John Gummer’s “Quality of Life” policy proposals, at least as outlined in the Daily Mail, are hugely damaging and counter-productive. He proposes a moratorium on airport expansion, giving credence to the absurd green prejudice against aviation.
Even if we accept the increasingly discredited theory that CO2 causes global warming, the fact is that the airline industry creates only 2% of man-made global CO2 emissions (and therefore only 0.12% of total CO2 emissions — including natural emissions). The fact is that power generation, and surface transportation, and the car industry, and even agriculture, all produce more emissions than aviation.
Gummer apparently ignores the fact that the airline industry, and especially jet engine firms like Rolls Royce in my own East Midlands region, have made huge strides in increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, as have airframe makers. Both Boeing and Airbus are launching new, lighter aircraft made with carbon-fibre, which are much more efficient. These sandal-wearing green crusaders like Gummer and Goldsmith seem to have forgotten that AvGas is a major cost for airlines, and there is the strongest possible commercial motivation to reduce consumption and increase efficiency.
Our airports are already bursting at the seams. If Gummer’s proposals were put in place, Britain’s economic competitiveness would be under threat. Our vital financial services industry would be put at risk. We would be well on the way to the green’s real objective of rolling back the industrial revolution and destroying capitalism. Britain could look forward to becoming an agrarian economy where every man survived on one acre and a cow.
The idea that domestic slots at our airports should be switched to long-haul flights is profoundly un-Conservative and discouraging. Conservatives do not believe in micro-managing industries. Instead perhaps we should look at auctioning slots, and letting the market achieve a balance between long and short-haul. Equally, Conservatives don’t rush to raise taxes for social engineering or environmental tinkering. Redwood is right in principle to call for lower taxes. We must not let Gummer undo all his good work by raising green taxes.
I personally believe that climate change is driven by natural forces that are largely cyclical, and that CO2 is irrelevant. But if Gummer cares about CO2, there is one solution that is staring him in the face, and will save far more CO2 than his proposals ever will: a solution which, based on news reports so far, he seems to have ignored. We need to start building more nuclear capacity. And we need to do so now.
Thank heaven that at least we’ve had a raft of sensible, workable, Conservative ideas from IDS on social policy and Redwood on the economy. And we can look forward to Stephen Dorrell’s report on public services, which is rumoured to contain a very positive “big idea” on school choice.