Ending “ghost flights” would be one of the simplest ways…

ending-“ghost-flights”-would-be-one-of-the-simplest-ways…

Ending “ghost flights” would be one of the simplest ways…

Ending “ghost flights” would be one of the simplest ways to cut UK aviation CO2 – government not keen to help
2022-03-01 18:51:00
The UK government has produced a (predictably bland, uninformative, unhelpful) response to the petition asking for an end to the slot use rules that encourage airlines to fly “ghost flights.” ie. empty planes or those with under 10% full.  During the worst periods of Covid, the 80:20 slot use rule was removed.  Now the rule is 70% use. That still has the effect of making airlines fly more planes than necessary, with a low load factor, just to hang onto the slot.  Data has not revealed that 15,000 ghost flights flew from UK airports between March 2020 and September 2021. Shockingly, in 2019, aviation accounted for 8% of all UK emissions, and it shows no sign of slowing soon. The global industry may be slowly improving its efficiency, by about 2% a year, but passenger growth still surges ahead. There is an urgent need to cut the CO2 from air travel, and that can only mean fewer flights. There are no amazing tech solutions that will reduce aviation emissions to any significant extent, for decades (if ever). The really “low hanging fruit” of cutting aviation emissions is not encouraging unnecessary flights that are almost empty. Ghost flights need to be ended. Fast.  .Tweet Until airlines tackle the scourge of ‘ghost flights’, Britain will never reach net zero By John Vidal –  John Vidal was the Guardian’s environment editor Guardian – Opinion 22.2.2022 I was once the only passenger on a four-hour “ghost flight” across Europe. I loved it – the exclusivity, the speed, even the meals. But that was 45 years ago, when flying was quite rare and seemed glamorous. The idea that air travel might one day threaten future generations seemed very far-fetched. But the facts change. Travel is now a global commodity, and aviation is the world’s fastest growing major source of climate breakdown emissions. Flying empty or near-empty planes around just to hold on to landing slots at airports now seems close to “ecocide” – an act of deliberate destruction of the environment. A staggering 15,000 ghost flights flew from UK airports between March 2020 and September 2021. These flights are a symptom of an unregulated, highly protected industry encouraged to keep growing without responsibility. Before the pandemic, Britain had the third largest aviation sector in the world after the US and China. It has some of the most travelled people in the world, and its emissions from flying are the third highest per capita. The government subsidises the industry with huge tax breaks and handouts. And while the rest of UK industry has helped to reduce emissions by around 42% in the last 30 years, aviation has been allowed to double its own. In 2019, aviation accounted for 8% of all UK emissions, and it shows no sign of slowing soon. The global industry may be slowly improving its efficiency, by about 2% a year, but passenger growth still surges ahead. Globally, a staggering 38,000 large planes are now expected to be flying regularly within 10 years – and the UK government expects more than 230 million more passengers a year will be using UK airports by 2050. Never mind that the government’s climate adviser, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), say that passenger numbers should not grow more than 25% and that there should be no more net airport growth. Heathrow, Gatwick, Leeds-Bradford, Manston, Bristol, Luton and others are now planning to expand, in the teeth of local opposition. We are to be Runway Britain. But while airlines give the impression of being for everyone, they are largely used by the few. Aside from the air and noise pollution close to airports, which disproportionately affects low-income groups, just1% of people take 20% of all English international flights and 10% take more than half. [15% take about 75% of flights]. There is a limit on how much carbon we can emit without catastrophic climate consequences; the more the aviation industry is allowed to grow, the more all other sectors of the economy will have to cut back. To its credit, Britain also has a legal duty to cut its emissions to reach net zero by 2050, one of the most ambitious decarbonisation plans in the world. This means a 78% cut on 1990 figures by 2035, and 100% by 2050. The government is relying mostly on techno-fixes and imagines a heat pump for every house, electric cars on every drive, better quality housing, mass tree planting and farming reform – but above all, it expects the market to magically deliver the necessary cuts. It is obviously make-believe, and groups including Friends of the Earth and Client Earth are now taking ministers to court, saying the strategy is too theoretical and is not properly backed up with policies, money or commitment. Besides, they say, unlike cars or houses, there is no techno-fix for aviation. The industry knows this, and talks up emission-trading, switching to renewable fuels, carbon capture and storage, and even one day building lighter electric or green hydrogen planes. But few of these nascent technologies are likely to be working at any significant scale in the next 20 crucial years, by which time we must have slashed emissions heavily to avoid more catastrophic storms, flooding, droughts and heatwaves. Meanwhile, the public is fobbed off with talk of airlinespaying othersto make extra emissions cuts, and being on the brink of breakthroughs. The bitter truth is that UK aviation, as it exists today, and tackling the climate crisis are incompatible, something recognised by the CCC. It warns that, left unchecked, the linked aviation, tourism and airport industries will blow UK climate targets away. We need to reduce emissions from air travel fast – and that can only mean fewer flights. That will require proper interventions, such as a tax on frequent flights, the removal of tax breaks on aviation fuel, and the adoption of the “polluter pays” principle. Any money raised could help provide better public transport, cheaper rail fares and alternatives to flying, The timing for action is good. Two years of travel restrictions and rising awareness of the climate crisis may have convinced many of us that Zoom is here to stay, Britain is beautiful, trains to France and beyond are good, and the days of shopping trips to New York, weekend skiing in Italy and second holidays in Thailand are over. It might also have convinced the industry that the best way to start addressing its impact on climate change is by banning all ghost flights. John Vidal was the Guardian’s environment editor https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/22/airlines-ghost-flights-net-zero-uk-aviation-climate-crisis   . Ghost flights petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/605749/signatures/new Government response to the petition against Ghost Flights 28.2.2022 https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/605749 Government responded The Government continues to provide alleviation

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