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Euphoric backslapping ignored concerns about airline industry

PUBLISHED: 15:05 09 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:39 07 September 2010

By Walter Roberts The euphoric backslapping in the corridors having now subsided, the delegates to the climate summit at Bali will find it easier slapping paint on a well oiled surface and making it stick than putting flesh on the bones of the treaty just

By Walter Roberts

The euphoric backslapping in the corridors having now subsided, the delegates to the climate summit at Bali will find it easier slapping paint on a well oiled surface and making it stick than putting flesh on the bones of the treaty just signed. And like the Kyoto Protocol which peters out in 2012, it will also have failed to factor in carbon emissions from international flights and shipping.

But carbon emissions aside, a golden opportunity has also been missed by governments to discuss what direction appropriation of the rapidly dwindling oil resources has to take to minimise the potentially catastrophic collapse of the airline industry 25 years hence or sooner. How indeed are they going to convince the proletariat or for that matter the lumpenproletariat who have had enough of the rhetoric spouting from the movers and shakers of such conferences that the end is nigh for the airline industry when the shock and awe of climate change itself has been drained by the excess of its topicality? It can rightly be said that carbon emissions are the flip side of resources being depleted and that the public will only take note when organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth who have weighed with hefty anchors in the seething polemic of climate change become party to a procrustean effort to save it.

Nothing less than dire action is required, so let's start by reverting to utilitarianism - where air travel at least is concerned - by laying the framework for annual air travel quotas and heavier taxation at ports of entry on an incremental scale for subsequent air travel to limit the wayfarer's charter drastically by curbing the frenzied gallivanting of globetrotters worldwide. World governments should knuckle down and wring out a comprehensive, corporate plan, egalitarian in concept which will benefit all peoples on earth to ensure that future generations will still be able to travel by air for the forseeable future at least before the oil runs out.

Over in Estoril, Portugal the Annual Conference of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) had taken place in November. How ironical that its members had been lending a keen ear to what distinguished broadcaster and academic; Professor Laurie Taylor had to say about travel broadening one's horizons. Stirring stuff indeed. Had the delegates of the climate summit in Bali been present they would have shifted rather uncomfortably in their seats. AITO of course will not be disappointed this winter when thousands jet off to sunnier climes in ever increasing numbers; the allure of these places having risen sharply thanks to the proliferation of travel programmes hosted by sultry agent provocateurs. A damning indictment of the sometimes destructive effect wrought by mass media but yet again its pointless turning the screw as the damage has been done.

Many, many years ago when I was very young a well-heeled Thraso had let slip in conversation that he had travelled the world and my riposte was an unhesitating "Wow". Today my response will be a muted "You don't say" for I know fully well in years to come, though we'll still be singing Auld Lang Syne, in truth we might well have bid our last farewells to loved ones and relatives on the other side of the world.

Walter Roberts

Henfield Close, London N19

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