One return flight to Florida produces the equivalent CO2 (climate change emissions) of a year’s average motoring. (Independent 27/5/05)
Aviation currently only accounts for 3-5% of worldwide CO2. However it is one of the fastest-growing sources of CO2 as it is proving one of the hardest industries to decarbonise.
The industry is looking to sustainable biofuels, carbon off-setting, improved operational practices and, still some way off, electric planes to decarbonise
Electric planes are likely to introduced first on the the sort of short-distance routes which are commonplace at London City. But, unless something can be done about the weight of batteries, electric planes will be a mixed blessing as noise will continue to be a problem.
The Government has a target for CO2 emissions from aviation to fall to their 2050 levels by 2005. Its official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, believes that can be done and still allow for some significant growth.
Growth at London City will not of itself come anywhere near to preventing the Government meet its target. The problem is a large number of UK airports are planning significant expansion. Taken together, these plans would mean CO2 exceeds the target.
Road traffic is by some distance the biggest cause of air pollution.
Airports, though, create localised air quality problems.
These are not only due to emissions from airplanes, but also to road traffic at and around airports, and emissions from ground service equipment and auxiliary power units.
The main pollutants affecting local air quality are emissions of Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM).
Although air pollution problems around London City do not exceed legal limits, it is a concern for the thousands of people live close to the airport where the air pollution is at its worst.
The playground of one local school is just 200 yards from City Airport.
There is some evidence that another pollutant, particulate matter, can cause problems over a wider area. More work is being done on this.
For comprehensive information on air pollution: Campaign for Clean Air in London, www.cleanairinlondon.org