International climate scientists join call to halt Leeds Bradford airport expansion [The Guardian, 04/03/21]

Academics write to Robert Jenrick predicting dire consequences for climate crisis if plans go ahead.

Leading international climate scientists are among more than 200 academics who have written to the government calling on it to halt what they say would be an ecologically destructive expansion of Leeds Bradford airport.

Almost 250 professors, academics and researchers from Leeds University, including two of the lead authors of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, have written to Robert Jenrick, the minister for housing, communities and local government, predicting dire consequences for the climate crisis if the plans go ahead.

They argue the proposals would breach guidelines set out by the Climate Change Committee in its sixth carbon budget, published in December, and make it “much more difficult and costly” for the UK to achieve its net zero climate targets.

Prof Julia Steinberger, a lead author with the IPCC, said: “The Leeds Bradford airport expansion represents a firm commitment to worsening climate breakdown now and in the future … If we want to avoid the worsening of the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, we must ramp down fossil-fuelled sectors.”

The plans for the airport, which would allow passenger numbers to increase from 4 to 7 million a year by 2030, were given conditional approval by Leeds city council last month, despite widespread opposition from local MPs, residents and environmental groups.

Last week the same lawyers who are taking on the government over a proposed new coalmine in Cumbria wrote to Jenrick on behalf of campaigners, asking him to “call in” the decision – a process that would allow the national and international climate ramifications of granting permission for the airport to be considered.

Now scores of climate scientists and academics have added their support, saying the proposals would lead to a huge increase in emissions and undermine the UK’s global standing before the climate conference to be held in Glasgow later this year.

The letter, sent to Jenrick on Thursday, states: “In the year that the UK is hosting the Cop26 conference, it is vital that we show leadership on climate change and take the necessary actions to secure a safe, zero carbon future. We therefore urge you to call in this application so that the issues highlighted are considered in light of national and international climate targets and associated guidance.”

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