13th March 2007

Cheap flights take priority over saving the planet

The Government is in denial over the aviation industry’s contribution to climate change Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said today in response to the publication of the draft Climate Change Bill.

If the Government is serious about tackling global warming it should review its plans for major airport expansion which, if allowed to continue, would cancel out the overall 60 percent reduction in energy emissions being sought over the period to 2050.

While efforts to address the climate change problem through the new Bill are welcome, global warming emissions from airport expansion are on track to negate all the savings expected of households and the rest of the UK economy. This was clearly highlighted by the recent Tyndall Centre for Climate Change report that showed the predicted growth in air travel for the UK over the period to 2050 would eliminate all the savings made in other sectors.

At Stansted Airport where expansion on the existing runway and a second runway are proposed, an additional seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide would be added to annual emissions. This is equivalent to the saving that could be achieved by replacing ALL the conventional domestic light bulbs in the country with low energy ones. Some would question whether such a valuable one-off saving should be frittered away to accommodate more and more cheap leisure flights.

Carol Barbone, SSE Campaign Director, commented: “The Government is in denial with an expansionist aviation policy which predates our present understanding of the seriousness and urgency of the climate change issue. You can’t tackle climate change without addressing aviation growth.”

“Aviation is already responsible for the equivalent of between 12 and 21 percent of the UK’s carbon emissions and the Environment Secretary David Miliband’s claim that ‘The planet doesn’t mind whether it’s an emission from aviation or an emission from home heating’ is simply untrue,” Carol Barbone continued. “Aviation emissions are between two and four times more damaging as pointed out by The Stern Report and the 2500 leading international scientists who make up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”

“It’s as if the Government has concluded that cheap stag nights in Prague take priority over everything else, including the health of the planet for future generations,” she concluded.

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits