Methodist Church to host debate on air travel and climate change

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

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

Yesterday Richard Branson committed to invest £1.6 billion over thenext 10 years in renewable energy, the money coming from profitsgenerated by his rail and airline businesses. Air travel is growingthanks to low-cost airlines, but at considerable cost to theenvironment. The debate will ask if future jet technologies willease the problem, or if curbs on air travel will be necessary inthe future. The debate will bring together speakers from theaviation, corporate and non-profit sectors and an audience ofethical investors, corporate responsibility practitioners, faithgroups and other interested parties.

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

'Low cost air travel comes at a high cost to the environment. Shorthaul flights create 4 to 5 times as much carbon as an equivalentjourney by train. The reality is that the rapid and continuinggrowth in air travel is contributing to environmentaldisaster.'

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