T&E: After Boeing ruling, aviation needs to go cold-turkey from subsidy addiction

Today’s ruling by the WTO against Washington State on subsidies to Boeing, and an earlier similar ruling on Airbus, officially adds another €5.4 billion ($5.7 billion) to the already very long list of subsidies granted to the aviation sector.  One reason CO2 emissions are out of control is that flying is artificially cheap because of such subsidies. The list of direct and indirect subsidies includes:  Airlines enjoy universal exemption from fuel taxation, estimated at €20 billion a year in Europe and over €60 billion globally; Airlines receive an effective subsidy worth another €7 billion in Europe alone because ticket prices are artificially suppressed by about 20% due to the VAT exemption on ticket sales; Airlines are bailed out on a regular basis especially since the 2009 crisis; Already lenient state aid rules for airports have been regularly flouted; worth another estimated €3 billion a year in Europe alone; Manufacturers receive a €1.8 billion subsidy under the ‘Clean Sky 2’ joint technology initiative; Air traffic control receives a €3 billion subsidy under the SESAR ‘joint undertaking’. Meaningful action to cut aviation CO2 is urgently needed at global level but the very modest and inadequate plans agreed at ICAO will mean nothing so long as the sector binges on government handouts. The subsidies above fall outside of WTO rules and will only be removed with action by governments.
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T&E: After Boeing ruling, aviation needs to go cold-turkey from subsidy addiction

November 28, 2016 (Transport & Environment)

Today’s ruling by the WTO against Washington State on subsidies to Boeing, and an earlier similar ruling on Airbus, officially adds another €5.4 billion ($5.7 billion) to the already very long list of subsidies granted to the aviation sector, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said.

That list of direct and indirect subsidies includes:

  • Airlines enjoy universal exemption from fuel taxation, estimated at €20 billion a year in Europe and over €60 billion globally;
  • Airlines receive an effective subsidy worth another €7 billion in Europe alone because ticket prices are artificially suppressed by about 20% due to the VAT exemption on ticket sales;
  • Airlines are bailed out on a regular basis especially since the 2009 crisis;
  • Already lenient state aid rules for airports have been regularly flouted; worth another estimated €3 billion a year in Europe alone;
  • Manufacturers receive a €1.8 billion subsidy under the ‘Clean Sky 2’ joint technology initiative;
  • Air traffic control receives a €3 billion subsidy under the SESAR ‘joint undertaking’.

Earlier this year the International Civil Aviation Organisation agreed a so-called ‘global market-based measure’ in a bid to address the runaway CO2 emissions of aviation, the most climate-intensive of transport modes. One reason CO2 emissions are out of control is that flying is artificially cheap because of such subsidies.

Meaningful action is urgently needed at global level but the very modest and inadequate plans agreed at ICAO will mean nothing so long as the sector binges on government handouts. The subsidies above fall outside of WTO rules and will only be removed with action by governments.

Bill Hemmings, director of aviation at T&E, said: “Today’s ruling is a wakeup call to anyone who believes that the global market-based measure will solve aviation’s climate problem. Flying is the cheapest and quickest way to fry the planet because not only manufacturers, but also airlines and airports, are subsidised to the hilt.” 

https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/after-boeing-ruling-aviation-needs-go-cold-turkey-subsidy-addiction-says-ngo

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And surface access:

And this excludes the help the industry gets from the countries in which airlines and airports operate paying for surface access (road and rail) infrastructure, so air passengers can get easily to and from airports. Airports rarely pay more than a tiny proportion (if anything) for this huge benefit.  Heathrow is hoping it will not have to pay any of the immense sums of money it would take to improve surface transport sufficiently, so it can deal with an extra 35 million annual passengers.  (AirportWatch note) 


See earlier:

WTO rules Boeing’s state subsidies (that don’t need to be repaid) are illegal

The WTO has ordered the US to withdraw illegal state tax breaks for American company Boeing within 3 months, giving rival Airbus the latest victory in a 12 year battle over government support for the world’s two biggest plane makers. The World Trade Organisation says a tax break granted by the state of Washington to Boeing in 2013, to ensure it produced its newest long-range jet there, was a prohibited subsidy. The WTO rarely defines a subsidy as “prohibited” as this is a very clear breach of its rules. In mid September, the WTO found that the EU had was also illegally subsidising Airbus in Europe. Both companies have benefited by billions of $s or €s over the past years, to battle against each other to sell more planes. In 2011 the WTO said both had received huge amounts of unlawful assistance – from taxpayers. Now the EU trade commissioner says Boeing is in line to receive another $5.7bn, provided by Washington state, between 2024 and 2040. Airbus says this would have covered most of the cost of developing Boeing’s 777X twin aisle aircraft, due to enter service in 2020. The EU wants the subsidy ended immediately. The situation is complicated, and the battles are likely to continue. Airbus says: “Unlike the loans to Airbus – the interest rates of which were considered in the WTO dispute against the European Union – Boeing plans no repayment of any kind.”

Click here to view full story…

 

and earlier

WTO rules that EU unfairly subsidises Airbus ($10 bn per year) – but US subsidises Boeing too

The long-running battle over immense state subsidies to aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing has intensified – the World Trade Organization ruled that European governments had failed to comply with rulings that it should cut subsidies to Airbus. Both plane makers have taken complaints to the WTO about subsidies supplied by the other.  The WTO is yet to rule on a similar EU complaint that Boeing benefits from billions of dollars in tax breaks in the US. The complaints are because the industries get unfair assistance, are always bailed out, and the success of either one could lead to lower sales (and fewer jobs) for the other.  The state subsidies for these two vast companies mean planes are a bit cheaper than they might otherwise be.  Airbus said it would appeal the judgment and the EU said it found some of the findings “unsatisfactory”.  There may be issues of state subsidies by other plane makers, in countries such as Russia and China, in future. Bombardier has had subsidies from the Canadian government.  In June 2011, the WTO found that the EU and four of its member countries provided billions of dollars in subsidised financing to Airbus, and the recent ruling is the final part of that. The EU had argued that the most recent Airbus jet, the A350, fell outside the case, but that was rejected by the WTO which said funding for the jet had been subsidised. The subsidies to plane makers are just one of the many ways in which the aviation sector is helped, making the cost of flying artificially low.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/09/wto-rules-that-eu-unfairly-subsidises-airbus-10-bn-per-year-but-us-subsidises-boeing-too/

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Government abandoning commitments to restrict aviation CO2 risks UK failure on carbon cap in Climate Change Act

Plans to build a third Heathrow runway have suffered a setback after the government’s official climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned ministers the project risked blowing a hole in the UK’s legally binding carbon targets. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, wrote to Greg Clark at BEIS to raise “concerns” about the plans. Lord Deben said the central business case ministers made in October when they agreed to back a 3rd Heathrow runway would mean greenhouse gas emissions from aviation were about 15% higher than their target level by 2050. This cap is 37.5MtCO2, which is the level of UK aviation emissions in 2005. The CCC has repeatedly said that aviation emissions should stay at 2005 levels until 2050 if the legally binding UK targets are to be met. If aviation is allowed to miss, by 15%, its already very generous allowance, this would necessitate CO2 cuts from all other sectors to be 85% of their 1990 level by 2050. Lord Deben said that would require “significantly more action”to slash carbon pollution from other sectors, which is likely to be impossible. Doug Parr, chief scientist of Greenpeace, said: “What ministers know full well but don’t want to admit is that a third runway means other sectors of the economy will have to bear the costs of further carbon cuts, whether it’s regional airports or the manufacturing and steel industries. … it’s time ministers came clean about it with those concerned and the British public.”
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Heathrow third runway ‘to breach climate change laws’

Plans to expand Heathrow Airport are set to breach the government’s climate change laws, advisers have warned.

The Committee on Climate Change says the business plan for Heathrow projects a 15% increase in aviation emissions by 2050.

If that increase is allowed, members say, ministers will have to squeeze even deeper emissions cuts from other sectors of the economy.

The government said it was determined to keep to its climate change targets.

The Committee on Climate Change is a statutory body set up to advise the UK government on emissions targets.

It warns that creating the space for aviation emissions to grow will impose unbearable extra emissions reductions on sectors like steel-making, motoring and home heating.

The committee also says that in making the decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow, ministers appear to have jettisoned their policy that aviation emissions in 2050 would be frozen at 2005 levels.

‘Limited confidence’

Its chair, Lord Deben, wrote to the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, saying: “If emissions from aviation are now anticipated to be higher than 2005, then all other sectors would have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions.

“Aviation emissions at 2005 levels already imply an 85% reduction in other sectors. My committee has limited confidence about the options (for achieving the compensatory cuts needed).”

Already since 1990, aviation emissions have doubled while economy-wide emissions have reduced by more than a third. Ministers see aviation as a special case because low-carbon technology for planes is not well advanced.

The committee says the Department for Transport appears to be planning to solve the aviation overshoot by buying permits to pollute from poor countries which have low levels of CO2 emissions.

‘Bear the costs’

This is permitted internationally under a new code recently agreed by the aviation industry.

But it is a departure from the government’s own existing policy – and rules stipulate that the change should have been checked with the committee before being agreed.

A committee spokesman told BBC News: “The committee has consistently said the government should not plan to use credits to meet the 2050 target because these credits may not be available in the future and they may not be cheap.”

Doug Parr from Greenpeace said the affair showed climate change was still an afterthought from a government pursuing business as usual.

He said: “What ministers know full well but don’t want to admit is that a third runway means other sectors of the economy will have to bear the costs of further carbon cuts – whether it’s regional airports or the manufacturing and steel industries.

“If that’s the plan, it’s time ministers came clean about it with those concerned and the British public.” 
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told BBC News: “The government agrees with the Airports Commission’s assessment that a new runway at Heathrow can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations.

 

“We are considering how we will continue to reduce our emissions across the economy through the 2020s and will set this out in our emissions reduction plan, which will send an important signal to the markets, businesses and investors.

“Our commitment to meeting our Climate Change Act target of an at least 80% emissions reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 is as strong as ever.”

But it’s not just on aviation that climate policies are struggling. The government’s long-awaited master plan for reducing long-term emissions has been delayed again – until early 2017.

The government did signal help for electric vehicles in the Autumn Statement, although critics say it has much more to do.

But the biggest challenge is the UK’s leaky housing stock: since the government scrapped its ill-fated Green Deal programme of home insulation it has had no nationwide plan to improve comfort and reduce emissions from existing homes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38098451

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See also assessment by AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)

Government must prove that Heathrow expansion won’t breach climate legislation, say official climate advisers


Chris Grayling’s letter to Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee on 8th November 2016

This states on climate:

grayling-letter-to-eac-on-carbon-24-11-2016

and there is a bit more on DfT enthusiasm about biofuels.   (No mention at all of the CCC’s guidance, since 2009, of the 37.5 MtCO2 carbon limit for aviation per year).

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/environmental-audit/correspondence/161108-Chris-Grayling-to-Mary-Creagh-Airports-Commission-Report.pdf

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Speech by Chris Grayling at the AOA (Assoc of Airport Operators) conference on 21st November.

The totally pro-aviation growth speech is at:https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/growing-opportunities-for-uk-aviation

Confirms, as there is absolutely NO mention of CO2 or climate in it at all, that this government does not consider there is any need for UK aviation to stick within a carbon target.

It says: 

“[HR3] was the right decision for the whole country … And it will certainly not prevent London’s other airports from expanding. Gatwick, Luton, London City, Stansted and Southend all have crucial roles to play to meet growing demand for air travel.

“Of course growth will not be limited to the south east. Airports across the country will expand. Indeed, this is already happening. Last year our regional airports handled over 97 million passengers. Several have achieved double digit growth over the past 5 years, including Edinburgh, which has grown by more than a quarter, and Bristol, which has recorded an 18% increase in passengers.

“… Our chairman spoke eloquently earlier about the importance of promoting growth throughout the industry. I absolutely agree.”


Earlier:

At least on the 25th October, in Chris Grayling’s speech then,  https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-25/debates/4D74A7CB-8921-48BD-9960-FD15D5D1EEDF/AirportCapacity
there was these two feeble mentions .
” Climate change is a very important issue that we take very seriously. I was delighted by the agreement reached at the International Civil Aviation Organisation summit in Montreal recently, which sets a way forward for the aviation industry with international agreement. That is a significant step forward. We agree that a significant challenge remains that we must monitor very carefully, but the Airports Commission said very clearly that the expansion could take place and we could meet our objectives. That is what we intend to do.”
 
and 
 
“We take the issue of climate change very seriously, and the Government have introduced a raft of measures to address it, but we must also ensure that we have the prosperity that enables us, for instance, to fund our national health service and our old age pensioners. Having a thriving, modern economy with strong links around the world is an important part of that.”

The DfT statement on its website on 25th October said:

“The government believes that a new runway at Heathrow can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-decides-on-new-runway-at-heathrow
Even that has now gone.
The CCC has written to BEIS Greg Clark to enquire about the government’s dropping of any intention to stick to the 37.5MtCO2 cap.  https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CCC-letter-to-Rt-Hon-Greg-Clark-on-UK-airport-expansion-November-2016.pdf

DfT now regards keeping to the aviation cap of 37.5 MtCO2 per year as “unrealistic”

25.10.2016

This is where the DfT states that using the carbon-capped figures is “unrealistic” and so they are only looking at the carbon traded figures (which allow for Heathrow expansion, and aviation emissions above the target of 37.5MtCO2 that they have been recommended, by the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) since 2009.

Page 15 of the DfT document (25.10.2016)  states:

“1.12 The AC’s approach to modelling the carbon-capped scenario uses carbon price assumptions that are higher than the central values published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for appraisal. The carbon-capped scenario is helpful for understanding the varying effects of constraining aviation CO2 emissions on aviation demand and the impact on the case for airport expansion, but was described by the AC as “unrealistic in future policy terms”. The AC’s carbon-capped appraisal results are discussed further in chapter 8. ”

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/562160/further-review-and-sensitivities-report-airport-capacity-in-the-south-east.pdf

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The CCC wrote to the DfT on 25th October, on their concerns about UK aviation carbon emissions

UK aviation emissions must be consistent with UK climate change commitments, CCC says

https://www.theccc.org.uk/2016/10/25/uk-aviation-emissions-must-be-consistent-with-uk-climate-change-commitments-ccc-says/

Following the announcement that the UK Government has approved the expansion of UK airport capacity, including expansion of London Heathrow Airport, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has issued the following statement:

Emissions from aviation are a relatively small but increasingly important source of UK greenhouse gas emissions (making up 6% of total emissions in 2014). Since 1990, aviation emissions have doubled whilst economy-wide emissions have reduced by more than a third.

It is important that decisions about UK airport capacity are consistent with the UK’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, as set out in the Climate Change Act.

It is the CCC’s role to monitor overall progress against carbon budgets and the 2050 target, rather than examine specific projects. Following the announcement about the Government’s preferred option to expand capacity at London Heathrow Airport, and in light of the recent UN-led agreement on controlling global aviation emissions, the Government should now publish a strategic policy framework for UK aviation emissions.

This should include a plan to limit UK 2050 aviation emissions to 2005 levels (implying around a 60% increase in passenger demand), which the Committee has previously advised is an appropriate contribution to the UK’s 80% target for 2050. The Committee’s advice on the level of 2050 aviation emissions was incorporated by the Airports Commission in their analysis and recommendations to Government.

The Government should also consider strategic options and innovation priorities to pursue deeper cuts in aviation emissions, consistent with the objective in the Paris Agreement to move towards overall net zero emissions in the second half of the century.

Aviation emissions are currently below the level they were in 2005. Ensuring aviation emissions do not exceed 2005 levels by 2050 could be partly achieved with continued improvements in fuel and operational efficiency and use of sustainable biofuels. Depending on technological and related progress, this could imply limiting the growth in demand to around 60% above 2005 levels by 2050 (45% above current levels).

The Committee will continue to monitor developments in aviation emissions and policy.

Notes

  • Aviation emissions are included in the 2050 target to reduce economy-wide emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels. CCC analysis has illustrated how the 80% target could be achieved with aviation emissions at 2005 levels in 2050, and by reducing emissions from other sectors by 85%. Aviation emissions at 2005 levels could be achieved with a 35% improvement in carbon intensity (through improved fuel and operational efficiency, and use of sustainable biofuels) and by limiting demand growth to around 60% above 2005 levels by 2050. Higher aviation emissions than 2005 levels in 2050 should not be planned for, since this would imply greater than 85% cuts in other sectors; there is limited confidence about the scope for this.
  • In 2015 UK passenger demand was 11% above 2005 levels; a 60% increase on 2005 levels is equivalent to a 45% increase on the 2015 level.
  • In 2014 (the latest year for which there are data), UK aviation emissions were 9% below 2005 levels. This is likely to be due to a range of factors including improved fuel efficiency of aircraft, operational decisions by airlines (e.g. higher loading factors), and changes in the route mix flown by passengers.
  • The CCC’s advice on the level of 2050 aviation emissions was incorporated by the Airports Commission in their analysis and recommendations to government. The Committee wrote to the Airports Commission in 2013 and again in 2015 to highlight the contribution of aviation to meeting the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act.
  • https://www.theccc.org.uk/2016/10/25/uk-aviation-emissions-must-be-consistent-with-uk-climate-change-commitments-ccc-says/

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Chairman of CCC writes to BEIS to query why DfT appears to no longer use the 37.5MtCO2 cap for UK aviation – but intends to allow higher emissions

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been giving the UK government the advice, since 2009 (when government was trying to get a 3rd Heathrow runway) that UK aviation should emit no more CO2 than its level in 2005 (which was 37.5MtCO2) per year by 2050. This has tacitly been accepted by government since then. But the DfT “sensitivities” document put out on 25th October, said that this cap on UK aviation carbon was “unrealistic” and its assessments were only now looking at the carbon traded option. That means UK aviation CO2 well above the target. The Chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, has now written to Greg Clark, Sec of State at BEIS (Dept of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, now in charge of UK carbon emissions, since DECC was scrapped) to point out that the DfT seems to no longer see the constraint of 37.5MtCO2 as being important, and its forecasts and business assumptions are all now based on higher CO2 emissions by UK aviation. Lord Deben says: “If emissions from aviation are now anticipated to be higher than 2005 levels, then all other sectors would have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.” Even if UK aviation stuck at 37.5Mt CO2 by 2050, this would mean “an 85% reduction in emissions in all other sectors”. The CCC does not have confidence that cuts of over 85% could be made. That implies the UK would miss its legally binding CO2 target.

Click here to view full story…

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Rob Hopkins blog: Can we learn to embrace a future of less flying?

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement, reports in a blog about teaching a class at a French university, looking at how life will be in 2035. He brought the discussion onto flying, and the extent to which it would, or wouldn’t, be possible in 2035. This group of young students consider themselves to be global citizens.  Many of them are international students, thinking nothing of flying home in the holidays, holidaying elsewhere, taking work placements on the other side of the world.  Flying regularly is considered as everyday as eating and breathing. Rob considered the discussion under the framework of the “5 stages of grief”, with first denial, then anger, bargaining and then depression. (The final stage would be acceptance). Rob quotes George Monbiot saying we need to be cutting aviation, not expanding it and “It’s not a question of whether we open a new runway at Heathrow, rather which of the 2 existing ones we close, and that’s just for starters.”  On the problem of love miles, flying across the world for weddings etc, Rob comments that this creates the problem where “we find two valid moral codes in irreconcilable antagonism”….”And what’s the moral response when a friend starts to tell of their wonderful 2 week break on the beaches of Phuket (3.16 tonnes of CO2)?  We now accept it’s ok to express our disapproval if, for example, someone were to smoke close to our baby …. but to question flying remains hugely socially delicate.”
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Can we learn to embrace a future of less flying?

By Rob Hopkins (Transition Network)

24th November 2016

Last week I was at HEC, a prestigious French business university near Paris.  At one point, I taught a class of young, new-intake students, the cream of their generation, attending HEC to be given the best training possible in order to become the executives of the future.  Their first project was to look forward to 2035, and to imagine how it might be and what might be the role/shape/approach of a particular corporation at that time. So the poor things got 2 hours with me (you have to feel for them).  During the Q&A our discussion got onto flying, and the extent to which it would, or wouldn’t, be possible in 2035, which was when it all got very interesting.

It came up that I don’t fly (apart from, since 2006, one trip – more on that here), and that given that climate science says we need to get our carbon footprint down to around 3 tonnes per person per year from the current average of 9 (for the UK), and a flight to New York and back from the UK uses more than 1 year’s allowance, flying will be, by necessity in 2035, little more than an occasional luxury.

This group of young people consider themselves to be global citizens.  Many of them are international students, thinking nothing of flying home in the holidays, holidaying elsewhere, taking work placements on the other side of the world.  Flying regularly is considered as everyday as eating and breathing. Looking back, it was fascinating how the discussion took the group through at least the first four of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s ‘Five Stages of Grief’.

Denial
We started with denial.  We talked about what Universities might look like in 2035, especially ones as international as HEC.  Surely cutting back flying to any meaningful extent by 2035 is impossible given the nature of Universities today, ran one student’s argument.  I countered that Universities would be forced to adapt to the world around them, and that perhaps the concept of international study would only become an option if combined with Slow Travel, something more akin to the Grand Tour of Victorian times.  Online courses would become much prevalent, or simply studying closer to home.

For me, denial is best countered by George Monbiot in his book ‘Heat’ when he captures the essence of the debate: “the growth in aviation and the need to address climate change cannot be reconciled”.  Aviation, he argues, needs to be cut by 87% if we are to stay below 2 degrees, and our target actually needs to be under 1.5 degrees.  It’s not a question of whether we open a new runway at Heathrow, rather which of the 2 existing ones we close, and that’s just for starters.

But, one student pointed out, the air industry’s projections are for a huge increase in air travel by 2035.  I reflected that that was what you would expect of the aviation industry, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We know that ‘predict and provide’ is a failed model in terms of cars and roads, so why does it still go unquestioned in relation to flying?

Anger

We then moved on to anger, albeit rather muted, a sense of quiet indignation at the idea.  To this I pointed out that for me, the reduction in the amount of flying is inevitable, and to start living that way will make the shift much less traumatic.  If all the UK’s airports closed tomorrow, it would affect me very little, whereas 10 years ago I would have found that very upsetting.  Get ahead of the curve.

Bargaining

Then we were on to bargaining.  “But surely we could have alternative fuels?” one young man asked.  “Such as?”  “Electricity? Biofuels?”.  I pointed out that batteries large enough to enable a passenger plane to fly long distances would render the plane so heavy it’d never get off the ground, and that creating a renewable energy grid sufficient to power our economy, homes, and, potentially, electric cars in a low carbon way, is already a monumental challenge, never mind adding in the aviation sector.  Biofuels are possible, but are basically the taking of food from the mouths of poor children in order to keep the rich flying.

Another student sustained the bargaining by adding hydrogen and micro algae to the mix.  Hydrogen, I pointed out, is just a carrier, not a fuel, and is created by electricity, so the above issues apply.  My co-teacher of the session, Julien Dossier, stepped in to note that even if algae were scaleable, which is doubtful, commercial pressures to grow the most algae per square metre would mean that strains would be developed that would multiply as rapidly as possible which, as would inevitably happen, were to escape into watercourses, would create a biodiversity catastrophe.
Depression

The fourth of Kubler Ross’s stages is depression.  One young woman pointed out that she lives in Morocco, studies in Paris, and goes home regularly in her holidays.  This is what Monbiot calls ‘Love Miles’, “the distance you must travel to visit friends and partners and relatives on the other side of the planet”.  He succinctly identifies the heart of the issue as being the point where “we find two valid moral codes in irreconcilable antagonism”.

Julien talked about the family fallout from declining the invitation to a close friend’s wedding on the other side of the world, and I reflected on similar experiences.  It’s painful.  And what’s the moral response when a friend starts to tell of their wonderful 2 week break on the beaches of Phuket (3.16 tonnes of CO2)?  We now accept it’s ok to express our disapproval if, for example, someone were to smoke close to our baby or something, but to question flying remains hugely socially delicate.

… and then Acceptance (not yet)

Did the class reach the stage of acceptance?  I don’t think so, not yet.  I imagine the subject was much discussed in the bars and cafes of HEC that evening. But, as Julien pointed out later in the class, if they are wanting to become the successful entrepreneurs of 2035, that’s the reality they need to be designing for.  During the Industrial Revolution, the people who correctly read where it was all going, who read the runes, were able to create successful businesses, as they have with any major transition.  This one is no different.

But you have to read the runes right, and in this case the runes dictate that by 2035 there will be very few planes in our skies.  The Transition needs great entrepreneurs, but they need to start from a place that resonates with the reality of the challenges we face and the opportunities they present, and with a different set of values and motivations.

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Should society be questioning the ethics or wisdom of dirt cheap, or “free” flights by Ryanair etc?

The low cost of air travel encourages extra demand, which not only increases people’s carbon footprint, but also raises the amount that Brits spend abroad – known as the tourism deficit (the difference between the amount UK residents spend on trips abroad, over what residents abroad spend on trips to the UK). The deficit was £16.9 billion in 2015.  Air travel is so cheap because it is not charged VAT and there is no fuel duty. The only tax is Air Passenger Duty, that is £13 for any return fight to a European country, and free for children. Fearing loss of profit due to Brexit and the lower value of the £ against other currencies, Ryanair is making ever more crazy offers of cut prices. To try to keep passenger numbers up, he hopes to offer “free” flights in due course. The catch would be that Ryanair would want to get a share in retail income (shopping and car parking at airports), so there would be profit per passenger. This dotty system, of charging so little for something that emits so much carbon, and sucks money out of the UK, is something society should take a long, hard look at.  Is it really desirable, looking towards the longer term, that flying is so dirt cheap? And that the aviation sector is not included in either the UK’s carbon targets, nor has a proper global mechanism to deal with rapidly rising CO2 from the sector?
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“Ryanair could introduce free flights in five years’ time”

By FIONA SIMPSON (Standard)
23.11.2016

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the company, said on Monday that he was looking at plans to cut fares completely in a bid to increase passenger numbers.

He claimed airports should share revenue from retail outlets with companies which attract the biggest footfall.

Ryanair already offers seats for as little as 1p but Mr O’Leary said the company is making a loss after paying £13 air passenger duty for every seat sold in Britain.

Speaking to the Airport Operators Association, he said that Ryanair wanted to abolish fares in five to ten years to boost its passenger numbers to 200 million.

He admitted that huge airports like Heathrow would not be able to share retail profits, but suggested the company could target smaller sites, The Times reported.

He said: “I have this vision that in the next five to ten years that the air fares on Ryanair will be free, in which case the flights will be full and we will be making our money out of sharing the airport revenues.

“I’m doing seat sales this week at £4 and I’m paying the £13 APD; I’m paying you to fly with me. Instead of promotional tickets being £9 or £5, they will be free.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/ryanair-could-introduce-free-flights-in-five-years-time-a3402376.html

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Ryanair and easyJet have around the same numbers of air passengers in the UK – around 50 – 60 million per year.  It is not easy to find the number of Ryanair passengers from the UK, as it is not a UK airline and figures tend to be for all passengers.  The total number of air passengers at UK airports in 2015 was about 250 million.


Ryanair launches US election flight sale offering 1 million seats for €9.99
According to Ryanair, nobody ‘Trumps’ their fares

By LIZ CONNOR (Standard)
9 November 2016

Low cost airline Ryanair has launched a sale to coincide with the US election result, offering flights for just €9.99.

The company launched the bargain flight bonanza with a series of tongue-in-cheek Tweets, designed to mock both US President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Tweets sent out by the airline with the hashtag #VoteLowFares poked fun at Trump with the message “Down with high fare, down with high walls.”

Another advert for the cut-price flights included the gag “even she wouldn’t delete our email offers” – in reference to Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, which became the subject of an FBI investigation.

The Irish airline later tweeted ‘No one Trumps Ryanair fares!’, in reference to the news that Donald Trump had achieved a shock defeat of rival Clinton to become the next President of the United States.

Included in Ryanair’s flash flight sale are cheap tickets to destinations in Ireland and Spain – including Alicante, Cork and Shannon.

But if you want get involved in the deal, you’ll have to be speedy – as the sale, which is currently available to book on the Ryanair website, ends at midnight tonight.

http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/ryanair-launches-us-election-flight-sale-offering-1-million-seats-for-999-a3391691.html

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Ryanair profits to be hit by fall in pound.  Budget airline expects full-year profit growth of 7%, against earlier expectations of 12%

By Angela Monaghan (Guardian)
Tuesday 18 October 2016

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Ryanair has said its full-year profits will be lower than expected because of the sharp drop in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote in June.

The budget airline said an 18% fall in sterling since the referendum was the main reason it was downgrading its expectations for full-year profit growth, from 12% to to 7%.

Profits are now expected to be between €1.3bn (£900m) and €1.35bn. The Dublin-based company warned, however, that the outlook for profits would worsen in the event of a further drop in the pound or weakness in ticket prices.

Fares in the second half of the year are expected to fall by 13-15%, more than the 10-12% previously expected.

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive, said lower fares would be partially offset by cost savings, with costs expected to fall by 3% in the full year, more than the 1% given in previous guidance.

“The recent sharp decline in sterling will weaken second-half yields by slightly more than we had originally expected,” he said.

O’Leary is one of several senior business figures to criticise the government in recent weeks for a lack of clarity on its Brexit strategy.

“Whether the UK leaves the EU or stays, I couldn’t care less. The issue for us is whether we stay in the single market,” he said in September.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/oct/18/ryanair-warns-fall-in-pound-will-hit-profits

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Chairman of CCC writes to BEIS to query why DfT appears to no longer use the 37.5MtCO2 cap for UK aviation

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been giving the UK government the advice, since 2009 (when government was trying to get a 3rd Heathrow runway) that UK aviation should emit no more CO2 than its level in 2005 (which was 37.5MtCO2) per year by 2050. This has tacitly been accepted by government since then. But the DfT “sensitivities” document put out on 25th October, said that this cap on UK aviation carbon was “unrealistic” and its assessments were only now  looking at the carbon traded  option. That means UK aviation CO2 well above the target.  The Chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, has now written to Greg Clark, Sec of State at BEIS (now in charge of UK carbon emissions, since DECC was scrapped) to point out that the DfT seems to no longer see the constraint of 37.5MtCO2 as being important, and its forecasts and business assumptions are all now based on higher CO2 emissions by UK aviation. Lord Deben says: “If emissions from aviation are now anticipated to be higher than 2005 levels, then all other sectors would have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.”  Even if UK aviation stuck at 37.5Mt CO2 by 2050, this would mean “an 85% reduction in emissions in all to her sectors”. The CCC does not have confidence that cuts of over 85% could be made. That implies the  UK would miss its legally binding CO2 target.
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Letter: Department for Transport’s assessment of the case for a third runway at Heathrow

22.11.2016

The Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Lord Deben, has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, regarding the Department for Transport’s (DfT) assessment of the case for a third runway at Heathrow airport.

The letter sets out the Committee’s concerns about how the DfT business case has presented the implications for UK greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

Letter: Department for Transport’s assessment of the case for a third runway at Heathrow

This letter includes these comments:

 

ccc-letter-from-deben-to-beis-clark-22-11-2016

ccc-lord-deben-letter-to-greg-clark-on-aviation-co2

Full letter at

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CCC-letter-to-Rt-Hon-Greg-Clark-on-UK-airport-expansion-November-2016.pdf


This is where the DfT states that using the carbon-capped figures is “unrealistic” and so they are only looking at the carbon traded figures (which allow for Heathrow expansion, and aviation emissions above the target of 37.5MtCO2 that they have been recommended, by the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) since 2009.

Page 15 of the DfT document (25.10.2016)

Further Review and Sensitivities Report
Airport Capacity in the South East

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/562160/further-review-and-sensitivities-report-airport-capacity-in-the-south-east.pdf

This states:

“1.12 The AC’s approach to modelling the carbon-capped scenario uses carbon price assumptions that are higher than the central values published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for appraisal. The carbon-capped scenario is helpful for understanding the varying effects of constraining aviation CO2 emissions on aviation demand and the impact on the case for airport expansion, but was described by the AC as “unrealistic in future policy terms”. ”

 In other words it can’t be done..

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The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) view:

What answers has the Government found to the environmental hurdles facing a third runway?

Climate Change

25.10.2016

As AEF has consistently pointed out, and as the Committee on Climate Change reminded Government today, there is no plan for delivering the aviation emissions limit required to deliver the Climate Change Act either with or without a new runway.

The last time we had a government supporting runway expansion, it specified that this would be conditional on the sector’s CO2 emissions being on course not to exceed 37.5 Mt by 2050, in line with the CCC’s advice. Today’s announcement included no such commitment, instead making vague references to the global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management – both measures that are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling, and that won’t bring us anywhere near to achieving the minimum level of ambition required under UK law.

So what does the Government have to say about how the CCC’s recommendation will be met? The answer is deeply buried in a technical paper released alongside the announcement which states that the Airports Commission’s carbon-capped scenario “is helpful for understanding the varying effects of constraining aviation CO2 emissions on aviation demand and the impact on the case for airport expansion but was described by the AC as ‘unrealistic in future policy terms’”. In other words it can’t be done.

http://www.aef.org.uk/2016/10/25/what-answers-has-the-government-found-to-the-environmental-hurdles-facing-a-third-runway/

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See earlier:

Analysis by Carbon Brief: Aviation to consume half of UK’s 1.5C carbon budget by 2050

The UK aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions could consume around half the carbon budget available to the UK in 2050, even if the sector’s emissions growth is constrained. An assessment by Carbon Brief shows that even with no new runway, the anticipated demand for air travel – from DfT forecasts – could mean UK aviation (flights taking off from UK airports) could be 47 MtCO2e by 2050. With a new runway, the emissions could be as much as 51 MtCO2e in 2050. The Paris climate agreement means the UK must raise its existing climate ambition. The UK’s current legislated target, to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees C, is to cut CO2 emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. ie. from 800 MtCO2 per year to 160 MtCO2 per year. To keep below 1.5 degrees C the reduction in CO2 would be around 91% (86 – 96%) below the 1990 level, ie. 72 MtCO2 per year for the UK. Therefore if UK aviation emitted 37.5 MtCO2 per year by 2050 would be about 52% of the UK’s carbon limit of 72 MtCO2 for a 1.5C global target, or about 23.4% of the UK’s carbon limit of about 160 MtCO2 for a 2C global target. And if instead of sticking to the 37.5 MtCO2 limit (which the DfT now says is “unrealistic”)* UK aviation emitted 51 MtCO2 by 2050 that would be about 71% of the UK’s carbon limit of 72 MtCO2 for a 1.5C global target, or about 32% of the UK’s carbon limit of about 160 MtCO2 by 2050 for a 2C global target.

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Analysis by Carbon Brief: Aviation to consume half of UK’s 1.5C carbon budget by 2050

The UK aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions could consume around half the carbon budget available to the UK in 2050, even if the sector’s emissions growth is constrained. An assessment by Carbon Brief shows that even with no new runway, the anticipated demand for air travel – from DfT forecasts – could mean UK aviation (flights taking off from UK airports) could be 47 MtCO2e by 2050. With a new runway, the emissions could be as much as  51 MtCO2e in 2050.  The Paris climate agreement means the UK must raise its existing climate ambition.  The UK’s current legislated target, to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees C, is to cut CO2 emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  ie. from 800 MtCO2 per year to 160 MtCO2 per year. To keep below 1.5 degrees C the reduction in CO2 would be around 91% (86 – 96%) below the 1990 level, ie. 72 MtCO2 per year for the UK.  Therefore if UK aviation emitted 37.5 MtCO2 per year by 2050 would be about 52% of the UK’s carbon limit of 72 MtCO2 for a 1.5C global target, or about 23.4% of the UK’s carbon limit of about 160 MtCO2 for a 2C global target.  And if instead of sticking to the 37.5 MtCO2 limit (which the DfT now says is “unrealistic”)* UK aviation emitted 51 MtCO2 by 2050  that would be about 71% of the UK’s carbon limit of 72 MtCO2 for a 1.5C global target, or about 32% of the UK’s carbon limit of about 160 MtCO2 by 2050 for a 2C global target.  
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Analysis: Aviation to consume half of UK’s 1.5C carbon budget by 2050

By Simon Evans (Carbon Brief)
24.10.2016

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Aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions could consume around half the carbon budget available to the UK in 2050, even if the sector’s emissions growth is constrained.

The numbers make for awkward reading as the government approves a new runway at Heathrow, which it says is needed to meet ever-rising demand for air travel.

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement on climate change, due to enter force on 4 November, pledges to limit warming to “well below” 2C and, if possible, no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures.

In order to meet this aim, countries must make careful use of the very limited remaining carbon budget. That budget could be used up within five years, leaving the world reliant on unproven negative emissions technologies in order to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Paris means the UK must raise its existing climate ambition: it will have to reach net-zero emissions, whereas its current legislated target is to cut emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  [ie. from 800 MtCO2 per year to 160 MtCO2 per year. AW note]

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s official advisers, says it is too early to set a date for reaching net zero. However, the CCC notes that the 1.5C goal of Paris implies UK reductions of “at least 90% below 1990 levels by 2050”.

It gives a range of 86-96% for cutting emissions by 2050, if the UK takes an equal per capita share  and if the world aims for at least a 50% chance that 1.5C will be avoided. Note that other ways to divide the burden of cutting emissions would probably entail more drastic cuts for the UK, while, arguably, a 50% chance of exceeding the 1.5C limit is risky.

Setting aside these questions, the middle of the CCC’s range – a 91% cut – [from around 800 MtCO2 in 1990 link p 21 ] would give the UK a carbon budget of 72 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2050. This is close to the limit of what the CCC believes to be possible using currently known technologies and options.  [The target for aviation the CCC suggests is 37.5MtCO2 by 2050. AW note ]

It thinks the maximum plausible cuts to UK emissions in 2050 would reach 92% below 1990 levels, or 64MtCO2e. It’s worth adding that this builds in significant use of negative emissions, including biomass with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), as well as afforestation.

Flight forecasts

Where do aviation emissions fit into this? In its most recent forecasts  [DfT 2013] of demand for air travel, the government said that even without a new runway at Heathrow, UK airports would serve 445 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2050. This is more than twice the 211 mppa served in 2010.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said UK aviation emissions, including international flights departing from UK airports, would reach 47MtCO2e by 2050 without airport expansion. With new runways, passenger numbers could rise to 480mppa, the DfT says.  Carbon Brief estimates this would translate into emissions of 51MtCO2e in 2050.

This figure is more than two-thirds (71%) of the 72MtCO2e mid-range carbon budget for 2050 implied by the CCC, if the UK is to play its part in meeting the ambition of the Paris Agreement.  [Of a 1.5 degree C global warming target]

It is also nearly a third (32%) of the budget for 2C, assuming the UK sticks with its 80% by 2050 target.

[So, UK aviation if up to 51 MtCO2 by 2050 would perhaps emit up to about 70% of the UK’s carbon limit of 72 MtCO2 for a 1.5C global target, or about 32% of the UK’s carbon limit of about 160 MtCO2 by 2050 for a 2C global target.  AW note]

However, the CCC has said that UK aviation emissions should be limited to no more than 2005 levels, if the UK is to meet its 2050 carbon targets as cheaply as possible. This would mean a cap of 37.5MtCO2e for UK-based air travel.

That 37.5MtCO2e cap would be equivalent to more than half (52%) of the allowable 1.5C-compatible carbon budget in 2050.

[[So, UK aviation if up to 37.5 MtCO2 by 2050 would perhaps emit up to about 52% of the UK’s carbon limit of 72 MtCO2 for a 1.5C global target, or about 23.4% of the UK’s carbon limit of about 160 MtCO2 for a 2C global target.  AW note]

UK greenhouse gas emissions including the UK share of international aviation. Historic data runs through to 2014, the latest year for which aviation figures are available. The shaded area shows projected linear progress towards an overall 91% cut in 2050, with aviation capped to 2005 emissions.

Source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Carbon Brief analysis. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

uk-and-aviation-co2-emissions-to-2050

The CCC says the 37.5MtCO2e cap can be met if plausible increases in aircraft efficiency and use of lower carbon fuels is accompanied by demand growth of no more than 60% above 2005 levels.

Note that this cap includes additional room to grow compared to today’s levels because emissions fell from 37.5MtCO2e in 2005 to 31.9Mt in 2010, partly as a result of the financial crisis. They had reached only 32.9MtCO2e in 2014, still more than 10% below the 2005 cap.

For its part, the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies, said that demand for air travel would grow by closer to 100% to 2050. This would breach the CO2 cap for aviation and would entail the UK buying overseas carbon offsets to balance the books.

(The UK will participate in an international carbon trading scheme [through ICAO] to limit aviation emissions at 2020 levels, agreed by 191 countries in Montreal on 6 October. This will cover between 75-80% of air traffic – nowhere near all of it. The coverage of emissions growth may total between 75-80% eventually, but only 20% of total aircraft CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2035 will be offset. Link )

However, the CCC continues to oppose the use of international offsets, saying that “UK targets should focus on domestic effort”.

In a letter to the CCC, Davies said that UK aviation emissions could be constrained to the 37.5MtCO2 cap, but only with an extremely high carbon price.

Writing in the Telegraph this week, Davies says that climate goals mean it would be a mistake to allow both Heathrow and Gatwick to expand. He writes:

“Allowing two proposals to continue could mean neither is built, as it would be impossible to argue that both runways could be fully used in the next twenty years while meeting our legislated climate change commitments. So the decision could be challenged in the courts.”

It’s worth adding that Davies suggests Birmingham airport might be expanded in future. His comments also relate to the UK’s existing climate targets, rather than the tougher goals likely to result from Paris.

Global problem

The UK is already responsible for an above-average share of international air travel, a position it presumably wishes to retain as it goes out into the world without EU membership.

Aviation emissions are among the most difficult to tackle, along with those from farms and factories. That’s why the new aviation climate deal is based around emissions offsets.

At a global scale, aviation could consume a quarter of the global carbon budget for 1.5C, recent Carbon Brief analysis showed. If the UK wants new runways, it must also take responsibility for the emissions those flights generate.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-aviation-to-consume-half-uk-1point5c-carbon-budget-2050

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*

Page 15 of the DfT document (25.10.2016)

Further Review and Sensitivities Report
Airport Capacity in the South East

“1.12 The AC’s approach to modelling the carbon-capped scenario uses carbon price assumptions that are higher than the central values published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for appraisal. The carbon-capped scenario is helpful for understanding the varying effects of constraining aviation CO2 emissions on aviation demand and the impact on the case for airport expansion, but was described by the AC as “unrealistic in future policy terms”. ”

 In other words it can’t be done..

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Environmental Audit Cttee finds Treasury failing to take long-term environmental costs into account

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has done an investigation into the role of the Treasury in relation to sustainable development and environmental protection. The EAC is calling for the Treasury to “green-check” all its decisions, after its major investigation found that the Treasury puts short term priorities over long term sustainability – potentially increasing costs to the economy in the future. [The Treasury has been a key promoter of a new south east runway, with Treasury staff helping the Airports Commission.] EAC Chair, Mary Creagh, said:  “The Treasury is highly influential and uniquely placed to ensure the whole of Government works to promote sustainability. But we have seen considerable evidence that it fails to do this.The Treasury tends not to take full account of the long term environmental costs and benefits of decisions which would reduce costs for taxpayers and consumers in the long run. On the carbon capture and storage competition and zero carbon homes we saw the Treasury riding roughshod over departments, cancelling long-established environmental programmes at short notice with no consultation, costing businesses and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. With a week to go until the next Autumn Statement, we hope our inquiry will be a wake-up call to the Treasury.”
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Sustainability and HM Treasury (PDF 622KB)


Treasury failing to take long-term environmental costs into account, MPs say

The Treasury has been lambasted by MPs for failing to adequately factor in long-term sustainability risks into its decisions, with the carbon capture and storage (CCS) and zero-carbon homes policies specifically cited as detrimental to both the economy and investor confidence.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) finds the Treasury guilty of changing or cancelling several long-established projects at short notice, with little or no consultation with relevant businesses and industries

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has criticised the Treasury following a major investigation concurred with a recent High Court allegation that its approach puts short-term priorities ahead of long-term sustainability.  [The Treasury is one of the departments driving the push for a new Heathrow runway, with the DfT. AW note]

The EAC is particularly concerned by a perceived lack of environmental leadership considering the Treasury’s prominent role over Government spending, taxation policy and regulation.

The Treasury is accused of failing to encourage departments to work collaboratively on issues such as air quality, decarbonisation, and resource efficiency.

According to the EAC, the Treasury must ensure Spending Reviews provide strong incentives for departmental partnerships on environmental matters, increase decision-making accountability, and incorporate new evidence on long-term sustainability risks and benefits into policy decisions.

EAC Chair Mary Creagh MP said: “The Treasury is highly influential and uniquely placed to ensure the whole of Government works to promote sustainability. But we have seen considerable evidence that it fails to do this. The Treasury tends not to take full account of the long-term environmental costs and benefits of decisions which would reduce costs for taxpayers and consumers in the long run.”

‘Riding roughshod’

The Treasury recently provided evidence at an EAC hearing, where departmental ministers defended the Government’s decision to scrap energy initiatives such as the zero-carbon homes initiative and the CCS competition. Speaking at the time, the department’s Financial Secretary insisted that past decisions were made in the interest of environmental and economic sustainability.

However, the EAC’s latest report finds the Treasury guilty of changing or cancelling several long-established projects at short notice, with little or no consultation with relevant businesses and industries.

The decision to cancel the long-running CCS competition, which the EAC found could cost the UK an additional £30bn to meet its 2050 carbon targets, was described as “devastating” by businesses who were left in “shock” by the way the Treasury handled the situation. The EAC criticises the Treasury for failing to quantify all the costs and benefits of delaying CCS deployment before it cancelled the competition.

The zero-carbon homes policy scrappage also came as a surprise and in some cases angered many in the construction industry, the EAC states, because the Government had worked towards implementing the policy for more than a decade. The decision harms the development of new markets for innovative energy-saving products and risks rising long-term costs to the economy, EAC states.

Creagh continued: “On the CCS competition and zero-carbon homes we saw the Treasury riding roughshod over departments, cancelling long-established environmental programmes at short notice with no consultation, costing businesses and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. With a week to go until the next Autumn Statement, we hope our inquiry will be a wake-up call to the Treasury.”

‘Highly damaging’

The Treasury announced last summer it would be scrapping regulations on house building, including a planned increase in on-site energy efficiency standards, in order to streamline development. The Government’s decision was heavily criticised by industry and politicians, who stressed it would likely add to long-term housing costs through a reduction in energy efficiency.

Departmental ministers refuted this claim in September, insisting that contrary to widespread belief, the initiative would not have incentivised energy efficiency. Ministers stressed that the Treasury is approaching the upcoming Autumn Statement from a “position of strength” in terms of energy policy, citing the Government’s annual support of renewables is set to double over the current parliament.

Responding to today’s EAC report, UK-GBC (Green Building Council) campaign and policy director John Alker said: “The Committee is absolutely right to highlight the damaging effects of the ill-conceived deregulation we have seen from the Treasury in recent years.

“The scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes was an example of politically motivated policy-making. It showed not only an irresponsible disregard for the steps we need to take to tackle climate change, but also overlooked the years of investment and preparation made by thousands of companies across the construction supply chain. This volatility in the policy landscape is highly damaging to industry, jobs and investor confidence.”

The decision to scrap the CCS scheme was previously said to have been taken under the narrative of “reducing the costs for businesses” when in fact businesses were in favour of environmental commitments. This view was challenged by the Energy Environment and Agriculture Deputy Director, who recently told the EAC that the costs involved in these schemes could have added “many billions” to consumer bills.

Accusations against the Treasury regarding long-term sustainability commitments recently extended to the courtroom. During evidence last month, the High Court heard that the Treasury had deliberately blocked plans to bring UK air pollution within legal limits as part of an “entire approach driven by cost”, and that Defra’s original plans for a more extensive network of Clean Air Zones in more than a dozen UK cities had been watered down, on cost grounds, to five in addition to London.

George Ogleby

http://www.edie.net/news/11/Treasury-failing-to-take-account-of-long-term-environmental-costs-MPs-say

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From the EAC website

Scope of the inquiry

The Environmental Audit Committee called for written evidence on the role of HM Treasury in relation to sustainable development and environmental protection in December 2015.

It now calls for additional written evidence on HM Treasury’s contribution to meeting waste and recycling targets to help inform its inquiry into sustainability and HM Treasury.

Terms of reference: Sustainability and HM Treasury – further call for evidence


Latest evidence

  • 05 Jul 2016 – Sustainability and HM Treasury – oral evidence | PDF version (346 KB) Opens in a new windowHC 181 | Published 21 Oct 2016Evidence given by Lord Deben, Chair, and Matthew Bell, Chief Executive, Committee on Climate Change; Matthew Knight, Business Development Director, Siemens, and Barbara Vest, Director of Generation, Energy UK (at 10.45am); Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive, Vice-President UK and Ireland, Veolia, Jerry McLaughlin, Director, Economics and Public Affairs, Mineral Products Association, and Dan Cooke, Director of Communications and External Affairs, Viridor and Chairman of Communications Committee, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (at 11.15am).

One quote from the EAC report on the Treasury

(Page 15)

4 Performance on environmental sustainability

34. The Treasury uses a technical and political framework which favours short-term affordability over long-term benefits. In this chapter we explore this in more detail by looking at the Treasury’s track record in a number of specific policy areas and assessing the extent to which the Treasury’s approach to environmental sustainability is sufficiently joined-up. Meeting carbon budgets

35. The UK has an economy wide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (from a 1990 baseline). To get there the Government sets five-yearly carbon budgets. The level of these budgets is recommended by the CCC which establishes the most cost effective pathway towards meeting the UK’s 2050 target.69 Following initial research, the CCC determined that the first sector which needed to decarbonise was the energy sector and other sectors such as buildings, transport and industry soon afterwards.70 The CCC recently reported that the Government was on track to meet the third carbon budget but, unless new policies are put in place, is likely to miss the fourth and fifth carbon budget.71 The gap between the target and the UK’s current emission trajectory is sometimes referred to as the policy gap.

36. The Treasury is in a critical position to ensure carbon budgets are met because of its control over capital spending, taxation policy, regulations and approval of major projects. During spending reviews, in particular, the Treasury has the opportunity to draw together policy relevant information from across different departments and ensure interventions across government are working towards achieving carbon budgets. But the Treasury does not seem to be doing this. A large proportion of respondents highlighted a number of recent policy announcements which could have the opposite effect.

….. and there  is much more …

70 Committee on Climate Change, Building a low-carbon economy – The UK’s contribution to tackling climate change (December 2008)

71 Committee on Climate Change, Meeting Carbon Budgets – 2016 Progress Report to Parliament (June 2016), p11

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/181/181.pdf

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The EAC press notice

Treasury must factor in long term impact of policies on environment

17 November 2016 (EAC website)

The Environmental Audit Committee is calling for the Treasury to “green-check” all its decisions after a major investigation into its approach found that it puts short term priorities over long term sustainability – potentially increasing costs to the economy in the future, and harming investor confidence.

“The Treasury is highly influential and uniquely placed to ensure the whole of Government works to promote sustainability. But we have seen considerable evidence that it fails to do this.The Treasury tends not to take full account of the long term environmental costs and benefits of decisions which would reduce costs for taxpayers and consumers in the long run.On the carbon capture and storage competition and zero carbon homes we saw the Treasury riding roughshod over departments, cancelling long-established environmental programmes at short notice with no consultation, costing businesses and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds. With a week to go until the next Autumn Statement, we hope our inquiry will be a wake-up call to the Treasury.”

Priorities

The Treasury, through its control over government spending, taxation policy and regulation is arguably the most important department for ensuring the UK meets its environmental obligations. However, the Treasury is failing adequately to factor in long-term environmental risks into its decisions and is not doing enough to encourage departments to work together on environmental issues – such as air quality, decarbonisation, energy and resource efficiency.

If the Treasury is going to improve its performance and provide greater leadership on environmental sustainability it must:

  • Ensure Spending Reviews provide strong incentives for collaboration between departments on environmental matters.
  • Incorporate new evidence on long-term environmental risks and benefits into its frameworks for assessing the value for money of government interventions;
  • Increase transparency and accountability by providing publically available justifications for its decisions;
  • Work with other departments whose policies affect the environment to ensure the Government’s new industrial strategies promote sustainability.

Case studies:

Treasury decision to cancel CCS funding without notice

Carbon capture and storage is an essential technology because it has the potential to help decarbonise a range of sectors including power, transport and heavy industry. Before the Treasury cancelled a long running CCS ‘competition’ to award financial support to pilot projects, the Government did not quantify all the costs and benefits of delaying CCS deployment. This meant that the full risks of cancelling the competition were not factored into the decision.

The Treasury’s decision will delay the roll out of CCS in the UK and will increase the cost of deploying it in the future. Without CCS, the inquiry found that it could cost an additional £30 billion to meet the 2050 carbon targets. The way the Treasury communicated its decision to industry left businesses in ‘shock’, and was described as ‘devastating’, potentially undermining the Government’s efforts to deploy CCS in the future.

It is vital the Government produces a new strategy for CCS this year.  Treasury should work with BEIS to ensure the new strategy is published as part of the carbon reduction plan by the end of the year.  Failing to do so will make it more expensive to meet our long-term, legally binding climate change targets.

….. and there is more on other case studies ….

see full statement at

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news-parliament-2015/sustainability-treasury-report-published-16-17/

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Earlier this year, the EAC held an evidence session about the sustainability of the work of the Department for Transport 

Sustainability in the Department for Transport examined with Government officials

21 April 2016

In this one-off evidence session, the Committee questions senior Department for Transport officials about the role that sustainability plays in departmental policy-making, governance, procurement and operations.

Witnesses

Tuesday 26 April, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster

At 10.45am

  • Lucy Chadwick – Director-General for International, Security and Environment, Department for Transport
  • Emma Campbell – Head of Environment and International Transport Analysis, Department for Transport
  • Rosalind Wall – Head of Environmental Strategy, Department for Transport

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news-parliament-2015/sustainability-department-for-transport-one-off-evidence-15-16/

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T&E says weak ICAO voluntary CO2 deal is NOT mission accomplished for ICAO, Europe or aviation industry

The deal agreed by ICAO to at least make a start on limiting the growth of global aviation CO2 is very far below the level of ambition needed.  Transport & Environment have commented on just how inadequate it is. They say the agreement only offers to offset, not actually reduce, the CO2 from international flights, starting in 2021. Participation till 2027 is voluntary and its coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by ICAO and the industry. The European Commission will now examine the agreement and decide what action to recommend in the light of the current suspension of the  ETS coverage of flights into and out of Europe. A major problem is that the offsetting programme agreed so far lacks clear rules on both the quality of offsets that will be recognised and how they are accounted for, so double counting is not ruled out. To be of any use, offsets must be additional, ie. that would not have happened anyway. It is estimated that only about 20% of total aircraft CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2035 will be offset, meaning that the sector’s emissions are very far from being negated. T&E says that large historical emitters like Europe and the US must introduce additional measures to close aviation’s emissions gap, such as strengthening the EU ETS and stripping aviation’s harmful privileges regarding taxation and subsidies.
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Europe weighs up options after weak global deal on aviation CO2

More than 65 countries have signed up to offset, but not reduce, aircraft emissions from international flights, starting in 2021.

However, participation in the scheme until 2027 is voluntary and its coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry.

The European Commission will now examine the agreement and decide what action to recommend be taken in light of the current suspension of the emissions trading system’s (ETS) coverage of flights into and out of Europe.

 

The Commission will need to cast a critical eye over the offsetting programme agreed by ICAO, which so far lacks clear rules on both the quality of offsets that will be recognised and how they are accounted for.

‘Double counting’ – when two or more individuals or organisations claim ownership of specific carbon offset projects – is one major problem with such programmes. Governments must also ensure the offsets bring carbon reductions that are additional – i.e. that would not have happened anyway.

EU lawmakers must also consider how aviation will contribute to meeting the bloc’s CO2 reduction targets. As the agreement only requires aircraft operators to offset their emissions above 2020 levels, carbon emissions from aviation can grow without restriction until then.

Questions will also be asked of how the deal helps Europe meet its 2030 CO2 reduction targets. Only about 20% of total aircraft CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2035 will be offset, according to estimates.

Andrew Murphy, T&E aviation policy officer, said: ‘The agreement reached by ICAO in Montreal says airlines can emit increasing amounts of CO2 so long as the carriers pay for offsetting projects in other sectors. That shifts the burden onto other sectors to do more and does zero to shift passengers to less polluting ways of travelling such as rail. The EU’s next move must be to ensure aviation does its share of carbon reductions in Europe at least.’

T&E called on ICAO and the aviation industry to finalise and implement robust criteria for offsets and then develop further measures if the world is to have any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

It said that large historical emitters like Europe and the US must introduce additional measures to close aviation’s emissions gap, such as strengthening the EU ETS and stripping aviation’s harmful privileges regarding taxation and subsidies.

T&E aviation director Bill Hemmings said: ‘Airline claims that flying will now be green are a myth. Taking a plane is the fastest and cheapest way to fry the planet and this deal won’t reduce demand for jet fuel one drop. Instead offsetting aims to cut emissions in other industries.’

Aviation is currently responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming. Aircraft CO2 alone is projected to quadruple and will potentially account for 22% of all CO2 emitted globally in 2050.

Bill Hemmings concluded: ‘This deal is not mission accomplished for ICAO, Europe or industry. The world needs more than voluntary agreements. Without robust environmental safeguards the offsets won’t cut emissions, leaving us with a deal that amounts to little more than adding the price of a cup of coffee to a ticket.’

https://www.transportenvironment.org/news/europe-weighs-options-after-weak-global-deal-aviation-co2

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See earlier:

ICAO’s aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further to cut CO2

A deal was finally agreed by ICAO on 6th October. It was progress, in that there had never been any sort of agreement on global aviation CO2 emissions before. But it was not a great deal – and far too weak to provide the necessary restriction on the growth of global aviation CO2. It came in the same week that the Paris Agreement crossed its crucial threshold to enter into force, but the ICAO deleted key provisions for the deal to align its ambitions with the Paris aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees with best efforts to not exceed 1.5 degrees C. Tim Johnson, Director of AEF and the lead representative of The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) – the official environmental civil society observer at the global negotiations, said in relation to the UK: “But while today’s deal is applauded, this international effort falls well short of the effort required to bring UK aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act. With a decision on a new runway expected later this month, the UK’s ambition for aviation emissions must match the ambition of the Climate Change Act, and not simply the ICAO global lowest common denominator of carbon neutral growth from 2020. The ICAO scheme could make a contribution towards the ambition of the Climate Change Act, but it does not solve the whole problem.”

Click here to view full story…

Report shows EU’s ‘imperfect’ ETS still outperforms draft UN aviation deal on aviation CO2

When in April 2014 the EU agreed, reluctantly, to “stop the clock” on its inclusion of aviation in the ETS (Emissions Trading System) it was on the condition that this limiting of the scheme would be re-assessed in 2017, depending if ICAO had come up with an effective scheme to restrict aviation CO2 by then. Currently the EU ETS only includes carbon from flights within, (not to and from) the EU. But the deal that ICAO is likely to sign up to next month looks as if it will fail, by being too small in its scope, voluntary not obligatory, and depending on unknown biofuels and technologies in future, no environmental safeguards, as well as unreliable carbon offsets which may not in practice cut CO2 emissions. It will not meet ICAO’s stated goal of “carbon neutral growth” from 2020. Therefore, as the ICAO scheme does not meet the requirements of the EU, in order to suspend its ETS, the EU may find it necessary to revert to its full ETS system, to include flights out of (maybe also into) the EU as well as flights within the EU. The EU needs to ensure it gets agreement through ICAO that it can continue to include aviation in its ETS. The ETS scheme had its faults, but used emissions allowances instead of dubious offsets, was binding instead of voluntary, and include all CO2 emissions. To be fully effective, the cap on aviation carbon in the EU scheme needs to reduce each year. A new report “Aviation ETS – gaining altitude” sets out the details of how the ETS could work in future.

Click here to view full story…

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Professor Alice Larkin: Expanding Heathrow flies in the face of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Professor Larkin, an expert on climate policy, says measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel, such as the 3rd Heathrow runway, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and are inconsistent with tackling climate change.  In the past we have slightly limited the growth in UK aviation CO2 by having constraints on Heathrow and Gatwick runway capacity. The government now wants to remove that constraint. Professor Larkin says: “Researchers will need to raise their voices to new levels given this week’s decisions. The upcoming call from the Environmental Audit Committee for evidence of the impacts of the 3rd runway is a welcome opportunity on the horizon, but the government have to be willing to sit up and pay attention to the evidence of climate change scientists and prove their commitment to the Paris Agreement.” It is not enough to depend on future improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency, which have only been incremental. There have been no new, groundbreaking technical solutions to decarbonise the aviation sector. An increase in air travel cannot somehow be compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goals.  All this suggests that climate change science is being overlooked by the UK government to an even greater extent than it was before.
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Expanding Heathrow flies in the face of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

At a cabinet committee on Tuesday, the government approved plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, expanding UK airport capacity. There will be a public consultation on the effects of the expansion before the government makes a final decision as part of a national policy statement on aviation.

Here, Professor Alice Larkin urges the government to pay attention to climate change scientists.

  • So far, we have limited high levels of CO2 growth from the UK’s international flights by maintaining the existing level of airport capacity
  • Improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency have only been incremental
  • The decision, which overlooks climate change science, comes just days before the Paris Agreement comes into force

In the 2000s, our research fed into a heated debate on airport expansion in the UK. Based on some of our work, arguments were made against further airport expansion, on the grounds that this would be at odds with climate change commitments. Just a few years on, with an additional 180 Giga Tonnes of CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere, global climate change policy objectives have been strengthened, and air travel is still dominated by the privileged few.

Yet this week, the UK Government approved a third runway at Heathrow that will expand capacity and support further passenger growth. It would be reasonable then to ask some questions.

Has there been a new, groundbreaking technical solution to decarbonise the aviation sector? Can an increase in air travel somehow sit comfortably alongside the Paris Agreement’s goals? Did we just get the maths wrong the first time around? Sadly, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding ‘no’.

Whilst there have been improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency, these have been incremental. Alternative fuels continue to be researched, but their mainstream global penetration to propel civil aircraft remains decades away – and not just for technical reasons.

The only real saving grace from the climate perspective is that growth in UK-related passenger numbers has been lower than previously forecast. This has been partly due to the global economic downturn and also, in-part, due to a constraint on airport expansion. In other words, we’ve been somewhat successful in limiting high levels of CO2 growth from the UK’s international flights by maintaining the existing level of airport capacity.

All this suggests that climate change science is being overlooked to an even greater extent than it was before, in favour of (poorly evidenced) arguments in support of expanded airport capacity to increase economic growth.

What is particularly shocking about this turn of events, is that this is happening just days before the Paris Agreement comes into force.  The unavoidable reality is that the highly constrained carbon budget that is consistent with the Paris Agreement requires all sectors to urgently reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate away from using fossil fuels. Of course some sectors will achieve this sooner than others, but no sector can be excluded.

Technical and even operational options for decarbonising the aviation sector within a timeframe consistent with the Paris goals remain few and far between. This means that demand-side measures that constrain further growth, and have been constraining growth in the past, must receive much greater attention.

Policy measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel, such as the third runway at Heathrow, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and are inconsistent with tackling climate change. Researchers will need to raise their voices to new levels given this week’s decisions. The upcoming call from the Environmental Audit Committee for evidence of the impacts of the third runway is a welcome opportunity on the horizon, but the government have to be willing to sit up and pay attention to the evidence of climate change scientists and prove their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

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About Alice Larkin

Alice Larkin is Professor in Climate Change and Energy Policy as part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based within the School of Mechanical, Civil and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester.

http://blog.policy.manchester.ac.uk/posts/2016/10/expanding-heathrow-flies-in-the-face-of-the-paris-agreement-on-climate-change/

 

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Gambling our future on airport expansion

Gambling our future on airport expansion

28 Oct 2016

Guest blog: Professor Alice Larkin, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester.

The Paris Agreement is due to come into force on 4th November 2016, with a new ambitious goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C …”.  

The nuanced language of “well below” accompanying the 2°C goal identifies strengthened ambition, and deserves a high profile.  It defines a more constrained available carbon budget, than previous Accords and Protocols.

So what is the importance of the Paris Agreement’s new goals for airport expansion? Well once a constrained carbon budget is defined, modellers can develop a variety of future scenarios for global energy systems that remain ‘in budget’.

These would include obvious elements such as an increase in renewable and very low carbon energy supply-side options and big changes to the levels and patterns of energy use, storage, and energy efficiency.

However, studies almost universally also include highly optimistic assumptions about a new suite of ‘negative emissions technologies’ (NETs) offering a ‘carbon sink’ to balance carbon sources in the second half of the century.

This balancing is considered necessary from a mathematical perspective because some sectors are assumed to be too difficult to decarbonise in an appropriate timescale – air travel is one such sector. Yet recent attention drawn to a huge reliance on NETs highlights the significant risks posed assuming these interventions can be deployed at the necessary rate and scale.  Gambling our future on airport expansion

Aircraft are extremely difficult to decarbonise, which is why research illustrates that demand-side measures have a key role to play in minimising aviation CO2. If NETs prove to offer only marginal cuts to CO2 in future, the damage will have been done.

Short-term measures to tackle rising CO2 through minimising the demand for fossil fuels now are essential. A moratorium on airport expansion is one such mechanism, yet the opposite decision has just been made in relation to Heathrow expansion.

The consequences of which will have global ramifications in the short-term, enduring well beyond our lifetimes.

http://www.buildingtalk.com/blog-entry/gambling-our-future-on-airport-expansion/

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See also

 

Statements by Professors Kevin Anderson and Alice Larkin, about how the UK should NOT be building a runway

Professor Larkin said:   “The highly constrained carbon budget that is consistent with the Paris Agreement requires all fossil fuel consuming sectors to urgently accelerate towards full decarbonisation – and while some sectors will achieve this sooner than others, no sector can be excluded. Technical and even operational options for decarbonising the aviation sector within a timeframe consistent with the Paris goals are few and far between. As such, demand-side measures that constrain further growth, must receive much greater attention. Equally, policy measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel such as new runways, particularly within richer nations, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and should be avoided.”

Professor Anderson said:  “The UK Government’s enthusiasm for more airport capacity alongside its clamour for high-carbon shale gas demonstrates a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement. Both of these decisions will lock the UK into ongoing emissions of carbon dioxide for decades to come, putting short-term convenience and financial gain ahead of long-term and genuinely low-carbon prosperity. Such reckless disregard for the prospects of our own children and the well being of poor and climatically vulnerable communities arises from either a scientifically illiterate Government or one that cares nothing for its legacy. Whichever it may be, these are undesirable characteristics of a government facing the climate change and other strategic challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Click here to view full story…

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AEF damning assessment of Heathrow recommendation and its environmental impacts

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) is the main group in the UK assessing UK aviation policy for its environment impacts, with several decades of expertise. They have had a first look at the government’s Heathrow decision, and are underwhelmed. Some of their comments: On CO2 the DfT says that keeping UK carbon emissions to within the 37.5 MtCO2 cap while adding a Heathrow runway effectively cannot be done. AEF says the DfT now has no commitment to the 37.5 MtCO2 cap, and just includes vague references to the ICAO global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management -though both measures are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling.

AEF said on carbon emissions: 

As AEF has consistently pointed out, and as the Committee on Climate Change reminded Government today, there is no plan for delivering the aviation emissions limit required to deliver the Climate Change Act either with or without a new runway.

The last time we had a government supporting runway expansion, it specified that this would be conditional on the sector’s CO2 emissions being on course not to exceed 37.5 Mt by 2050, in line with the CCC’s advice. Today’s announcement included no such commitment, instead making vague references to the global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management – both measures that are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling, and that won’t bring us anywhere near to achieving the minimum level of ambition required under UK law.

So what does the Government have to say about how the CCC’s recommendation will be met? The answer is deeply buried in a technical paper released alongside the announcement which states that the Airports Commission’s carbon-capped scenario “is helpful for understanding the varying effects of constraining aviation CO2 emissions on aviation demand and the impact on the case for airport expansion but was described by the AC as ‘unrealistic in future policy terms’”. In other words it can’t be done.

Click here to view full story…

 

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Caroline Lucas: “The expansion of Heathrow is unforgivable – we will fight this decision”

Caroline Lucas, a long standing opponent of aviation expansion due to its carbon emissions, has expressed her anger at the government’s decision to back Heathrow. She says: “This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year – this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly.” … “the Government is ignoring the abundant evidence. .. For those of us who care about Britain’s role in combating climate change, and for people living in west London, today’s decision is a disaster.” … “We are living under a Government that says it wants to allow people to “take back control”, yet it is pressing ahead with a decision that will inflict more noise and pollution on a local community that’s already suffering…”  … “average CO2 levels are now more than 400 parts per million. The effects of burning more and more dirty fossil fuels are well known…” …  “Theresa May knows all of this of course and, at times, she appears to really care. Earlier this year she proudly told the House of Commons that the UK is the “second best country in the world for tackling climate change”. That’s why her decision back expansion at Heathrow is so unforgivable. ” … “today’s decision puts a wrecking ball through the UK’s climate change commitments.” … “we need practical proposals [like aa frequent-flyer levy] to keep aviation at levels that are compatible with fighting climate change, and which require no new runways.”
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The expansion of Heathrow is unforgivable – we will fight this decision

This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year – this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly

By Caroline Lucas @CarolineLucas   (Independent – Voices)

25 October 2016

Heathrow expansion protesters gather outside Parliament Reclaim the Power
It’s finally been confirmed: the Government is ignoring the abundant evidence and backing expansion of Europe’s biggest airport. For those of us who care about Britain’s role in combating climate change, and for people living in west London, today’s decision is a disaster.

This will directly affect those living around Heathrow, with increased pollution, noise and daily disruption to their lives – and it will benefit only the wealthier fliers, with just 15 per cent of UK residents accounting for seven out of 10 of all flights taken. This is not a win for families who jet off on a holiday once a year (and most people don’t even do that); this is to pacify the needs of those privileged individuals who fly regularly.

We are living under a Government that says it wants to allow people to “take back control”, yet it is pressing ahead with a decision that will inflict more noise and pollution on a local community that’s already suffering – all for the benefit of aviation lobbyists and the business-class set.

The expansion announcement today comes days after leading scientists said that the world is entering a new “climate change reality”, as average carbon dioxide levels are now more than 400 parts per million. The effects of burning more and more dirty fossil fuels are well known, but worth reiterating. From an increase in devastating flooding in Britain, to wildfires in Indonesia and more hurricanes hitting the Caribbean – climate change affects everyone’s lives, but hits the most vulnerable communities hardest.

Theresa May knows all of this of course and, at times, she appears to really care. Earlier this year she proudly told the House of Commons that the UK is the “second best country in the world for tackling climate change”. That’s why her decision back expansion at Heathrow is so unforgivable. And let’s just be clear about this: today’s decision puts a wrecking ball through the UK’s climate change commitments. This decision comes in the same week that the UK Government is in court for failing to tackle illegal air pollution limits.

Lifting people into in the air requires a lot of energy, and there’s no prospect of that energy coming from low carbon sources anytime soon. That’s why, unlike every other part of the economy, aviation isn’t expected to reduce its emissions. This already generous exemption is now set to be magnified many times over. If we’re serious about climate change, we would need to make even deeper carbon cuts in other parts of the economy (and we’re already failing to do that).

Another solution would be to force Northern airports to limit flights and bring in a substantially higher tax on flying – are the Government going to take those actions? Of course not.

Those of us who want to reduce the impact of flying cannot just wish away increased demand – instead we need practical proposals to keep aviation at levels that are compatible with fighting climate change, and which require no new runways.

One such proposal, a frequent-flyer levy, would reduce demand for airport expansion through a fairer tax on flights that increases depending on the number of flights you take. It’s clear that the small minority of wealthy individuals who fly often are fuelling the demand for new runways. The proposed frequent-flyer levy would be a fair way to manage demand – the crucial missing part of any aviation policy serious about tackling climate change and protecting local communities.

Another alternative would be to redirect investment away from airport expansion and into improving railways and reducing fares – to end the ridiculous situation where flying is often cheaper than taking the train to nearby destinations.

Ministers know very well that airport expansion, at Heathrow or anywhere else for that matter, will leave our climate change commitments in tatters – and we need to make sure they know that climate campaigners and local residents have absolutely no plans to give up this battle.

Caroline Lucas is co-leader of the Green Party
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/heathrow-expansion-gatwick-green-party-theresa-may-carbon-emissions-wealthy-a7379136.html

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See also

John Sauven: The decision to back a 3rd Heathrow runway is a grotesque, cynical, folly

Writing in the Guardian, the Director of Greenpeace UK – John Sauven – explains why the government approval of a Heathrow runway is so cynical. The reality, which is well known by the government, and the “independent” Airports Commission, is that UK aviation carbon emissions are on target to far exceed the level at which they need to be, under the 2008 Climate Change Act. Adding an extra runway only exacerbates that problem. If the UK was half serious about its global obligations to cut CO2 (which it does not appear to be) the simplest solution would be not to build a new runway – which needlessly raises emissions. But instead, as the job of the Commission was to get a Heathrow runway to appear possible and desirable, they made some obscure assumptions (well hidden in endless supporting documents) which were not intended to be understood. Realising CO2 would be too high, they postulated a sky high price of carbon. That would mean the price of air tickets would rise dramatically, cutting exactly the extra demand the runway had been built to cater for. Otherwise, either the emissions of the regional airports would have to be cut, to let the monster Heathrow continue to expand – or else the UK just abandons any pretence of an aviation carbon target. Both are cynical, demonstrating the absence of any credible aviation carbon policy. It demonstrates that the government is at best half hearted on climate commitments.

Click here to view full story…

AEF damning assessment of Heathrow recommendation and its environmental impacts

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) is the main group in the UK assessing UK aviation policy for its environment impacts, with several decades of expertise. They have had a first look at the government’s Heathrow decision, and are underwhelmed. Some of their comments: On CO2 the DfT says that keeping UK carbon emissions to within the 37.5 MtCO2 cap while adding a Heathrow runway effectively cannot be done. AEF says the DfT now has no commitment to the 37.5 MtCO2 cap, and just includes vague references to the ICAO global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation agreed this month, and to potential efficiencies arising from better air traffic management -though both measures are (effectively) already taken into account in the CCC’s modelling. On air pollution, the DfT says “a new runway at Heathrow is deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the ‘National air quality plan’, published in December 2015.” But AEF says Government appears to have little idea what those mitigation measures will be, and the deliverability of the plan has already, therefore, been questioned through the courts. And on noise AEF says the noise impact will depend heavily on the precise location of flight paths, which are unknown.

Click here to view full story…

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