Amidst recent disputes about the expansion of Heathrow Airport, the designated airport boss has now spoken about how the aviation industry contributes to climate change. John Holland-Kaye claims that “the enemy is carbon, not aviation” in the current talks regarding reduced carbon emissions, in which the aviation industry plays a large role.
“The answer is not to stop people from flying”
The Heathrow Airport boss reckons people should not be stopped from flying or should be advised to fly less but that the responsibility should lie with the aviation industry itself. He claimed that “we need to protect the ability to fly in a world without carbon”. He suggests that synthetic fuels and renewable fuels could be the way forward when ensuring sustainability and carbon-emission friendly travel by aviation.
Expansion plans for Heathrow Airport despite emission cutback
In Summer 2019, the airport revealed that it had plans to expand the London Airport with a third runway potentially giving way to more flights and higher air traffic. Holland-Kaye argued that "when the government blocked Heathrow expansion 10 years ago, people started flying through Amsterdam and Paris instead, taking two flights instead of one and not a single tonne of carbon was saved."
Aviation industry keen to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
The aviation industry, more specifically a group called ‘Sustainable Aviation’ of which airlines such as British Airways and EasyJet are part of, have announced the goal of completely cutting carbon emissions produced in the aviation sector by 2050.
According to the group, the plan is to make aircraft engines more efficient and create and use fuels that come from renewables. Additionally, this measure would impact ground handling and improve the use of airspace. Somehow contradicting the prediction that passenger numbers are to increase by 70%, the industry is at the same time stating that it will reduce carbon emissions to zero.
Sustainable substitutes as an alternative to fuel
Holland-Kaye also proposed that alternative fuel options have “been around for about 100 years and [are] becoming more affordable. It needs a real push on investment." However, groups that are campaigning against the expansion of Heathrow Airport and are climate activists, say that “we need to restrict flying”. According to environmental activists, the alternative biofuels still pollute.
Greenpeace rejects plans
The environmental organisation Greenpeace rejects plans for the expansion of Heathrow Airport as well as government plans to reduce carbon emissions by aviation in 2050. UK executive director of Greenpeace states that “carbon offsetting is simply an excuse to carry on with business as usual while shifting the responsibility to cut emissions to someone else, somewhere else, and some other time.” Furthermore, he claims that the industry openly dismisses the choice of cutting down demand or adapting a charge on frequent flyers, which would be far more effective.
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