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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Domestic Aviation emissions are booming while Melbourne Airport plans ignore climate risk management

Growth in domestic transport emissions compared: note aviation emissions growth is well ahead of other transport modes. Source: Charting Update on Australian transport trends (December 2018)

Melbourne Airport Corporation had a drop in session on 13 March at the Hume Global Learning Centre at Broadmeadows. I dropped in to raise that Melbourne airport needs to address aviation emissions growth as part of their business model for airport expansion. This also needs to be dealt with as part of their Risk Management Plan.

My presence sends a signal that Melbourne Airport Corporation need to start to address the issue of airport expansion inducing growth in aviation emissions and non-CO2 climate impact.

Yes, Melbourne Airport is already doing some green infrastructure as part of landside expansion and upgrade to facilities, but this does nothing to address the airside infrastructure expansion inducing aviation emissions growth.

I also asked what business risk management had been undertaken regarding development of an east coast high speed rail network. The Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane flight routes are some of the busiest domestic flight routes globally. A high speed rail network would reduce the need for higher flight capacity and airport expansion. My concern was noted, will be passed on.

The problem of aviation emissions also needs to be addressed at a regulatory level by the Federal Government. So far this has been a failure.

Labor has no answer on constraining aviation emissions

My questions to Mark Butler, the Opposition spokesperson on climate and energy, at a recent forum hosted by Wills Labor MP Peter Khalil, also failed to provide a direct answer on what regulatory restraints would be used to address domestic aviation emissions.

My question actually raised what a Labor Government would do to constrain domestic aviation emissions given airport expansion in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Hobart.

Development of High speed rail is part of the answer, but doesn’t really answer my question about airport expansion that will increase aviation and aviation emissions.

The pitifully low tax on aviation was not raised in my question, or in the response. information on domestic aviation fuel taxation was included in the Climate Action Moreland submission on Melbourne Airport Masterplan:

“One of the issues is the level of taxation of aviation fuel, which gives aviation a cost advantage over ground transportation taxation of fuels and regulation of transport.

“Domestic aviation fuel is only taxed at $0.03556 per litre.

International aviation is excluded from any taxes or charges arising from a prohibition on countries imposing a fuel tax or VAT on international flights from the outdated 1944 Civil Aviation Chicago convention. The ICAO has failed to review and update this. International flying is thus kept artificially cheap, while trains and cars become more expensive.”

Mark Butler detailed the need for east coast high speed train, which is definitely part of the solution, but did not answer the question about how a Federal Labor Government would constrain domestic aviation emissions. Watch his answer:

One-on-one conversation with Melbourne Airport

It was a very polite one on one conversation for over an hour with a member of the Airport Customer Relations team. She could see the relevance of the points I was raising and the conflict with the airports business model. In her career she formerly worked in the wind industry, so was aware that her career move was perhaps a backwards ethical step. That was a bit ironic.

The Runway Development Program will come out later in 2019, with construction expected to start in a couple of years.

I also raised the need for better cycling infrastructure in the airport precinct and connecting routes to the airport. There is already some bike path infrastructure. This is being looked at for expansion. The airport precinct is a major employer so good public transport and cycling infrastructure would actually help reduce transport emissions.

Melbourne Airport Rail Link

The Melbourne Airport rail link was also announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews.

Both governments are putting in $5 billion for the development due to start about 2022 and complete around 2030.

I picked up a leaflet at my one-on-one discussion on the rail link. The route will be from Southern Cross Station to Sunshine, then north along the M80 and the proposed Suburban Circle rail, before turning north to go into the Airport precinct.

There is an opportunity to extend this as high speed rail further north to regional Victoria and Sydney. The airport rail link makes sense being incorporated as part of the proposed Melbourne Suburban rail loop and an east coast high speed rail.

The airport rail link expands access to the airport through sustainable transport. While it is not necessarily good for growth in aviation emissions, the airport is also a major employment hub and a train service could move substantial numbers of workers from polluting car transport to train.

The Climate Action Moreland submission recognised the current economic role of the Melbourne airport precinct in Victoria’s economy and the role of an airport rail link, but would like to see aviation emissions constrained and regulated. Both Premier Andrews and Prime Minister Morrison fail to address the aviation emissions growth problem.

We appreciate the economic activity of businesses operating within the airport precinct contributed $7 billion to the Victorian economy. The airport is a significant employment hub with about 20,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, and many thousands of indirect jobs in the region..

Any regulatory action to limit aviation emissions needs to be phased in to ensure economic activity and employment remains stable. We think there is a problem with Melbourne Airport being a driver of economic growth across Victoria and the rest of Australia, while also allowing its infrastructure expansion to increase aviation emissions exacerbating climate change and substantial costs to the economy from climate related extreme weather events.

Increase in employment opportunities should not come at the expense of increasing the damage to our climate. As Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ICTU, said in Paris at the UN climate Change Conference in 2015: “There are no jobs on a dead planet”.


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