Sorry, but you cannot build new runways and prevent climate breakdown
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 19th October 2016
The correct question is not “where?”. It is “whether?”. And the correct answer is no. The prime minister has just announced that her cabinet will recommend where a new runway should be built. Then there will be a consultation on the decision. There is only one answer that doesn’t involve abandoning our climate change commitments and our moral scruples: nowhere.
The inexorable logic that should rule out new sources of oil, gas and coal also applies to the expansion of airports. In a world seeking to prevent climate breakdown, there is no remaining scope for extending infrastructure that depends on fossil fuels. The prime minister cannot uphold the Paris agreement on climate change, that comes into force next month, and permit the runway to be built.
While most sectors can replace fossil fuels with other sources, this is not the case for aviation. The airline companies seek to divert us with a series of mumbo-jumbo jets: mythical technologies never destined for life beyond the press release. Solar passenger planes, blended wing bodies, hydrogen jets, algal oils, other biofuels: all are either technically impossible, commercially infeasible, worse than fossil fuels or capable of making scarcely a dent in emissions.