Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Green Groups Dismayed As Flights Soar To Record High

Published on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 by The Independent/UK

by Michael McCarthy

Aviation growth is soaring to an all-time high,
raising the prospect of a huge increase in the
greenhouse gas emissions that cause global

For the first time, more than 2.5 million
commercial flights will be made around the world
in a single month, with 2.51 million scheduled
for May, says the flight information company OAG.
This beats the previous record of 2.49 million
flights last August.

The figure marks year-on-year global growth in
flight numbers of 5 per cent, which translates as
an extra 114,000 flights and 17.7 million extra
passenger seats compared with May last year.

The growth rate, green campaigners said
yesterday, would considerably outstrip any
improvements the airlines could make in engine
fuel efficiency or traffic management to bring
down emissions. Aviation is the fastest-growing
source of carbon dioxide, the principal
greenhouse gas, and also the origin of other
greenhouse gases including nitrous oxide and
water vapor.

The new figures highlight not only the
remorseless upward trend in global aviation, now
greatly boosted by the cheap flights sector, but
also astonishing increases in some individual
countries. China's domestic flights as a whole
are up by 18 per cent year on year, and
international flights to and from the country
have risen by 17 per cent.

Flights to and from Russia are up by 16 per cent
since this time last year, while flight numbers
to and from the two new EU member states, Romania
and Bulgaria, are up by 14 per cent and 10 per
cent respectively. Flights in and out of Britain
are up by 7 per cent over the year - an extra
8,000 trips and an increase of 1.9 million, or 10
per cent, in seat numbers. The increases are even
more remarkable in the low-cost sector. Cheap
flights to and from Spain are up 68 per cent in a
year, with seat numbers up by 77 per cent - an
increase of 2.5 million.

OAG's managing director, Duncan Alexander, said:
"We are witnessing a step change in the way
airlines are differentiating their product. This
is great news from a traveler's viewpoint, with
much more competition and choice."But green
groups took a different view. "The binge-flying
culture is taking off worldwide, and the price
will be paid by the victims of climate change,"
said John Sauven, executive director of
Greenpeace. "If Gordon Brown becomes prime
minister he should tax aviation fuel and call a
halt to airport expansion."

According to aviation industry figures to be
published next month, obtained by the Aviation
Environment Federation (AEF), global CO2
emissions are likely to rise from between 500 to
600m tonnes in 2005 to between 1,200 and nearly
1,500m tonnes in 2025. Britain's total CO2
emissions are less than 600m tonnes.

"The point is, these growth rates just render air
travel completely unsustainable," said the AEF's
Jeff Gazzard, "And whatever you think about
carbon offsetting or emissions trading, the only
thing that will really bring them under control
is flying less."

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