uk court over climate concerns blocks heathrow expansion.
above left > aircraft landing at heathrow airport over horses in a nearby field. photo: chris j ratcliffe / getty images
uk walking the talk and the world says bloody good news. ~ DA editor
heathrow airport’s plans to increase capacity of europe’s biggest travel hub by over 50% were stalled when a british court said the government failed to consider its commitment to combat climate change when it approved the project.
“the paris agreement ought to have been taken into account by the secretary of state,” lord justice lindblom wrote thursday, referring to the landmark climate deal in which nearly 200 countries vowed in 2015 to reduce their greenhouse emissions.
last year, the u.k. also became the first of the major group of seven countries to enact a pledge aiming to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 — a pledge that the office of chris grayling, then the secretary of state for transport, failed to keep in mind when crafting the plans in its airports national policy statement.
“that, in our view, is legally fatal to the anps in its present form,” lindblom said.
ultimately, the legal challenge decided thursday succeeded on environmental grounds. plan b, the climate-focused legal charity that brought the claim, cheered the decision as a landmark that “will be hugely influential across the uk and around the world.”
“the message is finally getting through,” the group said in a statement released thursday. “the bell is tolling on the carbon economy loud and clear.”
greta thunberg, the teen climate activist named time magazine‘s person of the year in 2019, also celebrated the decision: “imagine when we all start taking the paris agreement into account,” she tweeted thursday.
“we have not decided, and could not decide, that there will be no third runway at heathrow,” he wrote. “we have not found that a national policy statement supporting this project is necessarily incompatible with the united kingdom’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change under the paris agreement, or with any other policy the government may adopt or international obligation it may undertake.”
still, the plan isn’t exactly dead — a point that justice lindblom himself made clear in the judgment. he said the decision rests on a failure to consider the country’s climate commitments, not a fundamental incompatibility with those commitments.
and heathrow airport holdings has no intention of backing down, saying “the court of appeal dismissed all appeals agains the government – including ‘noise’ and ‘air quality’ – apart from one which is eminently fixable.””
we will appeal to the supreme court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful. in the meantime we are ready to work with the government to fix the issue that the court has raised.
heathrow has taken a lead in getting the uk aviation sector to commit to a plan to get to net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the paris accord. expanding heathrow, britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the prime minister’s vision of global britain. we will get it done the right way without jeopardizing the plant’s future. let’s get heathrow done. [ npr ]
“airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel efficient. but we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that,” said brandon graver, who led the new study. “the climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected.” [ nyt ]
unregulated carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. in fact, if the entire aviation sector were a country, it would be one of the top 10 carbon-polluting nations on the planet. [ wwf ]