Saturday, May 28

The expansion of El Prat and the (other) political denial

These days we see how Canada beats its records for maximum temperatures day after day. Just six months after we suffered the rigors of Filomena’s cold. “More and more extreme and frequent meteorological phenomena”, as the scientific community tirelessly repeats.

That is why the so-called “climate deniers” are so striking to us, those people who under the encouragement of characters like Trump or Bolsonaro bluntly affirm that climate change is a plot, that scientific reports are bought and that environmentalism wants to dictate the new world order (as an ecologist, I will say that I doubt it a lot…).

But in the face of these characters who border on self-parody, there is another type of climate denialism that is much more dangerous: that of those who verbally express their commitment to reducing emissions, but who do not hesitate to implement policies that move in the opposite direction. The expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport is a good example.

There has been much discussion about the implications that this expansion will have on tourism, employment or the city’s own economic model, which is heavily dependent on the arrival of tourists. It is estimated that four out of every five people who visit Barcelona arrive by plane. The debate has many edges, but there is one that is undoubted: if the capacity of the airport and the number of flights per year increases, greenhouse gas emissions will grow in equal measure.

This aspect does not seem to matter to those responsible for the Government of Spain and the Generalitat, who have seen in the expansion of the airport a path to harmony. At a negotiation table focused on the confrontation for the amnesty and the referendum, El Prat’s work is serving as a bargaining chip to smooth things over. Although this requires overlooking the climatic, social and environmental implications of a transport model based on carbon and kerosene. At the end of the day, it will not be the first time that two administrations agree thanks to a few million-dollar infrastructures in between.

Both parties forget that they have a binding obligation to reduce emissions. In the case of Catalonia, the Parliament expressly promised to “reduce the climatic impact of the mobility it generates”. And the airline sector lacks a short-term plan to mitigate its emissions, beyond carbon offsets (more than doubtful effectiveness and limited scope) or improvements in efficiency per passenger transported (which do not serve in the face of an increase in traffic). demand). By promoting this expansion, Moncloa and Sant Jaume align themselves with climate denialism in an environment that will especially suffer the consequences of extreme weather conditions.

At Greenpeace we have joined the voices that, from the Zeroport Platform, point out the incoherence of expanding a carbon-generating infrastructure in the midst of a climate emergency. We have done it our style, with a powerful visual action next to the slopes, but also with rigor and solutions. Faced with limitless expansion, we propose to take advantage of our underused rail network, to serve as a sustainable alternative to short flights. More trains and fewer planes for a city like Barcelona which, due to its location, must be the railway hub that connects the Peninsula with Europe.

If we have verified something between Madrid and Barcelona, ​​it is that, when the train works as it should, the plane wins the game. That is why we demand that the trains work well (also regional and commuter), that they be affordable for all people and that polluting transport be stopped. Let us not fall into the error of solving with more infrastructures and more pollution what is essentially a problem of management and good work.