Jet zero?

Guest post by Green Christian member, Peter Wright

Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

When will this government recognise the Climate Crisis for what it is – a real threat to the continued existence of humanity, to the future of God’s world?

The “jet zero” strategy published this week should have addressed the spiralling emissions of the UK’s aviation industry. Instead airport expansions and huge increases in passenger numbers get the ‘green’ light, grasping the vain hope that technologies will emerge to clean up the resulting emissions which heat our planet. Airlines produced a billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100bn (£75bn) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they caused, researchers estimate (source Guardian 17 Nov 2020).

But technology isn’t available now, or any time soon, to allow mass commercial aviation to continue at current levels without producing dangerously high emissions. So how can the government countenance allowing a massive increase in flights and passenger numbers?

Only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018 and 4% flew abroad.  Access to flying is hugely unequal, with the wealthiest in the UK flying frequently while the rest of us fly rarely, if ever. Just 15% of people take 70% of all the flights, and in a typical year nearly half of us don’t fly at all.

The 50% drop in passenger numbers in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic should have been an opportunity to make the aviation industry fairer and more sustainable. This could have been done by putting green conditions on the huge bailouts governments handed out, as happened in France.

However HM’s government have failed to take the opportunity to address the crisis, preferring to bow to the demands of the minority, and the general population don’t seem to be bothered. Research found that half of leisure flights were not considered important by the traveller. “A lot of travel is going on just because it’s cheap.” (Guardian 17 Nov 2020).

“The climate change committee, the government’s own advisers on climate, have just warned that it’s likely that the technologies its plan for aviation relies on will not be commercially available by 2050, and called for an urgent plan to cut back flights. Today the government ignored their warning, in favour of a fantasy of unlimited growth on a finite planet that’s close to its limits”. Britain is boiling – and the government wants to dramatically expand UK aviation | Leo Murray | The Guardian

So, where do we Christians stand on this – do we speak out for the farmer in Kenya, watching crops wither during the longest drought in years? Do we watch from the side lines as millions of God’s creatures die in arid water holes. Do we watch the footage as floods or wild fires destroy millions of acres of forest and homes, shrug and move onto the next news item, after all it’s not affecting our green and pleasant land – IS IT

Have you pledged not to fly anywhere this, or any year?

Peter is a retired Civil/Structural Engineer, now working voluntarily for those less able to speak for themselves around the world, and to reverse the impacts of humans on the climate.


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Author: Ruth Jarman | Date: 21 July, 2022 | Category: Climate Emergency Opinion | Comments: 1


Comments on "Jet zero?"

Linda Wickham:

July 21, 2022

Well said, Peter. As they say in Quaker circles, 'this man speaks my mind'.I have not personally been on a plane for 36 years and even then it was not booked by myself. In total I have flown only 6 times, to Europe, in 69 years. I cannot say I have missed anything. The cheapness of this mode of travel, without reference to the real cost in terms of anything or anyone else, is a major part of the problem. If carbon-emitting lifestyles truly reflected what it really costs then people might abandon such activities and demand an affordable alternative.


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