Families should skip foreign holidaysConsultants hired by the Department for Transport have been accused to trying to shame Britons into staying at home.
The previous administration set a target of to reduce aviation’s Co2 emissions to 2005 levels by 2050. This target is which is currently under review by the Coalition.
Foreign travel was highlighted in the report by EMRC and AEA, the consultants hired by the DfT to draw up proposals for cutting the environmental impact of aviation.
“There is a range of potential measures to voluntarily reduce the demand for air travel through the promotion of behavioural change that could be targeted at passengers,” ministers were told.
“These include increasing awareness of the carbon footprint associated with air travel, encouraging fewer overseas holidays.”
The proposals drew a furious reaction from Simon Buck, the chief executive of the British Air Transport Association.
“What we are talking about here is the Government shaming people into not flying away on holiday,” he said Simon Buck.
“Is it right to make people feel guilty for taking an annual sunshine break? Where is it going to stop? Will we be told what car we should drive and how many children we should have.”
The report also suggested the targets could be met by other measures including the increased use of biofuels, more efficient aircraft engines and improved air traffic control to cut the time planes spend in the air.
According to figures produced earlier this by ONS, the Government’s official statisticians, Britons make 58.6 million overseas trips a year, of which two thirds were holidays.
In the decade between 1999 and 2009 the number of percentage of people choosing to fly on holiday in fact fell by 2.1 per cent, with the drop attributed to the increasing popularity of the Channel Tunnel, which saw a 15.5 per cent rise over the same period.
However the recession is believed to have depressed foreign travel, with a poll earlier this year showing that two Britons out of five were planning to forego their holiday overseas to save money.
But while the aviation industry was angered by the consultants’ proposals, they did not go far enough for environmental groups.
“It’s a shame that the Government has not taken this opportunity to set a UK target on aviation emissions,” said Jean Leston, Acting Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK.
“Our efforts to tackle climate change rely on aviation making real reductions. The Government’s indecision will only lead to more confusion and allow airport expansion to continue"
However Theresa Villiers, the aviation minister, defended the Government’s approach. ““We are committed to developing a new policy framework for aviation which supports economic growth while also reflecting the environmental impacts of flying."