DIRTY JET TRAVEL
© Ross Coster (October 2015)
Jet travel is the most carbon-intensive way to move people and freight around the world.
While, for a trip overseas, Australians will continue to use aircraft as the primary vehicle (although cruise ships are fun!), travelling in planes inside Australia must be reduced over time if we are to achieve carbon emission reductions.
In 2012, 689 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted from planes worldwide – representing 2% of all human carbon emissions.
If air travel continues to grow at the predicted rate, it could contribute a considerably higher proportion by 2050.
Alternative fuels for planes are possible, including biofuels (that displace food crops), and hydrogen (that would require a completely new fleet of planes and massive infrastructure to make, transport and store liquid hydrogen), but until these fuels are developed, aircraft will continue to burn irreplaceable dinosaur juice (oil).
Like all exponential curves, the growth in air travel cannot continue forever.
The graph below (shamelessly stolen from the BCC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z2h66sg) shows growth to now and predicted in the future.
We, as a Nation, must do what we can to flatten and eventually reduce this growth.
The Australian Government tells us that Sydney needs a 'second' airport to handle growth in passenger numbers. This is simply not true, as growth in passenger numbers at Mascot has been handled for many years by bigger planes.
We are also told that all this growth is good for us, because it is all about international tourism. This is also not true, as 70% of the passengers in and out of Mascot are travelling to and from domestic destinations.
If we were to build the East Coast High Speed Rail (myfavourite potential infrastructure project), we could reduce passenger numbers at Mascot by 50% and eliminate the need for a 'second' airport in Sydney forever.
Whenever the Australian Government, or any State Government, is looking at a new project sold to them by spruikers, they need to include carbon emissions in their evaluation of the project.
Building another airport, locking us all into flying everywhere forever, is thinking from the 1970's, not from the 21st Century.
The infrastructure being planned now for Badgerys Creek Airport includes:
- Widening the Northern Road from Penrith to Narellan to 6 lanes
- Building a new Motorway (the M12) from the Northern Road to the M7 parallel to Elizabeth Drive
- Relocating the Northern Road around Luddenham to make way for the runways
- Building huge 'clover leaf' interchanges to link the M12 to the M7 and the Northern Road
- NO railway line to the new Airport, just an easement for one in case it is ever needed!
All of this is intended to assist packing another 500,000 people into Western Sydney, building massive industrial areas and new suburbs around the Airport, moving everything and everybody by truck and car, all in the chase for economic growth and jobs.
When will our Politicians and Planners accept that endless growth is not possible in a finite world?
When will we stop building projects that assume endless supplies of oil and coal, when we all know these are finite resources that we should not be burning?
When will we start building sustainable alternatives to all this silliness?