As part of its climate change strategy, the Government set a UK aviation target in January 2009, to reduce UK aviation emissions back to 2005 levels in 2050. Together with deep cuts in other sectors, this would achieve the UK’s legislated economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) target to reduce emissions by 80% in 2050 relative to 1990.http://www.theccc.org.uk/sectors/aviation
Saturday, 27 March 2010The judge, Lord Justice Carnwath, did not, in his findings, address aviation policy per se. He summed up that he had been presented with three grounds for judicial review of a policy decision of then Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon in January 2009. The full transcript of the judgement is freely available on line at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2010/626.html
The political arguments about a third runway for London's Heathrow airport broke out again fiercely last night after a High Court judge declined to quash the project but told the Government to get its aviation policy in order.
Grounds for reviewThe judge rejected the first two grounds, the matters of most significance to potential global and domestic climate impacts. He agreed that there were matters of ground transport to be addressed.
71 As I have said, the grounds can be most conveniently grouped under three heads:
i) Climate change
ii) Economic justification
iii) Surface access
92 In my view the claimants' criticisms of the reasoning of this part of the 2009 Decisions are justified. I find it impossible to determine precisely what the Secretary of State ultimately understood to be the scope of the third condition, or what if anything he has decided about it. It is equally impossible to ascertain what if anything he has made of the points raised by Transport for London. It is difficult to see how a concluded view of any significance could be arrived at without addressing directly their concerns, as the responsible statutory authority. The most likely interpretation, as it seems to me, is that he has decided nothing of significance. He has implicitly recognised that this is an issue which can only be resolved at a later stage, in the context of a detailed strategy prepared by the operator as part of a planning proposal, including a commitment to expenditure ("several hundred million pounds on new rail infrastructure") as described in the ATWP.The judge did not quash the minister's decision:
98 It was agreed that submissions in respect of remedies should await this judgment. As at present advised, it seems to me that it would be appropriate to invite the Secretary of State to convert his "present intentions" in respect of section 12(1) into an undertaking, so as to put that matter beyond doubt. The relief sought in the original judicial review application was drafted without reference to the 2008 Act, the relevant provisions of which were not then in force. I am doubtful whether a quashing order is appropriate in relation to a statement of policy which had no substantive legal effect at the time, and which, assuming an undertaking in the form I have proposed, will have none under the 2008 Act. On the basis of the intentions of the Secretary of State and BAA, as presently understood, the 2008 Act provides a complete legal framework for consideration of all the issues on which the claimants rely.So, there is the bottom line: " ... the 2008 Act provides a complete legal framework for consideration of all the issues on which the claimants rely." What parts of that legal framework are of most relevance to Britain's legal commitments on CO2 emissions reductions?
The Climate Change Act 2008
The Act can be seen in its entirety at:
An Act to set a target for the year 2050 for the reduction of targeted greenhouse gas emissions; to provide for a system of carbon budgeting; to establish a Committee on Climate Change; to confer powers to establish trading schemes for the purpose of limiting greenhouse gas emissions or encouraging activities that reduce such emissions or remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere; to make provision about adaptation to climate change; to confer powers to make schemes for providing financial incentives to produce less domestic waste and to recycle more of what is produced; to make provision about the collection of household waste; to confer powers to make provision about charging for single use carrier bags; to amend the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 about renewable transport fuel obligations; to make provision about carbon emissions reduction targets; to make other provision about climate change; and for connected purposes. 9Let us pick over the bones. How might the UK swiftly and genuinely lower its contribution to global CO2 emissions?
[26th November 2008]
Make provision about carbon emissions reduction targets. Translation: "To allow more talk."
Amend the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 about renewable transport fuel obligations. Well, that's nicely ambiguous. Amend. In which direction and to what scientific purpose?
To confer powers to make provision about charging for single use carrier bags. Yes. I can see how that will keep the Arctic from being ice free by 2015, don't you friends?
To confer powers to make schemes for providing financial incentives to produce less domestic waste and to recycle more of what is produced. Translation: "Create quangos to squander public money on schemes under which notional recycling schemes are set up to replace the genuine recycling schemes which have been put out of business by an excess of legislation and taxation."
To confer powers to establish trading schemes for the purpose of limiting greenhouse gas emissions or encouraging activities that reduce such emissions or remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Ah! Jobs for the boys. I wonder if the people who wrote that understand that 'scheme' in modern English is something of a synonym for 'scam', as in 'ponzi scheme', pyramid scheme'. Carbon discredit schemes and carbon mistrading schemes? There is only one way to reduce the gases produced from the burning of fossil fuels and that is to burn less fuel. A small child can understand that very basic fact of chemistry. But they tend to put such childish notions behind them when they grow up to be politicians.
To establish a Committee on Climate Change. They actually did that.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on setting carbon budgets, and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.Of course, setting up a commitee doesn't create an obligation to act on its recommendations.
To provide for a system of carbon budgeting. Carbon comes from fossil fuel. So budget the fuel, or is that too complicated for a simple-minded politician to grasp? Note: I am not saying 'ration'. Chalk and cheese. I hope to write about budgeting fossil fuels in another article.
To set a target for the year 2050 for the reduction of targeted greenhouse gas emissions. There you go: 'targeted'. Like: let's cut down on carrier bags but fly a whole lot more planes in and out of the UK? Set a target - what about "and actually try to hit it."?
Now that the UK government has received a gentle slap on the wrist from the court, what will it do? I think it will do what governments of all colours always seek to do: whatever the hell it likes. After all: " ... the 2008 Act provides a complete legal framework for consideration of all the issues on which the claimants rely." -
and it has loopholes enough to fly at least 125,000 extra aircraft through*.
Emissions from international aviation or international shipping
Section 30 and 31 of the 2008 act cover aviation emissions. They provide a loophole wherein international aircraft emissions don't count as UK emissions unless the secretary says so, and he gets to decide what 'international' means. The secretary has until 31st December 2012 to lay before parliament showing what regulations he has made, or why he didn't make any, but if that deadline passes it doesn't affect his powers to make regulations.
The secretary can decide what years count, even past years. He can juggle numbers and invent his own rules and even just make stuff up in the best traditions of the political application of science to serve the best interests of humanity.
30 Emissions from international aviation or international shipping
(1) Emissions of greenhouse gases from international aviation or international shipping do not count as emissions from sources in the United Kingdom for the purposes of this Part, except as provided by regulations made by the Secretary of State.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order define what is to be regarded for this purpose as international aviation or international shipping.
Any such order is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
(3) The Secretary of State must, before expiry of the period ending with 31st December 2012—
(a) make provision by regulations as to the circumstances in which, and the extent to which, emissions from international aviation or international shipping are to be regarded for the purposes of this Part as emissions from sources in the United Kingdom, or
(b) lay before Parliament a report explaining why regulations making such provision have not been made.
(4) The expiry of the period mentioned in subsection (3) does not affect the power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under this section.
(5) Regulations under this section—
(a) may make provision only in relation to emissions of a targeted greenhouse gas;
(b) may, in particular, provide for such emissions to be regarded as emissions from sources in the United Kingdom if they relate to the transport of passengers or goods to or from the United Kingdom.
(6) Regulations under this section may make provision—
(a) as to the period or periods (whether past or future) in which emissions of the targeted greenhouse gas are to be taken into account as UK emissions of that gas, and
(b) as to the manner in which such emissions are to be taken into account in determining UK emissions of that gas for the year that is the base year for that gas.
(7) They may, in particular—
(a) designate a different base year, or
(b) designate a number of base years,
and provide for the emissions in that year, or the average amount of emissions in those years, to be treated for the purposes of this Act as UK emissions of that gas for the year that is the base year for that gas.
(8) For the purposes of this section the base year for carbon dioxide is the year that is the baseline year for the purposes of this Part.
31 Procedure for regulations under section 30
(1) Before making regulations under section 30, the Secretary of State must obtain, and take into account, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.
(2) As soon as is reasonably practicable after giving its advice to the Secretary of State, the Committee must publish that advice in such manner as it considers appropriate.
(3) If the regulations make provision different from that recommended by the Committee, the Secretary of State must publish a statement setting out the reasons for that decision.
(4) The statement may be published in such manner as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
(5) Regulations under section 30 are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
When an airport adds a new runway, does this encourage new traffic?
Does the addition of less polluting traffic to existing traffic count as CO2 reduction outside of the realms of myths and fairy tales?
Will the UK government and courts take a blind bit of notice of this blogger?
How long have we got before these idiots wake up and smell the pollution?
We have an election coming up in the UK. Our electoral process goes something like this: if the less than half of the population that votes for A is more than the even less that vote for B or C then less is more and A gets to boss everybody around and ignore common sense.
I'm trying not to be biased here, but -
I observe that Australia has a prime minister who seems to know a thing or two. If he will kindly send over a kangaroo I will be happy to vote for it. After all: how can a Kangaroo do any worse than our current government?
* - see e.g. Hansard 15 Jan 2009 : Column 358