Heathrow Airport unveils plans for 'carbon neutral' growth

Heathrow terminal four sunrise photo
CC BY 2.0 Pascal

In an effort to appease critics, the airport is focusing on four key environmental strategies.

Now that the long-simmering fight over a third runway at Heathrow has ended in favor of the airport and—many of us would say—against the idea of climate protection, the authorities at Heathrow are unveiling their plans for how to manage growth and eventually achieve 'carbon neutrality'.

Specifically, the plan will focus on four key areas of emissions reduction/mitigation that include incentivizing low emission aviation technologies like electrification; improving airspace and ground operations to reduce emissions; promoting alternative fuels; and investing in carbon offsets like UK peatland restoration. The airport will also be lobbying the aviation industry to adopt emission reduction targets for 2050.

There are, to be fair, some important and substantive benefits to be had from such work. With commercial electric flight looking like it could really become a thing, the backing of a major airport like Heathrow—which is offering zero landing fees for whoever gets there first—could really help promote that shift. And improving air traffic control and ground operations efficiency should significantly help not only climate emissions, but local air quality too.

But the problem still remains: We need to be reducing emissions as quickly as possible as a society now, not justifying current growth with mitigation plans focused on the future. We TreeHuggers love peat bogs. I'm glad Heathrow is investing in them. But I'm skeptical that any amount of natural system restoration can provide justification for aviation capacity expansion until such a time that truly low emission aviation has become a feasible reality.

In the meantime, more trains please.

Heathrow Airport unveils plans for 'carbon neutral' growth
In an effort to appease critics, the airport is focusing on four key environmental strategies.

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