9-Dec-2009 9:48 AM

Committee on Climate Change permits London Heathrow, London Stansted and Edinburgh airport expansion

UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released (08-Dec-2009) a report stating aviation policies in the UK should be based on the assumption that demand growth between now and 2050 cannot exceed 60% if the UK is to meet the government’s target that aviation emissions in 2050 must not exceed 2005 levels. [more]

  • The report finds that on a “business as usual” path, UK air passenger demand would grow over 200% by 2050, reflecting the high income elasticity of demand. This would not be compatible with meeting the UK’s aviation or wider economy emissions targets;
  • The committee added that expansion plans for London Heathrow, London Stansted and Edinburgh airports could go ahead as long as passenger growth is limited as suggested;
  • British Airways CEO, Willie Walsh responded to the report stating it is “very positive” that the report recognised the importance of growth in the industry (Associated Press, 08-Dec-2009). Mr Walsh added the Conservative Party’s plans to block London Heathrow’s expansion plans would be "the biggest mistake ever made";
  • Virgin Atlantic CEO, Steven Ridgeway meanwhile stated significantly curbing passenger traffic would negatively affect the UK economy;
  • UK Transport Secretary, Lord Andrew Adonis also welcomed the report, stating London Heathrow Airport is “already running at full capacity”, and that the results would be taken into consideration in the development of the government’s National Policy Statement, to be released in 2011 (The Times, 08-Dec-2009);
  • Airport Operators Association (AOA) also welcomed (08-Dec-2009) the report; [more]
  • Greenpeace stated the report’s suggestions were not compatible with the government’s Aviation White Paper.

British Airways: "We will look back years from now and say, what a disgrace [the Conservative Party’s plans to block London Heathrow expansion plans]. We expect governments to have policies that are coherent. I don't see this as coherent. I want to know if the Conservatives don't want to build a third runway how are they going to position the UK economy to compete on a global scale in the future," Willie Walsh, CEO. Source: guardian.co.uk, 08-Dec-2009.

Virgin Atlantic: "There's no point in the UK on its own being a hero and damaging its economy. We could shut down the whole of the UK today and it will make no difference to what's going to happen with emissions," Steven Ridgeway, CEO. Source: Associated Press, 08-Dec-2009.

Airport Operators Association: “We welcome the challenge from the CCC and have confidence that we can meet the Government’s target of 2005 level emissions by 2050. We have confident in new technology. UK airports, airlines and the aerospace industry are at the forefront of developing ground-breaking solutions. We have already seen a 70% improvement in carbon emissions in the last 40 years...We believe limiting emissions is the answer rather than limiting people’s ability to travel,” Ed Anderson, Executive Chairman. Source: Airport Operators Association, 08-Dec-2009.

Greenpeace UK: “The Government’s aviation policy, the basis for their Heathrow decision, has been conclusively rejected by the Government’s own advisers as incompatible with their climate targets. The Aviation White Paper and the poor decisions it led to must be ripped up in Cabinet, or ripped up in court. We urge the former, but are fully prepared to see Heathrow’s third runway in the dock,” John Sauven, CEO. Source: The Times, 08-Dec-2009.

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