Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a ‘code red’ warning to humanity. If governments are serious about preventing catastrophic climate breakdown, they must halve all greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. As the UN Secretary General said when launching the report: “there is no time for delay and no room for excuses”. Yet the UK government’s Jet Zero strategy allows the aviation industry to expand, meaning its emissions will increase into the 2040s. It also means more noise and air pollution for communities living near airports.
Campaigners are taking the government to court
As we stand on the brink of irreversible climate collapse, Jet Zero is a deeply irresponsible strategy. That’s why the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) is taking the government to court. Today we submitted a judicial review challenge against Jet Zero in the High Court. Now we’re asking responsible people to support our legal challenge by making donations to our fighting fund.
The government claims Jet Zero is a pathway for aviation to become carbon net zero by 2050. But it rejects key recommendations from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the government’s own expert advisers. The CCC has repeatedly warned that aviation passenger growth, and the resulting emissions growth, must be limited immediately by introducing demand management measures. In particular, this means stopping any expansion of UK airport capacity.
Instead, Jet Zero gambles on the development of new fuels and technologies that might ‘sort out’ aviation emissions at some unspecified date in the future. In the meantime, the aviation industry can carry on with business – and polluting – as usual. That’s a high risk gamble with our environment and other peoples’ lives that we do not need to take and should not take.
Aviation demand needs to be controlled
To be clear, the CCC is not opposed to developing new fuels and technologies for the longer term. They simply say that demand management is urgently needed as well as exploring technological solutions. We do not have time to wait and see what might or might not work in the future – we have to take action to curb aviation’s growing emissions right now. That means preventing the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport and other airports around the country.
Tax is another obvious policy lever that the government could use to control aviation demand. The only tax on flying is air passenger duty, which the government has actually reduced for flights within the UK. In stark contrast to ground transport – like your car – there is no tax on aircraft fossil fuels or their emissions. This is despite repeated research showing that a small, relatively rich proportion of the population, take the majority of all UK flights. Why should the rest of us subsidise the high carbon habit of a wealthy minority?
A gamble no responsible government should take
While the government remains relaxed about increasing flight numbers and airport expansions, aviation emissions will grow and grow while ministers cross their fingers and hope for the best. This is a gamble that no responsible government should take. We need more than a ‘wing and a prayer’ to decarbonise flying. We need immediate and credible policies to limit demand.
The climate crisis is real and happening now – just look at the deadly floods in Pakistan and the record temperatures in the UK this summer. Through our legal challenge, GALBA aims to force the government to re-think and re-write Jet Zero so that it takes meaningful climate action. If you care about your environment, please support us.