The cost of reducing the carbon impact of a proposed third runway at Heathrow has doubled since Parliament approved the idea of ââthe expansion, suggests a report presented to MPs.
A study by the New Economics Foundation suggests that the carbon value or cost of cleaning the runway has increased from Â£ 50bn to Â£ 100bn, double the figure presented to ministers and parliamentarians by the Department for Transports in the national airports policy statement (ANPS) in 2018.
The âcarbon valueâ of the expansion is the price of the abatement needed to offset the track’s carbon emissions. This fall, the government revised the carbon values ââto bring them into line with the new legally binding net zero obligations, adopted in June 2019.
The report – a draft of which has been presented to members of the all-party parliamentary group on Heathrow’s expansion and regional connectivity – suggests that these changes have a significant impact on the proposed runway extension. âIn a climate emergency, any project or policy that creates new greenhouse gas emissions is very costly to society. Either we are suffering the consequences of a deeper ecological collapse or someone, somewhere has to ‘clean up’ these gases, âthe report said.
When a country, like the UK, has made a legal commitment to reduce carbon emissions to zero, most options to cut emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere are already in use, according to the report.
“Therefore, the cost of cleaning up or ‘reducing’ new emissions increases as your climate ambition increases,” the report says.
In September, a new set of carbon emission reduction costs was released by the government.
“Our calculations show that at Heathrow, the carbon cost of emissions resulting from the airport’s proposed expansion over the period 2025-2050 has doubled from around Â£ 50 billion to over Â£ 100 billion. pounds sterling if you consider the government’s new carbon values. ” said the report. Carbon costs include those of arriving and departing flights.
The change in costs affects all airport expansion projects. At eight airports, planning projects have all seen their climate cost significantly underestimated, according to NEF.
Research has cumulatively suggested that the eight ongoing airport expansion plans come with an issue price of Â£ 73.6 billion between 2025 and 2050.
Only a fraction of that amount, Â£ 11.8 billion, is likely to be clawed back as taxes on the aviation industry. The remainder, Â£ 62 billion, will cost the government and represent “a colossal subsidy to the polluting industry and a significant cost – economic, environmental or both – to the rest of society,” the report said.
APPG Co-Chair David Simmonds said: âThis report highlights the need to get the right details when examining our future image of aviation and the government’s Jet Zero review.
âWe cannot afford to underestimate the implications for major projects such as the expansion of Heathrow and future generations will not thank us for creating complicated financial mechanisms that will do nothing to actually help the environment.”
Paul McGuinness, Chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: âAs it may have been inevitable, the carbon costs of the Heathrow expansion have increased exponentially, even before they more planes emitting greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Growing arguments for the government to reverse Heathrow’s expansion have become inescapable. “
When MPs voted for the airlines national policy statement, which in principle contained the expansion in 2018, his net economic worth was between Â£ 3 billion and Â£ 2.5 billion, he said.
Now that the carbon emissions reduction cost element of Heathrow’s expansion has grown exponentially, the total economic impact of the program can only come at a high cost to the UK economy, McGuinness said. .
Lord Deben, the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, which advises the government, said last month: “There is no room for airport expansion”.
The CCC recommends “no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the industry is on track to sufficiently surpass its net emissions trajectory and meet additional demand”.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: âReducing carbon emissions from flights has always been a central consideration in our plans for Heathrow expansion.
âWe have always known that we will have to prove that a new track is compatible with the UK net zero target. Although our current goal remains to respond to the pandemic, we remain convinced that we can grow and meet strict targets.
âThe UK aviation industry was the first in the world to commit to achieving net zero and to publish a detailed plan to achieve it. The recent commitment of the entire global aviation industry to net zero and the UK government’s ambition of 10% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030 are clear steps towards removing carbon from flight, even with our growth. “