Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans are ‘dead’, say campaigners, as government tightens UK CO2 targets
Plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow have been struck a massive blow by the government’s new emission targets. The government announced the new climate change target on April 20th, with an aim to cut carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 78% by 2035 when compared to 1990 levels. For the first time, the Sixth Carbon Budget, covering the period 2033 to 2037, will include international aviation emissions (and also shipping emissions). Previously these had just been “taken account of” in setting the budget. The total emissions cap for the 2033-37 period is set at 965 MtCO2, which is far lower than the cap for the 5th carbon budget. With Heathrow view with Drax power station to be the UK’s largest source of CO2, emitting (in 2019) about 19 – 20 MtCO2 per year. That is around 52 – 55% of total UK aviation emissions (37Mt CO2 in 2019 link). A 3rd runway, adding another 7 MtCO2 or more per year, would mean that – in order to meet the new legally binding targets – most other UK airports would be required to close. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.”
Heathrow’s third runway plans are ‘dead’, say campaigners, as government sets new emission targets
By Matt Strudwick, Content editor (Berkshire Live)
21 APR 2021
Local campaign groups have celebrated the change, with the new emission targets seemingly making the third runway project nearly impossible
which was under threat of demolition because of plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport on February 27, 2020 in London, England. Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the court of appeal because it is said that the government’s climate change commitments were not adequately taken into account. The UK government will not appeal the decision whilst they have set a target in law of net zero emissions by 2050
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been struck a massive blow by the government’s new emission targets.
The government announced the new climate change target on Tuesday (April 20), with an aim to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 when compared to 1990 levels.
However, for the first time, this Carbon Budget includes the UK’s share of aviation emissions, including international travel and shipping.
With Heathrow already being the single biggest source of carbon emissions in the UK, emitting around 60 per cent of total UK aviation emissions, a third runway would mean to meet the new legally binding targets most other UK airports would be required to close.
When pressed on the subject at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his views on the matter are “well known” and it was “a matter for the company concerned”.
Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.
“With aviation now having to live within carbon emissions limits, and the government’s position being that there can be no net expansion of UK aviation, the expansion of activity at one airport will need to be offset by the restriction of activity at another.
“So, supporters of Heathrow expansion will need to identify which regional airports in other parts of the UK they would like to see restricted – or closed – to allow for a greater concentration of the UK’s aviation at Heathrow, in the already economically advantaged south-east.
“But I don’t think it’s likely that anyone, other than Heathrow’s foreign-based shareholders, will be foolish enough to advocate for a relegation of economic opportunity in the regions, and an abandonment of the government’s levelling-up agenda.”
In 2015, the now Prime Minister said: “I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway.”
He previously faced criticism for missing a vote on the expansion in 2018, where MPs voted to back the plans, because he was out of the country on an official visit to Afghanistan.
The change in targeting comes ahead of the Prime Minister opening the US Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by President Joe Biden on Earth Day, April 22.
Geraldine Nicholson, from local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “This is a bold step and is a good news day in our campaign to stop Heathrow’s third runway.
“Aviation emissions were not included in our national emissions targets for too long and now act as yet another death knell for Heathrow airport in their crestfallen quest for expansion.”
Heathrow has been contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
Plans for Heathrow Airport expansion in doubt following opposition from the Prime Minister
21 April 2021
By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter (London News Online)
Plans for the expansion of Heathrow Airport are in doubt following widespread opposition from the Prime Minister and London mayoral candidates.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing yesterday, Boris Johnson said that his views on Heathrow expansion were “well known” and that the issue was “a matter for the company concerned”.
Mr Johnson has previously been vocal in his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, having said he would “lie down in front of bulldozers and stop construction” when he was Mayor of London.
But the Prime Minister said, “that doesn’t mean I am opposed to aviation” yesterday when asked whether the Government’s inclusion of aviation in emissions targets would prevent the expansion of the airport.
The comments come just days after all four leading candidates in the race to become Mayor of London signalled their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, adding further difficulty to the project.
Current mayor Sadiq Khan said that a third runway would be “disastrous” for the environment, while Shaun Bailey, Sian Berry and Luisa Porritt all said they would oppose the project.
Questions were raised over the future of Heathrow expansion this week following the Government’s declaration that aviation would be taken into account in legally binding targets to cut carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.
Paul McGuiness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK Government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.”
“With aviation now having to live within carbon emissions limits, and the Government’s position being that there can be no net expansion of UK aviation, the expansion of activity at one airport will need to be offset by the restriction of activity at another.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s likely that anyone, other than Heathrow’s foreign based shareholders, will be foolish enough to advocate for a relegation of economic opportunity in the regions, and an abandonment of the government’s levelling-up agenda.”
UK to include international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets, and aim for overall UK 78% CO2 cut by 2050
In December 2020 the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its guidance for the UK government on its Sixth Carbon Budget, for the period 2033 – 37, and how to reach net-zero by 2050. That included the recommendation on aviation that there should be no net airport expansion, and that international aviation and shipping (IAS) should be fully included in the carbon budgets. Now the government has accepted many of their recommendations, including that the UK should cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. This is 15 years earlier than had been the original goal. The CCC recommended that IAS should be properly within carbon budgets; also that the target for aviation, instead of being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 per year by 2050, should be reduced to 23MtCO2 by 2050, following the BNZ (balanced net zero) pathway. There is no commitment yet by government to insist on that reduction. It would mean a large amount of UK engineered greenhouse gas removals by 2050 having to be assigned to making the aviation sector net-zero. People would have to pay for the carbon they emit being removed, rather than just “fly-tipped into the atmosphere”, which would make flying more expensive. Ways (taxation?) will be needed to make that fair.