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Blair Says Transport Critical To Climate Policy, But Refuses To Back Down On Airport Expansions

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 11:18 PM
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Blair Says Transport Critical To Climate Policy, But Refuses To Back Down On Airport Expansions
When Tony Blair appointed Douglas Alexander to be transport secretary last May, he rightly told him that "transport will be critical to our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions". Yesterday's white paper on government aviation policy suggests that the cabinet's new boy hasn't forgotten. But he hasn't felt able to do much about it either.

It's not hard to see why. Tucked away in the middle of what is billed as a progress report on the 2003 white paper is an admission: voters have "a very strong aspiration to fly more in the future" if they can afford it, if handy regional airports expand and air fares keep tumbling. And they all do.

At the same time, yesterday's report says that 70% of people are now aware that air travel is bad for the environment. If this year's sweaty December hasn't frightened us enough, those flying off to ski on Alpine grass for Christmas will have the connection forcefully rubbed home.

But Mr Alexander has his finger on the national pulse when he signals ministerial determination to carry on avoiding dramatic action to match dramatic evidence of climate change. Labour can claim many worthy incremental green reforms, but only one new mechanism yesterday: the emissions cost assessment, to make sure that the aviation industry pays for its pollution. When Mr Alexander's political mentor, Gordon Brown, delivered his pre-budget report, he put just a fiver's worth of extra tax on most air tickets (the inflight sarnies can cost more). Very pale green.

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