Expanding Heathrow Airport Won’t Create A ‘Global Warming Machine.’ That’s Ridiculous

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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U.K. lawmakers’ approval of a third runway at Heathrow Airport in London puts an end to years of debate over a project that became a rallying point for global warming activists across the western world.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose expanding Heathrow, including increased noise, air pollution, the demolishing of homes. But using the airport’s expansion as a rallying cry for global warming activism misses the forest for the trees.

Britons debated the Heathrow expansion for years with many environmental activists citing climate concerns as a reason to oppose the $18.5 billion project. Heathrow’s third runway became like the U.S.’s Keystone XL pipeline in terms of advocacy and linking it with the utter destruction of the planet.

Opponents often cited a Committee on Climate Change claiming the U.K. would miss its greenhouse gas emissions targets if the Heathrow expansion went through. Environmentalists also pointed out that flying emits way more emissions than alternate forms of transportation.

For example, “[f]lying one person from London to New York and back generates roughly the same carbon dioxide emissions as the average EU citizen does heating their home over an entire year,” The Independent noted.

“A vote for a new Heathrow runway is a vote for more climate change, more air pollution and more noise,” Greenpeace UK policy director Doug Parr said ahead of the vote on Monday.

Prominent U.S. environmental activist Bill McKibben — notorious for his role in the Keystone XL pipeline protests — claimed the Heathrow expansion would create “a global warming machine, full stop” from the extra air traffic directed to London.

However, environmentalists seemed to be missing the broader point about global warming — it’s global. While they worked to keep Heathrow from expanding, China unveiled plans to build 100 new airports by 2020. (RELATED: Rick Perry Rules Out Using Strategic Oil Reserves To Alleviate High Gas Prices)

University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr. noted China’s plans to build out its civilian air transport network that were announced more than a decade ago.

Currently, China is adding 74 new civilian airports to its ever-growing airport network. Those new additions will bring the total to about 260 airports across the country by 2020. Officials expect the number of air passengers to hit 720 million by that year, according to China Daily.

So, what would have more of an impact on the climate? A new runway at Heathrow or 100 new airports in China?

The answer is obvious, and China isn’t the only country developing and adding airports. However, environmentalists’ insistence on stopping development in Europe and North America ultimately has no impact on the broader global warming they worry so much about.

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