Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Third Heathrow Runway "ok" on CO2

Why should that matter you might ask of me? After all, it is a privately owned airport, not seeking a pound of taxpayers' funds to expand, the business case is overwhelming and it is purchasing land for the purpose of the runway. So let it be. Especially since competing airports in Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are all expanding or have recently significantly expanded runway capacity (but don't let that get in the way of reason).

However, the Brown government has a quasi-religious view on climate change, believing, brothers and sisters that the UK must lead the world in crippling economic growth and self sacrifice cutting emissions, even though the UK doing so wont make a jot of difference. So it decided to investigate whether a third runway at Heathrow, and the extra flights it could accommodate (besides reducing the very wasteful queuing at present) would have a negative environmental impact.

The Times reports a UK government committee has said that 60% MORE people can fly by 2050 and still meet the government's CO2 emission targets. In other words, rather than the luddite like "stop flying" nonsense trotted out by the environmental movement, someone has actually looked at the figures and determined how much expansion is "ok". Now it's not all good, it is based on taxpayers' being forced to pay for a high speed railway network to take some people from air to rail on domestic trips, and draconian taxes on flying, as well as assumptions of ongoing improvements in fuel efficiency. Because, you see, without any such kleptomania, apparently demand would double by 2050.

So even if you don't take a fully pro-capitalist view on this, it can still be argued that aviation expansion is not incompatible with ongoing reductions in emissions, in part because technology and commercial pressures will encourage this.

Of course the usual religious zealots have come out bemoaning this. Friends of the Earth enemies of humans wants an end to airport expansion (in the UK). Expect more of the typical rabid "planes bad, trains good" nonsense from environmentalists. Then of course you'll understand why more and more people are more and more sceptical about the true motives behind such activists. It's a form of ascetic nationalist environmental extremism, which happily will let the UK economy be stagnate, whilst letting China, India and even France, Germany and the Netherlands expand.

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