The New York Times reports that the new coalition government in Britain has “canceled longstanding plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport” and will also “refuse to approve new runways at Gatwick and Stansted, London’s second-string airports.”
The worry is the growth trends for emissions from air travel:
The British government has calculated that aviation emissions accounted for just 6 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2006. But it concluded in a report that aviation could contribute up to a quarter of those emissions by 2030.
In the United States, the number of general aviation hours is forecast to grow an average of 1.8 percent a year, and to be 60 percent greater by 2025 than it is now, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. While airlines have worked hard to improve airplane efficiency, those efforts are dwarfed by the upward trend in flying.
An important factor in the decision is Britain’ s Climate Change Act 2008 which requires the country to reduce emissions by at least 34 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.
In relation to aviation the Act requires:
“The inclusion of international aviation and shipping emissions in the Act or an explanation to Parliament why not – by 31 December 2012. The Committee on Climate Change is required to advise the Government on the consequences of including emissions from international aviation and shipping in the Act’s targets and budgets. Projected emissions from international aviation and shipping must be taken into account in making decisions on carbon budgets.”
The article points out that Britain is the only country in the world to actually slash runway building plans because of concerns about climate change.