Talks in Geneva target a carbon emissions cap on international aviation and shipping

Work is progressing on text for the climate talks in Paris in December. In Geneva work has started, with representatives from over 190 countries, on negotiating texts on how there could be caps on carbon emissions from international aviation and shipping.  The EU has been supportive of this sort of cap, having been the first to have an Emissions Trading System including aviation, till the ETS was scuppered last year.  Brussels eventually had to cut the range of the ETS to only include flights within the EU, after trade threats from the USA, China and others. Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of CO2, and the Paris negotiating text might encourage the global aviation industry to levy funds to be used to help poor countries adapt to climate change. However, any measures to limit aviation CO2 emissions are expected to be opposed by many countries. Including shipping and aviation emissions in a global climate deal has proved difficult in the past.  If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions. ICAO is working on a proposal for some form of market based  measure on carbon, due to be considered in 2016. Bill Hemmings, of T&E, said: “ICAO has promised action by 2016 but operates in complete secrecy.”
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Talks target emissions cap on airline and shipping industries

Pilita Clark in Geneva

12.2.2015 (Financial Times)

A move to cap emissions from airline and shipping companies has emerged in talks on the global climate change agreement to be signed in Paris at the end of this year.

The idea of imposing carbon pollution targets on each industry has appeared in the lengthy negotiating text that representatives from more than 190 countries began working on in Geneva this week.

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Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping programme manager at the Brussels-based Transport & Environment research organisation, said that with aviation and shipping each accounting for about 3% of global C02 emissions, and with air travel in particular growing fast, it was time both sectors faced targets to limit their pollution.

Bill commented: “How can we have large countries like China and the US, and developing countries making commitments to cut their emissions while these two sit on their hands? …The issue is not even on the agenda of the IMO, the UN’s shipping body. ICAO has promised action by 2016 but operates in complete secrecy. Both sectors are exempt from fuel tax so a levy on emissions to help countries adapt to climate change makes great sense.”

……. full FT article at

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/11d5e37c-b2c0-11e4-b234-00144feab7de.html#ixzz3RYZXd5O

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Where are the bunkers on the road to Paris?

In the final years of negotiations for the new climate agreement, it’s still not clear if it will include the fastest growing emissions sources — international aviation and shipping, also known as bunker fuels.

CO2 emissions from international shipping and aviation were about 950 megatonnes (MT) and 705MT respectively in 2012; combined they account for as much emissions as Germany, the sixth largest emitting country.

When indirect effects are taken into account, the impact could already be approaching 10% of global climate forcing. In the almost two decades since the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) started discussing greenhouse gases, little concrete action has materialised and, scarily, these emissions are on course to double or even treble by 2030.

If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions.

Such high emissions from the international transport sector would make it all but impossible to limit aggregate global warming to less than 2ºC as it would place an impossible emission reduction burden on other sectors.

IMO and ICAO discussions have seen limited progress.

Carbon neutral growth from 2020 is the most ambitious goal that the aviation sector has proposed, allowing emissions to grow to 2020 and then offsetting growth beyond that. This is far short of what is required for a 2ºC pathway, and there is little assurance that even these goals would be implemented.

International shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050. The IMO suspended consideration of market-based measures in 2011, and the question of setting a global cap on shipping emissions is not on the IMO agenda. Efficiency regulations agreed for new ships will likely not have a significant impact for several decades, and the shipping industry is now fighting any new measures.

At COP 21, the UNFCCC should mandate the setting of robust and meaningful reduction targets, as well as the adoption of mitigation measures that will ensure these sectors begin to play a fair and equal role in addressing dangerous climate change. Eco welcomes the introduction of text in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) yesterday which demands the setting of targets for emissions from these sectors consistent with staying below 2ºC.

http://www.transportenvironment.org/newsroom/blog/where-are-bunkers-road-paris

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See also

UN climate negotiations need to get agreed emissions targets for international aviation and shipping

Bill Hemmings, of Transport & Environment, writing in Euractiv after the recent UNFCCC talks, says the relevant UN bodies should identify an emission reduction pathway, and ensure that any measures adopted are done so in a fair and equitable way. The UNFCCC negotiating text now includes wording calling for the setting of emission reduction targets for international shipping and aviation, in the context of the objective of the agreement – which is to limit any temperature increase to 2 degrees. There will be more dialogue between parties on why this wording should be included in the Paris Agreement at COP 21. In a “business-as-usual” scenario, CO2 emissions from shipping could increase by up to 250% and from aviation by 270% by 2050. These would account for one-quarter of all allowable emissions under a 2-degree scenario in 2050 and one-third under a 1.5-degree scenario. Despite this reality, the IMO and ICAO have a long record of inaction. ICAO says it will agree by 2016 the details of a measure to deliver carbon neutral growth in 2020, but even that is uncertain and it will depend heavily on the quality of offsets used. However, in any case “carbon neutral growth” by the aviation industry globally will be insufficient to meet a 2-degree scenario.

Click here to view full story…

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Background: UNFCCC

Geneva is hosting a conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from February 8-13, 2015. The UNFCCC, a UN secretariat based in Bonn, Germany, has 196 parties – including virtually all of the world’s nations – and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting industrial heat-trapping gases that warm the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

The Geneva conference is meant to be a negotiating session to prepare for the climate summit in Paris in December. The summit is meant to keep the planet from overheating by stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will limit further human-induced climate change. The aim of the six-day conference in the Swiss city is to prepare a streamlined negotiating text for the summit. One highlight will be talks about something called “intended nationally determined contributions”, which are publicly announced commitments that are meant to put the planet on a path towards a low-carbon future. Under the UNFCCC, virtually all the world’s nations would commit to a new climate agreement in Paris based on these contributions.

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/behind-the-scenes-at-the-geneva-climate-talks/41268370?rss=true

 

 

 

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Gaping holes in Airports Commission’s analysis of airport expansion conceal potential environmental disaster

The Aviation Environment Federation, in their response to the Airports Commission consultation, says there are gaping holes in the Airports Commission’s analysis of airport expansion. These conceal a potential environmental disaster. AEF says the Commission ran out of time to complete key pieces of research on greenhouse gas emissions and on air quality. AEF is calling on political parties not to accept the Commission’s recommendations until all relevant evidence has been gathered and made available for public scrutiny. The gaps in the Commission’s analysis include not completing local air quality modelling in time for the consultation, despite the Commission’s assessment objective being “to improve air quality in line with EU air quality laws”. Also not following the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation that the economic impact assessment of expansion must include the costs associated with meeting UK aviation emissions targets (which a new runway would probably breach); and  not providing any analysis of how noise impacts would vary if different assumptions were made about the location of flight paths. 
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The AEF press release is here

Green lobby group slams airport expansion plans

By Phil Davies
3 February 2015 

 

Gaping holes in the Airports Commission’s analysis of airport expansion conceal a potential environmental disaster, a green group claims today.

The Aviation Environment Federation suggests on the closing day of the commission’s final public consultation that a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would be an “environmental disaster”.

It claims that the commission ran out of time to complete key pieces of research on greenhouse gas emissions and on air quality.

The AEF is calling on political parties not to accept the commission’s recommendations until all relevant evidence has been gathered and made available for public scrutiny.

In its response to the consultation, AEF criticised the commission for leaving “major gaps” in its evidence, notably:

  • Failure to complete local air quality modelling in time for the consultation, despite the Commission’s assessment objective being “to improve air quality in line with EU air quality laws”
  • Failure to follow the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation that the economic impact assessment of expansion must include the costs associated with meeting emissions targets, and
  • Failure to provide any analysis of how noise impacts would vary if different assumptions were made about the location of flight paths, especially as these have been labelled ‘indicative and not representative’.

Deputy director Cait Hewitt said: “A new runway at any of the shortlisted sites would be an environmental disaster, the commission’s evidence suggests. But without a proper environmental analysis having been completed, the next government will struggle to get an accurate picture of the full costs and benefits of expansion.

“We are very disappointed that despite the thousands of pages of analysis the commission has published on its short-listed proposals, the environmental analysis it committed to undertaking has not been finished in time. By its own admission, the commission has not completed a detailed enough assessment of the impacts of a new runway either on air quality or on the cost of meeting national carbon commitments.

“The environmental assessment presented so far is a patchwork of often damning, though incomplete, evidence about the impact of expansion, which could take place in areas described by the Commission as already suffering from ‘environmental stress’.

“Several new pieces of evidence have appeared during the consultation, meanwhile, sometimes within weeks of the deadline, leaving little time for the public to respond, while gaping holes in the analysis suggest that the overall environmental impact may have been significantly underestimated.”

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2015/02/03/53042/green-lobby-group-slams-airport-expansion-plans.html#disqus_thread

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The AEF press release is here

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Three new briefings ask “Can the UK build a new runway, and stay within the aviation carbon cap?”

The Airports Commission gives the impression that the issue of carbon emissions has been fully considered, and that a new runway can be accommodated within UK carbon targets. However, that is far from the truth.  It is by no means clear that the UK aviation could stay within the 37.5 MtCO2 cap that is needed, in order for the UK as a whole to meet its legal climate obligations. Indeed, the Airports Commission itself is aware of this problem, and its own figures show the carbon emissions from UK aviation far exceeding the cap, over many years. For the clearest view of this, see the Commission’s interim report, Technical Appendix, December 2013, Pages 71 & 72. Though there will be carbon efficiencies in coming decades, in CO2 per passenger kilometre, the scale of those improvements is unknown and many are just hypothetical. The widely accepted assumption has been that the matter is just which airport gets a runway – rather than whether a runway could be built at all. The carbon situation makes it clear that the debate is still very much “IF” a runway should be built, and not merely “WHERE?”  Three new briefings help set out the facts, and show that building a new runway would mean UK aviation exceeds its carbon cap.
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1.  AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) 

“The carbon gap in the Airports Commission’s new runway analysis”

 
AEF has 3 major concerns about the Commission’s approach to analysing the climate change implications of airport expansion. These are set out, with their  recommendations on what the Airports Commission needs to do before publishing its final report.
AEF is urging everybody responding to the Airports Commission’s consultation, to include these 3 recommendations in their response.


2. Short briefing from AirportWatch

“Airports Commission’s Recommendations Inconsistent with Climate Target”

The briefing shows how the Airports Commission’s recommendations would not be consistent with the CO2 target for UK aviation, unless there is major change in aviation policy. The Commission will do further work on theoretical increases in the price of carbon, to attempt to keep aviation emissions at 37.5 MtCO2. However, if this is done, the net economic benefit of a runway would become negative, fatally undermining the Commission’s runway recommendation


3. Longer briefing from AirportWatch

“Aviation carbon emissions, a new runway and the Airports Commission”

The briefing looks at the actual carbon figures, of current and forecast carbon emissions by the UK aviation industry, and anticipated carbon efficiencies in future decades. It assesses whether these can be kept below the 37.5 MtCO2 cap, without a new runway – and with one. The briefing takes the form of questions and answers, so dividing the issue into sections, for clarity.  The data shows that building new runway in the South East is very likely to be incompatible with the UK’s carbon targets, and sets out why.


Can the UK build a new runway, and stay within the aviation carbon cap?

28.1.2015 (AirportWatch)

The Airports Commission gives the impression that the issue of carbon emissions has been fully considered, and that a new runway can be accommodated within UK carbon targets.

However, that is not the case. It is by no means clear that the UK aviation could stay within the 37.5 MtCO2 that is needed, in order for the UK as a whole to meet its legal climate obligations.

Indeed, the Airports Commission itself is aware of this problem, and its own figures show the carbon emissions from UK aviation far exceeding the cap, over many years. For the clearest view of this, see the Commission’s interim report, Technical Appendix, December 2013, Pages 71  and 72

Of course, there will be improvements in efficiency, and reductions in carbon emissions per passenger kilometre. The scale of those improvements is unknown. Carbon efficiencies are postulated from future generations of aircraft that are not yet on the drawing board, let alone nearing production. Biofuels that are, frankly, unlikely to be commercially viable are anticipated. Carbon trading systems of which there is no prospect at present are presumed.

The widely accepted assumption has been that the matter is merely of which airport gets a runway – rather than whether a runway could be built at all. The carbon situation makes it clear that the debate is still very much “IF” a runway should be built, and not merely “WHERE?”

The Airports Commission has not yet set out with meaningful detail what future policies would be needed, in order to limit emissions to the aviation cap – while adding new runway capacity.

If UK aviation cannot keep within its carbon cap, it is likely that the growth of regional airports would need to be constrained – or alternatively the new runway could only be partly used. Neither would be popular, or easy to achieve.

If UK aviation exceeds its carbon cap, it would be necessary for other sectors of the economy to make even steeper cuts in emissions (they are already having to make reductions in carbon emissions of 85% on their 1990 level, by 2050, in order to allow the aviation sector to effectively double its emissions over the same period).

In a nutshell, the carbon emissions from UK aviation are likely to exceed the 37.5 MtCO2 cap by 2050, even without a new runway.

With a new runway, the emissions from UK aviation will exceed it by even more.

The simplest and cheapest (as well as most effective) way to prevent UK aviation from exceeding its carbon limit is not to build another runway.


 

As one AirportWatch member put it:

The thinking seems to have gone like this:

1) our political masters want airport expansion
2) the same people are committed to capping and cutting carbon emissions
3) we know that we cannot expand airports without breaking the carbon commitments
therefore we are going to ignore the carbon emissions and carry on with the process of deciding where to expand airports because we realise there is more money/political power in that than in actually delivering on the empty promises of politicians on climate change, and the problems we push down the line are someone else’s.
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Responding to the Airports Commission consultation:

People may find some of this information useful, in writing responses to the Airports Commission consultation (ends 3rd February).   The  Commission has asked for information on what they have got wrong, and what they have missed out.  The carbon issues fit into both those categories.

Responses can be made by email to  airports.consultation@systra.com  and full details on how to send in a response are at the end of the Consultation document. 

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Aviation Environment Federation sets out 3 main gaps in the Airports Commission’s assessment of CO2 from UK aviation with a new runway

In the rush to build a new runway in the south east, the vital issue of whether or not a new runway would be compatible with national climate change commitments has been largely overlooked.  The Airports Commission gives the impression that the issue has been fully considered. In fact, it has not. The AEF has set out 3 simple points on which the Commission needs to answer questions – and which people writing responses to the consultation should include. These relate to the accuracy of CO2 forecasts; the lack of any policies to build a runway and still keep UK aviation CO2 down to the required level; and the lack of any assessment of how much less of an economic benefit a runway might be, if the carbon was properly factored into the calculations. AEF suggests raising these. On forecasts, the Commission should “Explain why its CO2 emissions forecasts are lower than the Government’s latest forecasts, what assumptions are made and how sensitive to the results are to them.” On policy it should:  “Set out in meaningful detail what policy developments would be required in order to limit emissions to the aviation cap while building new capacity.” And on cost-benefit it should “Fully include the economy-wide cost of keeping national aviation emissions to within 37.5 Mt in its cost benefit analyses.” 
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The carbon gap in the Airports Commission’s new runway analysis

A key issue in the airport expansion debate is whether or not a new runway would be compatible with national climate change commitments. The Airports Commission gives the impression that the issue has been fully considered, but in fact a number of questions remain to be answered.

We have three major concerns about the Commission’s approach to analysing the climate change implications of airport expansion. Below each issue we have given our recommendations of what the Airports Commission needs to do before publishing its final report. We would urge everybody responding to the Airports Commission’s consultation, which closes on the 3rd February, to include our three recommendations in their response to questions 4, 5 or 6.

Issue one: Forecasts

The Airports Commission has produced its own forecasts of carbon dioxide emissions from aviation that are lower than official forecasts from the Department for Transport.

No explanation has been provided for the discrepancy, which applies both to national level forecasts of aviation and to the anticipated (no new runway) ‘baseline’ emissions for Heathrow and Gatwick. As a result, we are concerned about the reliability of the Commission’s forecasts of emissions from a new runway.

What the Airports Commission should do: Explain why its CO2 emissions forecasts are lower than the Government’s latest forecasts, what assumptions are made and how sensitive to the results are to them

Issue two: policies to reduce emissions

Even with lower emissions forecasts, the Airports Commission’s own work has shown that building a new runway would be inconsistent with UK climate change commitments unless new, unspecified action was taken by Government to cap aviation emissions.

The sustainability assessment for each short-listed scheme predicts that national aviation emissions would be higher than the level consistent with the Climate Change Act if the runway scheme proceeds, even if aviation is included in a carbon trading scheme.

The Commission has claimed that working out what additional policy action would be needed to limit emissions (new taxes or planning restrictions on other airports, for example) is outside its remit, as is, indeed, assessing the likelihood that even carbon trading policies will be successfully extended to cover aviation.

What the Airports Commission should do: Set out in meaningful detail what policy developments would be required in order to limit emissions to the aviation cap while building new capacity

Issue three: Economic analysis

The economic analysis of the shortlisted expansion options does not include the economic costs of restraining greenhouse gas emissions from UK aviation to a level compatible with the Climate Change Act.

The Committee on Climate Change, the Government’s official climate advisers, told the Airports Commission in an open letter in 2013:

Given the need to limit aviation demand growth in a carbon constrained world, we recommend that this should be reflected in your economic analysis of alternative investments. For example, for each investment, you should assess whether this would make sense if demand growth were to be limited to 60% by 2050.

The Commission has not completed this analysis, citing technical difficulties and the fact that the carbon component (costs associated with restraining emissions) “would dominate the capacity appraisals”. The Airports Commission’s estimates of the economic benefits that would arise from each its shortlisted schemes are therefore misleadingly high. The admittance by the Airports Commission that it has not included the ‘carbon costs’ in its economic analysis is in an paragraph on page 25 of the consultation document.

What the Airports Commission should do: Fully include the economy-wide cost of keeping national aviation emissions to within 37.5 Mt in its cost benefit analyses, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change. This analysis should be presented prominently in the final report.


Background information from AEF on the importance of climate change in the airport expansion debate is available to download here.

 

http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/01/20/carbon-gap-airports-commissions-new-runway/

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How to respond to the Airports Commission consultation

Responding to the Airports Commission final consultation on a possible new runway

As well as the main consultation document, there are over 55 technical documents, with supporting detail.
It is therefore almost impossible for most people to read all these. In order to help people to make a response, without needing to set aside a week or so of their lives to do so, both HACAN at Heathrow, and GACC at Gatwick, have given guidance on how a simple consultation response can be written.

Responses don‘t have to be long, or technical. Just write your views.

1. First, here are links to the main documents:
The main consultation
document  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381912/AC01_tagged_amend_25_11.pdf

The main consultation documents(the consultation document itself, documents on two Heathrow and on Gatwick runway options) https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/increasing-the-uks-long-termaviation-capacity
The large number of technical supporting documents https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/additional-airport-capacity-consultationsupporting-documents
2. Second, how to actually send in a response:

Responses should be e-mailed to: airports.consultation@systra.com
or by the online form at http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/134578HXHDU

you should get an acknowledgement

Responses can also be submitted by post to:

Airports Commission Consultation
Freepost RTKX-USUC-CXAS
PO Box 1492WokingGU22 2QR

you will not get an acknowledgement
Copy in your elected (and even prospective parliamentary candidates) so they are aware of your views.
The findings of the Commission‘s consultation will be published in a consultation report. This report will include details of the number of responses received and the key topics, points and themes that the consultation generated. The report will alsocontain details of the framework used to analyse the responses.

The Commission will also publish all substantive, technical responses it has received. All these will be published alongside the publication of the Commission‘s final report, due in the summer of 2015.

3. Third, documents from HACAN and from GACC to help with responses:

Heathrow

Heathrow:Airports Commission consultation explained
http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Airports-Commission-Consultation-BriefingExplained.pdf

Heathrow:Consultation Special – guidance on how to respond to the consultation
http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Consultation_Special_by_HACAN_Jan_2015.pdf

10 reasons to oppose a 3rd runway: http://hacan.org.uk/10-reasons-to-oppose-a-3rd-runway/

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Gatwick

Gatwick: The Runway Facts
http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/RUNWAY-FACTS-Gatwick-Unwrapped.pdf
Gatwick Unwrapped -A critical examination of the plansfor a 2nd runway at Gatwick
http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Gatwick-Unwrapped-Jan-2015.pdf

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Carbon diary of reluctant traveller – 77,000 air miles per year for work; 12,000 air miles for holidays …..

In a carbon diary looking at his annual carbon emissions, an American who works for a transport organisation, the ICCT, calculated just how much of the total came from flights. For his job, he travels a lot internationally. The number of  miles for work, to attend meetings to help set emission standards for planes and ships through ICAO, came to 77,000 miles – on 30 flights over 9 work trips, releasing an additional 11 tons of CO2. Other journeys during his year accounted for 11,000 miles from regular commuting trips to the office by train, and another 12,000 miles flown on two family holidays.  Due to a Californian lifestyle, in a warm climate, transport makes up a higher proportion of his annual carbon footprint than for someone living in a cold climate, needing heating (or a hot one, wanting air conditioning). But on the amount from flying, he reflects that this can be seen as a systemic problem, not just an individual one. And as such this means we need governments to develop policies internationally and domestically to impose a price on carbon to curb aviation emissions.  “All this, and more, will be needed given that aviation CO2 emissions are on track to triple by mid-century.” Another blog stresses the need to reduce the demand for flights.
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Carbon diary of reluctant traveler

6.1.2015

By Dan Rutherford  (ICCT – International Council on Clean Transportation)

 

As we enter the new year many of us are in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions. Personally, I take the time to balance my family’s books, mostly financially but from time to time environmentally as well.

So, last week I did a rough calculation of my personal carbon footprint for 2014 using data from our local utility, my own record of travel activity, and emission factors for local transit from the transportation LCA database developed by Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath, and their colleagues, as well as the ICCT’s aircraft performance model.

Doing so helped me put several recent articles on the environmental cost of air travel into perspective.  [See one copied below]. 

First observation: my carbon budget reaffirms that I’m in the right line of work. Transportation – especially the 11,000 miles I commuted to the office by train and the 12,000 miles I flew last year for our two family vacations – accounted for almost 80% of my personal carbon footprint in 2014.

In contrast, my residential energy use was modest, thanks to a mix of personal choice (some investments in energy efficiency and sharing a small home with my family) and luck (being located in Northern California, with its temperate climate and a relatively clean electricity mix). Automobile emissions were low because I only drive on the weekends, and even then in a fuel-efficient car.

In total, my direct energy consumption led to about 3.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted last year, which doesn’t look too bad considering the global average of about 5 metric tons per person, not to mention the 16.5 tons put out by the typical American.

One caveat: my calculation doesn’t take into account carbon emissions due to embodied energy use linked to the production of food and manufactured goods, my share of the built environment, etc., complicating a direct comparison.

Even this figure underestimates how central transportation, especially air travel, is to my carbon footprint because it doesn’t take into account work-related air travel.

As a technical observer to UN agencies that regulate international transportation – the International Civil Aviation Organization for planes, and the International Maritime Organization for ships — I fly regularly to attend meetings to help set emission standards for planes and ships. Last year I flew 77,000 miles on 30 flights over 9 work trips, releasing an additional 11 tons of CO2.

This means that flying for work quadrupled my emissions last year. And this doesn’t take into account emissions of nitrogen oxides, black carbon, and water vapor that likely make a gallon of fuel burned in a plane worse for the global climate than if it were used in a car or truck.

2014 air travel (work trips in blue, personal trips in green). Source: www.gcmap.com

chart: total CO2

 

So what can be done about this? If we’re going to be bluntly honest, in the short term, and on the individual level, not always very much; I can’t take a bus to London, and I can’t not go if I want to do my job.

This is a systemic problem, not an individual one. To be sure, individual travelers can vote with their dollars and choose to fly on less polluting airlines, and we should. ICCT research has shown that in 2013 the least fuel-efficient airline in the US released 27% more CO2 than the most efficient carriers to provide a comparable level of transport service, a gap that can be even larger on individual routes (see the appendix of this study).

If more travelers let that fact influence their planning, the industry will have to take notice. For shorter trips where planes, trains, and automobiles really do compete, getting there and back again by a more efficient mode of travel may be part of the solution, too.

But the fact that this is a systemic problem means that we need governments to develop policies internationally and domestically here in the U.S. to promote more efficient planes and to impose a price on carbon to curb aviation emissions.

Unfortunately, the jury is out about how ambitious policymakers really will be in the near term. Longer-term, larger investments in new technologies such as blended wing body aircraft, open rotor engines, and third generation biofuels will also be important.

All this, and more, will be needed given that aviation CO2 emissions are on track to triple by mid-century at the same time that many developed countries are resolving to reduce their emissions by 80% in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

The fact that to succeed we have to tackle this as a systemic problem doesn’t mean that personal choice won’t come into play as well.

The days of the “road warrior” business traveler are numbered, if we’re serious about reducing GHG emissions from aviation. We — I — need to be thinking harder than ever about whether it’s really that important to be at that meeting in person rather than virtually. (And so do our bosses.).

At some point more of us will likely have to start enjoying the benefits of staying a little closer to home.

http://www.theicct.org/blogs/staff/carbon-diary-reluctant-traveler

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JAN 2, 2015

Every Time You Fly, You Trash The Planet — And There’s No Easy Fix

When the latest international Climate Conference wrapped up in Lima, Peru, last month, delegates boarded their flights home without much official discussion of how the planes that shuttled them to the meeting had altered the climate.

Aircraft currently contribute about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. That might not seem like much, but if the aviation industry were a country, it would be one of the world’s top 10 emitters of CO2. And its emissions are projected to grow between two and four times by 2050 without policy interventions.

Left unchecked, aviation emissions could help push global warming over the 2 degrees celsius line. But cutting aviation’s impact poses a daunting challenge.

“Aviation is a global industry. People want global solutions,” said Daniel Rutherford, an environmental engineer at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), [author of the article above] an independent nonprofit.

Planes often take off in one country and land in another, making country-by-country regulations impractical. For this reason, the task of addressing aviation’s climate consequences has fallen to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations agency in charge of negotiating aviation agreements.

Planes don’t just release carbon dioxide, they also emit nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and black carbon, as well as water vapor that can form heat-trapping clouds, said Rutherford, who serves as a technical observer to ICAO’s working groups on climate issues. These emissions take place in the upper troposphere, where their effects are magnified. When this so-called radiative forcing effect is taken into account, aviation emissions produce about 2.7 times the warming effects of CO2 alone, according to estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Atmosfair, a German organization that sells “offsets” for people looking to compensate for the flights they take, offers a calculator that takes radiative forcing into account. Its calculations show that a roundtrip flight from, say, Denver to New York produces the equivalent of nearly a year’s worth of emissions from a car, and more than the annual emissions of an average person living in India.

 

[ The distance between Denver and New York is about 1625 miles (about 2615 km)  – which is around the same distance as London to Athens (1484 miles). ]

aschwanden-feature-aschwanden-aviation-1

Basic physics means there’s no way around expending fuel to get a plane in the air. “Aircraft are heavy, so it takes a lot of energy to get them off the ground,” said Alice Bows-Larkin, an atmospheric scientist at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.

New aircraft designs can help, but even when new technologies come along, they may take years to reach critical mass in the fleet, because airplanes can last 30 years or more. (And aircraft retired from U.S. fleets often remain in the air when they’re acquired by airlines elsewhere.)

Fuel represents airlines’ No. 1 cost, so they’re highly motivated to optimize fuel efficiency, said Nancy Young, vice president for environment at Airlines for America, an industry trade group. American carriers have already posted impressive efficiency gains of 120 percent since 1978, and that means there isn’t much low-hanging fruit left.

Undaunted, ICAO has pledged to increase fleet fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent per year up to 2020, and it aims for “carbon-neutral growth” after that, with the ultimate goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2050. The plan depends on improvements in three areas — fuels, aircraft technology and operations — as well as the introduction of so called “market-based mechanisms,” such as carbon offsets.

On the fuels front, work is underway to develop jet fuel from alternative sources such as algae, switch grass and camelina, but it’s uncertain whether these fuels can be created at a rate that meets demand. In 2011, Lufthansa used biofuel on more than 1,100 short-haul flights, but it halted the program after failing to find a reliable source of the fuel. Still, other efforts are underway. United Airlines will start using biofuel on flights out of Los Angeles beginning in the first quarter of 2015 and Southwest also just inked a deal to purchase an alternative fuel made from organic waste.

Meanwhile, incremental changes to aircraft, such as winglets (wing tips that point upward, to reduce drag) and revamped jet engines, are expected to improve fuel efficiency by about 15 to 25 percent by 2020, said Rutherford, the ICCT engineer. [Over about 10 + years or so – ie. a bit over 1.5% perhaps].

Added together with other improvements and more radical aircraft designs, such as a blended wing design that integrates the aircraft body into the wing, these new technologies could eventually triple efficiency, he said.

Operations also offer the potential for gains. The FAA’s NextGen navigation system aims to improve traffic flow through airspace and airports by ensuring that planes are routed via the most efficient path, and by switching over to satellite, rather than ground-based radar navigation systems. One NextGen initiative, the Seattle Greener Skies project, is expected to cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking 4,100 cars off the road.

Despite these promising developments, the numbers show that ICAO’s emissions targets will be impossible to achieve. ICAO readily acknowledges this, which is why it has agreed to develop a global market-based measure to address emissions, a plan its members agreed to at their 2013 assembly in Montreal. The plan would allow the aviation sector to buy the right to emit greenhouse gases from other industries, in the form of carbon credits.1Such a plan is absolutely necessary if ICAO is to meet its targets, because nothing else can bring emissions into line.

The charts below (taken from a report by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University) show the emission reductions projected for various combinations of approaches: technology and operations, biofuel and emissions trading (MBM-ETS, for market-based measures and emissions trading systems in the chart). These approaches are compared to three objectives (based on the ICAO plan) — a 2 percent per year gain in efficiency, carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and a reduction to 2005 emission levels. Even added together, none of these approaches comes close to meeting the latter two goals.

anim7SUB

The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) was set to include aviation emissions, which would have forced U.S. airlines that take off and land in the EU to participate. But after Congress and President Obama blocked American carriers from complying with the rules, the EU backed off.

Despite such political resistance, the U.S. may soon enact new limits on aviation emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency is working on rules to address carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft after environmental groups forced the agency’s hand by suing to regulate aviation emissions as pollutants. The EPA is currently scheduled to propose its findings in late April this year and then make final determinations sometime in the spring of 2016. The U.S. is responsible for about a third of global aviation emissions, so action by the EPA would be “very significant,” Rutherford said, though how ambitious the EPA’s standards might be remains an open question.

Young’s group expects that the EPA standards will align with the CO2 standards ICAO is currently formulating, due for release in 2016. “There’s no one silver bullet — it’s silver buckshot,” she said. “You have to shoot a lot of these pellets.” She said reducing emissions can be done without making flights prohibitively expensive.

One option that’s not part of ICAO’s plan is reducing demand for flights. Doing so might sound radical, but a sober look at the numbers shows that it may be necessary.

Alice Bows-Larkin recently published an analysis concluding that the aviation industry is placing too much hope on emissions trading to help it attain CO2 reductions that would keep it in line with the 2 degrees goal for limiting global warming. Achieving this goal, she concluded, will require flying less.

“Flight is the most carbon-intensive activity that we can do,” said Bows-Larkin, who hasn’t flown since 2005.

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere today can stick around for a hundred years, and it can’t easily be recaptured. The urgency of the problem requires a solution sooner rather than later, she said. “Time is massively against us.”

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/every-time-you-fly-you-trash-the-planet-and-theres-no-easy-fix/

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See also

American blog “Love and long-distance travel in the time of climate change”

In a thoughtful, soul-searching article by an American climate campaigner, Eve, she sets out her dilemma about flights across the States to visit her family several times each year. About a year earlier, a meteorologist in the US, Eric Holthaus, vowed not to fly again – after he understood just how serious the issue of climate change had become, and how large a part of his personal carbon footprint flying had become. With thousands of other Americans, Eve was influenced by Eric Holthaus. She writes of her difficulties in having lived a typical American life, involving studying and working in places far from home, yet wanting to keep in regular contact with parents and family. She describes the sadness of choosing not going home to visit parents. “It is very, very strange to be in a position now — and I don’t think I’m alone — where I find myself weighing seeing the people I love against my own complicity in the global climate crisis.” And “Never before has our economy been so effortlessly globalized that jobs pull people back and forth across countries and oceans, and never before have we had so much evidence that the systems and habits we’ve created to actually live in that economy are quite literally destroying the planet.”

Click here to view full story…

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Read more »

Aviation industry worldwide faces pressure to make progress on its carbon emissions

Lengthy American article that looks, in a fairly general way, at the likelihood of some mechanism being put in place, in the foreseeable future, to regulate carbon emissions from the aviation industry. The industry is unlikely to achieve the carbon cuts it hoped for from using biofuels. There are only limited efficiencies that can be made by higher load factors and more efficient routing, and other gains are needed from newer aircraft with better engines and lighter materials. However, these will be slow to replace existing planes, due to the economics with improvements only incremental. Air traffic growth is set to triple the industry’s global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  If commercial aviation were a country, it would rank 7th in global greenhouse gas emissions.  Politically, it depends on whether the United Nations ICAO can establish agreement among member states on a regulatory mechanism, which in turn may depend largely on whether the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chooses to regulate aviation emissions.  There is a risk that action taken by governments and industry may be politically feasible but scientifically ineffectual. There is no guarantee that the 2016 ICAO meeting will result in binding obligations.
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Aviation industry faces pressure to stop GHG threat

By Valerie Brown (Climate News Network)

OREGON, 1 January, 2015

“Air traffic growth is set to triple the industry’s global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050”

Emissions from planes are a major clause of climate change, yet they remain unregulated. Can they be curbed in time to protect the planet?

− If commercial aviation were a country, it would rank seventh in global greenhouse gas emissions according to a recent report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

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The aviation industry is growing so quickly that its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected on present trends to triple globally by 2050. The industry itself is committed to reducing its emissions, but technological and political constraints are hindering rapid progress.

Technologically, the fate of aviation GHGs depends on how much more fuel-efficient airplanes can become, and how soon lower-carbon fuels can be made available at a palatable cost. [Not to mention, without competing with other uses for the fuel or resources.  AW note].

Politically, it depends on whether the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) can establish agreement among member states on a regulatory mechanism, which in turn may depend largely on whether – and when – the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chooses to regulate aviation emissions.

A final unknown is whether the sector’s efforts can produce results in time to avoid climate catastrophe.

By 2050,the aviation industry aims to halve its CO2 emissions compared with 2005 levels, says Steve Csonka, executive director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, a US public-private partnership.  [This is largely by buying offsets from other sectors, rather than carbon cuts by the industry itself.  AW note]. 

Falling behind
The group is exploring biomass-derived synthetic jet fuel,  which includes oils from plants and algae, crop and forest product residues, fermented sugars and municipal solid waste.

While this type of fuel can, in principle, be used in jet engines today, Csonka says the most important goal in the near term is to develop alternatives to petroleum-based fuel “at a reasonable price point”. A few airlines are buying alternative fuels at a higher price to encourage the market, Csonka adds, but widespread adoption awaits competitive pricing. [And avoidance of any fuel that competes, directly or indirectly, with human food needs.  AW note].

Aviation fuel efficiency has been increasing, but it is not keeping pace with the sector’s growth. The ICCT report finds there was no improvement between 2012 and 2013, [in US airlines]  and that the gap between the most and least efficient airlines widened − with American Airlines burning 27% more fuel than Alaska Airlines for the same level of service.

This gap suggests the industry could reduce GHG emissions significantly if the least efficient airlines would emulate the most efficient, says Daniel Rutherford, the ICCT’s programme director for aviation and a co-author of its report.

Most of the reductions so far have come from carrying more passengers per flight, replacing old engines and buying new, more efficient planes.

Like most businesses, airlines don’t want to replace equipment until it makes economic sense. Nor does the industry want to be pinned to standards like those in the US auto industry, which would force “airplanes to improve to a certain degree every year or x number of years”, Csonka says.

Limited reductions

Such standards “completely overlook the capital ramifications” for the airlines, he adds, and companies’ profitability is a major factor in the pace at which they can replace old equipment. But the ICCT report suggests that airlines that have spent the most on new, efficient planes are also the most profitable.

Airplanes are at a disadvantage compared with vehicles and power stations. At present there are no low-carbon or no-carbon technologies − such as solar, fuel cells, nuclear reactors, electricity, or hydrogen combustion − that will work for aviation. Nor are there market-ready radically different airframe or engine designs.

Fuels derived from plants such as switchgrass, corn and algae can be used in existing engines, but to provide the same energy they need to be “essentially identical” to petroleum-derived kerosene, Csonka says. And if their hydrocarbon structure is the same, burning them will emit the same GHGs.

The advantage of synthetics, Csonka adds, is that “we are pulling recycled carbon out of the biosphere and not out of the ground”, which reduces the net carbon footprint − provided the fuels’ production does not generate too many GHGs itself.  [Except when there are lot of fossil fuel inputs into the production of the fuels, as there are.  AW note].

For the foreseeable future, this is the best that can be expected from alternative fuels. This means there is a limit on how much aviation’s net GHG emissions can be reduced, even with alternative fuels, as long as the commercial airline fleet changes only incrementally and no major technological breakthroughs reach the market.

However, there are new engines, materials and aircraft designs now available that can make a big difference, Rutherford says: “We project that the fuel burn for new aircraft can be reduced by as much as 45% in 2030 [compared with what??]  through pretty aggressive technology and development, better engines, improved aerodynamics and lighter materials.”

Campaigners would like to see regulation obliging the industry to increase efficiency by improving faster.

Aviation needs a global policy and enforcement structure; all major airlines’ aircraft emit GHGs globally. This problem brought the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to its knees in 2014.

The ETS, which came into effect in 2012, charges airlines for their emissions in European Economic Area airspace. When non-EU airlines protested, the European Commission temporarily exempted flights to or from non-EU airports but still charged for emissions within EU airspace.

Washington, one of the most energetic lobbyists against the charges, forbade its airlines by law from paying the EU fees. The US also threatened trade sanctions, and China suspended its orders from European airplane manufacturer Airbus. There is now a moratorium on extra-EU carbon charges, pending the results of the next ICAO meeting in 2016.

No hurry

But despite the EU’s surrender to foreign pressure, many observers think the dispute has increased pressure on the ICAO to devise a meaningful emissions reduction programme.

The ICAO’s actions are expected to be closely co-ordinated with those of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Within the US, GHGs are regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, which requires action if an air pollutant is found to endanger the public. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that GHGs are pollutants. [2007] 

Several US environmental NGOs say the EPA is dragging its feet on deciding “whether emissions cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare”.

It has refused repeated requests for an interview with an expert source and says it does not see the need for an interview. The agency expects to issue any regulations in 2016 − presumably in time for the ICAO meeting.

But there is no doubt that the EPA will have to produce an endangerment finding and eventually issue a regulation, says Vera Pardee, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity who worked on the NGOs’ notice to the EPA.

Politics versus science?

In 2013 the ICAO committed to what the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions calls “an aspirational mid-term goal of zero carbon emissions growth for the aviation industry beginning in 2020”.  [Due largely to buying offsets from sectors that are actually cutting carbon emissions, not from aviation industry cuts. The industry hopes for about 1.5% carbon  efficiency gains per year up to 2020.  AW note ]

In addition, Csonka says, the aviation industry has accepted the notion of “a market-based mechanism to offset if we miss that goal in an international environment. Our industry will have carbon monetised from 2020 onward to some degree.”

Yet time is vital, and there is a risk that action taken by governments and industry may be politically feasible but scientifically ineffectual. There is no guarantee that the 2016 ICAO meeting will result in binding obligations.

In the meantime, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change currently aims at a 40%-70% drop in total global GHG emissions by 2050 to avoid a greater than 2˚C rise in global temperature. In January 2013, climate scientist Thomas Stocker warned in the journal Science [Jan 2013] that delayed action results in the “fast and irreversible shrinking, and eventual disappearance, of the mitigation options with every year of increasing greenhouse gas emissions”.

But the next two years are likely to see a firming up of the aviation industry’s commitment to GHG reductions and some sort of international mechanism to charge for emissions.

There are signs that industry experts and green advocates are cautiously optimistic. “I see the EPA’s domestic regulation of the airlines as a real catalyst for global action,” says Pardee. “If the EPA acts, the rest of the world will have to follow”. And Csonka adds: “The future is somewhat bright.” – Climate News Network

•Valerie Brown, based in Oregon, US, is a freelance science writer focusing on climate change and environmental health. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and Society of Environmental Journalists.

 

http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/aviation-industry-faces-pressure-stop-ghg-threat/

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American blog “Love and long-distance travel in the time of climate change”

In a thoughtful, soul-searching article by an American climate campaigner, Eve, she sets out her dilemma about flights across the States to visit her family several times each year. About a year earlier, a meteorologist in the US, Eric Holthaus, vowed not to fly again – after he understood just how serious the issue of climate change had become, and how large a part of his personal carbon footprint flying had become. With thousands of other Americans, Eve was influenced by Eric Holthaus. She writes of her difficulties in having lived a typical American life, involving studying and working in places far from home,  yet wanting to keep in regular contact with parents and family. She describes the sadness of choosing not going home to visit parents. “It is very, very strange to be in a position now — and I don’t think I’m alone — where I find myself weighing seeing the people I love against my own complicity in the global climate crisis.” And  “Never before has our economy been so effortlessly globalized that jobs pull people back and forth across countries and oceans, and never before have we had so much evidence that the systems and habits we’ve created to actually live in that economy are quite literally destroying the planet.”
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On Twitter

I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I’ve never cried because of a science report before.

Love and long-distance travel in the time of climate change

By Eve Andrews  (Grist – USA)

24 Dec 2014

This is the first time in my life that I’ve spent the holidays in a fairly unfamiliar place, surrounded by fairly unfamiliar people. For Jews, Christmastime can always be a little weird – it’s readily acknowledged that Christmas is a holiday that everyone observes to some extent, simply by nature of everything being closed, but my family really does not. We’ve always celebrated Hanukkah, which is even more awkwardly placed than Christmas relative to Thanksgiving, and yet I’ve always been able to be with family for at least part of it, because I’ve never lived 2,500 miles away from home before.

Since moving to Seattle, it takes me about seven hours (there are no direct flights) to fly to my hometown of Pittsburgh — the city in which I was born and raised, where my parents and sister and brother-in-law live, and that will always, always hold a not-insignificant piece of my heart. I know some people who dread returning to the cities that have known them as bratty children and awkward adolescents, and I am not one of them. For all of my (admittedly brief) adult life, I have cried through each takeoff from the PIT tarmac, bound for whichever city I called home at the time.

When talking with my parents about travel plans to come home this year around the holidays, I figured I had to choose between Christmastime and Thanksgiving. Since, as stated above, we don’t really do Christmas, the choice seemed obvious.

“But we’ll pay for you to fly home whenever you want because we want to see you,” said the very loving and generous people whom I am incredibly privileged to call my parents. “If it’s a matter of money, it’s not an issue!”

But it’s not just a matter of money. I don’t know whether or not to be embarrassed by this, but I am still haunted by an article written by Slate meteorologist Eric Holthaus detailing how he was brought to tears by the IPCC’s report on climate change.

“…[L]ater that day, I was on the phone with my wife, getting ready to board a plane in San Francisco and thinking about the report more existentially. Any hope for a healthy planet seemed to be dwindling, a death warrant written in stark, black-and-white data. It came as a shock.

“This was our chance,” I told her, crying. “And it’s gone.”

Holthaus evaluated his own carbon footprint, and realized that flying regularly was his single largest contribution to the emissions that are warming our world.

I remember, vividly, reading Holthaus’ essay for the first time from the comfort of the couch in my cozy apartment in Chicago, which I shared with my then-boyfriend, in the midst of putting together my application for the Grist fellowship. I didn’t have a particularly strong background in environmental issues at the time, and was attempting to get a better grasp on the things I would hopefully be writing about. Well, I thought, after finishing the last sentence, fuck.

Not two hours after reading that, we had a conversation about what would happen if I were offered the fellowship.

“It’s not that long of a flight,” he said. “We could probably visit each other once a month!”

I racked up in my head how many flights that would be, and thought about rising sea levels, and terrible heat waves, and hurricanes in New York and New Orleans. And then I thought about our relationship of 3+ years and how much I loved him, and felt – ironically enough – so, so selfish for thinking about those other things.

Instead of flying to Seattle for the job, I bought a car and we drove from Chicago together. It was something I wanted to do for two reasons: Practically, to be able to schlep all my stuff across the country, and theoretically, to be able to comprehend the distance. With each of the days and hundreds of miles of snow-covered plains and mountains that passed, the air in the car between us seemed to grow heavier. We spent my 25th birthday driving across western Montana in long periods of silence, and I thought about the glaciers to our north receding.

Somewhere in western Montana.Somewhere on I-90 in western Montana. Eve Andrews
Humans are causing climate change. Contrary to what some politicians head-scratchingly argue, this is a matter of fact. And the onus of putting the brakes on what has become a runaway train of carbon emissions lies squarely on governments and major corporations.

But the single biggest change that I can make, as just one individual human, is to cut down on the amount of times I get on a plane. Upon realizing that, the extent to which all the people I love are scattered across the country has never been more apparent.

All the while I was growing up in Pittsburgh, the narrative of what it meant to be successful always seemed to include going far away. Leave the state for college (I did). Travel internationally (I did). Find a job in a bigger, more “exciting” city (I did – twice). “Maybe don’t put 2-3 time zones in between you and the people you love” was never really a part of that. When my best friends and I were in middle school and high school, we would talk about how excited we were to grow up and live far away from home. Now, we talk about how we can’t wait to live somewhere where we can walk to see each other instead of boarding a 747.

It is very, very strange to be in a position now — and I don’t think I’m alone — where I find myself weighing seeing the people I love against my own complicity in the global climate crisis.

I don’t know if this particular point of tension has ever existed before in our cultural consciousness: Never before has our economy been so effortlessly globalized that jobs pull people back and forth across countries and oceans, and never before have we had so much evidence that the systems and habits we’ve created to actually live in that economy are quite literally destroying the planet.

I chose not to go home for the holidays. How absurd and hypocritical would it be of me, I thought, to spend so much time writing about saving the climate and making green choices and then take two cross-country flights to the same place in one month? Especially, while we’re playing the real talk game, after flying to Bali this summer for a summit on climate change?

Instead, after staring at a blank Word document literally all day long, I am writing this at my dining room table at 11:30 p.m. on December 23 in an empty house as it pours rain outside, because this is Seattle. In the time that I should have spent writing this, I’ve talked with my dad, my mom, my sister, my brother, and my ex-boyfriend over a litany of forms of long-distance communication.

Am I pleased with my decision to remove one flight from some arbitrary yearly allotment? Do I feel that this gesture to reduce my carbon footprint for 2014 was worth it? What do you think?

In one of the half-dozen conversations I had tonight with people I very much wish I were seeing face-to-face, I said, half-jokingly, to my dad, “Being an adult is hard.”

“Yes, honey,” he agreed, emphatically. “It really just means doing a lot of things that you don’t want to do!”

I suppose that responsibility and happiness have always, throughout human history, tended to be at odds with each other — but god damn, it sucks when that hits home. Or, as the case may be, keeps you from getting home when you most want to be there.

http://grist.org/living/love-and-long-distance-travel-in-the-time-of-climate-change/

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Meteorologist Eric Holthaus’ vow to never to fly again draws praise, criticism

By Jason Samenow  (Washington Post)

October 1, 2013

Meteorologist and science writer Eric Holthaus lit up Twitter last Friday when he announced he was never flying again due to the perils of climate change. Strongly motivated to reduce his carbon footprint, the decision was especially significant as Holthaus is a frequent flyer and owns a pilot license.

Holthaus, who formerly wrote a weather column for the Wall Street Journal and now covers weather and climate issues for the Atlantic’s new online Web initiative Quartz, said the sobering conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change motivated the decision.

Andrew Freedman, a science writer for Climate Central, says Holthaus’ emotion-filled reaction to the report compromises his objectivity in writing about the issue.

But Holthaus says his “walk the walk” response to the dire consequences of climate change strengthens rather than weakens his credibility when writing about the issue.

Holthaus’ actions earned the respect of Dave Tolleris, a Richmond-based meteorologist skeptical of catastrophic climate change scenarios.

“Eric is willing to make that commitment and take the steps to change his lifestyle and not be a hypocrite,” Tolleris said. “While I do not agree with his pessimistic view [on climate change], I do think that earns some points from me.”

On the other hand, Fox News commentator Greg Gutfeld questioned Holthaus’ motives. “I’m calling BS on this drama queen,” Gutfeld said. “This is what dooms environmentalism – dishonest hysterics who put drama before data.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/10/01/meteorologist-eric-holthaus-vow-to-never-to-fly-again-draws-praise-criticism/


Why I’m never flying again

By Eric Holthaus
@EricHolthaus

1.10.2013

Last week, when a panel of the world’s best scientists issued a new report on climate change (pdf), I did my best to read it like a meteorologist. The facts led to a simple conclusion: Humans cause global warming. And without an immediate and dramatic cut in carbon emissions, the problem could become irreversible.

That was easy enough to convey. But later that day, I was on the phone with my wife, getting ready to board a plane in San Francisco and thinking about the report more existentially. Any hope for a healthy planet seemed to be dwindling, a death warrant written in stark, black-and-white data. It came as a shock.

“This was our chance,” I told her, crying. “And it’s gone.”

My wife and I realized that the “substantial and sustained reductions” called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to start with us. World governments will never agree in time to coordinate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. If anything is to change, it will have to come from individuals taking ownership of the problem themselves.
And that’s why my wife and I suddenly knew we could never fly again.

Now, I’m just an average guy, trying to do my best. I already do a lot to reduce my impact on the environment: I recycle. My wife and I share a car. I’m a vegetarian. I turn out the lights when I leave the room. I take those fancy reusable bags with me when I go food shopping.
But I also fly a lot—about 75,000 miles last year. A lot of that is travel to Africa and the Caribbean, where I work on projects to reduce the impact of climate change. This year, I also started flying on behalf of the startup I work for, Weathermob. I have gold status on Delta, and my wife and I were planning trips to Hawaii and Europe, all for free with frequent flyer miles.

Still, I didn’t comprehend quite how big an impact all those flights were having on the climate until I crunched the numbers with UC Berkeley’s excellent carbon footprint calculator. I was shocked to discover that air travel comprised almost half of my household’s emissions last year, or 33.5 metric tons of CO2.

The average American household, as you can see in the chart above, flies much less than I do, and should probably focus more effort on reducing emissions from car travel (or other things) rather than planes. But for a lot of us frequent fliers, the environmental harm is dramatic and adds up fast. A one-way flight from New York to San Francisco (2.23 tons of CO2) has nearly the same impact as driving a Hummer the same distance (2.81 tons).
By vowing not to fly, I went from having more than double the carbon footprint as the average American to about 30% less than average.

I don’t take the decision lightly or imagine that it won’t have a big impact on my life. But my wife and I are lucky enough to live in a stunningly beautiful part of the country. Most of our immediate family lives within a day’s drive. I’m excited to spend future vacation days exploring the local area.

I’ll still have to travel a lot (by car and train), and I’ll use videoconferencing for meetings I can’t miss. But by removing my single biggest impact on the climate in one swoop, I can rest a bit easier knowing I’ve begun to heed the IPCC’s call to action. Individual gestures, repeated by millions of people, could make a huge difference.

That humans cause climate change was not a new finding last week, but scientists are now more confident about it (95%) than they are that smoking causes cancer or that vitamins are good for you. Also, for the first time, the IPCC report cast doubt on the efficacy of geoengineering, previously considered a possible last-ditch technical solution.

So I guess last week’s report hit me harder than I expected. My profession is meteorology, which is all about data, but my heart is drawn to people and how we interact with the planet. Together, we can reverse the damage that we have already caused. We can all do something.
My first big step is staying on the ground.

http://qz.com/129477/why-im-never-flying-again/

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Slate Meteorologist Eric Holthaus Stops Flying for A Year to Fight Climate Change

By Zain Haidar
Published Oct 3 2014

Eric Holthaus made national headlines and was branded a “sniveling beta male” by Fox News for a decision he made one year ago.

Holthaus, a meteorologist and climate writer for Slate, is used to approaching data with an objective lens, but a 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a “death warrant written in stark, black-and-white data” – brought him to tears. The IPCC made it clear that humans are negatively influencing the climate and that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to affect the Earth’s climate for centuries.

By his own estimates, Holthaus normally flew 75,000 miles a year on trips related to climate change projects and work for a startup. After some calculations, Holthaus discovered air travel comprised nearly half of his household’s emissions for a year.

After realizing the implications of the report and “taking ownership of the problem,” Holthaus and his wife made a decision to never fly again.

Holthaus reached that decision in 2013, and since then his arguments for individual responsibility toward climate change have made significant waves in the media. The Washington Post and other major outlets carried the story; Rolling Stone labeled Holthaus the “Rebel Nerd of Meteorology.” On Fox News’ immensely popular talk show The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized Holthaus’ manhood and said he was “calling B.S. on this drama queen.”

In a recent perspective piece Holthaus published in Slate, he wrote “There’s no way you can be on the fence after seeing the data the way I’ve seen it.”

But how was a year without flying for a professional who’s used to taking to the skies for both work and leisure?

Not terrible, according to Holthaus.

In his article, Holthaus says there are obvious drawbacks: bus rides that take longer than a day to get from one major city to the next and canceled speaking opportunities that could have taken the meteorologist to the United Nations and across the country.

But Holthaus says taking a year off from flying “opened my mind more to enjoying the journey than just rushing to get to the destination.”

Holthaus wrote that his experience has motivated him to adopt new goals for the next year: micro changes that can have an impact when considered on the macro scale like moving into a smaller house.

Holthaus is not the only one dedicated to avoiding airplanes to help the planet. Kevin Anderson, a professor at the University of Manchester, has gone 11 years without flying and wrote recently on the benefits of slow travel.

Decisions by writers and thinkers like Holthaus and Anderson may be controversial, but they could also help reduce carbon emissions if adopted on a larger scale.

http://www.weather.com/science/environment/news/year-without-flying-carbon-footprint-20141003

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Paper by Dr Alice Bows Larkin on need for air travel demand management to limit growth in aviation CO2 emissions

In a paper in the journal, Climate Policy, Dr Alice Bows Larkin looks at the problem of rising emissions from the international shipping and aviation sectors, and their special treatment. While all sectors face decarbonization for a 2C temperature increase to be avoided, meaningful policy measures that address rising CO2 from international aviation and shipping remain woefully inadequate. Dr Bows Larkin concludes that the more simply structured aviation sector is misguided in pinning too much hope on emissions trading to deliver CO2 cuts in line with 2C. Instead, the solution to aviation playing its part in achieving the 2C target remains controversial and unpopular. It requires demand management for air travel. Or perhaps biofuel, which seems unlikely.  She asks:  “Should aviation, which in a global context continues to be dominated by relatively affluent leisure passengers, take priority over other sectors for the use of sustainable biofuels in preference to less popular policies aiming to curb or even cut growth rates? ….The highly constrained carbon budget commensurate with 2 C does not permit any further delay in rolling out mitigation policies for aviation and shipping.”
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In the Journal “Climate Policy”

All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policy

by Alice Bows-Larkin

(Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research & School of Mechanical
Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Oxford Road,
Manchester M13 9PL, UK)
Published online: 06 Dec 2014.

Synthesis article.

Abstract:  All sectors face decarbonization for a 2 C temperature increase to be avoided. Nevertheless, meaningful policy measures that address rising CO2 from international aviation and shipping remain woefully inadequate.

Treated with a similar approach within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), they are often debated as if facing comparable
challenges, and even influence each others’ mitigation policies. Yet their strengths and weaknesses have important distinctions.

This article sheds light on these differences so that they can be built upon to improve the quality of debate and ensuing policy development. The article quantifies ‘2 C’ pathways for these sectors, highlighting the need for mitigation measures to be urgently accelerated. It reviews recent developments, drawing attention to one example where a change in aviation mitigation policy had a direct impact on measures to cut CO2 from shipping. Finally, the article contrasts opportunities and barriers towards mitigation.

The article concludes that there is a portfolio of opportunities for short- to medium-term decarbonization for shipping, but its complexity is its greatest barrier to change. In contrast, the more simply structured aviation sector is pinning too much hope on emissions trading to deliver CO2 cuts in line with 2 C. Instead, the solution remains controversial and unpopular – avoiding 2 C requires demand management.

………………….

……….. full paper here 

……… Just the conclusions copied below:

7. Conclusions

International aviation and shipping are distinct from other sectors in terms of governance arrangements to curb their CO2 emissions. They have also had similar CO2 growth rates since 1990, above the global average. Nevertheless, allowing the debate around these sectors to be too closely linked (as in the instance highlighted in the UK) could hamper opportunities for developing targeted measures to cut CO2 emissions in the short to medium term. There is a huge divide between the potential for mitigation in shipping compared with aviation. In short, the shipping industry has many technological and operational options that could cut emissions in the short to medium term. Aviation does
not. Nevertheless, despite many options on the horizon for shipping, its complex organizational nature is a major barrier to change.

In aviation, the limit to technical and operational change has led the industry towards a preference to use a global emissions trading scheme to provide net emission cuts. In other words, the sector expects CO2 savings will generally be made in other sectors of the economy to enable aviation related CO2 to grow or be cut by less. Yet, even with trading, a target of a 50% net CO2 cut is not sufficient to meet the 2 C goal. Ironically, by comparing aviation with shipping, it becomes clear that if there were mitigation options available to the air transport sector, its relatively simple institutional set-up, with its small number of manufacturers, fewer markets and actors, as well as a lower number of major national players, would make incentivizing change practical.

Instead, with emissions trading disconnected from the 2 C challenge, demand-management and biofuels offer the only feasible ways of cutting CO2 in the timescale compatible with the available CO2 budget.

Yet, both raise interesting ethical and moral issues. Should aviation, which in a global context continues to be dominated by relatively affluent leisure passengers (Williams, 2007), take priority over other sectors for the use of sustainable biofuels in preference to less popular policies aiming to curb or even cut growth rates?

The highly constrained carbon budget commensurate with 2 C does not permit any further delay in rolling out mitigation policies for aviation and shipping. All opportunities for urgent change need to be harnessed. Immediate CO2 cuts in the shipping sector could be delivered, at least in waters around port states, through regulations or incentives at a sub-global scale that further encourage and maintain the recent shift towards slow-steaming, better ship efficiency, and the retrofit of low-carbon technologies.

For aviation, pinning so much hope on emissions trading to meet the 2 C challenge is misguided.

Ultimately, an uncomfortable and familiar conclusion for aviation remains: a moratorium on airport expansion at least in wealthy nations is one of the few options available to dampen growth rates within a timeframe befitting of the 2 C target.


 

To cite this article: Alice Bows-Larkin (2014): All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policy,
Climate Policy, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2014.965125

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2014.965125

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More about Dr Alice Bows Larkin

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/alice.bows-larkin/publications

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LETTER: Cutting air travel is essential choice – not only advocating more cycling & more use of rail

Writing in the local Sussex press, a local resident shows up the logical inconsistency of local LibDem councillor Frances Haigh backing a 2nd Gatwick runway (against the policy of her party) while backing more cycling and more use of rail.   With around 35 million passengers per year, Gatwick already provides far more capacity than everyone living within a reasonable distance of the airport could possibly need per year. The extra passengers with a new runway would need to come by road or rail from long distances away, possibly passing other airports which have spare capacity, like Stansted and Luton. To travel more by bike and by rail is commendable, but  the carbon emissions from flying far outweigh the savings than can be made by these more sustainable modes. The travel distances flying permits, in just a few hours, can result in the production of more CO2 per person per day than the average per car in a year. For anyone concerned about their contribution to global warming, cutting back on air travel is an obvious and essential choice.
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LETTER: Cutting air travel is essential choice

29 November 2014  (West Sussex County Times – WSCT)

Cllr Haigh’s (LibDem councillor, leader of the LibDem group on Horsham DistrictCouncil) comments (WSCT 20.11.2014) about improving cycle and rail infrastructure are spot on but her analysis of the benefits of air transport is over simplistic and misleading.

Cllr Haigh recently voiced her support for a second runway at Gatwick – involving 40,000 more supporting jobs than we have local people to fill; 120,000 more people than we have places for them to live; more than twice as many aircraft flights than we need; more than twice as much noise and air pollution than we want; and so on.

According to www.gatwickairport.com, ‘Gatwick serves around 200 destinations [more than Heathrow and any other UK airport] in 90 countries for 34 million passengers a year on short and long haul point-to-point services’.

That is more than enough for everyone, for miles around Gatwick, to fly many times each year. If the number of flights is more than doubled then the obvious conclusion is that the extra flights would be filled by people travelling by road and rail from even further away – generating more noise, air pollution and traffic congestion on their way to Gatwick.

The irony would be that, to reach Gatwick, many of those passengers would travel away from, sometimes past, nearer regional airports – like Stansted and Luton (which are running considerably below capacity).

Expanding Gatwick (which is itself running below capacity) is unnecessary and would be detrimental to the national economy, make worse the North-South (and East-West) divide; would be detrimental to the global environment and very detrimental to our local environment.

Cllr Haigh justifies her presumption that we should fly more often and drive less often by quoting some statistics – ‘greenhouse gas emissions for Europe… transport is 25%… of this 17.9% is due to road transport and 3.1% to aviation… Carbon emissions [of] a large petrol driven car with one occupant is worse… per kilometre than a short haul flight’. However, those statistics are only a part of a complex picture.

For example, the total global warming impact of each flight is thought to be more than twice the carbon emissions (research ‘aviation multiplier’). Also, the standard way to account for emissions for an international flight is to allocate half to the country of departure and half to the country of arrival.  ** [No – see below].

However, European residents take up two-thirds of the seats on the average plane landing at or taking off from a European airport. The official statistics are effectively offloading the emissions of Europeans onto the countries travellers are visiting.

Aircraft will continue to rely on inefficient and polluting combustion engines for the foreseeable future. On the other hand road and rail vehicles are already achieving considerable improvements through the use of hybrid, electric and, soon, hydrogen propulsion.

The distances flying permits can result in the production of more CO2 per person per day than the average by car in a year.

Between 1990 and 2004, despite improvements in aircraft fuel efficiencies and a reduction in business travel, the total UK CO2 emissions from aircraft doubled. Unless this growth is stopped, flying will soon add more emissions than all the cuts we make elsewhere.

The majority of people who are causing this harmful and environmentally damaging pollution are financially well off. The people who are most vulnerable are the poorest inhabitants of the poorest nations, the great majority of whom will never afford to fly.

Cllr Haigh asked: ‘What would we change to protect our planet?’

For anyone concerned about their contribution to global warming, cutting back on air travel is an obvious and essential choice.

Gatwick is big enough.

C. MORRIS

Tennyson Close, Horsham

 

http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/letters/letter-cutting-air-travel-is-essential-choice-1-6443752

 

**  [No – in the UK the DfT calculates UK aviation carbon emissions from departing planes. See link.  There is the assumption that as many planes go one way, as then come back the other, so balancing it out.   ICAO is currently trying to work out how best to allocate carbon in future – perhaps by departures, perhaps shared … see link ].

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NATS has a new tool ‘FLOSYS’ to help on environmental efficiency of flights – but noise ignored

The CAA requires NATS to meeting “3Di” efficiency targets (3 dimensional inefficiency) to route planes by the shortest and most efficient route, and save fuel. However, one consequence of this is more noise on the ground. The increased 3Di efficiency has a trade-off between emissions and noise, between 4,000 and 7,000 feet. (Below 4,000 feet, routes should be designed with noise as the prime consideration – above 7,000 fuel burn is the main issue).  This conflict with NATS targets and noise suffered under flight paths has caused a large degree of upset at many UK airports this summer, as NATS prepares to implement the FAS (Future Airspace Strategy). Now NATS has a new tool that they call the Flight Optimisation System, or ‘FLOSYS’. This enables NATS to assess more accurately each flight trajectory.  NATS says they can better identify the opportunities for operational improvements to “save airlines fuel and cut carbon emissions.” The focus is definitely on cutting CO2 (ie. saving airlines money) which is laudable. But at the cost of very upset and angry residents under flight paths, who are suffering more noise. NATS is not widely endearing itself.

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NATS unveils real-time flight efficiency tool

Air traffic controllers are now able to analyse the environmental efficiency of flights in near real-time, thanks to a new tool developed by NATS.

The Flight Optimisation System, or ‘FLOSYS’, takes real radar data, updated every three minutes, and combines it with NATS’ 3Di airspace efficiency metric to produce a graphical representation of every flight in UK airspace.

Controllers can then analyse the efficiency of an individual aircraft through every phase of flight and airspace sector, as well as compare it against other flights along the same route up to 12 months ago, including the average and best performing.

By having access to this granularity of data for the first time, controllers and airspace managers will be able to better identify the opportunities for operational improvements that will save airlines fuel and cut carbon emissions.

Since 2012 NATS has measured the efficiency of an aircraft’s route and trajectory using its three dimensional inefficiency (3Di) metric where each flight is compared to a scale where zero represents total environmental efficiency. Most flights typically score somewhere between 15 and 35.

However it is only with the advent of ‘FLOSYS’ that controllers can now immediately see 3Di scores for individual flights and identify specific areas for improvement, or best practice techniques to share.

Ash Bennett, NATS Swanwick airspace efficiency manager, said: “What we want to do is equip our controllers with enough data to be able to understand the story behind every flight and to then make informed decisions on areas of possible improvement. That might be in the form of more direct or efficient routes, or better climb and descent profiles, all of which help save airlines fuel.”

The system has been developed by the NATS innovation centre, SPACE, together with Altran UK and Lockheed Martin, and with input from the operational ATC community at both NATS’ Swanwick and Prestwick centres. The initial roll out is at Swanwick, before moving to Prestwick Centre next year.

The project forms part of NATS’ wider environmental programme, with its interim target to cut air traffic related CO2 by an average of 4% per flight by the end of this year, along the way to achieving a 10% saving by 2020.

Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environment and Community Affairs, said: “All the indicators point to us achieving our 4% target for the end of this year. That’s a fantastic achievement itself, but it is just a milestone on our way towards meeting our 10% goal.

“That’s why innovations like ‘FLOSYS’ are so important because it puts real data and real influence in the hands of our controllers who are often the best people at identifying fuel saving opportunities.”

http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/11/nats-unveils-realtime-flight-efficiency-tool/

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See also:

NATS hopes to continue improving fuel efficiency improvements, but its 3Di scheme does not take noise into account

According to UK air traffic services provider NATS, the environmental and operational efficiency of UK airspace improved during the first half of this year. However, it faces a challenge to meet a new tighter year-end target set by the CAA. In 2012, NATS was set an incentivised efficiency performance target (called 3Di -meaning 3 dimensional inefficiency) by the CAA. Its aim is to get the most direct and most fuel efficient routes, saving aircraft having to stack, and cutting fuel use and CO2 emissions. Each flight is given a score of its efficiency, with zero being best. Most flights typically score between 15 and 35. This year the CAA set NATS an overall target of 23. Their score was 23.7 in 2013 and a score of 23.9 in 2012. NATS says it it achieves its target scores over 3 years, planes will have saved around 600,000 tonnes of CO2 will have been saved. As well as CDA (continuous descent approach) landings, smoother take-offs, and flying at the optimum level. NATS is straightening flight paths. Their 3Di scores to not take account of the noise nuisance, and there are fears that some new flight path changes, helping NATS meet their target, are creating more noise from over-flying new areas.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/nats-hopes-to-continue-improving-fuel-efficiency-improvements-but-its-3di-scheme-does-not-take-noise-into-account/


Between 4,000 and 7,000ft, the new routes trade off noise against reducing fuel burn/emissions. Above 7,000ft, the priority has been to reduce fuel burn/emissions
rather than reduce overflying of population centres.

The runway environment – from c.4000ft  down to the ground – includes the low-level airspace reserved for take-off and landing, where the impact of aviation to those on the ground takes precedence and airports are responsible for managing the effects of

any changes on their local communities.
The LAMP programme considers a fundamental re-design of the terminal airspace at a
network level, above c.4000ft (or the ceiling of noise preferential routes).

(A1.3.1) Replicating or Re-designing procedures for PBN. At low altitudes – from c.4000ft
down to the ground – the impact of aviation to those on the ground takes precedence and airports will be responsible for managing the effects of FAS deployment on their local communities. As a minimum airports in the LAMP and NTCA environments are required to replicate their existing arrival and departure routes at low altitudes to a PBN standard,
increasing precision and integrating into the terminal network design that has been developed to the same advanced navigational standards. Some airports will
choose to go beyond simply replications and re-design their SIDs and arrival procedures to realise the potential capacity and environmental benefits of PBN.

Any changes to routes under 4,000ft are the responsibility of the relevant airport.

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