Petition signed by over 167,000 people delivered to the Treasury, urging the Chancellor to ensure airline bailouts demand enhanced environmental commitments
Greenpeace activists today delivered a letter to the Treasury backed by a 167,000 signature petition calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ensure any bailout packaged for the aviation sector included climate-related conditions.
The letter, delivered in the form of a giant paper aeroplane, argues that the bailout and loan packages offered to a number of leading airlines in recent months should include "green strings" that protect workers' rights and result in credible strategies for slashing emissions across the sector.
Specifically, the letter recommends that any bailouts are conditional on moves to "reduce the number of flights to tackle the sector's climate impact without relying on offsetting". It also argues that the "industry has to start paying a fair share of tax, including a Frequent Flier Levy and make sure those who fly the most pay the most".
"With these letters the public joins charities, businesses, MPs and the government's own climate advisors in calling on the Chancellor to put conditions on bailout money," said Sam Chetan-Welsh, a political advisor for Greenpeace UK. "Companies must protect both the workers who supported them, and the climate that supports us all. And yet airlines - some of the most polluting businesses there are - have already been handed almost £2bn in public money without any strings attached.
"All we're asking from the government is to use public money for the public good, not bonuses for polluters. We all know we must cut our carbon, and that means airlines will need to cut flights - subsidising loss-making businesses to keep them polluting is a false economy which we will all pay for."
The intervention comes on the same day as the Committee on Climate Change published its annual progress report, including a raft of recommendations for how to accelerate the UK's decarbonisation efforts through a green recovery programme.
The report argued that bailouts should incorporate some form of climate conditions, highlighting how the French government's support for its aviation industry has included commitments from Air France to phase out some short haul flights and a major green aviation R&D programme. Similarly, the Canadian government has said bailout support is reserved for companies that commit to report on climate risks in line with the guidance from the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
However, the UK government is yet to attach any specific climate-related conditions to the various loans and bailout packages it has provided in recent months.
A number of leading airlines have unveiled long term net zero emissions strategies in recent months, pledging to step up investment in green aviation technologies and expand carbon offsetting schemes.
However, activists have accused the sector of largely opposing proposals to attach firm climate conditions to bailout packages, while in some cases maintaining payouts to shareholders at the same time as requiring staff to take unpaid leave.
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