Philip Booth, who wrote a report outlining the overwhelming arguments against the expansion of Bristol airport (i), said: "The Green party supports this protest outside Staverton airport to object to any expansion there. The improvements being made will encourage more personal and business jet use - some of those jets are more efficient as the airport suggests but some are definitely not - but in any case the Cheltenham Borough Council Climate Change Strategy calls for reducing CO2 emissions. These latest moves seem to be an expansion of activities and emissions for the benefit of wealthy companies and individuals."
Philip Booth said: "Let us be clear Staverton is not the worst offender - today at Fairford's Tattoo more fuel will probably be used than at Staverton in a month and similarly Bristol airport and others make huge contributions to CO2 emissions. Nevertheless this is our local airport and it is jointly owned by Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucester City Council. We all need to get serious about aviation - the fastest growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions."
Some 25 or more people protested at the main gate with placards and engaged in conversations with an ex-Director of the airport, police and several pilots who appeared to talk to protesters.
At the protest Philip Booth made a statement based on the draft attached below (ii).
(i) Report re Bristol can be found at:
(ii) Draft of statement made by Philip Booth at Staverton:
Today, July 15th is International Day of Direct Action against Climate Change. The "Group of 8" (G8) richest industrialized countries are gathering in St. Petersburg, Russia to discuss "Energy Security." A leaked G8 "Communique on Energy Security" calls for trillions of dollars in new investments in oil, gas and coal production worldwide, plus wide-scale global expansion of nuclear energy.
With runaway climate change looming just over the horizon, such business-as-usual poses a direct threat to the continuation of life on Earth as we know it.
19 of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred since 1980. Islands in the South Pacific are already evacuating due to rising sea levels. Storms and hurricanes are growing more severe. Polar bears are drowning as their icy habitat breaks apart and drifts out to sea. Greenland and Antarctica are melting. Scientists warn we are getting closer to "the tipping point" of catastrophic and irreversible climate chaos.
We know all that - that is why we are here at Staverton - aviation is the fastest growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which are fueling climate change. Flights nationally are set to double by 2020 and triple by 2030. If we are to tackle climate change then this will cripple other industries as they attempt to cut back on their emissions while aviation continues to grow. Doing nothing just isn’t an option. We need to show Blair and the European Commission the strength of public opposition to the planned expansion of this industry.
We can congratulate the airlines to some extent on cleaning up their act and reducing their emissions through improved design, but this is being outstripped by the phenomenal growth in the total number of flights.
Let us be clear Staverton is not the worst offender - today at Fairford's Tattoo more fuel will probably be used than at Staverton in a month and similarly Bristol airport and others make huge contributions to CO2 emissions. Nevertheless the improvements to the runway being made here at Staverton will encourage more personal and business jet use - some of those jets are more efficient as the airport suggests but some are definitely not - but in any case the Cheltenham Borough Council Climate Change Strategy calls for reducing CO2 emissions. These latest moves seem to be an expansion of activities and emissions for the benefit of wealthy companies and individuals.
This is our local airport and it is our local Councils that have a say in this. We want them to hear that people are saying it is time to take climate change seriously.
Let us not forget that airlines currently enjoy a complex array of tax breaks and hidden subsidies - worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone - which are long outdated and totally incompatible with global climate goals. International progress on removing these and getting the industry to pay its way has been pitifully slow.
If we are to stave off the worst impacts of climate change fairly we must cut emissions by 80 to 90 per cent in the next few decades: that will simply not be possible unless we reduce emissions from flights. Instead of pursuing the outdated model of ‘predict and provide’, approving new runways at the airlines’ behest, the Government should stop building new runways and take immediate steps to force the airlines to reduce their emissions.
The only sustainable solution is to reduce the total number of flights and make the airlines pay the true social and environmental costs of their activities.
Things are changing
The Green party are part of 'Rethink!’, an alliance of environmental organisations and community groups from across the UK, which has recently been launched to call simply for the Government to reverse its support for the airlines spelt out in its Aviation White Paper of 2003. For the Government to support continued growth of the aviation industry is a frank admission that it would rather lose the battle against climate change – and write off the rights of the millions living near airports and under flight routes – than call time on cheap stag nights in Riga, weekend breaks in Rimini and freshly-picked Kenyan flowers in European supermarkets.
Airlines have also been left reeling after a vote in the European Parliament called for a raft of measures to tackle their growing contribution to climate change.
Euro-MPs in Strasbourg voted by 439 to 74 to adopt proposals drafted by Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas to introduce a range of measures including an airlines-only CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme and emissions charges to tackle their non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. There were 102 abstentions.
People are at last waking up to the fact we need action. Support here at Staverton shows people want us to take climate change seriously - we know we have to if we want to build a better future for future generations.