Open letter from 90 academics to European governments – carbon offset markets (eg. CORSIA) will not effectively cut carbon

There is an interesting letter from 90 academics calling for governments to withdraw support from new carbon offset markets – with a specific reference to the UN Corsia scheme for aviation emissions. The academics call on European governments that care about climate change to withdraw their support for the creation of a new doomed carbon offset market at the COP25 this December. The proposals for carbon offsets are entirely unable to meet necessary criteria, needed to ensure they actually succeed in “offsetting” carbon. The letter says: “Yet, beyond the well-known issues of excess permits and frauds, it has also been demonstrated that carbon markets have major conceptual flaws that cannot be fixed, such as the inability to provide a reliable price signal or the fact that the climate impact of offset projects is not calculable….It is well documented that carbon markets have failed spectacularly in achieving their environmental objectives and that many carbon offset projects have a devastating social impact. In spite of this evidence, carbon markets remain the main policy tool to address climate change in Europe, based on the misguided hope that they will work “once the price is right”.”
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Open letter to European governments – carbon markets will not make our planet great again

Addressing climate change requires sound environmental policies, not more failed carbon markets

90 academics have signed an open letter calling on European governments caring about climate change to withdraw their support for the creation of a new doomed carbon offset market at the COP25 this December.

Download open letter: open letter to European policy makers on carbon markets

(to see the whole list of academics who signed. Letter text copied below)

” Yet, new carbon markets are being created such as CORSIA, the carbon offset market for civil aviation emissions, or the one mooted under article 6 of the UN Paris Agreement to be finalised at COP25.

These irremediable issues mean that carbon markets will never be able to meet their environmental and social objectives and should be abandoned for more robust alternatives. “

The open letter:

March 2019

CARBON MARKETS WILL NOT MAKE OUR PLANET GREAT AGAIN

Addressing climate change requires sound environmental policies, not more failed carbon markets.
It is well documented that carbon markets have failed spectacularly in achieving their environmental objectives and that many carbon offset projects have a devastating social impact. In spite of this evidence, carbon markets remain the main policy tool to address climate change in Europe, based on the misguided hope that they will work “once the price is right”.
Yet, beyond the well-known issues of excess permits and frauds, it has also been demonstrated that carbon markets have major conceptual flaws that cannot be fixed, such as the inability to provide a reliable price signal or the fact that the climate impact of offset projects is not calculable.
When carbon becomes a new asset class for investors, carbon markets will be much more vulnerable than traditional financial markets to crashes and abrupt losses of confidence from investors, with a high risk of contagion to other asset classes and the wider economy.
Yet, new carbon markets are being created such as CORSIA, the carbon offset market for civil aviation emissions, or the one mooted under article 6 of the UN Paris Agreement to be finalised at COP25.
These irremediable issues mean that carbon markets will never be able to meet their environmental and social objectives and should be abandoned for more robust alternatives.
Mandating a progressive phasing out from fossil fuels complemented by targeted tax policies aimed at ensuring a fair sharing of the costs of a transition away from fossil fuel dependence would be far simpler, fairer and incomparably more effective in addressing climate change.
Binding regulations have proven their effectiveness time and again, notably to address the hole in the ozone layer, prevent river pollution by effluents or reduce lead emissions from cars. Such a plan would of course be progressive and would mean finally starting to act, instead of continuing with the current inaction fostered by carbon markets.
Binding environmental regulations would also incidentally make finance sustainable with regards to climate change, as the risk-adjusted returns of all companies and economic activities would automatically adjust to the new regulations and capital would shift accordingly.
In turn, this questions the current political focus softening financial regulation in exchange for a greening of bank balance sheets.
As carbon markets continue to prove their ineffectiveness while the incidence and amplitude of natural catastrophes increase and renewable energy prices continue to drop, public pressure is likely to make the current focus on carbon markets, as the central pillar of EU climate policy, gradually become politically untenable. Wasting another decade would only make the transition more abrupt with a far worse impact on climate and jobs.
We therefore call on policy makers to stop supporting new doomed carbon offset markets, notably at the COP25.
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For more information read : ‘50 shades of green – the rise of natural capital markets and sustainable finance’
available at  www.greenfinanceobservatory.org
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See earlier:

An assessment by Carbon Market Watch of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme

Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme – which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should ” offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements,” (one of which, for example, is: “Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.”   Carbon Market Watch conclude that “no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.”

Click here to view full story…

ICAO working on rules to at least ensure its CORSIA carbon credits for aviation are not double-counted

Rules to avoid double-counting of CO2 emissions cuts in offsets to be used by the aviation sector through the (weak, ineffective) ICAO CORSIA scheme, are considered to be a step forward by some campaigners. But proper assurances are needed to meet aviation’s climate pledges, so the claims of (sic) “carbon neutral growth” mean something. ICAO negotiators have agreed rules to prevent double-counting of carbon credits used to offset airline emissions.  As air traffic growth outpaces efficiency improvements, airlines will be expected to pay for emissions reductions in other sectors to offset the climate impact. In one of its secretive meetings, ICAO has adopted broad criteria to ensure those carbon offsets are not also counted towards national targets – and they actually represent extra CO2 emissions savings. Campaigners are also calling for an age limit on eligible carbon offsetting projects and transparency around the way the rules are put into practice.  There is a huge pool of dormant projects under the UN’s CDM that could, in theory, meet demand from airlines for carbon offsets. But most of those would continue cutting emissions, even without being used by aviation. So they are not additional.

Click here to view full story…

Study confirms that relying on outdated CDM carbon credits to compensate aviation emissions will do nothing for climate action

The UN’s new, very weak, scheme to attempt to do something about global aviation CO2 emissions is starting soon. It is the “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation” (CORSIA). Countries have been trying to locate cheap, plentiful carbon credits that airlines can use. The process is secretive. One type of carbon credit being considered comes from the CDM, (Clean Development Mechanism) a carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to meet their climate targets at a cheaper cost. This climate tool has generated a lot of controversy around its failure to reduce emissions, as well as negative impacts it has had on local communities and the environment. The problem is that there is a huge supply of “junk” CDM credits, far larger than the amount aviation would need. These junk credits are often from projects to cut CO2 emissions which would happen anyway. If these junk credits are the ones the aviation sector uses, the effect would be an increase in global CO2.  There is also the problem that while all credits are far too cheap to be effective, the junk ones are even cheaper – so not costing airlines enough to in any way be an incentive to limit their CO2 emissions.

Click here to view full story…

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Austrian higher court approves construction of 3rd runway at Vienna Airport, refused on climate & noise grounds in Feb 2017

The Supreme Administrative Court in Austria has approved construction of a 3rd runway at Vienna Airport. The court overturned appeals made by local residents and environmental groups on the basis of noise complaints and environmental impact of the runway. Opponents had successfully argued that noise would be a problem across urban Vienna. Also that it could not be justified on climate change grounds.  But the airport appealed – and has now won.  It says the noise will not be a problem as there will not be landings over the Vienna city area during normal operations, and it aims at “decreasing noise pollution in the area.”  There are the usual claims that it will “reduce delays, fuel consumption, and noise by abolishing allotment patterns and queued aircraft during peak hours”.  Back in February 2017 a court said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. Also that the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. All now forgotten, it seems. Making money trumps climate stability.
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Austria court approves construction of third runway at Vienna Airport

20.3.2019 (Airport Technolog)

Vienna Airport

The Supreme Administrative Court (VwGH) in Austria has approved construction of a third runway at Vienna International Airport.

The court overturned appeals made by local residents and environmental groups on the basis of noise complaints and environmental impact of the third runway.

In their complaints, the citizens’ groups alleged that noise will be caused due to the landing of additional aircraft, especially in landings that cross the urban area of Vienna.

The VwGH clarified that the third runway is not intended for landings over the Vienna city area during normal operations, and it is aimed at decreasing noise pollution in the area.

“This decision ensures the long-term growth perspectives and competitiveness, not only for Vienna Airport but for the Austrian economy, industry, tourism and labour market.”

The management board of Flughafen Wien, the company which manages Vienna Airport, welcomed the verdict of the VwGH.

Flughafen Wien management board members Julian Jäger and Günther Ofner said: “Today is an important and positive day, not only for Austria as a business and tourism location. An overly long process has come to a positive and incontestable decision.

“This decision ensures the long-term growth perspectives and competitiveness, not only for Vienna Airport but for the Austrian economy, industry, tourism and labour market.”

The third runway is important for the future of Vienna International Airport, as it will reduce delays, fuel consumption, and noise by abolishing allotment patterns and queued aircraft during peak hours.

The airport said that it will now examine the court decision and provide information about the next steps in the near future.

Vienna Airport welcomed an increase in passenger numbers of just fewer than 11% for 2018 to 27 million. The airport expects to welcome more than 30 million travellers this year.

https://www.airport-technology.com/news/vienna-airport-austria-runway/

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See earlier:

 

Court in Austria blocks 3rd runway at Vienna airport, as climate harm outweighs a few more jobs

A court in Austria has ruled that Vienna Schwechat Airport cannot be expanded with a 3rd runway, on climate change grounds. It said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. The court said the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. It also said it was important to conserve valuable arable land for future generations to provide food supplies. The airport will appeal. It is using the same false arguments that the DfT and Heathrow are using here – that building a 3rd runway would (allegedly) reduce the amount of carbon emissions and noise because they claim (against common logic) that “fuel consumption and the noise are reduced, because the waiting times of the aircraft would be avoided at peak times.” The airport hopes the runway would bring more tourists into Austria to spend their money, and would be needed by 2025. The airport had 22.8 million passengers in 2015.  It is a mystery how such a low number of passengers could require 3 runways, when there is barely enough to fill one, let alone two, runway.

Click here to view full story…

Objections to plans for a 3rd runway at Vienna airport

September 14, 2012

Vienna airport has plans for a third runway, saying it is necessary due to increasing numbers of passengers etc. In July a consultation process started, on the environmental impact assessment. This has now closed, and there have been at least 25 appeals sent in. The second phase of the decision process will be handled by the Department of the Environment. Realistically, a final decision on the runway will not happen before 2014/15. Expansion opponents fear that their objections will not be listened to. A spokesman for the initiative opposing the runway plans said a few weeks ago that the construction of the road is already a foregone conclusion. The airport’s dialogue forum says residents groups are happy that more stringent noise and night flight regulations had been incorporated than provided by law.   Click here to view full story…

Important legal challenge by Vienna campaigners on noise compensation

October 28, 2012     Vienna airport has plans for a third runway, saying it is necessary due to increasing numbers of passengers etc. A decision due to be made on 8th November by the European Court of Justice could have major implications for campaigners across Europe. The court will decide whether compensation should be paid to residents who experience noise as a result of new flight paths being introduced. The compensation would be paid for loss of value of their property. The case has been brought by AFLG (Antifluglärmgemeinschaft) which consists of the 38 citizens’ initiatives who are opposed to the proposed 3rd runway at Vienna Airport. More details about the challenge in this newspaper article     Click here to view full story…

 

 

 

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An assessment by Carbon Market Watch of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme

Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme – which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should ” offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements,” (one of which, for example, is: “Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.”  Carbon Market Watch conclude that “no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.” 
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First class or economy? – An assessment of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme

15th March 2019

By Carbon Market Watch

Executive summary

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), a new carbon market established under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021.

ICAO must, therefore, identify which carbon offsets airlines can use to meet their obligations. This will be carried out by the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which will assess existing GHG programs (i.e. offset providers) based on criteria which were formally adopted by the ICAO Council in March 2019.

This briefing analyzes eight offset programs against one of the two sets of criteria adopted by the ICAO Council: the Program Design Elements.

The programs analysed are

  • the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),
  • Verra,
  • Gold Standard (GS),
  • Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM),
  • Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF),
  • Climate Action Reserve (CAR), and
  • Plan Vivo.

 

Information is based on publicly available documentation and, although not exhaustive, this screening provides insight into the general adjustments needed for all offset programs to meet CORSIA requirements.

Our conclusion is that no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria.

Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions.

The present assessment  also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.

Downloads

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From the report

https://carbonmarketwatch.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/First-class-or-economy-an-assessment-of-credit-providers-for-the-aviation-offsetting-scheme-2.pdf

The 11 program design elements are: (See link to ICAO) 

1. Clear Methodologies and Protocols, and their Development Process: Programs should have qualification and quantification methodologies and protocols in place and available for use as well as a process for developing further methodologies and protocols. The existing methodologies and protocols as well as the process for developing further methodologies and protocols should be publicly disclosed.
2. Scope Considerations: Programs should define and publicly disclose the level at which activities are allowed under the program (e.g., project-based, program of activities, etc.) as well as the eligibility criteria for each type of offset activity (e.g., which sectors, project types, or geographic locations are covered).
3. Offset Credit Issuance and Retirement Procedures: Programs should have in place procedures for how offset credits are: (a) issued; (b) retired or cancelled; (c) subject to any discounting; and, (d) the length of the crediting period and whether that period is renewable. These procedures should be publicly disclosed.
4. Identification and Tracking: Programs should have in place procedures that ensure that: (a) units are tracked; (b) units are individually identified through serial numbers: (c) the registry is secure (i.e., robust security provisions are in place); and (d) units have clearly identified owners or holders (e.g., identification requirements of a registry). The program should also stipulate (e) to which, if any, other registries it is linked; and, (f) whether and which international data exchange standards the registry conforms with. All of the above should be publicly disclosed information.
5. Legal Nature and Transfer of Units: The program should define and ensure the underlying attributes and property aspects of a unit, and publicly disclose the process by which it does so.
6. Validation and Verification Procedures: Programs should have in place validation and verification standards and procedures, as well as requirements and procedures for the accreditation of validators and verifiers. All of the above-mentioned standards, procedures, and requirements should be publicly disclosed.
7. Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.
8. Transparency and Public Participation Provisions: Programs should publicly disclose (a) what information is captured and made available to different stakeholders; and (b) its local stakeholder consultation requirements (if applicable) and (c) its public comments provisions and requirements, and how they are considered (if applicable). Conduct public comment periods and transparently disclose all approved quantification methodologies.
9. Safeguards System: Programs should have in place safeguards to address environmental and social risks. These safeguards should be publicly disclosed.
10. Sustainable Development Criteria: Programs should publicly disclose the sustainable development criteria used, for example, how this contributes to achieving a country’s stated sustainable development priorities, and any provisions for monitoring, reporting and verification.
11. Avoidance of Double Counting, Issuance and Claiming: Programs should provide information on how they address double counting, issuance and claiming in the context of evolving national and international regimes for carbon markets and emissions trading

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Key recommendations:

● All reviewed programs will need to adapt their protocols to ensure compliance with the Program Design Elements of CORSIA.
● A more thorough qualitative review at a project or methodology level is needed to determine the effectiveness of CORSIA. Basic fulfillment of the program-level requirements should be complemented with a continuous quality assessment of transacted credits, e.g. through spot checks of randomly selected projects which issue CORSIA-eligible credits.
● In order to avoid double counting with other emissions reduction efforts, countries need to reach an agreement on international accounting rules, and programs should finalize the upgrading of their protocols to ensure that the credits they certify are not backed by double counted emission reductions.
● The Technical Advisory Body should apply the criteria fairly and consistently, be free from conflicts of interest, and require public meetings and public input during its deliberation of program and offset eligibility..
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 See full report at

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2019 Spring Statement – how getting passengers to pay for carbon offsets is not the answer

In the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, there was a mention of launching a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions, in the hope of encouraging more travels (not only air passengers) in a vain attempt to “neutralise” their climate impact. Hammond said this would explore how travel providers – including airlines – could potentially be required to “offer genuinely additional carbon offsets so that customers who want zero carbon travel have that option can be confident about additionality”. Some airlines already offer offset schemes alongside flight bookings, but take-up is about 1%. So they are not working. The Aviation Environment Federation warned offsets can never be the solution to aviation’s carbon problem. “In order to meet the tough goals that states signed up to in the Paris Agreement, all countries will in any case need to reduce emissions close to zero in the coming decades, leaving little scope for any country or sector to sell their emissions reductions to airlines or air passengers by way of offset schemes,” it pointed out.  All that offsetting means is that carbon savings genuinely made in other sectors are cancelled out by more carbon emissions from transport (especially aviation). It just negates the carbon savings. That does nothing to cut the emissions from the transport itself, especially aviation.

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See also

Spring Statement: there is to be a consultation about possible offsets for passengers for their CO2 emissions

The section relevant to aviation, under the heading “Clean growth”  states: “The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment: (several bullet points, of which the one relating to transport is:  “to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.”   Note, this is not only mentioning aviation.  And nothing is settled, till there is the consultation – no date given for that.  [ All this seems to mean is nothing whatsoever to cut demand for air travel. Most offsets are useless, and do not achieve cuts in carbon. (Aviation CO2 emissions are added to the atmosphere, cancelling out whatever savings were achieved by the offset created elsewhere).  AW note].

Click here to view full story…

 

Eight key green takeaways from the 2019 Spring Statement

The Chanceller gave his Spring Statement to Parliament today

Chancellor Philip Hammond covers aviation emissions, housing, biodiversity, energy efficiency and green gas in UK economic update

It was the ‘greenest’ address from a sitting Chancellor in years. Fresh from the chaos of last night’s Brexit vote, Philip Hammond used his Spring Statement today to launch a rebrand of the Treasury as a hub of environmental action.

Pitching his message to the “next generation” of voters who have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand more ambitious climate action, Hammond announced several fresh climate policies and made the case for a greener form of capitalism.

“We must apply the creativity of the marketplace to deliver solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time, climate change, and build sustainability into the heart of our economic model,” the Chancellor said.

Many of the key green announcements, such as those covering airline offsets, natural capital, and low carbon heating in homes, had been trailed earlier this week. But today brought further details and a few more surprise green announcements to bolster the green economy amid a week of political chaos. BusinessGreen sets out the key takeaways.

1. Biodiversity rules for new buildings

The most conclusive green measure today came in the confirmation the government’s forthcoming Environment Bill will include requirements for developers to deliver ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new homes or commercial estates in England.

Under the plan, sites earmarked for development will be ranked by environmental importance and developers will have to show how their plans would enhance biodiversity and protect habitats. If a net gain in biodiversity is not achievable on site, developers would have to fund measures, such as tree planting, elsewhere.

This, Hammond said, would ensure “that the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity”.

It follows a consultation on the requirement launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove in December, which estimated the new rules would result in more than £52m being invested in environmental impact mitigation measures over the next 10 years.

 

2. New business energy efficiency scheme

First trailed in Hammond’s Autumn Budget last year, the government today launched a consultation for a new energy efficiency scheme for small businesses.

SMEs account for 99 per cent of UK business but have “very low awareness” of the benefits of energy efficiency, according to the government.

The government revealed it is considering three possible proposals to help meet its target to support small and medium sized businesses to improve their energy efficiency by at least 20 per cent by 2030.

The first is to introduce energy efficiency auctions that third parties, such as energy efficiency installers or energy service companies, could bid into to deliver energy efficiency measures in smaller businesses.

The second option is set up a Business Energy Company Obligation (Business ECO) scheme, similar to the domestic ECO currently in operation. This would put a regulatory obligation on third parties, such as network operators or energy suppliers, to deliver a set amount of energy savings for businesses.

The third option is expanding access for green financing for smaller businesses, to encourage more companies to invest in energy efficiency properties, equipment, or energy-saving services.

BEIS has also opened applications for a £6m fund to support innovative cost-cutting energy efficiency solutions for small businesses.

The ‘Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency’ fund aims to accelerate the growth of the energy services market for businesses, and is expected to approve up to 10 projects at phase one, with five successful projects envisaged for phase 2 funding of £1m each.

3. A review into pricing up the value of the environment

Without the natural world, the global economy could not function. But too often the value of healthy soil, water courses, and natural habitats is overlooked in economic calculations.

The government wants its Whitehall policymakers to more closely embed the value of the natural world into decision-making on infrastructure investments such as new roads and railways, and in support of that push Hammond today commissioned a new global review to assess the economic value of biodiversity.

The review will identify actions that can both enhance biodiversity as well as the economy, Hammond said, and will be led by Sir Partha Dasgupta, an economics professor at the University of Cambridge. The review will report back to the government in 2020, ahead of the UN convention on biodiversity in Beijing in October that year.

It follows a report Defra just submitted to the UN admitting the UK is failing on 14 out of 19 global targets on biodiversity. The government also recently received a scathing review of its progress on protecting the environment from its own advisory body, the Natural Capital Committee.

Green campaigners will therefore be hoping a renewed focus from the government on biodiversity and natural capital will bring much-needed progress on these fronts, and help achieve its oft-repeated goal of leaving the environment in a better state for the next generation.

However, some environmentalists believe equating biodiversity to financial value misses the point of environmental protection. “Biodiversity is unfathomably complex and inestimably valuable” said David Powell, head of environment and the green transition at the New Economics Foundation. “Couching its protection in economic terms alone is everything that’s wrong with neoliberalism.”

 

4. Government spending review will determine clout of green departments

In a move could have major ramifications for the green economy and public investment in infrastructure, the Chancellor confirmed that the hotly anticipated departmental Spending Review will get underway before Parliament’s summer recess.

Hammond said the Review would consider how best to prioritise public resources over the next three years, scrutinising every project or programme “from the bottom up”, and would be announced alongside the Autumn Budget towards the end of 2019.

In particular officials at Defra, which has suffered swingeing budget cuts in recent years, will be hoping for a more generous settlement to finance a raft of new post-Brexit policies and governance programmes, including the establishment of the government’s post-Brexit environmental watchdog and the rollout of an entirely new subsidy programme for UK farmers.

Campaigners will be watching closely to ensure the relevant departments and quangos are allocated adequate resource to ensure they can fulfil the government’s repeated promise to deliver a ‘green Brexit’ with no rollback of environmental standards.

Green businesses will also be hoping the Spending Review prioritises a strong funding push on policy frameworks such as the Clean Growth Strategy and 25 Year Environment Plan.

Hammond reiterated the government’s commitment to publishing its updated National Infrastructure Strategy alongside the Spending Review. It follows the National Infrastructure Commission first major assessment last year, which made a raft of recommendations, including calls for a new fleet of nuclear power stations, a larger focus on low cost renewables, and more effort to prepare for the mass rollout of electric vehicles in the UK.

 

5. Ocean conservation

Hammond also announced plans to launch a call for evidence inviting “creative ideas” on how the government can safeguard the biodiversity found in UK overseas territories.

It came alongside government backing for a 443,000 square kilometre Marine Protected Area in the waters around Ascension Island, where no fishing would be allowed.

6. ‘Future Homes Standard’ to replace zero carbon homes policy

Alongside a package of plans announced elsewhere in the Statement to tackle the UK’s chronic housing shortage, the Chancellor today confirmed new measures would be brought in to make sure new homes do not come with high energy bills – or high carbon emissions.

To be introduced by 2025, the new Future Homes Standard will require all new build homes to feature green heating systems such as ground-sourced heat pumps, and “world-leading” levels of energy efficiency.

Hammond said he had listened to the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on the need to strengthen building efficiency standards, adding the measure would end fossil fuel heating in new homes by 2025 while building on the Prime Minister’s pledge last year to halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.

It comes just four years after the government controversially scrapped its zero carbon homes policy after years of development, and just a few months before it was due to come into force. It would have required new homes to meet stringent energy efficiency standards and be fitted with green energy generation technology such as solar panels where appropriate. Meanwhile a programme to allow housebuilders to bank carbon savings at off-site projects would also have been introduced. Housebuilding giant Persimmon admitted yesterday it had lobbied against the measures, which had been due to come into force in 2016.

 

7. The gas grid is about to get greener

Although details were scant, Hammond announced plans to increase the proportion of green gas used in the grid in a bid to drive down the carbon profile of the UK’s gas heating network.

“To meet our climate targets, we need to reduce our dependence on burning natural gas to heat our homes,” the government said.

A consultation on the move later this year is expected to consider continued support for biomethane (and other forms of gasification) after funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive comes to an end in 2021.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, welcomed the move. “Plans to consult on cleaning up the UK’s gas supply get a thumbs up from the Committee – we have been calling for the government to consider the use of alternative, ‘greener’ gases for some time,” he said.

 

8. Carbon offset schemes prepare for take off  

Government plans to launch a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions, it said today, in the hope of encouraging more travels to neutralise their climate impact.

Hammond said this would explore how travel providers – including airlines – could potentially be required to “offer genuinely additional carbon offsets so that customers who want zero carbon travel have that option can be confident about additionality”.

Some airlines already offer offset schemes alongside flight bookings, but take-up is very low, at around only one per cent.

Meanwhile, the Aviation Environment Federation warned offsets can never be the solution to aviation’s carbon problem. “In order to meet the tough goals that states signed up to in the Paris Agreement, all countries will in any case need to reduce emissions close to zero in the coming decades, leaving little scope for any country or sector to sell their emissions reductions to airlines or air passengers by way of offset schemes,” it pointed out.

https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/3072534/key-green-takeaways-from-the-2019-spring-statement

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Heathrow 3rd runway unlawful, says Friends of the Earth, as DfT failed to consider the need for stringent CO2 targets

Friends of the Earth have accused the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, of acting unlawfully when he agreed to the 3rd Heathrow runway, in the Airports NPS. Their lawyers at the High Court legal challenge hearings the DfT failed to consider the full impacts of climate change and the need for more stringent targets to avoid catastrophic global warming. “Friends of the Earth is concerned that the expansion of Heathrow by adding a 3rd runway will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”  The Court heard that the government knew when it approved the third runway that the Paris agreement, which UK ministers have signed, was likely to involve more stringent emissions targets than domestic law required under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act. David Wolfe QC, for FoE, said ministers were told by the Committee on Climate Change in January 2018 that as a result it was “essential that actions are taken now to enable these deeper reductions to be achieved”. But Grayling pressed on regardless, ignoring the advice.

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Heathrow third runway unlawful, says Friends of the Earth

Environment groups, councils and London mayor challenge airport expansion in high court

Demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice
Demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of the high court challenge to the expansion of Heathrow. 

The decision to expand Heathrow airport with a third runway was unlawful because it failed to consider the full impacts of climate change and the need for more stringent targets to avoid catastrophic global warming, the high court has been told.

Friends of the Earth on Wednesday accused the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, of acting unlawfully when he agreed to the expansion, which is contained in the government’s airports national policy statement.

“Friends of the Earth is concerned that the expansion of Heathrow airport by adding a third runway will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the NGO said in documents submitted to the court.

The allegation that the third runway is not compatible with climate change targets in UK domestic law, and agreed under international obligations in the Paris agreement, is one of five legal challenges to the third runway at Heathrow from local councils, environmentalists and the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The court heard that the government knew when it approved the third runway that the Paris agreement, which UK ministers have signed, was likely to involve more stringent emissions targets than domestic law required under the UK Climate Change Act of 2008.

Under domestic law, the government has a legal commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2050. But since the government signed the Paris agreement, it has been made aware that the reductions in emissions have to be deeper. The agreement has increased the demand for nations to tackle emissions, with its ambition to limit global warming to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C.

David Wolfe QC, for Friends of the Earth, said ministers were told by the climate change committee in January 2018 that as a result it was “essential that actions are taken now to enable these deeper reductions to be achieved”.

But he said Grayling failed to legally take both domestic law and international obligations into account when approving the third runway after receiving this advice.

The court heard that the ability of the UK to meet the lower 2050 aviation emissions target already required other industries and sectors to reduce their emissions by 85%, which was “at the limit of what is feasible [for other sectors], with limited confidence about the scope for going beyond this”.

The House of Commons voted in favour of building a third runway at Heathrow last year, approving Grayling’s national policy statement by 415 votes to 119.

Nigel Pleming QC, for a coalition of local councils, Greenpeace and the London mayor, has told the high court the development, if it goes ahead, will in effect add a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow.

He said building a third runway at Heathrow would have “severe” negative consequences for residents and Grayling had ignored the “high risk” that expansion would breach air quality standards.

The planned expansion would enable Heathrow to add 260,000 flights a year to its current 480,000 capacity.

The legal challenges come as new scientific analysis found there was only a narrow window to keep global warming levels to less than 2C as required in the Paris agreement. The study published in Nature Climate Change suggested carbon emissions must reach zero by 2030 in every country in the world to meet the below 2C target for warming by 2100.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/13/heathrow-third-runway-unlawful-says-friends-of-the-earth

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See also

Plan B Earth’s skeleton argument against the DfT on how the Airports NPS (Grayling …) failed on climate

Plan B Earth is making one of the 5 legal challenges against the government, due to their decision to support the building of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, through the “Airports National Planning Statement” (ANPS). They have filed their skeleton argument, which is the basis of their submissions at the trial. Plan B says: “In essence, it’s a simple argument. Chris Grayling considered the Paris Agreement “irrelevant” to his decision. He was wrong.”  Part of the skeleton argument states: “(1). At the heart of all three grounds of Plan B’s claim, lies a common concern: the Secretary of State’s failure to assess the ANPS against the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (“the Paris Agreement”) and specifically the Paris Agreement temperature limit (“Paris Temperature Limit”), which, according to the best available science, demarcates the boundary between humanity and an intolerable risk of disaster: disaster for the environment; for the economy; and for international security.  (2.) Initially the Secretary of State purported to have taken the Paris Agreement into account. His own witnesses, however, undermined that claim. Once Plan B drew that to his attention, the Secretary of State modified his position: when he said that he had considered the Paris Agreement, he meant only that he had considered it to be irrelevant.”  Read the full skeleton. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/02/plan-b-earths-skeleton-argument-against-the-dft-on-how-the-airports-nps-failed-on-climate/

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Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway

The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January.  In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’.  This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”.  The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.

Click here to view full story…

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Spring Statement: there is to be a consultation about possible offsets for passengers for their CO2 emissions

The section relevant to aviation, under the heading “Clean growth”  states: “The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment: (several bullet points, of which the one relating to transport is:  “to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.”   Note, this is not only mentioning aviation.  And nothing is settled, till there is the consultation – no date given for that.  [ All this seems to mean is nothing whatsoever to cut demand for air travel. Most offsets are useless, and do not achieve cuts in carbon. (Aviation CO2 emissions are added to the atmosphere, cancelling out whatever savings were achieved by the offset created elsewhere).  AW note].

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This states:
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The Spring Statement is an opportunity for the Chancellor to update on the overall health of the economy and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts for the growth and the public finances. He also updates on progress made since Budget 2018, and launches consultations on possible future changes for the public and business to comment on. The Spring Statement doesn’t include major tax or spending changes – these are made once a year at the Budget.
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The section relevant to aviation states:
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Clean growth

The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment:

  • to help smaller businesses reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions, the government is launching a call for evidence on a Business energy efficiency scheme to explore how it can support investment in energy efficiency measures
  • to ensure that wildlife isn’t compromised in delivering necessary infrastructure and housing, the government will Mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity
  • to help meet climate targets, the government will advance the decarbonisation of gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid, helping to reduce dependence on burning natural gas in homes and businesses
  • to help ensure consumer energy bills are low and homes are better for the environment, the government will introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency
  • to explore ways to enhance the natural environment and deliver prosperity, the government will launch a global review into the Economics of Biodiversity
  • to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers

  • to help protect critical habitats, the government will support the call from the Ascension Island Council to designate 443,000 square kilometres of its waters as a Marine Protected Area, with no fishing allowed

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Spring Statement: Chancellor unveils policies to ‘build sustainability into the heart’ of UK economy

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a raft of new green policies today

By Madeleine Cuff (Business Green) 

13 March 2019

Philip Hammond argues UK must “apply the creativity of the marketplace” to solve climate change as he announces new energy efficiency, biodiversity, construction, and carbon offsetting policies

Environmental policies were at the centre of Philip Hammond’s attempts to woo younger voters in today’s Spring Statement, with the Chancellor unveiling a raft of new environmental initiatives covering housing, aviation, biodiversity, and energy efficiency.

“Our challenge is to demonstrate to the next generation that our market economy can fulfil their aspirations and speak to their values,” Hammond said, in a nod to waves of public protests in recent weeks, including strikes by UK schoolchildren, urging the government to take more radical action to battle climate change.

Threat of ‘no deal’ environment shock recedes as MPs vote against crashing out of EU
But Hammond insisted the solution to the climate crisis lies in driving innovation in the private sector. “As with the challenge of adapting to the digital age, so with the challenge of shaping the carbon neutral economy of the future, we must apply the creativity of the marketplace to deliver solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time, climate change, and build sustainability into the heart of our economic model,” he said.

Much of the new action was focused on cutting carbon emissions from the UK’s housing stock, after the government’s climate advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), warned earlier this year that UK homes fall well short of standards needed to meet climate targets.

The Chancellor today said he would adopt the CCC’s advice to end the use of fossil fuel heating systems in new homes from 2025 under a ‘Future Homes Standard’, with green alternatives such as heat pumps instead being installed as standard in all new homes. The standard will also require “world-leading” levels energy efficiency, the Chancellor said, adding that it will “deliver lower carbon and lower fuel bills”.

Hammond also said the government will launch a consultation later this year on increasing the proportion of ‘green gas’ onto the grid, in a bid to reduce UK use of natural gas.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor confirmed plans to require developers to deliver a “biodiversity net gain” for new domestic and commercial buildings.

Under the programme potential development sites will be ranked according to their current environmental importance, with developers then required to demonstrate an improvement in biodiversity by planting more trees for example, or creating green corridors to protect wildlife habitats.

Where green improvements cannot be made, developers will be liable to fund habitat protection and restoration schemes elsewhere in the country.

“Following consultation the government will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate biodiversity net gain for development in England, ensuring that the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity,” Hammond confirmed.

Hammond was keen to point out there is “an economic, as well as an environmental case for protecting the natural world”, adding that later this year the government will launch a global review into the link between biodiversity and economic growth, headed by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupt from the University of Cambridge.

During the statement the Chancellor repeatedly stressed the pressures Brexit uncertainty is wielding over the UK economy, describing last night’s vote on the Withdrawal Agreement as leaving a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy”.

He raised pressure on MPs to vote for May’s deal by declaring a ‘deal dividend’ could boost the money available to departments under the upcoming Spending Review, namechecking environmental spending as a key area.

During his address Hammond also announced more support for small businesses to cut their energy bills – a move first mooted in the Autumn Budget last year.

The Call for Evidence, published today, reveals the government is considering three options for a new energy efficiency scheme for small business: an energy efficiency auction where suppliers could bid to deliver energy efficiency measures in smaller businesses; a business energy efficiency obligation (EEO) to require energy suppliers or network operators to deliver energy savings for small businesses; expanding access to green loans to help firms pay for retrofitting measures.

Hammond also said he would launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions, which will consider whether travel providers such as airlines should be forced to offer carbon offsets. Hammond promised any scheme would have to offer “genuinely additional offsets” to avoid double counting issues.

In response to the green announcements, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell slammed the government’s past record on environmental policies.

“This from a government that removed the Climate Change Levy Exemption for renewables, that scrapped the Feed-in Tariffs for new small scale renewable generation, and cancelled the zero carbon homes policy,” he told the House of Commons. “Gordon Brown pledged a zero carbon homes policy. We endorsed it, we celebrated it, and the Tories scrapped it in 2015, one year before it was to come into force.”

He also questioned whether measures such as voluntary offset schemes would be robust enough to deliver real emissions savings: “A review of carbon offsets might reveal that they do not reduce emissions, and offsetting schemes like the Clean Development Mechanisms have been beset by gaming fraud,” he said.

McDonnell’s concern was echoed by environmental groups targeting the airline industry. “The government’s feeling the heat on aviation emissions,” said the Aviation Environment Federation’s deputy chief executive Cait Hewitt. “The courts are, as we speak, considering accusations that the decision to expand Heathrow failed to take proper account of its impact on climate change. The Chancellor’s announcement on encouraging voluntary carbon offsets seems a desperate attempt to suggest the government’s on top of the issue.”

“Offsetting involves estimating how much CO2 a passenger is responsible for, and then paying for an equivalent amount of CO2 to be removed (for example through tree planting) or avoided (for example through investment in renewable energy), usually elsewhere in the world,” she added. “But many offset programmes have been found not to have delivered the promised carbon reductions.”

Others said the Chancellor didn’t go nearly far enough in his promise to “build sustainability into the heart of our economic model”.

Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, Dave Timms, accused the Chancellor of “fiddling in the margins while the planet burns”. “The nation’s children are calling out for tough action to cut emissions, Mr Hammond must listen harder to the lesson they’re teaching him,” he said. “With the government enthusiastically backing more runways, more roads and fracking, it’s little wonder the UK is likely to miss future climate targets.”

However, others welcomed the Chancellor’s fresh focus on environmental issues.

“Our political weather may well be blowing a gale just now, but it is welcome to see the chancellor maintaining an eye on the long term investment climate we need to drive the economic transition to a low carbon world at the same time as finding innovative ways to ensure such development does not cost the environment,” said Bruce Davis, co-founder of Abundance Investment. “In particular we would welcome the research into the link between biodiversity and economic growth which is a good first step to moving away from the idea that costs in terms of our natural resources are ‘external’ to our economic balance sheet.”

Chris Stark of the CCC also welcomed the pledge to strengthen building standards. “Today’s commitment to phase out fossil-fuelled heating in new homes by 2025 is in line with the Committee’s recent recommendation,” he said. “It represents a genuine step forward in reducing UK emissions. Plans to consult on cleaning up the UK’s gas supply also get a thumbs up from the Committee – we have been calling for the government to consider the use of alternative, ‘greener’ gases for some time. Taken together, these are positive steps from Chancellor.”

Meanwhile, Nick Molho of the Aldersgate Group said the Chancellor’s comments on the importance of climate action sent a signal to businesses. “The Chancellor’s clear commitment to reaping the opportunities of our shift to a carbon neutral economy and improving our natural environment is very welcome,” he said. “For too long, Chancellor’s speeches have been at odds with government commitments in these areas and businesses will welcome the signal that this is a genuine cross-government mission.”

https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3072525/spring-statement-chancellor-unveils-policies-put-sustainability-into-the-heart-of-uk-economy

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How the UK government misled Parliament on Heathrow expansion and climate change

A new briefing from Friends of the Earth, West London, (FoE-WL) sets out how the government misled Parliament on the CO2 emissions that would be generated if a 3rd Heathrow runway was allowed.  In its National Policy Statement (NPS) presented to Parliament in June 2018  the DfT said expansion could “be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations ..” FoE-WL says unfortunately, there is no evidence to support that assertion. The advice on CO2 from the UK aviation sector is that it should not be above 37.5MtCO2 in 2050. But the DfT’s own figures show this being exceeded. A 3rd runway would increase CO2 emissions by about 3.3MtCO2 per year. This information was not disclosed in the NPS  presented to Parliament. Instead, data was buried in the mass of ‘supporting information’ (as usual). All the government has to offer is slight carbon efficiency gains per plane in future, and some use of biofuels (highly dubious) – and “carbon offsetting”. In reality there is no global trading system of any sort on the horizon, let alone one which would offset aviation’s increase with genuine reductions elsewhere. It is unlikely the UN’s CORSIA scheme, which the UK government is placing its trust in, will be effective.
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How the Government misled Parliament about Heathrow expansion and carbon emissions

 

Conclusions:

➢ A 3rd runway would breach the UK’s legal climate targets.

➢ To avoid this inconvenient truth, the government now claims that aviation’s carbon emissions don’t count because they can be offset in some other sector somewhere else in the world.

➢ In the NPS it presented to Parliament in order to obtain support for a third runway at Heathrow, the government materially misled MPs.


See the full report by Friends of the Earth, West London  (copied below).

March 2019

How the government misled Parliament   Pdf

How the government misled Parliament  Word


The report:

Climate wrecking aviation expansion must be opposed

How the Government misled Parliament about Heathrow expansion and carbon emissions  

March 2019

In its National Policy Statement (NPS) presented to Parliament in June 2018, the government said it: “.. concludes both that expansion via a Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport (as its preferred scheme) can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations  ..” (ref 1).

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support that assertion.

The government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) concluded that the aviation sector could not emit more than 37.5 million tonnes (mt) of CO2 pa while keeping within the UK’s overall target of reducing emissions by 80% in accordance with the Climate Act.  Furthermore, even this allowance would require other sectors of the economy to reduce their emissions by more than 80% to compensate.  This view has been confirmed in a recent letter from CCC to government “UK aviation emissions in 2050 should be around their 2005 level (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2e).” (ref 2).

Official government forecasts in October 2017 (ref 3) estimated the emissions of CO2 at 39.3 mt with a third runway and 37.0 mt for the ‘baseline’, that is no third runway.  These forecasts assume that other airports are allowed to grow up to their current planning limits. But in the final NPS, the government re-forecasted the CO2 emissions with a third runway at 40.3 mt based on “best use” of non-Heathrow airports – that is where current planning limits are relaxed (ref 4).

This means that a third runway would increase CO2 emissions by 3.3 mt (40.3 – 37.0) and break the CCC limit by 2.8 mt (40.3 – 37.5).

None of these crucial figures were disclosed in the NPS that was presented to Parliament.  Instead, they were buried in the mass of ‘supporting information’ published alongside it. When asked on the day of the vote about the climate change impacts of the project and the CCC’s recommended target for aviation, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told Parliament “We believe that an expanded Heathrow airport and a new runway are consistent with this target.” (ref 5).

It is theoretically possible to stay within the UK target by constraining aviation’s emissions. This could be done by various means:

  • Limiting use of Heathrow’s third runway
  • Constraining growth at other airports
  • Putting a tax on aircraft fuel to reduce demand

However, there is not the slightest suggestion of doing these in either the NPS (ref 1) or in the subsequent Aviation Strategy (the latter is currently being consulted upon).

The NPS reported on a number of possible “abatement” measures that could be undertaken to keep aviation and the UK emissions within targets.  This was based on a report by Ricardo (ref 6).  But the government has no intention to implement these: “This scenario is not intended as a statement of future policy or a definitive conclusion on the most cost effective measures that are available. .. A number of policy measures are likely to be available and the scenario is merely intended to illustrate the kinds of measures that could be used and the likely magnitude of their costs.” (ref 7).

With its own forecast showing that UK targets would be broken, the government resorted to claims about ‘offsetting’: “ .. consider that UK aviation emissions could continue to grow unconstrained, with compensatory reductions being made elsewhere via a carbon trading mechanism in which aviation emissions could be traded with other sectors of the global economy. .. increases in emissions from flights should not be considered to be additional … All schemes could therefore be delivered consistent with future carbon obligations.” (ref 8).

Unfortunately, there is no global trading system of any sort on the horizon, let alone one which would offset aviation’s increase with genuine reductions elsewhere.  While the UN has agreed a scheme called ‘Corsia’ to offset emissions growth from aviation above its 2020 level, it remains very unclear how effective this scheme will be.  Even if it does go ahead, it will only offset a small proportion of total global aviation emissions (ref 9).  And in any case, the UK’s CO2 targets, enshrined in the Climate Act, do not allow for offsetting. This is clearly the view of CCC: “The final white paper should further clarify that this [37.5mt CO2 pa at 2050] will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits.” (ref 2).

Conclusions

  • A 3rd runway would breach the UK’s legal climate targets.
  • To avoid this inconvenient truth, the government now claims that aviation’s carbon emissions don’t count because they can be offset in some other sector somewhere else in the world.
  • In the NPS it presented to Parliament in order to obtain support for a third runway at Heathrow, the government materially misled MPs.

 

References

  1. NPS – ‘Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England’, para 3.69: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/airports-national-policy-statement
  2. Recent CCC letter: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Aviation-Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Chris-Grayling.pdf
  3. 3. ‘UK aviation forecasts: Oct 2017’: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/674749/uk-aviation-forecasts-2017.pdf

4. ‘The future of UK aviation: making best use of existing runways’:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/aviation-strategy-making-best-use-of-existing-runways

  1. Hansard: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-06-25/debates/C9B5DFC3-043B-4528-BEF1-34D9512E637D/NationalPolicyStatementAirports
  2. Ricardo report on abatement: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/653776/carbon-abatement-in-uk-aviation.pdf
  3. 7. NPS supporting document (Box 8.1, page 37): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/653879/updated-appraisal-report-airport-capacity-in-the-south-east.pdf
  4. Sustainability appraisal document ‘Appendix A. Topic Based Schemes Assessment: AOS For Airports NPS. A-9 Carbon. June 2018’, paras 9.9.7-8. [This can be found by going to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/appraisal-of-sustainability-for-the-proposed-airports-national-policy-statement This shows a file link called ‘Appraisal of sustainability: Airports National Policy Statement, appendix a1 to a12 – topic based schemes assessment’. Open the file, which has file name ‘aos-airports-nps-appendix-a01-to-a12-1.zip. From there open file with file name ‘aos-airports-nps-appendix-a9-carbon.zip’ which has title ‘Appendix A. Topic Based Schemes Assessment: AOS For Airports NPS. A-9 Carbon. June 2018’.]
  5. Corsia: https://www.carbonbrief.org/corsia-un-plan-to-offset-growth-in-aviation-emissions-after-2020 , especially graph by ICCT. Also: https://www.transportenvironment.org/newsroom/blog/false-dawn-action-aviation-emissions

 

West London Friends of the Earth

wlfoe@btinternet.com ;

0208 357 8426

https://www.wlfoe.org.uk

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Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing

The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.  Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase.  Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.  The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
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Heathrow expansion would have ‘severe’ consequences for Londoners, court hears

by KATY CLIFTON (Evening Standard)

11th March 2019

Controversial plans to expand Heathrow would have “severe” consequences for Londoners, the High Court has heard.

The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60 per cent increase.

Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, which was told the expansion would effectively create a “new airport”.

Demonstrators gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London (PA)

On Monday, the first day of a two-week hearing, Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow.”

He added that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”.

The case is being brought against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling by local authorities and residents in London affected by the expansion and environmental charities.

Just one of the many horrors of the expansion planned by Heathrow would be as many as 700 more flights using the airport per day. Every day. That means a MASSIVELY increased noise burden. And hugely higher CO2 emissions. And much more air pollution, from both planes & vehicles

 

They claim the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.

The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament.

Mr Pleming said the building of a third runway at Heathrow, which was chosen as the preferred option for expanding airport capacity in the south east of England, is “politically controversial”.

He told the court Heathrow is the “busiest two-runway airport in the world” and is situated in a densely populated area.

He said: “If the (third runway) is the means of achieving expansion, there will be widespread consequences.

“There will be hundreds of thousands of additional flights each year across central London, and also affecting the south east.

“Thousands of people’s homes will be demolished. Hundreds of thousands will experience increased noise, worsened traffic and harmful air pollution.”

He said there were “errors” in the steps leading to the NPS which mean it is invalid.

Charities Friends Of The Earth and Plan B argue Mr Grayling failed to take enough account of the impact on air quality when reaching the decision to approve the third runway.

Lawyers representing Mr Grayling said the claimants’ case is “unarguable” and “premature”, as they will all have the opportunity to make representations at a later stage in the planning process.

Support from Labour MPs helped push through the proposals to expand Europe’s busiest airport with an overwhelming majority of 296 in a Commons vote in June last year.

Mr Grayling said at the time that the new runway would set a “clear path to our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world”.

Construction could begin in 2021, with the third runway operational by 2026, the hearing, which is before Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate, heard.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, said: “This is an iconic battleground in terms of climate change.”

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, who previously resigned over the Government’s decision before returning to the Conservative Party, said: “It is a massive issue locally, but it’s a London issue. If you look at the proposals for flight paths, they are not specific, but they affect most of London.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends Of The Earth, said: “We absolutely do not see how you can have aviation expansion in the UK… while cutting our carbon emissions by 50% in the next 12 years.”

Executive director of Back Heathrow Parmjit Dhanda, who supports the expansion, said: “There is an awful lot of support for this project. [There were about 6 people outside the court, in a wan looking little gathering …. AW comment]

“It is really important that we see both sides of the argument.

“I think if this expansion did not go ahead, it would be a disaster for Britain in a post-Brexit world.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman previously said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will provide a boost to the economy, increase our international links and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“As with any major infrastructure project, we have been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position.”

A Heathrow spokeswoman previously said: “Our work in delivering Britain’s new runway will continue in tandem with this process following overwhelming support in Parliament.

“We remain focused on the work needed for our development consent order submission in 2020 and we are getting on with the delivery of this project which will benefit the whole of the UK.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/heathrow-expansion-would-have-severe-consequences-for-londoners-court-hears-a4088571.html?

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The transcript of the proceedings on the first day of the hearings, Monday 11th March, can be seen here:

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/110319.txt


Severe’ impact on residents of 3rd runway at Heathrow laid out in court

Judicial review focuses on air quality, climate change, noise and transport access

By Josh Spero (Financial Times)

11.3.2019

Building a third runway at Heathrow airport would have “severe” negative consequences for local residents, the High Court heard at the opening of a legal challenge to the government’s backing of the scheme.

Heathrow’s expansion was recommended by the Airports Commission and approved by MPs in June 2018 with a majority of 296. After the vote, the government adopted a national policy statement, which contained principles for the expansion. The judicial review, which is expected to last two weeks, is looking at the process of the statement’s adoption.

Five challenges to the decision on the future of the UK’s biggest aviation hub are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities, campaigning organisation Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access.

Introducing the councils’ case, Nigel Pleming QC said the expansion would enable Heathrow to add 260,000 flights a year to its current 480,000 capacity. “The new development will lead to a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow,” he said, referring to the UK’s second-busiest airport. “The adverse consequences for affected residents . . . are bound to be severe.”

Mr Pleming, who acted for one of the councils in the 2010 challenge that derailed Heathrow’s last expansion attempt, laid out the grounds for the current review, which included a claim that the transport secretary had ignored the “high risk” that expansion would breach air quality standards.

He also said targets for changing how people travelled to Heathrow, moving from private cars to public transport, were “neither adequate nor achievable”, citing likely overcrowding on the London Underground’s Piccadilly line, which serves the airport as one example.

Lord Justice Hickinbottom, one of two judges presiding, said that while the complainants and members of the public had “sincere and deep concerns about issues such as air quality”, the review was concerned with the legality of the Airports National Policy Statement, rather than the merits or otherwise of expanding Heathrow.

Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor & Maidenhead council, one of the claimants in the review, said that since the Airports Commission had recommended a third runway at Heathrow, the process had developed a political inevitability: “We can’t stop going along that conveyor belt until we stop Heathrow in court,” Mr Dudley said.

He recommended building a hub airport elsewhere in the UK.

At a rally outside the High Court before the case opened, Susan Kramer, former MP for Richmond Park in south-west London, a constituency near Heathrow, said the cost of the third runway would finally fall on the public and compared it to budget overruns with Crossrail and the HS2 railway. “This whole strategy of underestimating the costs to get a project over the line and leaving it to the taxpayer to pick up the burden has run its course,” she said.

The Department for Transport said before the hearing opened: “As with any major infrastructure project, the government has been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position. We recognise the local impact of any expansion, which is why a world-class package of mitigations would need to be delivered.”

https://www.ft.com/content/3bf2da6e-4404-11e9-b168-96a37d002cd3

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ICAO working on rules to at least ensure its CORSIA carbon credits for aviation are not double-counted

Rules to avoid double-counting of CO2 emissions cuts in offsets to be used by the aviation sector through the (weak, ineffective) ICAO CORSIA scheme, are considered to be a step forward by some campaigners. But proper assurances are needed to meet aviation’s climate pledges, so the claims of (sic) “carbon neutral growth” mean something. ICAO negotiators have agreed rules to prevent double-counting of carbon credits used to offset airline emissions.  As air traffic growth outpaces efficiency improvements, airlines will be expected to pay for emissions reductions in other sectors to offset the climate impact. In one of its secretive meetings, ICAO has adopted broad criteria to ensure those carbon offsets are not also counted towards national targets – and they actually represent extra CO2 emissions savings. Campaigners are also calling for an age limit on eligible carbon offsetting projects and transparency around the way the rules are put into practice.  There is a huge pool of dormant projects under the UN’s CDM that could, in theory, meet demand from airlines for carbon offsets. But most of those would continue cutting emissions, even without being used by aviation. So they are not additional. 
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UN aviation body agrees to close carbon emissions loophole

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Rules to avoid double-counting of emissions cuts are a step forward, say campaigners, but more assurances are needed to meet the sector’s climate promises

Negotiators have agreed rules to prevent double-counting of carbon credits used to offset airline emissions, at a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) Council in Montreal, Canada.

The sector has committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020. As air traffic growth outpaces efficiency improvements, airlines will be expected to pay for emissions reductions in other sectors to offset the climate impact.

In a closed-room meeting, Icao adopted broad criteria to ensure those carbon offsets are not also counted towards national targets and represent extra emissions savings. That was reported by NGO observers and confirmed on Twitter by French negotiator Philippe Bertoux. The press office did not respond to a request for comment.

Climate campaigners welcomed the decision, but said more was needed to meet the industry’s promises. They are also calling for an age limit on eligible carbon offsetting projects and transparency around the way the rules are put into practice.

“This decision is a step forward,” said Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch, “but without setting an ambitious restriction on the age of eligible credits for the scheme, it could mean a giant setback for climate action. The aviation industry needs to face the reality that only new carbon reductions can deliver its goal of carbon neutral growth.”

There is a huge pool of dormant projects under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism that could, in theory, meet demand from airlines for carbon offsets. Analysts at New Climate Institute estimate82% of the available supply would continue cutting emissions with or without the extra revenue.

Researchers from the same think-tank urged Icao to ban projects started before 2016 from taking part in the aviation carbon market, in a commentary for Nature Climate Change last month.

Another critical issue is the make-up of a technical advisory body, which will be responsible for interpreting and applying the rules.

Annie Petsonk, aviation expert at Environmental Defense Fund, warned that it risked being shrouded in secrecy and vulnerable to industry lobbying. “We don’t want Icao to become the Fifa of carbon markets,” she told Climate Home News, referring to the football governing body’s record of corruption.

The Icao Council meeting runs until 15 March. It is not clear whether negotiators will settle outstanding questions around the carbon market’s operation at this session.

While airlines are eager to learn the details for their planning, Petsonk noted they will not need to start buying offsets until 2023. “It is more important to get it right than to rush it,” she said.

The industry’s Air Transport Action Group endorsed the newly agreed rules. “It is important for the industry that strong sustainability standards are applied for the types of eligible offsets,” said director Michael Gill in a statement.

Meanwhile, some argue the sector should be paying more for its climate pollution. At a meeting of EU environment ministers on Tuesday, Belgium’s Jean-Luc Crucke called for the bloc to impose taxes on air travel.

https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/03/06/un-aviation-body-agrees-close-carbon-emissions-loophole/ 

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The advice in the UK from the Committee on Climate Change says these sorts of international carbon credits should not be used:

“Our present planning assumption, which underpins the fifth carbon budget and the current 2050 target, is that UK aviation emissions in 2050 should be around their 2005 level (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2e). Your acceptance of this planning assumption in the consultation is a very welcome step. The final white paper should further clarify that this will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits.”
see full letter at
https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Aviation-Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Chris-Grayling.pdf

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See also:

Study confirms that relying on outdated CDM carbon credits to compensate aviation emissions will do nothing for climate action

The UN’s new, very weak, scheme to attempt to do something about global aviation CO2 emissions is starting soon. It is the “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation” (CORSIA). Countries have been trying to locate cheap, plentiful carbon credits that airlines can use. The process is secretive. One type of carbon credit being considered comes from the CDM, (Clean Development Mechanism) a carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to meet their climate targets at a cheaper cost. This climate tool has generated a lot of controversy around its failure to reduce emissions, as well as negative impacts it has had on local communities and the environment. The problem is that there is a huge supply of “junk” CDM credits, far larger than the amount aviation would need. These junk credits are often from projects to cut CO2 emissions which would happen anyway. If these junk credits are the ones the aviation sector uses, the effect would be an increase in global CO2.  There is also the problem that while all credits are far too cheap to be effective, the junk ones are even cheaper – so not costing airlines enough to in any way be an incentive to limit their CO2 emissions.

Click here to view full story…

See earlier:

Airlines eye massive carbon handout

28/06/2018 (Climate Change News)

Brazil and China behind push to allow billions of tonnes of old carbon credits to be used to offset future growth in pollutionAirlines have committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 (Photo: Commons)

By Megan Darby

Airlines are cruising for weak climate action after their governing body on Wednesday deferred key decisions to implement its targets, campaigners warn.

The aviation sector has committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020, agreeing to “offset” extra emissions by paying for emissions cuts in other sectors.

But negotiators at the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) may allow airlines to use a glut of old offsets to meet their quotas. Thousands of dormant projects are ready to flood the market with cheap credits, according to European analysts, without driving any new emissions reductions.

After clashes between emerging economies and European countries at an Icao council meeting in Montreal, discussions on offset eligibility will resume in September.

Brazil and China are at the centre of a push for all carbon credits generated under UN Climate Change mechanisms to be eligible for the aviation carbon offset scheme, known as Corsia. Their positions were set out in an Icao document dated 20 April and seen by Climate Home News.

Filip Cornelis, director of aviation at the EU commission, in a letter dated 1 March, called for a “vintage restriction”, ruling out projects started before the end of 2016.

“Corsia has only an environmental added value compared to a scenario without Corsia if it leads to the generation of additional emission reductions,” the letter said.

The main potential source of offsets is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which the UN developed in response to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It allowed rich countries to meet some of their climate obligations by funding emissions cuts in the developing world.

However, later analysis found the vast majority of projects funded by the CDM would likely have happened with or without that support. For example, a hydropower dam would pay for itself through electricity sales, regardless of carbon market revenues.

A 2016 report by Öko-Institut for the European Commission estimated 85% of studied CDM projects and 73% of potential supply 2013-20 had a “low likelihood” of driving emissions cuts.

Independently, the New Climate Institute (NCI) last year judged 82% of real or potential carbon credits generated over that period were from projects not reliant on CDM revenue to continue their operations.

In the absence of eligibility limits, operating or dormant CDM projects could supply up to 3.8 billion credits for less than €1 a tonne of CO2, a follow-up NCI study for the German government found.

That covers the predicted 3 billion tonnes of aviation emissions growth up to 2035, at minimal cost to the industry.

“We are advocating that Corsia either decides to only allow new projects in response to this demand or targets projects which we term ‘more vulnerable’, which actually do depend on [carbon market] revenue at the moment,” explained NCI economist and report author Harry Fearnehough.

There is uncertainty over how much of that potential supply glut will materialise, he said. It includes projects that registered for the CDM but never issued carbon credits – and some may not have gone ahead.

Icao has drawn up draft eligibility principles that form a “good basis to avoid past mistakes,” according to Kelsey Perlman of Carbon Market Watch.

In theory, they would rule out the CDM because it does not have a safeguarding mechanism, but some countries want to make it an exception. China opposes a centralised process for determining eligibility while Brazil maintains all CDM projects should be automatically approved.

Much will depend on a technical advisory body that is due to make recommendations before the next meeting.

With so much up in the air, Perlman said an age limit on credits was a good way to give the system some environmental integrity.

“If airlines were allowed to buy offsets from climate projects undertaken years ago, no new carbon reductions would be achieved to compensate aviation’s growing pollution,” she said. “This underlines the need for a date limiting eligible offsets under Corsia, to prevent the threat of worthless credits from flooding the market.”

World Cup: Fifa accused of greenwashing in carbon offset scheme

Dirk Forrister, director of the International Emissions Trading Association, defended the CDM. Projects that looked like a safe bet with hindsight were not necessarily such an easy choice at the time, he told Climate Home News: “There was still a cash crunch.”

People who had developed projects for the CDM “in good faith” should get the first shot at the aviation market, Forrister said. “I am not saying every one of the projects that got registered [under the CDM] should automatically qualify [for Corsia], but I think it should be given a chance to show it comports with the new rules.”

Haldane Dodd, spokesperson for the industry’s Air Transport Action Group, deferred to the experts on precisely which offsets should be eligible.

In general, the group supports using CDM credits. “After all, these are ready to go now and everyone agrees that early action is vital if we are to get on top of the climate challenge,” he said.

Aviation accounts for more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The industry has struggled to find low carbon ways to get planes in the air, with incremental improvements in energy efficiency outweighed by rapid demand growth.

Under the Icao climate deal, the sector is to offset the increase in emissions starting in 2021. But green groups warn this commitment lags the ambition of the Paris Agreement to hold global warming below 2C – and could be undermined by weak participation and offsetting rules.

“Corsia looks more and more like an awful deal for the climate,” said Andrew Murphy, aviation campaigner at Brussels-based Transport & Environment, of the latest talks.

https://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/06/28/airlines-eye-massive-carbon-handout/ 

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Study confirms that relying on outdated CDM carbon credits to compensate aviation emissions will do nothing for climate action

The UN’s new, very weak, scheme to attempt to do something about global aviation CO2 emissions is starting soon. It is the “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation” (CORSIA). Countries have been trying to locate cheap, plentiful carbon credits that airlines can use. The process is secretive. One type of carbon credit being considered comes from the CDM, (Clean Development Mechanism) a carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to meet their climate targets at a cheaper cost. This climate tool has generated a lot of controversy around its failure to reduce emissions, as well as negative impacts it has had on local communities and the environment. The problem is that there is a huge supply of “junk” CDM credits, far larger than the amount aviation would need. These junk credits are often from projects to cut CO2 emissions which would happen anyway. If these junk credits are the ones the aviation sector uses, the effect would be an increase in global CO2.  There is also the problem that while all credits are far too cheap to be effective, the junk ones are even cheaper – so not costing airlines enough to in any way be an incentive to limit their CO2 emissions.
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Existing UN carbon credits will do nothing to offset aviation industry pollution, new Nature study finds

A new paper published in Nature Climate Change confirms that relying on outdated Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon credits to compensate aviation emissions will do nothing for climate action.

You can read the full paper here (paywall): Warnecke et al. (2019): “Robust eligibility criteria essential for new global scheme to offset aviation emissions”, Nature Climate Change, 9, 218-221.

In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) as a first step to compensate a part of the aviation sector’s climate impact. Since then, countries have been negotiating the rules of this new carbon market, and are yet to identify which carbon credits can be used by airlines. One type of credit being considered comes from the CDM, a carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to meet their climate targets at a cheaper cost. This climate tool has generated a lot of controversy around its failure to reduce emissions, as well as negative impacts it has had on local communities and the environment. Below are the three main takeaways from the new study.

1) The supply of junk CDM credits exceeds CORSIA demand

Existing projects under the CDM could supply 4.6 billion carbon credits until 2020, while demand from CORSIA is estimated at 1.6-3.7 billion credits over the 2021-2035 period. This means that all of the demand from CORSIA could be met with emission reductions which occurred from projects started more than 8 years before CORSIA’s kick off. Moreover, 82% of the total supply of credits comes from projects which would continue to reduce emissions even in the absence of the CDM, or any other carbon market(1). This equates to 3.8 billion credits, more than enough to meet the entire demand of CORSIA. If these credits are used under CORSIA, they will lead to an increase in global carbon pollution.

2) CDM credits are cheap. Junk CDM credits are even cheaper.

A further issue arising from this high availability of junk credits is that good projects are unlikely to receive any money from the CDM, unless further restrictions are adopted. This is because projects which are already economically viable without CDM revenues can afford to sell their credits at very low prices, since anything they sell will essentially come as a bonus to them. On the other hand, those projects which truly rely on CDM revenues need a certain amount of money to continue their operations, and will therefore not survive if credit prices drop below a certain level. This means that those projects issuing junk credits will set prices lower than those from good projects, and hence airlines looking to buy the cheapest credits will be attracted to buy the junk ones first. In the current situation, over 4 billion credits could be sold below 1€ per credit,which again is more than enough to cover the entire demand of CORSIA. This will do nothing to incentivize airlines to invest in low carbon alternatives, and continues a trend of exempting the aviation industry from having to pay for their pollution.

3) There is a simple solution to the problem: ban old credits

Most CDM projects are old. This means that the decision to invest in those projects was taken many years ago, sometimes a full decade. And over this period, a massive oversupply of credits has accumulated on the market. Restricting the use of credits only to those coming from new projects would significantly limit the risk of relying on junk credits, and support new climate action. For example, the study finds that setting a limit to rely only on projects which started after 2013 would cut the supply of credits to 120 million, because a very large majority of CDM projects were started before this date. This would not be enough to meet CORSIA’s demand, which would set an incentive to implement new projects, and hence would benefit the climate.

Carbon Market Watch’s take: Ultimately, in order to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, aviation cannot continue to rely on carbon credits from other sectors to compensate emissions. Air travel must be shifted to lower emitting modes of transport, such as rail, to the largest extent possible, and sustainable alternative fuels must be more heavily invested in, together with aircraft efficiency improvements. Pricing greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector in line with their climate impact would go a long way to help raise the funds for such investments. Robust credit quality criteria for CORSIA, including a vintage restriction of 2020based on project start date and measures to avoid double counting of emission reductions, are an important tool to start compensating the aviation’s growing emissions. But climate policy makers must not forget the bigger decarbonization imperative, and focus on ways to achieve in sector reductions as fast as possible.

 


1)This refers to whether a project is “vulnerable”. It is a different concept from additionality, which refers to whether a project would have happened anyway at the time it started. In the context of an already existing supply of projects and credits, what matters most for the environment is whether those projects need extra revenues from the CDM to continue reducing emissions, rather than whether they needed those revenues at the start.

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Author  Gilles Dufrasne

Date published     26 Feb 2019

 

https://carbonmarketwatch.org/2019/02/26/existing-un-carbon-credits-will-do-nothing-to-offset-aviation-industry-pollution-new-nature-study-finds/

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27th, 2019. Filed in Climate Change News, Recent News.

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