The Toronto Port Authority’s Environmental Assessment and Climate Change
As late as this time last year, Canada’s record in tackling greenhouse gas emissions was better than Iran’s, Kazakhstan’s and Saudi Arabia’s. That accomplishment placed us 55th out 58 in the list of countries studied.
Since the federal government has done little on the file, a simple step Canadians could take is to act locally. One necessary step that Toronto should take is to closely examine the need for an expanded airport within the context of climate change. To that end, Brian Iler, Chairman, CommunityAIR, cites a UK study that looks at the airline industry and emissions contributing to climate change. See below for Brian’s note on the study.
Brian Iler writes:
UK’s Aviation Environment Federation has issued a briefing note expressing concern that greenhouse gas reduction targets cannot be met if airports are allowed to expand.
Here’s an excerpt:
Today, aviation takes up around 6% of UK emissions and the proportion is forecast to increase. The Airports Commission’s analysis suggests that emissions may breach the aviation cap even without expanding capacity. Building a new runway would lock in future increases in CO2 emissions through significant investment in carbon-intensive infrastructure.
Canada is far behind the UK in establishing limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And so far, the focus in Canada has, of necessity, been on the tar sands.
But, as we consider whether the hundreds of millions of dollars projected to be invested to extend the Island Airport’s runway is an appropriate, climate change policy must surely be part of the discussion.
As yet, that has not happened.
But it could start right here, right now. As the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) debuts its environmental assessment on December 9, it is the perfect opportunity for the TPA to include consideration of the quantity of climate change gases its expanded airport will contribute annually.In an ideal world, the Toronto Port Authority would reflect on the additional burden it is willing to subject our atmosphere to through airport expansion. Then the TPA would use that information to shape its decision. After all the TPA claims ‘Do No Harm’ is its watchword when it comes to the expansion.
However, it’s difficult to hold out much hope that the Toronto Port Authority will go along with the idea. For one thing, as of December 1, the TPA has yet to respond to the question asked at an information session held in mid-November.
The question: Can the project name be changed to “BBTCA Runway Expansion and Jets EA”?
The name change means the the Toronto Port Authority would agree to include jet activity in its environmental assessment. One week before the first public meeting and the TPA hasn’t responded. In short, the TPA hasn’t committed to including jet activity in its environmental assessment. The likelihood is that the TPA won’t.
For one thing, the TPA’s Number one tenant Porter Airlines touts the ‘greenness’ of the CS100, the airlines’ plane of choice. So, if the jet is as green as it’s purported to be and if the CS100 is the only kind using the airport, why bother? For another thing, history shows that for the TPA the TPA’s self-interest comes first.
The Toronto Port Authority has a choice. It can take Porter Airlines greenwashing of the CS100. After all, the airport improvement fees generated primarily by Porter Airlines passengers have put the TPA in the black financially. Conversely, the Toronto Port Authority can include jet aircraft emissions, including those of other jets that will qualify to use the airport, as part of its environmental assessment.
Wouldn’t that be something!