“No new airports” protest at parliament

New Zealand Aviation Growth Needs Curbing Now – Protesting The Airports Authority Annual Briefing

Tuesday, 28 March 2023, 10:04 pm – Sustainable Tarras Inc.

A small collective of people will be braving the southerly front in Wellington today, protesting outside Parliament (Tuesday, March 28 at 5pm) to draw attention to the greenwash of the aviation industry as ministers meet with members of New Zealand Airport Association from around New Zealand.

Following in the footsteps of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, the aviation sector has adopted similar tactics to maintain their social licence to grow. By using self appointed claims of zero emissions aviation (Air New Zealand) and industry accredited climate positive airport status (Christchurch Airport), airlines and airport authorities are investing significantly in greenwashing tactics which distract from their real performance. As the industry with the highest sector growth in emissions and few signs of achieving even a reduction in absolute emissions in the time of a climate crisis, we have two straight forward requests for the government:

1. place a moratorium on all new airports and airport expansions until the aviation industry demonstrates a clear path of rapid decarbonisation

2. urgently ramp up investment in inter-regional public transport, centred around trunk rail routes to reduce high emissions car and plane trips.

Suze Keith, representing Sustainable Tarras, says “I am here to ask the government to halt the development of a greenfield international airport in Tarras, Central Otago. Our government is invested in both airports and our national airline, and as we experience a climate crisis, we cannot reconcile the expansion of the aviation industry with New Zealand’s stated goal of 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 – less than seven years away. In New Zealand aviation emissions from CO2 alone account for 12% of all our CO2 emissions and if we incorporate other harmful airplane emissions, this could double its warming impact”.

Paul Callister, of the group Save Our Trains, says “All over the world there is a revival of passenger rail, including night trains. New Zealand stands out with its lack of affordable low emission travel options.

“The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report gives us yet another warning that we need to rapidly and dramatically reduce emissions. For domestic travel, trains are an already proven technology with low energy requirements and very low emissions.”

Sustainable Tarras Petition to Parliament: https://petitions.parliament.nz/a1e919f3-82d4-4056-9b36-7c330e2d2ff2

Fact sheet on Aotearoa New Zealand’s aviation emissions

  • Air travel is responsible for 12% of our gross CO2 emissions
  • We are ranked 6th in the world for aviation emissions, at 1 tonne CO2 per person – 10 times the world average
  • There is no excise tax on jet fuel
  • International flights are not subject to GST or the ETS and are not in the carbon budgets
  • Domestic aviation emissions per person are 8 times higher than Germany and the UK
  • Many of our airports are expanding to provide for continuous growth
  • Technological solutions for zero-emission flight are speculative and far off
  • Burning oil at high altitude is three times as damaging as burning it on the ground
  • Most of the environmental damage from flying is caused by a small number of very frequent flyers

Reference: Paul Callister and Robert McLachlan, Managing New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, Victoria University of Wellington, 2022.