Campaigners label Heathrow’s new “Sustainability” strategy as “patently underwhelming” in its ambitions, or plans for action
Heathrow has announced its updated environmental “sustainability” strategy, called “Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet”. It wants to do a bit to encourage wildlife near the airport (not birds of course, as they get killed or deterred for safety …) and get airlines to use allegedly “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF). Lots of hope …. The “elephant in the room” of their rising carbon emissions from flights, is not properly addressed. Local campaign, the No 3rd Runway Coalition, consider the strategy to be “patently underwhelming” and the “goals to reduce emissions are pifflingly small…” Heathrow has unrealistic hopes of “decarbonising” flights, and also “improving the area around the airport for those who live and work in it’. Heathrow wants to cut “at least 45% of on the ground emissions” which make up about 5% of the total. The increased use of SAF, which is only available in tiny amounts, would need government assistance, says Heathrow. Stop Heathrow Expansion says the plan ‘does not deliver for communities around the airport’ and does not offer any real commitments to end ‘highly disruptive night flights’ , instead of better restrictions on flights between 11pm and 7am.
This is their Net Zero plan
CAMPAIGNERS LABEL HEATHROW PLAN ‘PATENTLY UNDERWHELMING’
By Áine McGinty
Thu, Feb 10, 2022
Heathrow Airport’s updated environmental sustainability strategy released on 10th February has been labeled ‘patently underwhelming’ by campaigners from the No 3rd Runway Coalition.
The airport this week released its plan for the decade ahead – Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet. The programme of work outlines how the airport will build back better with, they say, ‘sustainability front of mind’. The airport’s plan sets out what they are calling ‘an ambitious series of goals over the next decade to tackle the growing climate emergency, decarbonise flight and continue to improve the area around the airport for those who live and work in it’.
Heathrow say their ambition is to ensure 2019 was the year of peak carbon at the airport. Through the strategy, Heathrow has committed to two ‘industry-leading goals to cut carbon by 2030’ – cutting up to 15% of carbon from flights compared with 2019 and reducing at least 45% of on the ground emissions.
Heathrow 2.0 also commits the airport to a UK airport first, introducing a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) based incentives programme for airlines, encouraging their partners to invest in SAF, reducing their carbon footprint and helping to hit carbon reduction targets. They say the government will need to work with them to support the delivery of Heathrow 2.0 by injecting pace into their SAF policy making and supporting the airport’s case for a regulatory settlement from the Civil Aviation Authority, which enables the necessary investment to achieve the commitments set out in their plan.
Over this decade, Heathrow 2.0 also commits the airport to, over this decade, moving Heathrow towards becoming Zero Waste, introducing an airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025 and generating at least £6.5m in funds for the independent Heathrow Community Trust charity.
Heathrow’s Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The launch of our refreshed Heathrow 2.0 strategy is a landmark moment in our sustainability journey, one which accelerates the shift in our industry towards a greener future. Decisive action needs to be taken this decade to remain on track for net zero and 2.0 sets out the roadmap to get us there. Not only will we cut carbon, but our ambitious strategy will maintain Heathrow’s leadership in innovation, social mobility and community engagement.”
The No 3rd Runway Coalition has criticised the sustainability commitments stating that the plan includes ‘no analysis of which delivery mechanisms will be required to achieve it’ as well as a lack of analysis of ‘prospective dates when new aircraft, which could help achieve the SAF target, might be introduced to the fleet’. Turnover of the aircraft fleet is, of course, campaigners stress, wholly outside of Heathrow’s control.
In addition, any of the targets requiring financial commitments are contingent on what the industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), permits Heathrow to raise by way of increases to Heathrow passenger charges. The CAA recently disallowed an increase requested by Heathrow.
A second anti-expansion group, Stop Heathrow Expansion, has also criticised the plan stating that despite the airport’s claim, the plan ‘does not deliver for communities around the airport’. They have pointed out that the plan fails to offer any real commitments to end ‘highly disruptive night flights’ saying that Heathrow could demonstrate its commitments to providing a better environment for local residents by imposing its own reduction in these flights, between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
Heathrow, however, claim they are introducing measures which will minimise noise, improve local air quality and invest more in the airport’s local communities. They also commit to developing a Nature Positive Airport Plan to continue to strengthen and showcase biodiversity management at the airport and launching a new Giving Back Programme detailing their community investment strategy and volunteering programmes that will benefit at least 1 million residents.
Heathrow has also announced the launch of its Sustainable Travel Zone, a network of subsidised travel routes to and from the airport.
Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These goals to reduce emissions are pifflingly small in the limited areas where the airport could make a difference, and only ambitious in respect of technological developments over which they have no control.
“There’s a section on Sustainable Aviation Fuels, but these can only be delivered – if at all – by plane manufacturers when the current fleet comes out of service in twenty years’ time. The target to increase environmentally friendly access to the airport, which depends on others delivering Crossrail, only envisages a 4% advance – paltry to some, but doubtlessly reflecting the airport’s abject failure to increase it by more than 1% over the last decade.
“Heathrow are trying to make the right noises but it’s little more than a ticking box exercise. And what else can it be when virtually all the unsustainable emissions come from the planes?”
Geraldine Nicholson from Stop Heathrow Expansion, added: “We want Heathrow to be a better, not bigger Airport. But this plan is, sadly, a rehash of existing underwhelming measures that do not give us any confidence that the airport is truly interested in being a better neighbour. It does not deliver for communities around the airport.
“In this plan, we would like to have seen a commitment to significantly reducing or ending highly disruptive night flights. That would have been a positive start, followed by re-supporting local public transport initiatives such as the Free Travel Zone that it scrapped during the pandemic. Then, of course, followed by scrapping the 3rd runway project becoming a better neighbour and employer, as passenger demand rises this year.”
To find out more and view the Sustainability Strategy in full, visit heathrow.com/company/about-heathrow/heathrow-2-0-sustainability-strategy
Heathrow accused of ‘risky’ sustainability strategy that relies too much on undeveloped technology
15 FEB, 2022
BY CATHERINE KENNEDY (New Civil Engineer)
Aviation experts have criticised Heathrow’s new sustainability strategy, claiming it does not adequately factor in expansion emissions and relies too heavily on the development of negative emission technologies.
Heathrow Ltd published its new sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet – last week.
The strategy sets ambitious targets such as reducing carbon from flights by up to 15% compared with 2019 and to cut at least 45% of on the ground carbon emissions by 2030.
However, those targets have been questioned by aviation and environmentalists alike who claim that they are based on undeveloped technology.
New Economics Foundation (NEF) senior researcher Alex Chapman also pointed out that these targets “ignore the airport’s proposed new runway”.
“The emissions from the new flights [the new runway] would create would blow the minimal reductions proposed out of the water,” he said. “As long as the expansion remains on the table, strategies like this should be seen as nothing less than greenwash.”
According to the strategy, it is “possible to take the carbon out of flying through ongoing efficiency improvements, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), zero carbon aircraft and carbon removal projects”. However to achieve this, it adds that the government will need to work in tandem with Heathrow to inject pace into the SAF policy.
Aviation Environment Federation director Cait Hewitt dubbed this reliance on technology “risky”.
“A climate strategy that pins its hopes on a huge rollout of either SAFs or negative emission technologies coming good in the long term, neither of which are yet really in play at all, is risky at best,” she said. “There is absolutely no guarantee here that these technologies would be in place before a third runway is operational.
“If airlines were actually made to cover the cost of investment in these novel technologies and fuels, that would have a significant impact on demand, and therefore on the financial case for airport expansion.”
The strategy adds that, by 2050, Heathrow’s goal is that carbon from flights falls by over 80%, even with a new runway. This would leave less than 20% of carbon emissions to be removed from the atmosphere to reach net zero.
It says: “These figures are based on a set of detailed assumptions regarding ongoing fleet efficiency improvements, roll-out of zero carbon aircraft from 2035 and, most significantly, the scale-up of SAF to replace 90% of the remaining kerosene by 2050. However, our collective goal should be to reach absolute zero by 2050 if possible.
“It takes time to scale up SAF and introduce zero-carbon emissions flight, so we must also fund projects that avoid causing emissions, reduce emissions or directly remove them from the atmosphere.”
Overall, Hewitt said that the strategy makes “some truly heroic assumptions about future emissions reductions from aviation, particularly about the take-up of sustainable aviation fuels by airlines – numbers that go way beyond the projections from either the Climate Change Committee or the government”.
She added: “And it’s on the basis of these speculative figures that Heathrow tries to argue that even with a third runway, UK aviation emissions can hit net zero by 2050.”
Chapman added that the initial target to reduce carbon from flights by 15% is, in itself, not enough.
“To put the inadequacy of this target in context, the UN estimates that globally we need to achieve a 55% reduction over the same period in order to have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5oC, as agreed in Paris,” he said.
Following the launch of the strategy, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said it was “a landmark moment” in the airport’s “sustainability journey”.
He added: “Decisive action needs to be taken this decade to remain on track for net zero and 2.0 sets out the roadmap to get us there. Not only will we cut carbon, but our ambitious strategy will maintain Heathrow’s leadership in innovation, social mobility and community engagement.”
A Heathrow spokesperson added: “Aviation can and will decarbonise and Heathrow is aiming to make 2019 the year of peak carbon with ambitious goals to reduce emissions both on the ground and in the air in the next decade. Sustainable Aviation Fuel will play a critical role in cutting carbon to achieve our goals in the near term, and now policy support from Government is essential to scale-up production and usage at pace.
“The UK Government’s independent Climate Change Committee has set a pathway for a 15% reduction in carbon emissions from flying, and a 46% reduction for the rest of the economy by 2030. Our refreshed sustainability strategy is aligned to those goals. We have been clear that expansion can only be delivered if it meets strict, legally-binding environmental targets.”
The sustainability strategy follows research from the NEF last month which revealed that emission clean up costs from departing flights at the eight airport expansions underway across the UK have more than doubled to £73.6bn.
The government has, however, committed itself to achieving net zero within the aviation sector in its recently-published Transport Decarbonisation Plan. It has also recently consulted on a Net Zero Aviation Strategy, setting out how industry will play its part in delivering the country’s net zero commitments.
Ready for a decade of difference: Heathrow launches refreshed sustainability strategy
10th February 2022 (Heathrow airport press release)
- Heathrow launches Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet kicking off a decisive decade of difference to help the airport build back better from the pandemic, with carbon reductions and ensuring Heathrow is a great place to live and work top of the agenda
- Heathrow is already delivering against the goals of its plan, announcing today the airport’s full direct supply chain will benefit from a London Living Wage, and relaunching subsidised public transport routes near the airport for colleagues and passengers
- Strategy includes two industry-leading goals to cut carbon by 2030, a vital waypoint to the global aviation sector target to reach net zero emission by 2050. The airport has committed to cut up to 15% of carbon from flights and reduce at least 45% of on the ground carbon emissions by 2030
After the most difficult two years in its history, Heathrow has today released its plan for the decade ahead with a refreshed sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet. The programme of work outlines how the airport will build back better with sustainability front of mind, as the nation and aviation industry emerges from the pandemic and ramps up to recovery. The airport’s plan sets out an ambitious series of goals over the next decade to tackle the growing climate emergency, decarbonise flight and continue to improve the area around the airport for those who live and work in it.
The programme of work builds on Heathrow’s previous sustainability strategy launched five years ago, this time offering a streamlined framework divided into two leadership pillars of work, targeting net zero aviation and ensuring Heathrow is a great place to live and work. The objectives set out in Heathrow 2.0 are the result of consultation with local and national stakeholders. Achieving these goals will enable the airport to remain a sustainable employer for future generations and protect the benefits of aviation in a world without carbon.
To keep the airport on track to deliver net zero aviation by 2050, Heathrow’s ambition is to ensure 2019 was the year of peak carbon at the airport. To deliver on this commitment, our goal is to reduce carbon from flights by up to 15% compared with 2019 and to cut at least 45% of on the ground carbon emissions by 2030. Government will need to work in tandem with Heathrow to support the delivery of Heathrow 2.0 by injecting pace into their Susaintable Aviation Fuel (SAF) policy making and supporting the airport’s case for a regulatory settlement from the Civil Aviation Authority, which enables the necessary investment to achieve the commitments set out in this plan.
Heathrow is introducing measures which will minimise noise, improve local air quality and invest more in the airport’s local communities to enable our closest neighbours to share in the benefits and success of having the UK’s Hub on their doorstep. The airport’s sustainability strategy is also resolute in its commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, with colleague wellbeing placed at the heart of the business’ priorities, providing everyone with the tools to thrive at Heathrow.
The airport is already delivering against the goals of the plan, with Heathrow today announcing an extension of the London Living Wage, illustrating its great place to work credentials. Heathrow already pays at least this rate to directly employed staff, and this latest development ensures everyone working in Heathrow’s direct supply chain will be guaranteed to earn at least the London Living Wage from the start of April. At least 1300 of employees at the airport will benefit from the wage boost when it comes into effect and the move will put nearly over £4.5million extra into the pay packets of staff at direct suppliers including Mitie and Apcoa.
Heathrow has also announced the launch of its Sustainable Travel Zone, a network of subsidised travel routes to and from the airport to make it more attractive for colleagues and passengers to take public transport, reducing congestion on local roads and improving local air quality.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s Chief Executive said:
“The launch of our refreshed Heathrow 2.0 strategy is a landmark moment in our sustainability journey, one which accelerates the shift in our industry towards a greener future. Decisive action needs to be taken this decade to remain on track for net zero and 2.0 sets out the roadmap to get us there. Not only will we cut carbon, but our ambitious strategy will maintain Heathrow’s leadership in innovation, social mobility and community engagement.”
Katherine Chapman, Director, Living Wage Foundation said:
“We are delighted that Heathrow has extended their payment of the London Living Wage to now include everyone within Heathrow’s direct supply chain. Heathrow’s move will provide a stable and secure rate that will ensure over 1,300 workers and their families earn what they need to get by. In the backdrop of rising costs of living and spiralling inflation, this extra financial buffer will prove even more important.
As we redefine what good business looks like in the wake of the pandemic and in the face of new economic uncertainty, we are thrilled to see forward-looking employers like Heathrow, and the over 9,000 other Living Wage Employers, leading the way in how they support their staff. We all ought to earn enough to support our lives, and I would encourage any business able to do so to consider accrediting with the Living Wage Foundation.”
In 2022, Heathrow 2.0 commits the airport to:
- In a UK airport first, introduce a Sustainable Aviation Fuel based incentives programme for airlines, encouraging our partners to invest in SAF, reduce their carbon footprint and help to hit our carbon reduction targets
- Develop a Nature Positive Airport Plan to continue to strengthen and showcase biodiversity management at the airport
- Launch a new Giving Back Programme detailing Heathrow’s community investment strategy and volunteering programmes that will benefit at least 1 million residents.
Over this decade, Heathrow 2.0 commits the airport to:
- Set industry-leading carbon targets, committing to cut ‘in the air carbon’ by up to 15% compared with 2019 levels and reducing ‘on the ground carbon’ emissions by at least 45% compared with 2019 levels
- Maximise the materials used at the airport that are repurposed, moving Heathrow towards becoming Zero Waste
- Introduce an airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025.
- Generate at least £6.5m in funds for the independent Heathrow Community Trust charity
Reduce areas affected by noise, introduce new alternation patterns, and increase nights without aircraft relative to 2019
Provide 10,000 external jobs, apprenticeships and early career opportunities for local people
Provide 15,000 experiences of the workplace
Ensure diversity levels within all rungs of the leadership ladder reflect the diversity levels of our local community
For further information and to view our sustainabiltiy strategy in full, please click here. https://www.heathrow.com/company/about-heathrow/heathrow-2-0-sustainability-strategy