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
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?"
The Prince of Wales recently warned of the "catastrophic" consequences of inaction on issues such as climate change, at the Rio+20 talks. He said he had "watched in despair" at the slow pace of progress on the "critical issues of the day," and urged world leaders to adopt a more integrated approach to issues such as climate change and food security. He said scientific evidence showed the potential consequences of ignoring the risks, and that the Doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight. We are simply not reacting fast enough. Taking up this call, protesters from Climate Siren held a peaceful banner protest, hanging banners from the gates of Buckingham Palace, quoting Charles words - calling for more effective climate action.
The ICAO secretary-general Raymond Benjamin has said ICAO has narrowed down to 4 schemes the alternatives to the EU ETS, which it vigorously opposes. It is possible that some sort of compromise might happen. Some draft proposal should be produced by ICAO by March 2013, not the end of 2012, as had previously been suggested. Europe has repeatedly replied to opposition to the ETS that its hand was forced to go it alone after waiting in vain for more than 15 years for ICAO to come up with a global system to reduce aviation’s greenhouse gases. Their tardiness has been largely due to airline lobbies. There are now firm deadlines that will lead to a plenary assembly of ICAO in Montreal in September 2013 at which all 191 countries will be asked to vote on a single initiative. The EU has said they would modify their ETS if there is an equivalent global scheme. ICAO wants the funds from an ETS to go to aviation, while the EU ETS funds go into general government revenues.
ICAO have launched an iPhone and iPad app so fliers can calculate the amount of carbon their flights have generated. Which is great and very commendable. ICAO says the calculator has been available on the internet since it was first launched in 2008 and is used worldwide by the general public and all UN agencies etc. BUT, the snag is that the figures they give are very low, for the amount of carbon produced, and completely exclude non-CO2 "radiative forcing" effects. For example, for an economy class return flight for one person from Heathrow to New York, the ICAO calculator gives a figure of 770 kg of CO2, while most others give much higher figures, such as 1.84 or 1.87 tonnes including radiative forcing.
Jos Dings, Director of T&E in Brussels, has analysed the EEA figures that appear to show a fall in transport emissions. He finds many flaws, indicating that emissions have not fallen by as much as is alleged, and much of the fall is caused inadvertently by the economic recession. The alleged drop is 1%, whereas 3% per year is needed in order to hit the EU's 2050 target for transport emissions. The 2010 figures indicate that transport emissions are up by 27% from their 1990 levels. However, the figures are artificially lowered by counting the 4% of biofuels used as zero carbon, while they are not. Including biofuels correctly, EU transport is 30% of the EU emissions total and EU transport emissions have risen by 32% since 1990.
Chinese airlines will refuse to submit carbon emissions data to the EU by this week’s deadline. This was extended from 31st March. The airlines say they are unanimous on this. Chinese officials says if the EU carries through with its threat of penalising Chinese airlines, they would immediately retaliate with measures against European airlines, which could include impounding European planes. There is now a Chinese working group to devise a list of retaliatory steps to be taken against the EU if any Chinese airline is penalised. They are still campaigning for the EU only to charge for carbon on internal EU flights. Under the EU plan, Germany will determine whether Air China is in breach of ETS regulations or not; France will monitor China Southern Airlines; and the Netherlands will monitor China Eastern Airlines.
The American Environmental Defense Fund says - in response to critics of the EU ETS who say the scheme should not operate outside European airspace - that this argument is incorrect. Though part of a flight from, say, the USA is not over Europe, the flight only takes place because its destination is in Europe. Without that being the destination of the passengers, the plane would not be there. All the emissions from the whole flight occur because the passengers want to get to Europe - so all are within the EU ETS. This principle has been agreed by the UNCCC and ICAO. The EDF also rejects arguments based on sovereignty because many countries already impose charges like arrival or departure taxes, on the whole flight, and not only part of it. The ETS is no different.
Chinese airlines have confirimed that they still support their government’s opposition to the ETS. Chinese airlines will continue to oppose the ETS despite the EU's warning that it might take punitive measures in response. The Chinese airlines say they will not comply with the system unless ordered to do so by their government. Eight Chinese airlines, along with two from India have not submitted 2011 carbon emission data to the EU yet, whereas 1,200 carriers have. The Chinese say the airlines that are not complying could be fined or even banned from flying to Europe.