This week, the government unveiled plans for a 200mph high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham International Airport, reducing journey time to just fifty minutes. This has been much to the glee of Conservative politicians, who have pledged to replace the proposed third runway at Heathrow with a high-speed rail network instead. Yet this rail network leads straight to another airport which is to undergo rapid runway expansion. Are they missing something? Or is this just another example of David Cameron cycling to work to boast how “green” he is – with his car following right behind him?
Birmingham International Airport aims to boost its current 9.2 million travellers a year to 27 million by 2030, bringing it almost into the same league as Heathrow’s 66 million. But reports casting light on airport rivalry seem to be missing the issue here. How can a government who facilitates airport expansion – through using a rail link that was to offer an alternative – be committed to reducing carbon emissions?
It’s all very well our government championing themselves for developing transport: nobody doubts the importance of maintaining links with the rest of the world. It’s all very well them striving to provide jobs in a recession. But they remain blind to the elephant lurking in the room. Was the government not paying attention at Copenhagen? Perhaps they are also turning a blind eye to the floods in Bangladesh and drought in sub-Saharan Africa.
The aviation industry is one of the biggest threats to our planet, and time is running out. The Maldives is set to go carbon neutral by 2020, in a desperate bid to save the lives of its 400,000 inhabitants. But not every country has the means to take their fate into their own hands. It is the West’s responsibility, as the cause of this devastation, to deliver aid to these countries.
The Conservative Party could potentially put the environment and the economy on the same agenda: create green jobs, reduce the amount of aid needed for the developing world. They could even attack Brown for giving this transport project the go-ahead. MEP – I still harbour a tenuous hope that this is some kind of prank – and Hitler-sans-moustache Nick Griffin could equally stress the problem of climate change to his brain-washed/dead followers, by looking at the mass influx of asylum seekers we’ll be facing in the next 50 years. Instead he chooses to deny it like it’s the Holocaust or something.
The Tories don’t practice what they preach; in fact, they’re defecating all over it. But they’re not the only ones: politicians, in general, seem to be delaying the urgent action that is required. When will they wake up and see the real crisis we’re in? Gordon Brown actually said in December, “In these few days at Copenhagen, which will be blessed or blamed for generations to come, we cannot permit the politics of narrow self-interest to prevent a policy for human survival.” Funny that.