News | Tuesday, 27th June 2017

Aviation specialist professor to contribute to influential UN climate change report

Professor David Lee is one of only four UK authors involved

Professor David Lee, Professor of Atmospheric Science
Professor David Lee, Professor of Atmospheric Science

A professor at Manchester Metropolitan University is one of only four UK contributors to a prestigious and influential climate change report.

Professor David Lee, of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Aviation, Transport, and the Environment (CATE) has been invited to contribute his specialist knowledge on aviation and climate change to the United Nations Environment’s forthcoming Emissions Gap report.

The report sets out to examine different facets of how the world might reach international climate targets, ultimately determining the current ‘gap’ between what is happening right now and what needs to happen to limit dangerous climate change.

Updated annually, this year’s version is re-examining aviation in the light of recent agreements to reduce CO2 emissions.

Important steps

Professor Lee, Professor of Atmospheric Science, said: “Aviation has recently made some important steps towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, through the introduction of a ‘CO2 Standard’ and an agreement to introduce offsetting for international flights, starting from 2020.

“But whether these are enough remains to be seen.

“The problem with aviation is that it has significant non-CO2 effects as well as significant CO2 emissions that approximately double its current impacts.

“It is not currently known how these might be accounted for under the Paris Agreement, and in the new Emissions Gap report, we plan to examine how all these complexities might play out.”

Paris Agreement reached 

Every year, policy makers from virtually every country in the world meet at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ‘Conference of Parties’ meeting and consider action on greenhouse gas emissions.

It was from this process that the Paris Agreement emerged, which aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

These are the targets against which the contributors objectively make analyses, conclusions and recommendations to chart progress and outline future opportunities.

Launch in November

The 2017 edition of the Emissions Gap report is due to be launched at the next important UN international climate meeting, the COP23 meeting in Bonn, Germany, in November.

The Emissions Gap report authorship currently comprises around 60 international independent experts including four from the UK.

This year’s report will be Professor Lee first contribution since 2011, the last time aviation was a featured topic.

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