Arms manufacturer joins 10:10 campaign

26/11/2009 Guardian Adding a green sheen to a business is a common strategy for a company seeking to impress its customers, but what if that company makes missiles?Fire away, says the 10:10 climate change campaign. In a potentially controversial move, the campaign has accepted MBDA Missile Systems, a UK-based arms manufacturer, after it pledged to meet the campaign’s single aim – to cut its carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. But 10:10 has rejected Manchester Airport Group. The campaign’s leaders said the decision to accept an arms manufacturer had
caused considerable debate, but it could not exclude an organisation operating lawfully on the grounds of ethical objections to its product. MBDA, which counts BAE Systems as a major shareholder, produces more than 3,000 missiles a year, including the Exocet. It has 10,000 workers employed across four European countries and sells to more than 90 armed forces worldwide.

Franny Armstrong, the campaign’s founder, said: “Of course arms manufacturers can reduce their emissions by 10%. What they do with the rest of their time is a different matter, on which we couldn’t possibly comment. 10:10 is about reducing emissions right across British society, and that means everyone. As long as arms manufacturers are a part of British society, it’s just as important for them to reduce their emissions as it is for the rest of us.”  But Manchester Airport Group’s commitment to increase the number of passengers it serves in coming years was not compatible with 10:10 campaign’s objective to reduce emissions, she said.

The company is the largest UK-owned airport operator and owns Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside airports which, in total, serve, more than 28 million passengers a year. The group says it plans to make its airport buildings “carbon neutral” by 2015. Armstrong said: “Sticking solar panels on the roof and all that is great, but Manchester airport is planning to double passenger numbers in the next 20 years.  So for the first time ever, 10:10 is saying no to a new sign-up. When they’re ready to cut 10% of all emissions – including flights – we’ll welcome them with open arms.”
Manchester Airport Group said it was disappointed by the decision. Yesterday the 10:10 campaign, which is supported by the Guardian and now has almost 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses signed up, achieved a political breakthrough. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said the next Conservative government, should it win the general election, will cut central government emissions by 10% within 12 months of coming to office.

During a speech at Imperial College London, he said: “[We] take inspiration from the excellent 10:10 campaign, which, in the space of just a few months, has seen thousands of families commit to cutting their carbon footprint … [our commitment] will not only be good for the environment, but it’ll save taxpayers £300m a year by cutting energy costs.”

Go to: