The UK will be in a unique position of influence internationally in 2005 when it holds the Presidencies of the EU and G8 simultaneously.

The report by the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Environment and Agriculture urges the Government to use its influence in these positions to encourage the EU to take further action to tackle climate change.

In particular, the report advocates timely action to tackle aircraft pollution to help combat the devastating effects of climate change.

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Renton of Mount Harry said:

"It is extraordinary that on the one hand the Government is concerned with climate change and on the other hand it's encouraging a rapid increase in air travel."

"Aviation's impact on the environment could be immense."

"Jet engines directly emit greenhouse gases by burning kerosene. But they also produce powerful − yet little-understood − polluting contrails and high-altitude clouds known as 'radiative forcing'. Their exact effect is uncertain."

"This is alarming when air travel is predicted to grow rapidly throughout the EU and the rest of the world."

"The UK Government has an unprecedented opportunity in 2005 − when it holds the Presidency of the EU − to influence climate change policy."

"With back-up from UK airlines, the Government must try to convince the EU to include aviation in its mandatory emissions trading scheme as soon as possible."

The Committee praised the EU's consistent efforts to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing greenhouse emissions.

The Committee recommends:

  • Emissions from intra-EU flights should be brought into the EU emissions trading scheme at the earliest possible opportunity.

  • The EU should start to address the impacts of international aviation.


1. The members of European Union Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) who conducted this inquiry were:

Baroness Billingham

Lord Carter

Lord Crickhowell

Lord Haskins

Lord Lewis of Newnham

Lord Hunt of Chesterton (co-opted for the inquiry)

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

Baroness Maddock

The Countess of Mar

Earl Peel

Lord Renton of Mount Harry (Chairman)

2. The report is published by the Stationery Office: The EU and Climate Change, Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 30th Report, Session 2003-04, HL Paper 179, ISBN 010 400547 5, price £13.50.

3. The innovative emissions trading scheme − due to start on 1 January 2005 − is set to include around 12,000 European businesses in the energy sector and industry.

4. The report examined a wide range of topics including: governmental and intergovernmental action, the EU emissions trading scheme, transport, other policy areas, the EU and the international community.

5. 'Radiative Forcing' is caused by emissions of water vapour, NOx (nitric oxide and nitrogen oxide) and particulates from jet engines. At altitude, these emissions contribute to global warming through the formation of contrails and high-altitude clouds. Their effects are uncertain.

6. The Government's December 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport, sanctioned an increase in the UK's airport capacity which will allow passenger numbers to rise from 180 million per annum in 2000 to 470 million in 2030.

7. In a separate press release the Committee focus on EU Climate Change Policy.

For further information contact:

Nicolas Besly (Clerk to the inquiry) on 020 7219 4930.

For embargoed copies of the report or requests for interviews with Lord Renton of Mount Harry, contact:

Jillian Bailey (Press & Publicity Officer, Committees) on 020 7219 8659.