Aviation and Climate Change

At the last London Luton Airport Consultative Committee, the airport operator gave a report from their Responsible Business Strategy Team, whose job – amongst other things is – to “ensure environmental responsibility and efficiency”. There is a link to the full statement at the bottom of this article.

It was a very polished presentation and indeed the report has some very merit-worthy factors – that is, until we reached the final pie chart on the airport operator’s accompanying slide show, which is not mentioned in their report. That slide detailed that the airport operator had only 4% of the CO2 footprint of the airport under its control, the rest predominately being aircraft emissions and vehicle traffic to and from the airport.  This the Strategy Team feel is not in their realm to influence

We look between the lines on all the initiatives both the airport operator and owner propose, and as with all the others, we see financial gain being the prime mover in this action yet again. These measures whilst reducing CO2 input, also save money by installing new and more efficient designs, so have a “win win” option? Regarding the untouchable 96%, there are options open to them, but they will cost money, either in incentive payments to airlines to operate the newer engine optioned aircraft in their fleets, which do cut emissions slightly. 

One option is that when passengers are travelling by car to the airport, the airport could cut the amount of car parking provision to attempt to stimulate arrival by public transport, but this would lead to a drop in car park income, which would also not be acceptable.

It was made clear on several occasions by the airport operator that their responsibility in whatever form their post Covid recovery takes, was to get the best returns for their shareholders financially, as quickly as possible. We think this gives the true focus of their plans – income trumps everything.

At the same meeting in their update, LLAL, the drivers of the Terminal 2 expansion, stated that expansion would be based on “green growth only”. Bearing in mind that their plans are driven by more aircraft movements and therefore more passengers arriving by car, a keystone of their plans is a significant expansion of car park provision, so how can it be “green growth” when all of what they seek will fall into the 96 uncontrollable percentage?   

Following on from this the European Union has just released its study of an updated analysis of the non-CO2 effects of aviation on Climate Change. The basic tenet of the study:-   builds on the latest scientific knowledge and presents a fresh analysis of the main climate impacts associated with air traffic, beyond carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. CO2 emissions from aviation have been addressed under the EU Emission Trading System since 2012, but non-CO2 impacts have not been specifically addressed by EU policies so far. However, the report acknowledges that a number of measures already in place also contribute to reducing the climate impacts of non-CO2 aviation emissions.

The full report can be found at:- https://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/updated-analysis-non-co2-effects-aviation_en

The LLAOL Responsible Business Strategy can be found at:- Agenda Item 5 – LLA Sustainability Strategy 2020-25.pdf

Airport expansion at Luton has as its main driver money, cold hard cash.  It has done for the lifetime of the concession agreement, making money for the operator’s shareholders for the minimum of investment and outlay.  As for the owners, they spend a fraction of their concession fee on service and facility in Luton, whilst using the bulk to service huge loans to “reinvest” in airport schemes which consume far more cash than they actually contribute.

If the future of Luton airport is to be “green growth only”, then let us start from Ground Zero now, and stop all expansion until it can be guaranteed that the only growth will be climate-friendly “green growth”.

Stop Luton Airport Expansion

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