Blocked Heathrow Airport Expansion Celebrated by Climate Activists
The British government's plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050 conflicts with its long-standing plan to level a village to expand Heathrow Airport, one of the world's busiest airport hubs. Now an appeals court in Britain has ruled that the expansion is illegal since the government did not take into account how building a third runway would jibe with the government's commitment to fight the climate crisis, according to The Guardian.
Heathrow currently handles around 80 million passengers per year. A third runway would cost nearly $18 billion to build and would increase traffic by about 700 planes per day, spurring a huge rise in carbon emissions, according to The Guardian
The court ruled that the British government made firm commitment to the Paris agreement, but did not work that into its plans, as CNN reported. Climate activists who brought the suit celebrated the decision on the court steps.
"We have not found that a national policy statement supporting this project is necessarily incompatible with the United Kingdom's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change under the Paris Agreement, or with any other policy the Government may adopt or international obligation it may undertake," the judges wrote in their ruling, according to CNN.
"The Paris Agreement ought to have been taken into account by the Secretary of State ... and an explanation given as to how it was taken into account, but it was not," the judges added.
The future plans of the proposed third runway, which Heathrow has wanted to build for 20 years, are uncertain. Heathrow Airport said it would appeal the decision to the country's Supreme Court, but the British government said it would not appeal the verdict, according to a tweet from Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps who was the defendant in the case.
"Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment. This Govt won't appeal today's judgment given our manifesto makes clear any #Heathrow expansion will be industry led," Shapps wrote on Twitter.
Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye said they would ask the Supreme Court to rule because "We think the appeals court got it wrong," as the BBC reported.
However, Heathrow does not have a friend in Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has opposed the third runway, saying in 2015 that he would "lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction."
"This is definitely the beginning of the end for the third runway," said Rob Barnstone, of the No Third Runway Coalition, to The Guardian. "It is a very important ruling not just for Heathrow but for all projects. If the government thinks they are going to put forward big infrastructure projects and not take climate change seriously, well, they won't be able to get away with it."
Construction of the third runway would have crossed a busy and congested motorway. It would also require about 750 homes in nearby villages to be flattened, according to CNN.
Climate activists celebrated the decision for the message it sends for all future infrastructure projects.
"This judgment has exciting wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions," Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement, as CNN reported. "It's time for developers and public authorities to be held to account when it comes to the climate impact of their damaging developments."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>