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posted by on 9th May 2015

This post was the contents of (now retired)


A 26 year ration

22nd September, 2009

The Green Ration Book says

The average UK citizen creates 11 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide ( CO2e) a year. New UK targets aim to cut this by 80%. Dividing the ration equally between categories “consumables”, “building”, “transport” and “government”, allows 1.5kg per day. – The Green Ration Book

It also calculates the carbon footprint of a return flight to Australia to be over 7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is 13 years  of your carbon ration for transport.  Assuming you want to save half your ration for car, train, taxi and bus transport, that makes the your trip to Australia to be 26 years of your carbon ration for air flights.

Why not join the No Miles High Club?

2 suspended pending further information

23rd May, 2010

Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors” by Nadine Unger et. al. has made us stop to think. It shows that for a few decades, the effect of aircraft flights is to cool the earth before their longer term effects cause global warming.

The importance of short-term climate forcing can be seen in “Plan A might fail … so we need Plan B“.

A further paper is expected specifically to do with aviation.

P.S. Unger’s paper shows NoBeef and NoCars are even more important.


Suspension suspended – planes still bad

23rd August, 2010

A recent paper by Borken-Kleefeld et al, “Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport“, gives estimates of the rise in global temperatures cause by different modes of transport. They calculate temperature rises over periods of 5, 20 and 50 years. The inclusion of the shorter five year period is unusual in peer-reviewed climate science papers. To Klimateologists trying to fathom what climate scientists really think this could be a sign of quiet panic – a bad sign in this year of famine, flood and fire.

The say:

… the transport specific climate impact is lowest for rail and bus travel and highest for car and air travel. At long time horizons … the transport specific climate impact of car travel is larger than air travel on global average… Both are then about three times

higher than the impact from bus and rail travel. On short time scales however, the transport specific climate impact from aviation is strongly enhanced, while rail’s impact is reduced… Air travel’s specific climate impact becomes four times higher than the impact from car travel per passenger-kilometer at 5 years time horizon.


DEFRA wins a “green award” but downplays avation

3rd January, 2011

Air travel 1:

The frequently asked questions on the UK Government Act on CO2 Carbon Calculator says air travel now accounts for 6.3% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions [Note 1].

Trying the calculator for a return flight from Leeds UK to Brisbane Australia gives a carbon footprint of 2.9 tonnes of CO2. The Green Ration Book gives 6.8 tonnes. The difference is largely that the Government calculator ignores the radiative forcing index, which accounts for the extra climate effects of air travel over the CO2 emissions alone.

The Government calculator explains the radiative forcing index in the notes1 but quietly ignores it. It says this “could mean that aviation’s climate change impact is almost double that of its CO2 emissions alone”.

Air travel 2:

Hansard (2 May 2007) records that emissions from flights departing the UK contributed approximately 13 per cent. of total UK emissions in 2005 when the radiative forcing index is used [Note 2].

The award:

At the 2008 GREEN AWARDS, DEFRA won the Best Green Audiovisual Category (Over £50K) for its ACT ON CO2, Save Money, Save Energy Campaign.

Note 1: UK Government Act on CO2 Carbon Calculator

Air travel now accounts for 6.3% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions and the full climate impact of aviation goes beyond the effects of CO2. Apart from emitting CO2, aircraft contribute to climate change through the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx). This forms the greenhouse gas ozone, especially so when emitted at cruise altitudes. Aircraft also trigger the formation of condensation trails, or contrails, and are suspected of enhancing the formation of cirrus clouds, both of which add to the overall global climate change warming effect. These extra impacts are examples of effects which are collectively known as “radiative forcing”. Recent scientific studies have shown that including the climatic impacts of non-CO2 emissions from planes could mean that aviation’s climate change impact is almost double that of its CO2 emissions alone.

Note 2: Hansard (2 May 2007)

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the most recent estimate is of the percentage contribution of aviation, based on emissions by all aircraft departing from UK airports, and including the radiative forcing effect, to UK climate change emissions. [134036]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 26 April 2007]: International aviation is not included in the UK’s climate change inventory as there is no internationally agreed method for allocating such emissions among states. In 2005 aviation represented 6.3 per cent. of UK emissions, calculated as a proportion of emissions in the UK inventory plus emissions from international aviation and shipping departing the UK. Detailed data may be viewed at:

As the “Future of Air Transport Progress Report” (December 2006) noted, aviation emissions arising from the combustion of kerosene include carbon dioxide, water vapour, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, particulates and other compounds. These give rise to “radiative forcing” impacts. The total radiative impacts were estimated by the EC TRADEOFF project to be approximately twice those of carbon dioxide (excluding cirrus cloud formation).

Using a radiative forcing multiplier of two, emissions from flights departing the UK contributed approximately 13 per cent. of total UK emissions in 2005. However, the figures for non-aviation sources do not include any radiative forcing attributable to them, as conclusive figures are not available.

The link to the DEFRA website doesn’t work.



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