Defra studies life on Earth while DfT blue-skies it …

January 28, 2008 at 2:52 am | Posted in Crown Estate, Defra, DfT, Future Heathrow, Heathrow, Heathrow airport, Heathrow city, Heathrow expansion, Pondweed | Leave a comment

Pond weed in Crown Estate Wood End 20 January 2008

Encouraging greener living – Defra publishes public attitudes research

Excerpt from that Defra press release dated 14 January 2008:

The report identifies 12 headline behaviour goals based on a range of low/high impact and easy/hard behaviours which could potentially engage large numbers of people and others which would be more appropriate for targeting particular population groups.

The 12 headline behaviours are:

  • use more efficient vehicles;
  • use your car less for short trips;
  • avoid unnecessary short haul flights;
  • use water responsibly;
  • install insulation / microgeneration;
  • manage your energy usage;
  • recycle more;
  • waste less food;
  • buy energy efficient products;
  • eat more food that is locally in season; and
  • adopt a lower impact diet.

The report also looks at people’s willingness to act on these headline goals.

Defra seems to want to build public support for climate-beneficial actions slowly and steadily for piecemeal change. Yes, every little helps, but this approach offers too little too late to combat climate change, I fear 😦

By contrast, DfT ignores the public, treating us like pondweed (see fresh green picture from good weekend walk in Crown Estate above), and preferring to support BAA in its grandstanding of ‘Future Heathrow‘ and ‘Heathrow City‘ to investers. Ugh.

Over the next few years almost the entire airport will be rebuilt, refurbished or redesigned.

So says BAA in a glossy marketing brochure on Heathrow’s transformation to become “a new airport for London“:

LHR new airport brochure page 2 of 3

Leaping ahead of other airports in sustainable design is fine as far as I’m concerned, in fact it’s applaudable, though proposals for further expansion on top of these massive construction projects tarnish the green veneer from my point of view.

Taking another look at Defra’s suggested headline behaviours, and having calculated carbon footprints for myself and household using different models, it becomes glaringly obvious that despite all our efforts on those twelve key points, just one roundtrip flight a year, LHR-SFO, blows away all our other attempts at carbon reduction.  Even though I purchase offsets for flights there and back again, that does not stop me being annoyed that one flight can dwarf our combined and comprehensive carbon-saving attempts that year!

Naturally, I oppose Heathrow expansion.  There is nothing natural about it.

Facilitating the easiest method to harm our environment significantly—by making air travel easy and enjoyable for more people than our planet can sustain—is not a wise move.  BAA and BA and Virgin Atlantic may have difficult business times ahead, and the economy may be in for a rough ride (which may be another reason the government supports huge capital expenditure on construction and transport projects, as consumers tighten their belts), but it is better to recognise those realities and think outside the box … instead of trying to pull the wool over our eyes with economics arguments in favour of adding capacity at Heathrow airport that, in my humble opinion, do not hold water.

Now, back to my telecommute between the two valleys (Thames and Silicon) … 😉


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