European campaigners join forces against airport expansion

Over the past few years the airlines and airports across Europe have been putting aside corporate interests to work together on expansion. They've been pretending great rivalry between Frankfurt, Schipol, Charles de Gaulle and Heathrow, persuading each country that it's expansion or die for their beloved hub.

We decided to do the same, which is why Plane Stupid joined campaigners from almost a dozen countries at a European aviation campaigners' get-together. People came from all over: local airport groups, environmental NGOs, direct action networks, people campaigning on climate change, noise and those just trying to save their communty from destruction.

Two days worth of chatter and we were all agreed that not only was victory possible, it was looking ever more likely. It was clear that a bit of mutual aid was just what was needed to seal the deal. Expect to see joint and co-ordinated actions and demonstrations over the coming year - both fluffy and rather spikier.

Environment chiefs speak out on Heathrow

Brown dismayed

Another week, another couple of eminent critics of the Heathrow expansion plans take their turns to speak up. This time it was Stavros Dimas, EU environment chief, and Lord Smith, the new boss of the Environment Agency and a former Labour Minister speaking up for reason and scientific opinion.

Smith told The Independent that building a third runway would be "a mistake" because of pollution and noise and said he'd keep telling the government that's how it is. Meanwhile Dimas announced that a third runway would "significantly" breach European air pollution guidelines, which will soon become law.

Ask Leo: what's wrong with the Emissions Trading Scheme?


The EU has finally agreed to include aviation emissions in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This might look like good news - after all, it is the first and only international emissions agreement to include air transport, and indeed the only policy measure the British government has on the table to address aviation's role in causing climate change. But don't get too excited just yet - because this measure is not actually intended to reduce aviation emissions.

Instead, it is expressly intended to allow them to continue to rise, by enabling airlines to purchase credits under the scheme from other sectors who have successfully reduced their own emissions, or worse, from 'accredited' offsetting schemes in far-off lands such as China. But the extra warming impact of aviation emissions over ground-based CO2 emissions is unaccounted for in the plan. Which means that permits to pollute that are sold to airlines by, for instance, power companies, will actually lead to 2 to 5 times more global warming than if the power companies had never reduced their emissions in the first place. MEPs had proposed a way to factor this in to the scheme, but, somewhat unsurprisingly, the aviation lobby successfully got that thrown out by the Commission.

Airlines vow to fight emissions trading scheme

Less light more planes

It had to happen. After months of pleading to be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), major international carriers have declared that they will fight any European plan to make them take account of their spiralling emissions.

Just days after the EU fought tooth and claw to undermine the ETS, the International Air Travel Association (IATA) has laid down the gauntlet, promising to throw its toys out of the pram if MEPs don't stop trying to avert climate change.

France rules out new roads and runways

In typically Gallic style, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared a "green revolution" yesterday, announcing that there would be no more roads or runways built, alongside the construction of more high-speed rail networks to help shift people out fo the skies and onto the trains.

In a speech which could have come from any number of protest site campfires, Sarkozy called for a "revolution in our way of thinking, in our way of making decisions, a revolution in our way of life".

Will this put a stop to the industry's bleating about how Charles de Gaulle will overtake Heathrow if we don't expand it? Don't hold your breath...