The Heat Is Online

The Independent: Lobbyists Thward Action on Climate

Your Planet: Clouding the atmosphere

One reason why Western governments have been slow to respond to the climate crisis is that they are under constant pressure from lobbying groups that defend the interests of eco-unfriendly industry. Robert Blackhurst identifies a selection of the most influential

The Independent (UK), Sept. 20, 2005

For decades, corporations have known that, if they lobby for their own interests, public opinion won't take them seriously. Whatever their sugar-coated words, we'll be aware that they are speaking not out of public-spiritedness but to protect the share-options of their boards.

That's why companies with a bad press are increasingly keen to use sympathetic organisations to help make their cases. These range from rarefied think-tanks to respectable industry associations ­ either way, they tend to be given a better hearing than a spokesman wearing a corporate logo.

The strategy works. In the US, Exxon Mobil has pumped millions into more than 40 think-tanks, media outlets and consumer, religious and even civil rights groups in order to spread scepticism about climate change. And they have largely won round American public opinion, despite the massive scientific consensus that global warming is man-made. Now big businesses and groups in their pay are fighting back everywhere, with the same techniques ­ of grabbing press attention, rubbishing official reports, and organising publicity stunts ­ that eco-warriors once used against them.

The selection of groups profiled here gives you some idea of how corporate money and politics mix.

THE CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY
http://www.core-online.org

Where are they based?
New York

What do they believe?
... in their inalienable right to burn as much carbon as they like. The Congress for Racial Equality are the " shock troops" of the civil rights movement who played a leading role in the "freedom rides" of the Sixties. Since then, they have taken a sharp rightward turn: they have accepted funding from Exxon Mobil to assist with "global climate outreach". This helps pay for publications such as Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death ­ which pictures a starving African child on a recent cover.

Notorious for...
Staging a counter-demonstration to shout down environmentalists picketing an Exxon Mobil shareholders meeting.

Telling quote
"We all want to protect our planet, but we must stop trying to protect it from minor or illusory threats ­ and doing it on the backs, and the graves, of the world's most powerless and impoverished people." Niger Innis, spokesman

THE COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
http://www.cei.org

Where are they based?
Washington, DC

What do they believe?
... that global warming is a European plot to damage US competitiveness. The CEI ­ funded by Exxon Mobil ­ unleash a torrent of press releases uncovering "flaws" in the work of climatologists who believe in climate change. Alumni from the think-tank now hold important positions within the Bush administration and retain close ties. Leaked memos in 2002 showed that the White House enlisted the CEI's help in discrediting reports released by their own dangerously liberal Environment Protection Agency. Novelist Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park fame) recently launched his latest anti-environmentalist thriller here at the CEI. He was applauded for a narrative in which scientists fabricate evidence of climate change in order to bolster their research grants. The CEI's cowboy boot-wearing director Myron Ebell describes himself as a " farm boy from Oregon".

Notorious for...
A vitriolic campaign against the UK Government's chief scientist Sir David King for his alarmingly conventional views on the causes of global warming. Ebell called Sir David "an alarmist" who knew "nothing about climate change". They also filed a federal lawsuit against a Clinton-era US government report on the impact of climate change on the US, claiming it was poorly researched.

Telling quotes
"Hurricane Katrina might encourage shifts towards more entrepreneurial-friendly policies in Louisiana" (quote on their website) Global Warming can be a good thing. Did you know Yorkshire used to export wine in Roman times?" (Myron Ebell, director, CEI)

THE AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE
www.api.org

Where are they based?Washington, DC

What do they believe?
... that fossil fuels "give us the mobility to enjoy this great land". This is unsurprising, since the Institute is the trade association for the US oil industry. It has sustained a long guerrilla campaign against climate scientists. A memo leaked to the New York Times in 1998 exposed its strategy of investing millions to muddy the science on climate change among "congress, the media and other key audiences".

A parallel organisation during 1990s was the Global Climate Coalition, which was set up by a wider band of professional sceptics from American car, oil and manufacturing industries. Initially, the GCC tried to discredit the mathematical models used to predict climate changes. When the scientific consensus for global warming became overwhelming, it concentrated on making economic arguments against action.

The Global Climate Coalition was so spectacularly successful in lobbying against Kyoto that it was "deactivated" in 2001 ­ its work complete. Before its demise, however, companies including Shell and BP left the coalition, fearing that it was becoming a PR liability. The US Department of Energy is now stuffed with previous employees of the Global Climate Coalition.

Notorious for...
The API recently funded a scientific paper in the journal Climatic Change denying that 20th century temperatures had been unusually high ­ giving well-publicised ammunition to climate sceptics. After finding the paper's methods and assumptions had been flawed, six of the journal's editors resigned.

Telling quotes
"Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public... Victory will be achieved when... recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the 'conventional wisdom'." Extract from leaked memo

THE NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY DEVELOPMENT GROUP
www.whitehouse.gov/energy/

Where are they based?
The Vice President's Office in the White House's West Wing

What do they believe?
... in red-blooded capitalism. The National Energy Policy Development Group is a meeting of Texan oil interests convened by Vice President (and former energy baron) Dick Cheney to lobby for their own interests. For three months, the task force held meetings in private and refused to name the participants. Highly unusually, no minutes were taken of these meetings. However, the non-partisan General Accounting Office sued for access to lists of participants. This yielded the information that executives from the now bankrupt Enron Corp attended at least six meetings. Despite the energy sector's record profits, the task force has agreed to a $20bn handout to oil, coal and nuclear industries, which is now being implemented. They have also contributed to the rollback of more than 200 environmental laws that protect air, rivers and wildlife.

These victories for big business have undergone Orwellian rebranding. The weakening of the Clean Air Act has been labelled Clean Skies. And ancient woodland will be destroyed under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

Notorious for...
Under the group's influence, the US administration announced last August that it would "redefine" carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, so that it would no longer be considered a pollutant and would therefore not be subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION
www.heritage.org

Where are they based?
Washington, DC

What do they believe?
... that the science on global warming is flawed; and even if it isn't, that technology will solve the problem. The Heritage Foundation was founded in the Seventies to provide philosophical justifications for the anti-environmental movement, which it named as the " greatest single threat to the American economy". Funded by Exxon Mobil, it first became influential under Reagan and is now the establishment home of the more persuasive Bush administration climate-change deniers. It confers respectability on the White House's environmental policies through a constant presence on television news shows and on the newspaper opinion pages.

Notorious for...
Boasting that it would "strangle the environmental movement".

Telling quote
"President Bush is right to walk away from the Kyoto Protocol. Considerable uncertainty remains about the science of climate change and mankind's contribution to it."

SCIENTIFIC ALLIANCE
www.scientific-alliance.com

Where are they based?
London

What do they believe?
... that environmentalists use " illogical, emotive and flawed" arguments on everything from GM crops to nuclear power. Scientific Alliance are 200 sceptical scientists who have imported wholesale the views of right-wing think-tanks in the US. On climate change, they quote research from the Competitive Enterprise Institute to argue that Britain should take a "delayed approach". In December, they published a paper in collaboration with the American (Exxon-funded) George C Marshall Institute that emphasised "uncertainties" in the science. A leading member is Philip Stott, Britain's foremost academic scourge of "eco-fundamentalists".

It may not be just the strength of their convictions that unites them. Precise details of their funding remain unclear, but the British Aggregates Association (the "voice of independent UK Quarry Operators") seems to have had a role in establishing the group. Scientific Alliance's distrust of environmentalists fits well with the BAA's long campaign to abolish the aggregates levy ­ an environmental tax ­ levied on quarries.

Notorious for...
At a recent Scientific Alliance conference, a speaker attributed rises in sea-level around Japan not to climate change but to the machinations of the Japanese pineapple industry, which, it was claimed, is causing land to subside by drilling for too much fresh water.

THE EUROPEAN CHEMICALS TRADE ASSOCIATION (CEFIC)
www.cefic.be

Where are they based?
Brussels

What do they believe?
... that the proposed EU chemicals policy on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) would dissolve 2.35 million jobs and result in the whole industry moving to China. The new directive would have reversed the burden of proof ­ forcing companies to prove that chemicals are safe rather than forcing the EU to prove that they are dangerous. However, even though REACH was described as a "text-book example of innovation-friendly regulation", intensive lobbying killed the initiative. CEFIC even managed to enlist trade union support, despite the fact that 3,000 cases of chemical-related occupational asthma are reported in the UK every year.

Notorious for...
CEFIC President Eggbert Voscherau claimed the new chemicals policy would "de-industrialise Europe".

SUPPORTERS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
www.sone.org.uk

Where are they based?
London

What do they believe?
... that Britain should build a new generation of nuclear power stations. There are environmentalists who share this belief, since nuclear power is a carbon-free method of producing electricity. The bulk of the green movement, however, remains hostile to the nuclear industry, largely because of worries about radioactive waste. Hence the need for Supporters of Nuclear Energy, which is led by Baroness Thatcher's terrier-like press spokesman, former consultant for British Nuclear Fuels and self-confessed enemy of environmentalists, Bernard Ingham. The organisation's business address is the Westminster headquarters of the British Nuclear Energy Society, a body set up to promote nuclear power and linked to nuclear companies including BNFL and British Energy.

Notorious for...
Though he denies there is a link with Supporters of Nuclear Energy, Ingham is also the brains behind the anti-windfarm pressure group Country Guardian. He personally claims credit for thwarting 80 per cent of planning applications for windfarms in Britain. Country Guardian were, however, in trouble after their claims debunking wind power, reprinted by a local campaign organisation, were ruled to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Telling quote
"Green energy? It's green tokenism ­ a great invention for unscrupulous politicians who can say: 'look what we're doing about climate change'." (Bernard Ingham, director, Supporters of Nuclear Energy)

SOCIETY OF MOTOR MANUFACTURERS
www.smmt.co.uk

Where are they based?
London (outside the congestion charge zone)

What do they believe?
... an Englishman's SUV is his castle. The Society of Motor Manufacturers remains almost Texan in their reluctance to blame the combustion engine for climate change. When they (fitfully) admit climate change might be happening, they try to shift the blame on to air travel and power stations. "What about other polluters?" their spokesman recently asked, "we need to take a bit of pressure off the motorist". Their lobbying for a reduction in fuel tax and against a levy for higher-emitting vehicles has found a receptive audience in Downing Street.

Notorious for...
In 2001, their campaigns ­ together with the fuel protests ­ scared the Government into giving motorists £2bn in tax breaks.

Telling quote
"I would question your idea that climate change is threatening people's lives... David Bellamy has said it's not happening... he's a very prominent environmentalist." (Nigel Wonnacott, press officer)

THE CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY (CBI)
www.cbi.org.uks

Where are they based?
London

What do they believe?
Though hardly a shadowy lobbying group, the CBI bark whenever they hear mention of environmental regulation. They opposed the Government's fuel-duty escalator and said that the Climate Change Levy ­ a business tax on energy use that would be offset by cuts in corporate National Insurance contributions ­ "played Russian roulette with employment". Environmentalists complain that they misrepresented the levy by portraying it as a straight tax hike ­ rather than a shift in tax from employment to energy. Even though companies responsible for two thirds of GDP would have been net beneficiaries from the tax, they still warned that it would "spell disaster" for manufacturing. Eventually they succeeded in winning a huge rebate and persuading the Treasury to freeze the tax. The CBI's demands for extra airports and more flights as part of the Freedom to Fly Coalition also paid scant attention to green concerns.

Telling quote
"Business is busting a gut to keep up and these people (environmentalists) seem completely oblivious to the whole thing." (Digby Jones, director general)

THE FREEDOM TO FLY COALITION

Where are they based?
Formerly in London, but now defunct after successfully lobbying for more runways in the South East, Midlands and Scotland. Expect them to re-emerge the next time aviation expansion is threatened by planning laws or green taxes.

What do they believe?
... that flying should be cheap for " hard-working families". The Freedom to Fly coalition included the TUC, the CBI and assorted airlines. They were set up to lobby for an expansion of airports in the Aviation White Paper ­ and got everything they wanted. Environmentalists accuse the aviation industry of obtaining concessions from successive Governments that will encourage a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions. They have managed to avoid paying a carbon tax and are exempt from VAT on any aspect of air travel ­ including baggage handling and aircraft meals. Chris Mullin MP said in the House of Commons: "During my 18 undistinguished months as aviation minister, I learnt two lessons about the aviation industry. First, its demands are insatiable; secondly, successive Governments have always given way to them." Environmental groups accuse Freedom to Fly of having a snug relationship with the Labour party and say key members took time off prior to general elections to work at Millbank. Jo Irvin, a former adviser to John Prescott, was its director, and Baroness Dean, a Labour peer, was its chair.

Telling quote
"Flying will become a 'preserve of the elite' unless the capacity crisis is addressed. More passengers than seats will increase fares."

For decades, corporations have known that, if they lobby for their own interests, public opinion won't take them seriously. Whatever their sugar-coated words, we'll be aware that they are speaking not out of public-spiritedness but to protect the share-options of their boards.

That's why companies with a bad press are increasingly keen to use sympathetic organisations to help make their cases. These range from rarefied think-tanks to respectable industry associations ­ either way, they tend to be given a better hearing than a spokesman wearing a corporate logo.

The strategy works. In the US, Exxon Mobil has pumped millions into more than 40 think-tanks, media outlets and consumer, religious and even civil rights groups in order to spread scepticism about climate change. And they have largely won round American public opinion, despite the massive scientific consensus that global warming is man-made. Now big businesses and groups in their pay are fighting back everywhere, with the same techniques ­ of grabbing press attention, rubbishing official reports, and organising publicity stunts ­ that eco-warriors once used against them.

The selection of groups profiled here gives you some idea of how corporate money and politics mix.

Telling quote
"We all want to protect our planet, but we must stop trying to protect it from minor or illusory threats ­ and doing it on the backs, and the graves, of the world's most powerless and impoverished people." Niger Innis, spokesman

THE COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
http://www.cei.org

Where are they based?
Washington, DC

What do they believe?
... that global warming is a European plot to damage US competitiveness. The CEI ­ funded by Exxon Mobil ­ unleash a torrent of press releases uncovering "flaws" in the work of climatologists who believe in climate change. Alumni from the think-tank now hold important positions within the Bush administration and retain close ties. Leaked memos in 2002 showed that the White House enlisted the CEI's help in discrediting reports released by their own dangerously liberal Environment Protection Agency. Novelist Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park fame) recently launched his latest anti-environmentalist thriller here at the CEI. He was applauded for a narrative in which scientists fabricate evidence of climate change in order to bolster their research grants. The CEI's cowboy boot-wearing director Myron Ebell describes himself as a " farm boy from Oregon".

Notorious for...
A vitriolic campaign against the UK Government's chief scientist Sir David King for his alarmingly conventional views on the causes of global warming. Ebell called Sir David "an alarmist" who knew "nothing about climate change". They also filed a federal lawsuit against a Clinton-era US government report on the impact of climate change on the US, claiming it was poorly researched.

Telling quotes
"Hurricane Katrina might encourage shifts towards more entrepreneurial-friendly policies in Louisiana" (quote on their website) Global Warming can be a good thing. Did you know Yorkshire used to export wine in Roman times?" (Myron Ebell, director, CEI)

THE AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE
www.api.org

Where are they based?Washington, DC

What do they believe?
... that fossil fuels "give us the mobility to enjoy this great land". This is unsurprising, since the Institute is the trade association for the US oil industry. It has sustained a long guerrilla campaign against climate scientists. A memo leaked to the New York Times in 1998 exposed its strategy of investing millions to muddy the science on climate change among "congress, the media and other key audiences".

A parallel organisation during 1990s was the Global Climate Coalition, which was set up by a wider band of professional sceptics from American car, oil and manufacturing industries. Initially, the GCC tried to discredit the mathematical models used to predict climate changes. When the scientific consensus for global warming became overwhelming, it concentrated on making economic arguments against action.

The Global Climate Coalition was so spectacularly successful in lobbying against Kyoto that it was "deactivated" in 2001 ­ its work complete. Before its demise, however, companies including Shell and BP left the coalition, fearing that it was becoming a PR liability. The US Department of Energy is now stuffed with previous employees of the Global Climate Coalition.

Notorious for...
The API recently funded a scientific paper in the journal Climatic Change denying that 20th century temperatures had been unusually high ­ giving well-publicised ammunition to climate sceptics. After finding the paper's methods and assumptions had been flawed, six of the journal's editors resigned.

Telling quotes
"Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public... Victory will be achieved when... recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the 'conventional wisdom'." Extract from leaked memo

THE NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY DEVELOPMENT GROUP
www.whitehouse.gov/energy/

Where are they based?
The Vice President's Office in the White House's West Wing

What do they believe?
... in red-blooded capitalism. The National Energy Policy Development Group is a meeting of Texan oil interests convened by Vice President (and former energy baron) Dick Cheney to lobby for their own interests. For three months, the task force held meetings in private and refused to name the participants. Highly unusually, no minutes were taken of these meetings. However, the non-partisan General Accounting Office sued for access to lists of participants. This yielded the information that executives from the now bankrupt Enron Corp attended at least six meetings. Despite the energy sector's record profits, the task force has agreed to a $20bn handout to oil, coal and nuclear industries, which is now being implemented. They have also contributed to the rollback of more than 200 environmental laws that protect air, rivers and wildlife.

These victories for big business have undergone Orwellian rebranding. The weakening of the Clean Air Act has been labelled Clean Skies. And ancient woodland will be destroyed under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

Notorious for...
Under the group's influence, the US administration announced last August that it would "redefine" carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, so that it would no longer be considered a pollutant and would therefore not be subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION
www.heritage.org

Where are they based?
Washington, DC

What do they believe?
... that the science on global warming is flawed; and even if it isn't, that technology will solve the problem. The Heritage Foundation was founded in the Seventies to provide philosophical justifications for the anti-environmental movement, which it named as the " greatest single threat to the American economy". Funded by Exxon Mobil, it first became influential under Reagan and is now the establishment home of the more persuasive Bush administration climate-change deniers. It confers respectability on the White House's environmental policies through a constant presence on television news shows and on the newspaper opinion pages.

Notorious for...
Boasting that it would "strangle the environmental movement".

Telling quote
"President Bush is right to walk away from the Kyoto Protocol. Considerable uncertainty remains about the science of climate change and mankind's contribution to it."

THE CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY
http://www.core-online.org

Where are they based?
New York

What do they believe?
... in their inalienable right to burn as much carbon as they like. The Congress for Racial Equality are the " shock troops" of the civil rights movement who played a leading role in the "freedom rides" of the Sixties. Since then, they have taken a sharp rightward turn: they have accepted funding from Exxon Mobil to assist with "global climate outreach". This helps pay for publications such as Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death ­ which pictures a starving African child on a recent cover.

Notorious for...
Staging a counter-demonstration to shout down environmentalists picketing an Exxon Mobil shareholders meeting.

SCIENTIFIC ALLIANCE
www.scientific-alliance.com

Where are they based?
London

What do they believe?
... that environmentalists use " illogical, emotive and flawed" arguments on everything from GM crops to nuclear power. Scientific Alliance are 200 sceptical scientists who have imported wholesale the views of right-wing think-tanks in the US. On climate change, they quote research from the Competitive Enterprise Institute to argue that Britain should take a "delayed approach". In December, they published a paper in collaboration with the American (Exxon-funded) George C Marshall Institute that emphasised "uncertainties" in the science. A leading member is Philip Stott, Britain's foremost academic scourge of "eco-fundamentalists".

It may not be just the strength of their convictions that unites them. Precise details of their funding remain unclear, but the British Aggregates Association (the "voice of independent UK Quarry Operators") seems to have had a role in establishing the group. Scientific Alliance's distrust of environmentalists fits well with the BAA's long campaign to abolish the aggregates levy ­ an environmental tax ­ levied on quarries.

Notorious for...
At a recent Scientific Alliance conference, a speaker attributed rises in sea-level around Japan not to climate change but to the machinations of the Japanese pineapple industry, which, it was claimed, is causing land to subside by drilling for too much fresh water.

THE EUROPEAN CHEMICALS TRADE ASSOCIATION (CEFIC)
www.cefic.be

Where are they based?
Brussels

What do they believe?
... that the proposed EU chemicals policy on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) would dissolve 2.35 million jobs and result in the whole industry moving to China. The new directive would have reversed the burden of proof ­ forcing companies to prove that chemicals are safe rather than forcing the EU to prove that they are dangerous. However, even though REACH was described as a "text-book example of innovation-friendly regulation", intensive lobbying killed the initiative. CEFIC even managed to enlist trade union support, despite the fact that 3,000 cases of chemical-related occupational asthma are reported in the UK every year.

Notorious for...
CEFIC President Eggbert Voscherau claimed the new chemicals policy would "de-industrialise Europe".

SUPPORTERS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
www.sone.org.uk

Where are they based?
London

What do they believe?
... that Britain should build a new generation of nuclear power stations. There are environmentalists who share this belief, since nuclear power is a carbon-free method of producing electricity. The bulk of the green movement, however, remains hostile to the nuclear industry, largely because of worries about radioactive waste. Hence the need for Supporters of Nuclear Energy, which is led by Baroness Thatcher's terrier-like press spokesman, former consultant for British Nuclear Fuels and self-confessed enemy of environmentalists, Bernard Ingham. The organisation's business address is the Westminster headquarters of the British Nuclear Energy Society, a body set up to promote nuclear power and linked to nuclear companies including BNFL and British Energy.

Notorious for...
Though he denies there is a link with Supporters of Nuclear Energy, Ingham is also the brains behind the anti-windfarm pressure group Country Guardian. He personally claims credit for thwarting 80 per cent of planning applications for windfarms in Britain. Country Guardian were, however, in trouble after their claims debunking wind power, reprinted by a local campaign organisation, were ruled to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Telling quote
"Green energy? It's green tokenism ­ a great invention for unscrupulous politicians who can say: 'look what we're doing about climate change'." (Bernard Ingham, director, Supporters of Nuclear Energy)

SOCIETY OF MOTOR MANUFACTURERS
www.smmt.co.uk

Where are they based?
London (outside the congestion charge zone)

What do they believe?
... an Englishman's SUV is his castle. The Society of Motor Manufacturers remains almost Texan in their reluctance to blame the combustion engine for climate change. When they (fitfully) admit climate change might be happening, they try to shift the blame on to air travel and power stations. "What about other polluters?" their spokesman recently asked, "we need to take a bit of pressure off the motorist". Their lobbying for a reduction in fuel tax and against a levy for higher-emitting vehicles has found a receptive audience in Downing Street.

Notorious for...
In 2001, their campaigns ­ together with the fuel protests ­ scared the Government into giving motorists £2bn in tax breaks.

Telling quote
"I would question your idea that climate change is threatening people's lives... David Bellamy has said it's not happening... he's a very prominent environmentalist." (Nigel Wonnacott, press officer)

THE CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY (CBI)
www.cbi.org.uks

Where are they based?
London

What do they believe?
Though hardly a shadowy lobbying group, the CBI bark whenever they hear mention of environmental regulation. They opposed the Government's fuel-duty escalator and said that the Climate Change Levy ­ a business tax on energy use that would be offset by cuts in corporate National Insurance contributions ­ "played Russian roulette with employment". Environmentalists complain that they misrepresented the levy by portraying it as a straight tax hike ­ rather than a shift in tax from employment to energy. Even though companies responsible for two thirds of GDP would have been net beneficiaries from the tax, they still warned that it would "spell disaster" for manufacturing. Eventually they succeeded in winning a huge rebate and persuading the Treasury to freeze the tax. The CBI's demands for extra airports and more flights as part of the Freedom to Fly Coalition also paid scant attention to green concerns.

Telling quote
"Business is busting a gut to keep up and these people (environmentalists) seem completely oblivious to the whole thing." (Digby Jones, director general)

THE FREEDOM TO FLY COALITION

Where are they based?
Formerly in London, but now defunct after successfully lobbying for more runways in the South East, Midlands and Scotland. Expect them to re-emerge the next time aviation expansion is threatened by planning laws or green taxes.

What do they believe?
... that flying should be cheap for " hard-working families". The Freedom to Fly coalition included the TUC, the CBI and assorted airlines. They were set up to lobby for an expansion of airports in the Aviation White Paper ­ and got everything they wanted. Environmentalists accuse the aviation industry of obtaining concessions from successive Governments that will encourage a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions. They have managed to avoid paying a carbon tax and are exempt from VAT on any aspect of air travel ­ including baggage handling and aircraft meals. Chris Mullin MP said in the House of Commons: "During my 18 undistinguished months as aviation minister, I learnt two lessons about the aviation industry. First, its demands are insatiable; secondly, successive Governments have always given way to them." Environmental groups accuse Freedom to Fly of having a snug relationship with the Labour party and say key members took time off prior to general elections to work at Millbank. Jo Irvin, a former adviser to Joh