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Climate fight 'will end cheap flights' for holidaymakers

The era of cheap flights for millions of British holidaymakers is over, the Government's most influential climate change advisers warn today.

The Committee on Climate Change says green taxes will have to rise over the next few decades to curb the growing demand for fuel-guzzling air travel.

Without tough measures, demand for flights could more than double over the next 40 years  -  releasing 'dangerous' amounts of carbon dioxide, it claims.

Final destination? Cheap flights provided by companies such as EasyJet could become a thing of the past

However, the committee, led by Lord Adair Turner, believes the UK can meet its climate change targets even if the aviation industry continues to grow. Heathrow's controversial third runway could also go ahead, it says.

The report comes on the first day of the United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen.

Over the next 12 days, 15,000 delegates from 190 countries will try to thrash out a deal to cut the world's emissions of greenhouse gases and stop global warming.

Air travel accounts for around 6 to 8 per cent of Britain's greenhouse gas emissions.

But as demand for flights grow  -  and the UK switches to more renewable and nuclear energy in the next decade  -  carbon dioxide from aircraft could account for a quarter of all Britain's emissions within 40 years.

The committee says the number of flights is forecast to treble from the current 230million passengers a year to nearly 700million by 2050 if the Government takes no action.

Melting hopes: A sculpture of a polar bear at the Copenhagen summit

David Kennedy, chief executive of the committee, said the UK could only meet the Government's pledge to keep aviation bring down demand for flying by 10 per cent.

Last night Professor Geoff Hammond, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment at the University of Bath, warned that Britons 'have become accustomed to taking long-haul holidays and short breaks, courtesy of cheap flights'.

He added: 'Governments are hesitant to place restrictions on these flights in case they induce a backlash from passengers, who are also voters.

'But, if we seriously want to mitigate global warming over the coming century, then aviation will need to play a role.'

Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner Richard Dyer said: 'The committee says that technology can significantly cut the impact that individual flights have on our climate.
But if air travel grows to the dangerous level that the aviation industry is pushing for, these benefits will be completely swamped.

'The Government should tear up its Aviation White Paper, abandon plans to expand UK airports and develop an aviation policy that doesn't wreck the planet.'

But Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers' Alliance - which yesterday estimated the cost of the Copenhagen summit at 130million pounds - said: 'Further massive increases in the cost of flights would be a completely unjustified attack on ordinary families' ability to enjoy a well- earned holiday.'

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