Catalytic Action 9: A Green Airport

The Executive of Manchester City Council- in effect the “Cabinet” of the 96 seat elected body, has recently accepted a report called the “Call to Action.”

A London-based consultancy called “Beyond Green” wrote the report, (for £32,000 plus expenses), which commits the Council to nine “catalytic actions.”

They are:

  1. World-leading neighbourhood regeneration

  2. Retrofitting Manchester’s civic heritage

  3. A business alliance for climate change

  4. Low carbon energy infrastructure

  5. Low Carbon Communities

  6. A climate-ready Local Development Framework

  7. The Manchester Prize

  8. Greening the City: i-Trees

  9. A green airport

We here at MCFly Towers think that these sorts of things go better with consultation. While we are waiting for the Council to announce just what it is going to do on this question, we will be posting one “catalytic action” per day on the MCFly blog, with a brief analysis. We invite the people of Manchester (and heck, why not beyond) to comment on these. We will pass on your comments to the Council.

That’s not to say the other parts of the report aren’t worthy of comment too- it’s just that we have to start somewhere, and here is as good a place as any…

Catalytic Action 9: A green airport

“Aviation is one of the most controversial factors in climate change. Although currently accounting for a relatively small share of the UK’s carbon footprint, a Tyndall Centre analysis has shown that if air travel continues to grow at the expected rate, with realistic improvements in efficiency, then by 2050 air traffic alone will contribute the entirety of the carbon emissions the UK is likely to be able to allow.

“Manchester Airport is one of the principal components of economic growth in Manchester. The City Council’s agrees that global rates of air traffic growth are unsustainable in the long term but believes that it is not a realistic option for individual airports or cities to suppress their growth unilaterally ahead of international agreements that lead to orderly, market-based reductions in overall emissions and the contraction in air travel that they may bring about.

“For this reason, the City Council will continue to support the Airport’s growth plans while strongly advocating the inclusion of aviation and shipping emissions within the scope of a comprehensive international carbon cap-and-trade mechanism. The City Council will also press for the increased investment in major rail capacity that is likely to be an essential, practical substitute for reduced levels of air travel within the UK and northern Europe.

“Manchester Airport has committed to becoming carbon neutral in its site energy use and vehicle fuel – including major improvements in the way people access the airport from the surrounding area. This is a very stretching commitment, and the City Council will do everything it can to help the Airport achieve its aims – including involving the Airport in all the major actions identified in this plan.”

OK, deep breath.

Surely this is not an “action”, it is a process. It’s going to take years to completely go carbon neutral, and I don’t see quite what it is going to catalyse. Most of the people jetting off for various reasons won’t notice, really, will they? So who else is this aimed at?

Surely “a green airport” is in any meaningful sense an oxymoron. Like “friendly fire” or a”healthy cigarette” (I’m old enough to remember cigarettes being advertised on television as ‘low-tar’). Surely this late in the game we should be admitting this?

Surely the Call to Action could have mentioned that Manchester City Council owns 55% of the airport?

All that said, the airport is a convenient whipping boy

Hopefully “Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport” will soon get its website updated to inform its readers of this “catalytic action” and produce its own analysis…

And also hopefully, Manchester Friends of the Earth will dust off its plans to write an alternative Master Plan for the Airport…

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Below the surface...
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