Yorkshire set to go beyond Government by including aviation and shipping emissions in net zero calculations

Yorkshire’s new Climate Action Plan intends to go beyond national net zero targets by including aviation and shipping emissions when working out the region’s current carbon output, it has been revealed.

A plane passes by Yeadon Tarn after taking off from Leeds Bradford Airport. Picture: Gary Longbottom
A plane passes by Yeadon Tarn after taking off from Leeds Bradford Airport. Picture: Gary Longbottom

Currently emissions from aeroplanes and ships are not included in the UK’s net zero calculations, but last year the national Committee on Climate Change said they should be in future. It is thought the change may be introduced nationally from 2023.

Speaking to a group of cross-party Yorkshire MPs this week, Andy Gouldson, Director of Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission and Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Leeds, said it is currently intended that the Yorkshire action plan, due to be published in November, will include those emissions at a regional level.

Professor Gouldson said: “When you add up all of the commitments that have already been made by local authorities and combined authorities at the regional scale, broadly, they are consistent with science-based targets, and the need to decarbonise quickly.

“The region is committed to decarbonise and to reach net zero by 2038 and to show significant progress by 2030.

“We think in broad terms that our targets are broadly fine and are appropriate and more ambitious than the national targets.

“But there is one change which was we would propose to expand them slightly to incorporate aviation and shipping and which would add 11 per cent to our current carbon baseline and therefore make achieving net zero by 2030 slightly more challenging. But aviation in particular is so significant, we really feel that we ought to include it very prominently in the plan.”

He added this move would be in advance of the national approach but is in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change.

“In the national sixth carbon budget, it is not currently included,” he said.

“But the Committee on Climate Change, which is in some ways the parallel of the Yorkshire Commission but at the national scale, argue that it should be incorporated into our carbon accounts so that as we work to net zero, we need to include emissions from those sectors in our analysis.

“If we did that at the Yorkshire scale at the moment, it would add about 11 per cent to our carbon footprint, which isn’t absolutely massive.

“But as everything else decarbonises, then the significance of aviation, for example, becomes more acute proportionately.

“It would be a move slightly in advance of national government and in line with what the CCC has recommended.”

Professor Gouldson said the intention is that the Yorkshire Climate Action Plan will be a “living document” that evolves to guide the work of the commission.

He said: “The action plan has a number of cross-cutting themes at the start and then it has sections on net zero and on climate resilience.

“But in the cross-cutting themes, one of the main ones is the need to acknowledge that this is a climate emergency.

“We need to act as though it is but also then to develop a positive and inclusive vision of how climate action can help the region Yorkshire to become a better place to live and work in, in all sorts of ways.

“That positive vision is key to mobilising different actors and getting people behind this transformative plan.”

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