You say consultation. We say sham!

Tin of Sham

At a packed meeting yesterday afternoon the combined forces of the anti-Heathrow expansion movement heard something they'd always suspected. The consultation, due out today, will be a sham. The Government has made its mind up; like it or not, Heathow expansion is going ahead.

We had gathered to meet with Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, in a final face-to-face before the launch of the latest consultation on the third runway. Plane Stupid, of course, was not invited, but I snuck in to hear just what Fitzpatrick (coincidentally also Environment Minister for the Department for Transport) had to say.

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.

Still no aviation in the Climate Change Bill

Climate change is pants

Whoops! The shiny new Climate Change Bill received its first scintillating reading in the House of Lords this week.

For all the fanfare which greeted the first national binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions, a few things seem to have slipped through the cracks – most notably that the Government seems to have forgotten to include aviation emissions in their reduction targets. Whilst this handy omission will probably make it easier to balance the books come 2050, it’ll make for a truly toothless piece of legislation in its current form, not to mention a fairly nonsensical one.

Ruth Kelly has cake, eats it

Plane cake

Yesterday Ruth Kelly appeared at an aviation conference, attended by the great and good of the aviation industry. She regaled them all with a speech which called for... well, business as usual really, with a dash of greenwash.

Kelly has totally bought the premise that economic growth and environmental salvation are intrinsically linked. Sadly this is utter tosh: our society is only able to produce goods and services at the rate it does because of our wanton disregard for the environment. As far as aviation is concerned, you have to ask who you trust more: the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research (prognosis: aviation expansion cannot co-exist with climate change targets) or Rod Eddington, former head of British Airways (motto: keep on flyin').

A loophole big enough to fly a jumbo jet through

As you're probably aware, Labour is deadly serious about climate change. They're seriously thinking about possibly making a start.

Their latest attempt comes in the form of the Climate Bill, a serious piece of legislation which will set a series of legally binding carbon budget periods lasting five years each. Unfortunately the draft target for 2050 is inadequate: a 60% reduction on 1990 levels, and more pertinently, the bill excludes Aviation - the fastest growing source of greenhouse gasses in the UK. The draft bill - before consultation - had a built-in loophole you could fly a jumbo through, and everyone knew it.

Brown: Not so much James Bond as Dr. No

Well that didn't take long, did it? Rather like the moment Timothy Dalton first stepped onto our screens and arched an eyebrow as James Bond, it has taken very little time to realise that Gordon Brown is, quite simply, the wrong man for the job.

As scientists warn us in increasingly desperate terms that we have just 100 months to stabilise emissions of greenhouse gases, we look to Downing Street for a super-hero armed with the latest cutting edge technology to save the world. Instead we are presented with a man who is utterly unconvincing in the role.

Darling's pie in the sky

There has been much speculation over Alistair Darling's first pre-budget report and his plans to green the aviation industry.

The chancellor has suggested replacing duty on tickets with a charge based on the type of plane and the distance it will be travelling. This will, he claims, encourage airlines to increase their efficiency (by reducing per-passenger emissions) and to use the latest and most efficient planes to further reduce their tax bills.

Minister hides Heathrow noise report

Jim Fitzpatrick's hidden report

Rising noise levels are causing massive discomfort to people living under Heathrow's flightpaths, according to a leaked report which Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has been sitting on.

The report, Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) was ordered six years ago but kept under wraps since the DfT saw a draft in July. In a damming blow for proponents of the third runway, it has challenged the current measure of noise-related discomfort (57decibels), arguing that "significant annoyance" occurs at 50db levels.

MEPs water down aviation emissions scheme

As the dust settles following the ICAO / EU battle over aviation emissions, news reaches us that MEPs have significantly retreated from ordering significant cuts in CO2 from aircraft.

After talking big about how the Emissions Trading Scheme would dramatically reduce emissions, the EU has decided to reduce the sector's output to 66% above 1990 levels - a far cry from the Kyoto targets originally proposed. They are also planning to give away 50% of the credits, potentially providing a huge bonus to industry coffers.

Tories abandon green proposals

Cameron and a hoody

Timed to perfection: on the day that a Mori poll showed widespread support for the Tories green agenda, Cameron is rumoured to have rejected key proposals from his Quality of Life commission.

In a move sure to win him the votes of precisely three people in Orpington, Dave is reported to have ditched Zac Goldsmith's much anticipated moratorium on runway expansion (49% support), VAT on flights (37% for, 34% against) and instead focused on a 'per plane' tax, as called for by eco-anarchists easyJet.

Looks like the climate has gone out the window. Not to worry - I'm sure that having less 'death tax' to pay will more than make up for there not being a planet left to inherit...