Committee on Climate Change says additional policies are needed to keep UK aviation CO2 below 37.5MtCO2 cap
The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice on the level of the 5th carbon budget, covering the period 2028-2032. The CCC states: “While UK demand for international aviation is likely to grow considerably, emissions must be limited. Previous analysis by the Committee concluded that, based on the available evidence, aviation should plan for its emissions in 2050 to be no higher than those in 2005. That requires strong efficiency improvements to balance demand growth of about 60%.” And …” International aviation emissions should not formally be included in carbon budgets at this stage, though carbon budgets should continue to be set on track to a 2050 target inclusive of these emissions. We will provide further advice following the ICAO negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.” (The CO2 emissions from shipping will be included in the 5th carbon budget.) UK aviation CO2 emissions are currently set to overshoot the 37.5MtCO2 level even without any new runways and to be higher still if a runway is added at either Heathrow or Gatwick. The CCC says in a scenario where emissions are not capped and only low ‘carbon abatement’ options (such as technology improvements) are available, aviation emissions could be as high as 51.9 Mt by 2050, underlining the need for policy action to address the gap.
What aviation means for the fifth carbon budget
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official body advising the Government on climate change policy, has today published its advice on the fifth carbon budget, including a restatement of its recommendation that aviation emissions should be no higher in 2050 than in 2005 (37.5 Mt). CO2 from the sector is currently set to overshoot this level even without any new runways and to be higher still if expansion takes place at either Heathrow or Gatwick.
New CCC analysis published today indicates that in a scenario where emissions are not capped and only low ‘carbon abatement’ options (such as technology improvements) are available, aviation emissions could be as high as 51.9 Mt by 2050, underlining the need for policy action to address the gap.
Carbon budgets ensure that the UK is on the right path to deliver the economy-wide 80% emissions reduction required under the Climate Change Act. So far, the Government has consistently adopted and legislated CCC’s advice on the appropriate level of ambition for carbon budgets. The fifth budget will cover emissions from 2028-2032.
Where does aviation fit in the UK climate change plan?
The CCC’s recommendation that carbon budgets must account for emissions from international aviation and shipping is longstanding. To date these emissions have not been formally included in carbon budgets given concerns about the appropriate approach to accounting for emissions from international travel.
The advice published today calls on Government to begin including shipping emissions in carbon budgets, but that “continuing uncertainties in aviation’s accounting within the EU ETS mean inclusion would be impractical at this time”. In the interim, CCC maintains that carbon budgets should continue to allow headroom for the future inclusion of aviation.
AEF supports inclusion of aviation emissions in carbon budgets and we set out some possible approaches for doing so in our response to the CCC’s consultation on its fifth carbon budget. But a continuation by Governbment of the current approach of ensuring that the UK is on course to deliver the long-term emissions target of 80% in a way that includes all sectors, and makes allowance for the future inclusion of aviation, is more important than formal inclusion of aviation emissions in carbon budgets in our view.
CCC recommends that aviation emissions should be no higher than 37.5 Mt in 2050 – the level in 2005 – and that the level of emissions reduction this assumes from other sectors in order to achieve the economy-wide target of an 80% cut is at the limit of what is feasible.
In June this year, the CCC advised the Government to draw up a policy plan for closing the gap between currently forecast aviation emissions and the 37.5 Mt target.
What does this mean for the runway debate?
The Airports Commission, in making its recommendations for a new runway at Heathrow, produced two sets of forecasts. One, the ‘carbon capped’ forecast, assumed that Government continues to act on the CCC’s advice in limiting aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt. The other, the ‘carbon traded’ forecast, ignored any constraint on emissions under the Climate Change Act and assumed that the only action to control UK aviation emissions would be inclusion in an international carbon trading scheme.
Today’s advice from the CCC implies that Government must work on the basis of a ‘carbon capped’ scenario, and that the advice of the Airports Commission to build a new South East runway should be considered in this context.
What do we want Government to do?
The Government will propose draft legislation in response to the CCC’s advice on the Fifth Carbon Budget in 2016. AEF will be asking for Government to implement the CCC’s recommendation to allow headroom for aviation emissions, and to reconsider whether in fact sufficient information either is or will be available to formally include aviation as well as shipping emissions in carbon budgets from 2028.
To demonstrate its commitment to keeping aviation emissions at a level compatible with the Climate Change Act, Government should also set out a detailed policy plan for limiting aviation demand growth to no more than 60% above its level in 2005, in line with CCC’s recommendationof June 2015, and no decisions should be taken to increase South East airport capacity unless it can be shown to be compatible with such a plan.
We’re hoping that the international climate change conference in Paris this December will produce some ambitious long-term commitments. We’re also hoping to see some evidence following the conference that the UK is willing to honour its domestic climate commitments now they are starting to bite. And getting aviation policy right is an important part of this picture.
The government will propose draft legislation for the 5th budget in 2016.
The Committee on Climate Change’s report:
Some extracts from the CCC Fifth Carbon Budget Technical Report:
The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice on the level of the 5th carbon budget, covering the period 2028-2032, as required under Section 4 of the Climate Change Act.
UK emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) covered by carbon budgets were 520 MtCO2e in 2014. This excludes emissions from international aviation and shipping, for which 2014 estimates are not yet available but accounted for 41 MtCO2e in 2013.
(Page 9). Aviation. While UK demand for international aviation is likely to grow considerably, emissions must be limited. Previous analysis by the Committee concluded that, based on the available evidence, aviation should plan for its emissions in 2050 to be no higher than those in 2005. That requires strong efficiency improvements to balance demand growth of about 60%.
(Page 128) • Aviation. Our previous planning assumption for aviation emissions to be around 2005 levels in 2050 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2), allowing an increase in demand of around 60%, remains appropriate. International aviation emissions should not formally be included in carbon budgets at this stage, though carbon budgets should continue to be set on track to a 2050 target inclusive of these emissions. We will provide further advice following the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.
• Shipping. The scope of the budget should be broadened to include international shipping, with an additional 40 MtCO2e added to the fifth carbon budget, reflecting projected emissions on a bunker fuel basis and under currently agreed international policies.
(Page 129). Domestic transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 117 MtCO2e in 2013, accounting for 21% of total UK GHG emissions (Figure 5.1). Within domestic transport, 94% of GHG emissions come from surface transport CO2, the remaining 6% being due to domestic aviation and shipping CO2 and non-CO2 emissions:
Emissions from international aviation and shipping were 41 MtCO2 in 2013. These are not currently formally included in carbon budgets, but are covered by the UK’s 2050 target to reduce emissions by at least 80% relative to 1990.
(Page 150 ) b) Options for decarbonising aviation and shipping
Aviation emissions scenarios
The key drivers of future aviation emissions are demand for air travel and the carbon intensity of flying:
• Demand for air travel. The key drivers of demand will include future GDP growth, and fuel and carbon prices which feed through to ticket prices. Demand for air travel is particularly sensitive to changes in income rather than ticket prices, and will also be affected by the availability of alternatives to air travel (e.g. rail and potentially video conferencing).
• Carbon intensity of flying. There are a range of options available to reduce the carbon intensity of aviation. These include improving the fuel efficiency of aircraft through engine and airframe developments, through efficiency improvements in air traffic management and in airlines’ operational practices, and through use of sustainable biofuels.
In the absence of measures, aviation emissions are likely to continue to increase. In our previous reports111, [Reference 111: For example, see CCC (2009) Meeting the UK aviation target – options for reducing emissions to 2050 and CCC (2012) Scope of carbon budgets: Statutory advice on inclusion of international aviation and shipping] we set out analysis of the path for aviation emissions to 2050. This concluded that appropriate long-term assumptions for Government planning are for aviation emissions to be around 2005 levels in 2050 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2). Under our ‘Likely’ scenario this was achieved through a 0.8% annual improvement in fuel efficiency, 10% take-up of biofuels, and by constraining demand growth to around 60% above 2005 levels in 2050.
For this report we commissioned DfT to model a number of emission scenarios to 2050 to test the achievability of our planning assumption. Our scenarios cover different uptake rates of abatement options:
• Central emissions scenario. Emissions are capped at 37.5 MtCO2 in 2050, in line with our planning assumption.
• High emissions ‘Barriers’ scenario. Emissions are not capped and only low abatement options are available.
• Low emissions ‘Max’ scenario. High abatement options are delivered.
In 2050, the Central scenario meets our planning assumption of 37.5 MtCO2, of which international aviation emissions are 36.2 MtCO2. In the Barriers scenario emissions are higher, at 51.9 MtCO2, and in the Max scenario emissions are lower at 32.6 MtCO2 (Figure 5.5).
Figure 5.5: UK aviation emission scenarios (2010-2050) Source: DfT projections for CCC (2015).
Under our central scenario, which is designed to meet the 2050 planning assumption, emissions would be unaffected by the assumed level of runway capacity. To the extent that additional runway capacity was provided in future, there would need to be less growth in demand and hence emissions at other airports in order to stay within the overall planning assumption (or higher abatement options would have to be delivered).
The key conclusion from our analysis is that our original planning assumption remains appropriate and feasible. In order to achieve this, additional policies will be needed. For example, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is currently developing a market based measure to reduce international aviation emissions and aiming to agree this in autumn 2016. We will monitor the outcome of these talks closely to assess consistency with our planning assumption and provide further advice if necessary.
Inclusion of international aviation emissions in carbon budgets
In principle, emissions from international aviation should be included in carbon budgets unless there are strong practical considerations which prevent this. Where they cannot be included, budgets must be set such that the 2050 target in the Act can be met including these emissions – that has been the approach to date and is continued in this report.
Currently, inclusion of international aviation remains impractical, given the design of the EU ETS for aviation and ongoing uncertainty about how this will be treated in future:
• Given that aviation is included in the EU ETS, accounting rules for carbon budgets suggest that if international aviation is to be included in carbon budgets then it should be on the basis of UK allowances rather than on a gross basis (e.g. bunker fuels). However, the current design of the EU ETS for aviation means that only emissions from flights within Europe are covered. Inclusion on this basis would be unfavourable: it would leave a proportion of emissions outside carbon budgets, and the exact amount of UK emissions to add to carbon budgets and report annually would be unclear given the EU ETS is administered on an airline, rather than Member State, basis.
• ICAO negotiations about a global market-based measure for international aviation emissions are expected to conclude in autumn 2016. At that point the implications for carbon budgets should be assessed, including whether it is practical to include international aviation emissions in carbon budgets or more sensible to continue with formal exclusion, whilst making allowance for the emissions in the way the budget is set.
This approach to international aviation emissions does not affect the level of effort implied by our recommended fifth carbon budget. Whether or not it is included in budgets, our proposals are on a path to meeting the 2050 target with international aviation included.
Domestic aviation emissions could be in the range 1.6-1.8 MtCO2e in 2030, up to a 14% fall 2013 levels, largely reflecting improvements in the fuel efficiency of aircraft. [Domestic aviation and shipping includes military aircraft and shipping]
(Page 170). 6. Delivering the scenarios
To deliver the abatement set out in our Central scenario, action is needed in the near term. The key policy implications of our scenarios are set out below.
Push for successful negotiations to reduce emissions from international aviation and shipping. This should ensure the agreement for international aviation delivers a policy framework consistent with the longer term climate objective, and that cost-effective abatement is incentivised in shipping, such that these sectors contribute to global emissions reduction.
The CCC report: Sectoral scenarios for the Fifth Carbon Budget Technical report. November 2015
Government must curb growing aviation demand to meet CO2 targets, warns climate committee
The Government has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said today. The UK’s official advisory body on delivery of the Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’ to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand.
AEF welcomes the CCC’s intervention as an important reminder of the climate change challenge facing UK aviation today, especially in the context of the airport capacity debate. AEF’s response to the CCC’s call for evidence on the fifth carbon budget highlighted the need for the CCC to reiterate its previous advice on the importance of aviation’s contribution to meeting the UK emissions target and on the need for future passenger demand to be managed.
It is encouraging to see the CCC reinforce this message while calling for the Government to set out a policy framework demonstarting how it will manage aviation emissions.
The CCC’s announcement comes on the eve of the Airports Commission’s recommendation for a where to build a new South East runway. While stopping short of explicitly recommending against the Commission’s findings, CCC cautions that “Decisions taken now need to avoid ‘lock-in’ to high carbon pathways” (p.11 of the summary and recommendations) . Since technological options for tackling aviation emissions are limited and aviation will remain dependent on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, the warning has particular relevance for decisions about airport capacity.
AEF has consistently highlighted the gap in policy for delivering the long-term emissions target for aviation that CCC recommends. With the Airports Commission having so far ducked the question, despite admitting that a new runway will further increase the challenge of limiting aviation CO2 to the target level, CCC has placed the ball firmly back in the Government’s court. Today’s report recommends very specifically that by 2016 the Government should “publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions” that plans for UK 2050 emissions being no higher than 2005 levels (implying around a 60% increase in demand) as well as pushing for strong international and EU policies.
Our report on the climate change impacts of a new runway, published earlier this month, highlighted the scale of the challenge in trying to work South East airport expansion into any convincing policy plan that meets the CCC’s requirements. While in the absence of new airport capacity, the predicted overshoot of the emissions target looks possible to tackle, if expansion was approved at either Heathrow or Gatwick the only options for meeting the target would be draconian restrictions on regional airports or large increases in the cost of flying to manage demand. In reality, we argue, neither approach would be deliverable.
Committee on Climate Change confirm aviation CO2 must remain capped – putting new runway into question
On the eve of the Airports Commission’s runway recommendation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has told Government it has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions. The Government’s official advisory body on delivery of the UK’s Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’ to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand. The CCC says that given the anticipated growth in emissions from the sector, the DfT must set out how it will ensure that emissions from aviation are no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005 (37.5 Mt). The limited scope for improvements in aviation technology mean that demand growth must be kept to no more than 60% above its 2005 level. Current forecasts of air passenger growth with associated CO2 emissions exceed this level EVEN WITHOUT adding a new runway. With a new SE runway the growth in passenger demand – and thus CO2 emissions – would be even higher. Extensive analysis by the AEF has shown that a new runway would make the aviation emissions cap (37.5MtCO2 annually) impossible to achieve. Ruling out a new runway is the most obvious first step for the Government to take in response to the CCC’s advice. Adding a runway, and then having to deal with the extra carbon problem it has produced, is not an efficient way to deal with the issue.