Letters to MPs re cutting of UK air passenger duty tax

The air company Flybe is in financial difficulties. One suggestion made on 14 January was to make a cut in the duty charged on all short haul flights in the UK.

Nine Green Christian members have written to their MPs about this in the last two days. Here are just three examples of letters that were sent:

14 Jan 2020

Dear …….

I hope you are well.

Just had to write this morning to voice my concern triggered by the worrying incongruity of two articles in the Today Programme this morning. 

1. A report from the Met Office, where Prof Corinne Le Quéré, says:”If we don’t [do what it takes to stabilise the world’s climate], we will have much worse impacts – so what we are seeing in Australia is not the new normal, it’s a transition to worse impacts.”


2. The consideration of the cutting air passenger duty. 
We are heading for climate and societal collapse. Nations’ current pledges under the Paris agreement are nothing like enough to prevent this. This country has a choice – do we stick our heads in the sand and just allow the unthinkable to happen or to we show the moral courage that we have demonstrated in history, and lead from the front. We have COP26 this year – the world is watching us. This could be our moment. We might well fail – but, with all we love at stake, we have to try. 


I don’t know how these things work in Parliament, but if there is anything you can do to stop the cutting in air passenger duty, please could you do it. Your reaction to this possibility is important and will, I believe, show moral fortitude.

With best wishes,

R.


15 Jan 2020

Good morning ……..

The cleanest, greenest government ever?

A belated Happy New Year and congratulations for retaining your seat in Stratford.

You cannot have failed to notice that climate change and environment issues have been highlighted almost daily in the media over these last few months. reasing urgency of addressing these issues. Prof Corinne Le Quéré has said in the recent report from the Met Office: “If we don’t [do what it takes to stabilise the world’s climate], we will have much worse impacts – so what we are seeing in Australia is not the new normal, it’s a transition to worse impacts.”  2020 could be the defining year, or certainly the defining decade, which will determine the kind of world my grandchildren will inherit.

Disappointing there was very little mention of environmental issues in your manifesto and it was disappointing that Boris Johnson did not feel it important to take part in the televised environmental debate. However immediately after his landslide victory he did declare his ambition to make this country the ‘cleanest, greenest on Earth’ and for this he has my unwavering support. If my understanding is correct, the PM is to chair a new Cabinet committee on climate change as part of the progress towards net-zero across all the areas of government so we look forward to him ensuring his influence takes this in the appropriate direction. 

HS2 is just one such important issue and it is encouraging to note that he is already under pressure from one of his most influential advisers to scrap the southern leg of HS2 and use the funds to support local rail services in the new Tory areas in the North. A report issued by the Wildlife Trusts this morning indicates that HS2 will destroy or irreparably damage five internationally protected wildlife sites, 693 local wildlife sites, 108 ancient woodlands and 33 legally protected sites of special scientific interest, according to the most comprehensive survey of its impact on wildlife. They are urging the prime minister to “stop and rethink” the £100bn project, which the organisation says will also destroy carbon-capturing habitats and “damage the very ecosystems that provide a natural solution to the climate emergency”. UK biodiversity is in serious and continuing decline, and to continue to pursue is totally contrary to its existing pledge to create a Nature Recovery Network – a commitment to reverse wildlife’s decline by creating more habitat and green arteries that allow nature to spread and thrive once more.

But the news yesterday was perhaps even worse. To use tax payers money to subsidise a failing airline would be as Willie Walsh says a ‘blatant misuse of public funds’. To also consider at the same time to cut Air Passenger Duty flies in the face of any serious claim to be serious about reducing our carbon footprint. As bush fires continue to devastate Australia, and the death toll rises from floods in Indonesia, our  government is now considering making it even easier for people to choose to fly just at a time when we need to be drastically reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Flying is already artificially cheap owing to a lack of tax on kerosene and to cut APD as well would be a disaster for the UK’s claim to be taking climate change seriously.

This country has an increasingly stark choice: do we stick to our present path of apparently infinite growth on a finite planet with diminishing resources and allow the unthinkable yet inevitable to happen, or do we show the moral courage to have this new government leading from the front?  Later this year the UK will host COP26 this year and the world will be watching us. This is perhaps our last chance to demonstrate clearly that we are committed to becoming in Boris’s words – the ‘cleanest, greenest on Earth’.

Kind regards

M.

——————————————————————————————————-

And a third letter, slightly shortened:

Dear ……….

Happy New Year and congratulations on the birth of your little one. Hopefully this wonderful event will help focus your attention on having somewhere for your child to live.

I just had to write this morning to voice my concern triggered by the worrying incongruity of two articles in the Today Programme this morning. 


1. A report from the Met Office, where Prof Corinne Le Quéré, says:

“If we don’t [do what it takes to stabilise the world’s climate], we will have much worse impacts – so what we are seeing in Australia is not the new normal, it’s a transition to worse impacts.”

This much we already know but we still have enormous problems getting governments (and local authorities) to act rather than ‘jaw, jaw’.  Telling us that we are on target for carbon neutral by 2050 is like turning up for a boat half an hour after it has sailed. Intentions are great but reality is key.

In view of this latest statement, which follows on from significant scientific proof, without urgent and immediate action, we are heading for climate and societal collapse.  At present we are heading for a 4 degree rise by the end of the century. You must already know that current pledges under the Paris agreement will not prevent this.  No serious scientist is talking about 2050 but rather, 2030 as the likely tipping point.


2. The consideration of cutting air passenger duty. 

After changing to an animal-based diet, the next biggest anti-GGE step that individuals can take is to significantly reduce the number of times they fly. Therefore, if there is anything you can do to stop the proposal to cut air passenger duty, please do it for my grandchildren, your child and the rest of us on this planet.  Putting air-travel prices up, not down, is key to achieving a reduction in air travel.  Your reaction to this possibility is important and will, I believe, show moral fortitude and leadership. I am happy for you to come to my home and see the amount of air traffic we have on this side of London since the CAA changed their flight paths. This helps us to see the shear number of planes above the skies of London. I can see the flight path into London Heathrow and City airports; departure flights from City and sometimes Stansted and, Heathrow planes in ‘holding’ mode, waiting to land.  Future science will show how significant air pollution is in relation to the health of people on this side of London and its impact/consequences for NHS provision. 


3) HS2.

In my role in the CEFAW research project, I have travelled North (by train) quite a bit this past year. This has reinforced my view on how unnecessary and wasteful the HS2 project is.  In our present climate crisis and our exit from Europe, it cannot be justifiable to spend such huge sums of money just to reduce journey times by 20 mins. Far better to invest it in the excellent scheme to increase rail investment throughout the UK.

Love and prayers,

C.


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