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Thursday, April 17, 2008

A letter to Ruth Kelly

Dear Ms. Kelly,

Thank you for your eventual reply to my letter of November last year when I wrote to you about the expansion proposals at Heathrow.

However, I am absolutely appalled by the letter from your department, which I am reading at the same time as statements in support of biofuels that also emanates from your department. It is impossible to find decisions from any government in any country at any past time that is more morally bankrupt than these two. I do hope that you have read the UN Development report (page 4) that compares wilfully ignoring climate change to the atrocities of the Nazis in the Second World War.

Your policies on mandating 2.5% of fuel to be biofuel has now given companies like Tesco a complete mandate to pillage our food supplies and destroy the tropics. In recent correspondence with Tesco, which is on my blog, it is clear they have done no due diligence or made any environmental impact assessment of their attempts to become the UK’s leading suppliers of biofuel. They are not even able to quantify the amount of palm oil that they use and by their own admission have no defined standards on sustainability.

What does it take for people like you to change policy? Do we need to come to your house and burn it down in the same way that your policies on biofuel are leading to the forcible relocation of indigenous people from their homelands? Do we need to deprive you and your family of food, in the same way that your policies on biofuel are contributing to almost 1 billion people facing starvation worldwide? Do we need to bulldoze your neighbourhood in the same way that your policies will result in the destruction of Sipson near Heathrow? Do we need to destroy the local environment for your children, in the same way that your policies are destroying the global environment for the world’s children? I often wonder how people like you can sleep at night. Perhaps you could be as kind as to explain how you do it, and how you reconcile your actions that the UN Development report considers to be a systematic violation of the human rights of the world’s poor and future generations with your religious convictions.

In the midst of your unwavering support for the Heathrow, you should be aware that Gloucestershire Council’s Scrutiny committee has recently overwhelmingly rejected proposals to expand our local airport. It concluded that the business case was not robust and the impacts on climate change were not considered. I hope that you will follow the leadership that they have shown and come to similar conclusions about the other airport developments elsewhere in the country.

In my previous letter I asked 6 specific points. With the exception of the last point, you have not answered any of them. I would again appreciate a clear answer to my questions. To remind you, the points are:

Point 1

You have claimed that carbon trading can offset emissions, despite the IPCC warning that even a cut of 100% in emissions will potentially not be enough to prevent to catastrophic warming. In your response to me, you still totally ignore the IPCC report. You are still peddling the completely unfounded argument that the “increase in CO2 emissions from aviation is matched by reductions elsewhere.”

Can you at least confirm that you are prepared to totally ignore the recommendations of the IPCC report, which in the last edition states, “Early mitigation actions would avoid further locking in carbon intensive infrastructure and reduce climate change and associated adaptation needs.”

Point 2

I asked if you “Can confirm if you believe that aviation should be in your government’s climate change bill and confirm exactly what your department’s position is on this?”

You have said that aviation will go in to the climate change bill subject to international agreements being made in the first place. This is tantamount to saying that you will not accept it in the bill as no international agreements are even close to reaching an agreement that will result in the cuts in aviation that are needed to tackle climate change. On the contrary, the open-air agreement that the EU has recently passed is massively increasing the number of transatlantic flights. You are demonstrably siding with the position of the aviation industry.

Point 3

I pointed out that you are totally ignoring the recent peaceful protests and all the evidence on climate change as you side with the interests of the aviation industry over and above the concerns of a growing proportion of the country. I asked if you could confirm what conversation and agreements have been made with the Secretary of State and what the Secretary of State’s position is on using the police force as private army in support of the aviation industry’s interests?

It is vitally important that you realise the situation that you are creating is highly perilous and grossly irresponsible. In past, the greats of peaceful protest such as Gandi and Martin Luther King were able to achieve their objectives peacefully because it was in the long-term interests of their opponents to reach agreement. Such that Britain’s long-term interest was best served by relinquishing control of India and it was in the long-term interest of the whites in the Southern States of USA to give the blacks equal rights. The situation we face today is totally different. There is no common ground to be found between the aviation industry and the concerns of the environment. The evidence from the IPCC report is that we need to be actively decommissioning airports, not expanding them. However, the aviation industry needs to continue growing to service its debts and provide returns to its shareholders. The only outcome from your unwavering support for the aviation industry will be conflict and massive civil unrest, or massive environmental damage.

Lord Stevens’s appointment to the BAA board looks like an uncomfortable first step in the future battles that will be fought.

Point 4

In defence of runway 3, the government previous said the “UK now has the fastest growing railway in Europe.” I asked if you could confirm how much CO2 emissions will be generated from this growth and where the power will come from for this expansion.

You have not provided any answer to this point.

Point 5

All your statements so far on travel policies have all been concerned with providing enough supply to met any demand. I asked if you could confirm what you are doing to reduce demand.

Your response merely gives an ill-considered and pathetic comment saying that if we do not go ahead with the additional runway. “It may make us feel purer, but it will make us poorer too.” It seems that you are intent on totally ignoring all the evidence and will attempt to satisfy any emerging demand irrespective of the damage that will be inflicted on the planet. Have you considered how poor we will feel in the midst of failing crops and rising sea levels that will be brought on by climate change.

Point 6

I asked if you confirm the point of the consultation period.

I am pleased that you have made it clear that there was no point in the consultation period and that the objective is to simply to “present the evidence on which the Government now believes, that those conditions (for expansion) can be met.”

A copy of this letter will appear on my blog http://kevsclimatecolumn.blogspot.com.

Yours sincerely,



Kevin Lister

c.c: David Drew MP,
Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco
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