Heathrow runway climate law breach warning

The Committee on Climate Change has warned the government that plans to expand Heathrow Airport could breach the government’s climate change laws.

The committee claimed that the government will have to squeeze emissions cuts from other sectors of the economy if the projected 15 per cent increase in aviation emissions by 2050 is allowed.

The Committee, set up to advise the UK government on emissions targets, warns that creating the space for aviation emissions to grow will impose unbearable extra emissions reductions on sectors like steel-making, motoring and home heating.

It also questioned the third Heathrow runway and government policy plans to freeze aviation emissions in 2050 at 2005 levels.

Aviation emissions have doubled since 1990, with no advanced low-carbon technology for planes. The committee argues that the Department for Transport might solve the aviation overshoot by buying permits to pollute from poor countries which have low levels of CO2 emissions.

Writing to Greg Clark, Business and Energy Secretary, chair of the committee Lord Deben said: “If emissions from aviation are now anticipated to be higher than 2005, then all other sectors would have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions.

“Aviation emissions at 2005 levels already imply an 85 per cent reduction in other sectors. My committee has limited confidence about the options (for achieving the compensatory cuts needed).”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told BBC News: "The government agrees with the Airports Commission's assessment that a new runway at Heathrow can be delivered within the UK's carbon obligations.

"We are considering how we will continue to reduce our emissions across the economy through the 2020s and will set this out in our emissions reduction plan, which will send an important signal to the markets, businesses and investors.

"Our commitment to meeting our Climate Change Act target of an at least 80% emissions reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 is as strong as ever."