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Hamilton Airport 20-year plan misses the boat on climate

Hamilton 350 Committee steering committee member Don McLean spoke at the October 6 meeting of the city’s Airport Committee. The agenda subject matter was a 20 year master plan proposed by the airport’s private operators of the city-owned airport. Among the issues raised by Mr McLean was the very limited attention to climate change in the plan. Despite its promise to address climate mitigation and adaptation, the only specific promises are for adaptation to extreme weather.

McLean asked: “What are the detailed greenhouse emission sources and amounts for Hamilton’s airport?” and recommended that these should be part of Hamilton’s annual reporting of GHG emissions rather than remaining a black hole in that report.” He specifically asked that these numbers “include actual aviation emissions – 50% of the total for each aircraft arriving and/or leaving the airport.” It is likely that the airport is at or near the top of GHG emissions in Hamilton.

McLean suggested consideration of cutting emissions by shifting from planes to rail or electric trucks. He also called for an end to the use of the airport by private jets. He pointed to efforts underway in Europe to do this.”One billionaire damages the climate as much with an eleven-minute flight as several individuals from the poorer part of the world’s population do during their entire lifetime”. Acknowledging that such changes may not be the business model preferred by Tradeport, he reminded the committee that “it is the city that owns the airport and is ultimately responsible for its impacts.”

McLean also pointed to several missing pieces in the masterplan such as any mention of biodiversity or wetlands or the Greenbelt running along the south side of the airport. And the plan also fails to note the severe PFOS contamination on the airport lands that has resulted in fish consumption bans in Lake Niapenco (Binbrook Conservation Area) and along the Welland River.