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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Sustainable avaition consultation and the threat to democracy

Letter to No. 10 Downing Street in response to the government decision not to proceed with the sustainable aviation consultation.


Dear Mr. Cameron,

Ref: Aviation consultation.
 
After spending considerable time preparing a submission for the Sustainable Aviation consultation on behalf of Plane Stupid and People and Planet, it is with horror and rage that I read in the press this weekend your government is not going to publish the result of its consultation because, according the FT, “the question is being handed over to an independent commission.”
  
If you decide not to publish the conclusions from your government’s year long study into the future of aviation, you are saying to the public that we should never again bother wasting our time engaging with any public consultation exercises, because when those in power do not like the result they will simply change the rules.

The aviation debate is of such importance that it must be resolved through our elected representatives, irrespective of how messy and distasteful this becomes. To delegate this to an independent commissioner says that our elected representatives are of no importance, and by inference the process of voting is a wasted effort. You should be fearful of what happens when you undermine the process of governance and democracy, especially as we enter hard times ahead and when we are already seeing the strains on our society.

Any proposition that the commission will be independent is nonsense. The commissioners will no doubt be powerful leaders of businesses, aviation and finance companies that have vested interests in expanding aviation. I am prepared to bet that no credible climate change experts or representatives from local communities that stand to be destroyed will be invited to the commission. Your commission will only be independent in as much that it will be independent of any environmental consideration.

We met with Theresa Villiers MP and the Department for Transport in July 2011 and were encouraged to make submissions to your consultation. We were assured of a fair and transparent process that would fully consider all evidence submitted. The Department for Transport presented their strategy for making aviation sustainable by controlling greenhouse gases through a combination of biofuels, carbon trading and new technological innovation. My report totally discredited all these approaches. Its “unpalatable conclusions” were:
  1. The strategies of introducing new technology, biofuels and carbon trading which form the basis of the sustainable framework document will not deliver any reduction in aviation greenhouse gas emissions. This is an unacceptable position given the critical risk that humanity faces due to the unsustainable build up of greenhouse gases.
  2. Aviation emissions can only be reduced by imposing a strict ceiling on plane movements or aviation fuel sales. This ceiling must then be reduced in line with the objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 80%.
  3. The principle objective of the Department for Transport should be to work with other equivalent departments in other countries to implement similar policies (as point 2) and to find ways to reduce demand for transport.
  4. The Department of Transport will have to show considerable courage to stand up to the advertising and lobbying campaigns that the aviation industry has already launched to subvert any movement towards recognising and taking action on climate change. The legal definition of fraud should be reviewed and test cases implemented against companies that make blatantly false environmental claims.
  5. The final adjudication that the government makes must take cognisance of the impact that rising oil prices will have on both the long term viability of the aviation industry and the full risk of wider instabilities in society and in the international arena.
  6. The forced reduction in aviation will fundamentally change the economic model and philosophies that our society has built on by forcing a clear acknowledgement that economic growth cannot continue indefinitely and limits have been reached. As such, this consultation must be integrated with the debate on the introduction of individual carbon rations or the imposition of a carbon tax, where the receipts are distributed directly to the population as advocated by James Hanson.
  7. It will not be possible to achieve the large reductions in aviation within the debt based economic system that we operate today. However, to maintain the existing growth based system will result in large scale impoverishment of society, climate collapse and war.
I can only conclude that your decision to move to an independent commission and not publish the results of your consultation is to avoid addressing the points that I raised in my submission.

The rapidly unfolding events since preparing this report underline all the above: The rate of melting of the Arctic Ice cap far exceeds the worst scenarios of the IPCC report of 2007, with the real prospect of an ice free ocean by 2015 leading to the collapse of the climatic stability upon which we have built our fragile civilisation. Syria is enmeshed in civil war following the destruction of its economic stability after a prolonged drought wiped out 85% of its live stock and converted a wheat exporting nation to a wheat importing nation at the mercy of world food prices. World food production is in a state of collapse following extreme droughts and floods. The list goes on.

It is against this background that you and your government continue in a state of blind hubris to believe airports should be built to cater for the holiday needs of a society in 2050, which in all likelihood will have ceased to exist by that time, and you will pervert the processes of governance to ensure this happens. These policies of hell bent expansion in defiance of blatantly evident limits to growth make our democracy as illegitimate as a dictatorship hell bent on expansion through force of arms.

You need to recognise that we now live in a new age where we are systematically learning that the glories of our past are being exposed as lies in all their dirt and gore. We now know our banks operated fraudulently, that we went to war on fraudulent claims and that top athletes like Lance Armstrong cheated. They all crashed, destroying themselves and many innocent people in the process. However, the biggest lie is still being played out; it is the one that you are continuing, which is that we can make a better future by destroying what is left of our environment. Your lie like every other will crash taking many innocent victims with it. When our system of governance ignores the science and calls to reason; persecutes those that protest peacefully, you might want to wonder what the prospective victims are left with and what they should do.

Yours sincerely

Kevin Lister

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