Meeting on aviation expansion and climate confirms “No new runways” is the only effective policy
Representatives from London’s anti-airport expansion campaigns shared the stage with Green activists, with a unified message: No new runways for the south east’s airports. The meeting was chaired by Sian Berry, the Green Party’s candidate for the London mayoral election. A range of prominent environmental activists spoke about why the case for no new runways at London’s airports is the most attractive option. Sian said nobody would believe David Cameron’s climate change credentials if he heads to the UN Climate Change conference in Paris in November, intending to get a new runway at a London airport. We need to “convince the government to end this false choice debate, trying to pit [Heathrow and Gatwick] communities against each other over which airport to expand and who should suffer the increased pollution and noise that would result.” Professor Alice Bows-Larkin, a climate expert, said in the conflict between aviation and climate policy in the UK said providing more airport capacity is at odds with managing demand for air travel, which is the only effective way to limit the rise in aviation CO2 emissions. The efficiency improvements the industry can make are far smaller than the expected growth of the industry. Not building another runway is the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to solve the aviation carbon problem.
“No new runways” is the message from airport expansion meeting
12.9.2015 (Green Party)
Representatives from London’s anti-airport expansion campaigns shared the stage with Green activists on Saturday (12 September) with a unified message: No new runways for the south east’s airports.
Sian Berry, the Green Party’s candidate for the London mayoral election made the event her first official engagement by chairing the meeting of prominent environmental activists who took to the stage to explain why the case for no new runways at London’s airports is quickly becoming the most attractive option .
Camden Councillor Berry told delegates that no one will believe David Cameron’s Climate Change credentials if he heads to the UN Climate Change conference in November while wishing for a new runway at a London airport.
“Bigger airports make no climate sense. We cannot increase our emissions from aviation while making a fair contribution to keeping global warming within safe limits. How can the Prime Minister convince delegates at the Paris climate talks he’s serious if he goes there while wanting a new runway?
“The Greens are the only party with the clear message that we need no new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or anywhere in the UK. It’s our job to convince the government to end this false choice debate, trying to pit communities against each other over which airport to expand and who should suffer the increased pollution and noise that would result.”
Panellist Professor Alice Bows-Larkin, an expert in the conflict between aviation and climate policy in the UK said:
“Avoiding the 2°C target with any reasonable chance requires all sectors within, and associated with, wealthy nations to make immediate and urgent cuts to their CO2 emissions. The aviation sector has very few technical options to make any more than an incremental adjustment to energy efficiency or carbon intensity in the next decade. This points towards demand management as an essential way of cutting levels of CO2 from the aviation sector in the near-term.
“Providing more airport capacity is at odds with managing demand, and although may improve efficiency in the short-term, within only a few years the increase in passenger numbers will help to uphold growth rates in the CO2 from flights to and from wealthy nations, jeopardising the goal of maintaining global temperatures below the 2°C threshold.”
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England and No New Runways campaigner said:
“The ‘No New Runways’ event highlighted a unified position that is beginning to emerge against the building of new airport runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and across the rest of the UK.
“The event is unique because it brought together for the first time anti-Heathrow expansion & anti-Gatwick expansion campaigners in a joint show of strength against building new runways anywhere because of the damaging implications for climate change.
“Instead of expanding our airports, the Government should introduce a frequent flyer tax which would tax aviation much more fairly and at the same time reduce the demand for expansion”.
The Green Party and partners are urging the government to stop the premature decision to expand either Gatwick or Heathrow, and instead to:
Create a level playing field on aviation tax: Currently aviation fuel is not taxed, which means that the UK (and other countries) incentivise the most climate damaging form of travel. A level playing field will make it as attractive in cost terms to travel by train to Europe or to UK internal destinations as on short haul flights.
Taking the train instead of flying can reduce your carbon impacts by as much as 90%. In 2016 the European Parliament will consider bringing aviation fully into the European Emissions Trading Scheme, to put it on a par with other polluting industries. The Green Party’s MEPs will be working hard to get this approved.
Introduce a frequent flyer levy to reduce demand (currently 70% of all flights are taken by just 15% of people) and ensure equity of flying. The finance from this levy, and aviation taxation could be used to increase investment in greener transport alternatives.
Invest in improving public transport in the UK (including bringing the railways back into public hands) and ground and sea links to Europe so they are easy, safe and comfortable to use. Removing the need for extra roads and rail to serve an expanded airport will free up resources to invest in the whole transport network and prioritize improving services.