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Court Rejects Third Runway for Vienna Airport, Citing Increased GHG Emissions

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Andrew Nash/Wikimedia Commons

(Original text in German/unofficial translation here [2])

Austria’s Federal Administrative Court has rejected plans to build a third runway at Schwechat Airport in Vienna, citing the significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the additional air traffic.

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The project was originally proposed 10 years ago. The latest review featured “detailed examination and consideration of the public interest”, including protection of the public from the impacts of climate change, the court reports.

The three-member administrative panel heard from 28 intervenors, including individuals, community organizations, and the City of Vienna. The Administrative Court release says the decision weighed the greenhouse gas impact of additional air traffic alongside future air travel demand, aviation safety, labour market policy, and a host of environmental considerations, including air quality, noise, impacts on birdwatching, and environmental health.

The judges also reviewed the airport’s plans to reduce emissions on the ground, by installing photovoltaic systems or converting fleets to electric vehicles, but determined they wouldn’t be enough to justify the increase in air traffic.

The international aviation industry has been postponing action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions for more than a decade, even though its emissions are on track [4] to grow 100 to 200% by 2050 from a 2000 baseline. When the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a climate plan at its September, 2016 triennial assembly in Montreal, aviation and climate acknowledged the wide reach of the agreement among ICAO member nations. But they noted [5] that the deal would be voluntary for the first six years—so that the industry won’t be obliged to control its emissions until 2027.