photo credit : Andrew Boswell, Biofuelwatch

Kelly Don't Get Carbon
by Jo Abbess
22nd May 2008

I've just come back home from the Evening Standard's London Influentials Debate "DOES LONDON NEED A BIGGER HEATHROW ?" I'm in need of a stiff drink, in fact, a very hot cup of tea.

The Right Honourable Ruth Kelly MP, Secretary of State for the UK's Department for Transport, Baroness Jo Valentine, George Monbiot and broadcaster Julian O'Halloran were ably guided through the debate by Ann McElvoy of the Standard.

The whole debate was, I admit, a clash of the giant paradigms, and I came away rather stunned. In chatting to a couple of people I know vaguely and intimately after the show, one thing rang true : she just doesn't get it.

Ruth Kelly does not understand Carbon. She doesn't get how Carbon Trading cannot reduce Carbon Emissions, because it just sweeps Carbon naughtiness under someone else's carpet (at best), yet doesn't restrict the total amount.

She doesn't understand Carbon Numbers, how aviation emissions are more significant because they're emitted high off the ground, how a lot of British flying is simply gratuitous, how the changes in the electricity generation sector cannot Carbon-Offset aviation, and in which ways aviation cannot comply with the Climate Change Bill.

She doesn't understand Carbon Subsidies, how successive Governments have supported Aviation as a pillar of the Economy, how airline jet fuel is never taxed, how cheap the airlines can make the tickets.

And worst of all, she doesn't understand recent Climate Science, how the target of 60% cuts in Carbon by 2050 proposed under the Climate Change Bill cannot address the problem of Climate Stabilisation, how knowledge has moved on since the last IPCC report was first scoped.

If she were to understand Carbon, that at least would be a first step to her understanding the threat that expansion of Heathrow poses.

As it is, she has to limit herself to discussions on local environmental impact of a Third Runway at Heathrow, and there she gets it entirely wrong. She doesn't understand just how many and in what ways people suffer from aeroplane noise and pollution on the ground, how many, many people across London are totally against Heathrow expansion on the grounds of added congestion and disturbance.

As George Monbiot put it, "Expansion...of Heathrow...would enhance the sum of human misery. It is an abomination, Minister, and you should be ashamed of it !"

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