Hounslow Green Party

Conservative Candidate "Confused about air pollution and climate change" says Greens

29 September 2019

Victoria George, prospective Green Party Candidate for Brentford & Isleworth, is critical of the recently announced Conservative candidate’s stance on Heathrow and the environment.

“The Green Party is always pleased when other parties include green issues on their agenda, and so I was genuinely heartened to see that Seena Shah has reservations about the 3rd runway at Heathrow and states she is a ‘big environmentalist’.  But a full grasp of the issues is important if she is to evaluate policy options correctly.

Victoria George

Seena worries about air quality, ‘particularly the CO2 emissions.’  But the emissions that affect local air quality are NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) and PM10 and 2.5 (Particulate Matter), not CO2 (Carbon Dioxide).  The 3rd runway would increase air pollution as a result of NO2 and PMs from the inevitable increase in road traffic to and from Heathrow.

Seena wants the air ‘cleaned up’ by offsetting. There is no evidence for effective local offsetting on the scale that would be needed to neutralise local air pollution from this volume of traffic.

Now let’s be clear about what CO2 is.  Seena’s misinformation here is possibly more concerning since CO2 is the main greenhouse gas causing rising global temperatures and therefore climate breakdown.  CO2 is not a local issue – worse – it is a terrifyingly urgent global one. It is estimated that the expansion project without mitigation would result in a 38% increase in Heathrow’s carbon emissions, over the period 2022 to 2050.

Victoria at Heathrow protest

On offsetting again: Heathrow claims that much of this carbon will be offset by the airlines but provides no calculations of how a lower level of carbon emissions can be achieved whilst increasing flight numbers.  Carbon offsetting will not deliver a net zero CO2 future.  All sectors in all countries need to get as close as possible to zero emissions, and Tory expansion of the aviation industry would play a significant part in making sure the UK does not meet its carbon emission reduction targets as set out in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. 

‘If we do decide to go ahead...’ It’s strange, finally, that Seena seems to think her party is still undecided about Heathrow expansion. Make no mistake, it is the Tories who have pushed this policy through, and if she really believes ‘the environment is just as important as the economy’ she must at least say a clearer ‘no’  to her own party’s policy - and get her facts right.

We must drastically reduce air travel if we are to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2030, the Green Party’s target.  So, our position is unequivocal. We advocate a major reduction in the number of journeys made by air for whatever purpose.”

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