Green MEPs slam Heathrow expansion as “a sick joke”

The UK’s Green MEPs have slammed the Government’s decision to push ahead with Heathrow expansion, branding the move a “a sick joke” that shows disdain for public health and the UK’s climate commitments.

Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, said:

“It’s a sick joke that the Government would choose World Environment Day to confirm its plans to expand Heathrow Airport. This highlights the total disregard of our Government ministers towards the immense environmental risks facing our planet and people today.

“The European Commission is already taking the UK Government to court for failing to tackle illegal levels of air pollution [2]. This decision will only exacerbate this problem​,​ as the Government wel​l knows. It undermines their own claims of tackling air pollution and creating a healthy environment – both in general and for the many people who live, learn and work near Heathrow.”

Keith Taylor, Member of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, said:

“Heathrow expansion remains the British political establishment’s most dangerous climate blindspot. Aviation is already a top ten global polluter and emissions from the heavily subsidised industry are set to balloon by 300 to 700% if urgent action isn’t taken.

Not accounting for any expansion, aviation is already expected to use up more than two-thirds of the UK’s carbon budget by 2050; part of the reason why the UK is already on course to miss its legally-binding climate targets.

Meanwhile, the local environment, air pollution, traffic and noise pollution impacts on millions of residents across London and the South East will be devastating but, according to the Government, the regions must be sacrificed for a faulty idea of the ‘national interest’.”

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, added:

“Transport is the EU’s jumbo sized problem when it comes to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions from transport have risen for three consecutive years in Europe [6]. Expanding aviation is totally inconsistent with our obligations under the Paris Agreement. The energy transition needed to meet our climate change commitments is taxying and ready for take-off, which leaves airports and runways at risk of becoming stranded fossil assets.

“Greens in Europe have set out a number of progressive measures to drive down transport emissions. These measures, forming the basis of a European Parliament resolution, include proposals to end the tax break currently enjoyed by the aviation industry by introducing a harmonised kerosene tax and the removal of VAT exemption on air passenger tickets [7]. Brexit could mean the UK falling outside these progressive EU measures and the sky would become the limit when it comes to UK aviation emissions.”