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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Flying Matters, SFO and Freedom of Information

Dear Neil Carmichael MP

It was nice to meet you this morning at the Nailsworth Market.

As discussed, I have been writing about aviation and climate change. The material dispels the idea that the aviation industry can be let off the climate change hook by using outdated figures to claim they only contribute 2% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Following this research, I wrote to Flying Matters which is the lobby group for the aviation industry to challenge the claims that they made on their web site, namely:

• The industry is committed to improving fuel efficiency of new planes by 50% by 2020.

• The industry is committed to getting emission down to 2000 levels by 2050 despite a trebling of air passengers.

I have asked Flying Matters to support these claims, but they told me they came from Sustainable Aviation, who in turn claimed that they came from the IATA. In other words, it is a shameless example of buck passing in the face of a total absence of quantified evidence to support their claims, see correspondance.
This is hardly surprising as to meet the first claim all new plane designs such as the A380 and B787 must be abandoned and replaced with some other undesigned plane. To meet the second claim simple maths shows emissions from all planes must reduce to just 22% from today’s levels. To achieve both of these will require the laws of thermodynamics to be violated.

Making fraudulent claims such as this is extremely serious, not least because they have been successful in developing the idea that technology will ameliorate their climate change impacts. They have stated that as a result of their work they have been successful in persuading the Conservative Party to drop green taxes and contributed to the party moving away from the quality of life proposals.

Crude analysis shows that if aviation paid a similar tax burden to other forms of transport, up to 20% of the public spending cuts could be avoided by raising an extra £10billion of taxes.

In addition to avoiding taxes, the aviation industry has also been successful in delaying the introduction of a cap on aviation emission in the European Carbon Trading Scheme (ETS) to 2020 on the basis of fraudulent claims about the capabilities of technical progress. It will be the general public that will be forced to make much more punitive cuts in their carbon allowances in the future to compensate for aviation emissions today.

It is therefore hard to think of a more serious fraud, and as a result I have submitted the evidence to the Serious Fraud Office.

The SFO have advised “We cannot provide you with feedback on how we have used the information you have provided.” I am therefore concerned that the SFO will not pursue this investigation as they may feel it is simply too difficult as task for them to take on.

I therefore would request the following from you:

• To raise in parliament and within the Conservative Party the question to what extent your party’s policies on aviation and taxation have been shaped by unsubstantiated technical claims from Flying Matters.

• To support a Freedom of Information request on the SFO with regard to the investigative work and conclusions they come to on Flying Matters’ fraudulent claims.

Kevin Lister
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