The government has launched a consultation on transport and climate change.
While it seems surprisingly ambitious on road traffic, it totally fudges the issue of aviation. This is obvious when you see statements such as “We will lead the development of sustainable biofuels, hybrid and electric aircraft to lessen and remove the impact of aviation on the environment and by 2050…”
None of the experts, including the government’s own Committee on Climate Change (CCC), believe that these cannot make more than a small contribution to reaching the ‘Net Zero’ target of CO2 emissions by 2050.
Is the government already demonstrating it is not serious about Net Zero?
Statements such as “Aviation, at present, is a relatively small contributor to domestic UK GHG emissions” are misleading. The vast majority of aviation emissions are international, that is the UK to foreign countries and vv. The government is trying, as always, to pretend that international aviation emissions ‘don’t count’.
See comment from Airport Watch.
The government may hope that no-one will notice because of the coronavirus crisis. They are wrong! We must not and will not allow government to back away from action on the far greater threat of climate change.
UK Airline bosses to ask for £7.5 billion bailout to survive Coronavirus.
What a nerve! Airlines, more than any other, spread diseases like Coronavirus (Covid-19) round the world. They should be paying us to sort out the pandemic! In accordance with the ‘Polluter Pay Principle’.
The airlines claim they are essential to the economy. But the great majority of flights are just affluent people jetting off on holiday. Less than 20% of passenger flights (and declining) are business.
And remember – the airlines already enjoy a tax dodge worth £10 billion pa for tax free fuel.
With the slump in demand, some airlines and airports might go bust. But how much does that really matter? When the pandemic is over and demand for air travel bounces back, all the planes and runways will still be there, ready to be picked up and used by the surviving airlines.
Governments around the world have are making huge efforts and imposing colossal economic costs in order to minimise the impact of Coronavirus. How is it that those same governments are doing virtually nothing to avert a far greater threat than Coronovirus – Climate Change.
The Court of Appeal has found in favour of the campaigners – including Friends of the Earth – who took the government to court over the third runway. The key argument was that the government in its National Policy Statement (NPS) had failed to take into account the ‘Paris Agreement’. The Paris Agreement is an international agreement, signed by UK, to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 and thereby prevent catastrophic climate change.
Lots has appeared in the press and the airwaves, so no need to repeat here. But interesting to see that even the Financial Times sees this as a landmark: “The decision is not just a setback for Heathrow’s backers. It also holds implications for future infrastructure projects: the government will have to consider such proposals in light of its climate pledges, or risk being open to legal challenge. It is a landmark moment, one that brings a much-needed dose of reality to Britain’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions to almost net zero by 2050.”
This judgment DOES NOT mean that a third runway is of itself unlawful or must be cancelled. It simply means that the NPS has to be revised to take account of the Paris Agreement. However, this has very important implications:
a) Boris Johnson is thought to be unenthusiastic about a third runway. This judgment gives him the opportunity and ‘political space’ to remove government support for Heathrow expansion.
b) it is huge precedent in the fight against climate change. The court said, in effect, that if the government signs an agreement on climate change, it is obliged to actually take account of it when developing plans and policies on carbon-emitting projects.
More and more people now realise that massive increases in flying and a third runway at Heathrow are inconsistent with the UK’s and worldwide climate targets.
The government’s own Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been saying for a while that if aviation were to grow at the rate the government forecasts – and indeed is promoting – then it will be impossible to meet the Net Zero target by 2050. [More] Let alone by 2030, the date which most scientists and analysts think is necessary.
The response of government has been twofold. Firstly, to simply say that emissions from aircraft flying to and from the UK ‘don’t count’ because they are “international”. Secondly, to mislead the public.
On 20/1/20, a group of scientists called out government minister Matt Hancock who said that “flying has already been decarbonised”, an outright lie. [Letter from scientists]
Heathrow has joined the government’s campaign of mis-information. Hundreds of thousands of glossy leaflets have been delivered to households “How Heathrow can expand and tackle climate”. It claims that sustainable fuels, offsets and electric planes will solve the problem. They won’t.
Now a group of scientists from 6 universities, led by Professor Julian Allwood at Cambridge University, has produced a report which again rebuts these false claims.
“The UK aviation industry this week promised to bring its net carbon emissions down to zero by 2050 while growing by 70 per cent, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly predicted that “viable electric planes” would be available in just a few years.
But past experience with innovation in aviation suggests that such ambitious targets are unrealistic and distracting. The only way the UK can get to net zero emission aviation by 2050 is by having a substantial period of no aviation at all. Let’s stop placing impossible hopes on breakthrough technologies, and try to hit emissions targets with today’s technologies.” [Report]
Huge areas devastated, people killed, an estimated billion animals die and what’s the response of Australia’s appalling prime minister, Scott Morrison? The New York Times tells us: “Why Australia is burning: As firefighters battle flames across the country, Australia’s prime minister is fighting to keep climate change out of the conversation.”
Hard to imagine, but his deputy Michael McCormack, is even worse. A climate denier, he characterised people talking about climate change as “inner-city raving lunatics”.
Australia’s leaders are appalling, but Britain’s leaders are little better. Their response to the climate emergency is to brand the group campaigning for action on climate change – Extinction Rebellion – as terrorists!
As the Independent says “Priti Patel’s [Home Secretary] listing of Extinction Rebellion as a terror threat is as alarming as it is comical.”
This election is about all of our futures. That goes way beyond the issue of Brexit.
On Thursday you can vote for a candidate who is genuinely concerned about climate change and means to do something about it. Or someone who pays lip service, if they mention it at all.
The government’s own advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said that a third runway is incompatible with the UK’s target of CO2 emissions. So those candidates who support Heathrow expansion are, in effect, supporting catastrophic climate change.
Just think about who you vote for !
So here are some of our local candidates who are, albeit tacitly, supporting catastrophic climate change:
Virendra Sharma Ealing Southall Labour
Seema Malhotra Feltham and Heston Labour
Theresa May Maidenhead Conservative
Gareth Thomas West Harrow Labour
The Conservatives are generally in favour, judging by their manifesto.
Labour are equivocal, judging by their manifesto.
LibDems and Greens are strongly opposed
Climate change has really come to the fore in the last year or two. The aviation industry has responded with a concerted campaign of deception and mis-information, claiming that somehow evermore flying is compatible with the UK’s (and other countries’) “carbon neutral” target. It isn’t!
The latest piece of ‘greenwash’ is from Easyjet who will plant a few trees if passengers pay. And Heathrow Airport will help to restore a peat bog. But these so-called ‘offsets’ do not and cannot undo the climate impacts of flying.
These false claims are exposed in the article here. It is written by an academic – James Dyke at the University of Exeter. This is significant because academics are required to tell the truth – unlike the aviation industry or politicians.
With the election coming up, it’s important that our new MPs address crucial issues such as climate change and Heathrow expansion. Not just the Brexit soap opera.
Here is a concise briefing which is being sent to candidates. This tells them the truth about Heathrow expansion, with data taken from official sources. Not misleading propaganda from Heathrow Airport, aided and abetted by their pals at the Department for Transport.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned the government that its gung-ho attitude to aviation and airport expansion must change if it is to meet the ‘Net Zero’ target which it has announced.
CCC, in its understated way, makes it clear that international aviation must be included in the targets that are set as part of the Climate Act. (Government and Heathrow Airport want it to be left out.)
CCC also says that if aviation were to grow at the rate the government forecasts (and seems to be encouraging) then it would be impossible to meet the Net Zero target by 2050. Let alone by 2030, the date which most scientists and commentators think is necessary.
If a third runway at Heathrow were to go ahead, this would mean severe constraint on other airports in order to meet carbon targets.
CCC also rejects the ‘greenwash’ being put about by the aviation industry; for example that electric planes, biofuels and ‘carbon offsets’ such as planting trees would solve the problem.
More at Aviation Environment Federation.
This is a ‘statutory consultation’ which Heathrow has to carry out as part of its planning application and the ‘Development Consent Order’ (DCO) process. The consultation is, as one would expect from Heathrow, biased and misleading. But the responses will not just be evaluated by Heathrow – they can be taken to an Inspectorate which has to evaluate the proposals and recommend acceptance or otherwise of the plan and changes that are required.
See response that West London Friends of the Earth (WLFOE) has made.
The No Third Runway Coalition has produced a very short summary of the issues and points it and its member groups have made. See below.
Expansion will increase flight numbers to 756,000 flights, an increase of over 280,000 flights each year.
Destruction of 756 homes.
2 new massive car parks for 24,000 and 22,000 cars and new multi-storey car park near T4 – increasing total number of parking spaces by over 3,000.
- No evidence that it would reduce unemployment (creating some jobs is expected to increase population and cause overcrowding, not reduce unemployment for those who live in the area)