Hope is not a Strategy – Aviation cannot be allowed to keep adding to the climate crisis
With just two months to go before the UK Government hosts the vitally important COP26 International Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’), and a host of other environmental campaign groups from all across the UK, are pressing the Government for immediate action to tackle aviation’s growing impact on climate change. UK aviation was responsible for 38 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019 and the Government is content to allow this to continue to increase until 2030 and still to be more than 30 million tonnes in 2040 – by letting airports expand. In response to the DfT consultation, on its “Jet Zero by 2050” strategy, SAW has submitted a highly critical evidence paper challenging the DfT’s ‘business as usual’ strategy and its total reliance on technological solutions emerging from beyond the horizon over the next 20-30 years (new biofuels, novel fuels, electric and hydrogen fuelled planes, and carbon storage technologies). The key message from SAW is that “Hope is not a Strategy”. SAW has also submitted evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into the apparent contradiction between the Government’s expansionist aviation policy and its declared commitment to tackling climate change.
Hope is not a Strategy – Aviation cannot be allowed to keep adding to the Climate Crisis
From Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) – used to be named Stop Stansted Expansion
With just two months to go before the UK Government hosts the vitally important COP26 International Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’), and a host of other environmental campaign groups from all across the UK, are pressing the Government for immediate action to tackle aviation’s growing impact on climate change.
UK aviation was responsible for 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2019 and the Government is content to allow this to continue to increase until 2030 and still to be more than 30 million tonnes in 2040.
It is therefore difficult to see how the target of net zero aviation emissions by 2050 could be met. The Government is pinning all its hopes on technological solutions emerging over the next 20-30 years, such as electric and hydrogen-powered planes and new aviation biofuels.
Despite the climate crisis, the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) insists that it should be ‘business as usual’ for UK aviation allowing all UK airports to continue to expand.
This is despite the strong recommendation from the Government’s independent advisers, the Climate Change Committee (‘CCC’), for a freeze on all airport expansion in the UK until such time as there is clear evidence that aviation CO2 emissions are on a downward slope towards the Government’s legally-binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.
In response to a DfT consultation, SAW has submitted a highly critical evidence paper challenging the DfT’s ‘business as usual’ strategy and its total reliance on technological solutions emerging from beyond the horizon over the next 20-30 years. The key message from SAW is that “Hope is not a Strategy”.
SAW has also submitted evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee which is carrying out an Inquiry into the apparent contradiction between the Government’s expansionist aviation policy and its declared commitment to tackling climate change.
SAW’s climate change adviser, Mike Young, commented: “The Climate Crisis is here and now. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for 20-30 years in the hope that technological solutions will somehow emerge. The Government should follow the clear recommendations of its own independent advisers, the Climate Change Committee, and call a halt to airport expansion until aircraft emissions are brought under control.”
Mike Young continued: “CO2 emissions stay in the atmosphere for up to a hundred years and high-altitude aviation emissions can be three times more damaging than the CO2 emissions alone, due to the additional warming effect of the non-CO2 emissions from aircraft jet engines and their contrails. There is an urgent need to act and yet the Government still wants to allow more and more flights every year.”
Mike Young concluded: “In less than two months, the UK will be hosting the COP26 International Climate Change Summit in Glasgow and this needs to be a turning point in the global fight against climate change. Failure is not an option. However, as matters stand, it will be difficult for the UK to be telling other countries what they must do, while at the same time continuing to support the unfettered growth in air travel.”
The SAW submission to the DfT consultation on its Jet Zero Strategy (ended 8 September) is at Stansted-Airport-Watch-Response-to-DfT-Jet-Zero-Consultation-8.9.2021.pdf (stanstedairportwatch.com)
The SAW submission to the Environmental Audit Committee call for evidence (ended 3 September) is at Stansted-Airport-Watch-submission-to-EAC-Jet-Zero-3.9.2021.pdf (stanstedairportwatch.com)
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
Mike Young, SAW Climate Change Adviser: 01799 599089 or (M) 07486 592334; firstname.lastname@example.org
SAW Campaign Office, 01279 870558; email@example.com ; https://stanstedairportwatch.com/
Stansted Airport Watch submits response to CMA consultation on greenwash; examples from Stansted and Ryanair
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which regulates business behaviour, has finally stepped in to try to end ‘greenwashing’ and has asked for evidence. Greenwashing is where businesses make dubious claims in an attempt to boost their environmental credentials, and thus sell more product. The CMA consultation ended on 16th July. Greenwashing is all too common in the aviation industry and Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) submitted detailed evidence to the CMA relating to both Stansted Airport and Ryanair. Some of the examples of dubious claims by the airport are that it claims to be “carbon neutral”, but this conveniently ignores the carbon emissions from the aircraft (hugely higher than emissions by the airport itself). It also relies of “offsetting”, so making payments to some carbon reduction activity elsewhere, while itself continuing to emit. Ryanair has made a number of claims about being “green”, such as claims to be Europe’s “cleanest, greenest airline” but this has been ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority, for being misleading (February 2020).
Stansted wins appeal, against refusal by Uttlesford Council, of its plans to increase capacity to 43 million passengers per year
Expansion plans for Stansted Airport have been approved by the Planning Inspectorate (PI) after an appeal. In January 2020 Uttlesford District Council (UDC) rejected proposals to increase Stansted’s passenger cap from 35 million to 43 million a year. However, the councillors voted against the advice of council officers, who had recommended approval of proposals. The council had originally approved the plan, in November 2018 but only by the casting vote of the chairman; many councillors then had not read, or properly understood, all the documents. Then after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May 2019, the decision was referred back to the planning committee – the rejection decision. Stansted already had permission to increase capacity from 28 million to 35 million passengers per year. The airport appealed against the decision, despite Covid and the near collapse of air travel in 2020. A public inquiry was held in January to March 2021 by the Planning Inspectorate. In its decision, the PI said: “there would be a limited degree of harm arising in respect of air quality and carbon emissions” but that was “far outweighed by the benefits of the proposal”. UDC has also been ordered to pay the costs of Stansted’s appeal.