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
This is an article from BusinessGreen, with a good and clear explanation of why Tim Yeo is utterly wrong with his pronouncements on aviation and the ETS. You would have thought someone who is Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee should know this. The ETS cannot and will not prevent aviation emissions from rising, because of the current weakness and failures of the ETS, meaning it does not work properly, largely as the carbon price is too low and dubious credits are imported from outside. However, supposing the ETS did work perfectly, it would drive up the cost of flying hugely as permits become scarce and expensive as carbon cuts are harder and harder for other sectors to make. There would then be no need for more runways as demand would fall greatly. So no need for a new Heathrow runway, or a new airport. Unless planes could become virtually zero carbon - of which there is no current prospect.
A Cambridge University researcher has given the opinion that nations which retaliate against the EU ETS may fall foul of international trade rules and the WTO. The researcher, who is a lecturer in WTO and international law, said: “If a World Trade Organization member restricts EU flights over its territory, or landing slots for EU flights in its territory, it is likely to violate WTO obligations ensuring non- discriminatory treatment of trade in goods, as well as freedom of transit.” They noticed the irony of Russia, which only joined the WTO yesterday, immediately trying to use trade restrictions for political purposes. The researcher said the WTO permits measures that are necessary “to protect human, animal or plant life or health,” and a successful WTO complaint against the ETS would have to show that the EU could have achieved the same goal another way that is “both reasonably available and less trade- restrictive than the measure adopted. This is notoriously difficult to assess".
A Senate committee has passed a bill authorising the transportation secretary to bar US airlines from complying with the ETS if he or she deems this to be in the public interest. It will now be sent to the full Senate for a vote. The 19-member panel voted to approve an updated version of a bipartisan bill authored by Republican Senator John Thune and Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. They want this to apply more pressure on the EU to stand down from what they say is "a misguided and unlawful tax" and claim the money spent in paying for carbon emissions could "otherwise be invested in creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in our country.” It will require the secretary to hold a public hearing before implementing any ban, and also “to pursue a worldwide approach” to address aircraft emissions (ie. the glacially slow, and so far utterly ineffective ICAO process).
A group of 16 countries (so far un-named) are meeting in the US about the ETS, and how a global "solution" might be found to aviation emissions. The opponents of the ETS, even though it adds so very little to a trans-Atlantic flight ($3 or so one way) want ICAO to come up with some scheme that is global. However, if ICAO can ever agree a scheme, it will both take years to bring about, and is likely to be too weak to be effective. ICAO's only target now is an "aspirational" one (meaning not binding at all) to keep global aviation emissions at 2020 levels, after 2020, by buying offsets for increases. Annie Petsonk of US NGO Environmental Defense Fund said yesterday the US airlines’ and their trade association’s motive was “to tie up ICAO so deeply in the ponderous process that it will never have time to work on a serious agreement on climate change.”
Efforts to tackle emissions from aviation have taken a hesitant step forward, with the news that ICAO has endorsed an expert group’s recommendation on the way to measure fuel burn in flight. The recommendation is for a ‘metric’ system and test cycle to be the basis for setting fuel efficiency standards for new aircraft. However, many concerns remain. In 2009, ICAO began work on a standard for new aircraft, and has now produced a methodology for measuring in-flight fuel burn and thus CO2 emissions. This will form the basis for a minimum standard of fuel efficiency that all new aircraft will have to meet on CO2 emissions. The ICAO proposal for the CO2 metric are not yet public. The environmental groups working with ICAO are working to ensure the standard set is stringent enough.
The EU has moved to shore up the faltering price of CO2 emissions in the ETS as current low price is failing to encourage companies to reduce their greenhouse gas output. However, the changes are relatively minor, too minor to do much good, resulting in changes in the timings of auctions of carbon permits, rather than the large-scale reforms that campaigners and green businesses had urged. The current carbon price is about €7 (£5.40) per tonne of carbon, which is well below the price of €25-40 per tonne that analysts say is needed to encourage companies to change their behaviour. The price is so low due to the recession and lelss economic activity in the EU so there is a glut of excess permits.Some companies will be able to avoid paying for carbon for years to come. Sandbag says that 2.2bn allowances need to be removed to restore the scarcity envisaged before the recession.
A global resolution to Europe’s battle with China and other countries over curbing aviation emissions is unlikely before October 2013, risking growing pressure from domestic airlines and trade partners. Senior EU officials say they will not retreat from enforcing obligations under the ETS, and a decision is expected shortly on how the EU will respond to defiant Chinese and Indian airlines that failed to meet a 31 March deadline. Officials say that an ICAO draft plan is not likely until March 2013 and that the full ICAO council – representing the international body’s 191 member states – would then not consider it until a meeting due in October 2013 - or if no decision is made, it could be 2016 before a resolution would be considered again.
It is possible that Carlisle City Council will decide on the redevelopment plans for Carlisle airport this week, but more likely it will be delayed. It has been due last July, but Stobart asked for it to be delayed. The upgrades are mainly for freight, but the local council and the tourism bodies want air passenger, not only freight. However, 92% of Cumbria's visitors are UK-based, though Cumbria Tourism etc want to attract more international tourists, and year to get visitors from Brazil, China, India and Russia - as well as more from America. And for these to fly up from London. One problem with the application is that Stobart have now halved the number of passengers it thinks it can get by 2025, from its initial guess of 100,000 per year, to 50,000. This lower number will reduce the alleged benefits to the local economy, and so is not likely to be approved.
The ICAO has narrowed its focus to 3 broad options to address aviation emissions, eliminating the baseline and credit system. ICAO's governing council, meeting in Montreal this week, agreed to rule the scheme, where increases or decreases from an initial emissions baseline could be traded. It is being dropped as it is similar to another option being considered, global carbon offsetting. The 3 other remaining options are: offsetting with a revenue-generating mechanism, and cap and trade emissions trading. ICAO expects to have something agreed by March 2013, though environmental commentators are sceptical they can deliver anything effective. Connie Hedegaard would like to see progress by the November ICAO meeting.
The Irish Government has announced that it would consider Ryanair’s bid to take over their Irish rival , Aer Lingus. They want 50% of it. They also admitted that they would not rule out the sale of their 25% stake and are considering it. Ryanair - which already owns 30% of Aer Lingus - launched their third bit to take over Aer Lingus last week. They offered shareholders 38% premium to the market. This deal would require regulators to drop opposition to a merger and the Irish government to agree the price. The FT reports that Ryanair said, rather pompously this would be ...."clearly beneficial in the context of the current recessionary environment and will make a valuable contribution towards budget spending in such important areas as health and education.” The FT asks "Since when, one might ask, have airlines been advising governments how to raise money for social expenditure?"