Excluding Air, Sea CO2 From U.K. Budgets Messy, Panel Says

Excluding emissions from shipping and aviation from U.K. government budgets for carbon-dioxide output would lower the nation’s climate protection ambition, according to the nation’s Committee on Climate Change.

“We are trying to keep these very dangerous climate change probabilities at very low levels,” David Kennedy, chief executive of the committee, said today at a meeting of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee.

The U.K. installed a program of legally binding carbon budgets set every five years under the Climate Change Act 2008. In May 2011, the government accepted the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation for the fourth budget of a limit of 1.95 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over the years from 2023 to 2027, amounting to an emissions cut of 50 percent from 1990, according to the committee’s website.

Shipping and aviation may account for 25 percent of the nation’s 160 million-ton carbon-dioxide budget in 2050, Kennedy said. Excluding them would amount to “a messy solution.”

The U.K. is considering including aviation and shipping in its carbon budgets, as nations including the U.S. and China object to the European Union’s inclusion of airlines starting this year in its carbon market, the world’s largest by traded volume. Britain has agreed to cut its emissions by 80 percent on 1990 levels by 2050, including from shipping and aviation.

Not Ready

So far, the nation hasn’t included the two industries in its carbon budgets. Greg Barker, U.K. minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, told the parliamentary committee the government was not yet ready to decide whether or when to include emissions from aviation and shipping into the budgets.

“We will be publishing our report by Christmas,” he said.

Including aviation in the EU carbon market may raise demand for permits in the program and boost costs for other emitters, said Andrew Herdman, board member of the Air Transport Action Group, the lobby group. “That may not wash with them,” Herdman told the parliamentary committee today.

It’s unclear whether aviation’s inclusion in the EU carbon market will remain, Herdman said. “It’s a rather flimsy bridge to use” when seeking to limit the U.K.’s airline emissions, he said.

Nations objecting to the inclusion of aviation in the EU carbon market might justify a delay in including those emissions in Britain’s budgets, Kennedy said. It should not prevent inclusion of those emissions in budgets through 2050, he said.

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