View Full Version : Aviation growth 'risk to planet'

4th Jul 2004, 14:21
Aviation growth 'risk to planet'

The report urges more travellers to take the train instead
The rise in demand for air travel is one of the most serious environmental threats facing the world, a study says.
The University of York report says government plans for airport expansion are in direct conflict with targets to reduce greenhouse gases.
Report authors Professor John Whitelegg and Howard Cambridge say polluting gases from aircraft exhaust fumes are on the increase.
Airlines should pay an environmental charge equal to the damage, they say.
The UK and other EU governments have made a massive commitment to expanding aviation, the report says.
It sets out a model for dealing with aviation over the next 30 years, recommending steps to be taken by the UK and other EU countries including an end to the tax-free status of aviation fuel.

We could have a really high quality railway system that gives people a real alternative

Professor John Whitelegg
The report says at least 50% of visitors should access airports by public transport, and wants journeys of less than 400 miles to be undertaken by train rather than plane, eliminating 45% of flights.
Prof Whitelegg told the BBC that high-speed rail services such as Eurostar needed to be improved so that every city in the UK was linked.
He said: "We could have a really high quality railway system that gives people a real alternative.
"At the moment we have cheap flights and some of the most expensive railways in the world. That is the wrong way around."
The report says businesses should be encouraged to use technology such as video conferencing as an alternative to travel.
Governments should carry out the Zurich airport "bubble concept", limiting emissions of all kinds from airports and treating them like large industrial sites, the report says.
Prof Whitelegg said air travel growth had been "fuelled by generous tax breaks and state aid, and is contrary to the objectives of environmental policy, especially efforts to prevent the worst consequences of climate change".
He told the BBC an environmental tax on flying was needed to reflect the "environmental realities".
He said governments were moving towards implementing such a tax, which could be as much as 40 or 50 per flight.
"This will ultimately be paid by the person who is flying or the person who is bringing in lettuces from Africa," he said.
The University of York's Stockholm Institute publishes the report on Monday.

Notso Fantastic
4th Jul 2004, 17:22
Didn't I read the other week that trains produce more pollution than if people went by car? By all means let's zap aviation with punitive 'pollution' taxes if that's what people want, but let's make sure we really lay it on those filthy smoky diesel trains, and let's tax those obscene smoky empty diesel buses too. My BMW is the height of purity with little noise, no smoke, and very efficient.

Where do all these daft, sandal wearing, bike riding,cademics get the funds to produce this crap? Bet they still take aeroplanes for their holidays to Greece, Florida etc. when they need to!

Mick Stability
4th Jul 2004, 18:03
Absolutely right. We should all stay at home, eat polenta, and knit our own yoghurt from organic belly button fluff.

Strange planet - academia.:sad:

4th Jul 2004, 18:06
Don't worry, the Government is not in a position to take any action. The operator of the largest fleet of filthy noisy gas-guzzlers is in fact the Government itself; merely by painting a few circles and funny registrations on its aircraft they suddenly become immune to all legislation.

4th Jul 2004, 18:16
Sounds like the idiots in California.

State law mandated a percentage (something like 18% the first year) of all vehicles had to be zero emissions. The pressure was placed on the auto manufacturers to come up with cars to meet the demand. As the program was about to begin, someone with just a smidgeon of common sense asked,

"Where does the electricity come from that charges the electric cars?" (Or runs the 'lectric trains?)


With the electric crisis in La-la land a couple years back, that effectively showed the tree-huggers their plan was half-baked and ill thought out. End of story.

Another nail was driven in the Green Movements coffin when someone pointed out a new '04 Chevy, BMW, or Honda produces only 1% of a car manufactured only ten years ago. Modern cars are essentially zero emmision now.


West Coast
4th Jul 2004, 20:46
"State law mandated a percentage (something like 18% the first year) of all vehicles had to be zero emissions"

I'd rather not comment on the specifics but the work the state and municipalities are doing is paying off. While there is still a long way to go the quality of the air has improved. I remember growing up here and having days were the schools wouldn't let us go out on the playgrounds because the smog was so bad.
While they may seem heavy handed in their dealings, the flipside is I can breathe again. I am a right wing gun toting Bush Republican so its not like I'm a tree hugger spouting off.

4th Jul 2004, 21:10
Any growth 'risk to planet'.

The whole point is, as always, manging risk.

5th Jul 2004, 08:44
Just throwing in a little info,

I have just finished my final year project on mixing enhancement techniques for gas turbine combustion chambers. Currently, the aviation industry contributes to approximately 3.5% of global climatic change. Estimates based on current trends indicate this could increases to between 13-17% by the year 2050. So its pretty critical that the risk is managed quickly and effectively! These figures leave out the changes caused by increased cirrus cloudiness and other pollutants whose effects are not known.

Fortunately I did find a way to mix and fuel better - but its not quite enough at this stage to save the world :ugh:

Tree huggers keep hugging for the time being im afraid!

Nick :}

5th Jul 2004, 08:47
Government statistics, even with added political spin, can't be that far out. Aviation causes only 4.8% of total pollution.

Interesting bar graph on http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/103196/297597?referrer=/yourenv/eff/pollution/296030/296054/297248/

5th Jul 2004, 22:30
I have to say that maybe we should take one step back and think of where our industry will be in 30 or so years. What cannot be denied is that fossil fuels will run out eventually and we need to think of what we shall do for transport in the future. Are the aircraft and engine manufacturers considering other forms of propulsion rather than the jet engine?

I often think when taking 300 passengers to the sun in Florida, is it is really worth burning 50 or so tonnes of Jet A1 (pumping exhaust gasses directly into the upper atmosphere) to provide recreation and fun for so few people?

The free market economy should decide where scarce resources should be allocated. For governments to interfere with the free market by effectively subsidising fuel, the forces of demand and supply do not produce an equilibrium ticket price, or equilibrium flight quantity.

In my opinion, the transport infrastructure in the UK is substandard and antiquated, (LHR is a national disgrace). Just look at the fantastic high speed trains which run on the continent, the well thought out airports elsewhere in the world and the road systems found in countries such as Spain and Germany. We really do let ourselves down.

I would suggest that this country needs a completely INTEGRATED transport system, not a bit of road here, a small airport extension there, a tram system in a couple of cities and cheap aircraft fuel to stimulate the aviation industry. The planning of such a system should look far into the future and consider who will use it, how often, and most importantly, how will it be fuelled.

Young Paul
6th Jul 2004, 08:26
Sorry, but I'm a professional pilot and I'm pretty much with the tree-huggers on this one. Whilst the total emissions from aviation might be less than 5% at the moment, a huge growth in aviation is anticipated over the next few decades, whilst measures in place post-Kyoto will reduce the environmental impact of other areas, so the percentage impact of aviation will increase to the point where it is highly significant - perhaps even dominant. You don't need to be too well informed to find this out. The anti-liberal opinions voiced on this forum are typical of the US conservative (not just republican!) attitude - "well, we can't do anything that might jeopardize trade, specifically capitalist trade, specifically US trade." However, there are economies around the world that are growing whilst their production of CO2 is decreasing in real terms. What it is really about, philosophically, is the supposed autonomy of the individual from the rest of society - "people should be free to whatever they want." - it goes with freedom to carry guns ("There are no bad guns, only bad people"), have abortions on demand, not provide health care for the vulnerable. However, the truth is that we are all part of a global community, and we need to recognise that what we are doing has an effect on other people.

The environmental case for public transport is complex - on Boeing's website, there was a series of papers that made a "fair" comparison between different forms, and aviation doesn't come out too bad. However, given the infrastructure exists, and is fundamentally more reliable, should people to be flying between London and Paris/Brussels simply because they can and they want the air miles, when they could be going on trains that will get you there in about the same time (centre to centre), have a much higher capacity, and don't fill up the airspace? Should we providing flights every half-hour between two points 40 minutes flying time apart, rather than offering flights every hour in bigger, more efficient aircraft? Or better still, providing fast surface links? Which is environmentally better - the Boeing model of 12000 7E7's connecting every pair of cities on earth, or the A380 model of large cities linked by super-jumbos with efficient surface links to the airports? Can governments afford to fail to invest in integrated public transport? All these are serious questions, and the answers aren't simple.

Sorry, Danny, I realise that this is more philosophical than you like, but you can't detach debates about CO2 emissions from aviation from people's presuppositions and world views.

Echo Zulu Yankee
6th Jul 2004, 13:58
Anyone remember the "Yes Minister" episode on an integrated transport policy?

An element of truth in there I fear.......


Big Tudor
6th Jul 2004, 15:36
It looks to me like Prof Whitelegg is contradicting himself. On the one hand he wants journeys of less than 400 miles to be undertaken by train rather than plane, whilst condemning tax breaks and state aid for the airlines. Not sure about the rest of Europe but the British railway system has been receiving substantial state handouts for years, seemingly to little effect.

It is very easy for statisticians and reporters to 'demand' more people use public transport. They aren't the one's who have to try and use the bl@@dy public transport system. For me, home to work by car takes approx 1 hour. By public transport it takes approx 3 hours. So in order for me to appease the politicians and greenies I need to increase my working day by 4 hours. No thanks! You put in place a transport system that is comfortable (i.e. slightly better than the cattle trucks that we currently have on commuter lines), punctual and doesn't require a second mortgage to partake of then I will consider taking you up on your kind offer. The cost of a ticket from LHR-JFK is frquently cheaper than the cost of the train / taxi fare to the airport from some of the outlying parts of England.

Unfortunately for the green movement, the vast majority of people now have access to flying as a means of transport. Prices are now a fraction of what they were a mere 20 years ago, coupled with the increase in the available cash that people now have. To try and persuade us to abandon this readily available transport medium is going to be an extremely difficult task.

6th Jul 2004, 16:41
Maybe flying is too cheap and should be more exclusive.
As the oil runs out, that is what market forces will dictate anyway.
An American economist once suggested 'Lets put the rucksacks back on the Greyhounds now'.
Unfortunately money and breeding no longer go together.

Big Tudor
6th Jul 2004, 16:45

Unfortunately money and breeding no longer go together.
One of the truest points I've ever head. You weren't think of anyone in particular were you! ;)

6th Jul 2004, 18:24
Ah continental trains.

I have to go to scotland at the weekend. By aeroplane its 2hrs 40 (including 1 hour check in and driving to/from the airport) by train 7 hours making it impossible to leave home sat morning and get there for 9am
Ticket price Train 88 (saver return)
Plane 80 (BmiBaby booked 5 days in advance)

There is no comparison. We should not be able to compete against HST in the sub 500KM stage length sector. But railways in the UK are so cr*p that we can.

Ps it would cost me about 70 in my car in fuel insurance etc. :ugh:

Big Tudor
6th Jul 2004, 20:30
Let me guess daysleeper. Once north of the border the train stops at every point where there happens to be more than 4 houses. In the old days one would travel by train from Aberdeen to London, 8 hours on a good day. Of the 15 stops on the journey 12 were in Scotland. Why can't the express trains do city to city? Surely hub and spoke would work on the railways?

6th Jul 2004, 21:15
Daysleeper, you claim that London to Scotland by air is "2hrs 40 (including 1 hour check in and driving to/from the airport)"

If you live at the airport perhaps! Flight duration gate-to-gate is about 1 hour 30 minutes and then you've got to get through the terminal and wait for your bags. With 1 hour check-in it takes at least 2hrs 40mins before the journey to and from the airport is taken into account.

I need to allow 1 hour to drive to Glasgow airport, 15 mins for long-term parking shuttle bus, and then have a 1 hour 30 minute tube and bus journey to look forward to at the other end.

So by air from my home to visit my parents in London takes a total of about 5 hours 30 mins at least.

Train journey would take 6 hours 45 minutes (including to and from station at each end).

Driving would take about 7 hours 30 mins.

So yes - flying is quicker than any other way of making this journey of 430 miles - but it certainly doesn't work out as twice as fast as the train. However, perhaps this is because most of the journey is on the East Coast mainline - just about the only train line in this country that runs at a decent speed.

But even GNER doesn't run at the speeds that it used to - I went to live in Canada for 5 years during the 1990s and found that timetabled journey times had increased when I returned!

7th Jul 2004, 07:48
you claim that London to Scotland by air
Ah but I never said London. I am using the rather nice airport at EMA, although BHX, BRS or any other regional airport is just as relevent. Short walk from parking to checkin and short taxi fro gate to runway fairly quick to get bags.
Flight time 40 mins 10 mins push and taxi before 5 mins after call it 55mins max.
I also have the misfortune of being on the Virging on the ridiculous west coast mainline. Which reaches the giddy average speeds equal to a horse drawn berewery dray.

As well if you have to drive an hour to glasgow you are hardly living in central station so you will have to drive to the railway station anyhow. And getting into the middle of Glasgow during the day is a pain, the airport is only 10-15mins for those in the west end.

Ah well if you really wanted integrated public transport move to France, Lyon and CDG airports have their own TGV stations. I'm sure there are others.

7th Jul 2004, 08:35
Just to put things in perspective, France is a late joiner of the integrated transport thinggy (Lyon 1994, CDG 1995).
IIRC, the first ones in Europe were the Danes and the Dutch (Copenhagen & Schiphol date back to the seventies, maybe even earlier), followed by the Swiss. No idea about Germany, though

7th Jul 2004, 09:40
I think you will find that aviation fuel is not taxed under the aviation ICAO treaty, which all signatories are obliged to comply with under international law. So unless someone can get all 150 odd countries to agree on a fuel tax (and I can't imagine the USA would agree), it will stay the way it is now - ii.e. individual countries apply passenger ticket tax per sector etc. In UK this typically totals 500 per flight to the government ( to be wasted on social handouts/subsidies for pet schemes/wars etc), when the cost of the kerosene is typically 1000.
Fuel for the train companies is not taxed either. Passengers do not pay tax on their train tickets. In deed the train companies receive about 5billlion per annum in subsidy from the tax payers.

9th Jul 2004, 12:04
Taxation is one way of skewing transport policy. It isn't yet being used, succesfully, to manage pollution control nor the possibility of global warming. There isn't the will to upset the public and force 'cleaner' concepts (including the alternative of travelling less and just staying at home.)

There was some very interesting data concerning the greenhouse effect of contrails following the enforced 'no fly' post 9/11 when there were no contrails. It seems that chemical pollutants are only part of the story; the reflectivivty of the condensed water was sufficient to raise land temperatures by about one degree C. This disappeared when the skies were kept clear (sic.) Trains don't do this, increased avaition will exacerbate this effect. Perhaps we should avoid contrailing altitudes?

9th Jul 2004, 12:44

That's interesting about the greenhouse effect of contrails. Do you have a reference you could point me at? My google search is throwing up a few too many "chemtrails" sites to be useful.


9th Jul 2004, 13:12
The following is a link to the New Scientist article. There is another article in the publication which may also be of interest to you.

new scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992642)

new scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992926)

Rwy in Sight
9th Jul 2004, 14:44
What makes me sick in Athens is that aiport taxes in the monopolistic LGAV skew the situation in favour of the non-airlines transportation. The flight to SKG before taxes is slightly more expensive than first class train fare ( the highway is a death trap in some areas) but if you add the 25 Euros airport tax for the privilege of using the sh...hole of LGAV one takes the train.

It is annoying that airlines have to pay for the infrastracture they use while rail and shipping companies enjoy the free infrastracture paid for by the state.

I am wondering what would be the solution to airlines for travel between Poland and Sweden.

Rwy in Sight