New runway will deal air pollution and climate double whammy - Greenpeace

Last edited 9 October 2015 at 10:53am
9 October, 2015

Commenting on airport expansion ahead of a major Westminster rally against a third runway at Heathrow tomorrow, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, who will be among the speakers, said:

“By greenlighting a new runway ministers will set themselves up to fail on the twin challenge of cutting air pollution and carbon emissions. This double whammy isn’t a price worth paying to allow a minority of wealthy frequent flyers to fly even more at the expense of the majority of us.

“Mass opposition in 2009 led to David Cameron’s statement that a ‘third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts’. Saturday’s rally shows that opposition is back, proof that public opinion remains more reliable than the Prime Minister’s word. There is turbulence ahead. Cameron is on course for a crash landing if he gives the go-ahead to a new runway.

“Gatwick or Heathrow is a false dilemma. David Cameron has a far better option - scrap plans for a new runway and bring demand from a few high flyers under control instead.”




Mr Cameron in 2009 said: “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts.” 


Key facts airport expansion


  • Pressure on airports is being driven by a relatively small proportion of the UK population. 70% of all UK flights are taken by only 15% of the people, predominantly wealthy ones, whilst every year half of the population don’t fly at all (only 48% of adults surveyed had flown at least once in the last 12 months ).


  • The government is allowing aviation to more than double (120%) its emission by 2050 from 1990 levels when the UK economy overall has to cut its emissions by 80%. If aviation grows, the rest of the economy has to cut by 85%


  • By 2050, even under an optimistic scenario, the aviation sector will be eating up a quarter of the UK’s carbon budget


  • Every tonne of CO2 produced by aviation is a tonne of CO2 that won’t be available to other businesses


  • UK citizens are already flying more than people in any other country, with emissions being twice as much per head as in the US


  • The London metropolitan area already has 7 runways at 6 airports and is the world’s second biggest city airport system by passengers carried. London has 2 of the world’s top dozen international airports in terms of passenger numbers - no other city has 2 in the top 20


  • International business travel has fallen both in percentage terms and absolute terms over the past 15 years, and business flights accounted for less than a sixth of all international travel to/from UK airports last year.


Contact: Stefano Gelmini, m 07506 512442


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