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Campaigners and Stansted Airport at odds over climate change credentials



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Stansted Airport bosses have seen red over criticism of their green credentials.

Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) – formerly Stop Stansted Expansion – has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), accusing the airport of exaggerating its environmental record.

Brian Ross, chairman of the campaign group, said: "The aviation industry knows full well that its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are a major contributor to climate change but it uses clever PR – greenwashing – to create the impression that aviation is environmentally friendly. It's like the claims made many years ago that smoking is healthy. Eventually, the truth comes out."

Brian Ross, chairman of Stansted Airport Watch (SAW)
Brian Ross, chairman of Stansted Airport Watch (SAW)

He pointed to airport boasts that it is carbon neutral. SAW says it is the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the East of England region and said that rested on "three clever tricks of the PR trade".

He said only the airport building and airside vehicles were measured for that claim and they account for just 1% of the airport's emissions. He said aircraft accounted for 90% of emissions and road traffic taking passengers and freight to and from the airport 9%.

SAW contends that the airport relies on offsetting to meet its targets, but that did not prevent its CO2 contributing to climate change and it accused Stansted of "marking its own homework" because its award for achieving carbon neutral status comes from the ACI, the airports' trade association, part-financed by operators.

Olivier Jankovec, left, director general of ACI Europe, presenting Stansted Airport's carbon accreditation certification to Martin Churley, centre, Stansted's environment manager, and Adam Freeman, right, MAG's environment advisor
Olivier Jankovec, left, director general of ACI Europe, presenting Stansted Airport's carbon accreditation certification to Martin Churley, centre, Stansted's environment manager, and Adam Freeman, right, MAG's environment advisor

However, a Stansted Airport spokesman hit back: "These claims from SAW are an own goal which show how badly they misunderstand carbon reporting and all of the work being done across the UK to reduce aviation emissions.

"Stansted and [its owner] MAG (Manchester Airports Group) has an industry-leading track record in environmental management and reporting. This was again recognised in March when MAG was placed 23rd on the list of Europe's 300 leading companies in the FT's climate change leaders report. This not only put MAG in the top 30 but also made it the top-performing company in the transport category.

"MAG's airport operations are already carbon neutral, and it remains committed to playing its part in achieving the industry's goal of becoming fully net-zero carbon by 2050 and for its own operations no later than 2038.

"MAG is a founding member of the Government's 'Jet Zero Council' launched in summer 2020. The council brings together the Government and the UK aviation industry, helping to shape policy in order to meet the UK aviation industry's net-zero target.

Sam Lomax (left) and Martin Churley (right) of Stansted Airport collecting an International Green Apple Environment Award. Picture: Green Apple
Sam Lomax (left) and Martin Churley (right) of Stansted Airport collecting an International Green Apple Environment Award. Picture: Green Apple

"Last year, MAG published a new five-year corporate social responsibility strategy, Working Together For a Brighter Future, which takes its climate commitments even further.

"It also launched a competition to incentivise the decarbonisation of the wider aviation industry, offering five years' free landing fees, worth more than £1m, to the first airline to operate a zero-emission commercial flight from one of MAG's airports."



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