green policy Archives | Human Aquarium

Leeds Climate Emergency | what next?

By Humanadmin

Article written by Lucy Meredith, founder of the Human Aquarium.

So, a few weeks ago, the Leeds Climate Emergency committee meeting happened. In case you didn’t know, Leeds has declared a Climate Emergency. And the fact that steps are being taken to deal with the climate crisis in Leeds is a very positive thing. So I decided to go along and find out what was happening. And apologies for my delay in sharing but there was a lot of things to process! These are my general musings on it…

The Discussion

On the whole, we had a wide ranging discussion about transport. They discussed less cars, better buses & trains, and cheaper more reliable transport. Also the general need to improve the infrastructure of Leeds as a City. Also Leeds now has a Citizens’ Jury of 25 Leeds folks picked from over 1000. This is a diverse group who will make decisions on how Leeds will deal with the climate emergency as far as I could grasp. And, you know what, I think that this is an exciting and positive thing for Leeds. Yes to local people having power in what happens in Leeds. So I’m looking forward to hearing how this project progresses.

Leeds and Bradford Airport Expansion

What really caught my attention was the Leeds Bradford Airport’s expansion plan discussion. And a few questions came to mind. How come an expansion plan is still on the table? Aren’t we in a climate emergency here? It turns out that Emissions from planes were not included in the Leeds Climate CO2 figures. And apparently national Government don’t count them either! So who does count them? Surely Government needs to update its CO2 regulations to include this?

More about Leeds/Bradford Airport proposed expansion.

There were two speakers who came to talk about the airport. First was the CEO of Leeds Bradford Airport, Howell Rees. who skilfully avoided the elephant in the room, by taking an economic stance. He talked about the issue from the point of view of his 500 employees. Well I guess this is a fair point. Except, we will not need jobs on an un-liveable planet. He went on to talk about offsetting as a solution. Well sorry, but at this stage we all know planting trees just isn’t gonna cut it! 

The thing that made me chuckle the most was when he spoke about ‘Cultural Offset’. He seemed to believe that flying international students in to study at Leeds Universities somehow cancels out the huge carbon footprint. Again this is a tricky situation but surely its time stop beating around the bush. And actually deal with the fact that the airport needs to reduce its carbon footprint by reducing the number of flights. The CEO of LBA promptly left after his ‘talk’. This was frustrating as there was no time for listeners to question him, which to be honest seemed too convenient.

This means that he didn’t hear the second speaker Jefim Vogel, a PHD researcher in Ecological Economics from Leeds University. Jefim spoke very eloquently about how this expansion would be a climate disaster. Even more than that, he told us that if the airport usage was not reduced significantly (and soon), then we will be looking at a disaster situation within our lifetime. His message was frighteningly clear. Details about what Jefim had to say about this in ‘The Conversation’ here.

He addressed the issue from every angle and basically wiped the floor with every ‘Yes but…’ question levelled at him. The unwavering point is that Leeds must reduce its Carbon Footprint significantly there is no way around this fact.

A few Common questions.

What about people’s jobs? We need to scale down jobs slowly and think about the new jobs that are being created in sustainability and green energy. Also industries were warned that this would happen ages ago and should have been preparing for this for years, its industry that needs to change.

Can’t we just plant trees? NO we are much too far past the point where planting trees will make any significant dent 

What about using new carbon low technology? Again no these technologies are too far off to have an effect when change is needed now.

Won’t people just fly from other airports if Leeds reduces flights?Why should Leeds do it if other won’t? Maybe but if you were standing in front of a burning house with a bucket of water would you wait til someone else threw one before you did? or would you just get on with it? Why can’t we be proud that Leeds could be a city that actually leads on tackling climate change!

Why should people give up their one holiday abroad a year because we shouldn’t be flying? Basically stats show that 70% of the flights taken in the UK in 2014 were taken by 15% of the population. So really, this service is targeting frequent flyers and encouraging people to cut down on ‘luxury flights’ obviously in our current state of emergency it would be great if everyone stopped or reduced their flights but the main focus is on the frequent flyers.

Things we can TRY to do that will help…

Stop flying or fly less (have Skype meetings instead)

Go Vegan (or cut down on meat & diary)

Walk, Cycle or use public Transport (rather than drive all the time)

Change to a Green energy company

Recycle/Reuse/Refuse

Conclusion…

Now I am no expert and I absolutely do not have all the answers. I say this before I get trolled for being a self-righteous, tree hugging, liberal, snowflake, ‘uncooperative crusty’______( insert appropriate insult).  But it’s time to admit the truth. This shit just got real and it’s time for everyone to get involved in some capacity. If you want to know more read this article. And it’s not about telling people off and need to change. It’s about putting pressure on the council to take action. Why not find out for yourself and make an informed choice about Climate Emergency?

I will leave you with these two quotes from prominent young female climate activists.

“I think that young people sense the urgency. These adults don’t really have to live with the problem of climate change, and young people have to deal with it for the rest of their lives,”

Isra Hirsi


“If our house was falling apart you wouldn’t fly around the world in business class chatting about how the market would solve everything, with clever small solutions to specific isolated problems. You wouldn’t talk about buying and building your way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things.”

Greta Thurnberg