Battle for a tough Climate Change Bill (4) They vote on Aviation ....

From Anthony Rae of Calderdale Friends of the Earth

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Finally we got to the issue where the government has been resisting most fiercely: the inclusion of aviation (and shipping) emissions within the totals that the UK will be required to reduce annually. So far these emissions are excluded, and so are soaring. The debate in the Bill committee on Clause 15 was on 8th July and you can read them here .

At first glance it looks good; everybody was agreeing aviation had to be included. The government minister spoke favourably about those people 'rightly campaigning' for this to happen. The Conservatives stated: 'That is why people are right to be alarmed at the role of aviation, not because of what it is emitting now, but because of its potential to dominate the carbon economy landscape by 2050.'

And the Liberal Democrats and SNP noted that it was just unfair for the aviation industry to be singled out for special treatment: 'If we do not bring aviation and shipping in at the earliest stage, let alone if we allow that move to be delayed for longer than five years, the industries that have to be included in the carbon budget will be not be on a level playing field.'

But then ... what happened when it came to the vote? The committee had a choice between the government wording - 'Emissions of greenhouse gases from international aviation or international shipping do not count as emissions from sources in the UK .. except as provided by regulations' made by the Government at a later date. ' and the proposed amendment - 'Emissions ... from international aviation and shipping shall count as emissions from sources in the UK... from 1st January 2013, as provided by regulations under this section. ' Moved, I think, by the Liberal Democrats.

All the Labour MPs, including the 'rebels' like David Chaytor and Joan Walley, voted in favour of the government position, so the amendment to include aviation emissions immediately was not approved. All the other parties voted in favour of inclusion.

Now the interpretation is that this is just the debate in committee; and that the real test for the Labour 'rebels', who hold the swing vote, will be when the Bill returns to the floor of the House of Commons – almost certainly in the autumn. What apparently is more important at this stage is that the argument in the committee debate was overwhelmingly in favour of inclusion, and what is still being contested is just the mechanism and the timescale.

We'll see. What was equally clear is that the government is also continuing with its bigger plan to permanently exclude aviation/shipping emissions from any UK accounting altogether, by transferring them into a separate EU or global account, where the extremely high UK aviation emissions will be diluted and lost. Friends of the Earth will be continuing our lobby and pressure, particularly on Labour MPs (since the other parties now appear to be solid), throughout the summer, and before we come to the crunch.

See also

Battle for a tough Climate Change Bill (3) – (29 June 08)

Battle for a tough Climate Change Bill (2) – now engaged (14 June 08)

Friends of the Earth campaign (1) for much stronger Climate Change Bill - (April 2008)


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