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CLIMATE CHANGE PROTESTS, LONDON CITY AND THE FUTURE OF FLYING; LONDON CITY AIRPORT Alison FitzGerald, Chief Operating Officer at London City Airport.

Byline: Alison FitzGerald

Events of the past two weeks in London didn't need to happen for businesses like ours, and yours, to understand the seriousness of the climate change challenge. Indeed, many Londoners lasting impression will now be one of disruption and annoyance rather than the cause Extinction Rebellion (XR) promotes.

Before discussing these substantive issues, I must first say thank you to the Metropolitan Police, police from around the country and the British Transport Police who have come together to steadfastly keep London and Londoners moving and, crucially, safe.

XR made London City a target for a three-day shut down but by working closely with the police, we not only kept the airport open but connected 17,000 passengers to and from the Capital. Thankfully, despite some regrettable incidents at the airport, XR actions caused just two cancellations during their day-long protest, which ended 48 hours earlier than planned.

So thank you to the Met and colleagues for your professionalism and tireless support. That service is not taken for granted.

Now while we might disagree about their tactics, it's clear that the need to reduce global carbon emissions is now a mainstream topic of debate. No doubt, Extinction Rebellion have played a part, making these important issues a genuine matter of civic and societal debate.

We are under no illusions. UK aviation industry needs to play its part and we are absolutely alive to the challenge. At City, we have already reduced our own carbon emissions by 30% since 2013 and like other airports, have committed to becoming 'net-zero' by 2050. Meanwhile, our biggest customer, British Airways, part of one of the world's largest airline groups, IAG, has committed to net zero operations in the same period.

Without question, industry and Government needs to work closely together to meet those challenges. But rather than singling out particular industries, I believe we will move the dial by approaching this collaboratively across the globe, across sectors and by embracing innovation. I'm proud to be part of the Government's Future Flight Challenge Advisory Group, which is looking at doing exactly that.

While low carbon solutions for aviation are complex, the prospect of electric aircraft is not pie in the sky. In Norway, right now, Rolls Royce and the Norwegian airline Wideroe are collaborating on producing an electric, zero emission aircraft that could carry 100 passengers by 2030. That means hybrid and electric aircraft will fly first on the shorter routes that are our bread and butter. Readers should be assured that London City Airport is doing all we can to be at the forefront and to lead these changes!

Meanwhile, there are undoubtedly things we can be getting on with in the short term and incremental change really matters. For example, while we invest in new security CT scanners for introduction in 2022, when liquids and laptops can stay in your bag, passengers will still be required to use non-recyclable plastic security bags for their liquids.

We were the first airport to ban plastic straws and we want to be the first airport to develop and use a truly sustainable alternative to plastic bags.

We need your help. That's why we are teaming with City AM, to offer a PS10,000 prize to a local innovator in London if they have or can develop that product.

London City Airport embraces change and innovation and we are looking forward to seeing your solutions.

It is undeniable that uncertain times are upon us, and we need to keep development and innovation firmly and high on the agenda.

PS If you are interested, or want to know more, please email environment@londoncityairport.com

PS10,000 prize to a local innovator if they can develop a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.
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Author:Alison FitzGerald
Publication:City AM (London, England)
Date:Oct 24, 2019
Words:625
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