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Heathrow Airport: Greenhouse Gases

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what levels of (a) nitrogen oxide, (b) carbon dioxide and (c) other green house gases have been released in the air surrounding Heathrow Airport in each year since 1995; and what estimate he has made of the level of each at Heathrow in each year to 2020. (249897)

[holding answer 21 January 2009]: The following information sets out what information is available for: (a) NOx emissions; (b) CO2 emissions, and (c) other greenhouse gas emissions.

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Emissions

The White Paper set out the following strict conditions from 2010, in line with the current European Union Directive on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) related pollutants1:

Hourly limit value for the protection of human health—200micro/m3 NO2, not to be exceeded more than 18 times in a calendar year; and

Annual limit value for the protection of human health—40micro/m3 NO2 annual average

The Department for Transport’s 2007 “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation document concluded that these conditions could be met.

Further information is available in the following documents:

“Air Quality Studies for Heathrow: Base Case, Segregated Mode, Mixed Mode and Third Runway Scenarios modelled using ADMS-Airport”, 15 November 2007, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants, Table 4.5—4.7; Table 4.12—4.13

“Heathrow Airport Emission Summaries”, October 2007, AEA Energy and Environment, Table 4.1.4—Table 4.8.4 Annual emissions by source category, available at:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions

There is limited data regarding past CO2 emissions at Heathrow airport specifically. Published emissions data from DECC are at the national level only. However, data based on fuel uplifted at Heathrow is reported—this is published in the Department for Transport’s 2009 Impact Assessment “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport”, where aviation carbon dioxide emissions attributable to flights departing from Heathrow in 2005 are estimated at 17.2MtCO2 or 2.9 per cent. of total UK CO2. emissions.

For future years, the Government have announced a new target to get UK aviation carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 below 2005 levels for the UK as a whole.

Once aviation joins the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2012, CO2 emissions from all flights departing and arriving at airports in the EU will be capped at 97 per cent. of average 2004-06 levels, with the cap tightening to 95 per cent. of average 2004-06 levels from 2013 onwards (the cap applies at the EU level, and not at individual member state or airport levels). Any aviation emissions above this cap will need to be accounted for by airlines securing reductions from other sectors within the EU ETS. So any change in the capacity of Heathrow in future years will not lead to any net increase in CO2 emissions.

Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Other greenhouse gas emissions are not currently reported specifically for Heathrow airport.

1 The revised directive provides for later compliance (up to 2015) in certain circumstances .