To quote the BBC, “Heathrow Airport’s controversial plans to build a third runway have been thrown into doubt after a court ruling. The government’s Heathrow’s expansion decision was unlawful because it did not take climate commitments into account, the Court of Appeal said. Heathrow said it would challenge the decision, but the government has not lodged an appeal. The judges said that in future, a third runway could go ahead, as long as it fits with the UK’s climate policy.”
This is a momentous decision ahead of COP26 in Glasgow for the UK, Europe and globally. The elevation of the Climate Change Act above “Global Britain” and globalisation is a major step and pointer to the wide range of effects that a zero carbon target and decarbonisation will have on economic and environmental policies going forward both in the UK but around the world.
The government’s decision to not appeal the decision gives it moral high ground in the negotiations at COP 26. It also raises questions as to whether EU environmental standards are weaker than the UK in climate policy, given the 2050 net zero target and this decision.
The challenge for the EU and Europe is how they will respond to this? It is difficult to reconcile the EU climate targets with allowing airport expansion on the continent – but actions will speak louder than words.
Finally, is this the first tangible signal that flying more and climate objectives are contradictory. We don’t need to fly more, we need to fly less. It poses some interesting questions about the future of globalisation.
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