A plane stupid government

In: Uncategorized

7 Jan 2007

The British government is proving itself “plane stupid” in relation to air travel. Ian Pearson, an environment minister, launched an attack on the airline industry for its attitude to climate change in the Guardian on Friday. He said Ryanair represented “the irresponsible face of capitalism” and said the attitude of the main American airlines was a disgrace.

This is typical posturing from the government. It does not consider the immense economic and human benefits from air travel. Nor does it take into account the relatively minimal impact it has on climate (see my 22 November dispatch). Instead it uses the air travel debate to further its moral crusade aimed at curbing consumption growth. With New Labour in office who needs lobbying groups such as the aptly named Plane Stupid?

Unfortunately the airline industry conceded too much ground to the minister. Michael O’Leary, the head of Ryanair, hit back in a BBC interview saying his airline was “the greenest in Europe”. He accused Pearson of being “silly” while pointing out the power generation and road transport were between them responsible for over 50% of emissions. In other words, he denied that his airline was a problem but accepted the one-sided climate change agenda.