth is 4 per cent a year, they will increase by 450 per cent." It will be a "very significant [problem] by 2050."