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
Kevin Lister has written an open letter to the Aviation Minister, Theresa Villiers, pointing out to her that, despite all the hype about the Dreamliner being touted as the first of a new generation of planes, it is not greatly more fuel efficient than others. It is not likely to "solve" the industry's future fuel or emission problems. Looking at the likely number of passengers, the range and the fuel capacity, the fuel consumption figures for the A380, Boeing 787, 777, and 747 very comparable. And are in the same range as the old Lockheed Constellation aircraft of the 1950s. The Dreamliner has lighter components, using carbon fibre rather than aluminium. But its main aim is to be a slightly smaller plane, that can fly long distance, without needing to refuel. This means carrying a great deal of fuel on take off for such a long trip. A doubling in a plane's speed increases drag by a factor of four, and the power consumption of the engines by a factor of eight. Therefore, for greatest fuel efficiency, a plane would fly more slowly and over relatively short distances.
(From GreenAir Online) The legal case against the inclusion of international aviation into the EU ETS has centred on whether the EU has the power to regulate emissions produced outside the EU. Also whether the EU’s scheme is consistent with its obligations under applicable bilateral and multilateral agreements governing air transport services. And third is whether it is compatible with the EU’s WTO obligations. This latter challenge is the subject of a paper by Dr Lorand Bartels of the Faculty of Law at Cambridge University. Bartels concludes that despite the complexities of WTO law, the EU scheme in the main is justifiable on environmental grounds and, insofar as the scheme affects services such as tourism, it is likely a WTO panel would lack jurisdiction to determine on a violation until ICAO remedies had been exhausted.
The US permanent representative at ICAO has recently said that general consensus within ICAO since 2007 has been that market-based measures (which means emissions trading, emission related charges and taxes, and emissions offsetting) to limit the growth of aviation emissions will not come into play until 2020. He believes that the consensus on the delay in bringing in emissions trading etc, although not unanimous, continues, and he is not convinced it will be changed at the 2013 Assembly. He was critical of the slow progress at ICAO to deliver on a CO2 standard for airframes and engines that is due to be produced in 2013. He told ICAO that he expected technological and operational improvement measures being used in the period to 2020, and only carbon trading perhaps after that.
Governments are falling badly behind on low-carbon energy, putting carbon reduction targets out of reach and pushing the world to the brink of catastrophic climate change, the world's leading independent energy authority - the IEA has warned. "The world's energy system is being pushed to breaking point," Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA. "Our addiction to fossil fuels grows stronger each year." On current form, she warns, the world is on track for warming of 6C by the end of the century – a level that would create catastrophe, wiping out agriculture in many areas and rendering swathes of the globe uninhabitable, as well as raising sea levels and causing mass migration. Under current policies, the IEA estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050.
There are 7 new pilot carbon emissions trading schemes in China, 5 in municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tainjin) - and two provinces (Guangdong and Hubei from 2013). These pilot projects will pave the way for a national trading scheme (ETS) to be implemented in 2016. Details are steadily emerging of the pilot schemes and China’s commitment to tackling climate change is growing increasingly clear, making it more difficult for Europe to argue that it is out in front and unable to increase its ambitions. At the same time as developing its own emissions trading schemes China is currently objecting to flights between China and Europe being included in the EU ETS. A new report from Sandbag suggests that China could include flights from the major cities within the emissions trading pilots and thereby enact the equivalent measure clause which would remove them from the EU scheme.
EThe US Ambassador to ICAO is skeptical that ICAO’s assembly can reach consensus on market-based measures to control emissions when it meets in September 2013. He said ICAO's current direction on developing market-based measures, such as ETS, dates from a resolution at the assembly’s last meeting in 2010 - and that “is actually a derivative” of one adopted in 2007. He said the consensus on Market Based Measures (things like ETS) among the 191 member states of the Assembly has changed little since that time. “The ICAO Industry Emissions Reduction Roadmap from 2010 to 2050 has virtually all of the emission reductions coming from aviation from 2010 until 2020 attributed to technological and operational improvements. Only beginning around 2020 does the ICAO industry roadmap plan for reductions from market-based measures...The roadmap realistically has alternative fuels coming on line slowly and not making really big, significant contributions until after 2030.”
West Sussex County Council have done an analysis of their carbon emissions, to understand individual emissions and help communities to change their lifestyles, consumption etc. The consumption-based carbon footprint for West Sussex residents broken down into sixteen specific segments shows that the largest single component is personal flights, at 13%. This comes higher even than food and drink (retail) at 12%. And then at 10% each are household fuel, and domestic vehicle fuel. Followed by other non food shopping at 9% and then household electricity at 7% - with other sectors at lower figures. Remarkable that the flights component is so very high. For the Lake District, the proportion of emissions from foreign flights by visitors to the Lake District was a third of the total budget—yet of the 16 million visitors a year, only 10% come from abroad".
The US special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, has warned that the inclusion of foreign airlines in the EU ETS could hold up global climate change talks. He said that just because progress on a global agreement over aviation emissions reductions at ICAO had proved difficult, “it did not mean the multilateral approach should be thrown away.” While US carriers continue to comply under protest with the EU ETS, 2 Indian airlines serving Europe have been forbidden to take part and have failed to submit their 2011 emissions reports by the March 31 deadline, leaving open the possibility of fines by their UK authority. Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said Europe “could not accept threats of all kinds of trouble just because a small price has to be paid for the pollution caused by travel, while no one grumbles about paying for online tickets, extra luggage or seat reservations.”
India has formally forbidden its airlines from participating in the EU ETS, having earlier said it would boycott the scheme. The Indian environment minister says the ETS is a "deal-breaker" for global climate change talks, and she it saying the ETS is trying to disguise unilateral trade measures under climate change. A European Commission spokesman said "I don't see why this should be a deal-breaker if both share the same objective, which is reducing global emissions." The EU continues patiently to repeat that it has been driven to make all airlines pay for their emissions after more than a decade of talks at the United Nations' ICAO failed to find a global solution to rising emissions of greenhouse gases from aviation. However, ICAO has now been bounced into more action, though many environmental groups still question whether it can deliver a viable plan.
The EU currently has a target of cutting its CO2 emissions by 20% of the 1990 level by 2020. The UK is pushing for this to be increased to 25% or 30% by 2020. The Climate Change minister, Greg Barker, says moving from the 20% to the 30% target would boost investment in low-carbon industries and strengthen the price of carbon, which has tumbled more than 60% in a year - and that the tougher targets would also help UK and European companies access a clean tech market estimated to be worth "trillions of dollars" by 2015. But he echoed George Osborne in his insistence that the UK would not act unilaterally if other EU states refused to sign up to more ambitious targets. The UK thinks it will exceed the 20% target. This does not include the embodied energy in imports. There are EU talks in Denmark next week. Poland is holding out against tighter targets.