At least twenty percent of us continue to fly on holiday because we can afford it. And yet air transport is the fastest-growing source of CO2 emissions in our country. As many of the emissions are high in the atmosphere, they have a considerably worse effect than those at ground level. Most flights are for going on holiday; in other words they are unnecessary. Flying for fun is finished. Airport expansion, such as at Heathrow or Leeds-Bradford airports, should be opposed by us if we are serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Some of took part in a recent demonstration at the consultation on the rebuilding of Leeds-Bradford airport: we opposed it. Since aviation spirit bears no tax, the artificial cheapness of flying needs to be mitigated by the rationing of flights for leisure to one a year for each person. Otherwise the glaring injustices of a few people enjoying their time in the air so that they may luxuriate abroad continues to harm over 80% of the world who never fly.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, put it well: “We need to regain the sense that our relationship to the earth is about communion, not consumption.” ‘Consumption’ comes from the Latin ‘consumere’ meaning ‘to destroy’; it was formerly our word for the death-dealing disease of tuberculosis. Yet we have deified consumption as necessary for our way of life. Sadly it will be the death of us too unless we find a cure for it.
According to Parliament, we are now in a climate emergency. Let us recall a previous major emergency about which Winston Churchill spoke. “Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. The era of procrastination, of half measures, or soothing and baffling expedience, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences… We cannot avoid this period. We are in it now.” Christ told us to honour first and foremost the God of love and justice. The weak, whether they be human, fauna or flora are being destroyed unjustly by our thoughtless emissions of carbon dioxide. We are entering a period of consequences: let us remember Churchill’s words and act now.
We are not talking of lifestyle changes but of survival strategies.