Amber Rudd: The runway could have gone ahead and been consistent with our existing commitments to reducing carbon emissions — yes, even with the more recent commitment to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. But any sensible approach starts with acknowledging that these environmental commitments are real and important, not an optional extra. Britain has proudly trumpeted its ability to expand the economy and reduce carbon emissions. The economy has grown by about 70% since 1990, one of the fastest rates in the G7, while emissions have fallen by about 40%. The UK should not turn away from continued infrastructure improvements, such as Heathrow, in order to meet its carbon reduction commitments. It could and should do both. So what would a serious plan look like? First, it would recognise that aviation is undertaxed for the pollution it produces. This will require international agreement and action, but the UK should be leading the way. Polluters should pay for their pollution. Second, it should be putting serious money into alternative technologies. This means much faster and cheaper rail trips across the UK and Europe as an alternative to short-haul flights (London to Paris by train is so much nicer than by plane). It also means innovation in low-carbon aviation technology — yes, improved efficiency, but also electric, biofuel and even hydrogen-powered flights. Finally, Britain has to get serious about negative emissions technology, which takes carbon out of the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage is essential.
Times 1st March 2020 read more »
It’s tempting to forecast the future using simple cause and effect, assuming that the court of appeal ruling must now cause Heathrow and similar climate-busting projects to stop, thus accelerating Britain’s transition to a carbon-free economy. But sadly, that’s just one possible scenario. The effect of the ruling could be to expand smaller, regional airports. Most Heathrow flights are for pleasure; determined travellers could pile into Luton, Stansted, Birmingham. More might decide to drive. Even though the government says it won’t appeal, the transport minister, Grant Shapps, has also said, in principle, it does “want to see airport expansion”. Heathrow will appeal against the decision. It could win. Nature could still lose.
Observer 29th Feb 2020 read more »
Live by the greenwash, die by it too. Barely six days after Heathrow Airport declared it had been certified carbon neutral, its third-runway ambitions were trapped in a peat bog. The court of appeal decided that UK aviation policy had not sufficiently made reference to the Paris climate change agreement; and the government declared with a straight face that, committed as it was to a greener future, it would simply have to bow to the judge. However much the law has spoken and campaigners have won a famous victory, it is once again opportunistic politics, above legal judgments and environmental concerns, that will doom the scheme.
Observer 1st March 2020 read more »
Luxembourg may be a country only the size of Oxfordshire, but the government is making big claims for its abolition of fares on public transport – comparing the move with “the invention of the wheel, the arrival of the internet”. The mobility ministry says 29 February 2020, the day nationwide ticketless travel began, “will become a date anchored in history, just like the first step on the moon”.
Independent 29th Feb 2020 read more »