Thursday, February 26, 2009

Heathrow Expansion - response from Joan Ruddock MP

A while back I posted about the fact that all 3 of Lewisham's Labour MPs supported Heathrow Expansion. I mentioned at the time that I had written to Joan Ruddock, Lewisham Deptford MP and junior minister for climate change, to express my concern on this point. I received her response today:

Dear Cllr Luxton
My apologies for the delay in responding to your email about the third runway at Heathrow. This was a difficult and finely balance decision.

As you will know the UK has pressed for aviation to be included in the EU ETS and that will happen in 2012. Thus emissions for all flights within Europe will be capped. We are also pressing for an international agreement that will similarly place limits.

I am opposed to unrestrained growth in aviation emissions and we have asked our independent Committee on Climate Change to advise us on how to return our aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 (the year when UK emissions will have to be reduced by 80%). At present aviation accounts for 6% of our CO2 emissions and any growth in aviation will have to be offset by reductions in other sectors.

Your efforts to insulate your home are extremely important – 27% of UK emissions come from our homes and there is huge potential for reduction in this sector.

Yours sincerely

Ms Joan Ruddock MP

Needless to say, I disagree with both her decision and the assumptions made, not least that we can expand aviation significantly, yet reduce its emissions to 2005 levels (which are still far higher than we can safely afford, given that we need to reduce our carbon emissions by 90% by 2050, and a significant chunk of that needs to happen well before 2050, ie by 2020, to avoid runaway climate change). Do we really want to give aviation, in many ways a luxury, an even bigger chunk of the carbon emissions pie, ahead of basic necessities such as heating homes, food security, rail travel etc? Reducing carbon emissions by 90% is no mean feat, and aviation is, frankly, one of the easier things to cut down on. I don't think we can gamble people and planet on the hope that technological fixes will be found (or assume that there will be fuel to run them when oil supplies dwindle, that doesn't involve growing biofuels on land needed for food).

I agree with her comments about the huge potential for reduction in emissions from homes (although the figure for London and Lewisham is closer to 40% of emissions, not 27%), and welcome DECC's (Department for Energy and Climate Change) recent announcements on extra funding for insulation, but (as I'm quoted as saying in the Newsshopper today), it is too limited and with too slow a rollout period. We need to start the rollout of free home insulation (and training up the people to do the work) to every home NOW, not just start gearing up in 2012 and only really get going in 2030.

On a lighter note, for some reason, the Newsshopper have stuck a picture of Emine Enver who runs Junction Express Drycleaners on Ladywell Road in the article about insulation, and said it is me. They must have used the photo of us with the 'Shop local in Ladywell' bags from last year and cut the wrong person out. She is admittedly more photogenic, but may not take it too kindly if residents start taking their Council casework issues to her as well as their drycleaning!

No comments: