Local Green Party Councillors have today responded to Bristol Airport’s claims to be ‘carbon neutral by 2021’ and to reach ‘net-zero by 2030’ as an “utter nonsense”. They highlight that the airport’s ‘net zero’ claims do not extend to flights or car parking, so promoting itself as a ‘net zero airport’ is misleading.
Today’s announcement from the airport included a commitment to be a ‘net zero airfield’, with ‘net zero buildings’ and operate a ‘net zero fleet of vehicles’, excluding the two main areas of businesses for the airport, enabling aeroplanes to take off and land, and operating a large and expensive car park.
Bristol Airport is appealling North Somerset Council’s rejection of its plans for expansion to allow up to 12 million passengers per annum, something that Greens have shown would emit an additional one million tonnes of CO2 equivalents every year.
Bristol Green Councillor Carla Denyer, who tabled Bristol’s climate emergency motion, said:
“Bristol Airport’s claims today are an utter nonsense and a cynical form of greenwashing. Of course any work to improve the airport’s climate targets are welcome, but to brand yourself as a ‘net zero airport’ without including flights, car parking or journeys to and from the airport is highly misleading. The environmental impact of aviation is well documented but is something they seem unwilling or unable to talk about.”
“It’s not only the flights they seem to want to pretend aren’t happening, but also the car parking operation that remains central to their business model. An estimated 87.5% of passengers arrive at the airport by car and the airport profits massively from this – which is why they are so keen to concrete over green fields to grow this car parking operation.”
Councillor Emma Edwards, one of the 19 new Green Party councillors elected to Bristol City Council last month, added,
“It was deeply disappointing to see the Mayor of Bristol at the announcement this morning, offering a support to this environmentally damaging operation. His comment that this represents the Airport showing “leadership” is baffling, when he has been vocal in his commitment to Bristol becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The airport and its current plans to expand should be under the highest scrutiny by the council.”
“Bristol was the first UK city to declare a climate emergency a carbon neutral target for 2030, but to deliver on that promise means being honest about the climate impact of our aviation industry and opposing the airport’s continued lobbying for expansion.”
Councillor Bridget Petty, Green Councillor for Backwell in North Somerset, a stone’s throw from the Airport, said “For an airport where less than 15% of passengers arrive by public transport, it is farcical for them to claim net neutrality by this year. Residents of North Somerset know how much the airport contributes to air pollution locally. Residents contact me often to say they can smell the fumes in their garden.”
The airport’s appeal to expand begins on 20th July in Weston Super Mare.
Bristol Airport previously applied for planning permission to expand, but the application was turned down by North Somerset Councillors in March 2018 – a decision they are now appealing.
The Climate impact:
The EU’s aviation regulator confirmed last week that the aviation sector’s impact on the climate is three times bigger than the effect of its carbon dioxide emissions alone:
The airport has previously been criticised by climate experts for underestimating the climate impact of airport expansion – estimating this at 154kpta CO2e – six times lower than the 920ktpa CO2e calculated once other factors are taken into account. This figure will rise way over 1 million tonnes, once the new multiplier of 3 confirmed in the new EU research is accounted for (the previous 920ktpa CO2e used a multiplier of 1.9). A multiplier is the additional impact that non-CO2 emissions and contrails have on the climate: