Back in the heady Big Promise days of 2009/2010, some bright spark came up with the idea that the ground operations of Manchester Airport (lighting, power for the x-ray machines etc but not the actions of the big metal birds that are its raison d’etre) could made ‘carbon neutral’ by 2015. And so a promise was made. Manchester City Council (which owned 55% of Manchester Airports Group, now owns 35%) was VERY good at making climate promises back then. Keeping them? Not so much.
It is 2015. The Manchester Airport Group bods were at full Council last week. There was a blink-and-yer-miss-it reference, ambiguous, to carbon neutrality as an aspiration.
MCFly wrote to the Airport’s Press Office
I was surprised that there was not a proper announcement at today’s Council of just where Manchester Airport is with its much vaunted “carbon neutrality” in its ground operations by 2015 promise.
We will be running a story on Manchester Climate Monthly about this, and would appreciate a statement from you that covers
a) the Airport’s current carbon footprint
b) the progress (or lack of it) over the last 5 years towards carbon neutrality
c) the new date by which the Airport plans to be carbon neutral
d) why the lack of progress was not flagged at the Council meeting today.
We were promised an answer in 24 hours. And, unlike on another occasion, an answer did in fact come.
A Manchester Airport spokesperson said:
“At Manchester Airport we are proud of our environmental record with regards to noise, energy efficiency and carbon reduction and remain committed to being one of the leading airports in Europe on environmental management.
“In our 2015/16 CSR highlights we committed to reducing energy use by 16,000 MWh, by 2020 and to deliver an updated renewable energy strategy, whilst maintaining a carbon neutral operation at Manchester Airport. As our transformation programme progresses, maintaining this neutrality will be a key objective for all involved in the project.”
Manchester Airport Press Office
Part of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG)
So, what do we learn from this?
a) that the spin is feeble.
b) that they are claiming to have achieved ‘carbon neutrality’, but there is NO reference to when and how they did this. A search of the internet finds no such announcement.
So if they DID achieve it, they want to keep very very quiet about it.
Why would that be? Manchester is a city addicted to (empty) boosterism. Could it be because they don’t want to anyone asking awkward questions like
a) did you achieve this neutrality simply by buying loads of (cheap and meaningless) carbon offsets?
b) how much carbon is generated by the expansion of your numbers of flights
c) will “Airport City” ever be carbon neutral?
d) how are you getting on with the nothing-to-landfill promise?
Look, it’ almost certainly too late to avoid 4 degrees of warming. The species is headed for a horrorshow, and will wipe out a vast percentage of the other species by its actions and inactions. The future of civilisation is really in the balance. If you are under about age 40, you are going to see this unfold – or rather, unravel.. If we are to pull through (big if), then we are going to need to have justified trust our institutions and to strengthen our democratic habits.
The actions of Manchester City Council, and the Press Office of Manchester Airports Group are exactly the kinds of behaviour that we, who still (for now) have freedom of assembly/speech/information have to challenge.
So, what to do? You could write to your local councillors (you can find them here).
Ask that they raise the Airport’s obfuscation – both to the Council and to citizens- with the Executive. Ask them to raise it in their Scrutiny Committees.