Airlines write to UN Secretary General to say they want governments to set up offsetting for their carbon growth
Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce are among 28 signatories to open letter to the Secretary General of the UN, stressing the need for a carbon market to curb aviation CO2. They say they are committed to curbing the aviation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of a Paris climate deal this December. Their letter says they will not increase net (Note: net not gross) CO2 emissions from aviation after 2020 and halve them compared to 2005 by 2050. These cuts would in practice not be made by actually reducing the amount of CO2 aviation emits, but by buying credits from other sectors that actually reduce their carbon. To do this, they need to agree a carbon market at the 2016 summit of UN aviation authority, ICAO. The design of a “market mechanism” (system of trading carbon) to offset emissions by investing in low carbon development projects is behind schedule. The aviation industry is keen to be seen to be doing something, though internal divisions within ICAO mean agreeing anything that would actually be effective in limiting the sector’s carbon emissions. They still hope to be able to cut emissions by a few % by use of biofuels, though this is not looking promising. Though the letter is a start, global aviation needs much more ambition, and it cannot rely on offsets indefinitely. See also critique of offsetting for carbon cuts.
Airlines commit to climate action ahead of Paris
30.9.2015 (Climate Home)
Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce among signatories to open letter pledging a carbon market to curb aviation emissions
By Megan Darby
Aviation industry leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to curbing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of a Paris climate deal.
Chiefs of Boeing, Airbus and Rolls-Royce were among 28 signatories to an open letter published on Wednesday, pledging to stabilise emissions from 2020 and halve them by 2050 from a 2005 baseline.
To hit those targets, they emphasised the need to agree a carbon market at the 2016 summit of UN aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
They wrote: “It’s a challenging task. But it is one to which the aviation industry is fully committed.”
Representing more than 90% of airline traffic worldwide, nearly a trillion dollars of annual revenue and 4 million employees, the organisations called on governments to support their goals.
Michael Gill, head of the Air Transport Action Group which coordinated the letter, said: “This is an influential set of business leaders adding their voice to those supporting climate action in the lead-up to the COP21 negotiations in Paris and one year ahead of aviation’s own climate deadline.”
The industry aims to meet rising demand for flights without increasing emissions from 2020 onwards.
That will involve increasing fuel efficiency, developing biofuels and offsetting any emissions growth that cannot be avoided.
Yet industry figures have warned the design of a market mechanism to offset emissions by investing in low carbon development projects is behind schedule.
WWF-UK aviation specialist James Beard said: “There are key decisions that still need to be taken on the ICAO market-based measure, including what sorts of offsets and biofuels will be allowed. It’s crucial that these decisions are fair for all countries and promote sustainable development.
“The target of carbon neutral growth from 2020 is a start but much more ambition will be needed. The aviation industry cannot rely on offsets indefinitely. It must pull its weight on both reducing emissions and providing climate finance for developing countries.”
The letter from ATAG
to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the head of the UNFCCC and the French Government delegation leading the COP21 talks in Paris. :
One year ahead of the 39th International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly and as governments prepare to meet in Paris for the crucial COP 21 climate change negotiations, the aviation industry reaffirms its commitment to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change.
As a result of billions of dollars of investment and collaborative action already taken by the industry, a passenger today produces half the carbon dioxide per kilometre flown compared to 1990. [Since then the low cost airlines have sprung up, with higher load factors. AW note]
This is significant progress. But we recognise that more needs to be done.
Many economies rightly wish to foster the vital connectivity for trade, investment and tourism that further development of air transport can bring. We must balance that task with the challenge faced by all industrial sectors to reduce emissions.
As leaders in the aviation industry and the global business community and as the first global transport sector to set carbon-reduction goals, we have been engaged in impressive cross-sectoral climate action.
Our ambitious goals are to:
1. improve the fuel efficiency of the world fleet by an average 1.5 per cent a year, a goal we are already exceeding;
2. stabilise net aviation CO2 emissions at 2020 levels through carbon-neutral growth; [ie. trading with other sectors which actually do cut carbon emissions. AW note]
3. halve aviation’s net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared with a 2005 baseline. [By carbon trading with other sectors, while the emissions from aviation itself grow perhaps three-fold. AW note].
These have been matched by action across the sector in four key areas: over $1tn of new technology aircraft have entered the fleet alongside advances in sustainable alternative fuels; operations; infrastructure; [all these things have been done by the industry in order to save costs and boost profits – not to cut carbon emissions, which is sometimes a useful additional gain. AW note. ] and the development of a global market-based measure.
Today we call on governments to support efforts towards realising these goals. This support must take place through a range of actions: air traffic management investment and reform; continued support for research into new technology, operations and sustainable alternative fuels; improved intermodal transport planning; and the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.
Importantly, we have just one year in which to shape a groundbreaking market-based measure that will, for the first time, enable a single global sector to stabilise its emissions from 2020. It is a challenging task. But it is one to which the aviation industry is fully committed.
We need governments meeting at ICAO to work together with us and civil society to push this process forward. We call on them to agree at the 39th ICAO Assembly to the implementation of a simple, global offsetting scheme which will stabilise air transport carbon emissions growth and to endorse a historic global CO2 standard for new aircraft. To delay will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.
For the full explanation of our commitments and examples of climate action across the sector, please visit: www.enviro.aero/openletter
President and CEO, Airbus
Patrick de Castelbajac
Raymond L Conner
President and CEO, Boeing Commercial
President, Bombardier Commercial
President and CEO, CFM International
President and CEO, Embraer Commercial
David L Joyce
President and CEO, GE Aviation
President and CEO, Honeywell Aerospace
President, Pratt & Whitney
President — Aerospace, Rolls-Royce
Director-general, Airports Council International
Director-general, Civil Air Navigation
Director-general and CEO, International Air
David F Melcher
Chair, International Coordinating Council of
Aerospace Industries Associations
Director-general, International Business
Peter J Bunce
President and CEO, General Aviation
Dr Elijah Chingosho
Secretary-general, African Airlines
Nicholas E Calio
President and CEO, Airlines for
Abdul Wahab Teffaha
Secretary-general, Arab Air Carriers
Director-general, Association of
Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA)
Athar Husian Khan
CEO, Association of European
CEO, European Business Aviation
Secretary-general, European Low Fares
Airlines Association (ELFAA)
Director-general, European Regions
Airline Association (ERA)
Director-general, International Air
Carriers Association (IACA)
President and CEO, Latin American and
Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA)
Executive Director, Air Transport Action Group
The speech by Michael Gill, of ATAG
which is long and wordy, but basically says the industry is vital for the world and governments should work with it to find ways in which it can continue to grow, but its carbon emissions can be traded with other sectors. And they have to get governments to do this, so the aviation sector can keep growing. Every possible action, other than actually emitting less carbon overall, in coming years ……..
…. with extracts like:
… “The Open Letter from industry has been sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the head of the UNFCCC and the French Government delegation leading the COP21 talks in Paris. Over the next few weeks it will also be sent to governments around the world.”
…. “united in a common position that industry and governments must work together to solve this issue.”
… “We are a heavily regulated sector. And to fully realise the potential for efficiency measures we will need governments to step up and commit too.”
… “t must take place through a range of actions: air traffic management investment and reform; continued support for research into new technology, operations and sustainable alternative fuels; improved intermodal transport planning; and the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.” [In reality, there are virtually no “biofuels” that aviation could use which could not equally be used by other terrestrial uses, or which don’t compete more or less directly with land used for human food, or food fed to animals to feed people].
…. “we need governments meeting at the 39th ICAO Assembly to endorse the implementation of a simple, global offsetting scheme which will stabilise air transport carbon emissions growth. Failure to agree will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.”
“Powerful call for Government partnership to deliver aviation industry’s climate goals”
GENEVA, 30 September 2015 – A group of 28 aviation industry chief executive officers and association leaders has today sent an open letter to governments committing to climate action and calling for a joint approach to help deliver maximum CO2 emissions reductions in the aviation sector. In particular, the industry group urged action to approve a meaningful market-based measure for aviation emissions, expected to be agreed by governments at a meeting of the United Nations specialised aviation agency in one year’s time.
Aviation was the first transport sector which set global goals to proactively manage its climate change impact, in 2008. These goals include capping net CO2 emissions from 2020 through a global market-based measure being developed at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a longer-term goal to reduce net CO2 emissions from aviation to half of 2005 levels, by 2050.
Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry coalition Air Transport Action Group which coordinated the letter said: “This is an influential set of business leaders adding their voice to those supporting climate action in the lead-up to the COP21 negotiations in Paris and one year ahead of aviation’s own climate deadline – the 39th ICAO Assembly. We are urging governments to back industry and civil society efforts to deliver this market-based measure.”
“Since we set the goals, the aviation sector has been actively undertaking fuel efficiency projects through the deployment of over a trillion dollars of new technology, improved operational procedures and moving towards more advanced infrastructure. However, government regulation and national political environments prevent us from fully influencing our own future. [???] Today’s letter urges government action in five key areas to complement the significant action already taking place within the industry.”
The letter says that to maximise already impressive aviation action, “government support must take place through a range of actions: air traffic management investment and reform; continued support for research into new technology, operations and sustainable alternative fuels; improved intermodal transport planning; the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for airlines; and to agree at the 39th ICAO Assembly to both the implementation of a simple, global offsetting scheme which will stabilise air transport carbon emissions growth and to endorse an historic global CO2 standard for new aircraft. To delay will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.”
Whilst Michael Gill says the industry believes the development of the global market-based measure is progressing well, “we have to ensure that the timelines do not slip and that the current positive momentum is not lost. Aviation has a distinct timeframe from the broader climate negotiations being undertaken at the UNFCCC. A progressive outcome in Paris would certainly help deliver a meaningful result at ICAO next September, but let’s not wait until after December for the aviation talks to proceed.”
The open letter, 60 days before the crucial COP21 climate talks in Paris, was signed by the chief executives of all the world’s major aircraft and engine manufacturers and leaders of associations representing over 90% of airline traffic; 1,861 airports and air traffic management organisations supporting 85% of traffic. In total, the organisations represent businesses with nearly a trillion dollars in annual revenue and over four million employees worldwide. The industry has been meeting with government and civil society representatives at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Airlines call on governments to sign aviation emissions deal
- EU proposes more time for long-haul airlines to cut CO2
- Airlines reject carbon trading ‘windfall profit’ claims
- Cheap carbon offsets could strengthen aviation emissions goals
Tom Burke article exposes the fallacy of hoping carbon pricing will lower CO2 emissions
The aviation industry is reluctantly realising it needs to cut its carbon emissions, and work is under way, through ICAO, on a “market based measure” by which the industry could pay for carbon emissions. This, like the EU ETS, would be by being able to buy carbon permits from other sectors which had managed to make actual carbon cuts. A hard-hitting article from Tom Burke casts serious doubt on whether this sort of carbon pricing and trading could ever work effectively. He fears many high carbon industries pay lip-service to the concept, in the full knowledge that it will never work sufficiently well to curtail their activities, and it delays the need for any real action. He says: “The intent is to create the impression of an industry in favour of urgent action whilst actually slowing that action down”…. [with the carbon price remaining too low] … “If only governments were brave enough to put the carbon price up higher and faster, they will lament, we would get there sooner. This is hocus-pocus. They know full well governments will be deeply reluctant to put up consumers’ bills.” … “There is no chance that the world will agree on a global price for carbon in the forty years we have to keep the climate safe…. Their purpose is clear, to set a trap for unwary policy makers and environmentalists. Shame on those who fall into it.”
Green skies for aviation industry behind schedule
Deadline to set up offset mechanism at UN’s aviation body meet in 2016 will be missed, delaying action on climate
By Alex Pashley
As passengers numbers soar and new carriers crisscross the skies, the aviation industry aims to achieve “carbon-neutral growth” from 2020.
It has a voluntary goal to halve emissions from 2005 levels by mid-century. The sector’s carbon footprint is equivalent to the seventh largest country in the world.
But a key tool in crimping airlines’ emissions will miss a deadline to be adopted at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) next meet in 2016, according to an official involved in proposals.
Andreas Hardeman, deputy assistant director at the International Air Transport Association, told the Carbon Expo in Barcelona on Thursday an offsetting mechanism wouldn’t be ready by the triennial conference.
“Will there be a fully developed scheme in time for ICAO? No. There has been a lot of progress but there’s still a lot of work to be done next year to get states and operators ready to take this on,” he said.
Under the proposals, from 2020 airlines will have to offset emissions growth with carbon credits that direct investment to CO2-reducing projects: a wind farm in Nepal, for example.
The industry favours a market-based mechanism as the most effective way to regulate emissions.
At present, only flights within the European Economic Area airspace are subject to any kind of carbon charge, being included in the EU’s emissions trading system.
Proposals to extend that to air links with non-EU destinations were dropped after a backlash from other countries.
As a result, all eyes are on the ICAO scheme to deliver a more comprehensive plan for emissions.
Megan Flynn, who leads Qantas’ carbon strategy, said with four years until plans took effect it was “never intended that we would have the t’s crossed and i’s dotted by the ICAO assembly”.
Eight percent of the Australian carrier’s passengers voluntary offset their journeys, she said, making it the airline with the largest uptake. Over 30 IATA member airlines have introduced an offset program either integrated into their web-sales engines or to a third party offset provider.
Aviation accounts for about 2% of global greenhouse emissions, and 13% of those from transportation.
Around 3.1 billion people take flights a year, three times the number that flew 30 years ago. What’s more, that could triple again by 2050.
But at world climate talks, aviation emissions fall into no man’s land.
“Aviation is an international sector like very few sectors,” Niclas Svenningsen at the UN’s climate change body said. “It’s not explicitly included in the UNFCCC process.”
Emissions, visibly etched into the sky in the form of condensed trails, are difficult to regulate belonging to all and none.
Kat Watts at Carbon Market Watch told RTCC with the political will of countries and industry there was “no reason most of the market’s modalities couldn’t be agreed in 2016″.
“A key issue will be the agreement of strong eligibility criteria so that credits used represent real emissions reductions and don’t cause environmental and social harm,” she added.