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Press Release: GALBA Welcomes New Advice from Government Climate Experts

The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has welcomed the latest advice to government from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Today the CCC has published its 6th Carbon Budget, which makes recommendations about how the UK can reach net zero carbon by 2050. Among its recommendations about cutting greenhouse gas emissions from flying, the CCC says: “There should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand.” In recent years, emissions from flying have risen because passenger numbers have increased faster than improvements in technology. That is why the CCC has recommended putting a stop to airport expansion.

Because aviation is not cutting its emissions fast enough, the CCC also says that a ‘demand management policy’ should be implemented. That means any increase in passengers needs to be “constrained to 25% growth by 2050 from 2018 levels...” Local campaigners against airport expansion point out that the LBA’s planning application seeks permission to expand by 72% by 2030.

Chris Foren, chair of GALBA, said: “The Committee on Climate Change is made up of the UK’s leading climate scientists - they are people we can trust. Just as we’ve trusted science to help us fight the Covid crisis, we must also trust science to fight the climate crisis. The CCC is saying exactly what we’ve been saying: if we are serious about tackling the climate emergency, we simply cannot allow Leeds Bradford Airport to expand. We know that LBA expansion would mean the airport doubles its emissions in the next 10 years, when we should be cutting emissions as far and as fast as possible.”

Chris added: “We know that many other airports are planning to expand as well as LBA. They must all be stopped too. Here in West Yorkshire, we have to take responsibility for our own emissions and do our bit to reach net zero carbon. We can choose a safer, cleaner and greener future.”

Additional notes:

1) Photo: a photo of young people holding a GALBA banner is attached.

2) All UK airports plan to expand: further details can be found here.

3) Climate science: the Leeds Climate Commission and other experts in climate science from Leeds University have calculated that LBA’s proposals mean emissions from the airport would exceed the amount allowed for the whole of Leeds, in the Leeds Carbon Reduction Roadmap, from 2030 onwards.

4) CCC recommendations on aviation in the 6th UK Carbon Budget

a. Formally include International Aviation emissions within UK climate targets when setting the Sixth Carbon Budget.

b. Work with ICAO to set a long-term goal for aviation consistent with the Paris Agreement, strengthen the CORSIA scheme and align CORSIA to this long-term goal.

c. Commit to a Net Zero goal for UK aviation as part of the forthcoming Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy, with UK international aviation reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and domestic aviation potentially earlier. Plan for residual emissions, after efficiency, low-carbon fuels and demand-side measures, to be offset by verifiable greenhouse gas removals, on a sector net emissions trajectory to Net Zero.

d. There should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand.

e. Monitor non-CO2 effects of aviation, set a minimum goal of no further warming after 2050, research mitigation options, and consider how best to tackle non-CO2 effects alongside UK climate targets without increasing CO2 emissions.

f. Longer-term, support for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) should transition to a more bespoke policy, such as a blending mandate. However, near-term construction of commercial SAF facilities in the UK still needs to be supported.

g. Continue innovation and demonstration support for SAF technologies, aircraft efficiency measures, hybrid, full electric and hydrogen aircraft development and airspace modernisation.

The CCC’s full report on aviation and the 6th UK Carbon Budget can be found here. The recommendations above are on p29.

5) Open legal advice: the barrister representing GALBA has sent her legal opinion to councillors on Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel. This advice sets out the legal reasons why LBA expansion would breach planning law and undermine local, regional and national commitments to make radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It has been published here.

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