July 2023: Doctor spends two weeks on hunger strike as Newham council approaches crucial decision on London City Airport expansion.

Posted by: Chris - Posted on:

Dr Cliff Kendall spent two weeks on hunger strike in July in opposition to airport expansion and private jets. On 10th July he demonstrated outside Stratford Town Hall whilst Newham Council’s Strategic Development Committee came to a decision on London City Airport’s future. They had applied to expand from 6.5 million passengers per year to 9 million per year, and to extend opening hours [1]. This application was thankfully rejected, unanimously, by the council largely on noise grounds. Climate change was not permitted to be used as a reason for the rejection, which seemed to baffle several councillors, due to case law arising from recent Bristol Airport legal cases. [2]
Photos and videos

Dr Kendall was supported on his hunger strike at London City Airport by other health professionals. On Saturday 8th July they commemorated the dead from the 3 year Horn of Africa drought with flowers, and rang a bell every 48 seconds, the same frequency that deaths have been occurring in the area [3], according to Oxfam. The drought shows no sign of abating [4]. Dr. Kendall has worked in South Africa, Ethiopia,and Nigeria, including in malnutrition centres. His placard reads  ‘Hunger Strike to End Airport Expansion and Ban Private Jets’, and he also carries a banner that reads ‘2 week fast in solidarity with drought victims. UK emissions may cause more child mortalities in the Horn of Africa than war caused in Ukraine. Do we really need private jets?

In response to London City Airport’s expansion request, Newham, which has previously been called ‘the most polluted borough in the UK’, [5] received well over 1000 letters of objection, including from 7 councils, 6 MPs, and the London Assembly Environment Committee [6][See Endnotes]. These objections most commonly referenced air and noise pollution and the climate emergency. They received just 71 letters of support, one of which was from Lufthansa. Given such strong objections, council officers have been recommended to refuse this[7]. Notably this application runs counter to the Climate Change Committee’s assessment, as part of its June 2023 report to parliament, that ‘there should be no net airport expansion across the UK’[8]

It also comes at a time of increasing protests at private jet terminals. In November 2022 there were protests at private jet terminals in 13 countries [9], and again in 3 countries in February 2023 [10]. In May 100 activists blocked private flights at Geneva, and entry to Europe’s flagship business jet event[11].

London City Airport promotes ‘an exclusive private jet centre near Canary Wharf and the City of London’.[12] 1926 private jets departed from the airport in 2022, causing 6899 tonnes of emissions, and 4991 private jets arrived [See EndNotes]. Assuming a similar emissions level from the arriving jets, this is as much as 3 million return tickets on the Eurostar from London to Paris. By contrast, Schiphol, the main airport of Amsterdam, is planning to ban private jets, as well as downsize the airport [13].

Private jets are up to 14 times more polluting than normal planes, and over 300 times more polluting than the Eurostar[14][15]. They are so polluting that a one-way private jet flight between London City Airport and Rome creates more planet-heating greenhouse gases than four Somali citizens would in their entire lifetime [See EndNotes]. Private jet flights are usually chartered by the super rich, who, on average, produce 13 times more greenhouse gas pollution than the average UK citizen, and 30 times more than our planet can cope with.[16] and 17]. Bill Gates, the Murdoch family, Pitbull (18) Kylie and Kendall Jenner (19, 20), Taylor Swift (21) and other celebrities have been widely criticised for their private jet use in the last 12 months.

Dr Kendall said ‘The super-rich have for too long had a free pass to pollute our planet. For our own safety we must find ways to limit the harm they cause.’

London City Airport claims that it will hit Net zero by 2030, but its target only accounts for 5% of its total emissions when you include the flights that take off and land, and passenger and staff commutes to and from the airport [22]. In essence, it is committing to reduce its emissions by 5% by 2030.

Dr Kendall said: “I trained to be a doctor to help get patients through dangerous times. But the context I trained in is becoming dated, as the money we spend on complex tests and procedures seems disproportionate to the amount put towards prevention. Yet we spend time debating luxuries like private jets, when the basics aren’t met for so many. Hunger has more than doubled in some of the areas of Africa I’ve worked in. I’m going to stop eating for 2 weeks (again) because attempts at sensible conversation aren’t moving things forward. I hope this might be part of the silliness that gets noticed

Contact for interview:
Cliff Kendall: 07305 023099
Chris: chris@doctorsforxr.com | 07715469737

Essay by Dr Cliff Kendal entitled: Wealth, responsibilities, and why taking a stand against private jets is important

Notes for editors
Dr Cliff Kendall is an NHS medical doctor working at Aintree Hospital in Liverpool. He has previously done a 2 week hunger strike at the government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department (BEIS), covered in the Times here.

Dr Kendall is part of a group of Health for Extinction Rebellion, which is a group of over 1250 health professionals taking various actions, including non-violent direct action, to help raise public awareness of the health impacts of climate change, and raise support for climate-friendly policies.

Horn of Africa drought: The Horn of Africa comprises Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. It has suffered 2 and a half years of poor rainfall, a sequence of events which was made 100 times more likely due to climate change.[link] 43,000 people have died in Somalia alone, half of these children under 5, though it should be acknowledged that the country has also been destabilised by years of armed conflict, significantly compounding the issue. This compares to around 1000 children killed or injured in Ukraine as of October 2022.[link]

1. London City Airport expansion bid rejected by councillors over noise pollution fears | Evening Standard | July 2023
2. Expansion: Is Bristol Airport Big Enough? | Safe Landing | May 2023
3. Dangerous delay 2: the cost of inaction | Oxfam | May 2022
4. Drought and food insecurity in the greater Horn of Africa | World Health Organisation | Last updated June 27th 2023
5. Newham named as the most polluted borough in the UK | Newham Recorder | Dec 2023
6. Newham Council Planning Application Documents for London City Airport 22/03045/VAR
7. Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise | HACAN | Accessed July 2023
8. 2023 Progress Report to Parliament | The Climate Change Committee | June 2023
9. Climate activists in at least 13 countries protest private jets | NBC news | November 2022
10. Activists block private jet terminals around the world to protest ‘super rich mega polluters’ | Euronews Green | February 2023
11. Climate protests over private jets disrupt Geneva Airport flights | Reuters | May 2023
12. Private Jet Centre at London City Airport website | accessed July 2nd 2023
13. This Dutch Airport Wants to Ban Private Jets | Time | May 2023
14. Private jets: can the super-rich supercharge zero-emission aviation? Transport and Aviation | May 2021
15. Carbon Footprint of Travel per Kilometre | Our World in Data | Accessed July 2023
16. COP26: Emissions of rich put climate goals at risk- study | BBC | September 2021
17. Per capita CO2 emissions 2021 | Our World In Data | Accessed July 2023
18. Bill Gates, the Murdochs, Pitbull: Which celebs take the most private jet flights?| Euronews Green | February 2023
19. A 17-minute flight? The super-rich who have ‘absolute disregard for the planet’ | Guardian | July 2022
20. FEELING JENNER-OUS? Kylie Jenner ‘lends sister Kendall her $72m private jet’ after backlash for urging fans to donate to friend’s GoFundMe | The Sun | March 2021
21. Kylie’s 17-Minute Flight Has Nothing on the 170 Trips Taylor Swift’s Private Jets Took This Year | Rolling Stone | August 2022
22. Above and Beyond: Our Roadmap to a Sustainable Future | London City Airport 

Objections given to Newham Council
All objections listed on this website: 544 objections in the public comments section and over 200 objection notes in the documents section, including several multiple objections from 438, 224 and 82 people.
6 MPs – Apsana Begum MP, Janet Daby MP, Matthew Pennycock MP, Helen Hayes MP, John Cryer MP, Sir Stephen Timms MP
7 Councils: Redbridge Council, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, HaveringHackney, Lewisham

Private Correspondence with CE Delft (2nd-3rd July 2023)
Questions asked relating to the report: CO2 emissions of private aviation in Europe
1. How many private flights left London City Airport in 2022?
2. How many tonnes of CO2e did that cause?

1. According to the Cirium data, 1.926 flights have departed from London City Airport in 2022 (round flights departing and arriving on London City Airport have not been taken into account). What might be interesting additional information, is that the two routes that have been flown on the most, departing from London City Airport, are the routes between London City Airport and Rotterdam The Hague Airport (146 flights) and the route between London City Airport and Paris Le Bourget Airport (104 flights). On both routes, there is a direct train connection.
2. The departed flights from London City Airport add up to 6,899 tonnes of CO2 emissions. I cannot give you the CO2e’s, as we have only calculated the CO2 emissions of the flights.
I have also taken a look at the number of flights that arrive at London City Airport, which is 4,991 flights according to the Cirium data. We do not have an explanation of the large difference between arrival and departure flights, as we did not check the data on airport level.

Carbon and lifetime emissions calculations
Emissions of London City Airport Private Jets and comparisons
i) Approximate emissions per flight = 6899/1926 = 3.582 tonnes CO2
ii) Approximate CO2 emissions of incoming and outgoing flights = (1926 + 4991) * 3.582 = 24777 tonnes CO2
iii) Eurostar London to Paris CO2 emissions = 4kg CO21
iv) Number of London to Paris trips possible with 24777 tonnes = 24777000/4 = 6194000
v) Number of return trips London to Paris = 6194000/2 = 3,097,000 return trips

Private Jet to Rome is 4* a Somali citizen’s lifetime emissions calculation

i) Somali average per capita emissions = 0.04 tonnes CO2e (Our World in Data2)
ii) Somali average lifetime = 55.3 years ( Wikipedia3)
iii) Somail average lifetime emissions = 0.04 * 55.3 = 2.212 tonnes CO2e
iv) London to Rome flight time = 2 hours 17 minutes (Travelmath.com4)
v) Most used private jet burns 857 litres of jet fuel per hour (BBC5)
vi) London to Rome flight burns (21760 * 857) = 1957 litres of jet fuel
vii) *2.52 to get kg of CO2e and *1.9 to take into account high altitude effect (BBC4)
viii) 1957*2.52*1.9 = 9369 kg of CO2e = 9.368 tonnes of CO2e
ix) 9.3682.212 = 4.235 total lifetime emissions of a Somali citizen

1) All about emissions | Eurostar website | Accessed July 2023
2) Per capita CO2 emissions 2021 | Our World In Data | Accessed July 2023
3) List of African countries by life expectancy | Wikipedia | Accessed July 2023
4) Travelmath.com | London to Rome
5) COP26: What’s the climate impact of private jets? | BBC | November 2021

1 reply on “July 2023: Doctor spends two weeks on hunger strike as Newham council approaches crucial decision on London City Airport expansion.”

  • I live and grew up in Newham. We have to do everything we can to protect our community. The east has always been seen as a dumping ground for toxic industries. Let’s stop that!

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