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Saturday, November 30, 2002

The UK's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has said that the contribution of aircraft to climate change is deeply worrying and that instead of encouraging airport expansion and proliferation, it is essential that the government should divert resources into encouraging a shift from air to high-speed rail for internal UK travel and some intra-European journeys.

The Commission's recommendations included:

* Raising ticket prices by imposing "climate protection charges" for aircraft taking off and landing within Europe, and pressing for them to be adopted elsewhere.
* Restricting airport development to encourage use by long-haul flights, while short-haul passengers are encouraged to use trains.
* Using air freight only for high-value goods, usually perishable ones.

Friends of the Earth have also pointed out that the aviation industry pays no tax on the fuel it uses and is now the fastest-growing cause of climate change and that the benefits associated with increased air travel impose heavy costs on the communities living near airports and the environment as a whole.