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Tyndall Centre blog on the Airports Commission’s task reconciling aviation’s demands with UK climate responsibilities

A PhD student at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research recently attended the public evidence session by the Airports Commission, on aviation and climate change. He writes in a blog that aviation’s climate impact is a strategic question that the Airports Commission will have to try to answer – but that ultimately we as a society will have to answer.  In deciding on future runway capacity the Commission will need to make a very stark decision on climate change mitigation: rely on a highly optimistic outlook on energy efficiency development, put forward by the aviation industry, to materialise; or fail the UK target under the Climate Change Act. (Or else build airport infrastructure that we will have no use for in the future – stranded assets). The Tyndall Centre says flying is one of the most carbon intensive activities you could possibly engage in (the most efficient aircraft, when fully seated, burn about one million kcal per person, per hour – try that for a workout – equating to about 100kg of CO2 added into the atmosphere).  It is about the highest carbon activity known to man, on a per hour basis. 

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Should aviation do its homework before further airport expansion?

a typical day just outside of Manchester

Michael Traut on aviation and climate change.

17.7 2013 (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)

Last week, the Airports Commission held a public evidence session in sunny Manchester. The two-hour session has prompted me to begin penning down a few points on aviation, something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time.

Many here at the Tyndall Centre have done some fine research on aviation and climate change, inquiring, who is flying, and why, on the challenge of reconciling climate change targets and aviation in a UK context, and on the on-going policy debate, to give a few examples.

While traditionally, scientists love to work across borders, and in turn tend to fly around quite a bit, it is one of the most carbon intensive activities you could possibly engage in (the most efficient aircraft, when fully seated, burn about one million kcal per person, per hour – try that for a workout – equating to about 100kg of CO2 added into the atmosphere). So we stage sparkling debates, and some of my colleagues have written about the decision to fly or not to fly, and considered some of the social science issues underlying that decision. What I would like to write about are strategic questions, such as the one that the Airports Commission will have to try to answer – but that I think ultimately we as a society will have to answer.

The question that the Airports Commission has to answer is whether the UK should increase its airport capacity. In answering it, the commission will need to take into account economic, social, and environmental considerations. It also involves a very stark decision on climate change mitigation: rely on a highly optimistic outlook on energy efficiency development to materialise, or fail the target under the climate change act (or else building infrastructure that we will have no use for in the future – stranded assets such as this one, as pointed to by the WWF’s Jean Leston). [A stranded asset is  a financial term that describes an asset that has become obsolete, or non-performant, but must be recorded on the balance sheet as a loss of profit. The term has particular relevance to pricing long-term economic and environmental sustainability.]

Under the climate change act, the UK must cut its emissions by 2050 down to one fifth of what they were in 1990. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) analyse different sectors, create budgets, and advise the Government on how to achieve the target. The CCC put aviation in a preferential position, assuming that its CO2 emissions in 2050 remain constant at their 2005 level, meaning that the rest of the economy have to cut their emissions by even more than 80%. Even for aviation emissions to remain constant at 2005 level, the CCC scenarios show that at current airport capacity, demand needs to be constrained. The DfT’s UK aviation forecasts suggest that, without any new runways built, aviation emissions will grow by between 4% and 56% from 2010 out to 2050. Both analyses account for operational and technological improvements in fuel efficiency.

Representing the aviation industry at the evidence session was Sustainable Aviation. While arguing in favour of capacity expansion, they wouldn’t favour investing in stranded assets but neither could they state an intention to kick the climate change act in the teeth. So they produced their own road map. It assumes demand will grow by 150% from 2010 to 2050, but “net emissions” will then be at half their 2005 level. According to the road map, four wedges will bring about this five-fold increase in carbon efficiency: optimised engine and airframe technology; streamlined operations; alternative fuels; and carbon trading.

The Sustainable Aviation report assumes an optimistic 1.3% per annum improvement in aircraft efficiency and, to make the wedge more beefy, adds another 15% improvement on top of that for every new airplane that becomes available between now and 2050. The second wedge, improved operations, accounts for another 9%, due to optimised flight envelopes and harmonised airspace control, for example, which certainly seems worthwhile and not unreasonable. By 2050, so the next assumption, one third of the fuel airplanes burn, will be biofuel. The life cycle emissions associated with the biofuel will be 60% lower than those of kerosene. Both assumptions, on the availability and the carbon efficiency of biofuels for aviation, are on the very optimistic end of the spectrum.

These three wedges bring emissions in Sustainable Aviation’s scenario down to 115% of their level in 2010. At this point, carbon trading is invoked to reduce “net emissions” from 115% to 50%. While the first three wedges are optimistic scenario assumptions, the fourth is unreasonable. According to the climate change act, all other sectors have to cut their emissions by more than a factor of 5, (ie more than 80%) and the mainstream opinion is that this is a rather steep challenge. So which sector would reduce its emissions even more, to create allowances for aviation to snap up? The report doesn’t say. Instead, the carbon market looks a bit like Rumpelstiltskin’s crafty brother, spinning emissions to gold.

One decision implicit in the Airport Commission’s advice is then whether to risk wrecking our climate change targets or to make sure that progress towards sustainable aviation is on track before expanding capacity. While one might intuitively lean towards the latter, there is an additional, and important, argument. While it’s clearly hard to predict the future, and whether making the efficiency gains suggested by any of the reports is likely, it certainly becomes less likely without the right incentives.

If complying with climate change commitments is a pre-condition to the sector’s growth, there should be some incentive. Contrast that with the current regulatory framework. In 1997, ICAO, the international regulatory body for aviation, was tasked with controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and the aviation industry is resoundingly unanimous in stressing the need for a ‘global deal’. So what progress has been achieved? According to Sustainable Aviation hardly any over the first one and a half decades. But recently, some progress has been achieved towards achieving a road map towards a measure for controlling aviation emissions.

One committee member, John Armitt, suggested that one thing doesn’t change: people. And it stands to reason that the committee should cater for what the people demand. For the aviation industry it is, after all, about profits and jobs. It will be there to make itself heard. But what do we, as a people want? And will we make ourselves heard?

http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/blogs/create-blog-entries-6

 

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See also

Damian Carrington’s environment blog: “Aviation is a rogue industry on a runway to nowhere”

Date added: July 18, 2013

Damian writes that the turbo-charge to the lobbying for more airport capacity comes from the prospect of short-term economic growth, sought at any cost by the government. In contrast, the issue of the heavy and fast growing impact of aviation emissions on climate change has faded like a vapour trail in the hurricane force PR campaign. The fundamental problem is that aviation is a rogue industry, darting across international borders to escape climate justice. While paying lip service to environmental concerns, its masters use the complexity of attempting to curb the carbon emissions of a global business to avoid any curbs at all. With many UK airports, particularly Stansted, very underused, the argument for new runways is shaky at best. But it is the global problem of climate change that is fundamental to UK aviation growth. So far the industry has cleverly used the global nature of the problem to avoid action. When the permissible CO2 emissions come to be divided up between flights, farming, factories and fuelling the UK, it’s quite possible that soaring emissions from aviation are not seen as the top priority. At that point, any new runways will stand only as multi-billion-dollar monuments to the hubris of an industry accustomed to operating without constraints.

Click here to view full story…

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Passionate, heartfelt letter to Sir Howard Davies in response to public evidence session on climate on 9th July

Date added: July 11, 2013

On Tuesday 9th July, the Airports Commission held a public evidence session in Manchester, taking evidence on climate change and aviation.Tim Johnson and Cait Hewitt, from AEF, and Jean Leston from WWF took part. The Commission is due to publish transcripts of the session next week. One member of the audience, Kevin Lister who is a climate campaigner, has written a letter to Sir Howard, to set out the key issues on the link between aviation and climate, and the need for this to be clearly understood by the Commission. The letter reminds Sir Howard that his opening remark, “wanted the day to tease out the issues on aviation’s impact on climate change,” but it is “just a bit difficult to know what there is to tease out that is not glaringly obvious – atmospheric CO2 will exceed 450 ppm towards the end of this decade”; also that climate change is probably already causing instability in the Middle East and is likely to cause more problems to societies; that biofuels may cause even worse problems to the natural world and the climate than fossil fuels; and that the robustness of demand models post 2030 is extremely questionable.

Click here to view full story…

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Switzerland seeks ETS compensation for its airlines

ENDS reports that Switzerland has asked for compensation from the EU on the grounds that international flights to and from its airports are unfairly included in the ETS.  Switzerland’s position is that if the compensation is not provided in cash, it could take the form of free emission allowances. But a number of solutions to the dispute are on the table and nothing has been agreed yet. Switzerland is unhappy at being implicitly treated as an EU member state by being excluded from the ‘stop the clock’ derogation, and EFTA countries were not included.   EFTA-member Switzerland considers this to be legally unjust, particularly as member states benefit from EU ETS inclusion through revenues from auctioning emission allowances, while Switzerland does not.  Swiss airlines and industrial facilities will be included in the carbon market link with the EU, likely to begin in 2015. At present, aviation is not part of the Swiss ETS.

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Switzerland seeks ETS compensation for its airlines

ENDS Europe

10 July 2013

Switzerland has asked for compensation from the EU on the grounds that international flights to and from its airports are unfairly included in the emissions trading system (ETS).

Switzerland’s position is that if the compensation is not provided in cash, it could take the form of free emission allowances. But a number of solutions to the dispute are on the table and nothing has been agreed yet, ENDS understands.

Swiss and EU officials met in Zurich on Monday for a fourth round of talks on linking their respective emissions trading systems.

Switzerland is unhappy at being implicitly treated as an EU member state by being excluded from the ‘stop the clock’ derogation, ENDS understands. Countries that are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) were not included.

EFTA-member Switzerland considers this to be legally unjust, particularly as member states benefit from EU ETS inclusion through revenues from auctioning emission allowances, while Switzerland does not.

Swiss airlines and industrial facilities will be included in the carbon market link with the EU, likely to begin in 2015. At present, aviation is not part of the Swiss ETS.

Negotiators are expected to agree the details of the link by the end of this year, followed by a 1-2 year ratification process.

The talks in Zurich also examined the possible impact on Switzerland of the EU-Australia ETS link, also due to begin in 2015. Switzerland may need to link its registry with Australia’s to allow Australian firms to trade Swiss allowances.

It is likely that Swiss allowances will be exactly the same as EU ones, although they may be identifiable by their serial code.

“What we are looking for is 1:1 allowances, the same value. The preference is for one denomination so there is not another unit type floating around,” a Swiss official said.

Follow-up:

Swiss statement

 

http://www.environmentguru.com/pages/elements/element.aspx?id=1263725#.Ud7hvTvCbTo

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Passionate, heartfelt letter to Sir Howard Davies in response to public evidence session on climate

On Tuesday 9th July, the Airports Commission held a public evidence session in Manchester, taking evidence on climate change and aviation. Tim Johnson and Cait Hewitt, from AEF, and Jean Leston from WWF took part.  The Commission is due to publish transcripts of the session next week. One member of the audience, Kevin Lister who is a climate campaigner,  has written a letter to Sir Howard, to set out the key issues on the link between aviation and climate, and the need for this to be clearly understood by the Commission. The letter reminds Sir Howard that his opening remark, “wanted the day to tease out the issues on aviation’s impact on climate change,” but it is “just a bit difficult to know what there is to tease out that is not glaringly obvious – atmospheric CO2 will exceed 450 ppm towards the end of this decade”; also that climate change is probably already causing instability in the Middle East and is likely to cause more problems to societies;  that biofuels may cause even worse problems to the natural world and the climate than fossil fuels; and that the robustness of demand models post 2030 is extremely questionable. 
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Thanks for Sir Howard Davies, Independent Airports Commission

Dear Sir Howard,
Many thanks for the public session in Manchester yesterday.  I am sure everyone had a great time. The tea and coffee was very nice. When I saw the plate full of Danish Pastries I though it was too good to be true, alas so it turned out to be as as they weren’t for me.
I am sure many in the audience may have found your opening remark, “That you wanted the day to tease out the issues on aviation’s impact on climate change,” apposite.
Unfortunately, I find it just a bit difficult to know what there is to tease out that is not glaringly obvious – atmospheric CO2 will exceed 450 ppm towards the end of this decade making runaway climate change unavoidable, methane releases have started in the Arctic and the ice cap is collapsing, heatwaves and storms are making a mockery of hundreds of years of industrial progress, Syria is in a climate change induced civil war and Egypt is following in its footsteps and yes I could go on and on and on….But certainly the last thing we would want is a pubic session on climate change spoiled by the grubby facts on climate change.
So it was somewhat interesting to hear Heathrow’s sustainability director suggesting that all could be made well in the world with a dose of new technology, biofuels and carbon trading.
Just for the record in case it was not noted, I did ask the Heathrow team to explain how new technology would reverse the trend of increasing aviation emissions that has existed since the Wright Brothers’ first flight despite new technology being introduced every year from then to now.
Again in case it was not noted, I pointed out that Tesco dropped their campaign to be the UK’s leading supplier of biofuel after their complete failure to demonstrate how it can reduce carbon emissions. I asked the Heathrow team to explain what they know that Tesco don’t. As the public session debated the merits of biofuel, the last of the Indonesian rainforest is being burnt down and the last of the Orang-utans are being cooked to a crisp.
Ignoring the science of climate change and burning every drop of fossil fuels is stupid enough, but burning down the rainforest to grow biofuel is orders of magnitude worse and aviation’s plans would accelerate this disaster.
Again in case it was not noted, I asked about Carbon Trading. The poor in our society are facing a triple whammy. The price of basic foods is rising as global warming reduces food production, biofuels are diverting food to fuel and carbon trading will price access to basic energy requirements out of reach. The growing wealth gap has already fuelled inner city riots in the country and I asked how many inner city riots the aviation industry would deem to be acceptable.
Sir John Armitt posited the proposition that in 2050 people would still be wanting to fly in the same way they are now. This is a breathtakingly assumption. In 2050 runaway climate change will be well underway and destroying much of our civilisation. The US department of defence is currently war gaming for climate change conflict in this period. The last thing that people struggling to survive will be thinking about is where they go on holiday, that is unless they are amongst the highest paid civil servants in the country.
In the second session on demand management and in response to Sir John Armitt demonstrating continuing naivety on climate change with his suggestion that more accurate demand forecasts are needed post 2030 for planing purposes I pointed out that our history on forecasting is very poor. The financial models the banks used predicted the risk of recent financial crashes in the order of 1 in 1E50 (1 with 50 zeros behind it).
Our ability to predict passenger demand will be equally poor, especially when we continue to exclude the impact of climate change. I made the point that as CO2 continues to rise, our economic resources would have to be directed towards constructing a low carbon economy whilst simultaneously embarking on a wholesale rebuilding of existing infrastructure to cope with climate change impacts. In this future there will be no spare resources for building airports with no business cases.
Again, I suggested that Sir John Armitt could answer his own question on the robustness of demand models post 2030 by looking at the increasing cost to Network Rail from climate change and projecting this forward. To help him with his analysis he should consider that we are only in the early stages of climate change and much more serious warming is set to come.
Again for the record, the basis of the CBI argument was that we must have connections to the fast growing economies of China and India. I offered the challenge to the CBI to demonstrate how long they believe these economies will continue growing, given that they have already reached many of the naturalgrowth limits and will face the same dilemmas as us in the near future.
After your deliberations you will of course be tempted by the argument that we must continue to expand because China and others will continue to pollute, and it is correct that China plans to buy the thousands of planes that we subsidise Airbus and Boeing to build. Maybe you should say it how it is – this act of China which is supported by Airbus and Boeing breaches the Durban Platform Agreement  should be considered an act of aggression.
I was asked by a colleague last night why there is any desire to build airports at all. I was stumped, especially when BAA’s accounts show the business to be loss making and virtually bankrupt as it struggles with its existing interest payments. The only suggestion I could offer is that as the economy suffered a money supply contraction following the banking crash of 2008, the mathematics of the fraction reserve banking system make it imperative for the government to ensure large amounts of new finance is created to reverse it. This will largely be through new debt backed by equity from Middle Eastern Sovereign funds, helping perpetuate markets for their oil. Ultimately, it does not matter if this is for profitable purposes or not as BAA is certainly not profitable today; it is about creating money and markets for oil. Correct me if I am wrong.
Thanks again for the tea, coffee and a most entertaining time in Manchester.
Kevin
Another report of the days events is here

From Kev’s Climate Column - by Kevin Lister

I write these emails, letters and essays without hope of being listened to, with the certainty of being persecuted, but true to the commitment that I made to my children that when I die I can at least say “I did everything I could.”

In honor of Rodolfo Walsh – executed by the Argentinian Junta, 1977

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Committee on Climate Change reminds Airports Commission of carbon restriction on aviation growth

Lord Deben (John Gummer), who is the Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, has written to Sir Howard Davies and the Airports Commission on the issue of UK aviation and climate change. He reminds the Commission that UK aviation emissions are included in the UK’s target to reduce economy wide CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050 on 1990 levels. This implies a trade off between emissions from aviation and from other sectors: the higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other  sectors to meet the economy-wide target. The CCC has illustrated how the 80% target could be achieved through reducing aviation emissions to 2005 levels in 2050 and reducing emissions in other sectors by 85% on 1990 levels. That would mean limiting demand growth to around 60% in 2050 compared to 2005. Unless the rest of the UK economy can cut emissions by over 85% (unlikely) then aviation demand cannot grow by more than 60%. Lord Deben recommends that this should be reflected in the Commission’s economic analysis of alternative investments in airport infrastructure. Each should be assessed in terms of whether it would make sense if demand growth were to be limited to 60% by 2050.
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Sir Howard Davies

Airports Commission

Sanctuary Buildings

20 Great Smith Street

London SW1P 3BT

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3 July 2013

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Dear Howard
We read with interest the Aviation Commission’s discussion paper “Aviation and Climate Change”.

In working out appropriate investments in aviation infrastructure, it is essential to recognise that aviation emissions are included in the target to reduce economy wide emissions by 80% in 2050 on 1990 levels, which is set in the Climate Change Act.

The fact that aviation emissions are in the 2050 target implies a trade off between emissions in this and other sectors of the economy: the higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide target.

Our analysis has illustrated how the 80% target could be achieved through reducing aviation emissions to 2005 levels in 2050 and reducing emissions in other sectors by 85% on 1990 levels.

Reducing aviation emissions to 2005 levels in 2050 could be achieved through a combination of fuel and operational efficiency improvement, use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to around 60% in 2050 compared to 2005.

Reducing emissions in other sectors by 85% in 2050 on 1990 levels is at the limit of what is feasible, with limited confidence about the scope for going beyond this.

It is of course possible that there may be scope to reduce emissions more in other sectors, which would allow aviation demand to grow by more than 60% in 2050. However, this may well be the limit, here and in other developed countries, compatible with achieving the internationally agreed climate objective.

Given the need to limit aviation demand growth in a carbon constrained world, we
recommend that this should be reflected in your economic analysis of alternative investments.

For example, for each investment, you should assess whether this would make sense if
demand growth were to be limited to 60% by 2050.

We would be very happy to come and discuss these issues with you and the Commission if that would be useful.

Yours Sincerely,

Deben
Chairman, Committee on Climate Change

http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CCC_letter_aviation_commission.pdf

http://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/letter-to-aviation-commission/

John Selwyn Gummer, Baron Deben – (John Gummer)

In September 2012, Lord Deben was confirmed as Chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change, succeeding Adair Turner. The committee advises the UK Government on setting and meeting carbon budgets and on preparing for the impacts of climate change. 

 

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Comment from an AirportWatch member:

DfT central 2050 constrained (ie no new runways) passenger forecast 445 mppa – a 93% increase on 2005 passengers at 230 million. So even with no new runways we are predicted to be way over 60%!

There really is no case for any new runways, to be with UK economy-wide carbon targets. What the Airports Commission needs to give serious consideration to is the No New Runways option. The only one that gives the UK a chance to meet carbon targets.

 

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WWF & CAN: European Parliament compromises on ETS reform but it’s not enough to save the climate

The European Parliament has approved plans (by 344 to 311 votes) designed to boost the EU’s ETS and drive green investment by tackling the glut of carbon allowances that have caused a huge fall in the price of CO2 this year. MEPs have voted in favour of “backloading” proposals so the EC can temporarily postpone the auction of 900 million allowances. In April stricter backloading plans were narrowly rejected.  Bloomberg reported that the price of carbon allowances for delivery in December rose 7.2% to €4.60 per tonne. The deal gives assurances that the backloading won’t be repeated and it won’t lead to the permanent withdrawal of the delayed carbon allowances. WWF & CAN say that with carbon prices already at all-time lows, EU Member States now need to put the right price on pollution by strengthening today’s result and say: “Member states should back further measures to eliminate these toxic tonnes permanently from the EU’s carbon market.”  CAN Europe (Climate Action Network) and WWF call on EU policy makers to come up with robust proposals to increase EU climate action.

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European Parliament back plans to push up carbon price

MEPs approve proposals to temporarily withhold auction of 900 million CO2 allowances in attempt to reduce glut in the market

By Jessica Shankleman and James Murray

3 Jul 2013  (Business Green)

The European Parliament has approved plans designed to boost the EU’s carbon market and drive green investment by tackling the glut of allowances that have sunk the price of CO2 to record lows this year.

MEPs in Strasbourg today voted in favour of “backloading” proposals at a plenary vote in Strasbourg, approving plans for the European Commission to temporarily postpone the auction of 900 million allowances for the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The proposals were agreed as acompromise by the EU’s three largest parties, after initial stricter backloading plans was rejected narrowly in April, amid fears from some businesses that the measure would push up the cost of energy across Europe.

The plans were approved by 344 votes to 311, reversing the previous vote that saw 315 vote in favour while 344 opposed the original proposals.

According to Bloomberg, the decision had an immediate effect on the price of carbon with allowances for delivery in December gaining 7.2 per cent to reach €4.60 per tonne on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The new deal includes assurances that the backloading measure will not be repeated and that the postponement of the auction would not lead to the permanent withdrawal of the delayed carbon allowances. It also includes plans for a new review of the risk of so-called carbon leakage, whereby energy intensive firms relocate to outside the bloc to avoid the cost of carbon allowances.

However, in a surprise move separate amendments that would have diverted additional funds to help energy intensive industries invest in efficiency measures were rejected.

Sources in Brussels told BusinessGreen the approved proposals were “much closer” to the original backloading plans that were rejected in April than would have been the case if all of the proposed amendments had been approved.

Today’s vote is likely to be welcomed by green businesses and NGOs, including a host of high-profile utilities, which have consistently argued that reforms to the market are needed to drive up the price of carbon.

Miles Austin, executive director at the Carbon Markets and Investment Association (CMIA) hailed the vote as “a great result albeit after a second bite at the cherry”.

“This positive vote now gives the EU ETS breathing space for more profound supply side reforms to be enacted that will prevent the need for another backloading debate in the future,” he added in a statement.

However, concerns remain that the agreed compromises have watered down the original plans to the point where they could prove ineffective at driving up the carbon price.

WWF and CAN Europe argued the number of allowances to be held back should be higher and that backloading must be immediately followed by more long-lasting ETS structural reform, starting with cancellation of back-loaded allowances.

The Commission is due to present formal proposals this autumn outlining how it plans to deliver a longer term fix to the market. It is looking at a series of proposals, including raising the emission reduction target for companies covered by the scheme and permanently withdrawing some allowances from the market.

The vote on backloading must now also be approved by the European Council for the measures to pass. Earlier this week, ministers from 12 member states, including the UK, wrote an open letter backing the plans, suggesting it already has significant support from many countries. However, a number of other countries, including Poland, are thought to be opposed to the proposed changes.

Konrad Hanschmidt, carbon analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said it was not yet guaranteed that the plan would secure member state approval, predicting the final decision may be delayed until after the German election later this year.

“The backloading plan has passed its largest hurdle so far, but auction curbs are still far from certain and unlikely to start before mid-2014,” he said in a statement. “The focus will now shift from Strasbourg to Berlin, as Germany’s decision on the plan will determine whether it can go ahead.”

However, he added that the vote and the rejection of the accompanying amendments represented a “big victory for the pro-backloading MEPs”. “The Parliament rejected the difficult compromise amendments which would have made future negotiations more complicated,” he added. “This is more bullish than the market had anticipated.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2279006/breaking-european-parliament-back-plans-to-push-up-carbon-price?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Twitterfeed&utm_content=BusinessGreen


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  • European Parliament compromises on ETS reform but it’s not enough to save the climate

    3 July 2013 (WWF- EU and CAN-E, the Climate Action Network, Europe)

    Today the European Parliament adopted a compromise to revive the EU’s flagging carbon market, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). With carbon prices already at all-time lows, Member States now need to put the right price on pollution by strengthening today’s result.

    “The European Parliament has done the minimum to rescue the ETS from redundancy,” said Sam Van den plas of WWF European Policy Office. “Member states should back further measures to eliminate these toxic tonnes permanently from the EU’s carbon market.”

    Parliament rejected provisions that would immediately reintroduce all back-loaded allowances, and provide exemptions and subsidies to heavy industry that assume far higher carbon prices than are seen in reality.

    “Today the European Parliament used its second chance to get back-loading right,” said Julia Michalak of CAN Europe. “By approving back-loading and rejecting several dangerous loopholes that had been proposed as part of a compromise, they’ve paved the way for the necessary deep reform of the EU ETS. Member States must start to negotiate the final outcome as soon as possible – we have lost enough time already.”

    CAN Europe and WWF call on EU policy makers to come up with robust proposals to increase EU climate action.

  • http://www.wwf.eu/?209281/European-Parliament-compromises-on-ETS-reform-but-its-not-enough-to-save-the-climate

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http://www.climnet.org/  – Climate Action Network

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Obama: US working at ICAO towards comprehensive global approach on limiting international aviation emissions

In a wide-ranging major speech on climate change President Obama launched an action plan that made reference to  the role the United States is playing at the ICAO.  Obama’s Climate Action Plan states that: …”at the International Civil Aviation Organization, we have ambitious aspirational emissions and energy efficiency targets and are working towards agreement to develop a comprehensive global approach.” GreenAir online reports that with important negotiations taking place at the UNFCCC on agreeing a global climate treaty by 2015 to be enforced from 2020 to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the outcome at ICAO is being viewed by many as a barometer of how close nations are to finding common ground, with US leadership playing a vital role. Progress on aviation is important not only because of the carbon emissions from the industry, but as it represents an area where the international community could make headway in the near term.  An agreement in ICAO at its meeting in September would give a valuable boost to international efforts more broadly, by showing that agreement in multilateral forums is possible.

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Obama: US working at ICAO towards comprehensive global approach on limiting international aviation emissions

Wed 26 June 2013 (GreenAir online)

In a wide-ranging major speech on climate change yesterday, President Obama launched an action plan that references the role the United States is playing at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in reaching a comprehensive global approach on international aviation emissions.

 

Although many states and industry remain optimistic a broad agreement on measures to limit the growth of aviation emissions can be reached at the triennial ICAO Assembly, countries representing the major emerging economies remain opposed to applying market-based instruments. With just three months left before the start of the Assembly, ICAO’s leadership will be engaged in bilateral discussions with member states over the summer to reconcile differences.

“Just as no country is immune from the impacts of climate change, no country can meet this challenge alone,” says the US President’s Climate Action Plan. “That is why it is imperative for the United States to couple action at home with leadership internationally. America must help forge a truly global solution to this global challenge by galvanising international action to significantly reduce emissions (particularly among the major emitting countries), prepare for climate impacts, and drive progress through the international negotiations.”

The plan calls for an “ambitious, inclusive and flexible” international treaty on addressing climate change. “At the same time as we work toward this outcome in the UNFCCC context, we are making progress in a variety of other important negotiations as well …. at the International Civil Aviation Organization, we have ambitious aspirational emissions and energy efficiency targets and are working towards agreement to develop a comprehensive global approach.”

Nat Keohane, Vice President for International Climate at the Washington DC-based Environmental Defense Fund and a former Obama Administration official, said the plan recognised the importance of addressing global warming pollution from international air travel.

“Progress on aviation is important not only because of the emissions involved … but also because it represents an area where the international community could make headway in the near term,” he said. “An agreement in ICAO at its upcoming meeting in September would give a valuable boost to international efforts more broadly, simply by demonstrating that agreement in multilateral forums is possible.

“Of course, ‘working towards agreement’ is pretty broad. But it seems reasonable to expect the Administration to be at least as ambitious as the airline industry itself.

“ICAO should commit, this year, to develop such a detailed approach over the next three years and formally adopt it at the next ICAO Assembly in 2016. Such an agreement won’t happen without visible and assertive US backing, however. That’s why it was so welcome to see international aviation mentioned in the action plan, and why we – and the rest of the environmental community – will be watching the Administration’s actions with interest over the next few months, and holding the Administration to its commitment to lead.”

The Obama action plan was also welcomed by EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. “I am of course glad to see that the United States is finally moving on climate. After a number of important speeches from President Obama and Secretary Kerry, Europe has been eagerly waiting for the US to set out concrete steps. So this plan is a most welcomed step forward and, if implemented, it can put the US on a path towards a low carbon future,” she said.

“Internationally, the White House plan contains a number of good intentions which have now to be translated into more concrete action. The first opportunity will be for the US to support an ambitious deal this September in ICAO on a global solution to limit international aviation emissions.”

Meanwhile, resolving differences between ICAO member states over market-based measures (MBMs) in time for the Assembly is proving a serious challenge. Without the application of MBMs the goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 cannot be realised but key emerging countries such as Brazil, China and India remain opposed. A draft text on the subject for inclusion in the forthcoming Assembly resolution highlights the diverging views through a number of ‘square-bracketed’ clauses. Attempts by the ICAO Council’s Air Transport Committee to narrow them down have for now been halted.

“There will be an informal consultative process carried out with representatives during the summer by the President of the Council and the Secretary General, with a view to developing what is known as the ‘Consolidated statement of continuing ICAO policies and practices related to environmental protection – Climate Change’, the comprehensive document that is updated for each Assembly,” an ICAO spokesman told GreenAir.

The document is due to be reviewed at a pre-Assembly meeting in September, although no date has yet been set, he said. The 38th Assembly starts on September 24 and concludes on October 4.

Following IATA member airlines’ support and proposals for an MBM at their AGM in Cape Town earlier this month (see article), the world’s air navigation service providers have added their own call urging ICAO member states to reach an agreement on measures, including a global MBM, to reduce aviation’s environmental impact.

Speaking in Curaçao during the CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation) Global ATM Summit and AGM, Director General Jeff Poole said: “CANSO and its members have worked with industry partners across the aviation industry to produce realistic, workable, effective and measurable proposals to mitigate aviation’s environmental impact. It is now up to states to seize the opportunity to agree to these measures at the Assembly in September. This is our best chance of achieving the necessary global agreement.”

CANSO says the industry is calling for a comprehensive package of technological, infrastructure and operational measures, to be complemented by a single, global MBM in order to reach its carbon-neutral goal from 2020.

“The air traffic management industry is playing its part,” said Poole. “Governments must now play their part by taking account of the industry’s four-pillar strategy, including the proposals for a global offsetting market-based measure. Aviation is a global industry and needs governments also to adopt a global approach to the climate change impacts of aviation.”

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1714


Links:

Obama Climate Action Plan - in which the only refererence to aviation is:

“……; at the International Maritime Organization, we have agreed to and are now implementing the first-ever sector-wide, internationally applicable energy efficiency standards; and at the International Civil Aviation Organization, we have ambitious aspirational emissions and energy efficiency targets and are working towards agreement to develop a comprehensive global approach.”

Obama speech on climate change

European Commission statement

Environmental Defense Fund – Nat Keohane analysis on action plan

CANSO call for ICAO agreement

 

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Statement by President Barroso and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan:

Europa
26.6..2013
President Barroso said:
”I very much welcome President Obama’s renewed push to tackle global climate change. The plans set out today are positive steps that will create further momentum for international climate action.
The European Union is a confident climate leader. We have ambitious legislation in place. We are reducing our emissions considerably, expanding on renewables and saving energy. And we are getting ready for the next step: a climate and energy framework for 2030.
Climate action can be a tremendous opportunity to modernise our economies, create jobs and growth, and invest in the dynamic industries of the future.
Finding global solutions to the climate challenge is a shared responsibility. They can only be reached on the basis of leadership from all the world’s major economies. President Obama’s announcement will help give the world confidence that it’s possible to win this fight, if we fight it together.”
Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said:
”I am of course glad to see that the United States is finally moving on climate. After a number of important speeches from President Obama and Secretary Kerry, Europe has been eagerly waiting for the US to set out concrete steps. So this plan is a most welcomed step forward and, if implemented, it can put the US on a path towards a low carbon future.
Internationally, the White House plan contains a number of good intentions which have now to be translated into more concrete action. The first opportunity will be for the US to support an ambitious deal this September in ICAO on a global solution to limit international aviation emissions. And by 2015, a robust US commitment to reduce its domestic emissions over the longer term as part of a binding climate treaty.
Europe will continue working to get all our partners on board for the ambitious action our planet demands. But we need all the world’s major economies to play ball. And this announcement from Washington, and growing signs of domestic action in China and elsewhere, are positive signals that the world is finally moving on climate. Slowly, but moving. This is of course encouraging news as Europe embarks in the design of our climate and energy policies for 2030”.
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-612_en.htm?locale=en
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G8 Summit admits “grave concern” over slow progress of climate change action

Leaders at the G8 Summit reiterated their commitment to delivering action to tackle climate change, acknowledging they have “grave concern” about the failure to deliver sufficiently deep emission cuts and the economic and security risks that result from climate impacts. The British government had faced criticism from France and Germany for failing to include climate change on the main agenda. However, the final communique dedicates a page to climate change and states that “it is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being”. “We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020″. This includes wanting ICAO to come up with agreement on market based, and non market based measures, at its September conference.  Specifically, the statement commits the G8 to supporting the UNFCCC’s efforts to deliver a new global climate change at the Paris Summit in 2015 and reiterates its desire to produce a more ambitious policy framework than the current one.

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 Aviation mention in communique, see below

G8 Summit admits “grave concern” over slow progress of climate change action

Final communique stresses that G8 leaders remain “strongly committed” to delivering ambitious global climate treaty

By James Murray (Business Green)

18 Jun 2013

G8 leaders at a working session at the G8 Summit

Leaders at the G8 Summit have reiterated their commitment to delivering bold action to tackle climate change, acknowledging they have “grave concern” about the failure to deliver sufficiently deep emission cuts and the economic and security risks that result from climate impacts.

The communique released at the close of the summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland includes a series of commitments on climate change designed to underline the G8′s support for global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including the long-running UN-backed negotiations that are scheduled to deliver a new international climate change treaty in 2015.

The British government had faced criticism from France and Germany for failing to include climate change on the main agenda for the two-day summit, which was instead dominated by talks on the war in Syria and global tax reforms.

However, the final communique dedicates a page to climate change and states that “it is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being”.

“We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020 and to pursue our low-carbon path afterwards, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science,” the statement reads.

It added that the G8 would work with a raft of international groups seeking to accelerate action on climate change, including the UNFCCC, the Major Economies Forum, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Maritime Organisation, both of which are currently working on proposals for new carbon pricing regimes, and Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which aims to curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.

The communique also acknowledges that climate change is “a contributing factor in increased economic and security risks globally” and commits the G8 to considering how to better respond to growing climate-related risks.

Specifically, the statement commits the G8 to supporting the UNFCCC’s efforts to deliver a new global climate change at the Paris Summit in 2015 and reiterates its desire to produce a more ambitious policy framework than the one currently in place.

“We also note with grave concern the gap between current country pledges and what is needed, and will work towards increasing mitigation ambition in the period to 2020,” the statement reads. “We reiterate our commitment to the developed countries’ goal of mobilising jointly $100bn of climate finance per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and are advancing our efforts to continue to improve the transparency of international climate finance flows.”

Elsewhere, the communique’s section on global trade sets out a new ambition to boost trade in green goods and aims thinly veiled criticism at the escalating trade war between the US, the EU and China over clean technologies.

“We will… keep our word to refrain from and roll back protectionist measures and support a further extension of the G20 standstill commitment,” the communique states. “We call on others to do the same. We commit our support to efforts to liberalise trade in green goods and services, emphasising that progress in this area will boost green growth. In this regard we commend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) decision in September 2012 to reduce tariffs on environmental goods as an important contribution to this end.”

FURTHER READING from Business Green

 

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Hey G8, what about the climate?

Posted by Daniel Mittler  (Greenpeace blog )
17 June 2013

Save the Climate hot air balloon

All rights reserved. Credit: Robert Visser

As leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the USA and the UK descend on Northern Ireland for their yearly G8 jamboree, even the most conservative of bodies are calling for urgent action on climate change. The World Bank, for one, has made it clear that the 4 degree warmer world we are heading towards (if we fail to act urgently) is not a place any of us want to be. And the International Energy Agency has just reminded the world that the vast majority of oil, coal and gas reserves need to stay under the ground if we want life on earth to be pleasant rather than chaotic (a long overdue recognition of the “carbon logic”).

Yet, if you look at the G8 summit´s website, climate change is consipicuous in its absence. That did not used to be so.

Back in 20072008 or 2009, for example, climate was a key issue these countries fought over. Now it reportedly took heavy lobbying from Germany and France for Cameron (who promised to run the  “greenest government ever”) to even agree to talk about climate change at all. With such bad preparation and lack of political capital being invested in getting the G8 to send a leadership signal on climate, it’s hard to see how the summit can produce anything but meaningless platitudes.

But do prove me wrong, dear G8 leaders, please do! French president François Hollande, after all, has already called on you all to “do … [your] part and give a strong political impetus to curb carbon emissions.

Here is a simple guide to making me eat my words.

The G8 should set out clearly how existing commitments to finance climate action, adaptation and ending deforestation will be met and how much “climate finance” each G8 leaders will make available for countries in need between 2013 and 2015.

The leaders should also commit to innovate ways of generating the money urgently needed to fight poverty and climate change. This should include making the international shipping and aviation industries pay for their excessive damage to our climate, taxing financial transactions and redirecting the absurd amount currently being spent on fossil fuel subsidies to financing the energy revolution we need.

As a German, it makes my blood boil that even a country like Germany spends $6.6 billion on financing climate destruction through fossil fuel subsidies, but has only pledged some 500 million in terms of financial support to those countries that need support to act.

While they are at it, G8 leaders also need to show that they are serious about agreeing a new, legally binding, fair global treaty on climate change at the UN climate summit 2015 in Paris. To be credible, they need to deliver a peak in climate damaging emissions before 2020 and therefore need to set out immediate steps by each G8 nation to step up their efforts between now and 2020.

I am not holding my breath, but you are allowed to wake me up any time of night if you hear rumours of the G8 agreeing to such an action agenda.

By the way, I am not for a moment saying that the issues this summit will focus on instead of climate change – trade, tax compliance and transparency – are not important. The free trade agenda the G8 still holds onto, though, is likely to make our environmental vows worse, not  better.

And it´s odd that the transparency discussion is not being linked to climate change. After all, climate change is a driver for “land grabbing”. Initiatives such as Publish What you Pay, however welcome, are all too often about payments that facilitate the extraction of the very oil, gas and coal reserves that we know we need to find ways of leaving in the ground.

That said, this G8 may yet deliver something on tax which is positive for people and planet. I can only salute the excellent work done by other civil society groups on the outrage of corporate tax dodging. Their campaign work has indeed resulted in the “highest pressure yet on the tax dodgers” this week.

Corporations avoiding taxes is not only plainly unfair, it also results in there being less money available to tackle climate change, poverty and to pay for other vital public service. So here is to hoping that public pressure will result in a real step forward on ending tax evasion. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Frankly, the G8 should have an interest in delivering something on tax compliance as doing so could allow them to argue that the G8 is not completely irrelevant in a multi-polar world. For the climate, the importance of the G8 is not in doubt.

For starters, the G8 nations still emit the a big chunk of all climate damaging gases worldwide (and have emitted the vast majority historically). And while everyone who has a high carbon footprint needs to act no matter where they live (from Manila to New York), there is no question that if the G8 nations sent a signal of leadership on climate change that would be a huge deal.

It could change the ‘you go first’ dynamics of the climate negotiations and send clear signals to markets and investors that they cannot assume that fossil fuels will be a good long term investment.

I am not holding my breath. But especially if our leaders fail us – again – in Northern Ireland this week, I am asking for your help. We must hold their feet to the fire at home and make them act. One first opportunity to do so will be the End the Age of Coal action day on 29 June. Join in and remind world leaders that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we are to have a decent future for all.

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/hey-g8-what-about-climate-20130617

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Also LSE blog at

The burning hole at the heart of the G8 agenda. Why was climate change marginalised at the 2013 G8 summit?

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/34244

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The Climate Change page of the G8 communique says:

Climate Change

56. Climate change is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and
well-being. We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020 and to pursue our low carbon path
afterwards, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global
temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science.
57. We will pursue ambitious and transparent action, both domestically and internationally, in the UNFCCC, complemented by actions addressed through other relevant fora, including but not limited to:

 the Major Economies Forum (MEF), where we will work with our partners to
secure progress on the MEF Action Agenda and to overcome differences on the
road to the global deal in 2015;

the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), where we call for the
agreement at the Assembly in September 2013 on an ambitious package
related to both market-based and non-market based measures to address rising
aviation emissions;

 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where we continue to work
together on further measures to address the issue of shipping emissions;

 the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which we all committed to join at our last
Summit, where we will build on the eight global initiatives already begun and
further develop the scientific evidence base and private sector involvement.

58. We recognise climate change as a contributing factor in increased economic and
security risks globally. The G8 has agreed to consider means to better respond to this
challenge and its associated risks, recalling that international climate policy and
sustainable economic development are mutually reinforcing.
59. In the UNFCCC we will work to ensure that a new protocol, another legal instrument or
an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties is
adopted by 2015, to come into effect and be implemented from 2020. We also note with
grave concern the gap between current country pledges and what is needed, and will
work towards increasing mitigation ambition in the period to 2020. We reiterate our
commitment to the developed countries’ goal of mobilising jointly $100billion of climate
finance per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources in the context of meaningful
mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and are advancing our efforts to
continue to improve the transparency of international climate finance flows. We welcome
the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to mobilise political will through
2014 towards a successful global agreement in 2015 during the Conference of the
Parties that France stands ready to host. We look forward to the fifth Assessment Report
of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/207583/Lough_Erne_2013_G8_Leaders_Communique__2_.pdf

page 14 of 24

 

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UNEP Executive Director says airlines must agree on cutting their carbon emissions

Achim Steiner, who is the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has written an op-ed in the China Daily and in China.org. He says that airlines need to cut their carbon emissions. “If the world is to head off dangerous climate change and somehow keep a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsus, we need all hands on deck. That includes airlines.”  Aviation is responsible for some 5% of humnanity’s impact on the climate.”  He adds: “Air travel is not only the fastest growing form of transport. It is also the most carbon intensive” and that a global agreement on a market-based measure  is needed – through ICAO - to take effect by 2020, or soon after. That needs to be agreed at ICAO’s meeting this September.  Achim says: “In order to realize the future we want, and need, economies must urgently begin decoupling economic growth from natural resource use, including fossil fuels. Airlines must be part of that transformation. This can be the year when ICAO departs the runway and plots a course for a low carbon future. The first stop is a global deal in Montreal.”

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Aviation op-ed* below by Achim Steiner in the China Daily.

Airlines must reduce their emissions

13.6.2013 (both in China Daily and in China.org)

By Achim Steiner 

(Exective Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP http://www.unep.org/about/executivedirector/)

If the world is to head off dangerous climate change and somehow keep a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsus, we need all hands on deck. That includes airlines.

Air travel is not only the fastest growing form of transport. It is also the most carbon intensive.

Few if any holidaymakers and business people boarding their flights know that the kerosene fuel powering their airliner is tax-free.

This gives air transport an unfair advantage over rail and road, and offers less incentive to aircraft designers and operators to accelerate a transition to ever-more fuel-efficient planes. Long-standing efforts to end this anomaly have failed.

A recent attempt to require aircraft flying to Europe <http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/invest_europe.htm>  to pay for their CO2 emissions under the European Union’s Emissions Trading System triggered fierce opposition from many non-European countries.

The EU has suspended its plan for a year, putting the ball back in the court of the International Civil Aviation Organization and its 191 member states to find a solution.

This is the ideal place for aviation to begin cutting the 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions it now accounts for.

A global agreement would level the playing field so that all airlines pay the same fuel levy, so reducing the risk of “freeloaders”.

But there is a deadline to the opportunity for helping aviators get a handle on their CO2 emissions by 2020. And they must flip them soon after.

In September a triannual decision-making ICAO assembly will meet in Montreal with a vote likely on whether a global market-based measure will be adopted to drive the industry to meet its responsibilities. If no decision is taken, the next assembly may not convene until 2016.

The world has waited long enough for aviation – and indeed shipping – to join international efforts to bridge the emissions gap.

Increased engine efficiencies, alternative fuels, air traffic management reform and technological enhancements can help, but are unlikely on their own to deliver the emissions reductions needed and at the speed required. Question marks also remain over how such investments would be paid for.

Seizing the moment to put in place a market-based structure to catalyze the low carbon innovations the industry needs – and guarantee its sustainable future – is thus both logical and desirable.

The resolution on the “Implementation of the Aviation Carbon-Neutral Growth Strategy” adopted at the International Air Transport Association annual general meeting earlier this month could prove to be an important step in the process.

A clear signal from industry that it supports a global market-based mechanism to be agreed at this year’s ICAO Assembly has been one that governments have been waiting for.

Climate change remains an over-arching challenge not just for future generations, but also for those living with its early consequences today.

Impacts in the last 12 months, consistent with scientific projections, include: the largest melting of Arctic sea ice on record, a “once in a century” drought that hit the US Mid-West, followed by a once in a century hurricane that hit New York, the wettest-ever summer in the United Kingdom, followed by one of the coldest-ever springs.

As ever, the greatest tragedies have been suffered by those with the least resources to cope. But whether we are talking about floods in India, or droughts in east Africa, a climate crisis is emerging of profound proportions.

The complexity of the Earth’s systems and feedback mechanisms prevent predictions being made with 100 percent certainty. But the risk assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underline that humanity is playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with our life support systems.

There are many encouraging actions underway from the rise of renewable energy investments to cuts in deforestation in countries such as Brazil.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have fallen to 1994 levels according to recent estimates, and China is scheduled to invest over $1 trillion in clean energy, energy efficiency and other climate mitigation measures over the next five years.

Many other nations, large and small, rich and poor are building on the outcomes of last year’s Rio+20 Summit to devise and define pathways to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy.

Yet despite many positive developments, the world has yet to turn the corner. Emissions into the atmosphere hit a new record high last year of over 35 billion tons – 58 percent above 1990 levels.

In order to realize the future we want, and need, economies must urgently begin decoupling economic growth from natural resource use, including fossil fuels.

Airlines must be part of that transformation. This can be the year when ICAO departs the runway and plots a course for a low carbon future. The first stop is a global deal in Montreal.

The author is UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2013-06/13/content_29109247.htm

also at http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2013-06/13/content_16613022.htm

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Achim Steiner

Achim Steiner

UNEP Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Acting on the nomination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN General Assembly in 2006 unanimously elected Achim Steiner as the Executive Director of UNEP for a four-year term. He became the fifth Executive Director in UNEP’s history. At its 83rd plenary meeting in 2010, the UN General Assembly, on the proposal of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, re-elected Mr. Achim Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme for another four-year term.

The Secretary-General also appointed Mr. Steiner as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), where he served from March 2009 to May 2011. UNON provides the administrative, conference, security and logistics services to the UN family in Kenya, hosts offices and projects of more than 60 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, and over 5,000 staff.

Before joining UNEP, Mr. Steiner served as Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 2001 to 2006, and prior to that as Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams. His professional career has included assignments with governmental, non-governmental and international organizations in different parts of the world including India, Pakistan, Germany, Zimbabwe, USA, Vietnam, South Africa, Switzerland and Kenya. He worked both at grassroots level as well as at the highest levels of international policy-making to address the interface between environmental sustainability, social equity and economic development.

Mr. Steiner, a German and Brazilian national, was born in Brazil in 1961. His educational background includes a BA from the University of Oxford as well as an MA from the University of London with specialization in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environment policy. He also studied at the German Development Institute in Berlin as well as the Harvard Business School.

Mr. Steiner also chairs two UN system wide entities:

  • HLCP – High-level Committee on Programmes of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB); and
  • EMG – United Nations Environment Management Group.

He serves on a number of international advisory boards, including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).

http://www.unep.org/about/executivedirector/Biography.aspx

 

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*

An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page (though often mistaken for opinion-editorial), is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper’s editorial board.

 

 

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World Bank study shows carbon footprint of First Class passengers can be up to 9 times that in Economy

The World Bank Group seeks to offset the travel of its staff.  The Bank acknowledges that passengers in premium (First and business) classes on a plane have a higher carbon footprint, so they have recalculated the World Bank Group footprint from their air travel, taking the class of travel into account.  The Bank estimates that emissions per passenger in First class can be as much as nine times as high, and those in Business class can be three times as high, as those in Economy class.  Those in premium classes not only have larger seats and more space per passenger (meaning that there can be fewer passengers, overall, in the plane) but there is often a lower load factor (the proportion of seats occupied) and they can take on more luggage (meaning more fuel has to be used to transport it). A Guardian journalist looked into the class issue in 2010 and concluded that the more passengers pay for a square metre of cabin, the more profit the airline makes and the more the premium travellers subsidise the cheaper classes of tickets. “Put another way, if no one flew business or first class, the price of economy travel would have to rise, leading ultimately to lower occupancy rates, fewer flights and less global warming.”

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Blog on “carbon footprint” from World Bank Group staff air travel

Jon Strand's picture
The World Bank Group (WBG) has highlighted climate change as a critical challenge for sustainable development and poverty reduction in the 21st century.  As part of its own corporate responsibility efforts, the WBG is taking steps to more accurately measure, reduce, and offset its greenhouse gas emissions (in other words, its “carbon footprint”).

The measurement of the carbon footprint from business air travel is crucial, as it constitutes by far the largest part of the institution’s carbon footprint (at least 55%, and perhaps as high as 70%). Current internationally accepted methods used by the WBG for assessing the carbon footprint due to air travel consist of two steps: First, passenger miles flown by WGB staff are calculated, as a share of global flight activity. Secondly, fuel consumption for WBG air travel is taken to be the same share of global airline fuel consumption.

This calculation however does not account for systematic differences in footprints per traveled distance by travel class, with higher footprints for premium (business and first) classes than for economy class. This may appear surprising: “A passenger is a passenger”, one might say; travel class shouldn’t matter for how much fuel an aircraft burns. The problem with this argument is that the “footprint” of a passenger on a commercial flight depends more on the space taken up by the passenger in the aircraft, and less on how much the passenger (and her or his luggage) weighs. It is true that aircraft fuel consumption largely depends on aircraft weight. But passenger weight is only a relatively small fraction of total aircraft weigh (15-20%). Also, spacing of passengers is very important for how many passengers can be carried. As a result, with more passengers on a given flight, the “footprint” per passenger drops.

The space taken up by an average traveler is larger in premium travel classes than in economy class, in some cases much larger. Two factors are behind this. First, in premium classes seat spacing is more dispersed. Secondly, load factors (the fraction of available seats that are actually occupied) are in most cases lower in premium classes than in economy class. Our calculations show that a business class passenger takes on average up 2.5 – 3 times as much space in an aircraft as an economy class passenger. The ratio of first-class to economy-class space occupied per traveler is even higher, in some cases 6 or more.

We have recalculated the WBG footprint from data on headquarters-based staff air travel for 2009, based on these premises. Our best assessment is about 225,000 tons CO2, about twice the prevailing estimate, due to the higher “footprint” in business class (64% of all WBG air travel in 2009), and even higher in first class (5% of travel). We have also made some tentative calculations for 2012, and found that this footprint seems to have fallen by about 14%. This reduction is due mainly to two factors: the share of premium-class travel fell from 69 to 66%, and more importantly, first class travel had been virtually eliminated for WBG staff by 2012. The latter reduced the WBG’s air travel carbon footprint by almost 10%. There was also a slight reduction in the overall travel volume of the WBG, by 1-2%.

The costs to offset emissions while accounting for the impacts of different travel classes are not very high. To take some examples, for round-trip travel to London or Frankfurt the Bank’s offset cost, at a carbon cost of $25 per ton CO2 (corresponding, perhaps, to estimated long-term damages from emissions but far higher than current offset market prices), would be about $40 in economy class, and about $80 in business class; and for round-trip travel to Delhi, twice this amount. This constitutes only a few (2-3) percent of basic ticket costs.

A further step to consider would be to allocate carbon offset payment costs to individual Bank travel budgets, rather than paying them from a central budget as is customary today. This could lead to further awareness on the part of all Bank staff and managers of the carbon footprint of the institution’s air travel.

http://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/blog-carbon-footprint-world-bank-group-staff-air-travel

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Are first class passengers to blame for global warming? Flying up front multiplies your carbon footprint by more than nine times compared to economy class 

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

15 June 2013

All those free drinks, lie-back seats and extra perks have an unexpected cost that can’t be charged to the company expenses account.

First class air passengers are much more damaging to the environment than the average traveler, according to new research.

The paper (PDF), published in May, explains that those who enjoy first class service have a carbon footprint that is over nine times larger than the humble passenger crunched up in coach class.

Damning: First class fliers have a footprint that is over nine times bigger than an economy passengerDamning: First class fliers have a footprint that is over nine times bigger than an economy passenger [data from the World Bank's study ]

First class seats are bigger than the standard berth, meaning less people can get on a plane. This results in more fuel being burnt per person to get the aircraft to its destination.

Moreover, passengers flying in luxury are likely to carry more bags, adding more weight to the plane and consuming more fuel.

Even a passenger in business class ticket has a carbon footprint that is around three times the size as someone in economy. The figure gets worse if some of the expensive seats are left empty.
The research does point out that is doesn’t calculate for the relative weight of passengers between classes, but that’s a more controversial issue.

The paper finds that compared with an average passenger a flier in economy class has a carbon footprint of 0.76, a business class traveler has a figure of 2.30 and a first class passenger has a whopping 6.89 figure.

A carbon footprint measures an individual’s emissions of the greenhouse gases that are responsible for global warming.

The research was carried out by The World Bank, which is attempting to reduce its own carbon emissions, according to Quartz.com

Air travel represents at least 55 per cent of the organization’s carbon footprint and could be as high as 70 per cent, as reported by a World Bank blog.   

The Washington Post stated that employees at World Bank HQ in Washington made around 189,000 trips in 2009, which clocked up 447 million miles.
About 73.6% of those flights were in business class, while another 6.9% were in first class. First class travel has been reduced since, however.

Quartz reported that by stopping luxury travel for virtually all employees by 2012 the World Bank has reduced its carbon footprint by around 20,000 tons.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2341988/Are-class-passengers-blame-global-warming-Flying-multiplies-carbon-footprint-times-compared-economy-class.html

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The World Bank’s Policy Research Working Paper

at http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/IW3P/IB/2013/05/31/000158349_20130531105457/Rendered/PDF/WPS6471.pdf

states:

The ICAO calculator (used for individuals to calculate their footprints) includes one refinement of standard procedure, by using a factor of 2 for the footprint of premium (business and first) classes relative to economy class. We have gone a step further in this direction by attempting to calculate this factor more precisely than has been done previously in the literature. But more can be done to make such calculations even more precise. One such factor is more precise (flight-specific) information.

 

The ICAO  Carbon Emissions Calculator

1 passenger, flying round trip from LONDON, GBR (LHR) to VANCOUVER, CAN (YVR) ( 15,150 Km ), in Economy Class, generates about 998.84 Kg of CO2

1 passenger, flying round trip from LONDON, GBR (LHR) to VANCOUVER, CAN (YVR) ( 15,150 Km ), in Premium Class (Economy Premium, Business, or First), generates about 1,997.68 Kg of CO2   [ie. double]

 

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Earlier:

Business class fliers leave far larger carbon footprint

by   (G uardian)

 17 February 2010

Flying is a high-emission activity, but travelling in business or first-class can be several times as damaging as seats in economy

• Foreign Office’s 10:10 plan takes off with economy flights for ambassadors 

  • business class A380
Double beds, champagne, rose petals … Singapore Airlines’ A380 planes will include ‘a class beyond first’. Photograph: Johnny Green/PA

Everyone knows that flying is carbon-intensive. But the footprint of any trip depends on a host of factors in addition to the simple question of how far you are travelling: the aeroplane model, how many seats are empty, how much luggage passengers carry, the time of day and potentially even whether passengers have emptied their bladders before boarding.

Perhaps more important than any of these, however, is the class of travel. That may partly explain why the Foreign Office has just joined the 10:10 climate campaign to cut its emissions by 10% this year and plans to stop its staff travelling business class. As commentators often point out, economy is clearly lower carbon because it maximises the number of passengers that each flight can carry. But how exactly much difference does this make?

In the absence of reliable data to help answer this question, I did some sums of my own. Starting with a long-haul scenario, I took a BA 747 floorplan and worked out the area of different blocks of seats, based on the standard length of a 747 being a little over 70 metres. The results of my rough-and-ready study are as follows.

• Economy (“World Traveller” on British Airways): 0.66 sq metres per seat

• Premium economy (“World Traveller Plus”): 1.1 sq metres per seat

• Business (“Club World”): 2.3 sq metres per seat

• First: 3.6 sq metres per seat

Purely in terms of physical space, then, the answer appears to be that flying first class on BA gives you a footprint around 5.5 times larger than that of an economy passenger, with a business seat clocking in at 3.5 times the economy option.

For short-haul trips, the differences aren’t so great. As this floorplan shows, first class doesn’t exist on BA’s European flights and the business seats are much smaller than the giant recliners found in the business area of the 747. Roughly speaking, short-haul business class appears to be equivalent to long-haul premium economy, each with a carbon footprint per ticket around 50% larger than standard economy class.

There are a few extra factors to consider, however. For one thing, a typical square metre of the densely packed economy section of the plane carries more weight than a square metre of the more sparsely populated first-class and business-class areas. Since extra weight means extra fuel consumption, this should reduce the carbon benefits of economy a little.

On the other hand – and probably much more significant – there is the financial implication of the different types of tickets. I plugged in a week-long return journey from London to New York in March to BA’s flight finder and compared the price for each type of ticket to the floor-space the seat occupies. The results look like this:

• Economy: £362, or £548 per sq metre

• Premium economy: £844, or £750 per sq metre

• Business: £2048, or £886 per sq metre

• First: £8432, or £2342 per sq metre

For this trip, flying business class means spending around 60% more per unit of floor space than you’d pay in economy, while going first class means paying more than 300% extra.

It seems fairly obvious that the more you pay for a square metre of cabin, the more profit you give to the airline and the more you subsidise the cheaper classes of tickets. Put another way, if no one flew business or first class, the price of economy travel would have to rise, leading ultimately to lower occupancy rates, fewer flights and less global warming.

And there are even more sources of emissions caused by the more expensive tickets: the running of business-class airport lounges and first-class spas; the manufacturing of larger, fancier seats (complete with “crisp white 400–thread Egyptian cotton duvets” in the case of BA first class); and indeed the extra air travel encouraged by the large number of air miles thrown in with many business and first-class tickets.

For all these reasons, the difference in carbon footprint between economy travel and the more expensive options is impossible to pin down with any precision. But it’s likely that the climate cost of flying in style will be even greater than the size of your luxury reclining seat might suggest.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/feb/17/business-class-carbon-footprint

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IEA warns 60%+ of existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned to avoid a global 2C temperature rise

The International Energy Agency has produced a report, called “Re-drawing the Energy Climate Map” which looks at measures to deal with global carbon emissions. The report only looks at the energy sector, the biggest contributor to global emissions. (It did not look at  aviation). The IEA said, as they said last year, that two-thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if global CO2 emissions are to be held within the projected danger threshold of a 2C rise.  They also say climate change could pass a critical level if the world waits until 2020 for the planned comprehensive UN deal to cut emissions. The IEA authors believe governments will find it easier to take smaller focused measures than to shift their entire economies to clean energy systems – and they hope competitive advantage to nations that can save more energy and cut emissions cheaply will be motivation for governments to act.   This report comes at the same time as announcements of massive worldwide reserves of shale oil. It will not be possible to burn these, for many decades to come, without catastrophic climate impacts.

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IEA report

Re-drawing the Energy-Climate Map  (June 2013)  Page 9

The world is not on track to meet the target agreed by governments to limit the long term rise in the average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (°C). Global greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly and, in May 2013, carbon-dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in several hundred millennia.

The weight of scientific analysis tells us that our climate is already changing and that we should expect extreme weather events (such as storms, floods and heat waves) to become more frequent and intense, as well as increasing global temperatures and rising sea levels.

Policies that have been implemented, or are now being pursued, suggest that the long-term average temperature increase is more likely to be between 3.6 °C and 5.3 °C (compared with pre-industrial levels), with most of the increase occurring this century.  While global action is not yet sufficient to limit the global temperature rise to 2 °C, this target still remains technically feasible, though extremely challenging.

To keep open a realistic chance of meeting the 2 °C target, intensive action is required before 2020, the date by which a new international climate agreement is due to come into force.

International Energy Agency urges stop-gap climate action

Roger Harrabin

By Roger Harrabin – Environment analyst (BBC)

10.6.2013

Coal fired station in China
The IEA wants to see cleaner technologies introduced at coal-fired plants

A sticking plaster solution for climate change has been proposed by the world’s top energy think tank, the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It says climate change could pass a critical level if the world waits until 2020 for the planned comprehensive UN deal to cut emissions.

In the meantime, it recommends some short-term measures.

These include action on energy efficiency, coal-fired power stations, and fossil fuel subsidies.

The IEA authors believe governments will find it easier to take smaller focused measures than to shift their entire economies to clean energy systems.

The agency repeats its warning that two-thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if emissions are to be held within the projected danger threshold of a 2C rise.

It wants immediate major investment in carbon capture and storage technology to enable more fossil fuels to be used. But this technology is years behind schedule and still untried in power stations at industrial scale.

Standard route

The report, “Redrawing the Energy Climate Map, appeals to politicians’ self-interest by dangling a carrot of competitive advantage to nations that can save more energy and cut emissions cheaply.

Its latest tactic offers by 2020 to reduce emissions by 3.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (3.1 Gt CO2-eq) at what it says will be no net economic cost.

Energy efficiency is the bedrock of the approach (49%) with recommended energy performance standards in all countries for lights, heating, and appliances.

Setting standards is a proven way of reducing energy use and saving consumers costs in the long term, but new standards are typically resisted strongly by manufacturers wishing to continue profits from current models. More than half the projected savings can come from the buildings sector, the report says.

Limiting the use of old polluting coal-fired power stations is another idea, which the IEA says will also combat air pollution. New plants cost money, though, especially if they are the most efficient type that the IEA recommends.

Halving methane releases from upstream oil and gas operations by 2020 is feasible at affordable cost, the report says. Methane releases produced 1.1 gt CO2 equivalent in 2010.

‘Black’ snow

The last of the four stop-gap solutions proposed is already in line with a resolution adopted by the G20 countries – the partial phase out of fossil fuel subsidies.

This should be accelerated, the IEA says. Dirty fossil fuels receive $523bn a year in subsidies – six times more than clean renewables.

This policy will prove controversial as removal of subsidies tends to provoke a sharp political response, but the report points out that the policy is attractive to national treasuries looking to cut budgets.

The report notes that the growth in China’s emissions has been among the lowest for a decade as renewables have grown and carbon intensity targets begin to bite. Emissions in the US are 200 million tonnes down, thanks to a switch to gas from coal, bringing emissions down to the levels of the mid-1990s. But emissions in Japan are up 70 million tonnes following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Overall, global emissions rose 1.4% despite the economic slowdown. On current trends, the world is moving further away from its target of limiting global temperature rise to 2C, the report says.

The document only looks at the energy sector, the biggest contributor to global emissions.

Other recent positive measures towards tackling climate change have been the agreement between the US and China to phase out HFC gases and a growing international pact to limit pollutants like black carbon, which settles on snow and makes it absorb more heat.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22845425

 

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Shale oil ‘adds 11% to world reserves’

10.6.2013 (BBC)

A pumpjack drills for oil in the Monterey Shale, California
Shale oil and gas reserves are expected to change the face of global energy markets

Estimated global reserves of shale oil could increase total world crude resources by 11%, according to a US government report.

The Energy Information Administration estimated there were some 345 billion barrels of “technically recoverable” shale oil reserves in 41 countries.

And some 7,299 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves could boost natural gas resources by 47%, the EIA said.

But technically recoverable reserves are not a guaranteed supply.

They are an estimate of how much oil or gas could be extracted using the latest technology and they do not take into account economic viability.

“The reserves are one thing, but the ability to scale up the production for those reserves is another thing, which is not as straightforward in many parts of the world as it has proved to be in the US,” said Jan Stuart, head of energy research at Credit Suisse in New York.

For instance, in Poland, which is believed to have much shale potential, several companies have given up shale drilling after early attempts indicated extraction would be difficult.

Changing markets

Shale oil and gas reserves are expected to have a huge impact on the world’s energy markets.

recent report by consultants PwC said that shale oil “has the potential to reshape the global economy, increasing energy security, independence and affordability in the long term”.

Last month the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that a steeper-than-expected rise in US shale oil reserves would mean the US would change from the world’s leading importer of oil to a net exporter over the next five years.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the independent statistics arm of the US Department of Energy.

Its report marks the first time it has looked at global shale reserves. A previous report in 2011 only looked at shale oil resources in the US.

According to its latest assessment, Russia has the most shale oil reserves with 75 billion barrels, ahead of the US and China.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22850607

 

Related BBC Stories

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IEA sets out global climate action plan

Redrawing the Energy Climate Map sets out four point plan that would curb global emissions ahead of 2020, while imposing no net cost on economy

By James Murray  (Business Green)

10 Jun 2013

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has today released a major new report warning that urgent action is required before 2020 to curb global greenhouse gas emissions if the world is to have any chance of limiting average temperature increases to two degrees Centigrade.

The report, entitled Redrawing the Energy Climate Map, argues that, despite progress in the US and EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a slowing of emissions growth in China, global carbon emissions still rose 1.4 per cent in 2012, putting the world on track for 3.6 to 5.3 degrees of warming by the end of the century.

Speaking at the launch of the new report this morning, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven warned that political and business leaders were failing to deliver sufficient action to tackle the threat posed by climate change. “Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities,” she said. “But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite.”

The report calculates that delaying action to address climate change risks will lead to higher costs for the energy industry as climate impacts become more severe and the imperative to decarbonise becomes more acute post 2020.

“Delaying stronger climate action to 2020 would come at a cost to the energy sector: $1.5 trillion in low-carbon investments would be avoided before 2020, but $5 trillion in additional investments would be required thereafter to get the world back on track,” said Van der Hoeven. “The question is not whether we can afford the necessary investments given the current economic climate. The fact is we simply cannot afford to delay.”

The report sets out four policy recommendations that it argues will result in no net cost while cutting global emissions eight per cent by 2020 against a business-as-usual scenario.

It outlines how more ambitious energy efficiency standards and financing schemes for buildings, appliances and transport could deliver around 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon emissions savings, while targeted action to phase out the least efficient coal-fired power plants, reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and partially phase out fossil fuel subsidies can all help cut emissions at no net cost to the fragile global economy.

“We identify a set of proven measures that could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, the report’s lead author. “Rapid and widespread adoption could act as a bridge to further action, buying precious time while international climate negotiations continue.”

The report was broadly welcomed by green groups, although some critics argued more ambitious action was required, particularly on the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.

Fred Krupp, president of the US Environmental Defense Fund, said the report represented an important intervention from a group that has traditionally been broadly supportive of the global oil industry.

“It’s especially noteworthy to have such a report coming from the International Energy Agency, which was founded 40 years ago to facilitate international coordination among oil-consuming countries,” he said. “The fact that the IEA is issuing this report is a clear reminder that the real energy-related threat to economic prosperity is no longer an oil shock, but a climate shock.

“We are already seeing the early-warning signs of climate change in extreme weather events around the world. This report, coming from the world’s leading experts on energy, sends a very clear message: we have the tools we need to make the turn toward climate safety. What is needed is the political will to act. This report should be required reading for next week’s G8 Summit.”

However, the report came on the same day as the British government launched a new independent review, tasked with exploring how to maximise growth from the country’s oil and gas industry.

The review will be led by Sir Ian Wood, who will undertake a full analysis of the industry and recommend measures to further enhance the recovery of fossil fuels from UK reserves.

“Although investment levels are rising strongly, the UKCS is one of the most mature basins in the world and therefore faces unprecedented challenges,” said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey. “Our offshore infrastructure is getting older, and we are seeing a decline in the rate of exploration and in the amount of oil and gas that is being recovered.

“All these issues need to be addressed if we are to stimulate innovation in this sector and see maximum economic benefit for the UK in the decades ahead.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2273791/iea-sets-out-global-climate-action-plan

 

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Greenpeace 

IEA: Five key charts on energy and climate

10.6.2013
Global greenhouse gas emissions have reached a record high, meaning the world remains on track  for catastrophic climate change – that’s the conclusion of the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

See also: IEA: Global emissions reach record high, four key points

The Paris-based energy think-tank said emissions rose 1.4% in 2012, putting the world on a path to global temperature rises of between 3.6 and 5.3 degrees.  But the agency said that tackling climate change didn’t need to come at economic cost.

Here are five key charts to tell the story

1. The world is on track for more than 5 degrees of warming

2. Sending temperatures in major cities well into the 40s

3. To limit warming to 2 degrees we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground

..and this means that it would not be economic to develop large amounts of the world’s existing oil and gas supplies – specially if they are not yet proven or are expensive to extract.

4. If we don’t leave them in the ground, our energy security will be threatened by climate change

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/data/iea-five-charts-why-fossil-fuels-need-stay-ground

 

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Earlier

WWF supports IEA conclusion: two thirds of fossil fuel reserves must be left underground

2 November 2012
Gland, Switzerland – Two thirds of all proven fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world is serious about avoiding dangerous climate change, according to the International Energy Agency in its World Energy Outlook 2012 report released today.

“The IEA’s conclusion reflects sound science. CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are destabilizing our climate. We cannot burn fuels like coal and oil indefinitely without paying the price in the form of climate instability, droughts, heat waves and super storms. The IEA has done the only responsible thing by prominently highlighting this in its report,” says WWF’s Global Climate and Energy lnitiative leader Samantha Smith.

“This scientific and blunt assessment should be clearly heard by all countries, investors and the fossil fuel industry itself. This is not only about stopping all new large-scale fossil fuel exploration, such as those in the Arctic; this is about retiring existing dirty energy infrastructure as well, and it is the price to pay to avoid global climate disaster. We quickly needed to transition our energy economies if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe,” she says.

Three years ago, the world’s governments committed to staying well below 2 degrees global warming (compared to pre-industrial temperatures) in order to limit dire climate change impacts on biodiversity, food security and poor and vulnerable communities. Already today, with global warming still below 1 degree Celsius, freak weather events such as super storm Sandy are creating havoc with coastal communities; record droughts this year have severely impacted yields of essential food crops and led to food crisis; and the Arctic Ocean has seen yet another record low in sea ice cover, from which it is unlikely to recover.

Smith says that governments, investors and industry must heed the warning by the IEA. “The IEA is clearly saying it is not too late for climate action, and its strong message to all of us is that we need to act right now,” she says.

WWF is calling for massive new, global investments in clean renewables and a corresponding phase out of investment in fossil fuel projects. “We fully support the IEA’s finding that investments in clean renewables and energy efficiency must expand substantially in nations that have already joined the renewable energy journey, and must start immediately in those nations that are lagging behind,” says Smith. WWF notes that a few developed countries, such as Germany and Denmark, are already doing their part. Others need to both radically increase their domestic investments and invest in a fair transition to renewables in low income countries.

WWF’s global director of energy policy, Dr Stephan Singer, says the call by the IEA to cut fossil fuel subsidies and redirect the cash into clean renewables, clean energy access and energy conservation is absolutely essential.

WWF shares the fundamental concern of the IEA that recent commitments to curb fossil fuel subsidies were just empty words by the G20, the club of the world’s mighty nations. In 2011, fossil fuel subsidies grew by 30% compared to 2010 and now amount to more than half a trillion USD, or the equivalent of more than twice the GDP of Indonesia, he says.

“If those subsidies were redirected into pro-poor programs or renewable energy access, world governments could still stay below 2 degrees warming and provide access to clean and sustainable energy for the three billion people worldwide who have no or only dirty energy,” says Singer.

Immediate actions and policies are needed before 2017 to prevent dangerous lock-in of global fossil fuel infrastructure, otherwise all the allowable CO2 emissions will be locked-in by the existing energy infrastructure, making the 2 degree objective unachievable. “On this we agree with the IEA,” he says. Fossil fuel infrastructure includes new fossil-based power stations and continued exploration of unconventional fossil resources such as shale gas and shale oil, tar sands and deep sea oil.

WWF also supports the IEA warning of the danger of using freshwater for fossil fuel production in a world where many countries are already experiencing droughts and water scarcity. The IEA notes that freshwater use for energy production is likely to double in the next 20 years unless fossil fuels – particularly shale gas development – and unsustainable biofuel uses are curbed substantially.

http://wwf.panda.org/?206701/WWF-supports-IEA-conclusion-two-thirds-of-fossil-fuel-reserves-must-be-left-underground
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