Opinion Former Article

IET: Lack of incentives for airlines to get greener is harming the environment

The level of carbon emissions created by the aviation sector is increasing not decreasing. As such, action must be taken by the government to further encourage airlines to invest in cleaner, fuel efficient and quieter aircraft, which will dramatically reduce pollution and noise.

The warning comes from Europe’s largest engineers’ body, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, in a response to the Department for Transport consultation on developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation.

Dr Tony Whitehead, IET Director of Policy, said: “Although significant advances in noise and pollution are being addressed by the aviation industry, the government needs to provide both carrot and stick to push this even further.

“The aviation sector is an important and strategic business for the UK and regulation may be required to incentivise airlines to use newer aircraft. Such action would create the right conditions for the industry to confidently invest in long term solutions to meet climate change targets.”

As air travel becomes cheaper, emissions from aviation are increasing quickly, according to the European Commission.

In the UK, domestic and international aviation accounted for around six per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions, or 21 per cent of the transport sector’s emissions in 2009. This compares to 43 per cent emitted by cars, 13 per cent by heavy goods vehicles and seven per cent by domestic and international shipping[1].

As other sectors decarbonise over the coming decades, aviation emissions are likely to make up an increasingly large proportion of global emissions. The aviation sector is currently responsible for approximately one to two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.


[1] UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Department for Energy and Climate Change, 2009


Notes to editors:
The DfT consultation response was made by Engineering the Future, an alliance of engineering institutions, which includes the IET.
Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespersons.
The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.
For more information, visit www.theiet.org.
Follow the IET on Twitter.

Robert Beahan
Media Relations Manager


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