Tony Arbour is wrong, says Friends of the Earth

"Conservative opposition to a third runway at Heathrow is about gaining a short-term electoral advantage"

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Nic Ferriday, spokesperson for Ealing Friends of the Earth, responded to Tony Arbour's recent criticism about the Committe on Climate Change:

"Tony Arbour is wrong to hit out at the Committee on Climate Change after it said that the building of a third runway at Heathrow would be possible within carbon dioxide emissions limits.

"At the time of deciding to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow, the government set itself a target that emissions of climate changing carbon dioxide (CO2) at 2050 should not exceed 2005 levels. The Committee was asked the specific question how and if the government’s target for emissions from aviation could be met.

"The Committee concluded that, due to improvements in efficiency, some 60% more passengers more passengers could be carried by 2050.  But because this is for the UK as a whole, it does not have implications for any one particular airport.  Heathrow traffic could therefore grow as long as the other UK airports do not grow too quickly as well. So the Committee is correct to say that a third runway at Heathrow is not inconsistent with the government’s target.

"The government’s target of no increase in aviation emissions by 2050 over 2005 levels was invented at the time of the 3rd runway decision as a sop to ministers who were concerned about climate change. But the real target, enacted in the Climate Act, is to cut all emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.  The Committee has made it very clear that the government’s aviation policy is incompatible with that target.

"If Mr Arbour and his Conservative colleagues were genuinely concerned about climate change, they would be tackling the government on the 80% cuts. Their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow has nothing to do with climate change – it is about gaining a short-term electoral advantage in constituencies near Heathrow. "      

December 15, 2009