Letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC – to Grayling on “Aviation 2050” the DfT’s aviation strategy green paper

In a letter to Chris Grayling, dated 12th February, Lord Deben provides the Committee on Climate Change’s views on the current aviation strategy green paper consultation, Aviation 2050 – The future of UK aviation.  [the aviation green paper]. He says “You will be aware that my Committee has been asked by Ministers to offer advice on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK’s statutory framework, including when ‘net-zero’ emissions can be achieved. A stronger UK target would require more effort from all sectors, including aviation. We intend to provide an updated view on the appropriate long-term ambition for aviation emissions within our advice on the UK’s long-term targets. We will publish our report in spring. Following that, we will write to you directly to set out the implications for the Aviation Strategy.”  It also says: “The final white paper should further clarify that this will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits.”  And “Achieving aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels in 2050 will require contributions from all parts of the aviation sector,… It will also require steps to limit growth in demand. In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term.”  Read the whole letter. 
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From
Lord Deben
Chairman, The Committee on Climate Change
7 Holbein Place,
London SW1W 8NR
| Tel: 020 7591 6080
| www.theccc.org.uk |
@theCCCuk
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To
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The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR
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 12 February 2019
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Aviation 2050 – The future of UK aviation 
Dear Secretary of State,
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I am writing to you to provide my Committee’s views on your recently published consultation, Aviation 2050 – The future of UK aviation.  [the aviation green paper]
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The UK’s currently legislated 2050 target is to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels. Since the Climate Change Act became law, the UK has ratified the Paris Agreement, implying even stronger action. You will be aware that my Committee has been asked by Ministers to offer advice on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK’s statutory framework, including when ‘net-zero’ emissions can be achieved. A stronger UK target would require more effort from all sectors, including aviation. We intend to provide an updated view on the appropriate long-term ambition for aviation emissions within our advice on the UK’s long-term targets. We will publish our report in spring. Following that, we will write to you directly to set out the implications for the Aviation Strategy.
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Our present planning assumption, which underpins the fifth carbon budget and the current 2050 target, is that UK aviation emissions in 2050 should be around their 2005 level (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2e). Your acceptance of this planning assumption in the consultation is a very welcome step. The final white paper should further clarify that this will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits.
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Aviation emissions in the UK have more than doubled since 1990, while emissions for the economy as a whole have fallen by around 40%. Achieving aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels in 2050 will require contributions from all parts of the aviation sector, including from new technologies and aircraft designs, improved airspace management, airlines’ operations, and use of sustainable fuels. It will also require steps to limit growth in demand. In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term.
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Our analysis, and that of industry, suggests the largest contribution to reducing aviation emissions will come from new technologies and aircraft designs. Research we have commissioned jointly with your department, which was published alongside the  consultation, indicates that many of these developments are likely to be cost-effective, given their potential fuel savings. The final white paper should build on the approach set out in the Aerospace Sector Deal and Future Flight Challenge, and set out a clear strategy to ensure these technology solutions are developed and brought to market in a timely fashion.
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In our recent Biomass review1 we advised that government should not plan for high levels of biofuel use in aviation in the long-term, given uncertainty about sustainable biomass supply and cost-effectiveness. Production of aviation biofuel will likely need to be in conjunction with carbon capture and storage (CCS) to be competitive with competing uses for biomass (e.g. in industry, electricity generation, or hydrogen production). A pragmatic planning assumption would be to aim for up to 10% biofuel use in aviation in 2050. In the period to 2030 government policy should aim to develop a market for aviation biofuels produced in genuinely CCS-ready facilities, and should facilitate this by achieving more of the 2030 Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation through aviation fuels.
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We welcome your proposal to ask the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to scrutinise the needs case for further airport expansion. The consultation paper also states other conditions must be met prior to further expansion. The work of the NIC is already consistent with the requirements of the Climate Change Act and the government’s climate change commitments; the final white paper should clarify that this will continue to be the case.
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We also welcome the commitment to negotiate in the ICAO a long-term goal for global international aviation emissions that is consistent with the Paris Agreement. The ICAO’s current carbon policy, CORSIA, has an end date of 2035 and will need to be based on robust rules that deliver genuine emission reductions. A new long-term objective would provide a strong and early signal to incentivise the investment in new, cleaner, technologies that will be required for the sector to play its role in meeting long-term targets. This is particularly important in aviation given the long lifetimes of assets. A similar approach has been agreed for global shipping emissions in the IMO, which has set a target for greenhouse gas emissions to be at least 50% below 2008 levels by 2050.
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I note that your consultation commits to regular updates of the Aviation Strategy. These regular reviews will provide an opportunity to respond to a future decision by Parliament to meet the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. I hope the final white paper will set more specific time-points for these reviews, and align them to developments in government climate strategy overall.
Yours,
Lord Deben
Chairman,
Committee on Climate Change
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1   CCC (2018) Biomass in a low-carbon economy

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See earlier:

Committee on Climate Change says DfT must publish a plan, by summer 2019, to limit aviation CO2

The CCC’s report says a key action needed from the UK government by the first half of 2019 is to: “Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”. They say the UK’s 2050 target requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions including the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping (IAS) emissions. But if IAS is not included, all other sectors would have to cut their CO2 emissions by around 85% (cf. 1990)by 2050 – which the CCC do not believe is possible. The CCC say: “The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy in 2019. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the 5th carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”  UK aviation CO2 emissions were already at 35.5 Mt CO2 in 2016, having risen by 1.2% in that year over 2015. Aviation emissions will continue to rise, and rapidly exceed the 37.5MtCO2 cap. Around spring 2019 the CCC will set out its thinking on whether the CORSIA is an appropriate mechanism for formally including international aviation CO2 in carbon budgets.   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/06/committee-on-climate-change-says-dft-must-publish-a-plan-by-summer-2019-to-limit-aviation-co2/

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Committee on Climate Change – reiterates its need for aviation demand increase to be 60% at most (cf. 2005 level)

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its assessment of the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy.  Its key findings are that thought the Government has made a strong commitment to achieving the UK’s climate change targets, policies and proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy will need to be firmed up, and gaps to meeting the 4th and 5th carbon budgets must be closed. The CCC says, on aviation: “The government should plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050), supported by strong international policies. Emissions at this level could be achieved through a combination of fuel and operational efficiency improvement, use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to around 60% above 2005 levels by 2050.” And while their recommendation was “A plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set: around 2005 levels by 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand, supported by strong international policies” there has been NO progress made.  They also say: The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy by the end of 2018. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/01/committee-on-climate-change-reiterates-its-need-for-aviation-demand-increase-to-be-60-at-most-cf-2005-level/

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