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COP26: Stansted Airport Watch launches 'Fly Less' campaign to coincide with UN climate change summit

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Campaign group Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) is urging people to take fewer flights by launching a "Fly Less" campaign on the eve of the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow on Sunday (Oct 31).

The group – formerly Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) – has attached a banner to a footbridge over the A120 approach to the airport between the Birchanger Green and Priory Wood roundabouts. There is also a 'Fly Less' banner near the exit.

They will stay in place for the duration of the 12-day COP26 summit. The campaign is supported by posters and car window stickers.

Brian Ross. SSE. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (52758128)
Brian Ross. SSE. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (52758128)

SAW chairman Brian Ross said: "This is not about telling people that they must not fly or that they cannot have a well-deserved annual family holiday. This is about asking people to try to reduce their carbon footprint.

"The train can often be a realistic alternative to a domestic flight and a Zoom meeting can often avoid the need for a business flight. It doesn't require a huge change in lifestyle to make a meaningful reduction in your carbon footprint."

SAW will also be writing to the chairmen of the FTSE top 100 UK companies, encouraging businesses to play their part by reducing flights. First class and business class flights have a far higher carbon footprint compared to economy class, and private business jets are estimated to be up to ten times more damaging in terms of emissions per passenger kilometre.

Stansted Airport. (52758113)
Stansted Airport. (52758113)

According to 2019 figures, aviation accounts for 9.4% of UK carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and on present trends could be the largest single source of UK CO2 emissions by 2050, says SAW.

Heathrow Airport is already said to be the UK's largest single source of CO2 emissions and Stansted Airport is understood to be the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the East of England, as well as the region's largest single-site employer.

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SAW said: "The difficulty of decarbonising air travel is widely acknowledged and, whilst technological solutions such as electric aircraft might one day be possible, there is no realistic prospect of a technology 'fix' on any meaningful commercial scale until at least the 2040s. Meanwhile, climate change is a 'here and now' issue and urgent action is necessary if we are to avoid irreversible damage.

Fly Less: Stansted Airport Watch's message to A120 motorists approaching the airport from junction 8 of the M11 (52758021)
Fly Less: Stansted Airport Watch's message to A120 motorists approaching the airport from junction 8 of the M11 (52758021)

"The Government's independent Climate Change Committee has called for a slowdown in the level of air travel and a freeze on UK airport expansion until the aviation sector can show a significant reduction in its CO2 emissions. To date, the Government has rejected this call and is putting its faith in technological solutions, at least for the time being.

"There is, however, an added problem because aviation emissions have a warming impact far in excess of that caused by the CO2 alone. The impact of non-CO2 aircraft emissions at high altitudes, caused by warming pollutants such as nitrogen and sulphur oxides, aerosols and water vapour, is estimated to be between two and four times higher than for CO2 emissions alone."

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