Health coun­cil raises air­port is­sues

Travel Digest - - NE WS - — Lor­raine Thom­son

The NZ Cli­mate and Health Coun­cil (OraTa­iao) is call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent health check on Welling­ton Air­port’s plans to ex­tend the run­way into Lyall Bay. Avi­a­tion makes a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to cli­mate-dam­ag­ing emissions – the av­er­age Welling­to­nian’s foot­print is 5.32 CO2eq tonnes an­nu­ally with almost 20 per cent from do­mes­tic flights. “These emissions con­trib­ute to cli­mate change, a lead­ing global threat to health,” said OraTa­iao co-con­venor Dr Rhys Jones. “An ex­ten­sion of the run­way would ex­ac­er­bate this sit­u­a­tion.” Each ad­di­tional flight, par­tic­u­larly in­ter­na­tional, adds enor­mously to our over­all emissions foot­print. For ex­am­ple, one per­son fly­ing re­turn to Hong Kong burns up 4.0 tonnes and Lon­don re­turn 7.9 tonnes. “The world has agreed on a path­way to­wards zero net global emissions this century,” said Dr Jones. “Suc­cess­ful, thriv­ing cities will be those who de­velop along this tra­jec­tory. The run­way ex­ten­sion would take Welling­ton in ex­actly the wrong di­rec­tion – for our econ­omy and for our health.” “At the mo­ment we’re fly­ing blind,” said Dr Jones. “Nei­ther the air­port nor the coun­cil even know much the ex­ten­sion will in­crease emissions.” “The only ref­er­ence to cli­mate by the air­port to date has been the vi­a­bil­ity of the run­way ex­ten­sion with in­creas­ing sea lev­els and ex­treme weather events. This ig­nores the high health costs to all of us from es­ca­lat­ing emissions as the air­port ex­pects pas­sen­ger num­bers to dou­ble by 2030.” Welling­ton Air­port spokesper­son Greg Thomas, in re­sponse, said: “Pas­sen­ger growth in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion is ex­pected to dou­ble in the next 15 years. Di­rect long haul flights for Welling­ton will make travel more ef­fi­cient as there will be a sin­gle flight com­pared to mul­ti­ple take­offs and land­ings which drive a lot of fuel burn. There is a con­tin­ued move by air­lines to reduce fuel use and green­house gas emissions. You only have to look at the tar­gets set by the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion to see that, which in­clude world­wide: a cap on net avi­a­tion CO2 emissions from 2020 (car­bon-neu­tral growth) and a re­duc­tion in net avi­a­tion CO2 emissions of 50 per cent by 2050, rel­a­tive to 2005 lev­els.”

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