Although Manchester Airport is committed to becoming 'carbon neutral' by 2015, this does not include the emissions from the aircraft that land and take off from its premisies. With this in mind, their otherwise laudable efforts of installing energy efficient lightbulbs, motion sensors and biomass burners can be seen as greenwash deception – an attempt to fool the public that the airport is green, when it is actually far from it.
MAG wants to pass the buck, saying that the responsibility for aircraft emissions lies with the airlines. But with a business plan which aims to more than double passenger numbers to 50 million per year by 2030, it's obvious to everyone else, including 10:10, that the airport is also responsible for emissions by encouraging and facilitating more and more flights.
It is MAG that competes for airlines to use its four airports (Manchester, Nottingham East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth). And it is MAG which runs advertising campaigns across Manchester encouraging people to use their airport as much as possible.
Pass the buck
So Manchester Airport is passing the buck onto the airlines. So who will take responsibility for the hot potato of carbon reductions? It seems that the aviation lobby is also keen to defer responsbility.
Flying Matters's chairman Brian Wilson blundered into the debate saying that the 10:10 decision was “the eco equivalent of political correctness gone mad,” and that, “if the 10:10 campaign were serious about making a difference it wouldn’t matter where the emission cuts came from, so long as they were made.”
Clearly issues of climate justice are not prominent in the minds of th aviation lobby. By Flying Matters' logic the aviation industry can carry on polluting as much as it likes so long as someone else - somewhere else, make the carbon cuts so that they don't have to.
Let's take a look at what aviation expansion would mean for the rest of UK economy. In July 2009, the government's Committee on Climate Change reported that if we are to allow airport expansion to go ahead as planned, then the rest of the UK economy will have to decarbonise by 90% rather than 80% to meet the 2050 targets of the Climate Bill.
So everything else that we all use regularly, from electricity for lighting to fuel to heat our homes – everything else will have to make more carbon cuts to accommodate the aviation industry's insatiable appetite for growth. This would push up the cost of these changes, thus penalising essential services to accommodate the luxuries of binge flying, and exacerbating issues of fuel poverty.
Since MAG, won't face up to its responsiblities, and neither will the Manchester Council, then it's time we brought these carbon contradicitions to the table, by placing a cap and then annual emission reduction targets on all the airport operations, including the flights.
For more info on MAG's rejection from 10:10, see the detailed 10:10 blog here. (Click on the 'Should 10:10 let airport's sign up' link on the scroll down list)