22 September 2006

Methodist Church to host debate on air travel and climate change

Methodist Church House in London will host a public debate on the role of air travel in causing climate change on Thursday 28 September. The announcement comes the day after Richard Branson committed to spend £1.6 billion in profits from his airline to address climate change.

The event is being organised by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), and will feature speakers from the Airport Operators Association, the Aviation Environment Federation and Transport 2000. The meeting is open to all, but those wishing to attend are asked to register their interest with the ECCR.

Yesterday Richard Branson committed to invest £1.6 billion over the next 10 years in renewable energy, the money coming from profits generated by his rail and airline businesses. Air travel is growing thanks to low-cost airlines, but at considerable cost to the environment. The debate will ask if future jet technologies will ease the problem, or if curbs on air travel will be necessary in the future. The debate will bring together speakers from the aviation, corporate and non-profit sectors and an audience of ethical investors, corporate responsibility practitioners, faith groups and other interested parties.

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs, said, 'Richard Branson is to be congratulated for his desire to address climate change. He is right Ð we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels. But we must also accept that if we are to address the challenge that Al Gore has outlined with the film An inconvenient truth we must get serious about setting absolute targets for carbon emissions. Alternative fuels can only play a part.

'Low cost air travel comes at a high cost to the environment. Short haul flights create 4 to 5 times as much carbon as an equivalent journey by train. The reality is that the rapid and continuing growth in air travel is contributing to environmental disaster.'

All are welcome, and those wishing to attend should email miles.litvinoff@eccr.org.uk. The debate will begin at 4:30 on Thursday, 28 September.

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