Gatwick has become the first UK airport to announce that it will be Carbon Neutral: http://www.mediacentre.gatwickairport.com/press-releases/2017/gatwick-becomes-first-uk-airport-to-join-global-renewable-electricity-alliance.aspx.
I have never been a fan of the concept of Carbon Neutrality. The level of certification required to substantiate such a claim makes the Brexit negotiations look like a tea party. All we really want is to reduce emissions, not claim some isolated, innocent status by declaring ourselves Carbon Neutral. The government tried it with Zero Carbon Homes, a scheme now abandoned, but to declare that ‘Gatwick Airport is Carbon Neutral’ – now that is bonkers.
Gatwick Airport plays host to hundreds of thousands of cars, trains, trucks and planes every day; it is an epi-centre for the release into the atmosphere of vast quantities of carbon.. Whilst we need to decarbonise, air travel is an area that no one has a solution for at this time so Gatwick needs others to save carbon on its behalf because it is certainly NOT Carbon Neutral.
To pronounce that Gatwick will achieve this lofty aim by next spring produces a number of very unhelpful effects:
- Many people will think they mean the planes as well, thereby solving an impossible problem by next spring. We need folk to engage with this issue in an informed manner and this does not help.
- Even for those who do not fall for the above, travellers will feel very uncertain that any science is valid. How on earth can Gatwick be Carbon Neutral? It can’t unless you employ some very creative assumptions. For more insight on the dangers of green labels, I’d invite you to watch our recent TEDx talk: ‘Cleantech does not exist’ (see TEDxOxford.co.uk)
- It makes Gatwick look silly. This simply draws attention to a piece of corporate Group Think that expects everyone to believe that you are part of the solution when in fact you embody the problem. Better to acknowledge that you need people like me and the investors and entrepreneurs in New Energy to solve this issue for you. And I believe that we will, which is why I will continue to fly from Gatwick.
Please go ahead and buy some renewable electricity and replace oil with gas; that’s great and I’m all for it. You can put it in your CSR report and announce it all over the terminals. But, Carbon Neutral? No, thank you.