By Anthony Gleeson
Alex Mungall is recently retired. Originally he hoped he would be able to fly more often but he discovered something shocking about his favourite hobby. In one year his flying alone had contributed double one person’s entire emissions for the same period. So he pledged not to fly again until the aviation industry did something significant about the emissions they cause.
At a time when flying should be limited, he’s horrified that there’s a plan to expand flying right here in Melbourne. That’s why he’s become an activist against the new third runway proposal for Melbourne Airport.
He currently lives under the Essendon Airport flight path. When planes fly over his home all conversations have to stop, their house shakes and their sleep is disturbed. If this proposal gets approval, it will be larger planes flying over more often and the flight paths will be expanded, impacting even more residents in the west. The new proposal will see them stretch over Williamstown all the way down to the end of the Mornington Peninsula as well as northern suburbs.
Their campaign has focused on educating people under the proposed flight path about what they can expect. It’s well known that people who live under flight paths have negative impacts on both their physical and mental health.
But there’s a bigger picture. Historically, 3.5% of global warming has been attributed to aviation but scientists say that figure is much higher now and citizens from rich world countries contribute most.
Alex realised that the third runway development prospectus did not take into account most of the impact of this fossil fuel driven industry. The airport claims that its development will be carbon neutral but their figures ignore the impact of aircraft in flight. Their proposal only considers landing and take off, while the vast majority of emissions are from the thousands and thousands of kilometres planes fly. It enraged Alex to see a company behave in what he regards as a socially irresponsible way.
Armed with this information, he’s thrown his energy into this campaign focusing on telling the truth about the resultant emissions. Alex became even more frustrated when he found that the airlines were taking no responsibility for reducing their emissions. Apart from a brief period during COVID there has never been a reduction in aviation emissions, rather, they’re on the increase. Plans to create a ‘sustainable’ aviation fuel industry require sugar cane products in vast quantities, at great expense. Airline leaders have said that they cannot do this without government subsidies, but airline fuel is already taxed at one tenth of the cost of the fuel that we put in our cars. Now they want this new fuel to be subsidised to pay for the massive sugar industry to convert to fuel production.
Alex would rather we adopt measures that other countries have taken like taxing the 1% of people who create 50% of aviation emissions through frequent flying, instead of providing ‘middle class welfare’ for them.