EVERY plane flight and every ship voyage leaves a trail of pollution that threatens to undo all the progress in engineering cleaner cars and power generators.
It’s a dilemma that William Hemmings finds frustrating as he tackles powerful vested interests to reduce emissions and limit the global temperature rise to less than two degrees by 2050.
As program manager with the European-based Transport and Environment policy group he sees shipping and aviation as the fastest growing source of global emissions — representing almost 10 per cent of the total output.
Mr Hemmings was speaking in Warrnambool during his annual visit to see his father Dudley and sister Margaret Brough.
Born in Tasmania, the former Rhodes scholar spent 10 years working in government foreign affairs, 10 years with airline Cathay Pacific and several years as head of business travel with American Express before joining Transport and Environment five years ago.
Now based in Brussels, he says he is amazed at the large size of our cars compared to Europe where stricter emissions standards and fuel costs have forced a trend to small vehicles.
In his view the best way to encourage motorists to use more environmentally-friendly cars is to maintain high taxes on fossil fuel and introduce more road-use charges.
However, his bigger concern is with the expanding aviation and shipping sector in an expanded world economy where more people are enjoying air travel and buying goods conveyed by ships.
“The problem is that they are international industries and no one wants to own the problem,” he said.
“There’s a lot of resistance to change.
“Both are the fastest growing source of emissions while other sectors such as road vehicles and power stations are slowing down.
“Emission trading schemes only cover domestic routes and don’t apply to long-haul trips.
“We are waiting for a global scheme by 2020.”
Mr Hemmings’ non-profit employer advises the European Commission, European Parl-iament and member countries as well as international aviation and shipping organisations.
He has also been involved in rigorous scrutiny of European vehicle air pollution standards and found that some manufacturers tried to cheat the system.
Euro six standards are being implemented and an even stricter Euro seven level is proposed which eventually will flow to the Australian market.