James Opposes Bristol Airport Expansion

My colleague in Bath, Wera Hobhouse MP, this week came out in support of my stance opposing expanding Bristol Airport. 

As Lib Dem Energy & Climate Change Spokesperson, Wera is an important voice in the national debate on aviation policy and I'm thrilled to have her support on this issue.

What was already a complex marriage of issues: economic opportunities, tourism strategies, environmental protection and local well-being concerns has been further complicated - and yet simplified, for me - with the commitment at a national and local level to recognise the scale of the climate emergency and to implement policy and systems changes to tackle it.

In October last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that a global temperature rise above 1.5 degrees would have catastrophic consequences.

In light of this report, in May this year the Committee on Climate Change outlined how the UK could achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Liberal Democrats are a true environmental party and are determined to achieve net-zero by 2045, if not sooner.

Achieving net-zero involves cutting emissions across all sectors to almost zero, where feasible, and offsetting the remaining emissions by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through planting forests and a range of technological methods.

I am a great lover of travel. Flying can form a positive part of life in a globalised world, making the rest of the planet and its diversity of cultures within reach. I do believe that distance causes division and that when we enhance our understanding we enhance our ability to empathise and do good.  

Blocking expansion of Bristol Airport, which is already way under its current 10 million passengers limit, is not incompatible with that vision. 

I also firmly believe in the ability of markets to quickly adapt when new rules are introduced. By blocking the expansion of the airport, on the condition that there won't be any expansion until we've decarbonised the aviation industry, we give a far greater incentive to the industry to innovate and change in order to survive and thrive in the new marketplace. The government should be encouraging industries through both incentives and barriers. The aviation industry is no different and uniquely placed to lead in the fight to decarbonise capitalism. 

With the need to reach the net-zero emissions target an essential priority, all public policy must be assessed by this. Therefore, Wera and I cannot support the expansion of Bristol Airport.

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