Flights from Heathrow’s third runway will emit same greenhouse gas emissions as Kenya

Flights from Heathrow’s third runway will emit same greenhouse gas emissions as Kenya

Date: 15 January 2009

Flights from the new third runway at Heathrow will produce the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as Kenya every year according to figures from the World Development Movement.

Benedict Southworth, director of the World Development Movement said:

“The government says it is serious about tackling climate change; but in the same breath, they give the thumbs up to a new runway at Heathrow. This is a real let down and shows the government up to be all mouth and no trousers when it comes to climate change. The government is relinquishing any claim to credibility or leadership on action against climate change. They talk tough, but aren’t delivering. The government is blaming the economic crisis for their decision but they are forgetting that there is a climate crisis that needs urgent action.

“The number of flights leaving Heathrow will nearly double as a result of this expansion, creating a huge increase in climate damaging emissions. The fact that flights from the new runway will emit the same annual amount of carbon as Kenya is appalling, as the country has a population of nearly 40 million people. The injustice is that most people in the developing world have a tiny carbon footprint, but they will be hit worst by climate change.

“The government’s claim that increases in emissions from aviation will be dealt with through carbon trading in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is a red herring. There are so many loopholes in the scheme, it is virtually meaningless. There is a great deal of evidence already which predicts that the price of carbon is too low and that it will have little effect in reducing emissions from aviation.


To organise an interview (ISDN available) or for more information, please contact Kate Blagojevic on 0207 820 4900/4913.

Notes to Editors

  • WDM estimates that with the introduction of a third runway, Heathrow’s annual CO2 emissions from flying will increase by 11.7 million tonnes of CO2.
  • WDM has estimated that the 11.7 million tonnes figure through the predicted increase in passenger numbers from the third runway, and the current passenger numbers and CO2 emissions for UK aviation as a whole.
  • The information on increased passenger activity due to a third runway was from a written parliamentary answer by Merron Gillian (16 May 2007).
  • This is almost the same as the whole of Kenya’s annual CO2 output. Kenya’s current CO2 emissions are 11 million tonnes of CO2

Figures are available from Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) version 6.0. (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 2009). Available at

  • The World Development Movement campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty. WDM believes that charity is not enough and aims to change the policies that keep the developing world poor. It is a democratic and politically independent organisation with 15,000 supporters and 70 local groups across the UK. For more information, go to

Kate Blagojevic
Press officer, World Development Movement
0207 820 4900/4913, 07711 875 345, Email: [email protected]