Interesting breakdown by T&E of the hidden subsidies of airlines in Europe, that allow flights to be SO cheap

An interesting inquiry by Transport & Environment looks at how flights within Europe can be  so cheap. It emerges that there are many hidden subsidies, which enable a flight to be so much cheaper than the same trip by train. In their example, they consider the trip from Amsterdam to Toulouse. The cost of the air ticket by Air France-KLM would be €80, and €81.65 with some extra charges.  The total of the subsidies came to €86.24 in subsidies, and then another €43 in state debt. That consists of:  airline tickets being VAT exempt, a difference of €7.35 per person. €45 per person is invested in the infrastructure to keep Schiphol Airport accessible.  Border control costs €3.50 per person. The pipelines to get kerosene to Schiphol cost €0.05 per person, and the tax exemption for kerosene is €25 per person. The total amount of small extra subsidies was estimated at €0.25 per person. The EU contributes €1 per person to the flight, in particular to reorganise the airspace. And KLM gets free emission rights worth €4.14 per person. The €86.29 in subsidies does not include the Dutch public debt, which increases by €43 per person because of state investment in Air France-KLM. 
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A cheap airline ticket doesn’t fall from the sky

By Eoin Bannon (for Transport & Environment – T&E)

August 27, 2019

A round trip flight from Amsterdam to the south of France costs the same as a round trip ticket to the Dutch island of Terschelling. How is that possible?

Part of the answer can be found in the enormous subsidies that go to the aviation industry. Ties Joosten from the Dutch platform for investigative journalism Follow the Money mapped as many of these subsidies as possible. Aviation, the most carbon intensive mode of transport, is heavily subsidised and its emissions will continue to soar until these are addressed.

We discovered why flying within Europe is cheaper than taking a train. The aviation industry is connected via international, national and regional governments to an incomprehensible tangle of subsidies, tax exemptions and public investments. Our tax money contributes to making airline tickets so cheap.

How did we investigate this?

For many weeks we investigated public records from municipalities, provinces, ministries, NATO, the WTO and the EU, and we talked with different experts.

This investigation also has some limitations: it does not provide a full picture of all subsidy flows to the aviation industry; it is not a comparison between aviation and other forms of transportation; and this investigation does not take into account the added value of aviation (in terms of tourism or employment).

Why should I read this?

Due to immense subsidies to the aviation industry, low income people help pay for the flights of the rich. Moreover, travel by plane is a significant contributor to climate change, which has to be addressed by society as a whole.

In June, the Dutch secretary of state for Finance Menno Snel joined representatives of 29 countries to discuss, among other things, climate taxes for the aviation sector. Prior to the conference, he stated in the Dutch newspaper NRC that he wanted to levy excise duties on kerosene because “all forms of transportation have to contribute to fighting the pollution they cause. At the moment, this is not the case for aviation.”

Tips?

It is improbable that this is the full story. It is quite possible that we have overlooked some kind of funding or cash flow from a government source to the aviation industry. Therefore we ask: Do you know of other kinds of cash flows from governments to the aviation industry that we missed? Please let us know by emailing the author at ties.joosten@ftm.nl.

Let’s take a trip together

Iren and Naomi work hard all year. He is an illustrator, she works as a medical doctor in a hospital and is looking to specialise. They live in Rotterdam. When Naomi works the night shift, they barely see each other. That’s why they have decided to take a trip together. They both take a week off and book a flight to Toulouse, in the south of France.

They take the plane on a Friday afternoon, and travel with the Dutch airline KLM, part of the Air France-KLM group. “This cost us €80, and it wasn’t even the cheapest flight we could find,” Naomi says. “But we wanted to fly there on a specific date and flight, which meant we had fewer options. Besides, Schiphol airport is really close. The evening of our flight we’ll already be sitting with a cold beer on a terrace in Toulouse!”

All extra fees included, Iren and Naomi pay €81.65 per person for a round trip flight with KLM from Schiphol to Toulouse. How is this possible? How can a round trip flight to Toulouse cost the same as a round trip ticket to Terschelling, one of the Wadden Islands in the north of the Netherlands?

To answer this question, Follow the Money will virtually join Iren and Naomi on their trip. During the journey we map as many subsidies – which make this dirt-cheap flight possible – as we can. Fasten your seatbelts!

VAT exemption: €7.35

The first tax exemption is already booked at Naomi and Iren’s kitchen table: in the Netherlands you do not have to pay VAT on airline tickets unlike train tickets, on which 9% VAT is levied. This means that when buying their airline ticket, Iren and Naomi have already saved €7.35 per person in VAT.

Infrastructure: €45

To travel by plane, Iren and Naomi first have to get to Schiphol Airport. That may seem obvious, but it is good to be mindful that there is no means of transportation as dependent on other means of transportation as flying. Since the airport itself is never the final destination, everyone has to make an extra trip by car or public transportation to get home or to the city centre.

On average 123,000 people travel to or from Schiphol Airport every day. These people usually do not live or work at Schiphol, but come and go by car or public transportation. The wish of Schiphol Airport to be more easily accessible has no limits. For example, Schiphol’s former CEO Jos Nijhuis said in 2016 that, as far as he is concerned, the municipality of Amsterdam could not just use the dividend Schiphol distributes every year (around €23 million) as they see fit. According to him, the dividend should go straight to improving the accessibility of the airport because “I know exactly how things go with government money: it goes into the treasury and is then used to pay for random expenses.” Schiphol has long wanted to connect to Amsterdam via a metro, for example.

The new ‘multimodal node Schiphol’ requires investments in the motorways between Schiphol and Amsterdam and the doubling of the railway capacity between Schiphol and Lelystad airports. To keep the national airport of the Netherlands accessible, the Dutch government spends billions of euros. In 2016 the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs drafted an Action Agenda Schiphol to map how “the government wants to further strengthen the position of Schiphol”. The government has “the ambition to accommodate the growing demand”. To further this agenda, the ministries say “good, preferably direct and especially reliable connections through the main road network and the main rail network are of great importance for the accessibility of Schiphol and the scope of the market area. By the end of 2028, the government will invest almost €12 billion to further improve these connections.”

This means that, according to the ministries, in 12 years’ time €12 billion will be spent, on average one billion per year. Taking into account that every year 45 million passengers leave or arrive at Schiphol, this averages to €22.22 per journey. Hence, to get Iren and Naomi to Schiphol (and back home after their holiday) the government invests almost €44.44 per person in the accessibility of Schiphol.

A relatively low dividend

Once they arrive at Schiphol, Iren and Naomi walk into a world that is ruled by the Royal Schiphol Group, the group which owns Schiphol airport but also Rotterdam and Lelystad airports. The main source of revenue for the group are the airport charges: a collective term for different fees aviation companies pay to fly to or from Schiphol. In 2018, 59% of the total turnover of €1.5 billion consisted of these fees (€890 million).

This actually is relatively little. To keep Schiphol attractive internationally, the airport keeps the airport charges intentionally low, and has been doing so for years. Today, Schiphol has the lowest airport charges in the entire EU, as research by SEO shows. Heathrow in London collects over €2.5 billion in airport charges and government levies, almost three times as much as Schiphol. Competitors such as Frankfurt, Paris and Munich collect about twice the charges of Schiphol. This policy is supported by the government parties that are shareholders of the Schiphol Group; they apparently don’t mind the lower dividend.

Royal Netherlands Marechaussee: €3.38

In the meantime, Iren and Naomi have arrived at the passport control and have had their hand luggage checked. This goes reasonably smoothly. The stricter security requirements adopted since 9/11 at Schiphol include electronic body scans, computers that read chips in passports and clear information signs about what one is and isn’t allowed to take on a plane. The cost for all of this amounts to nearly €300 million and is part of the airport charges the aviation companies have to pay. A year and a half ago industry advocates called for the government to take on one-third of these expenses, but this lobby failed.

But these are not the only security expenses being made at Schiphol. The government also pays for the deployment of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, Dutch military police, at the airport who take on duties of passport control, surveillance and armed security. The cost of all this is not completely clear, but we can make a reasoned estimate. The budget of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee last year was €360 million. Over 90% of this was spent on staff. With this money, the Marechaussee employed 513 civilians and 5,931 soldiers. At Schiphol about 2,000 marechaussees guard the borders and monitor safety. That means the airport demands approximately one-third of the capacity of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. Out of the total budget of 360 million, about €120 million will be connected to the surveillance and safety of Schiphol. That is almost €1.69 per passenger. Because Iren and Naomi will cross the border twice at Schiphol (on their way to Toulouse and a week later on the way back home), this will cost the Dutch government about €3.38 per person.

Pipelines: €0.05

While Iren and Naomi are still having their cups of coffee, their plane is filling up on kerosene. This fuel comes from the Port of Rotterdam and is pumped to Schiphol through underground pipelines under high pressure. Part of these pipelines is in the hands of the Defense Pipelines Organisation (DPO). Functionally and financially, NATO directs this organisation, because the pipelines are part of the Central Europe Pipeline System (CEPS). The CEPS connects refineries, storage tanks and airports in five European countries with each other.

Some 90% of the kerosene transported through Central European pipeline systems is destined for civil aviation. Civil organisations (such as Aircraft Fuel Supply) pay for this service, but not enough: according to the most recent data, the CESP in 2017 suffered an operational deficit of €26 million, on a budget of €134.5 million. This deficit has been covered by the member states. It is not clear what portion of the deficit was paid for by the Netherlands. At the same time, we see that a spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense states that “the budget for the national part of the DPO activities” amounts to approximately €2 million per year. Schiphol is by far the largest destination for the DPO kerosene, but not the only one.

The financial organisation surrounding the DPO pipelines is quite a patchwork. Nonetheless it is clear that the Ministry of Defense co-finances the infrastructure transporting the kerosene to Schiphol. Based on the sources above, we estimate this contribution to be a couple of cents per passenger, a bit under 5 cents per round trip flight.

Tax exemption kerosene: €25

KLM does not pay taxes or excise duties for the kerosene it uses during Iren and Naomi’s flight. This is the international standard: almost everywhere in the world, aviation fuel for international aviation is exempt from taxes. The exact amount of kerosene a plane uses depends on a number of factors, including the weather conditions, the type of airplane, the distance flown, the number of passengers and the amount of kerosene on board. Moreover, the kerosene consumption of aviation companies is often kept secret because fuel costs are their biggest expense, meaning this is sensitive information they want to keep from their competitors. Open Airlines, a company developing software to improve kerosene consumption in planes, estimates it at 25 to 33 kilometers per litre per passenger. Hence for Iren and Naomi’s mid-haul flight, we take it to be 1 litre per 30 kilometers per person. The distance between Schiphol and Toulouse is exactly 1,000 kilometres, meaning that for their round trip flight, Iren and Naomi each use 66 litres of kerosene.

In 2018, a litre of kerosene cost on average €0.48, according to the International Air Transport Association. A litre of diesel fuel cost on average €1.39 in Europe in 2018, according to the European Commission. More than half of that diesel price consists of excise duties and VAT; the diesel fuel by itself costs only €0.65. If the price of kerosene, like diesel fuel, were to be more than doubled by excise duties and VAT, you’d get an amount of €1.03 per litre. Aviation companies could settle the VAT to be paid with the pre-taxed VAT, just like any other company does. With diesel fuel, the VAT amounts for 17% of the average European total price. If we deduct the VAT from the kerosene price, we’re left with an amount of over €0.85, 37 cents per litre more than kerosene costs now. This would make the airline ticket of Iren and Naomi almost €25 more expensive per person.

Countless smaller subsidies: minimum of €0.25

Iren and Naomi are at the gate, waiting to board the plane. This gives us an opportunity to mention a couple of the countless smaller subsidies that go to Schiphol. For example, there is the Knowledge & Development Centre, which wants to find “valuable and innovative solutions for the sustainable development of the mainport Schiphol.” The government of the Netherlands sponsors this centre to the tune of €750,000 per year. There is also the Mainport Innovation Fund II, an investment fund for start-ups focused on transportation, logistics and aviation. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has made €6 million available for this fund for the period between 2015 and 2021. Then there is a ‘Liveability Fund’, helping people and companies that are inconvenienced by the air traffic. The province of North Holland and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management bear two-thirds of the €30 million that was put into this fund between 2016 and 2021. Last month the Aviation House was created as a “regional investment program to strengthen the compatibility between education and the labor market at Schiphol and Lelystad Airport.” Cost: €5.6 million for the period between 2019 and 2023, paid for by the Ministry of Education, the municipalities of Amsterdam and Lelystad and the provinces of North Holland and Flevoland.

There is also money going to the farmers around Schiphol. To prevent the collision of airplanes with birds, farmers have to plough their land as soon as possible after the harvest so that nothing edible will be left to attract birds that might end up in an airplane engine. For this, the central government pays the farmers €853 per hectare.

The exact number of these smaller subsidies is impossible to determine as there is no central institution or government body keeping such an overview. For this reason we only take into account the subsidies we identified above which amount to over €8 million per year. If we calculate the amount per passenger, we can say that these smaller subsidies make the round trip ticket for Iren and Naomi a bit over 25 cents cheaper.

Shares in Air France-KLM: €43 of public debt per person

Iren and Naomi have just passed the gate. They walk towards the plane, where a friendly flight attendant in the light blue uniform of KLM welcomes them on board. Behind him stands the pilot, calmly radiating the professionalism that they will keep the plane steady in the air later on. For a couple of months now, they have worked for a company that is partly owned by the Dutch state.

At the end of February the Dutch cabinet surprised everyone: suddenly they bought €750 million worth of shares in Air France-KLM. The government thus acquired a 14% stake in the company. This decision came about mostly for business and political reasons. According to several commentators, Air France and KLM do not get along particularly well, causing fear that the French will want to move a couple of lucrative destinations from Schiphol to Paris. To prevent this, and thus ensure that Iren and Naomi can take their flight with KLM to Toulouse from Schiphol, the Netherlands enlarged their stake in the aviation company.

Of course, shares are not the same as subsidies. It’s a kind of property that can bring in extra earnings, if Air France-KLM distributes dividends. Unfortunately the company hasn’t done that in over 10 years. In the future the Netherlands can resell their shares, in theory for a profit. But at the moment this is out of the question: since the Netherlands bought their stake, the value of the Air France-KLM shares has dropped by about 20%. Moreover, the minister made clear that buying the shares is a long-term investment. In subsequent years the public debt resulting from this investment will be €43 more per Dutchman, on a structural basis.

Other hidden charges…
A trade war

Iren and Naomi put their bags in the overhead lockers and take their seats. They look around. They’re sitting in a Boeing 737-800, a medium-sized plane costing about €95 million. According to the European Union, this price should be higher. Since the beginning of the century the EU has accused the US of giving Boeing illegal subsidies and thus an unfair competitive advantage. Similar allegations have been made in the opposite direction: according to the Americans, the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus could never have become such a success if it weren’t for the billions of euro in illegal state support and dirt-cheap loans it received from several European governments.

The fight between Boeing and Airbus started in 2005 when the United States and the European Union submitted complaints against each other to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Fourteen years later, the WTO has come to a more or less final decision. The organisation states that an important part of the cheap loans to Airbus do not comply with international agreements. Moreover, it states that certain tax benefits for Boeing can be regarded as illegal subsidies.

Meanwhile the battle between the EU and the US is entering a new phase. Both powers are preparing to levy additional taxes on the products of the other. In April the US announced that it wants to introduce additional taxes amounting to over US$11 billion (€9.8bn) in total on European goods such as Gouda and Edam cheese, oysters and olive oil. In reaction, the EU published a list of goods from the US that it subsequently plans to levy an extra tax on, such as front forks, spokes and rims for bicycles. This trade war, which started with state support for aircraft manufacturers, can now also affect other parts of the economy.

Note that we do not take these subsidies into account when calculating the total subsidy for the ticket of Iren and Naomi, because they mostly originate from other European countries rather than the Netherlands. Additionally, the total scope of the benefits the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus receives is still subject to a complex WTO investigation as we speak.

Subsidies for airspace monitoring and other EU funds: €1

While the plane begins to taxi, the pilot wishes everyone a pleasant flight. He then reestablishes contact with the control tower. In the tower, the employees of Air Traffic Control Netherlands (Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland, LVNL) are in charge. LVNL is a so-called independent administrative body: the company performs government tasks, but is not part of the government itself. The air traffic controllers charge the aviation companies that use their services: all airplanes calling at a Dutch airport have to pay for this. Additionally there is a (lower) fee for planes passing through Dutch airspace. These fees, which are among the lowest in Europe according to the annual report, finance the LVNL.

But that isn’t the whole story. The European Union is working hard on the unification of European airspace. In this programme, called the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management (SESAR), billions of euros are involved. The first development phase ran from 2008 to 2016. In this phase, €2.1 billion was spent. One-third of this amount was paid by the European Union, one-third by EUROCONTROL, an international organisation funded by governments and responsible for the central coordination of air traffic control in Europe, and one-third by the aviation industry. This means that two-thirds of the project was paid for with public money. In 2016 the second development phase started, which will last until 2024 and during which €1.6 billion will be spent, following the same partition. Hence, from 2008 until 2024 €145 million euros in tax money per year will be spent on the development of SESAR.

At the moment the first results of SESAR are being implemented. The EU also partially bears these costs. According to SESAR, the total cost of the implementation will be €18 billion to €28 billion, to which the EU contributes 10%. Research by Follow the Money shows that this contribution is at the moment a whole lot higher: the necessary budget for implementing SESAR is currently about €3 billion, 46% of which is paid by the Connecting Europe Facility, an EU fund.

Thus, the enormous reorganisation of European airspace is being financed significantly with European tax money. However, countless smaller investments in air traffic safety also come from European subsidy funds. For example, between 2018 to 2021 LVNL has been replacing old radar systems at the airports of Schiphol and Groningen. Half of the cost, over €6 million, is borne by the EU. The same goes for a system allowing LVNL to regulate air traffic around Groningen and Maastricht remotely. This costs over €15 million, half of which is paid by Europe.

This means the EU sponsors air traffic to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros. Follow the Money listed all aviation projects financed by the two main EU funds. Within the Connecting Europe Facility, €1.7 billion is spent this way, while within the Horizon 2020 fund, it is €280 million. Next, we selected only the projects active at the time of Iren and Naomi’s trip, and calculated the annual contribution of the EU to those projects. In total, we come to an amount of €390 million per year that go from these European subsidy sources to the aviation industry. Add to this amount the €145 million per year put into the development of SESAR, and the European subsidization rises to €535 million. According to the most recent Eurostat data, about one billion passengers per year use European airspace. Hence, the EU contributes about one euro per person to the round trip flight of Iren and Naomi.

DATABASE: SEE ALL EU CONTRIBUTIONS

CO2 emission rights: €4.14

The plane now turns onto the runway and gets permission to depart from the control tower. The engines rise to full throttle and the speed increases. The wheels leave the ground. We’re in the air! Soon the airplane rises to its cruising altitude and heads towards southern France.

During take-off and landing the nuisance caused by the plane is the highest. This is when it burns a lot of kerosene and produces the most noise. These costs are externalised, as it’s called. The people living around Schiphol pay the price, by way of decreased home values, reduced sleep quality, stress, and other adverse health effects. These costs were calculated in 2018 by the consultants of Aviation Economics, commissioned by the environmental NGO Natuur & Milieu, to be €1.93 per passenger. In our investigation we do not take these costs into account, because they are borne by the local residents, and cannot be categorised as a government subsidy.

The externalised costs that come with the emission of greenhouse gases, on the other hand, we can (partially) include. Iren and Naomi’s airplane aggravates climate damage, and KLM has to pay a price for this because flights within Europe are obliged to take part in the European emissions trading system (ETS). An important part of these emission rights KLM gets for free. According to research by the Dutch emissions authority NEA from 2018, the airport industry does not have to pay for slightly over half of the emission rights. According to the calculator of Greenseat.nl, Iren and Naomi emit 360 kilos of CO2 per person on their round trip flight to Toulouse. For half of this, KLM received free emission rights. If KLM had had to pay for this, based on March 2019 ETS prices, it would have cost Iren and Naomi €4.14 euros per person more.

Total: €86.24 in subsidies, €43 in state debt and a trade war

While the plane of Iren and Naomi is leaving Dutch airspace, we take stock. Their airline tickets are VAT exempt, a difference of €7.35 per person. €45 per person is invested in the infrastructure to keep Schiphol Airport accessible. Border control costs €3.50 per person. The pipelines to get kerosene to Schiphol cost €0.05 per person, and the tax exemption for kerosene is €25 per person. The total amount of small extra subsidies we estimate at €0.25 per person. The European Union contributes one euro per person to the flight, in particular to reorganise the airspace. And, last but not least, Iren and Naomi’s aviation company receives free emission rights worth €4.14 per person. Altogether, that makes for a total of €86.29 in subsidies. This is still not counting the Dutch public debt, which increases by €43 per person because of the investment in Air France-KLM, the investments done by the central and regional French governments in and around Toulouse airport, and a trade war with the United States that threatens to affect other parts of the economy.

While Iren and Naomi listen to the Beluga, Airbus’ largest freight plane, departing from the nearby Airbus factory and flying over from their terrace in Toulouse, they consider these subsidies. “I didn’t expect that the government would invest so much money in the aviation industry,” Iren says. “I now wonder how on earth the train can possibly compete with that.” Naomi: “I wouldn’t mind at all if the government would support all of that a bit less. I’d still want to go to Toulouse, but I’d happily pay the fair price.”

https://www.transportenvironment.org/news/cheap-airline-ticket-doesn%E2%80%99t-fall-sky

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

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

by Phil Davies (Travel Weekly)

August 21st 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

More: Industry should stop bleating about carbon tax

APD should be reformed to support sustainable aviation fuels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See also

 

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

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UK’s first commercial waste to aviation fuel plant proposed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From the Velocys website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fischer-Tropsch process uses a lot of energy: 

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



See earlier:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Velocys CEO suspended over allegations of ‘serious misconduct’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Warwick Graham.warwick@aviationweek.com

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

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See earlier:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Mon 28 Aug 2017 (GreenAir online)

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

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

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Local opposition growing to expansion plans by Southampton airport

A group within Southampton Friends of the Earth has set up a campaign to oppose Southampton Airport expansion. Despite the Government’s recent commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there are many airport expansion applications across the UK. This expansion cannot enable the aviation sector to meet even its current, easy, carbon target – let alone the much more stringent one required for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. The airport will probably submit its planning application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well.  Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050. Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion but it has not got a name yet. People interested can get in touch via the local FoE group foesoton@gmail.com
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Southampton airport expansion plans

The airport’s Masterplan is at  https://www.southamptonairport.com/draft-masterplan-2018/

There was a consultation last year, which closed in October.

The airport wants to extend the runway and increase the number of flights, allowing it to more than double passenger numbers from two million to five million a year by 2037.  A final version of the plans was then drawn up with a planning application due to be submitted soon.

The group’s FoE pages as contact: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofEarthSouthampton/  and https://friendsoftheearth.uk/groups/southampton

People interested are invited to join the FoE mailing list. There will only be occasional emails about airport stuff – so best way to keep in touch –  email foesoton@gmail.com

Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050.

FoE is hoping for the November full Council meeting. However, they say if Eastleigh Borough Council puts the airport’s application for expansion into its September Planning Committee we will have to abandon the petition and go for an all out campaign asking people to contact their councillors to object, and putting in objections to the planning application.

We have heard that Hampshire Climate Action Network is putting together a Hampshire-wide group against airport expansion too.

There are issues about trees being felled. The airport are trying to argue that they can fell the trees in a copse under a “tree management” banner, rather than it being prior to and facilitating expansion. The trees are within the City Council boundary and are all protected. However, the City Council (although it objected to this work in 1983 and 2003) is giving the work the nod.

There is quite a bit of obfuscation going on about who is for approving the tree felling – whether it is the Forestry Commission for the large trees or Southampton City Council for the  Tree Protection Zone? The Forestry Commission has said “not us – its SCC” but it remains unclear.

The expansion issue compounded by the consultation and proposals for air space changes. Parts of Southampton could be badly affected by increased noise from more jets taking off daily.

Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion of Southampton Airport. We haven’t got a name yet, but we can be contacted via the local FoE group.

It’s likely that the airport will submit it’s application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well.

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See earlier:

Southampton Airport expansion moving forward as bosses prepare to submit plans

7th May 2019

Southampton Airport is pushing ahead with major expansion plans which could double the number of passengers travelling through the airport.

Bosses will submit a formal planning application to the local authority, following a public consultation.

But campaigners say it would increase noise pollution and damage the environment.

The airport has released impressions of how the expanded airport could look
Under the plans announced last year, the runway would be made longer, allowing more flights to travel to more destinations.

The terminal would also be expanded, with 4,000 extra parking spaces being built.

Airport executives predict that flight numbers would increase from just over 39,000 a year now, to more than 50,000 in ten years – reaching 58,000 by 2037.

The airport says:  “Our ambitions to grow the airport to provide more choice, more connectivity for passengers, are really taking shape now.”

Hundreds of people took part in a major consultation on the plans and the airport say it has taken into account concerns raised.

But not everyone agrees with the plans, with some worried about the affect it could have on their neighbourhood and the environment.

GARETH NARBED, CAMPAIGNER said:  “I’m appalled actually by the potential effects on the whole of Southampton…the expansion plan is really going to have a major effect on a lot of people.”

The airport says it’s due to submit plans to the council later in the summer.

Last updated Tue 7 May 2019

https://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2019-05-07/southampton-airport-expansion-moving-forward-as-bosses-prepare-to-submit-plans/

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Evan Davis “The Bottom Line” programme on aviation industry CO2 – basically “there is no plan”…

Evan Davis has done an edition of the BBC programme “The Bottom Line” on aviation and its claims about cutting its carbon emissions. His interview is revealing, in making clear how empty the industry’s claims of reducing its CO2 in future really are. Sector representatives admit it has broken its own pledges to grow carbon neutrally and lacks firm plans to achieve it by 2050. They talk about changing the sort of planes that fly, though ignoring that any new plane model that could fundamentally cut CO2 emissions per passenger is decades away, and all planes remain in service for perhaps 30 years. There is foolish over-optimism that electric planes might eventually transport enough passengers to make a difference – but it is decades away. All the current changes they are mentioning cut CO2 by far smaller amounts than the anticipated annual growth of the industry. As Evan says, “But this is sort of hot air…we’re used to from the aviation industry: ‘we’re all taking this very seriously, we’re signing up to these targets, by the way we missed it the last time we did it, but we’re ever more ambitions in the target we’re going to sign up to… there’s no plan.’ “
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The Future of Commercial Aviation

How can the aviation industry marry sustainability with increasing passenger numbers – with more and more of us flying cheaply since the deregulation of the airlines.

Listen to the programme at

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000713p

or    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000713p

from 17.40 minutes in:

Evan Davis: So what we know is, though, is that growth is exceeding the ability for the industry to improve its emissions. What are you guys going to do? Come on, I mean 2050, we’re meant to be on net zero carbon. What is the aviation industry expecting to deliver by 2050?

Industry: Ten years ago IATA made a pledge to grow neutrally with respect to carbon by 2020. We’re now in 2019. We haven’t yet been able to achieve that growth (50 per cent reduction by 2050).

Evan Davis:  Let’s assume that is going to be a Paris compatible target – a 50 per cent reduction by 2050. How on earth are you going to do that?

Industry: It’s going to fundamentally come with the insertion of new technology… There’s going to have to be some breakthrough technology…hybrid electric propulsion…

ED: But the point you’re saying is, you don’t have an answer…how far away is the hybrid plane for a start?

Industry: For long haul, I would say at least ten years. It takes five to ten years to develop a new aircraft so you’ve starting from scratch.

ED: You’re not even remotely close to that.

Industry: …it’s a challenge the industry is facing and investing to…

ED:  But this is sort of hot air…we’re used to from the aviation industry: ‘we’re all taking this very seriously, we’re signing up to these targets, by the way we missed it the last time we did it, but we’re ever more ambitions in the target we’re going to sign up to… there’s no plan.’

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000713p

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What will be the impact of the UK ambition of “Net Zero” on the Airports NPS?

Lawyers, BDB Pitmans, for whom airport planning is an area of work, have commented on the change by the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050 – and its effect on the aviation sector. They say the 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2. With the 80% cut target, until 27th June, the UK had to cut CO2 emissions to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes. The government understands that: “Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability.” One change that will be needed is for people to fly less. The legal challenges in March 2019 against the Airports NPS had grounds relating to carbon emissions, but these were dismissed, on the basis of developments like the Paris Agreement had not yet being translated into UK law. Now the Appeal Court will hear the legal challenges, and as the CO2 target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable. The Sec of State for Transport will need to review the NPS, considering whether there has been a “significant change in any circumstances.”
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831: NET ZERO COMES INTO FORCE

28.6.2019  (By Angus Walker, Partner at bdb pitmans – lawyers)

Today’s entry reports on a highly significant amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008.

It is only changing an ‘8’ into ’10’, but will have a considerable effect on the future of life in the UK, including but not nearly limited to infrastructure projects.

Parliament has approved a change to section 1(1) of the Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA), an act that was given royal assent on the same day as the Planning Act 2008.

Section 1(1) stated until yesterday:

‘It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.’

It now states:

‘It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline.’

[The Sec of State referred to is Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). AW comment]

Spot the difference? The 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2, and so until yesterday that had to be reduced to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes.

The change was approved by the Commons on Monday (24 June) and the Lords on Wednesday (26 June).

The Lords had a ‘regret’ motion passed (that there wasn’t enough information on how the new target would be met, amongst other things), but still approved the change. It was then signed into law by the relevant minister Chris Skidmore MP later that day.

By its terms it came into force yesterday (27 June).

Of the justifications for changing the target available in the CCA, the Government has chosen the following in the preamble to the statutory instrument making the amendment:

‘The Secretary of State considers that since the Act was passed, there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change that make it appropriate to amend the percentage specified in section 1(1) of the Act.’

The new target is commonly referred to as ‘net zero’. That phrase is also the title of the Committee on Climate Change’s advice, which must be obtained before the threshold can be changed.

Note that the advice was published in May and was sought in October 2018, so it is unfair to say that Theresa May only thought about this since resigning as leader of the Conservative Party – the wheels were in motion much earlier. The speed with which the change has been made could, however, have been prompted by her desire to leave a legacy.

The scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. The Net Zero report says (on page 168 and elsewhere): ‘Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability.’

The speculative options considered (on pages 156-158, which are in addition to the recommendations to achieve the previous 80% reduction) are:

  • behavioural changes (ie eating less meat and flying less);
  • changes in land use such as growing more trees (50,000 hectares a year – more than two Rutlands);
  • removing CO2 directly from the air (four methods are suggested) and
  • (inventing and) using synthetic fuels.

Note that the Airports National Policy Statement legal challenge in March this year had grounds relating to climate change. These were dismissed because although developments such as the Paris Agreement had happened, they had not yet been translated into UK law – the Climate Change Act 2008 target was the thing.

Now that that target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable.

The judges said (at paragraph 648 of the judgment):

‘In our view, given the statutory scheme in the CCA 2008 and the work that was being done on if [sic] and how to amend the domestic law to take into account the Paris Agreement, the Secretary of State did not arguably act unlawfully in not taking into account that Agreement when preferring the NWR Scheme and in designating the ANPS as he did. As we have described, if scientific circumstances change, it is open to him to review the ANPS; and, in any event, at the DCO stage this issue will be re-visited on the basis of the then up to date scientific position.’

That the judgment came out on 1 May and Net Zero came out on 2 May is no doubt a coincidence – even having received Net Zero, the Government could have taken ages to decide what to do with it rather than legislating only eight weeks later.

The Secretary of State  [presumably the Sec of State for Transport, not BEIS ?  AW note] must review an NPS or part of one if he or she thinks it is appropriate, which means considering:

‘(a) since the time when the statement was first published or (if later) last reviewed, there has been a significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided,  (see link)
(b) the change was not anticipated at that time, and
(c) if the change had been anticipated at that time, any of the policy set out in the statement would have been materially different.’ [point number 108 ]

The NPS says, eg at paragraph 3.52   link :

‘The Government agrees with the evidence set out by the Airports Commission that expansion at Heathrow Airport is consistent with the UK’s climate change obligations’.

Note that international aviation and shipping are currently not included in the calculation of UK emissions under the CCA. The Government appeared to say that they will be included when it comes to ‘net zero’ (see the debate in the Lords at column 1086) but was more circumspect in a written answer on the same day.

As can be seen from the above, the significance of this alteration to climate change targets is enormous and has the potential to affect life in the UK dramatically over the next 30 years.

By 2050, for any CO2 we emit, we will have to have in place equivalent carbon capture technology to cancel it out. So it doesn’t mean CO2 emissions will be impossible, but we will need technology in place that has not yet been invented on a large scale and an awful lot of trees.

Cancelling the £1 billion carbon capture and storage competition in November 2015 won’t help with that.

https://www.bdbpitmans.com/blogs/planning-act-2008/831-net-zero-comes-into-force/

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See also

Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful

The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut.  Plan B say the “Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of” the 2008 Climate Change Act.  And the Secretary of State “chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation.”  And  “The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed.”

Click here to view full story…

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Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion as “fundamentally flawed, due to lack of clarity & information”

Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport’s consultation on expansion with more daily flights – until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport’s Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation “fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information” in a letter to the airport’s chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the “omitted technical details”. “The significance of the mayor’s move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport,” said Hacan East chairman John Stewart.  Newham Council which declared a “climate emergency” earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport’s plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth – pollution from aircraft – would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.
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Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion is greeted by campaigners

16 August 2019

By Mike Brooke (Newham Recorder)

Image result for rokhsana fiaz

Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham to halt London City Airport’s consultation on expansion with more daily flights until it shows how it will tackling noise and climate emissions.

City AirportConsultation Master Plan suggests more daily flights, early morning and late evening.

But the airport remains firm and insists that the consultation – on plans to almost double the number of landings and take-offs – continues until September 20.

The mayor called the consultation “fundamentally flawed” in a letter to the airport’s chief executive.

The letter “throws down the gauntlet to the airport”, say campaigners from Hacan East which represents households in the flight paths across east London.

“The significance of the mayor’s move cannot be overstated,” its chairman John Stewart said. “Newham is the planning authority for the airport.”

Newham Council which declared a “climate emergency” earlier this year is seeking more evidence about the airport’s plans to tackle pollution.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz says in her letter to airport chief executive Robert Sinclair: “The council would struggle to support London City Airport’s justification to increase the number of flights. Residents are gravely concerned about the high level forecasts.”

Newham has the most deaths in London attributed to pollution with 96 people a year dying prematurely from respiratory diseases, the mayor points out.

The local authority has set up an air quality and climate emergency task force to achieve “carbon neutral” by 2030 and “carbon zero” by 2050.

“The consultation is fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information,” the mayor’s letter to the airport boss states.

“We expected to see ’emissions from airborne aircraft’ detailed in your aims to achieve the level 3-plus neutrality that you claim to seek by 2020.”

She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the “omitted technical details”.

The airport says it is giving proper consideration to the mayor’s views, but the consultation remains open for people who want to have their say.

A spokesman said: “The draft master plan is an opportunity to share views on how the airport can respond to the significant demand for air travel in London and in particular east London.

“We recognise the challenge of climate change in our draft master plan. Our record to date on air quality, noise and carbon reduction demonstrates our commitment to a change in sustainable aviation.”

The 12-week consultation proposes to scrap the 24-weekend break, which would add more early morning and late evening flights.

https://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/politics/challenge-to-airport-expansion-1-6220270?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social_Icon&utm_campaign=in_article_social_icons

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Assembly calls for changes to City Airport airspace to prioritise Londoners over profit

14 August 2019

By Luke Acton (Newham Recorder)

City Hall’s environment committee has called on airspace decision-makers to prioritise the health and wellbeing of Londoners over the commercial interests of City Airport.

The call comes as a national effort gets under way to modernise the UK’s airspace to improve things like efficiency. The Civil Aviation Authority is the body in charge of that process.

With airports responsible for designing airspace routes under 7,000 feet, City has released a draft document outlining what it wants the new design to do.

Among the “musts” is the maintenance or enhancement of safety and airspace that provides “sufficient capacity to support future demand”.

Among lower priorities, things the new design “should” achieve, is minimisation of CO2 and noise, as well as lower air pollution.

Different groups and organisations are now responding to the plan. Assembly Member Caroline Russell is a Green Party politician and chairwoman of the environment committee.

She said: “According to the Civil Aviation Authority, there are already 331,000 people overflown by flights arriving at City Airport, and 416,300 overflown by departures, all under the altitude of 4,000 feet.

“The damaging effect of aircraft noise on Londoners’ lives can no longer be ignored.

“The London Assembly is recommending that any changes to airspace and flight paths at London City Airport prioritise the health and wellbeing of overflown Londoners, over and above the commercial interests of the airport.”

A spokesman for London City thanked the committee for its response, adding that air capacity is vital for jobs, to support business and to encourage trade and tourism.

“As London’s most central airport, we know we have a responsibility to be a good neighbour, which is exactly why we are participating in this airspace modernisation programme, which is anticipated to result in quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys.

“We have also previously highlighted evidence to the environment committee of the extensive work we are doing with airlines, manufacturers, air traffic control services, and other stakeholders, to actively limit noise and mitigate its effects.”

The airspace document comes as City is also consulting on its draft master plan, which calls for more flexibility for early and late flights, and during the 24-hour weekend break.

https://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/new-airspace-plan-priorities-1-6216031?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social_Icon&utm_campaign=in_article_social_icons

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See earlier:

 

HACAN East new major campaign against London City’s expansion plans, asking people to fill in postcard responses to the consultation.

HACAN East has launched a major campaign against London City’s expansion plans. It is encouraging people to fill in postcards opposing the expansion plans, and send them in to Freepost LCY MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION. People can also download and display posters. The postcards call on residents to back the existing 24 hour weekend ban on aircraft using London City.  HACAN East wants the airport drop its proposals to end the 24 hour break as well as its plans to almost double flight numbers from today’s levels and to increase flights in the early morning and late evening. The postcards say: I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban. I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights. I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights. I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion. Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.

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Caroline Russell: Action is needed on aircraft noise

Caroline writes in a blog that in parts of London, people are now living with severe levels of noise disruption. This is not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it. For some, the onslaught from Heathrow planes is made worse by the addition of London City planes using narrow, concentrated routes. The noise has significant health impacts for many. A report by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, which Caroline chairs, concluded that the Government and CAA should regulate noise disturbance more stringently. They should use lower thresholds for noise disturbance (taking into account WHO guidelines and the need for residents to keep windows open) and mapping the combined effect of all London’s airports, especially Heathrow and City.  The WHO guidance is that 45dB is the threshold for health impacts, but the UK government persists with 54dB as the ‘disturbance’ threshold. Also that flight paths should be rotated, to give relief to those under concentrated flight paths – and flight paths should be designed to minimise noise impacts, including avoiding overlapping flight paths. Increasing exposure to aircraft noise is unacceptable, and must be challenged

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What is driving London City Airport’s expansion plans? John Stewart comment

John Stewart, from Hacan East, has looked at why London City Airport is planning huge expansion. The airport Master Plan wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. He says the airport is aiming to promote itself as a major player on the aviation scene, and a key driver of the regional economy, not just a niche business airport. It now often holds receptions at the party conferences, and is raising its profile to get backing for its growth plans. The current owners bought the airport for £2 billion in 2016, and want to make a good return. Business passengers used to be about 60% of the total, but now 50% – with the plans suggesting 36% by 2035. Most business passengers fly in the morning and evening, so leisure flights use the hours in the middle of the day. It can’t offer budget flights because Ryanair and EasyJet planes are too big to use the airport. London City has set out to change to portray itself as a key driver, maybe even the key driver, of the economic development of East, NE and SE London.  It is pushing this to MPs and also local authorities in its regions in order to convince them it is in their interest to back expansion.

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RESIDENTS DISMAYED BY LONDON CITY AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS TO DOUBLE FLIGHT NUMBERS

London City’s Master Plan has been released, for consultation, and it is very bad news for local residents who suffer from the noise of its planes.  It is proposing to double the number of flights by 2035; to end the break when currently there are no flights between 12:30pm on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday; and to bring in more planes in the early morning and late evening. Residents are dismayed by the London City expansion revealed in its Master Plan published today.  The airport wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. Last year there were just over 75,000 flights. John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, which gives a voice to residents under the airport’s flight paths, said, “For all its green talk, this plan would be disastrous for residents.  Flight numbers could double from today’s levels.” Increasingly the airport caters for leisure passengers, not business. The consultation ends on 20th September.  The airport would need to go to a Planning Inquiry to get permission for any proposals it intends to take forward, after applying to Newham Council for its plans. Newham borough has pledged to make the borough “carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2050”.  The airport will not be helping with that.

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Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful

The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut.  Plan B say the “Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of” the 2008 Climate Change Act.  And the Secretary of State “chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation.”  And The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed.”
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Plan B Skeleton Argument

The summary states:

Nb.  At the time of drafting the original Grounds of Appeal, The Climate Change Act 2008 s. 1 maintained a “carbon target” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared to a 1990 baseline. On 27 June 2019 that target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%”. The Grounds of Appeal have been revised in this skeleton argument in order to reflect that amendment.

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A. INTRODUCTION

1. The Appellant wishes to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision ([CB/x/y] and [CB/x/y]) to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (“the ANPS”) in support of the expansion of Heathrow Airport under the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), on the basis of his failure to give proper consideration to “government policy relating to … climate change” contrary to the statutory requirement of s. 5(8) of the 2008 Act.

2. Specifically the Secretary of State proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of the 2008 Act.

3. Since climate change is a global threat, which no one country can tackle in isolation, national climate change policies are determined as contributions to maintaining a global climate change temperature limit. The final report of the Airports Commission highlighted the importance of the global climate change context as a constraint on UK aviation capacity [CB/x/y]: “Any change to UK’s aviation capacity would have to take place in the context of global climate change, and the UK’s policy obligations in this area.”

4. In July 2015, when the Airports Commission report was published, the political consensus was that extreme danger from climate change could be avoided by limiting average global warming to 2˚C above pre-industrial levels. It is common ground between the parties that the now superseded “carbon target” in the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA”), which was to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, was derived from that 2˚C global limit.

5. In December 2015, however, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (“The Paris Agreement”) introduced a step change to global (and hence national) climate change policy. Amid gathering evidence that even 2˚C warming would pose intolerable risks for humanity, the UK Government played a leading role in negotiating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which committed governments to holding warming to “well below” 2˚C while aiming for a 1.5˚C limit.

6. In March 2016 the Government made an unequivocal policy commitment to introduce a new “net zero” carbon target to bring the UK into line with the Paris Agreement 1. A “net zero” target means emissions reduction of 100% as opposed to 80%. Such a target does not require actual emissions of carbon to be reduced to zero. It means only that remaining emissions must be balanced by action to remove an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere (eg through reforestation).

7. In April 2018 the Government announced it would commission the Committee on Climate Change (“the CCC”), the Government’s statutory adviser on climate change, to provide formal advice on the implementation of a new target 2; and on 1 May 2018, the Rt Hon Claire MP, on behalf of the Government, informed Parliament that the CCC had been asked to advise on how to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050 3.

8. The Government’s position aligned to an emerging consensus that, if the Paris temperature limit were to be maintained, global emissions would need to reach net zero by 2050. In January 2018, for example, the European Parliament had voted for net zero emissions by 2050 4.

9. Thus at the time of the Secretary of State’s designation of the ANPS, in June 2018, it was already clear that:

(1) it was Government policy to introduce a new net zero carbon target in accordance with the more stringent Paris Agreement temperature limit;

(2) that that target would be substantially more ambitious than the minimum level of 80% set out in the CCA at the time; and

(3) that the new target was likely to be 100% emissions reduction by 2050.

10. In the context of a long term national infrastructure project, such as the proposed expansion of the UK’s national airport, it would have been sensible to have considered these profound developments in government policy on climate change. The Secretary of State should at least have turned his mind to the question of whether the ANPS was likely to be compatible with the more stringent target that was envisaged.

11. The Secretary of State, however, chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation. He proceeded on the basis that the seminal Paris Agreement and the Government commitment to introduce a net zero target in line with that agreement were “irrelevant” to government policy on climate change and hence irrelevant to his decision.

12. The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed.

13. The short-sightedness of his approach has been highlighted by subsequent events.

14. The judgement of the Court below was published on the morning of 1 May 2019.

15. On 2 May 2019, the CCC published its advice on a new carbon target, as requested by the Government, recommending the introduction of a net zero target by 2050, in accordance with the Government’s stated intention of May 2018 [SB/x/y].

16. On 27 June 2019, the CCA s.1 carbon target of at least 80% emissions reduction by 2050 was replaced, via statutory instrument, with the substantially more ambitious target of “at least 100%” by 2050 (ie a “net zero” target) [SB/x/y].

17. The Secretary of State must now concede that the benchmark used to assess the ANPS was fundamentally less demanding than current government policy on climate change: current government policy is to reduce emissions by at least 100% by 2050 in accordance with a global temperature limit of “well below 2˚C” and 1.5˚C.

18. Presumably, the Secretary of State will say that at the time of the designation of the ANPS, in June 2018 he could not have predicted these “developments” in Government policy.

19. In truth, while Government policy was not implemented into law until June 2019, the policy commitment to introduce a new net zero target in accordance with the Paris Agreement had been made in March 2016 and by May 2018 it was already clear that the Government was aiming to decarbonise the economy by 2050. It was not sensible for the Secretary of State to ignore that position.

20. In any event, it is now apparent that contrary to the express purpose of the 2008 Act, Government policy on aviation and climate change are now advancing in contrary directions. In the Appellant’s submission, this is the inevitable consequence of the Secretary of State’s blinkered approach.

21. The Court below ruled in favour of the Secretary of State on the basis that “neither policy nor international agreement can override a statute”. In reality there was no question of “overriding” a statute, since the CCA, prior to amendment, imposed only a minimum requirement in terms of emissions reduction. Further, the express terms of s. 5(8) of the 2008 Act required the Secretary of State to take account of government policy and not to confine his consideration to the statutory minimum obligation.

 

…….. and the document continues (15 pages) at

https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Appeal-skeleton-Oct-final.pdf

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See also

 

What will be the impact of the UK ambition of “Net Zero” on the Airports NPS?

Lawyers, BDB Pitmans, for whom airport planning is an area of work, have commented on the change by the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050 – and its effect on the aviation sector. They say the 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2. With the 80% cut target, until 27th June, the UK had to cut CO2 emissions to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes. The government understands that: “Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability.” One change that will be needed is for people to fly less. The legal challenges in March 2019 against the Airports NPS had grounds relating to carbon emissions, but these were dismissed, on the basis of developments like the Paris Agreement had not yet being translated into UK law. Now the Appeal Court will hear the legal challenges, and as the CO2 target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable. The Sec of State for Transport will need to review the NPS, considering whether there has been a “significant change in any circumstances.”

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AEF explains why Gatwick expansion adds to UK’s aviation CO2 headache – at least 1 million tonnes more CO2 per year

If Gatwick was allowed to increase its number of flights and passengers, that would be a huge increase in its carbon emissions. Already the UK aviation sector is not on track to stay under even the outdated cap of 37.5MtCO2. That was when the UK was aiming for an 80% cut in carbon emissions, compared to 1990, by 2050. But now the UK has signed up to zero carbon  – ie. 100% cut – by 2050.  The corresponding carbon cap for aviation would then be more like below 30MtCO2 by 2050. As the ongoing growth, from incremental increases in flights and passengers from most UK airports, will take the UK aviation sector well over the 37.5MtCO2 limit, let alone the 30MtCO2 cap. So there is absolutely no room for a Heathrow 3rd runway, or the semi-new-runway at Gatwick – achieved by making use of its emergency runway for much of the time. The AEF has pointed out that Gatwick’s Masterplan is for 390,000 flights per annum by 2032/33, around 39% more than in 2018.  Gatwick carefully avoids giving any CO2 estimates in future, let alone to 2050. Extrapolating the carbon emissions from 2017 estimates by the DfT, it is likely that Gatwick’s carbon emissions would rise by about 1Mt CO2 per year, to 3.6MtCO2 (or more, if Gatwick has a larger % of long-haul flights in future) if it uses its emergency runway as a second runway. 
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Why Gatwick expansion adds to the aviation carbon headache

By AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)

In July, Gatwick Airport published its master plan setting out its intention to progress detailed design and development work to bring the existing standby runway into regular use alongside the main runway, while continuing to safeguard land for an additional runway to the south.

Growth projections underpinning the master plan suggest that use of the standby runway could see passenger numbers grow to 70 million passengers per annum (mppa) by 2032/33, a 53% increase on the 45.7 million passengers who used the airport in 2017/18.

Aircraft movements are set to grow at a slower rate due to an estimated 10% increase in the average number of passengers per plane, but by 2032/33 they could reach 390,000 movements per annum, around 39% more than the airport handled last year.

While the airport says it has no immediate plans to seek permission for an additional runway, the master plan suggests that if it’s built, the airport’s capacity could eventually reach 95 million passengers per annum.

What about the carbon implications of using Gatwick’s standby runway?

But what about the carbon implications of using Gatwick’s standby runway? At first glance it’s hard to find the complete answer. The master plan does point to an increase in the airport’s emissions from 0.77MtCO2 in 2017 to 0.95MtCO2 in 2028, but this assessment is limited in both scope and duration: the analysis shows the emissions that Gatwick is directly responsible for (such as fuel used by vehicles at the airport, and the electricity purchased), as well as indirect emissions from passenger journeys to and from the airport and staff commuting.

Aircraft emissions are also included in this calculation, but crucially, only for the landing and take-off cycle, capturing the flights emissions below an altitude of 3,000 feet only.

The majority of in-flight emissions, those produced in the climb and cruise phases, are excluded. It also fails to look beyond 2028 which limits its relevance when it comes to analysing how expansion could impact the UK’s ability to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Department for Transport’s 2017 UK Aviation Forecasts for air passengers, aircraft movements and CO2 emissions at UK airports, provide better evidence for the likely carbon impacts of expansion out to 2050. Unlike Gatwick’s estimate, the DfT forecasts calculate the emissions for the entire flight and attribute them to UK airports on the basis of all departing flights.

In a 2050 scenario where Heathrow builds and operates a third runway, Gatwick Airport (without using its standby runway), is assumed to handle 52 mppa, served by 297,000 aircraft movements annually, and generating 2.7MtCO2.

Assuming Gatwick’s standby runway continues to serve a similar range of destinations with the same aircraft fleet mix, and extrapolating the data from the DfT’s scenario and applying it to an increased passenger throughput of 70mppa, this would equate to 3.63MtCO2 in 2050, an increase of nearly 1MtCO2.

This may prove to be a conservative figure if Gatwick develops a wider range of long-haul destinations than assumed by the DfT model, or if its passenger numbers increase beyond 70mppa between 2033 and 2050.

It is also dependant on delivery of a large number of modelling assumptions including the application of a carbon price that reaches £221 per tCO2 by 2050 (substantially higher than the carbon prices that apply to aviation today, or that are likely to apply in the coming years) and a 48% improvement in aircraft efficiency between 2016 and 2050.

In relation to the Climate Change Act’s original 80% reduction target, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) consistently advised Government that it should plan for UK aviation emissions in 2050 to be no higher than they were in 2005 (when the sector emitted 37.5Mt CO2).

CCC is now expected to write to the Secretary of State for Transport [now Grant Shapps] this autumn setting out its recommendations for the aviation sector consistent with delivering the newly legislated net zero target.

Based on the CCC’s modelling scenarios, there is a strong suggestion that the sector may need to limit its emissions to somewhere between 22-30MtCO2 by 2050, balanced by carbon removals, if the UK is to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy.

However, with the addition of a third runway at Heathrow, the DfT forecasts show that emissions will not even meet the current 37.5Mt planning assumption and will rise to around 40Mt by 2050.

As this forecast assumes other airports will only grow to the levels determined by their existing terminal and runway capacities, the prospect of an additional 1MtCO2 from use of Gatwick’s standby runway, plus any increases from proposed airport developments elsewhere, will heighten the scale of the problem.

This will threaten the UK’s ability to meet its climate target, reinforcing AEF’s argument, set out in our response to the Government’s recent aviation strategy consultation, that further runways should be ruled out on climate grounds.

https://www.aef.org.uk/2019/08/15/why-gatwick-expansion-adds-to-the-aviation-carbon-headache/

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Press release from CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions)

15thAugust 2019

According to Aviation Environment Federation’s (AEF) report released today, over 1m extra tonnes of carbon would be released by Gatwick Airport every year if the airport were allowed to go ahead and use their emergency runway on a daily basis.

“This finding is absolutely horrifying for us inhabitants of this fragile planet we call home,” says CAGNE, the umbrella community and environmental group concerned with Gatwick Airport.  

The Gatwick Airport master plan for a 3-runway airport launched on 18thJuly dedicated only one page to the impact its growth would have on the planet.  It seems to have looked to weaken the story of climate impacts of aviation as its planes burns fossil fuel by only accounting for departures and arrivals up to an altitude of 3,000ft.  The amount of CO2 it would release into our atmosphere painted as insignificant, and yet the airport management sets out 150 pages of business camouflage to hide this fact from local authorities, elected members, and the public.

Released today by the respected international authority on the environment in relation to aviation, the Aviation Environment Federation, details how Gatwick Airport would be releasing over 1m tonnes of carbon MORE each year if permitted to use the emergency runway as a second runway in conjunction with the main runway as proposed.

AEF state that the majority of in-flight emissions, those produced in the climb and cruise phases, (all except those below 3,000 ft approaching or leaving the airport – the LTO – Landing and Take-Off cycle) are excluded by Gatwick. It also fails to look beyond 2028 which limits its relevance when it comes to analysing how expansion could impact the UK’s ability to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“Gatwick and the industry are simply offering too many assumptions about realistic improvements the aviation industry will make to allow them to continue to grow unconditionally to the detriment of our planet and the climate crisis we now all face,” says CAGNE.

The government forecasts assume other airports will only grow to the levels determined by their existing terminal and runway capacities, the prospect of an additional 1MtCO2 from use of Gatwick’s standby runway, plus any increases from proposed airport developments elsewhere, will heighten the scale of the problem. This will threaten the UK’s ability to meet its climate target, reinforcing AEF’s argument, states AEF.

“Understandably, the new owners of Gatwick Airport, VINCI, are very keen to expand as much as they are allowed to, but this price for leisure travel is too high for our planet and for the local communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent that will be hit the hardest by such unsustainable growth,” says CAGNE.

Note to Editor

Full report can be found at www.aef.org.uk

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