Badly thought-through aviation carbon targets, involving biofuels, risk massive deforestation to grow palmoil and soya

A new report shows that the aviation industry’s attempts to cut its carbon emissions (caused by encouraging more and more people to take more flights….) are likely to lead to a dramatic increase in demand for palm oil and soy for aviation biofuels. They suggest the amount of tropical forest that would be taken for this could be 3.2 million hectares – an area larger than Belgium. The aviation industry hopes to be able to use as much alternative fuel as possible, and hopes this will be classed as lower carbon than conventional kerosene jet fuel. These hopes are unrealistic. To try to prevent climate destabilisation from worsening, the world needs as much forest as possible left standing, intact and health. The last thing we need is forest being cut down, in order to produce fuel for planes – largely for hedonistic leisure travel.  It makes no sense to destroy so much forest, and its biodiversity, for such an inessential reason. The report says the only technology currently operating at a commercial scale to make bio-jet fuel is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process using vegetable oils and animal fats. The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation – not to mention competition for land for human food.
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Aviation climate targets may drive 3 million hectares of deforestation

The aviation industry’s climate targets are likely to lead to a dramatic increase in demand for palm oil and soy for aviation biofuels. A new report concludes that this may result in 3.2 million hectares of tropical forest loss – an area larger than Belgium.

As the general assembly meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) got underway in Montreal, Rainforest Foundation Norway’s new report ‘Destination deforestation‘ goes into the heated debate about “flight shame” and the role of the aviation sector in contributing to the climate crisis.

The report “Destination Deforestation” reviews the status of the targets the aviation industry has set for alternative fuels and shows how high the risk is that expanding biofuel use in aviation will cause the last thing the world wants or needs right now: increased deforestation.

The aviation industry has set an aspirational goal to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50 percent in 2050 (compared to 2005), without limiting growth. Central to this vision is a near complete shift from conventional jet fuel to alternative aviation fuels. Near total replacement of fossil fuel would be needed to meet this target.

Sky-high demand for soy and palm oil

A number of technologies are available to produce aviation biofuels, or even to produce aviation fuels from electricity, but the only one of these technologies currently operating at a commercial scale is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process to produce jet fuel from vegetable oils and animal fats. 

The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation. Unless alternative aviation fuel policies actively support more sustainable options, it is likely that meeting the aviation industry’s aspirations to reduce emissions would lead to a sharp increase in demand for soy and palm oils.

The report estimates that meeting the aspirational targets outlined by ICAO through the cheapest and most readily available technology would lead to an additional demand in 2030 of 35 million tons of palm oil, 3.5 million tons of palm oil by-products (PFAD), and 35 million tons of soy oil. For comparison, the current global annual production of palm oil globally is around 70 million tons.

Previous studies, including some published by the EU Commission, have shown that the climate impact of biofuels based on palm oil and soy oil is even higher than continuing to use fossil fuels.

An area the size of Belgium at risk

The report concludes that this increased demand for palm oil and soy could drive 3.2 million hectares of tropical forest loss (an area larger than the size of Belgium) and 5 gigatons of land use change CO2 emissions (close to the current annual greenhouse gas emissions of the USA) in 2030, unless measures are taken to avoid the targets being met using the most readily available aviation biofuel technology and feedstocks.

“The aviation industry risks becoming a major threat against the world’s rainforests. While ICAO’s proposed use of alternative aviation fuels is meant to reduce emissions, it in fact risks inducing massive emissions from the destruction of tropical forests and peatlands, alongside loss of biodiversity and violations of the rights of forest-dependent peoples”, says Nils Hermann Ranum of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Aviation biofuel policy at the EU level and in selected countries is also reviewed, revealing that proposed government programs in countries such as France, Finland, Sweden and Indonesia could contribute to the massive deforestation outlined in the report, through varyingly allowing for the use of aviation biofuels based on palm oil, PFAD and soy oil respectively.

Strong measures are needed

Avoiding the direct use of palm oil and soy oil as feedstocks can reduce the deforestation impact of alternative fuel policies, but due to the connectivity of global vegetable oil markets, any use of food oils as biofuel feedstock will drive expansion of tropical oil crops, with associated indirect deforestation and accompanying greenhouse gas emissions.

“The aviation industry should take urgent steps to avoid using biofuels from the highest deforestation risk feedstocks such as palm oil, PFAD and soy. They should also exclude or limit support for biofuels from food oils more generally. Anything less would risk severely undermining the world’s commitment through the Sustainable Development Goals to stop deforestation and strive to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius”, concludes Ranum.

The report is written by the renowned low carbon fuels expert Dr. Chris Malins.

https://www.regnskog.no/en/news/aviation-climate-targets-may-drive-3-million-hectares-of-deforestation

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Read the report ‘Destination deforestation’

For further quotes, background or contacts:

Nils Hermann Ranum, Head of Rainforest Foundation Norway’s Drivers of Deforestation Program

Phone: +47 990 01 032    Email: nils.hermann@rainforest.no

Dr. Chris Malins of consultancy Cerulogy, the author of the report

Phone: +44 (0)7905 051 671    Email: chris@cerulogy.com

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Heathrow wants the £4 bn APD revenue (paid because aviation pays no VAT or fuel duty) to boost ‘green’ aviation fuels

Heathrow’s avarice and self-interest appear to know no bounds. Aside from the immense cost to public health from the increased noise and air pollution of its plans for a 3rd runway (equivalent to bolting another large UK airport onto the Heathrow site….) the huge cost to the taxpayer for the necessary improvements to surface access infrastructure, if it expands, and so many other costs – like destroying villages, Heathrow wants yet more. The Treasury has repeatedly said that the aviation industry in the UK pays Air Passenger Duty (APD) BECAUSE that makes up, to a small extent, for the income lost to the Treasury each year, because the aviation sector pays NO fuel duty and NO VAT.  The money is NOT there to give the aviation industry a boost.  But Heathrow wants  the approximately £4 billion raised each year from APD to be given back to the industry, so it can try to find a way to produce jet fuels that are allegedly “sustainable” and “lower carbon” that convention jet fuel. The problem for the aviation industry is that, other than worthy-sounding pronouncements about “the ambition of a net-zero carbon aviation industry by 2050” etc, they have no actual plans of any means by which to do that.  APD funds should NOT be given back to aviation.
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Heathrow urges £4bn APD revenue to boost ‘green’ aviation fuels

by Phil Davies (Travel Weekly)

August 21st 2019

Heathrow is once again urging the government to invest £4 billion annual intake from Air Passenger Duty to raise production of ‘green’ aviation fuels.

The revenue generated from the air tax could help to accelerate the production of biofuels and support the ambition of a net-zero carbon aviation industry by 2050.

The airport first made the demand for a reform of APD last month.

Heathrow sustainability director Matt Gorman said: “Having won an overwhelming majority in Parliament supporting expansion at Heathrow we are getting on with delivering a project that will connect the whole country to economic growth in a way that is sustainable and responsible.

“We understand the responsibility our sector has to help tackle climate change and ensure we protect a world worth travelling, which is why we’re calling on government to invest the revenue generated from Air Passenger Duty in sustainable fuels.

“This move will help to drive a much needed change in our sector and make travel more sustainable.”

More: Industry should stop bleating about carbon tax

APD should be reformed to support sustainable aviation fuels

The call came as the London hub revealed that SAS took the top spot in its ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ airline sustainability league table in the second quarter of the year.

The result came as the Scandinavian flag carrier reduced early and late flights.

The airline also scored well for its operational performance by improving its ‘track keeping’ – following preferential noise route flight paths precisely and using a quieter landing method known as continuous descent approach.

The league table compiles the results of the airport’s top 50 busiest airlines from April to June, rating how each airline scores for operational factors such as punctuality, track keeping, continuous decent approach, and monitors the fleet upgrades that help to reduce emissions.

Both 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A350s are among the top environmental performers, helping airlines to rise in the rankings.

Qantas jumped 28 spots to sixth place, earning the title of most improved airline, after achieving 100% compliance for track keeping and running its schedule without late or early flights.

The announcement coincided with Heathrow’s 12-week expansion consultation, which details measures the airport will be putting in place to reduce emissions and provide respite for local communities as part of its plans for a third runway. The consultation runs until September 13.

http://travelweekly.co.uk/articles/340755/heathrow-urges-4bn-apd-revenue-to-boost-green-aviation-fuels

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See also

 

£125 million more UK public money going to fund aviation research to (possibly, eventually) minimally cut CO2 emissions

The aviation industry repeatedly gets money from the UK government, to help it try to find new technologies, or new fuels, that might slightly cut the carbon emissions of flights.  Instead of the industry funding this research itself, it always wants public money to help – money from taxpayers that could be better used.  If the aviation sector really wanted to cut its carbon emissions significantly, it would stop attempting to grow as fast as possible. If the government was serious about cutting aviation CO2, it would introduce measures to make flying more expensive and less attractive, in order to cut demand. But instead, money is spent on technologies that just – basically – involve continuing with “business as usual” and carrying on flying as much as possible.  Hopes of magical future technologies, or fuels, just postpone the day when they have to “bite the bullet” and reduce aviation growth. Now the UK government is spending another “£125 million in the Future of Flight Challenge, supported by an industry co-investment of £175 million, to fund development of technologies including cargo drones, urban air taxis and larger electric passenger aircraft.” Fiddling while Rome burns….

Click here to view full story…

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Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA

Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into so-called “sustainable” aviation fuel. The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration. That would be converted into fuel, to be used by the aviation industry (some could be used for road vehicle fuels…). The scheme is claiming it would “reduce reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent.”  The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides – but gives no explanation how. It also claims the process produces less air pollution that if the waste was incinerated or landfilled (but gives on details).  Usual blurb from British Airways (desperate to try to make out that aviation will emit less CO2 in future, while continuing to grow) about “Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation…”  blah blah… BA had proposed a similar plant in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.

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UK’s first commercial waste to aviation fuel plant proposed

Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into sustainable aviation fuel.

The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration and turn it into clean-burning sustainable aviation fuel, which is claimed would reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent.

The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides; and the technology offers a lower emissions route to process UK waste than incineration or landfill.

The site is called Portlink 180 which consists of approximately 80 acres of land located on Hobson Way, between Immingham and Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire.

Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO, said: ‘The submission of the planning application marks a major milestone in this project and we are delighted with the progress being made.

‘Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation which will help power our aircraft for years to come.

‘This development is an important step in the reduction of our carbon emissions and meeting the industry targets of carbon neutral growth from 2020, and a 50% in CO2 reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels. It also brings the UK another step closer to becoming a global leader in sustainable aviation fuels.’

British Airways had proposed a similar plant to be built in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.

Last week, Heathrow Airport called on UN’s aviation body ICAO to set targets for the use of sustainable fuels in aviation and for the government to invest some of the £4bn annual revenue raised from Air Passenger Duty to scale-up its production.

In other related news, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced in May that they will buy 75,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel a year for the next 10 years.

They will buy the fuel from SkyNRG who will develop Europe’s first dedicated plant for the production of sustainable airline fuel (SAF) in Delfzijl in The Netherlands.

They say it will be capable of producing the fuels bioLPG and naphtha primarily using regional waste and residue streams as feedstock.

https://airqualitynews.com/2019/08/20/uks-first-commercial-waste-to-aviation-fuel-plant-proposed/

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From the Velocys website:

Plans submitted for the first waste to jet fuel plant in the UK and Europe

Altalto Immingham Limited is a subsidiary of Velocys and a collaboration with project co-investors British Airways and Shell.

Velocys is a British sustainable fuels technology company. Originally a spin-out from Oxford University, in 2008 the company acquired a US company based on complementary technology developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Over 15 years Velocys has developed proprietary Fischer-Tropsch technology that enables the production of drop-in transport fuels from the embedded carbon-sources in a variety of waste materials. Having demonstrated its technology at commercial scale, Velocys is currently developing projects in Natchez, Mississippi, USA and Immingham, UK to produce fuels that significantly reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and key exhaust pollutants for aviation and road transport.

Velocys is leading the development of the Altalto Immingham project and has assembled all the technology components into a standardised integrated design. Velocys also supplies the central processing unit: micro-Channel Fischer-Tropsch  reactors with the proprietary Velocys Actocat catalyst. This is the part of the process that turns a gas mixture of carbon and hydrogen into the liquid hydrocarbons required to create the sustainable fuels.

British Airways intends to purchase jet fuel produced at the plant for use in its aircraft. This is an important step in the reduction of the airline’s carbon emissions towards the industry targets of carbon neutral growth from 2020 and a 50% reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels.

Shell intends to purchase both jet fuel and road fuel from Altalto, which may then be blended and sold to Shell’s customers, helping to reduce their carbon footprint. Shell will also provide technical expertise, based on its long experience of gasification and Fischer-Tropsch conversion.

The process enables the production of aviation and road fuels with 70% less net greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel.

Subject to planning and funding decisions, we plan to begin construction in 2021 and to start producing commercial volumes of Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2024.

For more information about the project, visit www.altalto.com or contact Robert Jeffery at Robert.Jeffery@fieldconsulting.co.uk or 07852 428 915.

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The Fischer-Tropsch process uses a lot of energy: 

The Fischer–Tropsch process is a collection of chemical reactions that converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. These reactions occur in the presence of metal catalysts, typically at temperatures of 150–300 °C (302–572 °F) and pressures of one to several tens of atmospheres.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process



See earlier:

DfT, always trying to make aviation growth look “green”, to pay £434,000 to fund waste-to-jetfuel project

A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) “sustainable” jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK.  This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste – otherwise destined for landfill – and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of “sustainable” fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/06/dft-always-trying-to-make-aviation-growth-look-green-to-pay-434000-to-fund-waste-to-jetfuel-project/

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Solena, the company meant to be producing jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt

In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d  domestic waste into aviation fuel.  The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices.  BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport  – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions.  The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping.  Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/10/solena-the-company-meant-to-be-producing-jet-fuel-from-london-waste-for-ba-goes-bankrupt/

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British Airways + Solena plant to make jet fuel from London’s rubbish – announcement soon?

GreenAir online gives an update on the anticipated biofuel plant (costing around $500 million)  to be built in east London, to produce diesel and jet fuel.  GreenAir says that according to British Airways’ a 20-acre (8ha) site has been selected for its GreenSky project with Solena and an announcement is expected within weeks. Getting the required planning permission had proved “extremely challenging.”  GreenSky will convert around 600,000 tonnes of London  municipal waste into 50,000 tonnes of biojet and 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel annually, and will – they hope – meet BA’s total fuel needs at London City Airport.  BA hope they can claim annual carbon savings of up to 145,000 tonnes of CO2. “It’s very much a demonstration plant for us. If we can prove this works commercially then we will build a number of them in the UK – potentially up to six – at this scale or even bigger.”  “The economics is driven by a current UK landfill tax of about £80 per tonne, so the scheme hopes to get the rubbish cheaply – saving councils the landfill tax.  Under its 10-year contract with Solena, BA will purchase all the fuel produced by the plant. They hope to start building in early 2015 and start producing fuel in 2017.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/03/british-airways-solena-plant-to-make-jet-fuel-from-londons-rubbish-announcement-soon/

 

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Velocys CEO suspended over allegations of ‘serious misconduct’

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£125 million more UK public money going to fund aviation research to (possibly, eventually) minimally cut CO2 emissions

The aviation industry repeatedly gets money from the UK government, to help it try to find new technologies, or new fuels, that might slightly cut the carbon emissions of flights.  Instead of the industry funding this research itself, it always wants public money to help – money from taxpayers that could be better used.  If the aviation sector really wanted to cut its carbon emissions significantly, it would stop attempting to grow as fast as possible. If the government was serious about cutting aviation CO2, it would introduce measures to make flying more expensive and less attractive, in order to cut demand. But instead, money is spent on technologies that just – basically – involve continuing with “business as usual” and carrying on flying as much as possible.  Hopes of magical future technologies, or fuels, just postpone the day when they have to “bite the bullet” and reduce aviation growth. Now the UK government is spending another “£125 million in the Future of Flight Challenge, supported by an industry co-investment of £175 million, to fund development of technologies including cargo drones, urban air taxis and larger electric passenger aircraft.” Fiddling while Rome burns….

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UK invests $368 million in ‘cleaner, greener’ forms of air transport

The UK has unveiled a more than £300 million ($368 million) government-industry investment to develop “cleaner, greener” forms of air transport, including electric and autonomous aircraft and sustainable alternative fuels.

The government will provide £125 million in the Future of Flight Challenge, supported by an industry co-investment of £175 million, to fund development of technologies including cargo drones, urban air taxis and larger electric passenger aircraft.

An additional £5 million has been awarded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to five new transport research networks led by the Universities of Birmingham, Durham and Leeds, Cardiff University and University College London. The funds will support work to develop cleaner fuels and other technologies to reduce emissions.

The first competition under the challenge, to create “compelling concept studies,” will open Sept. 30. Innovate UK plans to brief potential bidders by video conference on Sept. 5.

A presentation by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute, from a January workshop on the challenge, said its goal is to “[demonstrate] aviation systems incorporating low environmental impact, electrified, increasingly autonomous air vehicles and airspace management by 2025.”

The document describes four main areas of work under the challenge: new models of airspace management and “anticipatory regulation,” novel air vehicle demonstrators, ground infrastructure demonstrators for cities and “sub-regional airports,” and new operating models for users and commercial operators of air services.

Potential milestones outlined in the January presentation include: unmanned traffic management drone trials in 2021, deployment of initial services on a trial basis in 2022, and autonomous drones operating beyond visual-line-of-sight in UK airspace by 2023. Operation of drones in cities is also planned by 2023.

While it is not clear whether the timescales still hold, the document outlines plans to fly demonstrators of two electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing concepts in 2021, and conduct autonomous flights in 2023. The presentation also calls for demonstrators of two sub-regional, conventional-takeoff electric/hybrid-electric passenger aircraft: a modified existing aircraft in 2021 and an optimized aircraft in 2023.

Graham Warwick Graham.warwick@aviationweek.com

https://atwonline.com/aeropolitics/uk-invests-368-million-cleaner-greener-forms-air-transport

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See earlier:

DfT, always trying to make aviation growth look “green”, to pay £434,000 to fund waste-to-jetfuel project

A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) “sustainable” jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK.  This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste – otherwise destined for landfill – and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of “sustainable” fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/06/dft-always-trying-to-make-aviation-growth-look-green-to-pay-434000-to-fund-waste-to-jetfuel-project/.


Prototype “Hybrid Air Vehicle” (HAV) – the “Airlander” – may have its first flight this year – government funding

The world’s longest aircraft has been unveiled.  It is an experimental hybrid, which looks like a giant (helium filled) airship – which has a pod slung underneath, two small engine rotors and small wings. It is the shape of two rugby-ball shapes linked in the middle with a joining section. It uses little fuel and its advocates say it is “70% greener than a cargo plane.” If the giant models can be made to work, they may be able to carry up to 50 tonnes payload. It can land on a small space, or on water, and so is being promoted as possibly helpful to land aid and equipment to remote disaster areas with no long runways. The machines could also be used for long term surveillance as they can stay aloft for days or weeks, and be remotely operated. The length of the prototype is 302ft (92m) which is some 60ft longer than the Airbus A380 or the massive cargo-carrying Antonov An-225. The company developing it has now received £2.5m of UK government funding for development “of quieter, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly planes.”  Business Secretary Vince Cable hopes this will be an “innovative low carbon aircraft which can keep us at the cutting edge of new technology …… to lead the world in its field.”  They may be able to “fly over the Amazon at 20ft, over some of the world’s greatest cities and stream the whole thing on the internet.”  However, supplies of helium are limited, and non-renewable.  Some experts suggest supplies of helium could be depleted by the middle of the century. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/03/prototype-hybrid-air-vehicle-hav-the-airlander-may-have-its-first-flight-this-year/

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UK government recommits to funding support for development of advanced aviation biofuels

Mon 28 Aug 2017 (GreenAir online)

The UK government has recommitted to providing up to £22 million ($28m) towards funding for projects to develop advanced low carbon, waste-based advanced fuels for planes and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The fund, which must be matched by industry, is expected to help deliver up to five new plants in the UK by 2021 that will produce advanced fuels to be used in aircraft and lorries where it is not yet viable to switch to electric power. The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT), in association with engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo, first launched the ‘Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition’ (F4C) in April to invite applications for the funding …. more at

https://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=2402

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IPCC report on Climate Change and Land; growing crops for biofuels just increases the problem

The IPCC report on Climate Change and Land has stressed the importance of humanity not continuing to do so much damage to the land, but growing crops on so much of it, or removing natural vegetation to provide grazing for animals. It emphasises that we need to reduce the amount of land that humanity is using, and let land store and sequester carbon. There is also the added point, made by George Monbiot, that a real calculation of the amount of carbon produced by agriculture – and destruction of the natural vegetation (eg. tropical forest) should look at the opportunity cost of that land; how much carbon would have been saved by leaving it in its natural state. So the carbon emissions are not just those from food production – but also the loss of the natural carbon sink. The emphasis on the extent to which humanity is increasing climate breakdown via agriculture shows how using land to produce biofuels is adding to this problem. Using land to grow biofuels competes with land for growing food crops. Biofuel plantations may lead to decreased food security through competition for land.  In addition, BECCS will probably lead to significant trade-offs with food production.
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It’s a tragic missed opportunity. The new report on land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shies away from the big issues and fails to properly represent the science. As a result, it gives us few clues about how we might survive the century. Has it been nobbled? Was the fear of taking on the farming industry – alongside the oil and coal companies whose paid shills have attacked it so fiercely – too much to bear? At the moment, I have no idea. But what the panel has produced is pathetic.

The problem is that it concentrates on just one of the two ways of counting the carbon costs of farming. The first way – the IPCC’s approach – could be described as farming’s current account. How much greenhouse gas does driving tractors, spreading fertiliser and raising livestock produce every year? According to the panel’s report, the answer is around 23% of the planet-heating gases we currently produce. But this fails miserably to capture the overall impact of food production.

The second accounting method is more important. This could be described as the capital account: how does farming compare to the natural ecosystems that would otherwise have occupied the land? A paper published in Naturelast year, but not mentioned by the IPCC, sought to count this cost. Please read these figures carefully. They could change your life.

The official carbon footprint of people in the UK is 5.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year. But in addition to this, the Nature paper estimates that the total greenhouse gas cost – in terms of lost opportunities for storing carbon that the land would offer were it not being farmed – of an average northern European diet is 9 tonnes a year. In other words, if we counted the “carbon opportunity costs” of our diet, our total footprint would almost triple, to 14.4 tonnes.

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Why is this figure so high? Because we eat so much meat and dairy. The Nature paper estimates that the carbon cost of chicken is six times higher than soya, while milk is 15 times higher and beef 73 times. One kilo of beef protein has a carbon opportunity cost of 1,250kg: that, incredibly, is roughly equal to driving a new car for a year, or to one passenger flying from London to New York and back.

These are global average figures, raised by beef production in places like the Amazon basin. But even in the UK, the costs are astonishing. A paper in the journal Food Policy estimates that a kilo of beef protein reared on a British hill farm whose soils are rich in carbon has a cost of 643kg, while a kilo of lamb protein costs 749kg. Research published in April by the Harvard academics Helen Harwatt and Matthew Hayek, also missed by the IPCC, shows that, alongside millions of hectares of pasture land, an astonishing 55% of UK cropping land (land that is ploughed and seeded) is used to grow feed for livestock, rather than food for humans. If our grazing land was allowed to revert to natural ecosystems, and the land currently used to grow feed for livestock was used for grains, beans, fruit, nuts and vegetables for humans, this switch would allow the UK to absorb an astonishing quantity of carbon. This would be equivalent, altogether, the paper estimates, to absorbing nine years of our total current emissions. And farming in this country could then feed everyone, without the need for imports.

A plant-based diet would make the difference between the UK’s current failure to meet its international commitments, and success.

Then there are the nature opportunity costs. A famous paper in Science shows that a plant-based diet would release 76% of the land currently used for farming. This land could then be used for the mass restoration of ecosystems and wildlife, pulling the living world back from the brink of ecological collapse and a sixth great extinction.

People tend to make two massive mistakes while trying to minimise the environmental impact of the food they eat. First, they focus on food miles and forget about the other impacts. For some foods, especially those that travel by plane, the carbon costs of transport are very high. But for most bulk commodities – grain, beans, meat and dairy – the greenhouse gases produced in transporting them are a small fraction of the overall impact. A kilo of soya shipped halfway round the world inflicts much less atmospheric harm than a kilo of chicken or pork reared on the farm down the lane.

The second mistake is to imagine that extensive farming is better for the planet than intensive farming. The current model of intensive farming tends to cause massive environmental damage: pollution, soil erosion and the elimination of wildlife. But extensive farming is worse: by definition, it requires more land to produce the same amount of food. This is land that could otherwise be devoted to ecosystems and wildlife.

In wet temperate nations such as the UK, natural vegetation in most places is dominated by trees. Even the best livestock farms deliver a depleted parody of nature, supporting a small subset of the species that might otherwise occupy the land.

If we want to prevent both climate and ecological catastrophes, the key task is to minimise the amount of land we use to feed ourselves, while changing the way the remaining land is farmed. Instead, governments almost everywhere pour public money into planetary destruction.

Look at the £500m the UK government proposes to spend on buying up beef and lamb that will be unsaleable after a no-deal Brexit. This reproduces the worst and stupidest policy the European Union ever conjured up: the intervention payments that created its notorious butter mountains and wine lakes. Brexit, for all its likely harms, represents an opportunity to pay landowners and tenants to do something completely different, rather than spending yet more public money on trashing our life-support systems.

The IPCC, like our governments, fails to get to grips with these issues. But when you look at the science as a whole, you soon see that we can’t keep eating like this. Are we prepared to act on what we know, or will we continue to gorge on the lives of our descendants?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/08/ipcc-land-climate-report-carbon-cost-meat-dairy

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See also  IPCC

https://www.ipcc.ch/2019/08/08/land-is-a-critical-resource_srccl/   

This says:

“Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase. This means there are limits to the contribution of land to addressing climate change, for instance through the cultivation of energy crops and afforestation. It also takes time for trees and soils to store carbon effectively. Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation.”

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Used cooking oil imports for use as biodiesel may, in fact, fuel palm oil deforestation

It had been assumed and hoped that used cooking oil (UCO) might be a genuinely low carbon fuel, causing a lot less environmental damage that other liquid fuels. Because UCO is classed as a waste product within the EU, UK fuel producers are given double carbon credits for using it in their fuels. This has sparked a boom in demand for used cooking oil that is so great it is being met in part with imports from Asia.  A new NNFCC study found that in fact  rising demand is increasing deforestation, for more palm oil plantations. The price they can get selling used cooking oil to makers of biodiesel is far higher than the price of new palm oil – so they pocket the difference. This provides the perverse incentive to make money by selling more used oil, just replacing it with (cheap) palm oil. Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 360% increase in use of used cooking oil as the basis for biodiesel. The available evidence indicates that palm oil imports into China are increasing, in line with their increasing exports of used cooking oils. The NNFCC authors want the government to review the practice and perhaps end the EU’s double credit for imported oil. 

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Climate change: Used cooking oil imports may fuel deforestation

15th July 2019

Imports of a “green fuel” source may be inadvertently increasing deforestation and the demand for new palm oil, a study says.

Experts say there has been a recent boom in the amount of used cooking oil imported into the UK from Asia.

This waste oil is the basis for biodiesel, which produces far less CO2 than fossil fuels in cars.

But this report is concerned that the used oil is being replaced across Asia with palm oil from deforested areas.

Cutting carbon emissions from transport has proved very difficult for governments all over the world. Many have given incentives to speed up the replacement of fossil-based petrol and diesel with fuels made from crops such as soya or rapeseed.

These growing plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and so liquid fuel made from these sources, while not carbon-neutral, is a big improvement on simply burning regular petrol or diesel.

In this light, used cooking (UCO) oil has become a key ingredient of biodiesel in the UK and the rest of Europe. Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 360% increase in use of used cooking oil as the basis for biodiesel.

graphic

Because UCO is classed as a waste product within the EU, UK fuel producers are given double carbon credits for using it in their fuels. This has sparked a boom in demand for used cooking oil that is so great it is being met in part with imports from Asia.

In the UK, the most common feedstock source of biodiesel between April and December 2018 was Chinese UCO, totalling 93 million litres. In the same period, used cooking oil from UK sources was used to produce 76 million litres of of fuel.

Now a new study, from international bioeconomy consultants NNFCC, suggests that these imports may inadvertently be making climate change worse by increasing deforestation and the demand for palm oil.

The problem arises because used cooking oil in some parts of Asia is not classed as a waste product and is considered safe for consumption by animals.

graphic 

 

The report’s authors are concerned that since it is more profitable to sell Asian UCO to Europe for fuel rather than feed it to animals, it is likely being replaced by virgin palm oil which is cheaper to buy.

“Although correlation does not necessarily equate to causation, the available evidence indicates that palm oil imports into China are increasing, in line with their increasing exports of used cooking oils,” the report states.

Between 2016 and 2018, palm oil imports into China rose by 1 million tonnes, an increase of more than 20%.

“As soon as that point is reached where you can sell used cooking oil for more than you can buy palm oil, it’s a no brainer,” said Dr Jeremy Tomkinson who co-authored the report for NNFCC.

“What you are going to do if you’re in Asia, you’re going to sell as much UCO as you can to the EU and buy palm oil and pocket the difference.”

Demand for palm oil has led to large-scale deforestation and the loss of natural habitats across Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Between 2010 and 2015, Indonesia alone lost 3 million hectares of forest to continued expansion of palm oil cultivation.

Each hectare of forest that’s converted to palm oil releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 530 people flying economy class from Geneva to New York according to a recent study.

Most of the used cooking oil that’s already imported is made from palm. But it’s the extra demand from Europe, say the authors, that is likely to be fuelling deforestation.

“It’s irrelevant if the virgin palm is going into the biodiesel or into the animals,” said Dr Tomkinson.

“If we weren’t pulling that resource out of the market, no new resource would be falling into it.”

The UK government rejects the idea that imports are increasing demand for palm oil. The Department for Transport says that there is no evidence showing a causative link between policies on waste-derived biofuels and increased use of virgin oils.

The department argues that they have worked hard to ensure that such indirect effects do not happen.

“Biofuels are a key way of achieving the emission reductions the UK needs and we have long been at the forefront of action to address the indirect effects of their production, including pushing the EU to address the impact of land use change,” a spokesperson said.

“Last year alone biofuels reduced CO2 emissions by 2.7 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking around 1.2 million cars off the road.”

Counting double

One of the key elements that’s making used cooking oil so valuable is the fact that producers in the EU are given double the number of carbon credits for using the waste material. While the EU allows all countries to “double count” carbon credits for UCO, the UK is one of the few countries to put this into practice.

Palm oil imports into China have boomed in the past two years 

Oil importers say the “double counting” is vital in preventing even more palm oil from entering the European market.

“Biodiesel made from waste oil is more expensive to produce; it has higher production costs,” said Angel Alvarez Alberdi from the European Waste-to-Advanced Biofuels Association.

“If we don’t have a policy incentive of double counting then under normal market conditions you will have the cheapest available option and that is conventional palm based biodiesel that would still be able to reach the EU.”

However, the report authors say that the policy has other dangers, not just because it may be driving up demand for palm oil in Asia but because it may also be stymieing development among other alternative fuel producers, such as ethanol in the UK.

The authors want the government to review the practice and perhaps end the double credit for imported oil

Palm oil has been linked to increased deforestation in parts of Indonesia

“If it comes from outside of the EU don’t let it double count unless you put in increased levels of scrutiny to verify it’s not having an impact on land use,” said Dr Tomkinson from NNFCC.

“If you don’t do that then you only get a single credit for that used cooking oil.”

Environmental groups are also concerned about the potential impact that UK and EU imports of UCO are having.

“Making biodiesel from imported UCO is no longer the environmental good it was once perceived to be,” said Greg Archer, UK director of the environmental group Transport and Environment.

“There are real concerns some of these oils may not be genuinely ‘used’ or they may be indirectly causing deforestation. Governments need to scrutinise the source of UCO far more closely and require organisations certifying biofuel feedstocks to undertake far more rigorous and extensive checks.”

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48828490

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See earlier:

KLM and SkyNRG to open factory to produce “low carbon” jet fuel, mainly from “wastes” (like used cooking oil)

Airlines are desperate to find some form of fuel that they can claim is “low carbon” and that does not have obviously negative environmental and social impacts. Finding these miracle fuels is the only way the industry could continue its rapid growth in fuel burn, for decades to come – in the face of the global climate emergency. Dutch airline KLM is keen to get “sustainable” aviation fuel (SAF), working with SkyNRG. They are hoping to use “regional waste and residue streams such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries” as feedstock. A plant is being built, to be opened in 2022, making this fuel.  KLM says:  “From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF …. It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry.”  That number all depends on how it is measured – they are regarding this fuel as causing the emission of at least 85% less CO2 than conventional kerosene. (Is that realistic?) KLM says: “There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production.” Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/05/klm-and-skynrg-to-open-factory-to-produce-low-carbon-jet-fuel-mainly-from-wastes/

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Arlanda airport offering 10% biofuel from American used cooking oil, in “symbolic” initiative

The only form of biofuel that airlines have been able to use, and make credible claims that the fuel is low carbon, is used cooking oil. No other forms of fuel made from biological sources can be produced without negative environmental impacts. Therefore Stockholm’s Arlanda airport has had to turn to American used cooking oil, in its attempt to get jet biofuel for its public relations purposes. Arlanda is now using 10% cooking oil, from SkyNRG and Air BP, in Los Angeles (flown over, presumably?) to be put towards fuel for flights made by Swedavia staff.  Swedavia is the Swedish state-owned organization that owns and operates 10 airports in Sweden.  The quantities of the new fuel are tiny in relation to all the fuel used at the airport, and are seen as symbolic.  But Swedavia, SAS Scandinavian Airlines and other airlines are keen to see more use of biofuel, as they hope this will be considered to be cutting their carbon emissions. However, the costs of any biofuel are high, and it is not commercially viable. The industry is keen to get government subsidies to develop more biofuels, to give the impression the industry is environmentally responsible.  Biofuels for aviation are, in reality, a “red herring” achieving very little in terms of carbon, or environmental footprint. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/01/arlanda-airport-offering-10-biofuel-from-american-used-cooking-oil-in-symbolic-initiative/

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Read more »

KLM and SkyNRG to open factory to produce “low carbon” jet fuel, mainly from “wastes”

Airlines are desperate to find some form of fuel that they can claim is “low carbon” and that does not have obviously negative environmental and social impacts. Finding these miracle fuels is the only way the industry could continue its rapid growth in fuel burn, for decades to come – in the face of the global climate emergency. Dutch airline KLM is keen to get “sustainable” aviation fuel (SAF), working with SkyNRG. They are hoping to use “regional waste and residue streams such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries” as feedstock. A plant is being built, to be opened in 2022, making this fuel.  KLM says:  “From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF …. It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry.”  That number all depends on how it is measured – they are regarding this fuel as causing the emission of at least 85% less CO2 than conventional kerosene. (Is that realistic?) KLM says: “There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production.” Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively.
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KLM, SkyNRG and SHV Energy announce project first European plant for sustainable aviation fuel

Amstelveen, Netherlands

SkyNRG press release

27 May 2019 

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has committed itself for a 10-year period to the development and purchase of 75,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel a year. KLM is the first airline in the world to invest in sustainable aviation fuel on this scale. SkyNRG, global market leader for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), will develop Europe’s first dedicated plant for the production of SAF in Delfzijl.

The production facility will specialise in producing SAF, bioLPG and naphtha, primarily using regional waste and residue streams as feedstock. The plant will be the first of its kind in the world. The construction of this facility, which is scheduled to open in 2022, is a concrete step towards fulfilling KLM’s sustainability ambitions and contributing to the broader industry plan “Smart and Sustainable”. SHV Energy, global leader in LPG distribution, will also invest in the facility and will purchase the bioLPG produced.

Sustainable aviation fuel is a necessary short-term option the commercial aviation industry has, to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term, in addition to fleet renewal and operational efficiency gains. However, not enough sustainable kerosene is currently being produced. The new production plant is a SkyNRG project, called DSL-01, and will be dedicated to production of sustainable aviation fuel. From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF, as well as 15,000 tonnes of bioLPG, as a by-product. It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry. This is an important step for the industry to accommodate the need for carbon emission reduction on the one hand, and the increasing demand for sustainable aviation fuel on the other.

CO2 reduction of 85%
The feedstocks used for production will be waste and residue streams, such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries. The facility will run on sustainable hydrogen, which is produced using water and wind energy. Thanks to these choices, this sustainable aviation fuel delivers a CO2 reduction of at least 85%, compared to fossil fuel. The use of SAF will also contribute to a significant decrease in ultra-fine particles and sulphur emissions. The construction of this facility is very much in line with KLM’s sustainability objectives and is an important step towards implementing the industry action plan “Smart & Sustainable”, which was drafted by twenty leading transport organisations and knowledge centres. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will also be investing in the development of this facility.

Fuel meets the highest sustainability standards
SkyNRG’s independent Sustainability Board advises on whether the fuel meets the highest sustainability standards, thereby ensuring that the fuel (produced from waste streams) will not have a negative impact on the food supply and environment. There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production. The board includes representatives from WWF International, the European Climate Foundation, Solidaridad Network and the University of Groningen. Furthermore, the sustainability of the chain and related products are ensured through certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the highest possible certification standard for sustainable fuels.

Partners
In addition to KLM and SHV Energy, SkyNRG has joined hands with various other partners in the Netherlands and beyond, on the DSL-1 project: EIT Climate-KIC, Royal Schiphol Group, GROEIfonds, NV NOM, Groningen Seaports, Nouryon, Gasunie, Arcadis, TechnipFMC, Haldor Topsoe, Desmet Ballestra, Susteen Technologies, and MBP Solutions. These partners will be involved in various phases of the project.

Quotes
Pieter Elbers
, KLM President & CEO: “I am proud of our collaboration with SkyNRG and SHV Energy to launch a project that will see the development of the first European production facility for sustainable aviation fuel. The advent of aviation has had a major impact on the world, offering a new means of bringing people closer together. This privilege goes hand in hand with huge responsibility towards our planet. KLM takes this very seriously and has therefore invested in sustainability for many years. By joining hands with other parties, we can build a plant that will accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuel. From 2022, the plant will produce 100,000 tonnes a year, of which KLM will purchase 75,000 tonnes. This will reduce our CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year, which is equal to the emissions released by 1,000 KLM flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.

Maarten van Dijk, executive director of SkyNRG: “We are very proud to announce this project today and that we will be realising it in the Netherlands together with such strong partners. For us and our partners, this project is an important milestone in further upscaling the market for sustainable aviation fuel. We are the first to take a step on this scale and we hope it will serve as an example to the rest of the industry in the transition towards a sustainable future for commercial aviation.”

Bram Gräber, CEO of SHV Energy: “We are proud of our innovative collaboration with SkyNRG and KLM, enabling us to make a positive contribution to energy transition. This investment closely aligns with SHV Energy’s strategy to further increase the share of sustainably produced energy products. Our customers in Europe, many of whom are not connected to the natural gas grid, rely on SHV Energy to meet their energy needs efficiently, sustainably and safely. As pioneers in the field of bioLPG, we are pleased that this project will add 15,000 tonnes of bioLPG to our annual supply. This amounts to more than 35,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction.”

Jenny Walther-Thoss, WWF & Member of SkyNRG’s independent Sustainability Board: “From the first plans in 2016, this project has been thoroughly discussed with the SkyNRG Sustainability Board. We are comfortable with the steps taken to safeguard its sustainability performance, in particular on the strict feedstock sourcing strategy.”

Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB: “We are pleased and proud that KLM and SkyNRG are committed to RSB certification of the sustainable aviation fuel. Our standards are globally considered to be the best in class. Our 12 comprehensive principles include greenhouse gas emissions, human and labour rights, practices to maintain soil health and water use and rural and social development. None of the other standards use such a broad range of criteria.”

KLM, SkyNRG and SHV Energy announce project first European plant for sustainable aviation fuel

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Comment from BiofuelWatch: 

Looks like it’ll be broadly similar to WorldEnergy’s refinery, which we wrote about here: https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2019/worldenergy-report-pr/ .

Presumably no technical corn oil (because there’s not much of that around in Europe), but Used Cooking Oil and tallow).

The UK has long been importing a lot of Used Cooking Oil from the Netherlands for road transport biofuels. In fact, some years back, we imported more of that than existed (a nice illustration of issues with sustainability reporting…)!
If all that used cooking oil was to go to aviation biofuels, I guess the UK, and maybe other countries, will switch to different feedstocks which won’t be anywhere as benign.  [It is like poking a balloon – if you press one part, it pops out somewhere else.  If genuinely low carbon fuel is being produced, and used by the aviation industry, then another sectors has to use higher carbon fuel.  It does NOT solve the overall  problem – just helps aviation pretend its emissions are lower. Buck is just passed on to some other sector ….. AW comment].
Would be good to know who’s going to pay for that refinery and whether it’ll be subsidised.

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AVIATION BIOFUELS MADE FROM WASTES AND RESIDUES CANNOT BE SCALED UP, NEW REPORT SHOWS

BIOFUELWATCH REPORT ABOUT AVIATION BIOFUEL PRODUCER WORLDENERGY BOOSTS FEARS THAT LARGE-SCALE BIOFUEL USE FOR AIRCRAFT WOULD HAVE TO RELY ON PALM OIL

11th February 2019 – (BiofuelWatch website)

A new report [1] about aviation biofuels, published by the environmental NGO Biofuelwatch [2] today, exposes the strict limits to the amount of such fuels which could be sourced from wastes and residues as well as their adverse indirect impacts.

The report coincides with a meeting of the UN organisation ICAO in Montreal [3] which campaigners fear could ultimately result in the green light being given for large-scale use of aviation biofuels made from virgin vegetable oil, especially palm oil, one of the main drivers of deforestation especially in Indonesia and Malaysia. [4]

Biofuelwatch’s report concludes that the limits to the amount of suitable wastes and residues would make it impossible for airlines to avoid virgin vegetable oils – especially palm oil – if they were to start using biofuels on a large scale.

The report focusses on WorldEnergy’s [5] refinery in Paramount, California, until now the only one to regularly produce biofuels for aircraft. Amongst WorldEnergy’s customers have been KLM, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Gulfstream, and Oslo Airport.

So far all of the biofuels made at the Paramount refinery have been made from tallow, which is a residue from slaughter houses. Given the scarcity of tallow, WorldEnergy is now planning to diversify into Used Cooking Oil and a corn oil residue from corn ethanol refineries.

Report author Almuth Ernsting states: “So far, airlines have only been using small amounts of biofuels, and for those, they have been able to rely mainly on residues and waste as feedstocks. Yet the only – medium-sized – refinery that produces aviation biofuels today is already running out of tallow and therefore ha to resort to lower-quality wastes and residues which are in even shorter supply. To scale up their use of biofuels, airlines will have no choice but to resort to palm oil, and this would be disastrous for the climate, for forests, and for forest-dependent communities.”

A previous Biofuelwatch report, published in January, showed that Neste, who heavily rely on palm oil, expect to overtake WorldEnergy as the world’s biggest aviation biofuel producer this year. [6]

Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively. The total amount of the corn oil residue is even smaller than that of Used Cooking Oil. Furthermore, diverting more than the most contaminated types of tallow from animal feed, soap production and food results in greater palm oil use as a replacement. Diverting corn oil residue from animal feed to biofuels, leads to more soya oil being fed to cattle, and thus greater emissions from land use change.

https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2019/worldenergy-report-pr/

 

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EU labels palm oil in diesel as unsustainable – it causes deforestation

The European Commission today decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030 although exemptions remain. Europe’s federation of green transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), said the labelling of palm oil as unsustainable is a milestone in the fight to recognise the climate impact of burning food for energy. However, in a bid to placate palm oil producing countries such as MalaysiaIndonesia and Colombia, the Commission introduced a number of exemptions, so some palm oil could still be promoted as a “green” road fuel. The Commission also failed to classify soy, a major contributor to deforestation worldwide, as unsustainable. The EU is the world’s 2nd largest importer of crude palm oil; over half of it (around four million tonnes) is currently used to make ‘green’ fuel.  Malaysia and Indonesia are keen to push palm oil as future jet fuel, and threaten not to buy European planes if they refuse to buy palm oil for fuel.
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EU labels palm oil in diesel as unsustainable

By Transport & Environment

The European Commission today decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030 although exemptions remain. Europe’s federation of green transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), said the labelling of palm oil as unsustainable is a milestone in the fight to recognise the climate impact of burning food for energy.

Notes to editors:

[1] The loopholes introduced by the Commission would allow additional palm oil production coming from yield increases or produced on so-called unused land to still qualify as green. Often such ‘unused’ land is actually used by local communities to support themselves such as providing food. The text also provides a derogation for palm oil produced by small farmers – despite the size of a plantation bearing no relation to the risk of deforestation or the changes in land use. Independent analysis has shown that such exemptions are not environmentally justifiable. The size of the exemption cannot be quantified at this stage but will depend heavily on how tightly the provisions are monitored and enforced.

[2] Despite demonstrating that 8% of global soy expansion happened on high-carbon land, the Commission decided to keep promoting soy as a renewable fuel.

Malaysian airlines back Malaysian campaign to boost palm oil production and use

A Malaysian newspaper comments on the Ministry of Primary Industries’ year-long “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign. It aims to fight anti-palm oil campaigns that backers of palm oil growing say are threatening people’s livelihoods.  Now 3 Malaysian airlines have joined the campaign, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Airways and AirAsia.  The airlines, with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), “will extol the virtues of palm oil through their digital info screens, in-flight magazines and entertainment systems, art and product displays.” The Primary Industries minister says they are displaying “patriotism” and elevating the image of palm oil.  This followed the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) passing a resolution in October 2018 to ban palm oil biofuels in Europe by 2020.  Malaysia and Indonesia are the largest producers of palm oil globally.  Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is due to hold the official launch of the “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign in the first quarter of 2019. [Palm oil as a fuel for aircraft is a disaster, as its life-cycle carbon emissions are high, taking into account the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) impacts. Not to mention the deforestation and loss of biodiversity. But palm oil would be cheap fuel for airlines, regardless of how environmentally harmful it is ….] 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/01/malaysian-airlines-back-malaysian-campaign-to-boost-palm-oil-production-and-use/

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Report by Biofuelwatch shows aviation biofuels could not be produced at scale from wastes and residues – palm oil would be used instead

A new report about aviation biofuels, published by the environmental NGO Biofuelwatch, exposes the strict limits to the amount of such fuels which could be sourced from wastes and residues – as well as their adverse indirect impacts. ICAO wants to get large amounts of biofuel for the aviation industry, in an effort to claim the fuel is “low carbon”.  In reality, the report confirms, the limits to the amount of suitable wastes and residues would make it impossible for airlines to avoid virgin vegetable oils – especially palm oil – if they were to start using biofuels on a large scale. The report focusses on WorldEnergy’s refinery in  California, until now the only one to regularly produce biofuels for aircraft. So far all of the biofuels made at the Paramount refinery have been made from tallow, which is a residue from slaughter houses. Given the scarcity of tallow, WorldEnergy is now planning to diversify into Used Cooking Oil and a corn oil residue from corn ethanol refineries. There are only limited amounts of these. To scale up their use of biofuels, airlines would resort to palm oil, and this would be disastrous for the climate, for forests, the wildlife they support, and for forest-dependent communities.
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AVIATION BIOFUELS MADE FROM WASTES AND RESIDUES CANNOT BE SCALED UP, NEW REPORT SHOWS

BIOFUELWATCH REPORT ABOUT AVIATION BIOFUEL PRODUCER WORLDENERGY BOOSTS FEARS THAT LARGE-SCALE BIOFUEL USE FOR AIRCRAFT WOULD HAVE TO RELY ON PALM OIL

11th February 2019

Biofuelwatch website

A new report about aviation biofuels, [1] published by the environmental NGO Biofuelwatch [2] today, exposes the strict limits to the amount of such fuels which could be sourced from wastes and residues as well as their adverse indirect impacts.

The report coincides with a meeting of the UN organisation ICAO in Montreal [3] which campaigners fear could ultimately result in the green light being given for large-scale use of aviation biofuels made from virgin vegetable oil, especially palm oil, one of the main drivers of deforestation especially in Indonesia and Malaysia. [4]

Biofuelwatch’s report concludes that the limits to the amount of suitable wastes and residues would make it impossible for airlines to avoid virgin vegetable oils – especially palm oil – if they were to start using biofuels on a large scale.

The report focusses on WorldEnergy’s [5] refinery in Paramount, California, until now the only one to regularly produce biofuels for aircraft.  Amongst WorldEnergy’s customers have been KLM, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Gulfstream, and Oslo Airport.

So far all of the biofuels made at the Paramount refinery have been made from tallow, which is a residue from slaughter houses. Given the scarcity of tallow, WorldEnergy is now planning to diversify into Used Cooking Oil and a corn oil residue from corn ethanol refineries.

Report author Almuth Ernsting states: “So far, airlines have only been using small amounts of biofuels, and for those, they have been able to rely mainly on residues and waste as feedstocks. Yet the only – medium-sized – refinery that produces aviation biofuels today is already running out of tallow and therefore had to resort to lower-quality wastes and residues which are in even shorter supply. To scale up their use of biofuels, airlines will have no choice but to resort to palm oil, and this would be disastrous for the climate, for forests, and for forest-dependent communities.”

A previous Biofuelwatch report, published in January, showed that Neste, who heavily rely on palm oil, expect to overtake WorldEnergy as the world’s biggest aviation biofuel producer this year. [6]

Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016.

Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively.

The total amount of the corn oil residue is even smaller than that of Used Cooking Oil. Furthermore, diverting more than the most contaminated types of tallow from animal feed, soap production and food results in greater palm oil use as a replacement.

Diverting corn oil residue from animal feed to biofuels, leads to more soya oil being fed to cattle, and thus greater emissions from land use change.

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Contact:

Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, biofuelwatch@gmail.com, Tel +44-131-6232600

Notes:

[1] biofuelwatch.org.uk/2019/worldenergy-report/

[2] Biofuelwatch is a UK/US NGO which carries out research, advocacy and campaigning in relation to the impacts of large-scale bioenergy. See: biofuelwatch.org.uk

[3] The ICAO is a specialist UN organisation. Its Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) is meeting in Montreal from 4th to 15th February. The agenda for the CAEP meeting includes finalising recommendations about which types of aviation biofuels will be classified as ‘low-carbon’ ‘sustainable alternative aviation biofuels’ (icao.int/environmental-protection/Pages/CAEP11.aspx). CAEP, like other ICAO meetings are highly secretive and non-transparent (see eyeonglobaltransparency.net/2019/02/01/no-documents-closed-doors-at-the-international-civil-aviation-organization/).

[4] Note that the only proven and mature technology for making aviation biofuels that exists at present is Hydrotreatment of vegetable oils and animal fats, i.e. cannot use any feedstocks other than those which are commonly used to make biodiesel, too. See: biofuelwatch.org.uk/2017/aviation-biofuels/

[5] WorldEnergy (worldenergy.net/) is a US biofuel company which acquired the Paramount refinery from AltAir in March 2018. The refinery produces biofuels both for aircraft and for road transport.

[6] See biofuelwatch.org.uk/2019/neste-aviation-biofuels/

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ICAO’s environment committee comes up with some standards for new aircraft, years ahead

The meeting of the ICAO “Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) in Montreal has ended. The committee’s purpose is to try to reduce and limit the environmental damage done by the aviation industry (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions).  It has not been very successful to date. This meeting has agreed on an

Aircraft Engine Standard: “A new stringency level that would limit the emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines was agreed. The ICAO standard is expected to drive technologies to address non-volatile particulate matter, which in the long run will minimise their potential environmental and health impacts.” ie. for planes yet to be built, with any impacts decades ahead. At least admitting the problem of PM particles produced by planes.  On noise ICAO said: “The meeting also delivered …improvements of aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027, NOx emission by 54 per cent relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs and fuel efficiency up to 1.3% per annum can be expected for the new aircraft entering into production.” Again, for new planes, with no real impact for decades. On CORSIA they said CAEP had agreement (not spelled out) on how to assess life-cycle CO2 emissions reductions for biofuels or other lower carbon fuels.  ie. not a lot.
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Sustainable aviation takes significant step forward at ICAO 

​Global measures to address aviation’s environmental impact were agreed at a meeting of the two hundred and fifty experts of ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which concluded today ICAO’s Montréal headquarters today.

​Montréal, 15 February 2019

ICAO website

Global measures to address aviation’s environmental impact were agreed at a meeting of the two hundred and fifty experts of ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which concluded today.

The meeting was opened by Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of ICAO, recognizing that “In the 35 years since the CAEP was established, the scope of work and the technical areas which it covers have widened. Yet, despite the monumental challenges set before it, the CAEP remains a tremendous example of international cooperation.”

The main outcomes of the meeting are as follows:

Aircraft Engine Standard

A new stringency level that would limit the emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines was agreed. The ICAO standard is expected to drive technologies to address non-volatile particulate matter, which in the long run will minimize their potential environmental and health impacts.

With this new standard, ICAO has completed all main environmental standards for the certification of aircraft and engines, namely for noise, local air quality (NOx, HC, CO, nvPM) and climate change (CO2), making the aviation industry the only sector with environmental mandatory certification requirements at the global level for the operation of its equipment. Once applicable, all new aircraft will need to be certified to those ICAO standards before operating.

The meeting also delivered new technology goals for the sector, including improvements of aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027, NOx emission by 54 per cent relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs and fuel efficiency up to 1.3 per cent per annum can be expected for the new aircraft entering into production.

Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) 

Agreement has been achieved on the means to calculate and claim the benefits accrued from the use of sustainable aviation fuels within the context of CORSIA. This is significant in terms of reducing airlines’ offsetting requirements.

The agreement included the default values and the methodologies for calculating actual values needed to calculate the life-cycle CO2 emissions reduction benefits of different feedstocks. CAEP has also agreed on the requirements for Sustainability Certification Schemes (SCS) and a process to evaluate and recommend a list of eligible SCS, which will certify fuels against the CORSIA sustainability criteria. This package of agreements provides the clarity needed for the energy sector to embark in the production of sustainable fuels for aviation, and is an important step towards CORSIA implementation.

In addition, CAEP has delivered a recommendation for the rules and procedure for the ICAO Council’s Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which will evaluate the eligibility of emissions units for use in CORSIA. Another agreement was the technical updates of Environmental Technical Manual on CORSIA, which clarifies the recommended actions by States and airlines for monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions under CORSIA.

Environmental Trends and Outlook 

The meeting agreed on the updated ICAO environmental trends for noise, local air quality (NOx and nvPM) and global climate (CO2), which will be the basis for the considerations of ICAO environmental policies at the next ICAO Assembly, in September 2019.

Important publications were also developed as part of ICAO’s eco-airport toolkit collection in the areas of renewable energy, waste management, environmental management, and eco-design of airport building.

Regarding climate change adaptation, a Synthesis Report was approved for publication, providing important information on the climate risk impacts and resilient options for the sector.

Two other important reports were agreed: one on the state of aircraft end-of-life and recycling; and the other on performance-based navigation and community engagement.

The meeting further agreed with the results of the assessment of the positive effects of operational improvements. The assessment showed that the implementation of these measures, as per ICAO global plans, savings of fuel between of 167 to 307 kg per flight can be achieved by 2025. This corresponds respectively to a reduction of 26.2 to 48.2 Mt of CO2. The meeting agreed on the publication of the white paper “State of the Science 2019: Aviation Noise Impacts Workshop”.

CAEP also considered the progress that has been achieved towards supersonic transport operations, and agreed that an exploratory study should be undertaken.

CAEP will also assess how to certify other new technologies such as hybrid and electric aircraft as part of its future work.

CAEP is a technical body of the ICAO Council, and all the technical recommendations agreed by CAEP above will be considered by the Council for final approval.

https://www.icao.int/Newsroom/Pages/Sustainable-aviation-takes-significant-step-forward-at-ICAO.aspx

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See earlier:

Critics attack secrecy at UN’s ICAO CAEP committee, tasked with cutting global airline CO2 emissions

A UN ICAO committee, Committee on Aviation and Environmental Protection (CAEP), with the job of cutting global aircraft carbon emissions (an issue of global concern) is meeting secretly, for discussions dominated by airline industry observers. The committee always meets behind closed doors; the press and other observers are not allowed in (unlike other UN committees).  The committee’s agenda and discussion documents are not released to the public or the international press. Anyone who leaks documents being discussed faces “unlimited liability for confidentiality breaches”, according to ICAO rules.  The only non-governmental body not linked to the airline industry allowed into the meeting is the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), made up of a small group of international environmental NGOs. Transparency International says “Agencies which set common global standards for large, international industries have to be transparent in order to prevent capture by corporate interests … ”  A key concern is that the committee wants to certify biofuels, that are definitely NOT environmentally sustainable, as low carbon. And also fossil oil, produced using solar energy – also NOT a low carbon fuel. The committee needs to be open to public scrutiny.

Click here to view full story…

ICAO’s CORSIA low standards on biofuels risk undercutting EU’s new renewables rules

The UN’s ICAO is a secretive organisation, that has been woefully ineffective in limiting the CO2 emissions of global aviation. There are considerable concerns that it will try to get bad biofuels certified as low carbon, in order to whitewash the sector’s emissions in future. The global deal, CORSIA, making the first tentative steps towards restricting aviation CO2 at all is just starting. There is, elsewhere, growing understanding that biofuels are generally not the way forward, and their real lifecycle carbon emissions are far higher than their proponents make out. ICAO has now agree 2 criteria (out of 12 possible) for aviation biofuels. These are that there should have been no deforestation after 2009; and there should be at least a saving of 10% of green house gas emissions, (including emissions from indirect land-use change or ILUC) compared to fossil jet kerosene. ICAO’s environment committee will develop rules for what biofuels can be credited – ie. how much of an emissions reduction each biofuel delivers.  The effect can only be accurately accounted for using models. There is a serious danger they will try and include palm oil. And countries like Saudi Arabia are trying to get “lower carbon” fossil fuels included, if their production can be 10% more carbon efficient.  So aviation will continue to emit vast amounts of carbon for decades….

Click here to view full story…

Experts say legal obstacles no barrier to introducing aviation fuel tax for flights in Europe

EU countries can end the decades-long exemption on taxing aviation fuel. Legal experts say it is possible to tax kerosene on flights between EU countries. This could either be done at EU level through a series of bilateral agreements or by agreement between individual countries. Transport & Environment (T&E) has found that the old argument that foreign carriers’ operating within the EU – de facto a small number of flights – can’t be taxed can be overcome by introducing a de minimis threshold below which fuel burn would not be taxed.  At present (and for decades past) airlines, unlike almost all other forms of transport, pay no fuel tax on flights within or from the EU – even though aviation causes 5% of global warming. They also pay no VAT.  Despite the aviation industry’s attempts to hide behind the 1944 Chicago Convention, when the agreement was made on not taxing aviation fuel, that is not what is preventing fuel taxation. In fact it is old bilateral ‘air service agreements’ that European governments signed up to years ago that include mutual fuel tax exemptions for non-EU airlines. It remains too hard to tax fuel for international, non-EU, flights.

Click here to view full story…

CORSIA and its failings explained – great piece from Carbon Brief

In a long, detailed and very informative article from Carbon Brief, Jocelyn Timperley explains the CORSIA scheme for aircraft carbon emissions, and its failings. While airlines are starting this year to measure and record their carbon emissions for the first time, it is not expected that the scheme will do anything much to limit aviation carbon.  “It can be expected to “modestly reduce” the net climate impact of international aviation up to 2035, according to the (ICCT). This is only if high-quality offsets are used and those offsets are not “double counted”, the think-tank adds….  Unless it is extended beyond 2035, Corsia will cover only 6% of projected CO2 emissions from all international aviation between 2015 and 2050, ICCT data indicates.”  That assumes China will partake from the pilot phase. “Base emissions continue to grow under Corsia due to uncovered traffic….. The ICCT argues this means Corsia “does not obviate the need for an ICAO long-term climate goal”. Because of a range of issues, like biofuels, offsets, forestry etc : “It’s not just that Corsia is a weak measure – it’s that it’s an actively bad measure, that risks doing more harm than good.”

Click here to view full story…

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