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Growth outstripping engine improvements

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As the Supreme Court weighs into the climate change debate stateside, new research from the UK indicates that aviation will account for five per cent of the world's CO2 emissions by 2050. The industry is currently responsible for only two per cent of global carbon emissions.

The findings, published by climate modellers at Manchester Metropolitan University, are part of a pan-European study of the impact various forms of transport have on the environment.

The fact that aviation will become a more important source of carbon emissions is not surprising as the research itself is based on the aviation industry's own predictions for traffic increases to 2025. And the researchers say shipping is likely to be even more polluting than air travel.

But MMU's Professor David Lee warned that the results "highlight that the rate of growth of aviation is far outstripping the rate of technological progress and improvements in efficiency".

He also highlighted that the carbon output of the air industry is not the most worrying aspect of its growth. He called for more research into the effect non-carbon emissions - such as plane contrails - have on the upper atmosphere.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether it can or should force the government to curtail carbon emissions.

Environmental groups and representatives from a dozen states are calling for carbon dioxide to be classified as a pollutant, and say the environmental protection agency should be made to curb the country's emissions.

However, the Bush administration argues that CO2 is not a pollutant, and that even if it were, regulating emissions should be done at the government's discretion. ®

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