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Press Release: Airport Campaigners Welcome Support from Youth Strike 4 Climate and Alex Sobel MP

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport is delighted that Leeds Youth Strike 4 Climate has joined the campaign to stop airport expansion. They also welcome the objection to LBAs planning application made by Leeds North West MP, Alex Sobel.

Despite the COVID crisis and the collapse of airline businesses, which has seen British Airways pull out of LBA and Ryanair offer no European destinations in 2021, the Australian owners AMP Capital are pressing ahead with their application to extend flying hours by 90 minutes, increase night flights and build a new terminal.

Chair of GALBA, Chris Foren, said: “The economic prospects for the airport don’t look good. People need help to move into safe and sustainable jobs. We have to make the transition to a low carbon economy soon - let’s start now.”

LBA wants to nearly double its passengers by 2030. Leeds Climate Commission research shows that would mean doubling its greenhouse gas emissions in the middle of the climate emergency.

Chris Foren said: “Young people are not taken in by LBA’s talk of a ‘green’ new terminal building. They know the reality is that extra flights would mean extra greenhouse gas emissions which would make the climate emergency worse. Alex Sobel knows this too - that’s why he’s objected.”

Chris added: “Leeds Youth Strike 4 Climate persuaded Leeds City Council to declare a Climate Emergency last year. I really hope councillors will listen to them again and reject LBA’s planning application.”

Additional notes;

1) Alex Sobel MP objection to LBA planning application: the full text is available here.

2) Climate impact of Leeds-Bradford Airport expansion: researchers at Leeds University have examined the climate effects of LBA’s expansion plans. The airport wants to double the number of passengers using the airport every year from 4m to 7.1m by 2030. This means that by 2030, the climate impact of all the extra flights would be double the target for all emissions for Leeds as a whole. By 2045, the overshoot would escalate to almost a factor of 10. By 2050, the combined climate impact of all flights through Leeds Bradford Airport since 2018 would be almost double the carbon budget for Leeds as a whole. Even if only one in five passengers are Leeds residents, their flights alone would use up 35% of the city’s entire carbon budget by 2050. The full article is available here.

3) Wealthy minority take majority of flights: Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ was published in December 2019. It states that the majority of UK flights are taken by a minority of better off people. 70% of all flights are taken by 20% of the population; 100% of all flights are taken by 52% of people. These ‘frequent flyers’ are on higher incomes - the wealthiest 20% take 40% of all flights. The full report is available here.

4) Aviation expansion and achieving zero carbon are fundamentally incompatible - and new technologies are not on the horizon: Leeds City Council “accepts that aviation growth and meeting zero carbon targets are fundamentally incompatible until such time as new technologies are developed.”* Leeds Climate Commission’s ‘Aviation Position Paper’ states: “In the medium to long term, there is some scope for technological change... However, the prospects for such innovations becoming widely adopted across the aviation sector in the short to medium term currently seem low - even if planes with new technologies became viable in the next decade, it would take many years for existing fleets to transition towards the new technologies. Given the nature of the climate emergency and the need to deliver deep reductions in emissions in the next decade, the growth of emissions from aviation therefore represents a major challenge.”. Page 4 of Exec Board Climate Emergency report, 7 January 2020.

5) Leeds Climate Change Citizens Jury: the Jury was a group of 25 randomly selected Leeds residents, representative of the population of Leeds. They considered the climate change challenges facing the city and made recommendations about how Leeds needs to respond. Recommendation 9 was: “Leeds Bradford Airport expansion should be stopped; specifically LeedsCity Council should not approve new road-building or selling land to develop... Residents should block expansion and be educated about the impact on the carbon footprint”. The jury also said that flying should be discouraged by measures including a frequent-flyer tax (based on income and number of flights and location) and by advertising holidays in the UK rather than abroad. The full report is available here.

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