BA to use its own jets in environmental research

BA to use own jets to examine effect of air travel on climate

BA are set to use their own aircrafts in research that explores the hidden effect of air travel on climate change – and that could result in higher-than-expected environmental surcharges on tickets.

The airline is supporting the University of Cambridge in its research into the effects of condensation trails, nitrogen dioxide and other aeroplane emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that the damage done to the climate by these emissions is between twice and four times greater than the impact of carbon dioxide alone.

Although it is relatively simple to calculate carbon dioxide emissions because they are directly related to fuel comsumption, it is much less easy to record the effect of other emissions.

One German aviation study, however, found that white trails often left in a plane’s wake could cause more climate damage than carbon dioxide. The trails broaden after about 30 minutes to form banks of cloud that prevent heat from escaping upwards, causing a greenhouse effect.

Nitrogen dioxide, it said, also forms ozone, a greenhouse gas, when emitted at altitude.

BA wants to be seen as the responsible face of the airline industry – and overcome environmental campaigns against the building of a new runway at Heathrow.

Last month ministers from the European Union’s 27 member states agreed to include all flights arriving at or departing from EU airports in the European emissions trading scheme from 2012. But the scheme, in which companies buy and sell permits to pollute, only covers carbon dioxide emissions and is likely to add less than £6 to the average fare for flights within Europe and less than £25 to longhaul fares.

Were airlines required to pay for their other climate change emissions, the cost to passengers could quadruple.

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