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Hyprocrite Government Flies into the Sun

news release

News Release

Embargo: 00:01 29th April 2003

Photo Opportunity

11am-2pm Saturday 3rd May, St. Ann’s Square. Mock airport check-in desk and campaigners dressed as air stewards and stewardesses.

Today Manchester Friends of the Earth (FoE) [1] are criticising government plans for expansion of the aviation industry and its serious consequences for climate change, referring to the Government as ‘climate change hypocrites’.

The current Government consultation suggests massive expansion of Manchester airport and its operations, from its present size of 19 million passengers per annum to around 60 million in 2030 [2]. But campaigners are arguing that this demand is artificial [3] and the expansion unnecessary, facilitated by the tax exemptions given to the aviation industry: in effect, UK aviation receives a jumbo tax subsidy of £8 billion per year. This is to the detriment of other modes of travel, such as high-speed rail.

Flying is one of the fastest growing sources of the emissions that are causing climate change [4] and the Government’s proposed airports expansion have been forecast to lead to a massive 350% increase in carbon dioxide emissions from regional airports like Manchester, rather than the 60% reduction by 2050 the Prime Minister has called for [5]. A passenger flying from the UK to Florida produces as much carbon dioxide, a major climate change gas, as the average British car driver does in a whole year. With temperatures set to rise dangerously, severe weather to become more and more frequent and diseases like Malaria to spread, people in the North West need to be concerned about climate change.

Manchester FoE is urging Manchester residents to think seriously about the consequences of expansion to the aviation industry for Manchester [2] and has created a website for them to learn more about the issues and to have their say in the Government’s consultation:

Dr Alice Bows of the Tyndall Centre [6], UMIST, says “Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. If aviation continues to expand at its current rate, then by 2030 the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from aviation alone will represent approximately 40% of the total CO2 emissions in the UK that the government is aiming for by 2050. Aviation should not be entitled to such a disproportionately high percentage of national emissions. Demand reduction for future aviation travel is likely to be necessary in addition to measures to improve efficiency and trading of carbon emissions with other sectors. Demand reduction can be achieved by increasing the costs of aviation, a quota system and/or by restricting the supply, e.g. by restricting airport expansion plans.”

Tim Bailey of Manchester FoE warned, “Dangerous decisions that the Government makes today will certainly affect us all for decades, if not centuries. The aviation industry, and Manchester Airport, is set to expand and profit at our expense. Those of us who live near the sea will see coastline and livelihoods eroded, and all of us will be affected by flooding, crop failure, severe weather and disease. Change will affect us all and that is why the Government has to stop being taking for a ride by the aviation industry.”

Notes to Editors

[1] Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent pressure group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on their website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local Groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be found at

[2] The Government is currently considering the future of air transport in the UK. It is planning a massive increase in air travel over the next 30 years. This would mean the expansion of airports and building of new ones – all with knock-on effects on communities across the UK not just people living near airports. In Manchester this could mean a trebling of passenger numbers to 70 million per year, a third runway and a fourth terminal making it the Heathrow of the North. Effects will include:
· Increased climate change – aviation is the fastest growing cause of climate change which is starting to be felt in the UK and could increase flooding and extreme weather events;
· Taxpayers subsidising the airlines – the average UK taxpayer already pays an extra £500 a year to the aviation industry.
· Road congestion – Most people travel to airports in cars. More air travel will have huge knock-on effects on traffic and congestion across wide areas, not just around airports;
· Loss of wildlife and countryside – Building new airports, runways, warehouses, service areas and roads will take up valuable land and destroy precious wildlife habitats;
· More noise pollution – Hundreds of thousands of people already suffer from noise pollution. This number will soar as a result of more flights, airports and runways.
· Negative effects on rural economies – more flights provide a gateway for cheap imports, such as fruit and vegetables, which could have been produced locally by UK growers.

[3] Further research by environmental campaigners, using the government’s own computer forecasting model, has demonstrated that the huge national expansion in aviation could be reduced from 500 million passengers per annum in 2030 to 315 mppa simply by the implementation of fair taxation of air travel, which pays no tax at all on aviation fuel – and that this wouldn’t cost passengers any more than they are paying today! [AEF: Hiddden cost of Flying 2003].

[4] Global climate change, due to fossil fuel burning, is worsening and temperatures are set to rise by between 2 and 4 degrees C [Met Office] over this century. Burning of coal, oil and gas for electricity and heat, to fuel vehicles and aeroplanes are the biggest culprits of climate change.

[5] Aviation and the Environment: HM Treasury 2003

[6] Their website is

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