Climate Change News
Below are news items on climate change – many with relevance to aviation
Below are news items on climate change – many with relevance to aviation
Seven European aviation firms have written to 4 government leaders complaining about the inclusion of airlines in the EU ETS. These include Airbus, BA and Virgin Atlantic. They are arguing now that the ETS threatens jobs. They are concerned about trade retaliation by countries not complying with the ETS. Airbus is claiming the retaliation by China and the USA is threatening more than 1,000 jobs (at Airbus) and another 1,000 through the supply chain. China had suspended the purchase of planes made by European manufacturers because of the levy. In a draft of the letter seen by the BBC, the companies urge politicians to pursue a "compromise solution"... They now want the ETS to be put on hold until a global plan for carbon emissions is agreed.
An aviation industry body calling itself The Sustainable Aviation Group has updated its 2008 Road-Map on how it hopes to continue growing as much as possible, and yet also magically keep its carbon emissions down. There are many assumptions about the extent of fuel efficiency from new planes and new engines; from better operational practices such as better air traffic control. And a huge hope that biofuels will be the salvation and provide immense carbon savings. In addition, they will depend to a huge extent on carbon trading with other sectors, so at least a quarter of their emissions will have to be compensated for by other sectors. And for all this they want a lot of government subsidy and assistance - which means money from the tax payer.
Several recent stories about climate change reveal that the rate of ocean acidification is speeding up, due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere creating carbonic acid in oceans, making their pH lower. The pH is currently dropping by about 0.1 per century. This ocean acidification harms organisms such as corals that rely on dissolved carbonate to make their shells. NASA has observed a massive new crack in the Antarctic ice shelf, which will eventually produce a vast 900 square metre iceburg, though it may not be calved off this year. Attempts to determine whether the Antarctic is losing ice have produced some conflicting data, but recent reports agree that the ice sheet is losing ice – and indeed that the rate of loss has been speeding up. The ice loss is largely in the Western Antarctica, particularly around the Antarctic Peninsula.
Russia has threatened to cap EU airline flights over Siberia as part of possible retaliatory measures approved by more than 20 countries at a recent meeting in Moscow. Valery Okulov, Russia’s deputy transport minister, said each country could choose whatever measure it wanted, in line with its own laws, to try to stop the EU including airlines in its ETS. He said Russia would look at limiting EU airlines’ use of routes over Siberia, and give preference instead to carriers from Japan, China and other Asian nations. "We are calling on the European Union to do whatever it takes to prevent a trade war," he said. "We intend to get EU’s carbon trading measures either cancelled or postponed."
A senior parliamentary committee of MEPs has agreed controversial measures to let the EU Commission cut the supply of carbon permits in the bloc’s ETS, in a bid to prop up CO2 prices lingering below €10. The industry committee of the EU Parliament passed an amendment to the Energy Efficiency Directive to allow the EC take measures by the end of the year that “may include withholding of the necessary amount of allowances” from the 2013-2020 phase of the EU carbon market. Before becoming law the bill still needs approval from the full Parliament and the Council of 27 environment ministers. Sandbag welcomed this move and said politicians must remove at least 1.4bn permits to get the market in carbon to work properly. "Today's vote is a significant step in that direction."
New York Times editorial, supporting the EU ETS. It says the CO2 from airplanes accounts for about 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, a share projected to go up as air traffic rises. And that Europe hopes it will avert any increase in emissions and lead to a modest drop, beginning with a 3 % cut this year compared with a 2004-6 baseline. And "passengers are not looking at charges much greater than what it now costs to check a single bag. This seems a small price to pay for encouraging more efficient airlines and beginning to address global warming."
23 of the countries meeting in Moscow to oppose the ETS signed a joint agreement that sets out 8 "counter measures" that signatories could take to try to force the EU to ditch ETS plans. [6 of the signatories, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uganda, have no carriers covered by the EU ETS]. The 23 countries would “consider” measures and actions if the EU failed to respond. Canada, Egypt and the UAE abstained from the final agreement. An earlier draft suggestion on re-opening existing wider trade agreements was dropped from the final text. EU data shows the ETS will have a negligible impact on ticket prices, adding €1.34 to the cost of a flight from London to New York or €0.76 to the cost of a flight from London to Moscow. Despite threats of trade wars and retaliation, the EU remains adamant it will not change or postpone its legislation.
A meeting of 30 countries opposed to the ETS has taken place in Moscow. 29 of them, but not India, agreed a declaration listing 8 retaliatory steps against the EU unless it excludes their airlines from charges when flying to or from Europe. These measures include legal action, suspending talks with European carriers on new routes, reviewing bilateral service and open skies agreements with European countries and imposing retaliatory levies on EU airlines. They can choose whichever they want. Connie Hedegaard says Brussels would not suspend the ETS for aviation. The next meeting of the countries opposed to the ETS would be held in summer in Saudi Arabia. EU officials have said they may be willing to “moderate” their stance on ETS, if a deal for an equivalent global system can be reached through ICAO. Airlines do not need to buy their carbon permits until April 2013.
The current price of a tonne of CO2 is about €8-9. Therefore the cost of the ETS to airlines is very much lower than they had previously estimated, based on a higher carbon price. Point Carbon has calculated airlines covered by the scheme will have to pay around €500 million for the required permits to cover a potential shortfall of 59 million tonnes of CO2 this year, at an average estimated price of €8.50 per tonne. This may end up being even lower, at €300 million, which is described as a "drop in the ocean" compared to fuel. The carbon price will probably be low next year too. Non-EU airlines will be expected to pay for just a quarter of the total EU ETS aviation costs in 2012, or around €75 million of the €300 million overall cost. So Point Carbon estimates Chinese airlines will have to pay about €1.9 million in 2012, not hundreds of millions of €s. The cost per passenger for a trans-Atlantic flight is about €2-3, and a Barclays Capital analyst is quoted as saying "it is really hard to see what all the fuss is about".
Almost 15 years after Kyoto protocol assigned responsibility for dealing with aviation’s CO2 to ICAO, there is finally a sense of urgency. The EU has offered to exclude flights coming into Europe from the ETS if ICAO comes up with a global deal better than Europe’s initiative. T&E asks what would a credible global deal on aviation emissions look like? It would have to have three features: 1. A global market-based measure should be based on fuel use or emissions, not on the amount of passengers or freight. 2. It should reduce aviation emissions & substantially contribute to global climate finance. The current ETS price of €7/tonne CO2 fails. 3. It must work for vulnerable countries as well as for the climate. Some revenue could compensate poor countries for the impact of air travel & pay a global climate fund.