The expansion will finish in 2050 - the same year the UK should be meeting net zero.
Heathrow Airport has started its consultation on how it is going to expand, despite the government’s climate watchdog calling on the government to take stronger action against aviation emissions.
The government has recently adopted the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change to reach ‘net zero’, where the UK doesn’t put out more greenhouse gas than it takes in, by 2050.
The committee said that by 2050, it expects aviation to emit more greenhouse gas than any other sector and said the government requires “stronger levers” on aviation emissions. It plans to write to the government on this issue later in 2019.
Aviation is damaging to the environment because it emits carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and contrails.
Despite the government’s climate commitments, it has continued to support a third runway at Heathrow airport.
In June 2018, the government convincingly won a vote in parliament after the Labour Party allowed a free vote on the issue and the Scottish National Party abstained.
Although Jeremy Corbyn and 96 of his MPs voted against the expansion, 119 Labour MPs including Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner supported it.
Labour’s 2017 manifesto said it “recognises the need for additional airport capacity in the South-East” but will gurantee that any expansion meets the UK’s climate change obligations.
Most Conservatives voted in favour of expansion but eight rebelled and some, including Boris Johnson, missed the vote.
Johnson has previously said he would lie in front of the bulldozers to oppose the expansion but has recently dropped his opposition.
Heathrow’s expansion plan involves diverting rivers, moving roads and rerouting the M25.
The runway is scheduled to be built by 2026 while the rest of the airport infrastructure is scheduled for completion by 2050 – the same year the UK is aiming to reach net zero.
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: “This is one consultation that should not be happening. We are in a climate emergency. There is only one answer to any Heathrow expansion question – don’t do it.”
“The Committee on Climate Change has told the government a net-zero carbon target means it has to rethink aviation expansion. Business as usual – chasing corporate profits without thought for the price all of the rest of us are paying – cannot continue.”
Environmental group Friends of the Earth has challenged the expansion plan in court, saying it is incompatible with the government’s Paris climate change targets. While they lost their initial case, they plan to appeal.
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