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Third runway at Heathrow conflicts with UK's climate reduction obligations

November 22, 2016 8:22 PM

Zac Goldsmith resigned his seat in Richmond Park on a point of principle, when the Conservative government approved the third runway at Heathrow in October (2016).

Lib Dem policy is quite clear - we voted at Federal Conference in September 2014 to oppose any new runways in the South-East. This was taken forward in the 2015 General Election manifesto.

This is a letter to the Bucks Herald by constituency chairman Gareth Davies.

Dear Sir.

Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett gives his support to the proposed third runway at Heathrow airport, saying it is good for Bucks and good for the economy.

But it is very bad for the climate, unless some way some way is found, and quickly, to make aircraft much less polluting. The experts (remember them?) say there is no new, groundbreaking technical solution to cut C02 emissions in the aviation sector. And that while alternative, non carbon-based fuels continue to be researched, their mainstream global take-up to propel civil aircraft remains decades away.

The uncomfortable truth is that a third runway at Heathrow will expand capacity and boost the number of flights, which means more C02 emissions. Aviation is currently one of the fasting growing sources of climate-changing C02.

Too often climate change and the need to cut the C02 emissions that fuel it is looked at as if it were some fringe issue. It is not not. Last December 195 countries adopted the Paris Climate Agreement, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. [Now the UK has ratified the Paris Treaty.]

The third runway flies in the face of the Paris Agreement, which came into force on November 4th. The agreement requires "all sectors" - and that includes aviation, "to urgently reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate away from using fossil fuels".

If aviation emissions keep growing, even bigger C02 reductions will have to be made elsewhere in our day-to-day lives.

Climate change is not something that will go away if we don't talk about it. Combating it will require uncomfortable policy decisions. Cancelling the third runway at Heathrow may have to be one of them.

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Davies,

Chairman, Buckingham Constituency Liberal Democrats