Letters to MPs and others in the battle against climate change

Sample letters sent to MPs and others on the challenges that global warming presents - it is time to move beyond awareness to action

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Letter from the Independent Review of ASA Adjudications

The Independent Reviewer of ASA Adjudications

5th Floor, 21 Berners Street, London W1T 3LP

Fax 020 7580 7057 Email indrev@asbof.co.uk

28 September 2009

Kevin Lister Esq


Park Road Crescent



ASA Case A09-101952: Airbus - Request for Review

In your letter of 9 September 2009 (received on 17 September) you asked me to review the ASA’s decision not to investigate your complaints about advertising in National Geographic by Airbus for a photographic competition which it was sponsoring. You sent me an email with more information on 22 September. I have now been able to consider what you wrote and to review the ASA file on the case.

Your complaint was that the Airbus advertisement was misleading because the advertiser was claiming to be trying to minimise environmental impact and reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite the fact that the aviation industry would always operate in a way detrimental to the environment. You were also concerned that the points in the advertisement about investment in biofuels took no account of the fact that the production of most biofuels led to deforestation and other consequences detrimental to the environment. I am aware of the interest taken by your MP in the case.

My understanding is that the Council’s view that there were no grounds for taking further action upon your complaints was based upon a judgement that readers of National Geographic would understand that the advertiser was not claiming that the aviation industry had no adverse impact on the environment. The Council considered that the advertisement was therefore not in breach of the relevant Code provisions. The Council was aware of your view and your concerns but unanimously reached a different judgement and concluded that the concerns which you had expressed about the advertisement did not justify further investigation. I regret that I do not share your view that the judgement of the Council was either unfair or unreasonable. Furthermore, after reading the ASA file, I am satisfied that the Council did consider the issue fairly and in accordance with its normal procedures.

In your statement of case to me you argue that the Council’s judgement was incompatible with clauses 49.1 and 49.3 of the Code. I note from the file that you drew the ASA’s attention to that argument, with the result that the ASA Executive decided then to refer the case to the Council. It seems to me therefore that the Council was not persuaded by your argument, having taken the view that readers of National Geographic would be unlikely to regard the advertisement as a claim that Airbus was taking actions which would lead to absolute, rather than relative, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Again I am not persuaded that the Council has acted either unfairly or unreasonably. Nor am I persuaded that the Council has itself acted in breach of the advertising Code. It is, after all, required by clause 1.4b to assess conformity with the Code “according to the …probable impact when taken as a whole and in context”.

It is by no means unusual that complainants and the Council reach differing conclusions on the same material, especially in areas where those conclusions must to a large extent be matters of judgement rather than proof, such as the way in which an advertisement is likely to be perceived. But it is the Council which is charged with the responsibility for making judgements about how a particular advertisement is likely to be perceived by those who see it and whether it is in breach of the advertising Code. The Council has to strike a balance between preserving freedom of expression and ensuring that such freedom is not seriously harmful to the interests of others. I am satisfied that the Council was aware that the fact that an aeronautics company was playing up what it saw as its environmental credentials would be distasteful and objectionable to some. It seems that the Council nevertheless felt that the advertisement was unlikely to mislead readers of National Geographic.

I assure that I am not seeking to defend the ASA and its Council. But my role as Independent Reviewer under the advertising Code requires me to understand the basis of the judgements reached by the Council and to form my own view as to whether a complainant has produced persuasive arguments that the Council has acted unfairly or reasonably. It would be wrong for me to seek to substitute my own judgement for that of the Council even if from time to time I might be so inclined. My responsibility is to determine whether a valid case has been made for asking the Council to reconsider a decision not to investigate having concluded that a complainant has succeeded in showing that decision to have been substantially flawed or because the complainant has submitted relevant new evidence.

I am not persuaded on this occasion that the Council has made an unreasonable or flawed decision within the proper limits of its own responsibilities. Nor do I think that your letter and email to me have brought to light any fresh facts or considerations likely to cause the Council to change its mind. I have therefore concluded that there are no grounds for inviting the Council to reconsider its decision not to investigate your complaint about this advertisement.

The review process under the Code has now been concluded and I shall close my file on the case. I know that this decision will be a disappointment to you and for that I am sorry. I realise that you feel very strongly about the impact of the aviation industry on the environment.

I note from the file that the ASA has ensured that the advertiser is aware of the complaints which this advertisement has prompted.

(Sir John Caines KCB)

Monday, May 21, 2007

E mail to Mark Ryan, MD of Gloucestershire Airport

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Dear Mark

I listened with interest to your recent interview on Radio Gloucestershire and your explanation of the benefits that will arise from the development of the airport. I have already written to councillors in Tewksbury , Gloucester and Cheltenham , (see my blog)

Unfortunately, as I listen to your interview, I can not help but remember the story of King Canute as he tried to turn the tide back. However, I am not sure if I am King Canute trying to turn the tide of airport expansion, or if you are King Canute in pursuing a carbon intensive development against the overwhelming tide of scientific development and hoping that no bad will come your way.

You must by now be aware of climate change and surely you must be aware of the dangers that it poses to us all. If you are not I can explain. I am a maths lecturer and have looked deeply in the mathematics of it. I can assure you that we face a situation of unprecedented and unequivocal danger. The problem was further highlighted just this week with the report that the Southern Ocean is now fully saturated with CO2. If this does not make responsible and intelligent people stop and reconsider their positions, then we are genuinely doomed.

The problem that I have with your position, and the problem that deep down you must also have, is that you are trying to make your position on the expansion of your airport seem good by comparing your intentions with the "baddest boys in the class." Your position is a bit like saying that it is okay to rob the corner shop because it is small in relation to the great train robbery.

The weakness of your position is best illustrated with the points that you have raised in your web site and in your project summary.

Your have said that “We (Gloucestershire airport) are committed to the UK aviation industry's Sustainable Aviation Strategy.” However, there is no clear definition and agreement on what a sustainable aviation strategy is. Given the science, the current level of aviation emissions is not sustainable, let along any further increase as planned. The aviation strategy also assumes growth in aviation. Growth in anything is not sustainable! Eventually you will always reach limits. Unfortunately the emerging evidence is that we have probably already breached these and that we may simply be living in the time lag period between causation and effect. Statements such as Sustainable Aviation are misnomers that are designed to spin the government out of difficult decisions. You should have the insight to see this.

You have said “Aviations contribution to global warming, relative to other economic sectors is currently small.” This is wrong. Relative to other economic sectors aviations contribution to global warming is large due to accentuating factors such as radiative forcing. It appears small in reports such as Stern because the Stern report includes the contribution for deforestation and only talks about direct CO2 emissions. Coming back to my previous point, you are fundamentally comparing your emissions against sources such as deforestation. This does not make your proposals benign.

You have said “Climate change is a global issue and action is needed at local, national and international level.” You are correct to point out that action is needed at all levels. This also means everyone recognising that their actions contribute. I feel that I am being patronising in saying that stopping expanding your airport is a local action that you can take.

You have said “Emissions trading are the most effective market mechanism for achieving improvements in the aviation industry and an important component of Government policy is the inclusion of aircraft emissions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.” This is simply not true. Despite the government’s rhetoric, it has absolutely no detailed plan on how emission trading can work on the international stage to achieve a significant reduction in aviation emissions. The impact of the acceleration of aviation is such that virtually all manufacturing in the EU would have to be stopped to ensure that the existing targets are achieved. On the subject of emissions trading, Douglas Alexander (Transport Secretary) said to the Environmental Audit Committee:

“In terms of where we are in those negotiations, the evidence from the public statements of Lufthansa, even in the last 48 hours, evidences that the argument is not yet won within the aviation community. It is also no secret that some of our international partners are less than convinced of the merits even of a European scheme, never mind a wider scheme given the global nature of air travel"

Even the government's recent draft climate change bill suggests that if aviation were to be bought into the ETS system, the targets would be moved to accommodate the extra emissions. This is hardly a recipe for robustly managing global warming.

You have said that you will “minimise greenhouse gas emissions through the use of energy saving measures in the buildings and services within our control and improvements to aircraft operational procedures.” This is welcome, but it is fiddling while Rome burns. Your increased services will by far outweigh any improvements to buildings that you make.

In your interview with Radio Gloucestershire you implied that because Boeings and Airbuses will not be using the extended facilities that this somehow makes the proposals acceptable. However, with a significantly increased service pattern your emissions will increase significantly, regardless of the badge on the plane, perhaps not as much, but they will increase none the less. The science is clear. We can not countenance any further expansion of aviation, however regrettable.

You have also made misleading claims elsewhere on your web site such as if there were no airport, housing developments on the site would create more CO2 emissions than the airport. However, houses are built to accommodate an expanding population in the area. If they are not built on the site of the airport, they will be simply be built somewhere else.

I could go on picking holes in your arguments as easily as you put the arguments up. However what I would ask you to do is read your history books in light of the emerging evidence and try and find a time in the past were people were faced with apparently unending opportunities at the expense of those who had no say. The closest parallel I can find is with the German people during the rise of fascism when many benefited from the property confiscation of the Jews and the expansion to the East. Few protested, largely as a result of the improvements of their living standards and most supported the Nazi party. Your children and my children stand in the same place as the Jews. Their future is being stolen from under their feet and they have no say in it, but it is a guaranteed certainty that by robbing them of a future they will suffer in ways that will far exceed the Jews. I appreciate that you are doing your job in pressing for the expansion of the airport and that you probably have a family to support. However, continue the analogy with Germany a bit further. In the Nuremburg trials, “just following orders and doing my job” was not considered to be a defence.

I trust that you appreciate that I draw this comparison as an illustration of the severity of the challenge that we face. I am sure that you are an honourable person and that you will not take it in any way that I imply you are a Nazi.

As a society we will face major decisions in the near future were we have to accept sacrifices to our standards of living and expectations in order to secure our survival. Airport expansion is one of the first major tests of our resolve were we replace the expansionist business models of the past with alternative consolidation and retrenchment models. By taking on this challenge, Gloucester Airport has the opportunity to be a role model in the future world that we are rapidly and uncontrolably moving towards. I urge you to reconsider your position on this expansion.

On a more positive historical note from Ghandi "Be the change that you want to be."


Kevin Lister,


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

2nd e-mail to all Tewksbury Councillors on Staverton Airport

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Dear Councillors,

In my last email (see post below) to yourselves regarding the planning application for Staverton Aiport, I warned that the un-stated objective of the developments at Staverton airport was to facilitate new infrastructure to allow the introduction of passenger services from the airport and that it was not just to improve safety as the airport management claimed. I argued in my previous email that given the latest evidence on global warming, especially in the light of the IPCC report, this was unacceptable. The report in this week’s Gloucester Echo (attached below) has confirmed the worst fears.

It is now clear that the airport management's claim that the development was safety related was clearly designed to mislead and avoid the necessary public scrutiny that an airport development should be subjected to, especially given the increasing public concern about global warming.

To give an order of magnitude of the environmental impact of this development, I previously calculated that the proposed development would require approximately 1.5 million trees to be planted to absorb the CO2 produced. Given the increased number of flights that the airport management is now claiming it wants to introduce, this will be an under-estimate.

Despite the airport management’s claims, the development will have a significant global warming impact. It is incumbent on yourselves to oppose this development for the following reasons:-

  • Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions. Current government policy effectively provides unrestricted development of aviation in the face of all credible scientific evidence. The governments own figures show that aviation's emissions will treble by the year 2050.

  • The government and the aviation industry, (including the Staverton airport web site) claim that aviation emissions can be managed through incorporation of aviation into the European Carbon Trading Scheme. This is a cynical lie. The transport secretary (Douglas Alexander) on being questioned by the environmental audit committee on the inclusion of aviation into the European Carbon Trading Scheme said:-

    "In terms of where we are in those negotiations, the evidence from the public statements of Lufthansa, even in the last 48 hours, evidences that the argument is not yet won within the aviation community. It is also no secret that some of our international partners are less than convinced of the merits even of a European scheme, never mind a wider scheme given the global nature of air travel"

    It is therefore absolutely obvious that there is no mechanism in place that will ameliorate the emissions generated from this development or for that matter any other airport expansion, despite the claims made by Staverton airport and others within the industry.

  • The aviation industry would like to claim that their emissions are a small percentage of the overall total compared to power generation and car emissions. However policies are gradually being developed to reduce these such as carbon capture for power stations and road pricing for cars. Aviation is the only major emitter of carbon that is doing absolutely nothing to reduce its total emissions.

  • The airport's management claim that with the new development the total number of flights from the airport will not increase, implying that existing flights will be replaced by the new services. There is absolutely no evidence to support this and it is inconceivable that the airport management will terminate existing businesses and service contracts once they introduced new passenger services. The most likely scenario is that the existing customers will be maintained and the proposed new business will be run in addition.

  • Tewksbury Council signed the Nottingham declaration on climate change. This is a powerful statement to make. However, actions speak louder than words and in this case the strongest statement that the council can make on their support for climate change is to completely and utterly reject the proposed developments at Staverton.

  • The airport literature claims “business jets operating from the airport having the range to take colleagues to almost anywhere,” implying that this is important to businesses in the area. However as a council committed to the Nottingham declaration, it is incumbent on you to encourage businesses in the area to use low carbon forms of communication such as video conferencing, rather than allow the most carbon intensive mode of operation possible. Also, in reality a large number of these “business jet” flights are likely to be made by the rich and famous and will not support any critical business development.

  • The airport has made and will continue to make the claim that its emissions are small compared to the adjacent motorway. However, this overlooks that fact that airport is actively seeking to increase its carbon emissions. If history has told us anything, it is that it is far easier to stop a bad idea from beginning than to stop a bad idea from continuing. Japan tries to continue whaling because it has a whaling industry to support, cars are driven long distances on motorways because people choose to live further from work and demand that motorways stay accessible so they can continue to work. In the near future as the impacts of climate change bite deeply into everyone’s standard of living and future security, those industries and people who have become dependent on airports like Staverton will argue that its continued operation is essential for the maintenance of their livelihoods, to the detriment of everyone else.

I therefore urge you to uphold the commitment that you have made to the Nottingham climate change declaration and reject this unnecessary and damaging development. The science on global warming is now unequivocal and it applies to us all.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister

See article from This is Gloucestershire


Monday, February 26, 2007

Letter to Tewksbury Council regarding the expansion of Staverton Airport

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Dear Sirs/Madams

I am writing to you with regard to the development proposals that have currently been submitted by Staverton Airport .

The developments are outlined in the Staverton Airport ’s 5 year business plan. This clearly states that the business case for these improvements is aimed at increasing usable runway length to facilitate the introduction of additional services to UK and Continental airports.

Many of these proposed services are targeted towards business jets and short services such as links to London . These types of services are the most CO2 intensive method of travel. In addition, the government’s aviation white paper states that the high altitude that these gases are emitted at increases the global warming contribution by up to a factor of 4.

You will also no doubt be aware of the conclusions of the recent IPCC report on global warming. This report is absolutely unequivocal in its warnings on the severity of the issue that we face and its logic can not be denied in any way. As a society we face fundamental decisions about development and we need to recognise that the old assumptions about continued growth can no long apply. Strong and enlightened leadership is now called for in the challenge to these past assumptions.

In Staverton Airport ’s business case, they provide a conservative estimate of the additional services that they plan to introduce and the additional fuel that they will sell. Their plan is to introduce many more additional services over and above the base level in the business plan; furthermore having made the initial investment in the facilities they will be actively incentivised to introduce as many new services as possible to recoup their investment.

Staverton Airport argues on its web site that its contribution to global warming is negligible. This is a weak argument as we can all state that our individual contribution to global warming is negligible. The fact is that the cumulative amount of all our contributions is massive and growing and well beyond what the planet can sustain. Therefore, we all need to have the discipline to minimise our emissions.

I urge you to reject proposals for infrastructure developments and runway enhancement at Staverton Airport .

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Letter to the Advertising Standard Agency regarding Easy Jet Adverts

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The advert titled “Care about the environment? We do too!” by Easy Jet claims that aviation accounted for 1.6% of global greenhouse emissions and with the implication that this is small overall impact.

This advert overlooks the fact that international travel is not included in aviation emissions. When these are taken into account, aviation contributes 6% of the UK CO2 emissions (see government report SG/SG/3760, House of Commons Library). Furthermore, once the radiative forcing impacts of aviation emissions are taken into account, the impact of this is significantly increased. The advert also does not reference the fact that air transport is expected to contribute up to 60% of the UK global warming impact given current anticipated growth rates.

The advert implies that Easy Jet is committed to the environment by removing 22 older generation aircraft and replacing with newer aircraft. This is misleading. Easy Jet would have replaced these aircraft anyway as they would any other plane that is approaching the end of it service life. Furthermore the main thrust behind this initiative is to reduce operating costs, rather than improve the environment as stated in the article.

The article also implies that travelling by Easy Jet is environmentally friendly as they achieve “27% lower emissions per passenger kilometre” than traditional airlines. This is potentially misleading on two counts.

Firstly, without clear evidence of boarding across airlines their 27% lower emissions figure can not be verified. The Civil Aviation Authority does not publish seat utilisation by company. (See http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?categoryid=80&pagetype=88&sglid=1&fld=200611). It is also not clear in the advert what Easy Jet considers to be a traditional airline. In very small print Easy Jet state the comparator basis being “27% lower emissions on a per passenger kilometre basis with the same age, journey and type of plane as a traditional airline.” However, on many Easy Jets routes, “traditional airlines” do not fly, thus making their comparator inaccurate.

Secondly, the statement of a 27% lower emission per seat overlooks the fact that Easy Jet’s total emissions have increased significantly. Furthermore Easy Jet is actively engaged in lobbying the government to support additional expansion of airports in the UK which will lead to a significant increase in total Easy Jet emissions as well as a significant increase in overall UK CO2 emissions.

The advert thus erroneously implies that flying with Easy Jet is environmentally responsible, when in fact the reality is that it may only be marginally less environmentally damaging than flying with a traditional airline.

I will be forwarding this correspondence on to my MP, David Drew.

Letter to the Advertising Standard Agency regarding Ryan Air Adverts

The advert taken out by Ryan Air in today’s Telegraph and other broad sheets to protest against the governments APD misleadingly quotes that the aviation industry only accounts for 2% of Carbon Dioxide emissions.

The advert uses the government's erroneous analysis of aviation emissions which only counts domestic travel. If international travel is included, which actually accounts for the majority of aviation emissions, the CO2 emissions by the aviation industry are 6% of the UK total, (see government report SG/SG/3760, House of Commons Library).

Further to this, the advert does not take into account the increased radiative heating impact of the CO2 emissions, (see various IPCC reports and the aviation white paper) which is commonly considered to be up to 4 times more significant than emissions emitted at sea level. Given these facts, aviation is currently accounting for up to 24% of UK global warming effect, rather than the 2% claimed in Ryan Air's advert.

Also, the article does not reference the proposed increase in air travel. Under current projections, air travel will eventually count for up to 60% of the UK global warming contribution, when the full impact of radiative forcing due to aircraft emissions are considered.

The advert also makes the claim the government has not introduced the APD to help combat global warming. This is unsubstantiated.

By implication, the advert dismisses the recommendations of the recent IPCC report, the Stern report and other scientific reports which have all argued that significant and urgent cuts are needed to reduce CO2 emissions.

The advert’s caricature of the Pope not being able to absolve Gordon Brown on this issue is also offensive to Catholics. By implication it implies that the Catholic Church does not support Gordon Brown and therefore supports expanding aviation growth irrespective of the damage that this is doing to the environment.

I will also be copying this letter to my MP

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Response to the transport secretary (Douglas Alexander)

Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 21:45:36 +0000 (GMT)From: Kevin Lister Subject: Response to your letter on airport expansion 6 Feb 2007To: emily.robertson@dft.gsi.gov.ukCC: David DREW
Dear Emily,

Thank you for the letter that you have sent my son on behalf of the Transport Secretary, which I have taken the liberty to respond to on his behalf.

I have referred to the governments 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport and the subsequent progress report of December 2006, which you referenced in your letter to try and understand the specifics of your points.

The progress report states that the aircraft industry is “adopting a target to improve fuel efficiency by 50 per cent per seat kilometre in new aircraft in 2020 compared to 2000.”

A recent IPCC investigation into aircraft efficiency improvements concludes that “Because of the very long total lifetimes of today's aircraft (up to 50 years), however, replacement rates are low, and the fuel efficiency of the whole fleet will improve slowly.”

Further to this Boeing’s Walt Gillette who is the Vice President and Airplane Manager of the 7E7 says “The 7E7 will use less fuel per passenger than an A380 and Boeing has set itself a target of reducing the 7E7's fuel consumption by 20 percent compared with comparable types around today, such as the 767.”

As the 7E7 will be the most fuel efficient airplane in the skies for the next 20 years, can you explain where the other 30% of fuel efficiency that the airlines are committing to will come from, even given the unreasonable assumption that all the future planes flying will be 7E7s. If not, can I reasonably conclude that the 50% target in your papers does not represent a realistic target? Also, given that we are 7 years into the 20 year time frame for a 50% overall fuel improvement, could you advise on the progress that the airline industry has made towards these targets.

In your letter, you state that the White Paper has rejected proposals for development at some airports, it does however state “The Government therefore supported the development of two new runways in the South East: at Stansted and at Heathrow.” In addition, it also supports significant service increases at regional airports.

On your point on the APD, the feedback from passengers on BBC reports on the day of its introduction was that the additional charge was too small to stop people flying. In your letter, you have stated that the APD will result in savings equivalent to three quarters of a million tonnes of carbon. Can you confirm how this estimate has been derived and what percentage of the total fuel burnt by the aircraft industry this represents?

In your letter and in the white papers, you state that the government is committed to a reduction in CO2 of some 60%. The white papers say that this can be achieved by carbon trading under the proposed EU mechanisms. Unfortunately, the white paper does not give any consideration as to how this will be achieved, other than to imply that savings made by other industries will offset aviation. Can you say which other industries will make savings and can you give assurances that these industries will not simply relocate to other countries (i.e. China) which are not in the trading mechanism to continue operations? Can you confirm if you have contact other heavy industries to confirm that they will be prepared to cut manufacturing output to support the airline industry?

In the light of last weeks damning IPCC report and the governments attempt to stem demand by the introduction of the APD, can you confirm if the government or the transport secretary is reconsidering the proposals to develop new airport infrastructure across the country?

I am also copying my MP (David Drew) on this reply.

Regards,Kevin Listter

Friday, February 09, 2007

Government response to letter to Douglas Alexander MP protesting against airport expansion

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Airport Policy Dept
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street

Email: E#mily.ro#bertsonDELETE@dft.gsi.gov.uk
## and DELETE added to stop email spiders

Web site: www.dft.gov.uk

6 February 2007

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your very informed and heartfelt letter to Douglas Alexander, received on 9 January, regarding the Government's aviation policy and the environmental impacts of air travel. I have been asked to reply, as I'm sure you will appreciate that the Secretary of State receives a very large volume of correspondence. However I can assure you that the Secretary of State's office keeps a record of correspondence received on different policy areas, and we welcome and value the views expressed. Information contained in responses sent out by the Department is approved by Ministers.

The Government's policy on aviation was set out in The Future of Air Transport White Paper, published in 2003. The White Paper set out a long-term strategy for the sustainable development of air travel to 2030, recognising the growing aspirations to travel and the economic benefits that it brings, while tackling the environmental challenges.

The Government published a progress report on the 2003 Future of Air Transport White Paper on 14 December 2006. The report sets out progress made in implementing the policies of the White Paper, including environmental measures. This report reaffirms the Government's commitment to the strategy set out in the White Paper. It continues to support the development of the aviation sector across the UK, and targeted airport development in the right circumstances. The White Paper rejected proposals for new capacity at several airports and at new greenfield locations, and instead promoted making better use of existing airport capacity, and ensuring where new capacity is required its provision is in line with the UK's environmental obligations.

The Government remains committed to putting the UK on a path to a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by some 60% from current levels by 2050 (which includes emissions from domestic aviation). International flights from the UK are not currently included in this figure as there is, as yet, no international agreement on ways of allocating such emissions. Aviation currently accounts for approximately 6% of UK CO2 emissions. However, the Government has made it clear that the aviation sector needs to take its share of responsibility for tackling this problem.

The recent Stern report reinforced the importance of taking action on climate change but also of ensuring that there is international commitment to doing so. Stern also stressed the importance of using pricing mechanisms to ensure that users pay the full environmental costs of their actions while allowing the economy to continue to grow. The Government's aviation policy is fully consistent with this approach, and we continue to support industry paying for its environmental costs over time. The progress report sets out in more detail how the Government is taking account of the most recent information on climate change impacts, and how its aviation policy fits with the approach to tackling climate change across the economy as a whole.

Our progress report demonstrates how we are tackling the climate change impact of aviation, in particular, taking a lead in Europe on the inclusion of aviation in the established EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Following the publication of the European Commission's legislative proposal on the 20 December 2006, we will now continue to press for aviation's inclusion as soon as is practicable. The EU ETS is a major policy measure that aims to reduce CO2 emissions at the least cost to industry. Participants are allocated tradable emissions "allowances" (similar to quotas) that they can trade to help them in meeting their emissions reductions targets.

In the Pre-Budget Report on 6 December 2006, the Chancellor announced that the rates of Air Passenger Duty would double with effect from 1 February 2007. APD was increased in recognition of the environmental costs of air travel and to ensure aviation meets its environmental impacts. It is thought that by doing this, APD will achieve emissions savings equivalent to three quarters of a million tonnes of carbon per year by around 2010.

With regard to your reference to levels of pollution around Heathrow Airport, the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow (PSDH) was set up to assess whether further development at the airport is likely to be consistent with the environmental conditions laid down in the Air Transport White Paper, including EU limit values for air quality. The Air Quality Technical Report, published in July 2006, confirmed that EU limit values are currently being breached in the immediate vicinity of Heathrow and adjacent to the M4, M4 spur and the A4. The potential for introducing mixed mode operations and/or a third runway are subject to our being able to show that levels of NO2 emissions at Heathrow can be managed within the EU limit as soon as possible. EU negotiations are underway on a new Ambient Air Quality Directive, if agreed, it will contain the possibility for Member States to postpone compliance with the EU limit values for NO2 for up to five years providing that a comprehensive action plan is produced and submitted for approval.

I hope you find this information helpful, and thank you once again for taking the time to write to the Secretary of State for Transport. Further information on the Government's aviation policy, and The Future of Air Transport progress report, are available on the Department for Transport website, www.dft.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Emily Robertson