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Greenhouse emissions from aeroplanes rising: -

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ELEANOR HALL: A report from the Australian National University's Centre for Climate Law and Policy
is warning that greenhouse gas emissions from aeroplanes are rising dramatically.

The report's authors predict emissions will more than double over the next 20 years. And it
recommends that governments should tax aviation.

But a consultant to the aviation industry says taxes won't reduce demand and won't be accepted by
airline companies, as David Mark reports.

(Sound of an aeroplanes)

DAVID MARK: Greenhouse gas emissions from aeroplanes are taking off

ANDREW MACINTOSH: This is a sector that is going gang busters.

DAVID MARK: Andrew Macintosh is the Associate Director of the ANU's Centre for Climate Law and
Policy.

ANDREW MACINTOSH: It is growing very, very rapidly off the back of very strong economic growth in
places like China and India and also in the developed world, and so long as those economies are
continuing to grow then we're going to see very strong growth from the aviation sector and with
that we're going to see a large increase in emissions.

DAVID MARK: Mr Macintosh and a colleague have produced a report showing emissions from aviation
will rise by 144 per cent within 20 years, that's more than doubling.

But does it matter? After all aviation is small fry compared to say the emissions produced from
generating electricity.

ANDREW MACINTOSH: At the moment, international aviation accounts for about 1.3 per cent of carbon
dioxide emissions and the whole aviation sector is responsible for about 2.2 per cent, so it
doesn't sound like a lot but aviation also emits a number of other gases and when you take them
account, you're looking at a total impact that is around six to eight per cent of total human
impact on the climate.

And with that growth that we are forecasting, it is going to become a lot more severe over the next
two decades.

DAVID MARK: And yet aviation isn't included in the Kyoto treaty that's designed to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union is pushing to include air and sea travel in the
agreement that's currently being negotiated to follow Kyoto in 2012.

ANDREW MACINTOSH: What we would like to see is more movement by all governments to try and come up
with a way of imposing a price on the carbon emissions from this sector and in doing so,
suppressing the demand growth that we are expected to see over the next while and also to promote
innovation, so bring forward those technological things that we were discussing previously.

DAVID MARK: So what do you believe the answer is? Is it a carbon tax or is it requiring airlines to
participate in an emissions trading scheme?

ANDREW MACINTOSH: At the international level, the main push as the moment is to incorporate this
sector into emissions trading schemes, but I think that is not going to work or it won't work quick
enough.

I'd much rather see a tax set at a relatively low level and then for the industry or the government
to set up a large fund that they can use to put into offsets.

DAVID MARK: "Tax", though, isn't the airline's favourite word.

Ian Thomas is an aviation consultant with CAPA Consulting.

IAN THOMAS: Look, the industry, I think, has a clear idea and understanding of what emissions or at
least the potential for emissions to grow considerably, particularly with the amount of growth
expected in the market over the next few years.

The question is how to tackle it and at the moment they see taxation or at least imposing some sort
of financial penalty as being a negative way of approaching it. It doesn't really deal with the
problem. It deals with the symptoms, if you like.

DAVID MARK: The report's authors argue that placing a tax on aviation will reduce demand. Is that
likely? Can that happen?

IAN THOMAS: Well, it hasn't happened in the past and we've seen obviously an indirect tax coming
through in terms of fuel surcharges on international travel, yet international travel is still
growing at a considerable rate, as is domestic. The demand is driven by other factors and really
this is a ... it's a very external way of approaching the problem.

DAVID MARK: What of alternative technologies? We know that there are alternative technologies for
electricity generation, for example, even if they are not widely used but what about aviation?

IAN THOMAS: At the moment, there's a lot of work going on in terms of investigating bio-fuels and
alternative fuel sources. The industry itself, I think, is clearly aware that it needs to come up
with some sort of solutions in that area, but it's still very much early stages.

DAVID MARK: How likely is it that they'll actually be able to be used commercially within the next
few decades or is it a pipedream?

IAN THOMAS: Look, I don't think it is a pipedream, I think it is a necessity. It is something that
the industry and all those associated with the industry will have to come to grips with. The issue
is when and how viable it's going to be when they produce it.

ELEANOR HALL: That's aviation consultant, Ian Thomas, ending David Mark's report.