EasyJet launched 12 new domestic air routes in the UK on Thursday, a decision criticized by environmental activists that is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions.
The airline said routes, which will include Birmingham to Newquay for £ 22.99, less than 200 miles, as well as Liverpool to Bournemouth at £ 22.99 and Manchester to Edinburgh at £ 30.00, as well as Belfast and the Channel Islands, were in response. to passenger demand following travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the new routes were served by other airlines, including Stobart Air, which recently went bankrupt.
Most of them are feasible by train, but rail operators charge much higher prices. The government will make reductions in air passenger fees on domestic flights, which will make flying even cheaper compared to train travel.
The UK government’s position is in stark contrast to that of France, which bans flights where a train journey lasting less than 2.5 hours is available.
John Sauven, CEO of Greenpeace UK, said the move showed the government was not taking seriously its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035, which they have been key commitments in the run-up to Cop26. UN Climate Talks in Glasgow this November.
He said: “Domestic flights have long been a symbol of how our economic system encourages our own destruction. Companies like easyJet claim they take sustainability seriously, but their announcement of 12 new domestic routes shows that they will not prioritize the health of our planet over their profits until they are forced to do so by law. The UK government claims to be a climate leader, but is considering lowering taxes on domestic flights even though they are cheaper than train fares on many routes. What does it take for ministers to understand that carbon reduction targets cannot be achieved without carbon reduction policies? “
Activists have warned that a number of recent government actions appear to undermine the UK’s green commitments ahead of Cop26, including a proposed new coal mine in Cumbria, scrapping the green housing subsidy isolation program, slashing of the incentives for electric cars and the cut in foreign aid, which experts say undermined the UK’s credibility at the G7 summit, where the weather was a major issue.
An easyJet spokesperson said: “The new routes that will operate this summer have been introduced in response to the demand we are seeing for domestic air travel in the UK and, as with all our flights, we offset all carbon emissions from the fuel. used for them. “
He said the company was also using more efficient aircraft and “supporting the development of radical new technologies to achieve zero-emission flights in the future, which we are committed to transitioning to as soon as they become available.”
However, these technologies are likely decades away, and green activists point out that carbon production in the next 10 years will be crucial. Scientists calculate that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 to have a chance of staying below 1.5 ° C of global warming.
EasyJet has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of government cash schemes to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic, borrowing around £ 2bn from the public purse. The ministers refused to put “green strings” on the cash to ensure that recipients met environmental goals, as some other governments have done.
Sauven said: “The pandemic has put the UK government firmly in charge of the aviation industry as it now needs huge amounts of public money to survive. They have decided to rebuild the failed high-carbon frequent flyer model at our expense without imposing any conditions on airlines that would make them slightly less costly to the environment. Supporting unnecessarily polluting airlines will further undermine our credibility at the Glasgow climate summit. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism