Civil aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of human greenhouse gas emissions and airports generate noise, air pollution and traffic congestion. If we take into account radiative forcing (the extra impact of emissions released high in the atmosphere and all greenhouse gases) it is responsible for about 13% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
At the moment we are awaiting a new strategy on aviation from the government, so airport operators are all clamouring to stress the importance of their industry whilst ignoring the environmental, social and economic impacts on communities all over the world. Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans may have been scrapped for the moment, but Birmingham has permission for a runway extension and is receiving large amounts of state aid in order to build it. There is also clamour from every other airport in the country for expansion.
The aviation industry generally is one of the most under-taxed and over-subsidised with the external costs of its actions not accounted for. It is also the one industry where there is no technical fix and it is totally reliant on oil for fuel, as there is no sustainable way of powering planes.