The former Irish president and UN high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, is to spearhead a new international push aimed at breaking the climate talks deadlock and silencing sceptics, with a group of senior diplomats and politicians from around the world. She says world governments must get used to the idea of leaving fossil fuel reserves – and accompanying economic value – in the ground unexploited and unburned, if runaway emissions were not to threaten the climate. That has huge implications for economic and social development. She said climate sceptics are “not based in reality” and parts of the business community are “trying to cloud and distort the science”, adding that strong political leadership was needed to counter them. She acknowledged that some countries and many businesses with fossil fuel interests would be hostile to the proposal. Recently, the International Energy Agency said: “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely deployed.
The former Irish president and UN high commissioner, Mary Robinson, is to spearhead a new international push aimed at breaking the climate talks deadlock and silencing sceptics. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
World governments must get used to the idea of leaving fossil fuel reserves in the ground unexploited and unburned, one of the world’s most senior diplomats has said, ahead of a landmark report on climate science to be unveiled this Friday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The former Irish president and UN high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, is to spearhead a new international push aimed at breaking the climate talks deadlock and silencing sceptics, with a group of senior diplomats and politicians from around the world.
Climate sceptics are “not based in reality” and parts of the business community are “trying to cloud and distort the science”, she said, adding that strong political leadership was needed to counter them.
Robinson told the Guardian that governments would have to confront the harsh reality that much of their fossil fuel reserves, and accompanying economic value, would have to be left behind if runaway emissions were not to threaten the climate.
“There is a global limit on a safe level of emissions. That means major fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. That has huge implications for economic and social development.”
It would mean creating incentives for countries to look at other resources, as well as carbon pricing to penalise fossil fuel use, and most of all “political certainty” coming from global leaders.
She said it was also vital that developing countries should not be put at a disadvantage by this process, as many rich countries have had more opportunity to exploit their fossil resources and have benefited from them over decades. “It must be managed in a fair way. Developing countries must not bear all the burden. We need a robust and fair climate change agreement.”
She acknowledged that some countries and many businesses, particularly those with fossil fuel interests, would be hostile to the proposal. The current economic value of the resources left unused – without taking into account their effects on the climate – is likely to run into hundreds of billions of pounds. “We are already talking to the business community that wants change, but there is obviously a business community that is trying to cloud and distort the science.”
She said going for green growth instead of fossil fuels could create jobs and prosperity, as well as improving health and avoiding the danger that the ravages of global warming could destroy the gains made in lifting developing countries out of poverty.
Robinson called for strong messages by world political leaders on tackling global warming, which she said were needed to combat the growing chorus of climate sceptics, emboldened by recent media coverage ahead of the IPCC report. “The best way to counter the sceptics is to have strong political leadership. They [the sceptics] are not based in reality.”
Robinson, who was the first woman to be president of Ireland, from 1990 to 1997, then United Nations high commissioner for human rights to 2002, and is a member of the Elders group of dignitaries that includes Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – is widely respected for her role on the world stage, particularly in focusing attention on women’s rights.
80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground if the planet is to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the latest report by Australia’s Climate Commission.
The international community has agreed that global temperature rise must be kept with 2ºC on pre-industrial levels, and that any rise above this is unacceptably high. The new report warns that with the world already approaching a 1ºC rise, only 20% – or 600 billion tonnes – of the 2,860 billion tonnes of CO2 in known fossil fuel reserves can be burned in order to give the world a 80% of remaining within the 2ºC limit.
Australia’s coal reserves alone represent about 51 billion tonnes of potential CO2 emissions – around a twelfth of the total global carbon budget.
In a significant update to its comprehensive 2011 report, the Climate Commission says that many of the dire consequences of climate change it and the global scientific community have warned about are already evident.
One quarter of the way through Australia’s ‘Critical Decade’, they say there is already clear evidence that the changing climate will bring more ‘Angry Summer’ heatwaves, droughts, floods, strong tropical storms and rising sea levels to Australia, damaging the country’s environment, threatening health and impacting the economy.
The risks posed by an increasingly warming world are now better understood, the scientific consensus is stronger than ever and the financial sector is waking up to the fact that global society must virtually decarbonise in the next 30-35 years to keep the world within the internationally agreed 2ºC limit.
Professor Will Steffen, a climate commissioner who co-authored the report, said:
We have to get global emissions trending downward by the end of the decade to have any reasonable chance of meeting that 2 degree target. We need to make the right investment decisions. We have to leave most of the fossil fuels in the ground and of course that has obvious implications for investment decisions this decade.
We have to put in place a very clear pathway to a decarbonised economy in the next 30-35 years. That requires us to make smart decisions on investments now.
If an orderly transition from coal, oil and gas to renewable energy is not made, Australia’s economy and investor capital could face huge risks and potential asset stranding, as the majority of fossil fuel reserves become worthless as governments take action on climate change.
The International Energy Agency released its annual flagship publication today, the World Energy Outlook. The IEA made an historic statement in the executive summary.
It said, “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal”, the internationally recognized limit to average global warming in order to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Let me rephrase that. Over two-thirds of today’s proven reserves of fossil fuels need to still be in the ground in 2050 in order to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change.
We congratulate the IEA for recognizing this crucial point and encourage the organization to prioritize this message in its presentations and public messaging. It is especially important given that the world’s fossil fuel industry is working overtime to increase its proven reserve base.
Let’s take the Canadian tar sands industry as an example. As the chart below shows,the tar sands industry has enough projects producing, under construction and approved to blow well past the climate limits prescribed by the IEA. Nevertheless even more projects are lined up for regulatory approval leading to a possible trebling of production capacity over and above the IEA limit.
“No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to
2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS)
technology is widely deployed. This finding is based on our assessment of global “carbon
reserves”, measured as the potential CO2 emissions from proven fossil-fuel reserves.
Almost two-thirds of these carbon reserves are related to coal, 22% to oil and 15% to gas.
Geographically, two-thirds are held by North America, the Middle East, China and Russia.
These findings underline the importance of CCS as a key option to mitigate CO2
emissions, but its pace of deployment remains highly uncertain, with only a handful of commercial scale projects currently in operation.”
The ICAO draft resolution to be considered by the 38th Assembly later this week appears equivocal on whether to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM), leaving it to the 39th Assembly in 2016 to make a decision. However, environmental NGOs say that evidence shows early action must be taken to ensure the climate impact from rapidly increasing aviation emissions is minimised. In a submission to the Assembly by their representative body, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), they call for ICAO member states to agree now to develop a global MBM for adoption in 2015 and implementation in 2016. This would be 4 years earlier than the aviation industry is calling for under its “carbon-neutral growth” target (CNG2020). This would require the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015, which although not unprecedented would be highly unusual. The NGOs are convinced, and backed by recent research, that a global MBM is the only feasible way to get meaningful CO2 reductions.
Environmental NGOs call for ICAO to bring forward global MBM adoption to 2015 for implementation in 2016
23 Sept 2013 (GreenAir online)
The ICAO draft resolution to be considered by the 38th Assembly later this week appears equivocal on whether to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM), leaving it to the 39th Assembly in 2016 to make a decision.
However, environmental NGOs say that evidence shows early action must be taken to ensure the climate impact from rapidly increasing aviation emissions is minimised. In a submission to the Assembly by their representative body, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), they call for ICAO member states to agree now to develop a global MBM for adoption in 2015 and implementation in 2016. This would require the holding of an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015, which although not unprecedented would be highly unusual.
The NGOs cite a recent study by Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, which showed a global MBM was the only feasible mechanism to close the ‘emissions gap’ between the growth in aviation emissions and the ability of technology to reduce them but that there was a critical importance for taking early action in its implementation. The study showed the real climate benefit of any action depends on the cumulative emission reductions between now and a future date, and not just on achieving a certain amount of reductions by a specific year. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date, it found.
The ICSA paper requests ICAO States at the Assembly to formally commit to adopt in 2015 a global MBM for international aviation for implementation in 2016, four years earlier than the aviation industry is calling for under its carbon-neutral growth target (CNG2020). The Assembly resolution, says ICSA, should direct the ICAO Council to request ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) to develop and agree the many crucial details necessary to the proper functioning of a global MBM. “CAEP should be duly authorised and resourced with proper funding to complete the work in time for an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2015 which would pave the way for implementation in 2016,” it adds.
Brad Schallert, Senior Program Officer for International Climate Change Policy with WWF, told journalists last week in a conference call with other NGOs: “We need action now. The sooner we act, the more of a chance we will have of [global warming] staying under two degrees Celsius, which is confirmed in MMU’s research. That’s why we’re calling for adoption in 2015, and swiftly implemented a year afterwards in 2016.”
Annie Petsonk, International Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said it was important that industry was given a long lead time to prepare for a global scheme.
“Obviously we would like the emissions caps to start as early as possible,” she said. “If they can’t start as soon as 2016, as we would like, having the rules established and the mechanism take effect right away, even if the caps don’t start until 2020, which is not our preferred approach, it would still allow for early reductions to begin to occur.
“As outlined under IATA’s Cape Town AGM resolution earlier this year and as recognised in the ICAO draft resolution, early movers can be encouraged and incentivised for their actions.”
According to an ICAO insider, there have been a few Extraordinary General Assemblies over the decades, the most relevant taking place over an aircraft noise issue in 1990 following the failure of the 1989 Assembly to reach agreement on the phase-out of Chapter 2 aircraft. “The problem is that even if ICSA gets support – and as ICAO Observers, their own paper will not even be discussed in substance without two State delegations endorsing – the funding requirements for an Extraordinary Session would almost certainly rule it out,” he said. “Given that it is a new idea, the not insignificant cost would have to be added in short order through Assembly action to the already largely determined budget for the next three years.”
Saudi Arabia is calling for the Assembly to take place every two years instead of the current three but the proposal has already been rejected by the ICAO Council and has little chance of adoption.
Although the NGOs wish to see a global MBM implemented as a matter of urgency, it believes national and regional MBMs are essential tools in the interim period before a global scheme takes effect, or beyond in the absence of a global MBM.
“The alternative, namely neither action at a State level nor a global MBM taking effect, cannot be supported,” says the ICSA paper, which also condemns the “unacceptably low coverage” of emissions limited by sovereign airspace, as provided for under the draft ICAO resolution.
“If there is to be any reference to national or regional MBMs, then from an environmental perspective it must be based on either departing flights or a ’50-50’ approach representing 50% of arriving flights and 50% of departing flights,” it adds. “For the 38th Assembly to conclude that States could only act within their airspace nine years after it had already recommended that States could implement emissions trading systems represents no progress on this issue.”
Mr José Manuel Barroso, President
Mr Siim Kallas, Vice President
Ms Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner
200, Rue de la Loi
Re: EU position at 38th ICAO Assembly
Dear Members of the Commission,
We write to express the grave concerns of NGOs at developments in the run up to the ICAO
Assembly and to suggest possible ways forward.
NGOs understand the extraordinary diplomatic and political obstacles preventing progress
on climate change issues at ICAO and have always supported the EU’s ambition for the EU
ETS to be a stepping stone towards a global agreement on aviation.
But we fear that the EU has effectively given away a large part of the proverbial ‘bird in the
hand’ (shrinking coverage of the aviation ETS by two thirds) for the ‘two birds in the bush’
(an aspirational future global deal on aviation emissions) very early and with unclear
conditions. Moreover, we feel the way this decision was reached – in a Coreper meeting,
without any consultation of Parliament or other stakeholders – runs contrary to the
Commission’s Treaty obligations to uphold EU legislation until any proposal to amend,
backed by a full impact assessment, is adopted by the College.
Moreover, confining the ETS to “regional airspace” sets a dangerous precedent for global
climate policy. A decision that states or regions can only regulate emissions in their own
airspace implies that no-one would even be allowed to take responsibility for the 78% of
global aviation CO2 emissions that fall outside of this scope. There is a big difference
between not)formally) assigning responsibility for these emissions, the current situation, and
formally)not)assigning it, a likely outcome of Europe’s concession to the Assembly.
Any ICAO agreement that falls short of a robust commitment now to prepare and
implement a global measure that will be effective in reducing emissions and that at the
same time binds Europe (and other states) to an airspace regime would be the worst of all
worlds. To date, Commission officials have provided assurances that the concession on
airspace and a strong outcome on a global MBM should be viewed as a package: one is only
acceptable with the other. We urge EU member states and the Commission to hold to this
stipulation at the Assembly. Any weakening of ICAO’s commitment to implement a global
deal should put the scope of the aviation ETS back on the table.
We have always felt that a ‘50/50’ solution – covering half of emissions from both inbound
and outbound flights – matches the environmental integrity of the ‘departing flights’
approach and addresses the question of responsibility for overflight and high-seas emissions
without provoking sovereignty concerns. As to any eventual post-Assembly proposal
amending the ETS, we note that the current Assembly draft allows for a wider geographic
scope than airspace.
NGOs share EU concerns that the Resolution should not place distortive or environmentally
unsound requirements on either regional or global schemes. Europe should defend the
existing level of de)minimis provisions in the ETS and strongly resist calls for a threshold of
1% or any figure remotely close to that.
Lastly, the NGO Observer to ICAO, ICSA, has proposed the organisation undertake a wide-
ranging review of decision-making processes and transparency. European members of ICAO
are bound by Aarhus to support more transparent procedures in ICAO – procedures that are
sadly lacking. We are firmly convinced that a far more transparent and consultative ICAO
decision-making process can help unlock the intractable issues that bedevil the organisation.
We ask for your active support for our proposals during and after the Assembly so that the
process towards a global solution can be successful.
. Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation
Jos Dings, Director, Transport & Environment
Célia Gautier, EU Climate Policy Officer, Reseau Action Climat France
Kerstin Meyer, Secretary for Transport Policy, Verkehrsclub Deutschland
ICAO Seeks Global Emissions Pact as Europe Dilutes ETS
SEPTEMBER 23, 2013
by CHARLES ALCOCK
The general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this week will debate proposals for a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to control the increase in carbon-dioxide emissions from air transport. As an interim measure aimed at reaching consensus, negotiators for the 28-state European Union (EU) have offered to alter its existing emissions trading scheme (ETS) so that it would apply only to flying activity within EU airspace and not to all stages of intercontinental flights.
Delegates to the 38th triennial ICAO assembly, which begins on September 24 and runs through October 4, plan to begin discussing draft resolution A37-19 on September 26 and conduct a final vote on October 2. The proposals call for ratification of the envisioned MBM by the 39th assembly in 2016 and full implementation in 2020. In the meantime, the EU-ETS would remain in force, although with a more limited scope.
On September 18, lobbying groups the Environmental Defense Fund, the World Wildlife Fund and Transport & Environment called for ICAO to bring forward ratification of the new plan to 2015 and implement it in 2016.
Although all sides of the sometimes fractious debate seem ready to compromise to avoid a trade war that threats of retaliatory sanctions from leading opponents of EU-ETScould spark, some significant complications remain in terms of what form the MBMwould take and how the EU would have to amend its established ETS legislation to take account of the revised terms.
For example, it remains unclear whether the MBM would amount to a full-blown emissions trading scheme, or whether it might instead take the form of a simpler carbon-offsetting program (as favored by IATA) or a revenue-generating carbon offsetting program through which credits sold at elevated rates would divert some funds into climate-change-mitigation programs. Quite apart from wider objections to ETS, the system has drawn criticism for being excessively bureaucratic and disproportionately burdensome for smaller operators.
Another potential sticking point centers on a proposal that exempts some developing countries from MBM if their air transport emissions defined in revenue ton kilometers amount to less than 1 percent of the global total. Environmental groups also have expressed concern that the MBM might not apply to portions of flights conducted in international airspace (i.e. more than 12 nm from the boundary of national airspace).
Assuming adoption of the draft resolution, for EU officials to fulfill their commitment to stop applying ETS to flying activity outside EU airspace they will need to change the existing ETS regulation, which would involve returning to the European Parliament to ask for a retroactive “rubber-stamp” of any deal reached through ICAO.
As things stand, the EU has suspended ETS for flights outside its airspace under the “stop the clock” initiative, which stands contingent on the implementation of a global alternative. ETSwould go back into full force beginning January 1 next year unless a plan acceptable to the EU becomes final.
Dave Southgate is an Australian aviation expert, with many years of experience of working on the measurement of aviation emissions. He has produced a new e-book, on the carbon footprint of global scheduled domestic and international passenger flights in 2012. It contains detailed information covering some 85% of global aviation emissions, and gives some interesting insights. For the UK, domestic flights are a very much smaller proportion than in larger countries. However, Heathrow remains by a very large margin the airport with the largest carbon emissions of any worldwide, about 16,584 thousand tonnes of CO2 per year, with Los Angeles in second place with some 11,866 thousand tonnes. The book also shows the UK ranks 9th in the world for carbon emissions per capita from aviation, with (of European countries) Switzerland in 6th place, the Netherlands in 8th place, far above Germany (12th) and France (13th), with the highest per capita aviation emissions being Qatar, UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong, Australia and USA. By total emissions per airline, Lufthansa and British Airways are almost the same, ranked 5th and 6th, with Air France ranked 8th and Ryanair ranked 20th.
United States’ aviation carbon footprint in 2012 dwarfs that of other countries, finds new global analysis
by Dave Southgate (in GreenAir online)
Thu 12 Sept 2013
The carbon footprint from global scheduled domestic flights was around 39% of emissions from all scheduled operations in 2012.
Combined with international emissions, the United States’ aviation carbon footprint dwarfs that of other countries, being almost three times the size of the country – China – with the second largest footprint (Figures 1 and 2 below). Although 39/61 domestic/international is the average global split between domestic and international emissions from scheduled flights, US domestic emissions are around double those from international operations, whereas in China they are three times higher.
These stats can be found in a comprehensive new study by aviation carbon footprint expert Dave Southgate, the latest in a trilogy of national and global analysis he has undertaken. Although data and calculation tools are readily available, Southgate says he has found a surprising lack of consolidated aviation carbon emissions reporting at the country level.
Latest figures from IATA show total global carbon emissions from aviation were around 689 million tonnes in 2012.
“While the carbon footprint of domestic aviation is not of direct interest in the discussions currently taking place within ICAO on the future management of international aviation’s carbon footprint, it is not unrelated,” he writes. “Many of the initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation capture both domestic and international aviation – for example more efficient aircraft and improvements in the efficiency of ATM and airports – and many government officials involved in the discussions have responsibilities for both domestic and international aviation.”
His 196-page book, which can be freely downloaded, breaks down scheduled domestic aviation emissions by country, airline, airport and aircraft type, and adds comparisons with scheduled international flights to provide a global overview.
Southgate has also provided a ‘league table’ of the top 30 country total carbon emissions on a per capita basis by using country population data generated by the United Nations. Qatar, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong – small but prosperous nations with major airport hubs – far outstripped other countries. Australia and Switzerland then follow behind, just ahead of the United States. Although China is the second biggest emitter of carbon from aviation activities, it ranks 28th on the list. [The UK ranks 9th on the list, with Switzerland 6th and the Netherlands 8th, as the top European emitters].
In a chapter on ‘Monetising carbon’, Southgate has converted CO2 values into monetary values and shown them as a carbon cost per passenger. If a carbon charge of $20/tonne had been in place for all global scheduled domestic passenger aircraft departures in 2012, approximately $4.5 billion would have been raised, he calculates. On average this would have equated to a carbon charge of around $2.30 per passenger.
Countries with large land areas and widely spaced major economic centres would, not surprisingly, have resulted in higher charges. In 2012, Russia would have had the highest average cost per passenger ($3.80) and South Korea the lowest ($1.20) of the top 30 countries ranked by domestic footprint. For a passenger in the United States, the cost would have been $2.90 and in China it would have worked out at $2.40.
In a ranking of airline scheduled domestic operations worldwide, the top five airlines – Delta, United, Southwest, American and US Airways – make up around 35% of the global domestic footprint, while the top 10 contribute close to 50% of that footprint (Figure 3). All but one (All Nippon) of the top 10 carriers are Chinese or American.
Adding the domestic and international operations together shows that while the top three airlines – United, Delta and American – have significant domestic and international footprints, many of the major international airlines in the world have no, or very small, domestic footprints (Figure 4). United and Delta would occupy the third and fourth positions in the country hierarchy if they were countries. [ie. the carbon emissions of these two airlines are greater than all the aviation emissions of all countries, other than the USA and China].
The book also ranks the top 30 airports in the world by the carbon footprint of departing domestic aircraft and compares domestic and international footprints. Unsurprisingly, 22 of the top 30 domestic airports are in the United States, with six in China and one each in Japan and Indonesia. Atlanta has the highest domestic carbon footprint followed by Los Angeles (Figure 5). These two airports have far higher footprints than the next three: Beijing, Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago.
Combining domestic and international airport operations, a different and globally diverse picture emerges with London Heathrow having the highest carbon footprint in the world,followed by Los Angeles, Dubai, New York, Frankfurt and Hong Kong (Figure 6).
Southgate has based his calculations on aircraft operations data supplied by Innovata and has used a freely available software tool, TNIP Carbon Counter, which is a great circle carbon counting application developed by the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport. The software contains all the information that is required to compute the weight of CO2 generated by a flight between any city-pair, he says. The fuel burn algorithms are the same as those contained in the ICAO Carbon Calculator. The counter also applies the great circle distance adjustment factors that are used in the ICAO calculator.
Southgate is a retired Australian Government self-styled ‘environmental bureaucrat’ and was Australia’s representative on ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) between 2004 and 2012, and a member of the CAEP group that developed ICAO’s calculator.
Carbon footprinting, he says, underpins the management of aviation’s contribution to climate change. “There is likely to be little confidence in any internationally agreed climate change management programme if its CO2 outcomes cannot be independently tracked and validated.
At the present time, the confidence that can be placed in the validation of global aviation’s carbon footprint is weakened due to a number of issues. There are no published consolidated reports, derived from a common base of computation, which provide verified carbon footprint information for the global aviation network. There are a number of ‘official’ published sources of fuel use and/or CO2 generation for aviation, both international and domestic, but they are not consistent.”
In his book, Southgate acknowledges there are ‘data gaps’ in his analysis that constitute about 10-15% of the total global domestic aviation carbon footprint. “Ideally, it would be desirable to present a complete picture of the carbon footprint of all global aircraft operations but much important data is not readily available to members of the public,” he writes. “To present a complete global carbon footprint picture of domestic aviation data would need to be available on other sub-sectors contributing to the carbon footprint such as airfreight, non-scheduled aviation, business aviation and general aviation.”
Despite this, Southgate has managed to accomplish his aim of presenting a comprehensible picture of the composition of airline, airport and country footprints in order to raise awareness, aid understanding and to generate thinking on new approaches to managing aviation’s carbon footprint.
Although ICAO’s remit covers only international and not domestic civil aviation emissions, in its submission to the upcoming 38th ICAO Assembly later this month concerning the establishment of a global market-based measure, the aviation industry calls on ICAO to develop an ICAO standard for monitoring, reporting and verifying emissions from aviation.
The 38th Assembly climate change resolution is likely to request work be undertaken at ICAO on methodologies and a mechanism to measure, monitor and verify global emissions from international aviation, as well as annual reporting of traffic, fuel consumption and emissions data.
Southgate says that if a carbon management regime for aviation involves a financial liability, there will be a need for detailed, formal verifiable tracking. However, such verification systems are by necessity complex and have significant time lags between CO2 emission and reporting, he cautions, and they are also non-transparent except at an aggregate level due to airline commercial confidentiality issues.
“Verification systems solely based on non-transparent reporting are likely to generate mistrust and to ultimately be challenged,” warns Southgate. Footprint transparency could be introduced by running some form of parallel carbon footprint reporting/tracking regime based on great circle analysis, which would facilitate open and rapid third-party verification, he suggests. “In order for this to take place, key aviation bodies would need to play an active role.”
A long and comprehensive piece in Aviation Week, discusses the likely outcomes from the ICAO Assemby, on the issue of aviation carbon emissions. The most likely scheme to be agreed in the next two weeks is for aircraft emissions during the part of the flight in EU airspace (including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) to be taxed. There are some technical challenges in implementing it. It would not include overflights. Whether ICAO’s 191 contracting states will support the deal at the Assembly is not known, but according to one commentator: “it seems unlikely that delegates will wish to reopen substantive debate on such a hard-won consensus text.” However there are concerns about the impact of this tax on European airlines. The Federal Association of German Aviation and Space Industry, of which Lufthansa is a founding member, objects to the compromise, claiming it represents “a massive distortion of competition for European airlines.” The European Low Fares Airline Association also says it is discriminatory. An effective market based measure agreed globally still seems a very long way from agreement. Tweet
Emissions Trading Will Dominate ICAO Assembly
by Jens Flottau, Cathy Buyck
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
No issue in aeropolitics is as contentious as the introduction of charges for carbon emissions. The European Union almost caused a trade war over its Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), but it seems a global deal is in sight.
Agreeing on the basics and a schedule for the introduction of a global structure of market-based measures (MBM) to limit aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions will be the most important topic at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 38th General Assembly, which begins Sept. 24 in Montreal.
While it is clear no agreement on the details of a concrete global system will be sealed, progress has been made on a compromise solution that would commit ICAO to develop a method for tackling aviation’s carbon emissions and decide its details by 2016.
The global MBMs would be fully implemented from 2020 as part of a basket of measures involving technology and operational improvements (including adopting a global CO2 standard for aircraft by 2016) and sustainable alternative fuels. They are intended to achieve carbon-neutral growth beginning in 2020.
The proposal, endorsed by ICAO’s governing council on Sept. 4, accepts the principle of regional or national MBMs, such as the EU ETS, until the global system is in place.
At the request of the EU, which is not a member of ICAO, the council’s draft resolution recognizes that states (or groups of states) may choose, before the full implementation of a global MBM, to implement systems that apply to flights to/from third countries, which depart or arrive at airports in that state, for the portion of those flights within the airspace of that state, and which would fully cover all emissions from flights that both depart from and arrive in that state. [ie. for the EU, any flights to or from other countries only tax the emissions for the part of the journey in EU airspace].
Negotiations on the compromise accord were difficult. Several states on the 36-member council, including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, India, Saudi Arabia and the U.S., had strong reservations, yet they did not raise formal objections.
Whether ICAO’s 191 contracting states will support the deal at the pending Assembly is unknown, but “it seems unlikely that delegates will wish to reopen substantive debate on such a hard-won consensus text,” says Chris Lyle, chief executive of Canada-based Air Transport Economics. “The question is how meaningful and committing the resulting, formally adopted Assembly resolution will be,” he adds.
This will be key for the EU, which has demanded that the Assembly agree “meaningful” international action on a global MBM.
Last November, the European Commission (EC) agreed to “stop the clock” on the application of the ETS to routes beyond Europe for a year to give ICAO time to devise a global solution. Until the end of this year, operators (regardless of their nationality) must surrender emissions allowances only for air traffic between European airports.
As part of the compromise, and only in return for a global deal, the EC has pledged to extend the moratorium to 2020, although the scope will be slightly amended to include emissions from all arriving or departing flights (also to third countries) using European airspace. Overflights will not be included. For example, a London-New York flight will be included in the plan for the segment using European airspace, comprising EU-member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
“There are some technical challenges in implementing a ‘territorial airspace’ approach, but it does address head-on what was the most-cited problem with the original ETS, namely its extraterritorial reach,” notes John Byerly, former U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs.
The concept of a trading system constrained to European airspace is not new.
A group of European carriers led by Air France urged the EC to kick-start the principle of curbing and taxing emissions within the limits of the bloc’s airspace to let airlines and states gain expertise with the new cap-and-trade mechanism and avoid international opposition. Also, before the EU adopted the ETS, the U.S. had signalled it might accept a version that applied only to intra-EU flights by U.S. carriers. Despite this, the EC stuck to its overzealous environmental aspirations and in 2008, adopted legislation to bring international aviation into the ETS from 2012—all flights arriving at and departing from a European airport were included for the total length of the flight. [This was always somewhat surprising, as many expected the most that would be agreed to would be flights departing from Europe; not departing and arriving].
The EU now is lowering its ambitions, with the EC’s directorate general for Climate Action (DG Clima) recognizing it is “a multilateral negotiation where you give-and-take.”
The approach is not undisputed, however. Inside the EU, critics warn that some countries might still opt out and claim exemption under the broader climate-change principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDR). Under this United Nations notion, developed countries have greater responsibility and capacity for taking action to address climate change.
Developing countries, in particular China and India, dispute the compatibility of the EU ETS with the CBDR principle. China has prohibited its airlines from complying with ETS legislation and its airlines operating intra-European flights face fines for non-compliance. Also, Indian airlines have not complied.
Surprisingly, China appears to be willing to accept the proposed ICAO Council deal because, insiders say, it hopes to name the next ICAO secretary general succeeding Raymond Benjamin, whose second three-year term ends in 2015.
The Federal Association of German Aviation and Space Industry, of which Lufthansa is a founding member, objects to the compromise, claiming it represents “a massive distortion of competition for European airlines.”
Also, the European Low Fares Airline Association decries the intra-EU-only application as discriminatory and urges the EU to “honour its oft-repeated public commitment to ‘automatically snap back’ to the legally proven, all-flights scope for EU ETS, pending implementation of any equivalent MBM by ICAO.”
For International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General/CEO Tony Tyler, a positive conclusion at the forthcoming ICAO Assembly “is far from assured,” and he warns, “if an agreement is not reached, and individual regions go their own way, then the threat of a trade war will loom again.”
The IATA general Assembly in June in Cape Town backed a resolution calling for governments to agree to a single global MBM. IATA’s stance is that a single mandatory carbon-offsetting system, without a revenue-sharing element, under which all operators would have to buy carbon credits from other industries to offset their future growth, would be the quickest and simplest MBM to introduce and administer. It would also minimize competitive distortion, it states.
It took IATA almost two years to align the majority of its 240-member airlines (representing 84% of global air traffic), but its efforts are bearing fruit. The council text, which will be discussed by the Assembly, “notes the support of the aviation industry for a single global carbon-offsetting scheme, as opposed to a patchwork of state and regional MBMs.”
ICAO established a high-level group last November to try to find a way to implement a single, global mechanism and/or a framework for states establishing their own MBMs.
Options for a single system adopted by all states include a mandatory emissions offset, a mandatory offset with an added revenue charge and a global emissions-trading system similar to the EU ETS’s.
An NGO message for the ICAO Assembly: Introduce a global market-based measure now
September 18, 2013 .The Assembly of ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) takes place in Montreal between 24th September and 4th October. A decision on how to deal with global aviation emissions needs to be taken – if aviation globally was a country, it would rank 7th highest, after Germany. It is widely acknowledged that a market based measure (MBM) would be the most effective mechanism through which to do this. James Lees, from the Aviation Environment Federation, and Bill Hemmings, from Transport & Environment, writing in GreenAir online, say the solution to aviation’s runaway emissions is a “global MBM decided on now and to be introduced by 2016. It is no longer an option for continued disagreement in ICAO to prevent action on aviation’s contribution to climate change. At a time when President Obama has said so much about leading the way [on climate], the White House must finally ensure that the US becomes the global leader for action at the ICAO Assembly. It is time for everybody to take responsibility, stop shielding such a high emitting industry and act….now.” .Click here to view full story…
EU agrees to deal on watered-down version of ETS for emissions only in EU airspace – with more ICAO delay on any global measure
September 6, 2013 The EU has agreed to a deal to scale back its inclusion of aviation in the ETS as UN negotiators at ICAO agreed at talks in Montreal to only include emissions from flights over European airspace. This is a substantial scaling down of the initial plan to include all flights to and from Europe. The ICAO deal, which still needs to be signed off by a full meeting ending October 4th and by EU lawmakers, was immediately criticised by green groups. ICAO will delay implementing any more effective mechanism for another 7 years. The deal falls short of the worldwide pact the EU had hoped for in November 2012 when it exempted foreign flights for one year (“stopping the clock”) to give ICAO more time to develop a global deal. At present airlines need only surrender carbon permits for flights within the EU, so requiring permits for the miles in European airspace is a slight improvement. However, it means that for a long haul flight to or from the EU, most of the carbon is not included in the ETS. Peter Liese, a senior member of the EU Parliament, said “It is far from an ideal solution… (but) I’m really concerned that if we just oppose what is on the table then we may see a total collapse of our effort.” Click here to view full story…
The Assembly of ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) takes place in Montreal between 24th September and 4th October. A decision on how to deal with global aviation emissions needs to be taken – if aviation globally was a country, it would rank 7th highest, after Germany. It is widely acknowledged that a market based measure (MBM) would be the most effective mechanism through which to do this. James Lees, from the Aviation Environment Federation, and Bill Hemmings, from Transport & Environment, writing in GreenAir online, say the solution to aviation’s runaway emissions is a “global MBM decided on now and to be introduced by 2016. It is no longer an option for continued disagreement in ICAO to prevent action on aviation’s contribution to climate change. At a time when President Obama has said so much about leading the way [on climate], the White House must finally ensure that the US becomes the global leader for action at the ICAO Assembly. It is time for everybody to take responsibility, stop shielding such a high emitting industry and act…now.”
An NGO message for the ICAO Assembly: Introduce a global market-based measure now
from ICSA, T&E, AEF
17 Sept 2013
by James Lees, at AEF and Bill Hemmings, at T&E
– In his groundbreaking speech on climate change this June, Barack Obama asked “whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late”. His own administration answered the question with a resounding “no” when they pushed to delay decisions on the regulation of the aviation industry’s ballooning CO2 emissions. President Obama spoke of the need for the United States of America to maintain its role as a global leader on climate change.
At ICAO’s special Council meeting in Montreal earlier this month, his administration ensured that the international community continued to avoid acting on aviation’s contribution to global warming – currently at 5% and rapidly growing. The time has now come for the White House to lead the international community into taking action at the forthcoming ICAO Assembly, urge James Lees and Bill Hemmings.
Of course a decision requires support from many contracting States, but the draft ICAO resolution considered by the Council strongly reflects US interests. On a global market-based measure (MBM), weak wording alluded to the possibility of a decision on a measure in 2016 and nothing more. On regional measures, where the subtext is aviation’s future in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), any environmental credibility was nullified by US insistence on limiting emissions covered to those within regional airspace. If all 191 member states of ICAO decided to take part in such regional schemes, only 22% of international aviation emissions would be captured.
Lobbying from officials of the “greenest ever President” would suggest that MBMs must be bad for aviation. On the contrary, there is a consensus from industry, scientists and NGOs that a global MBM is now urgently needed to limit and reduce aviation’s vast emissions. While industry has promoted the importance of technological, operational and alternative fuel measures, it now acknowledges the necessity of market-based measures at least in the short-term. In fact, as well as being cost-effective, research has shown that a global MBM is essential for the industry to meet its long-term target of 50% emissions reduction by 2050.
While ICAO has understood for over a decade the important role that a global MBM can play, a lack of action drove the EU to include aviation in its own emissions trading scheme (the EU ETS). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the EU’s decision to include all emissions from flights in and out of the EU led to confrontation over alleged infringements of foreign sovereignty – led particularly by the US. To deal with pressure from dissenting countries, the EU put its faith in the ICAO process and announced it would limit coverage of its scheme to intra-EU flights for one year – known as the stop-the-clock exemption – so that ICAO could work out a global MBM. A postponement of a decision on a global MBM until 2016 means that President Obama’s newfound commitment to tackle climate change has actually seen the rug pulled from under attempts at ICAO to promote MBMs either globally or regionally.
The US strategy on international aviation goes against everything Barack Obama held dear in his climate change speech given aviation and his own industry’s huge (North American aviation emissions amount to almost a third of global aviation emissions) contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. If aviation were a country, its CO2 emissions alone would rank seventh in the world, just behind Germany. These emissions are set to double by 2030. A global MBM is the only approach that could limit and reduce these emissions immediately.
The cumulative nature of CO2 means that delaying action on an MBM will lead to further build up of CO2 in the atmosphere and even greater climate change impacts in the future. A recentreport showed that if a global MBM was introduced immediately, it could reduce the climate change impacts of aviation’s emissions by as much as 31% in 2050.
The solution to aviation’s runaway emissions is simple and exactly what we will be pursuing at the ICAO Assembly: a global MBM decided on now and to be introduced by 2016. It is no longer an option for continued disagreement in ICAO to prevent action on aviation’s contribution to climate change.
At a time when President Obama has said so much about leading the way, the White House must finally ensure that the US becomes the global leader for action at the ICAO Assembly. It is time for everybody to take responsibility, stop shielding such a high emitting industry and act…now.
In recent years, Europe has tried to make aviation pay under itsemissions trading system (ETS), and with good reason.
Airlines are the fastest growing source of global greenhouse gas output. Already responsible for 5% of the world’s annual global warming, by 2030 their emissions are projected to double from 2005 levels.
It seemed an odd move for a president who supported the ‘cap and trade’ principle which underpins the scheme. The US has only rarely authorised such prohibitions, such as when Congress banned investment in apartheid South Africa, or outlawed compliance with Arab nations’ boycott of Israel.
But the aviation situation is very different.
Only six countries emit more CO2 than the air industry does each year. Obama’s act allowed the US to hide behind three of them – China, Russia and India – all playing political games at the Icao in the run-up to talks on a 2015 global climate deal.
Washington has finally emerged to push for Wednesday’s text blocking any global carbon pricing mechanism until 2016 at the earliest. It also insisted that states and regional blocs only charge for emissions over their own land airspace – thus omitting the 78% of emissions that take place over water.
This formula underpins the thinking behind the expected Icao text, which restricts the ETS to emissions over European airspace.
It is no surprise that the US position seems to have won the day. Kicking the can down the runway has been the Icao’s default setting since it was tasked with cutting emissions under the Kyoto protocol in 1997.
Europe’s politicians should baulk at the situation, but appear to have been cowed by lobbying from the aviation industry that the carbon charging scheme will result in economic costs for the continent. But if Europe allows the ETS to hollow into a husk that is unable to meaningfully reduce emissions, it will rightly spur calls for more radical action against the international aviation industry.
The dissonance between the US position on tackling emissions from aviation and Obama’s language in June – “Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest! Divest!” – could hardly be greater.
The EU must stand firm and insist on actions, not words, to curb aviation emissions. US environmentalists must also move beyond ‘greenest-president ever‘ soundbites and try to hold Obama to his rhetoric.
This, after all, is the president who said that office-holders such as himself “will need to be less concerned with the judgement of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgement of posterity.” It’s time Obama heeded his own advice.
TUI Travel, which owns six European leisure airlines including Thomson Airways and TUIfly, has called for an industry standard on reporting fuel and carbon efficiency for UK airlines. TUI says a set of common metrics to report airline carbon emissions would ensure greater transparency so customers can make informed decisions about which airlines to choose. TUI Travel currently reports its airlines’ carbon emissions on a per revenue passenger kilometre (gCO2/RPK) basis, a common standard but, it points out, not yet the standard unit of measurement used by all airlines to communicate their efficiency, and it accuses some airlines of failing to measure or report their carbon emissions. New carbon reporting legislation has been announced by the UK government for the largest companies and the UK Civil Aviation Authority has been tasked with communicating the environmental impact of aviation.
Leading European leisure group calls for greater airline industry transparency in carbon reporting
Tue 17 Sept 2013 (GreenAir online)
TUI Travel, which owns six European leisure airlines including Thomson Airways and TUIfly, has called for an industry standard on reporting fuel and carbon efficiency for UK airlines.
A set of common metrics to report carbon emissions would ensure greater transparency so customers can make informed decisions about which airlines to choose, it argues. TUI Travel currently reports its airlines’ carbon emissions on a per revenue passenger kilometre (gCO2/RPK) basis, a common standard but, it points out, not yet the standard unit of measurement used by all airlines to communicate their efficiency, and it accuses some airlines of failing to measure or report their carbon emissions.
New carbon reporting legislation has been announced by the UK government for the largest companies and the UK Civil Aviation Authority has been tasked with communicating the environmental impact of aviation.
“This new legislation presents a great opportunity for the airline industry to harmonise its reporting of carbon emissions and develop common metrics,” said Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainable Development at TUI Travel, a leading international leisure travel group serving more than 30 million customers.
According to research it carried out in December 2012, TUI Travel found that 50% of customers felt it was very important that their holiday company be more transparent about what it was doing to reduce its impact on the environment and to support local communities. Two thirds of customers stated issues about carbon emissions, climate change and pollution were very important to them, reports TUI Travel.
Adds Ashton: “It’s clear to us that our customers are starting to take this kind of information into account when booking holidays, which is why we believe we should be doing more as an individual company as well as an industry to make this type of information accessible and easy to understand.
“If all airlines were reporting on carbon emissions using consistent metrics and sources of measurement then we believe the government could start to use this information to adjust taxes that they are currently imposing on airlines.”
TUI Travel claims its airlines are among the most fuel-efficient in Europe, with average emissions of 73.0gCO2/RPK (see article).
The CAA has just closed a consultation into stakeholder views on how it should provide better information to the public on aviation performance, such as for consumers looking to make sustainable travel choices. The authority says consumer awareness of the CO2 impacts of aviation is rising and there is increasing availability of tools such as carbon calculators for individuals seeking to assess the environmental impact of their flights. However, it adds, there is no standard methodology behind these calculators, which can result in significantly different calculations of CO2 emissions and therefore lead to confusion and scepticism.
The CAA says it would prefer to develop its own standardised methodology for calculating CO2 emissions using factors such as actual fuel burn and passenger loads, which, it argues, would give significantly more accurate results. It then proposes to accredit operators using this standardised methodology, possible through the use of a ‘CAA CO2 endorsed’ brand or similar.
“It has the potential to provide customers with a comparable and trusted measure of carbon impact, allowing them to make more informed judgements when comparing the CO2 impact of different flights,” says the CAA consultation document. “The CAA metric will help drive the airline industry to provide the best possible estimation of the CO2 impact and in turn act as an incentive to reduce the CO2 emissions per passenger of their operations.”
Participation by industry in the scheme would initially be voluntary but, says the CAA, consideration could be given to making it mandatory “if poor comparability continues to be an issue with regard to the provision of emissions data.”
The CAA is due to issue a report on the consultation’s findings later in the year, although a CAA spokesman said it was unlikely more details of the metric would be presented by then.
The RSPB had an email action, to ask people to write to Sir Howard Davies, the Chairman of the Airports Commission, to remind him of the biodiversity, habitat and climate change implications of his committee’s decisions on airports. Proposals to build new airports or expand existing ones could have devastating impacts on some of our most vulnerable wildlife and habitats, and our ability to tackle climate change. The Thames estuary is under threat from airport development, and is a globally recognised and protected area as it is a vital home for wildlife, including hundreds of thousands of wintering wildfowl and wading birds. Climate change is the greatest threat to wildlife and biodiversity, and carbon emissions from aviation are increasing rapidly. The RSPB believes there should be no further aviation expansion unless the Government can demonstrate how such expansion can take place within the UK’s legally binding climate change limits. The email action closed at the end of September, at the closing date for submissions.
RSPB – (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
Proposals to build new airports or expand existing ones could have devastating impacts on some of our most vulnerable wildlife and habitats, and our ability to tackle climate change.
Even the spectacular Thames Estuary is under threat again. The estuary is globally recognised and protected because it is a vital home for wildlife, including hundreds of thousands of wintering wildfowl and wading birds, and since the end of World War II a series of airport proposals have all been rejected on a combination of business, aviation, safety and environmental grounds.
Climate change is the greatest threat to wildlife and biodiversity, and carbon emissions from aviation are increasing rapidly. We believe there should be no further aviation expansion unless the Government can demonstrate how such expansion can take place within the UK’s legally binding climate change limits.
However, the Government seems determined to push forward major projects like these and last year set up an independent Commission to review aviation expansion and airport capacity. Whilst the Commission has been impartial and objective so far, some of the proposals they have received are very worrying, with far-reaching impacts on our nature and climate.
The Commission are now calling for comments on the proposals so we have a brief window of opportunity to encourage them to take our wildlife and environment into consideration as they draw up their short-list.
To help you the RSPB have prepared a template email to the Airports Commission, which is chaired by Sir Howard Davies – you can personalise both the subject line and message itself to help increase its impact.
Sir Howard Davies
Dear Sir Howard
I was pleased to hear your announcement that the Airports Commission is taking into consideration the effect of aviation expansion on our environment and climate in short-listing the aviation proposals you have received.
I am, however, particularly concerned about the number of proposals submitted that would have a devastating impact on vulnerable wildlife and habitats. In particular those proposals for the Thames estuary, a coastal wetland of such international importance that it has the highest level of protection possible, yet is still under considerable threat of development.
I am equally concerned that any airport expansion risks the UK’s ability to meet its legally-binding climate change commitments because of the significant additional carbon emissions it would generate.
I urge you to keep these issues at the heart of your short-listing decisions.
The EU has agreed to a deal to scale back its inclusion of aviation in the ETS as UN negotiators at ICAO agreed at talks in Montreal to only include emissions from flights over European airspace. This is a substantial scaling down of the initial plan to include all flights to and from Europe. The ICAO deal, which still needs to be signed off by a full meeting ending October 4th and by EU lawmakers, was immediately criticised by green groups. ICAO will delay implementing any more effective mechanism for another 7 years. The deal falls short of the worldwide pact the EU had hoped for in November 2012 when it exempted foreign flights for one year (“stopping the clock”) to give ICAO more time to develop a global deal. At present airlines need only surrender carbon permits for flights within the EU, so requiring permits for the miles in European airspace is a slight improvement. However, it means that for a long haul flight to or from the EU, most of the carbon is not included in the ETS. Peter Liese, a senior member of the EU Parliament, said “It is far from an ideal solution… (but) I’m really concerned that if we just oppose what is on the table then we may see a total collapse of our effort.”
EU to Limit Aviation Carbon Cuts as ICAO Studies Global Plan
By Ewa Krukowska – Sep 4, 2013 (Bloomberg)
The European Union agreed to limit the scope of its carbon curbs on airlines as the United Nations aviation panel’s council pledged to work on a global plan to cut pollution from the industry beginning in 2020.
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s Council agreed today to have tools in place by 2016 needed to develop a global market-based measure to reduce greenhouse gases, according to Jos Delbeke, director general for climate at the European Commission. The outcome is weaker than what was sought by the 28-nation EU, whose move to include international flights in its carbon market as of last year sparked opposition by countries including the U.S. and Russia.
“There are some bits and pieces in the text that made everybody unhappy,” Delbeke told a conference in Brussels today. “So it may be not far away from an ideal compromise.”
The deal is subject to approval by the ICAO general assembly from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4 in Montreal. The Council, which includes 36 member states of the organization, agreed that the existing emissions trading system may cover airlines in regional airspace until a global system replaces it.
“That means that the EU ETS will be able to continue for intra-European flights,” Delbeke said. “We would also have this part of international flights that is covered by regional airspace.”
The EU agreed last year to suspend emissions trading obligations on flights into and out of Europe. Any extension of the rule or a change to the bloc’s carbon trading law would require approval by member states and the European Parliament.
“We will have a controversial debate in the Parliament,” said Peter Liese, a German member of the assembly. “We need to look carefully at what kind of legislation we can have.”
(Reuters Point Carbon) – – The EU agreed to a deal late Wednesday to scale back its law regulating carbon from flights as U.N. negotiators pledged to craft a global pact on aviation emissions that would not take effect for seven years.
EU officials agreed at U.N. talks in Montreal to only include emissions from flights over European airspace in the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), said the EU’s top climate official Jos Delbeke, a move that would scale down a law that covers all flights to and from Europe.
The deal, which still needs to be signed off by a full meeting of the U.N.’s aviation body ICAO ending October 4 and by EU lawmakers, drew fire from green groups and sparked a renewed threat of legal action by European airlines.
“There are bits and pieces of that text that make everybody unhappy. So it’s maybe not too far away from an ideal compromise,” said Delbeke at an event at the EU Parliament in Brussels.
The deal falls short of the worldwide pact the EU had hoped for in November 2012 when it exempted foreign flights for one year to give ICAO more time to strike a global deal and avert
The agreement will force airlines to surrender more permits for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than the current temporary practice of regulating domestic EU flights, boosting Carbon analysts said this week.
Bill Hemmings from the environmental group T&E said the move was an “unnecessary concession” that had little to do with efforts to tackle climate change and did not amount to a guarantee that ICAO would tackle aviation emissions globally.
“This is appeasement on a grand scale. How can it be that the future of EU policy in this sector can be decided behind closed doors by 40 faceless men and a few women in Montreal?” he told the Brussels event.
Peter Liese, a senior member of the EU Parliament, said the assembly needed to scrutinize the plan further but hinted that it may have to accept the measure as the best possible compromise.
“It is far from an ideal solution… (but) I’m really concerned that if we just oppose what is on the table then we may see a total collapse of our effort,” said Liese.
He said the Parliament might propose to merely to extend its suspension the global reach of the EU ETS rather than re-working its law permanently.
“Personally I would not be ready to give another blank check to ICAO and say if they don’t agree in 2016 we just look at it then,” he added, referring to when the U.N. body has pledged to finalize the global deal.
The EU Parliament and member states would have to agree to the new law by early next year to prevent an automatic resumption of existing legislation.
But this could re-start a legal case from the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) over fears it will distort competition, said John Hanlon, secretary-general of the group.
“We will be watching very closely… If (the deal) is not going to deliver what we have a right to expect, we will reactivate that suit,” said Hanlon.
ELFAA represents some of Europe’s biggest carriers including Easyjet and Ryanair and believes its members face discrimination under an EU-only scheme versus carriers with dominant business outside Europe.
ICAO Council meets to hammer out a compromise on implementing a global MBM to limit growth of aviation emissions
Tue 3 Sept 2013 –
As negotiations continue at ICAO on an agreement to implement a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to reduce the net growth of international aviation emissions, there are signs that progress is being made towards a compromise that has the backing of a number of important States, including the United States, those from the EU and possibly China. However, it is believed the wording of the resolution being prepared for the upcoming ICAO Assembly later this month stops short of agreement to adopt a global MBM but merely that a scheme be developed for a decision in 2016. The draft resolution, to be discussed at a special meeting of the ICAO Council tomorrow (Sept 4), is said to carry a US-led proposal that would allow the EU to re-include intercontinental flights into the EU ETS on an airspace limitation basis pending a global scheme. Trade body Airlines for America said it was opposed to such a move.
Last November, the EU ‘stopped the clock’ on the controversial inclusion of intercontinental flights to and from Europe into its emissions scheme (EU ETS) to allow ICAO to continue its work on a global MBM but warned the clock would be restarted in full if the outcome was not a “meaningful” agreement at the ICAO 38th Assembly that starts on September 24. All sides now accept that a global MBM will not be adopted at this year’s Assembly but the EU, as well as industry and NGOs, are looking for substantive progress and a roadmap towards a formal acceptance of one of three possible schemes by the following 39th Assembly in 2016.
Following divergent views amongst the 36 governing ICAO Council members, ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González has managed to broker a compromise text for the Assembly climate change resolution over the summer that will see three possible schemes narrowed down to one over the next three years – at this stage, a global offsetting rather than an emissions trading scheme is considered the more likely option – and set out mechanisms for its implementation from 2020. The Council will then be expected to report the results for a decision by the next Assembly, although there is no commitment at present that a scheme would be agreed in 2016.
This would appear to be a postponement of an anticipated decision and fall short of earlier demands by EU climate officials, but reports suggest EU States on the Council have broadly accepted the draft resolution. The EU had also been looking for a framework on the implementation of national or regional MBMs pending the introduction of a global scheme. It was prepared to accept an agreement that would allow it to restart the inclusion of intercontinental flights into the EU ETS on an outgoing flights basis, rather than total emissions on incoming and outgoing flights as previously regulated before ‘stop the clock’. However, it appears the EU may have to compromise still further and accept it can only regulate on emissions within EU airspace.
The airspace restriction though answers the objections of sovereignty infringement that had caused heavy political opposition from countries such as China, India, Russia and the United States. In the past, ICAO has ruled that regulating airspace emissions was impractical and a study by MMU CATE earlier this year found that only 22% of international aviation emissions would be covered under sovereign airspace constraints, even if every country was to adopt such a measure.
At a Brussels seminar in April (see article), Jos Delbeke, Director-General of the European Commission’s Climate Action directorate and the lead EU negotiator in the ICAO MBM discussions, said the airspace approach would be “damn difficult” to implement, but it appears EU States may be willing to accept the limitation. A Bloomberg report suggests the Commission may make proposals in the first half of October on how the EU should respond to the ICAO Assembly outcome with respect to the Aviation EU ETS.
Legislative agreement on the future direction of the EU carbon scheme would be required from the European Parliament, which may not be so accommodating with either the environmental limitation of the airspace approach or the uncertain commitment to agree a global MBM by the 2016 Assembly. The Parliament’s rapporteur on the Aviation EU ETS, Dr Peter Liese, is hosting an open seminar tomorrow evening (Sept 4) at the Parliament, with senior representatives from the European Commission, the aviation industry and environmental NGOs on the panel.
At the April seminar, Dr Liese, who steered the ‘stop the clock’ legislation through Parliament, said the one-year suspension of intercontinental flights from the EU ETS would not be continued unless “very clear expectations” were met at the Assembly. “It is not an option to wait another three years,” he told delegates. “I could not defend this in the Parliament.”
The aviation industry, meanwhile, believes sufficient progress towards a global MBM will be made at this coming Assembly.
“What we would like is for the Assembly to agree a roadmap for developing a global offsetting mechanism to be then agreed at the next Assembly in 2016, for implementation from 2020, along with a work programme covering how monitoring, reporting and verification should be done and agreement on the quality of offset credits. There should also be the means for ensuring the properly designed MBM is in a package with improvements in technology, operations and infrastructure, so they are complementary rather than conflicting,” Nancy Young, VP Environment at trade body Airlines for America (A4A), told journalists recently.
“I am more than cautiously optimistic the Assembly will make significant progress in this regard,” she added.
A coalition of aviation industry interests has just submitted a working paper for consideration by the Assembly setting out its proposals on addressing carbon emissions from international aviation.
However, the industry is likely to be unhappy with the prospect of an ICAO agreement covering the interim period before a global MBM comes into operation that may well see the rapid reintroduction of intercontinental flights into the EU ETS.
Although the EU had pressed for an agreement that would allow it to include emissions from flights departing from European airports, it appears to have settled for the far more environmentally limited airspace proposal. In return for which, opposing states appear to have dropped demands that national or regional MBMs could only be applied on a mutual consent basis. Should a State or group of States wish to go further than the airspace limitation then it or they would have to negotiate an agreement with other States first, says the draft resolution. Exemptions should also be made for States with low air traffic activity on affected routes.
The implication, therefore, is that States that have been staunchly opposed to their airlines’ participation in the EU ETS may no longer have a case for refusing to comply, assuming the EU modifies its directive accordingly. US major airlines had successfully lobbied for domestic legislation that they hoped might see them off the EU ETS hook but now, if the current draft resolution passes its way through the Assembly, they may find themselves once more in the clutches of the EU carbon scheme, this time as a result of a proposal put forward by their own government.
“A4A is part of the global aviation coalition calling for the ICAO Member States to commit to the development of a global emissions offsetting scheme that could be employed to fill the gap should aviation not reach its goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 through concerted industry and government investment in technology, operations and infrastructure. As such, we oppose the application of country-based or regional market-based measures to international aviation absent the consent of the country of an airline’s registry and otherwise consistent with the principles in the 2010 ICAO Assembly Resolution,” A4A’s Nancy Young told GreenAir.
Even if the climate change resolution, which covers many other ICAO environmental protection activities, is adopted at the upcoming Assembly, it is not binding on ICAO States. As happened with the climate resolution (A37-19) passed at the 2010 Assembly, States can put in ‘reservations’ on paragraphs within the resolution after the completion of the Assembly that they disagree and will not comply with. India, for one, remains implacably opposed to any application of market measures to its airlines. Brazil, China, Russia and other fast-developing nations have fought hard against the application of MBMs to international aviation, although China is reported to have softened its position.
“Resolutions are legal instruments indicative of policy decisions that the Organization’s supreme body, the Assembly, takes and they have no definitive binding nature in international law; they rather take effect as a form of moral suasion or back up to legal process,” writes Chris Lyle of Montreal-based Air Transport Economics, who has long experience of the ICAO process, in a GreenAir Commentary article published yesterday.
“The Assembly will surely agree on some skeleton for aviation emissions mitigation but how meaningful will it be? The devil will lie in the nuances of the text and in the reality of the follow-up.”
A global deal to reduce emissions from the aviation industry is looking increasingly unlikely to be agreed at the ICAO international negotiations taking place next week in Montreal. The text is still in its draft stage, and will be debated by the ICAO Council on the 4 September before being presented to the General Assembly on the 24th. It proposes that states should work towards the development of a market based mechanism (MBM) to reduce emissions. But in a move branded by NGOs as “disappointing” and promising little except more talk and delay, it states that no decision will be taken until the 39th General Assembly in 2016 – one year after countries are set to cement a binding UN climate agreement in Paris. The document requests the ICAO Council to “make a recommendation on a global MBM scheme that addresses key design elements … and the mechanisms for the implementation of the scheme from 2020.” There has been little action to reduce the aviation sector’s growing greenhouse gas emissions since ICAO was assigned the task under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. This additional delay is likely to be seen as another victory for the airline industry.
Aviation industry unlikely to agree emissions reduction deal until 2016
30 August 2013 (RTCC – Responding to Climate Change)
Draft text to be presented at ICAO Council meeting next week suggests decision on global deal will be delayed
A global deal to reduce emissions from the aviation industry is looking increasingly unlikely to be agreed at the international negotiations taking place next week in Montreal.
A draft text of the resolution to be discussed at a council meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) seen by RTCC proposes that states work towards the development of a market based mechanism to reduce emissions.
But in a move branded “disappointing” by NGOs, it states that no decision will be taken until the 39th General Assembly in 2016 – one year after countries are set to cement a binding UN climate agreement in Paris.
The document requests the ICAO Council to “make a recommendation on a global MBM [market based measure] scheme that addresses key design elements … and the mechanisms for the implementation of the scheme from 2020.”
It highlights that an MBM should “contribute towards achieving global aspirational goals” for the aviation industry – improving the efficiency of the world fleet by 2% per annum up to 2050 – but equally “should not impose inappropriate economic burden on international aviation”.
China, America and the EU are said to be keen to move the text forward at the Council meeting, while developing countries are less enthusiastic, worried that any form of MBM could stifle their growing aviation industries.
There has been little action to reduce the sector’s growing greenhouse gas emissions since ICAO, the industry-influenced aviation arm of the UN, was assigned the task under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
This additional delay is likely to be seen as another victory for the airline industry. Many had hoped that the added threat of a controversial Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) imposed by the EU would help bring matters to a head.
Under this system, all aircraft flying into or out of the EU were required to monitor and pay for their carbon emissions.
The outrage of other countries, which saw this system as a threat to their sovereignty, meant that last November the EU ‘stopped the clock’ on the proposed ETS for a year, in order to allow political breathing space for an international agreement to take place.
The approaching reinstatement of the EU ETS for international flights to and from the continent means that negotiations on a global deal have been gaining pace.
Many observers had hoped that an agreement for some sort of market based mechanism could be reached by the ICAO General Assembly at the end of September.
This text promises little but more talk and delay by ICAO and the aviation industry, according to Jean Leston, transport policy manager for WWF.
“It is not 100% disappointing, but it’s certainly 80% disappointing,” she says. “On the plus side, it is still calling for an MBM,”
Leston told RTCC there are fears that the industry may rely on implementing a “basket of measures” – a combination of technological and operational improvements aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of aircrafts – instead of committing to carbon trading scheme.
“If there is an agreement at the assembly then that is a victory of sorts, although the NGO community would say that’s a hollow victory because we don’t know what kind of MBM that’s going to be.”
Range of options
ICAO is currently considering three types of MBM: carbon offsetting, offsetting with an added revenue generation mechanism, and a cap-and-trade ETS.
The latest version of the draft text instructs the council to “finalize the work on the technical aspects, environmental benefits, economic impacts on international aviation and modalities of the three options for a global MBM scheme.”
The document acknowledges that the industry’s preference is for offsetting without generation – the least environmentally effective scheme – but continues to keep all three options on the table, to be decided upon at the 2016 General Assembly.
“ICAO is not making any meaningful decisions, and meanwhile the aviation industry can continue to pollute,” says Leston. The report itself emphasises that any mechanism eventually adopted should continue to promote the sustainable growth of the industry.
The aviation industry currently represents a significant chunk of net carbon emissions. In 2005, it was responsible for about 2.3% of CO2 emitted globally. If the international fraction of these emissions – about 62% of the total figure – were a country, it would be the 17th largest emitter of CO2 in the world.
Studies from Manchester Metropolitan University indicate that a market based mechanism is essential if the aviation industry is to achieve its ICAO-set goal of carbon neutral growth in the aviation industry from 2020.
Its most recent report, released this week, said that it was essential that a market based mechanism was achieved as soon as possible, in order to avoid the global warming that would be triggered by the carbon emitted between now and 2020, after which the aviation industry is bound to limit its emissions.
Professor David Lee, the author of the report and a scientific advisor to ICAO, explained to RTCC that, because CO2 is a long term pollutant that builds up in the atmosphere, the end point of policy negotiations is less important than immediate action – a fact which is says is often forgotten by policy makers.
“These early savings pay off,” he says. “Actually, the whole issue is about timing. You can translate this through to the whole of CO2 emissions; not just aviation – everything. Timing is everything.
“We have to reduce the emissions early. Otherwise the end point is really almost irrelevant.
“If we reduce emissions very late to achieve our emissions goal and pat ourselves on the back, actually the real environmental outcome could be so much worse than if we adopted early measures.”
The text is still in its draft stage, and will be debated by the ICAO Council on the 4 September before being presented to the General Assembly on the 24th.
This means that changes could still take place – or that it could be rejected entirely. Leston describes this as being a “worst case scenario”, as it leaves the negotiations at an even weaker stage than they currently are.
RTCC understands that some of the key countries who have typically been seen as an obstacle to negotiations, in particular China and America, are intending to support the text, while it is the developing states such as India and Brazil that are likely to put up opposition. The EU is said to support the text.
“A lot of the developing states are still questioning the need for an MBM at all,” says Leston.
“They’re looking for a lot of exemptions, and some of them will arbitrate against the idea of a global MBM, saying it would cost their economies, their industries, and that they don’t think it’s a universal requirement.”
A new scientific report produced by CATE (Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Air Transport and Environment) called “Mitigating future aviation CO2 emissions – timing is everything” shows that the real climate benefit of any action to cut aviation’s carbon emissions depends on the cumulative emission reductions between now and a future date, and not just on achieving a certain amount of emission reductions by a specific year (as ICAO has focused on). This is because CO2 has a long lifetime so concentration levels are determined by cumulative emissions over time. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date. This highlights the critical importance of ICAO taking early action to cut emissions quickly, and increases the pressure on ICAO not to defer a decision on the adoption of a market-based measure (MBM). The report finds that biofuels are not effective as a solution to the aviation emissions problem, but that improvements in technology and operational improvements offered the second best mitigation potential as a single measure.
Immediate global action needed to reduce aviation climate impact – Report
August 27, 2013 (Transport &Environment)
A new scientific report(see below – full report here) released today highlights the critical importance of taking early action when implementing measures to reduce the climate impact of rapidly increasing emissions from aviation. With a decision expected shortly on how and when to tackle international aviation emissions, this new report increases the pressure on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) not to defer a decision on the adoption of a market-based measure (MBM).
Over the past 2 years momentum had been building towards a decision at the 38th ICAO General Assembly, scheduled to begin in Montreal in late September , on the need for an effective global MBM. But political differences amongst key states now threaten yet again a decision this year on how and when the sector should address its growing contribution to climate change – the next Assembly is not until 2016.
The report by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Air Transport and Environment (CATE) “Mitigating future aviation CO2 emissions – timing is everything”shows that the real climate benefit of any action depends on the cumulative emission reductions between now and a future date, and not just on achieving a certain amount of emission reductions by a specific year (as ICAO has focused on): CO2 has a long lifetime so concentration levels are determined by cumulative emissions over time. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date.
The report shows that while the technology, operations and alternative fuels measures that are ICAO’s focus have the potential to make significant reductions in the climate impact of emissions from aviation, these will only come in the longer term given the lead times needed to develop and bring to market whereas immediate reductions from effective market based measures implemented now far outweigh the climate impacts of ICAO’s approach.
The report shows that a global MBM such as emissions trading introduced in 2012 and the existing European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) for aviation provide the largest single incremental improvements in radiative forcing (RF)  and temperature response by 2050 (a 30.1% improvement in RF for a global MBM and around 15% in RF for the EU ETS compared to a business as usual scenario based on technology and operational improvements).
Based on best estimates of likely future uptake, biofuels would have a minimal climate impact by 2050.
Commenting on the report’s conclusions Bill Hemmings of T&E said: “This robust analysis is compelling and should be a wake-up call to States and industry as they prepare for ICAO’s Assembly. ICAO’s traditional approach focussing on technology, operations and biofuels falls far short of what is needed.”
Meanwhile, Tim Johnson of NGO Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said: “ICAO has already demonstrated that its own modest goal of carbon neutral growth by 2020 will be impossible to achieve without market-based measures, while the scale of reductions required to contribute towards a 2 degree pathway reinforces that argument unequivocally. It’s time to stop debating the ‘if’ and focus on the ‘how’.”
What is the best and most cost-effective way of mitigating future aviation emissions? Undoubtedly a mix of strategies is required to tackle the rapidly growing emissions of CO2from aviation. However, there are some clues to guide decision makers available from the well-established science of CO2.
In our last report we looked at ways in which aviation CO2 emissions could be mitigated, and how far the mitigation potential of each measure got us towards various ‘goals’ for the reduction of international aviation emissions of CO2. ‘Goals’ tend to be focused on achieving an emissions target by a certain date. However, this approach does not factor in the physics of CO2 – namely the accumulative nature of CO2, its long lifetime in the atmosphere and its consequent effect on climate. The emissions’ pathway by which a goal is achieved over time matters more than simply achieving the goal itself.
In this work we conducted over 11,000 complex calculations to rank the ‘best’ mitigation strategies, both as individual measures and combined strategies, in terms of their climate impacts – calculated as radiative forcing and global mean temperature response.
We find that emissions trading, as a measure, offers the single largest incremental improvement in climate impact by 2050.
The least effective strategy isbiofuels, using the assumptions of the UK Committee on Climate Change’s assessment of potential biofuel availability in 2050, even at what they termed “speculative” levels.
Maximum feasible reductions from improvements in technology and operational improvements offered the second best mitigation potential as a single measure.
The clue as to why an efficiently operated emissions trading system is so effective lies in its possibility to reduce emissions quickly. This is a fundamental point.
Other mitigation strategies (which must still be pursued) tend to offer ‘late savings’ as the relevant technologies and fleet infiltration develop.
What matters more is the total cumulative emissions from aviation by 2050, rather than simply achieving some arbitrary goal by that date.
This accords with the physics of CO2 but is often ignored by policy makers and the developers of organisational emission goals and targets.
[BAU = Business As Usual]
Figure 1: CO2 radiative forcing savings for international aviation from business-as-usual (BAU) technology and operations improvements in combination with different mitigation options, compared with the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.
Figure 2: CO2 radiative forcing savings for international aviation from maximum feasible reductions (MFR) from technology and operations improvements in combination with different mitigation options, compared with the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.
Click here to download hi-res figures from the report (as a single zip file).
This new analysis comes at a very crucial moment, as the International Civil Aviation Organization (the UN agency responsible) meets this September to decide on whether to delay a global market-based program for curbing aviation emissions (again) or begin implementation as soon as possible. If a decision to implement is not reached at the ICAO meetings in September, the next opportunity for a decision will not be until 2016 at the next general ICAO assembly.
A further delay is not an option according to this report’s authors. Their modeling shows that all the efforts already underway by airlines to reduce their emissions are not enough and that a global market-based trading system must also be implemented sooner, rather than later. If a decision is put off again by ICAO to 2016, we lose the cumulative financial and environmental benefits that are necessary to meet the aviation industry’s future reduction targets. Early reductions result in a lower emissions trajectory than equivalent annual savings made at a later date.
Three more years of delay, means three more years of massive amounts of climate pollution being pumped into our atmosphere as airlines whisk more passengers than ever around the world.
One would think, with the worldwide impacts of climate change and atmospheric disruption we are already witnessing, that the aviation industry would feel a sense of urgency at putting in place a global reduction plan. After all, the estimated impact of the aviation industry on climate change so far is a whopping 5%.
The report also shows that a global market based emissions trading program and the existing European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) for aviation provide the largest reductions in climate change impacts by 2050. (A global market based trading system provides a 30.1% improvement from business as usual; the EU ETS provides a 15% improvement; and better technology, adoption of biofuels, and operational changes combined provide a 9% improvement.)
So far, American airline companies have been a proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to seeing a global market-based trading system. Last year, the industry went so far as to seek (and receive) federal legislation that would exempt them from a market-based system in the European Union. US airlines do not want to pay a fee for the pollution they are responsible for and have spent millions on lobbyists in Washington, DC to avoid a tax on the carbon they emit.
Regardless of past indiscretions, this new report should serve as a wake-up call to ICAO, the US government and the US airline industry. If they don’t listen, it is not just the airlines that will suffer in the long term.