Warning proposed for flying 'addicts'

Cigarette-style health warnings that could appear on aeroplanes to advise customers about carbon emissions have been lambasted by an airline which flies out of Norwich.

Cigarette-style health warnings that could appear on aeroplanes to advise customers about carbon emissions have been lambasted by an airline which flies out of Norwich.

Flybe is taking a stand against the suggestion that passengers should be told about the impact air journeys have on the environment, claiming that airlines count for only a minor portion of global greenhouse gases.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a London-based think tank, has recommended that the government enforces highly visible information to make people think more about the implications of their travel.

The institute has produced a report suggesting a scheme which would work in a similar way to health warnings on cigarette packs which help to encourage people to give up smoking.

Simon Retallack, IPPR's head of climate change, said: "The evidence that aviation damages the atmosphere is just as clear as the evidence that smoking kills.

"We know that smokers notice health warnings on cigarettes, and we have to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way.

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"But if we are to change people's behaviour, warnings must be accompanied by offering people alternatives to short-haul flights and by steps to make the cost of flying better reflect its impact on the environment."

The warnings could be used to compare a flight's carbon emissions with an average person's annual energy use, and short-haul flight emissions with those produced by trains or coaches, to put the flight in context.

The report also suggests aviation taxation should be changed to reflect the true environmental cost of emissions, with any increases matched by improvements to rail transport to make it a viable alternative to domestic and European flights.

Flybe claims it will introduce its own labelling scheme next month, providing customers with detailed information of the performance of specific aircraft.

The company first suggested the idea in 2003 as an alternative to Gordon Brown's plan to double air tax.

Chief commercial officer Mike Rutter said: "IPPR is another London-centric think tank looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

"Airlines count for less than 1.6pc of global greenhouse gases and UK aviation accounts for 0.1pc of global emissions."

The IPPR's report also tackles rail and car journeys, recommending that the UK should work with other EU member states to better integrate the fragmented European rail network, and all new cars should be required to carry emissions labelling in show-room displays and in advertising.

A petition against the introduction of £3 fees at Norwich International has been set up on the 10 Downing Street website at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ NorwichADF.