Heathrow Expansion Sets Business Against Environment

26.2.2008   (Airwise News)

Plans to build a third runway at Heathrow have sparked protests and an active
blogging campaign stressing a contradiction between major aviation expansion and
attempts to fight global warming.

“The arguments in favor simply don’t stack up,” said Nic Ferriday of the Aviation Environment Federation. “You can’t have the massive expansion of aviation in this country – led by
Heathrow – when the government is at the same time promising to cut carbon emissions
to fight climate change.”

Heathrow already handles 67.3 million passengers and 471,000 aircraft movements
a year, figures which are forecast to double over the next 30 years if expansion
goes ahead.

Businesses say Heathrow provides vital links to the United States, Europe and
booming Asian economies such as India and China.

More than a third of businessmen polled by London’s Institute of Directors took
a business flight 10 times or more last year and say work would suffer if flights
were curbed.

With about two million people under Heathrow’s flight path if expansion goes
ahead and hundreds of homes due to be bulldozed, many local residents want expansion

Scientists say global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees
Celsius this century due to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for transport
and power, with emissions at altitude twice as harmful as at ground level.

“Aviation accounts for about 13% of Britain’s climate impact.  That percentage
will rise very sharply as the number of flights doubles and efforts are made to
cut emissions elsewhere,” said WWF transport campaigner Pete Lockley.

The government argues that aviation expansion is vital for the economy, an argument
Lockley said did not hold water if a true climate cost was factored into the equation.

Campaigners say only about one quarter of flights are for business reasons.

“At the predicted rate of expansion, aviation will account for all of Britain’s
emissions target by the middle of the century,” said Patrick Gillett of Plane Stupid.

Aircraft manufacturers have improved planes’ fuel efficiency in recent years,
and trials are under way to power them with biofuels, but most airlines are counting
on emissions trading and carbon offsetting to balance most of their impact.

Such schemes come at a cost, but nearly two thirds of those polled by the IoD
said they were willing to pay 5-10  %  more for a business flight on environmental

A bill going through parliament and expected to become law within 3 months commits
the government to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main climate change culprit,
by at least 60%  from 1990 by 2050 and by 26-32%  by 2020.

UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has promised to look at raising the end
target to 80%.


Airwise News

Heathrow Expansion Sets Business Against Environment