Climate activists are adamant that the latest report released today by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives an unanswerable reason to reject Bristol Airport’s expansion.  The report gives a stark warning that Governments, businesses and individuals worldwide need to do much more to drastically reduce carbon emissions that are responsible for more frequent lethal extreme weather events as well as ecological collapse of the natural environment. It is now very likely that global temperatures will reach or exceed 1.5°C within  the next two decades. Even if we humankind acts urgently we will not be able to stop climate change, but we hope to slow the process down.

 Campaign groups are demanding deeper, wider and faster action at all levels and Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) strongly feels that it is the science that has decided that Bristol Airport cannot go ahead with their plans for an extra two million passengers a year.  The decision is currently being decided in a 10-week public inquiry in Weston-Super-Mare. 

 Richard Baxter spokesperson for BAAN who are a party to the inquiry and are bringing evidence from world-leading scientists says, “This new IPCC report is frighteningly disturbing and clearly confirms that we should be doing everything in our power to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is too late to stop climate change. So we must act now and act decisively to lessen the impact on the human population and the environmental systems that we rely on for life. Soaring temperatures resulting in life threatening wildfires and flooding around the world are plain to see. It is therefore insane that the planning inquiry is considering plans to expand Bristol Airport that if agreed, will literally fan the flames of the perilous situation we already face.”

The Government claims it is setting world leading targets to tackle climate change but it has been criticised by its own Climate Change Committee and environmentalists for a lack of policies and strategies that give business and communities a clear direction for action.  The Government is currently consulting on its Jet Zero strategy which claims we can cut aviation emissions to zero without affecting the scale of passenger travel.  Chris Stark, the head of the CCC, has said “aviation was unlikely to meet targets for net zero by 2050, unlike other modes of transport.”

Richard Baxter adds, “We know that any decision to expand the airport will result in increased emissions because the aviation industry is not in the position to decarbonise with alternative sustainable fuels or new aircraft technology any time soon; electric or hydrogen aircraft will not be able to fly internationally for many, many year and it will be too late for our climate by then.

Stephen Clarke also from BAAN says, “In February 2020 the North Somerset Council’s Planning Committee listened to the views of the local community and firmly rejected Bristol Airport’s plans to expand.  The airport appealed that decision and during the first week of the inquiry local people and the local business community had the chance once again to give their evidence to the three planning inspectors.  We were overwhelmed by many of the personal testimonies of those who opposed the airport’s application.“

One speaker who attended remotely using Microsoft Teams was Canadian teacher, Teri Burgess, who has her pension with Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, the company that owns Bristol Airport.  She said that many teachers were demanding that the OTPP divested from high carbon producing companies such as the airport. Her evidence highlighted the situation some people are facing when she also told the inquiry that wildfires were in the vicinity at that very moment and she needed to go and pack an evacuation bag for her and her son!

 Another member of BAAN, Tarisha Finnegan-Clarke said, “The airport is telling us that their expansion plans had 100% backing from the local business community.  We know this is not true as we have been approached by dozens of businesses that feel differently and we will be bringing forward that evidence to the inquiry.  These progressive companies know that their staff will be flying less because of Zoom and Teams and they have made clear measurable commitments to their environmental targets.  They know that there is a change coming and it will be either forced change or change by design.  They have chosen the latter and say loudly that this expansion cannot be allowed to happen.” 

The inquiry will be considering the impact of the proposed airport expansion on the climate and environment  during the week beginning 6th September. It will be a crucial week for the BAAN team and those who oppose the airport’s plans.

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