Manchester climate debate report

Manchester Climate Forum debate

The 'Great Aviation Debate' in Manchester Friends Meeting House took place last Thursday in front of an audience of around 150 people.

We organised the debate after the head honchos at Manchester Airport responsed to our blockade of domestic flights back in October. The airport had slagged us off in the Times, saying:

"We would encourage those groups, including environmental groups, to engage in sensible debate and not pull stunts like this."

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Plane Stupid gladly took up the offer and stood on a panel of six with the Tyndall Centre, the Centre for Aviation Transport and the Environment (CATE), Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Manchester Climate Action, and the Airport.

Not wanting to be biased, but the airport was always looking at a losing battle. Manchester Airport basically exists to fly people to London to work in the City; people too dammed lazy or self-important to get the fast, punctual and greener trains which whizz back and forth many times a day. And so it turned out: there was, unsurprisingly, consensus amongst the panel that flying from Manchester to London was proper ridiculous.

More surprisingly, the airport failed to put up any strong arguments of an economic, social or environmental nature in favour of expanding capacity (50% increase by 2015!). It's like they're still operating in the 20th century, and haven't grasped this whole climate change thingie. Just this week they announced plans to go carbon neutral - swapping a few lightbulbs - but aren't including emissions from flying. Convenient really, with plans to serve 33 million people by 2015.

Whilst, we may congratulate ourselves on clearly winning the debate, where were the press that evening? How many other people will find about the issue?

This is the problem we face trying to get people to listen to the threat of climate change. You can debate, write letters, talk to your MP and scream until the bloody cows come home, but it takes direct action before anyone will take any notice.

So whilst elements of the press castigate us for 'silly stunts' and disruptive direct action, it seems they are not interested in covering serious debate. We're damned if we do, but doomed if we don't.

Onwards then, with more direct action.