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.

—————————————-ENDS—————————————-

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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Read more »

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.

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The problem is that the UK is determined to see the ICAO process, CORSIA, as the way aviation carbon will be dealt with. With its secrecy and low standards, it is NOT sufficient. The UK needs to do more to restrict aviation CO2 emissions. Not just use ICAO as a convenient excuse for inaction.


Critics attack secrecy at UN body seeking to cut global airline emissions

Body in charge of cutting aviation’s carbon footprint meets behind closed doors

A UN body tasked with cutting global aircraft emissions is covertly meeting this week for discussions dominated by airline industry observers.

The environment committee of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) meets on Monday in Montreal behind closed doors to discuss measures to reduce emissions from international aircraft. Domestic and international flights emitted 895m tonnes of CO2 last year – 2.4% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. In terms of emissions, if aviation were a country it would be the sixth largest in the world.

But the body in charge of reducing the carbon footprint of international aviation has little or no public scrutiny. Its agenda and discussion documents are not released to the public or the international press, and the meetings are not open to the media.

Anyone who leaks documents being discussed faces “unlimited liability for confidentiality breaches”, according to ICAO rules.

Key observers at Monday’s meeting of the ICAO  Committee on Aviation and Environmental Protection (CAEP) are a number of industry bodies. They include the International Business Aviation Council, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations, the Arab Civil Aviation Commission, the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, the Airports Council International (ACI) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The only non-governmental body not linked to the airline industry allowed into the meeting is the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, (ICSA) https://www.icsa-aviation.org/  made up of a small group of international environmental NGOs.

Nadja Kostka, climate project coordinator at Transparency International, said: “Agencies which set common global standards for large, international industries have to be transparent in order to prevent capture by corporate interests, or even the appearance of undue influence.

“The ICAO currently meets behind closed doors, including for discussion about emissions, which affect the entire planet. We’ve seen similar situations at other UN agencies … we strongly believe that all UN bodies need to commit to transparent ways of working in order to gain the public’s trust.”

The key discussions on reducing emissions come amid growing pressure from some countries – and their airlines – to open the doors to all types of biofuels, including those which cause environmental destruction, such as palm oil-based fuels.

Malaysia, which is not a member of CAEP, is pushing a campaign – Love my Palm Oil – to extend it to non-food use, supported by its three main airlines.

Twenty-four countries, including the UK, France, Canada, Singapore, Russia and the US, have representatives at this week’s meeting.

This year international aircraft will for the first time have to start monitoring their emissions as part of ICAO measures to reduce emissions with a market-based system of purchasing emissions offsets – rather than by directly reducing aircraft emissions.

They can reduce the amount of carbon emissions they have to offset by using biofuels, but as yet there has been no agreement by member countries on restricting the new fuels to those which are sustainable.

The scheme was agreed in 2016 by the ICAO countries. But few believe it will have the required impact on cutting emissions in a growing aviation industry in which passenger numbers are predicted to double to 8.2 billion in 2037.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said it could only be expected to “modestly reduce” the net climate impact of international aviation up to 2035.

Andrew Murphy of the NGO Transport and Environment, said the lack of transparency gave little confidence that the ICAO would tackle emissions, adding: “Media are free, and in fact encouraged, to cover similar meetings in other UN agencies …

“It’s well past time that ICAO brought its media practices into line with the rest of the UN family, a move which would help raise confidence in its decision-making.”

Last year Saudi Arabia – with the backing of the US – secured a new definition at the ICAO of alternative fuels to include “clean oil” because the refinery producing the oil was run on renewable electricity – something Murphy said amounted to “greenwash oil” and was “an awful deal for the climate”.

The environmental NGOs are calling for the ICAO and all its committees to open to the public and remove threats of “unlimited liability” for members who release documents.

“At present, state and observer submissions to CAEP remain unavailable to those outside of CAEP,” they said.

“When such submissions contain commercially sensitive information, such secrecy may be acceptable. However, this justification oftentimes deserves to be challenged, as information from manufacturers which is submitted to CAEP is, as a matter of course, available to other manufactures, and therefore no harm can be identified from making it available to a broader range of actors.

“Such a level of secrecy stands in contrast to other UN agencies.”

Under the Paris climate change agreement, emissions from international aviation are not specifically included in national climate targets required by countries to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C. This leaves ICAO as the primary body for reducing airline emissions.

A spokesman for ICAO provided the Guardian with a list of attendees to the meeting and said the meeting results would be made available, but not the discussion papers. “Only the CAEP members and recognized observers are permitted in the room for said discussions,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/11/critics-attack-secrecy-at-un-body-seeking-to-cut-global-airline-emissions

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See also

 

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…

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 ….]

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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Read more »

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….

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Aviation risks undercutting EU’s new renewables rules

11th Feb 2019

The ink is barely dry on the EU’s revised renewable energy policy and already it is under threat from the aviation sector, warn Jori Sihvonen and Andrew Murphy.

Both are experts with green transport NGO Transport & Environment.

That sector’s UN aviation agency, ICAO, known for its “spectacular lack of transparency”, is once more having a closed door meeting which risks clearing the way for the type of bad biofuels the EU has spent a decade trying to get rid of.

And, on top of that, they are seeking to add “lower carbon” aviation fossil fuels as an option to cut aviation emissions.

ICAO and the aviation sector have been looking to biofuels to reverse their massive and continuing emissions growth. The agency has agreed that biofuels should be an option to comply with CORSIA, the global offsetting measure that aims to limit aviation emissions to 2020 levels.

But this also means that ICAO has to develop rules for what biofuels can be credited and by how much – ie, how much of an emissions reduction each biofuel delivers.

This is where this week’s meeting of ICAO’s environment committee in Montreal plays a significant role. It will decide rules for biofuels based on technical work done over the last three years. The meeting will also decide the main work areas for the next three years.

Last year, 12 themes for sustainability criteria were proposed but only two were adopted by ICAO’s governing council.

The two criteria adopted include:

   – no deforestation after 2009

   – and a 10% greenhouse gas savings threshold – including emissions from indirect land-use change or ILUC.

(ILUC refers to the indirect effect of increasing the demand for agricultural land – in this case for biofuels – and displacing the existing production to expand the agricultural frontier to natural habitats, mainly forest and grassland, causing emissions from deforestation.)

The other 10 themes were not approved, covering important issues such as human rights, land rights, environmental protection, food security, water protection, etc.

The ICAO council asked the environment committee to reexamine whether the excluded criteria were truly required and that will be debated now. The European and progressive members of the committee should stay strong and require the full set of criteria to be adopted.

Another important issue on the agenda is the rules on counting the GHG emissions. As we know from available documents, the GHG savings criteria will include emissions from induced (or indirect) land-use change (ILUC).

The effect can only be accurately accounted for using models. What sort of values, and under what assumption the modelling is done, is going to impact how much GHG savings they are credited with providing under CORSIA.

Europe’s Renewable Energy Directive is predicated on the basis that the ILUC effect significantly increases the climate impact of biofuels to the point where many of them are worse than the fossil fuels they replaced.

In 2015, the EU decided to cap the use of crop biofuels. Now EU countries need to use food-based biofuels to meet renewable energy targets, but following the adoption of a new law that comes into force in 2021, EU member states will no longer be forced to use food-based biofuels.

Meanwhile the eligibility of “high indirect land-use change-risk biofuels” towards meeting renewables targets will be phased out by 2030. This could mean no more palm oil in our tanks as palm expansion is associated with significant deforestation. Models also show that palm oil has on average the highest ILUC emissions. The US already restricts the use of palm oil under its renewable fuels law.

However, if ICAO fails to adopt rules which mirror the direction taken by those in the EU, it will provide a backdoor to the use of food-based biofuels and palm oil in the aviation sector.

Already three airlines (Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Airways and AirAsia ) have joined forces for a “Love Palm Oil” campaign, and we don’t know how many more are eagerly waiting to burn these crops.

But if ILUC is not considered or is underestimated, there is a danger that ICAO will give its stamp of approval for the use of palm oil, a crop which every year is responsible for 1-2% of global warming. Overall the focus should be on advanced fuels, as crop-based biofuels cannot be considered a long-term decarbonisation option for aviation.

The council of ICAO also recently gave in to a Saudi push, backed by the US, to include lower carbon aviation fuels as an option for complying with CORSIA. These are traditional fossil fuels produced in a manner which marginally reduces their climate impact. This week states will push for rules to expedite the crediting of such fuels.

All of this information is based on previous leaks and what we know are the planned ‘next steps’ for the committee. The meetings of ICAO and its environment committee are notoriously secret affairs where even the few observers allowed in are restricted on what they can say. One of the world’s biggest emitters is regulated almost entirely in secret.

What is clear for us is that the EU needs to retain its control of setting policy in Europe while fighting for the best possible criteria at international level. It must fight to ensure that rulemaking is founded on reality.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/aviation/opinion/aviation-risks-undercutting-eus-new-renewables-rules/

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Those so called lower carbon fuels: 

Oil giant Saudi Arabia, for example, has previously argued that the 2016 agreement should be “fuel neutral” – whereby it does not discriminate between different types of fuels – because technological advances could one day enable crude to be produced with 10% fewer emissions, as the deal requires, according to a Saudi presentation seen by Reuters.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-aviation-oil/un-aviation-agency-may-include-fossil-fuels-in-emissions-deal-sources-idUKKBN1JB28K

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UN aviation agency may include fossil fuels in emissions deal: sources

By Allison Lampert, Julia Fioretti

15.6.2018  (Reuters)

MONTREAL/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The U.N. aviation agency is expected to include fossil fuels in a landmark global agreement to limit aircraft emissions, a move that could encourage airlines to purchase crude over more costly biojet fuels, sources familiar with the matter said.

Countries at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) are seeking to agree on rules that will govern how the overall deal, brokered by the ICAO in 2016, will be implemented.

The United States, backed by Saudi Arabia and other countries, has proposed giving airlines credit for using crude oil as well as aviation fuels from renewable sources like corn, provided they meet the deal’s lower-emissions criteria, two industry sources said.

Europe will back the proposal next week at an ICAO meeting in Montreal, as long as the fossil fuels eligible under the deal deliver actual carbon savings, two European Commission officials said separately.

ICAO experts would determine how many emissions each fuel emits to avoid any confusion.

The emission levels of individual fuels need to be “very robust so there is no fooling around with what is the actual performance of one fuel over another”, one of the officials said.

Oil giant Saudi Arabia, for example, has previously argued that the 2016 agreement should be “fuel neutral” – whereby it does not discriminate between different types of fuels – because technological advances could one day enable crude to be produced with 10 percent fewer emissions, as the deal requires, according to a Saudi presentation seen by Reuters.

“What they (the Saudis) are saying is ‘don’t rule it out for us,” said the first industry source.

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because talks on how to implement the 2016 deal, known as the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), are private.

Representatives from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. State Department did not respond to requests for comment. An ICAO spokesman declined to comment.

LOWER EMISSION FOSSIL FUELS

The European Commission sent a letter to EU ministers this week reiterating concerns that any attempts to weaken the 2016 deal, which will go into effect in 2021, should be “strongly opposed.”

The agreement aims to cap airline emissions at 2020 levels, and airlines would be required to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.

Airlines would receive credit toward lowering their emissions if they use eligible lower-carbon fuels.

Haldane Dodd, spokesman for the Air Transport Action Group, which represents 50 members of the aviation industry, would not take a position on the use of lower-carbon crudes but advocated “strong sustainability standards for our fuels.”

Europe hopes that airlines will still be encouraged to use more costly biojet fuels if they deliver bigger emissions savings.

But with aviation biofuels now only produced in small quantities, lowering the emissions of conventional jet fuel may prove a better option for the environment, said a fifth source who works in the aviation industry.

“If we can develop technologies that are going to make fossil fuels with lower emissions, isn’t that a carbon savings compared with business as usual?”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-aviation-oil/un-aviation-agency-may-include-fossil-fuels-in-emissions-deal-sources-idUKKBN1JB28K

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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 ….]
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“Three major [Malaysian] airlines join ‘Love MY Palm Oil’ campaign”

Malaysia and Indonesia are the largest producers of palm oil globally. — Reuters pic
Malaysia and Indonesia are the largest producers of palm oil globally. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 —

The Ministry of Primary Industries’ year-long “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign to fight anti-palm oil campaigns that are threatening people’s livelihoods received a boost with the coming together of Malaysia Airlines Bhd, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd and AirAsia Bhd to endorse Malaysian palm oil to the world.

The three airlines, along 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.

“I am glad that MAHB and the airlines have displayed their patriotism by supporting our campaign to further elevate the image of palm oil,” said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok in a statement today.

“Their efforts will also help us counter misperceptions on palm oil created by the aggressive anti-palm oil campaigns.”

The campaign, which was mooted by Kok on January 8, was to instil pride and a greater appreciation for Malaysian palm oil, by focusing on socio-economic importance, health, nutrition and food, and non-food applications.

This followed the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) passing a resolution last October to ban palm oil biofuels in Europe by 2020.

“I hope many more industry players will come forward and join us in this cause to protect our nation’s largest commodity that has been the source of livelihood and jobs for three million people,” she added.

Malaysia and Indonesia are the largest producers of palm oil globally.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to officiate the official launch of the “Love MY Palm Oil” campaign in the first quarter of 2019.

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/01/22/three-major-airlines-join-love-my-palm-oil-campaign/1715306

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The EU’s palm oil policy is triggering condemnation from the other side of the globe

A proposed ban on the use of palm oil in transport fuel used in the EU is driving fears in major Southeast Asian producing countries where the product is a key economic crop.

By Huileng Tan | @huileng_tan  (CNBC)

28 Dec 2018

The European Union is phasing out the use of palm oil in transport fuel, triggering criticism of trade protectionism and threats of retaliation from major producersIndonesia and Malaysia.

The European move comes after years of activist campaigns about the vegetable oil associated with rampant deforestation and labor abuses, highlighting how consumer concerns about sustainability are increasingly influencing businesses.

According to Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations co-founded by the World Wildlife Fund, the large Indonesian island of Sumatra lost 56 percent of its 25 million hectares (250,000 square kilometers, or bigger than the size of the U.K.) of natural forests over 31 years.

The palm oil industry, with its national epicenter on that island, is thought to be one of the biggest drivers of that loss, the coalition said.

France and Norway have become the first few countries to start curbing use of palm oil in the last month, driving fears in major Southeast Asian producing countries, where the cash crop has powered economic growth. Indonesia and Malaysia together produce over 80 percent of the world’s palm oil.

More broadly, the EU agreed in June to phase out the use of palm oil in transport fuel from 2030 as part of a broader plan to increase the share of renewables in the bloc’s energy production. The EU is one of the world’s top consumers of palm oil, which is used in a wide range of products from baked goods to detergents.

“This is a most unwelcome decision and goes against the very principles of free and fair trade. The vote by the (French) parliamentarians is alarming and deserves the strongest condemnation,” said Malaysian Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, news agency Bernama reported.

Indonesia has threatened retaliation numerous times over such a move by the EU, with the country’s trade minister going as far as saying that the EU is asking for a “trade war” with its palm oil curbs, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Versatile and widely used, palm oil has suffered a patchy reputation.

“One of the most significant risks to the palm oil sector resides in its poor sustainability records and negative reputation in developed markets, which pose threats to future demand,” said Fitch Solutions in a recent note. “Although some large plantation companies are making efforts to improve their sustainability records … we note that the reputation of the global palm oil industry has not improved.”

High-profile companies catering to consumers are taking steps to stem any fallout to their businesses.

Other than the EU tightening its regulations, large food and drink companies are moving towards procuring sustainable palm oil in the short term and are putting increasing pressure on their traditional providers that are unable to comply with sustainability standards, added Fitch Solutions.

Food giant Nestle has set a goal to procure 100 percent sustainable certified palm oil by 2020. The Swiss company addresses questions and issues about sustainability on its website, including explaining how they have suspended or ended partnerships with specific suppliers who may have questions hanging over ethical sourcing.

Supply chain clean-up
Due to the bad press, companies have been scrambling to do a more thorough job in tracking their supplies, which many say is a challenge due to long and complex supply chains.

Technology is changing that in many different ways.

Singapore-listed Wilmar, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, announced earlier in December that it will use satellites to monitor suppliers in a fresh attempt to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain.

Another company that has invested in agriculture technology is Singapore-listed Olam which earlier this year launched a platform for customers to check on their supply chains.

Olam is a major supplier of produce such as cocoa used in chocolate-making, edible nuts and palm oil. Major clients include household names like Nestle and Mondelez brand Cadbury that sell consumer products to retail customers, particularly in developed countries where issues of sustainability are under focus.

Using various initiatives, Olam is able to track commodities from farmers and right through middlemen and the supply chain — thus ensuring customers they are buying sustainable produce.

A digital dashboard called AtSource aims to connect customers directly to the source of supply at each stage of the product’s journey, the company said.

Farmer compliance is encouraged through information via a separate app that is passed onto the growers tailored to their locale and needs.

“Farmers are not sitting around waiting to use that app. They will use something only when they believe it makes a difference to their livelihoods,” said Siddharth Satpute, digital global program director at Olam.

For Olam, the use of technology helps not just farmers but also the company, as it gets information transmitted back from growers on what works, and what doesn’t. That helps Olam better manage farms and supply chains.

The app is free for farmers because, as Satpute put it, “they already have low livelihood, we don’t want to make money from them … (when we already) benefit in one way or another.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/11/an-important-food-ingredient-faces-demand-headwinds-as-concerns-over-environment-destruction-bites.html

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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…

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Report by Biofuelwatch shows Neste, planning to make bio-jet-fuel, is using huge amounts of palm oil

A report by Biofuelwatch reveals that the Finnish biofuel and oil company Neste, which expects to become the world’s biggest producer of aviation biofuels in 2019, relies heavily on palm oil, a leading cause of rainforest destruction. It cannot even guarantee that its palm oil is not sourced from illegal plantations inside a national park. Neste is investing €1.4 billion in new biofuel capacity in its Singapore refinery, which the company plans to turn into a hub for aviation biofuel production. It is already one of the world’s biggest producers of biofuels for road transport. In 2017, Neste used almost 700,000 tonnes of crude palm oil – as fuel – as well as an undisclosed amount of crude palm oil, which the company claims to be ‘wastes and residues’, contrary to legislation in several European countries.  The oil palm plantations and mills supplying Neste are mainly in Indonesian and Malaysian provinces with particularly high deforestation rates linked to palm oil. Some is proven to come from an illegal plantation in a national park in Sumatra. Neste’s sustainability standards take no account of indirect land use change (ILUC) which mean the climate impact of palm oil is x3 as bad as the fossil fuels it replaces. Neste continues to try to hide the fact it is using palm oil, and exacerbating deforestation and biodiversity loss.
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FINLAND’S NESTE SET TO DRIVE AVIATION PALM OIL DEFORESTATION, NEW REPORT SHOWS

9th January 2019

– A report published by the environmental NGO Biofuelwatch [1] reveals that the Finnish biofuel and oil company Neste, which expects to become the world’s biggest producer of aviation biofuels in 2019 [2], relies heavily on palm oil, a leading cause of rainforest destruction, and still cannot guarantee that its palm oil is not sourced from illegal plantations inside a national park.

Neste is investing €1.4 billion in new biofuel capacity in its Singapore refinery, which the company plans to turn into a hub for aviation biofuel production [3]. The company, which is partly owned by the Finnish state, has entered into collaboration agreements with Air BP, Alaska Airlines,  and two US airports, and it is looking for more collaborations in Europe and beyond. Neste is already one of the world’s biggest producers of biofuels for road transport. In 2017, Neste used almost 700,000 tonnes of crude palm oil as well as an undisclosed amount of crude palm oil which the company claims to be ‘wastes and residues’, contrary to legislation in several European countries.

Biofuelwatch’s report shows that the oil palm plantations and mills supplying Neste are concentrated in Indonesian and Malaysian provinces with particularly high deforestation rates linked to palm oil. Although Neste Oil claims that all of its crude palm oil is traceable to plantations which meet its sustainability standards, three separate investigations by WWF and several Indonesian NGOs between 2011 and 2017 showed Neste sourcing from a palm oil mill which was supplied from an illegal plantation inside the Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra [4]. Furthermore, Neste’s sustainability standards take no account of indirect land use change which, as a report written for the European Commission shows, make palm oil three times as bad for the climate as the fossil fuels it replaces [5].

Report author Almuth Ernsting states: “Neste’s investment in Singapore confirms our fears that aviation biofuels will rely on palm oil and therefore worsen deforestation and climate change. Far from guaranteeing transparency and sustainability, Neste continues to keep the amount of palm oil in its fuel a secret, it continues to source from regions with rampant rainforest destruction for palm oil, and it cannot even guarantee to keep palm oil from illegal plantations in a national park out of its supply chain.”

——————— ENDS ———————

Contacts:

Almuth Ernsting: +44-131-623 2600 (UK), biofuelwatch[at]gmail.com

Rachel Smolker: ++1-802 482 2848 (US)

Notes:

[1] biofuelwatch.org.uk/neste-aviation-biofuels

[2] See neste.com/releases-and-news/neste-strengthens-its-global-leading-position-renewable-products-major-investment-singapore

[3] See neste.com/companies/products/renewable-fuels/neste-my-renewable-jet-fuel  

[4] eyesontheforest.or.id/reports/investigative-report-enough-is-enough-jun-2018

[5] ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/Final%20Report_GLOBIOM_publication.pdf

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See also:

NESTE: THE FINNISH COMPANY PREPARING TO PUT PALM OIL IN AIRCRAFT FUEL TANKS

9.1.2019 (Biofuelwatch)

Click here
https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Neste-aviation-biofuels-briefing.pdf

to read Biofuelwatch’s report about the Finish biofuel and oil company Neste and its aviation biofuel plans.

Executive Summary:

Neste aims to become the world’s largest aviation biofuel producer in 2019 and to rapidly scale up its production in the next five years. The company is well placed to do so, since it is the world’s biggest producer of biofuels from Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), as well as being an existing supplier of aviation fuels (so far primarily fossil fuels). Hydrotreating is the only technology mature enough and within a price range that is feasible for commercial aviation biofuels. Furthermore, Neste has already signed agreements with several airlines and airports to supply HVO aviation biofuels.

Neste relies heavily on palm oil – both crude palm oil and an extract of crude palm oil called palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD). The company has decided to locate its aviation biofuel production in Singapore, i.e. in the centre of the world’s largest palm oil producing region. Neste claims that its crude palm oil is guaranteed to be ‘sustainable’ and ‘deforestation-free’. Even if this was true, the indirect greenhouse gas emissions of palm oil biofuels are still three times as bad for the climate as those of the fossil fuels they replace. Neste can meet EU sustainability standards for biofuels by sourcing palm oil from older plantations, commonly ones for which rainforest was destroyed before 2008. However, investigations show that Neste cannot even guarantee that all its crude palm oil is free from more recent or ongoing deforestation. At least one of the mills supplying Neste was found to have sourced palm oil from illegal plantations inside a national park in Sumatra during three separate investigations, most recently in 2017.

An undisclosed proportion of Neste’s feedstock – very possibly the majority – consists of PFAD which Neste cannot even trace back to plantations. PFAD is diverted from other users who in turn replace their supply mainly with crude palm oil. This means that the impacts on forests and the climate are very similar whether PFAD or crude palm oil is used. Moreover, further increases in PFAD demand could easily make it more expensive than crude palm oil and thus cause it to directly (rather than indirectly as at present), drive the expansion of oil palm plantations. Neste’s description of PFAD as a ‘residue’ is misleading. PFAD is in fact treated as a food-based biofuel under biofuel legislation in several European countries.

https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2019/neste-aviation-biofuels/

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PFAD

Neste, the world’s leading HVO producer, is lobbying for support for large-scale aviation biofuels[xvii]. Neste uses an undisclosed fraction of crude palm oil, called PFAD, (palm oil fatty distillate) in its HVO biofuels[xviii], which it controversially classes as a ‘residue’. PFAD accounts for around 5% of all crude palm oil, but its share could be increased if demand and prices go up[xix].


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Letter to ICAO, from hundreds of organisations, calling on it to oppose the promotion of biofuels in aviation

ICAO supports the aviation industry’s quest for unending rapid growth, a quest which is incompatible with keeping global warming to 1.5oC or even 2oC per (a goal endorsed by the Paris Agreement). Greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation alone grew by 87% between 1990 and 2014 and are rising faster than those from almost any other sector. Efficiency improvements lag far behind growth in the number of air passengers worldwide and there are no available techno-fixes which would allow planes to fly without burning hydrocarbon fuels. ICAO hopes for vast-scale use of biofuels in aircraft: it wants to see 128 million tonnes of biofuels a year being burned in plane engines by 2040, going up to 285 million tonnes (half of all aviation fuel) by 2050. By comparison, some 82 million tonnes of biofuels a year are currently used in transport worldwide.  The only aviation biofuels which can currently be produced reliably and at scale – although they are still expensive – are made from vegetable oils and animal fats, using a technology called hydrotreatment.  Any large-scale use of aviation biofuels made from hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO) would almost certainly rely on palm oil. That would be an environmental disaster. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/10/letter-to-icao-from-hundreds-of-organisations-calling-on-it-to-oppose-the-promotion-of-biofuels-in-aviation/

See details of the letter to ICAO from Biofuelwatch signed by hundreds of organisations

 

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