The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has produced its Synthesis report, bringing together work from 3 earlier reports. It is unequivocal about the extent of the danger posed by climate change, and the imperative need to make huge cuts in global carbon emissions. The science is absolutely clear – politicians ignore it at their peril. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse for not taking action. The IPCC says climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the natural world unless CO2 emissions are cut sharply and rapidly. They say climate disruptions will cause huge difficulties for humanity, including food shortages and violent conflicts. Inaction would be costly; the longer the delay, the higher the cost. Lord Stern said delaying cutting CO2 emissions would be “profoundly irrational”. Ed Davey said: “…we must act on climate change now.” But he backs building a 2nd Gatwick runway. With the extent of carbon cuts it is essential to make, how can the inevitable rise in UK aviation carbon emissions, caused by an additional intensely used runway, possibly be justified?
Rising aviation carbon emissions – and the cuts required globally
Apart from an IATA aspiration to cut global aviation CO2 emissions by 1.5% per year, up to 2020 (while growing the global industry by about 4 – 5% per year) the only way – other than a vague hope of future use of a tiny amount of “sustainable?” biofuels – the industry will only meet its theoretical target of “carbon neutral growth” by buying offsets for its carbon emissions.
That means aviation intends to continue increasing its total carbon emissions by maybe 3 – 4% per year, but justifying this by paying other sectors to do some actual, real, cuts in carbon.
However, the extent of the carbon cuts we need is great, (as evidenced by the IPCC report).
Can the world really afford to allow an ever-expanding aviation sector to swallow up the hard-won, difficult, carbon reductions achieved elsewhere?
IPCC: rapid carbon emission cuts vital to stop severe impact of climate change
Most important assessment of global warming yet warns carbon emissions must be cut sharply and soon, but UN’s IPCC says solutions are available and affordable
By Damian Carrington (Guardian)
2 November 2014
Carbon emissions will have to fall to zero to avoid catastrophic climate change, the IPCC says. Climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the natural world unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly, according to the most important assessment of global warming yet published.
The stark report states that climate change has already increased the risk of severe heatwaves and other extreme weather and warns of worse to come, including food shortages and violent conflicts.
But it also found that ways to avoid dangerous global warming are both available and affordable.
“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message,” said the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attending what he described as the “historic” report launch. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.” He said that quick, decisive action would build a better and sustainable future, while inaction would be costly.
Ban added a message to investors, such as pension fund managers: “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and [move] to renewable energy.”
The report, released in Copenhagen on Sunday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the work of thousands of scientists and was agreed after negotiations by the world’s governments. It is the first IPCC report since 2007 to bring together all aspects of tackling climate change and for the first time states: that it is economically affordable; that carbon emissions will ultimately have to fall to zero; and that global poverty can only be reduced by halting global warming. The report also makes clear that carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to record levels, not falling.
The report comes at a critical time for international action on climate change, with the deadline for a global deal just over a year away. In September, 120 national leaders met at the UN in New York to address climate change, while hundreds of thousands of marchers around the world demanded action.
“We have the means to limit climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change.”
Lord Nicholas Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics and the author of an influential earlier study, said the new IPCC report was the “most important assessment of climate change ever prepared” and that it made plain that “further delays in tackling climate change would be dangerous and profoundly irrational”.
“The reality of climate change is undeniable, and cannot be simply wished away by politicians who lack the courage to confront the scientific evidence,” he said, adding that the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people were at risk.
Ed Davey, the UK energy and climate change secretary, said: “This is the most comprehensive and robust assessment ever produced. It sends a clear message: we must act on climate change now. [But the man backs fracking, and a backs a new south east England runway at Gatwick, expanding aviation …]
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said: “This is another canary in the coal mine. We can’t prevent a large scale disaster if we don’t heed this kind of hard science.”
Bill McKibben, a high-profile climate campaigner with 350.org, said: “For scientists, conservative by nature, to use ‘serious, pervasive, and irreversible’ to describe the effects of climate falls just short of announcing that climate change will produce a zombie apocalypse plus random beheadings plus Ebola.” Breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry would not be easy, McKibben said. “But, thanks to the IPCC, no one will ever be able to say they weren’t warned.”
The new overarching IPCC report builds on previous reports on the science, impacts and solutions for climate change. It concludes that global warming is “unequivocal”, that humanity’s role in causing it is “clear” and that many effects will last for hundreds to thousands of years even if the planet’s rising temperature is halted.
In terms of impacts, such as heatwaves and extreme rain storms causing floods, the report concludes that the effects are already being felt: “In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.”
Droughts, coastal storm surges from the rising oceans and wildlife extinctions on land and in the seas will all worsen unless emissions are cut, the report states. This will have knock-on effects, according to the IPCC: “Climate change is projected to undermine food security.” The report also found the risk of wars could increase: “Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”
Two-thirds of all the emissions permissible if dangerous climate change is to be avoided have already been pumped into the atmosphere, the IPPC found.
The lowest cost route to stopping dangerous warming would be for emissions to peak by 2020 – an extremely challenging goal – and then fall to zero later this century.
The report calculates that to prevent dangerous climate change, investment in low-carbon electricity and energy efficiency will have to rise by several hundred billion dollars a year before 2030. But it also found that delaying significant emission cuts to 2030 puts up the cost of reducing carbon dioxide by almost 50%, partly because dirty power stations would have to be closed early. “If you wait, you also have to do more difficult and expensive things,” said Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and an IPCC working group vice-chair.
Tackling climate change need only trim economic growth rates by a tiny fraction, the IPCC states, and may actually improve growth by providing other benefits, such as cutting health-damaging air pollution.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – the nascent technology which aims to bury CO2 underground – is deemed extremely important by the IPPC. It estimates that the cost of the big emissions cuts required would more than double without CCS. Pachauri said: “With CCS it is entirely possible for fossil fuels to continue to be used on a large scale.”
The focus on CCS is not because the technology has advanced a great deal in recent years, said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and vice-chair of the IPCC, but because emissions have continued to increase so quickly. “We have emitted so much more, so we have to clean up more later”, he said.
Linking CCS to the burning of wood and other plant fuels would reduce atmospheric CO2 levels because the carbon they contain is sucked from the air as they grow. But van Ypersele said the IPCC report also states “very honestly and fairly” that there are risks to this approach, such as conflicts with food security.
In contrast to the importance the IPCC gives to CCS, abandoning nuclear power or deploying only limited wind or solar power increases the cost of emission cuts by just 6-7%. The report also states that behavioural changes, such as dietary changes that could involve eating less meat, can have a role in cutting emissions.
As part of setting out how the world’s nations can cut emissions effectively, the IPCC report gives prominence to ethical considerations. “[Carbon emission cuts] and adaptation raise issues of equity, justice, and fairness,” says the report. “The evidence suggests that outcomes seen as equitable can lead to more effective [international] cooperation.”
These issues are central to the global climate change negotiations and their inclusion in the report was welcomed by campaigners, as was the statement that adapting countries and coastlines to cope with global warming cannot by itself avert serious impacts.
“Rich governments must stop making empty promises and come up with the cash so the poorest do not have to foot the bill for the lifestyles of the wealthy,” said Harjeet Singh, from ActionAid.
The statement that carbon emissions must fall to zero was “gamechanging”, according to Kaisa Kosonen, from Greenpeace. “We can still limit warming to 2C, or even 1.5C or less even, [but] we need to phase out emissions,” she said. Unlike CCS, which is yet to be proven commercially, she said renewable energy was falling rapidly in cost.
Sam Smith, from WWF, said: “The big change in this report is that it shows fighting climate change is not going to cripple economies and that it is essential to bringing people out of poverty. What is needed now is concerted political action.” The rapid response of politicians to the recent global financial crisis showed, according to Smith, that “they could act quickly and at scale if they are sufficiently motivated”.
Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organisation, said the much greater certainty expressed in the new IPCC report would give international climate talks a better chance than those which failed in 2009. “Ignorance can no longer be an excuse for no action,” he said.
Observers played down the moves made by some countries with large fossil fuel reserves to weaken the language of the draft IPCC report written by scientists and seen by the Guardian, saying the final report was conservative but strong.
However, the statement that “climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, including greater likelihood of death” was deleted in the final report, along with criticism that politicians sometimes “engage in short-term thinking and are biased toward the status quo”.
The Synthesis Report distils and integrates the findings of the three working group contributions to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report — the most comprehensive assessment of climate change yet undertaken, produced by hundreds of scientists — as well as the two Special Reports produced during this cycle.
“Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, global emissions growth is expected to persist, driven by growth in global population and economic activities. Global mean surface temperature increases in 2100 in baseline scenarios – those without additional mitigation – range from 3.7 to 4.8°C above the average for 1850-1900 for a median climate response.
They range from 2.5°C to 7.8°C when including climate uncertainty (5th to 95th percentile range). (high confidence)
Emissions scenarios leading to GHG concentrations in 2100 of about 450 ppm CO2-eq or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2°C over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels.
These scenarios are characterized by 40% to 70% global anthropogenic GHG emissions reductions by 2050 compared to 2010 and emissions levels near zero or below in 2100. Mitigation scenarios reaching concentration levels of about 500 ppm CO2-eq by 2100 are more likely than not to limit temperature change to less than 2oC, unless they temporarily overshoot concentration levels of roughly 530 ppm CO2-eq before 2100, in which case they are about as likely as not to achieve that goal.
In these 500 ppm CO2-eq scenarios, global 2050 emissions levels are 25-55% lower than in 2010. Scenarios with higher emissions in 2050 are characterized by a greater reliance on Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies beyond mid-century (and vice versa).
Trajectories that are likely to limit warming to 3°C relative to pre-industrial levels reduce emissions less rapidly than those limiting warming to 2oC. A limited number of studies provide scenarios that are more likely than not to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2100; these scenarios are characterized by concentrations below 430 ppm CO2-eq by 2100 and 2050 emission reduction between 70% and 95% below 2010.
For a comprehensive overview of the characteristics of emissions scenarios, their GHG concentrations and their likelihood to keep warming to below a range of temperature levels, see Table SPM.1″
“Delaying additional mitigation to 2030 will substantially increase the challenges associated with limiting warming over the 21st century to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels. It will require substantially higher rates of emissions reductions from 2030 to 2050; a much more rapid scale-up of low-carbon energy over this period; a larger reliance on CDR in the long term; and higher transitional and long-term economic impacts. Estimated global emissions levels in 2020 based on the Cancún Pledges are not consistent with cost effective mitigation trajectories that are at least about as likely as not to limit warming to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, but they do not preclude the option to meet this goal (high confidence)”.
The UN panel of climate scientists says some consequences of global warming will become irreversible unless greenhouse gas emissions fall to zero by the end of the century − but latest research suggests the reality may be even more urgent than that.
By Alex Kirby
LONDON, 3 November, 2014
Climate change threatens to become “severe, pervasive and irreversible”, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Without drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the report says, global average temperatures will probably increase by another 2°C by mid-century on their 1986-2005 levels. This implies temperatures nearly 4°C higher by 2100.
The warnings come in the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, itself a distillation of the three distinct volumes of the Panel’s Fifth Assessment Report (on climate science, impacts and mitigation) published since September 2013.
Will to change
The IPCC chair, Dr R K Pachauri, said at the Summary’s launch in Copenhagen: “We have the means to limit climate change. The solutions are many, and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change. . .”
The Panel insists that adapting to climate change will not be enough, and that the world must make “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
Dr Pachauri said: “To keep a good chance of staying below 2ºC [the international threshold for temperature rise], and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40% to 70% globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100.”
The Summary, spelling out in careful terms what this means, says: “A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial timescale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period.”
Put more simply, this means that without an effective way to clean up the main greenhouse gas, the world will face permanent changes. Unfortunately, the method proposed for cleaning the atmosphere − carbon capture and storage − has not yet proved itself at scale.
So Dr Pachauri’s plea that the world finds “the will to change“ is fine, so far as it goes. The problem is that there are also several technological hurdles still to surmount.
And that’s not the only problem with this report. As with previous major IPCC reports, it unavoidably trails some way behind the facts. The authors of the three volumes on which the Summary is based, published in the last 14 months, were able to consider only climate science published up till 15 March, 2013.
But among research published since then − and too late to be considered by the IPCC teams − was a NASA report suggesting that the melting glaciers of West Antarctica may have passed the point of no return, with serious consequences for global sea levels.
Yet the IPCC Summary says simply: “Abrupt and irreversible ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet is possible, but current evidence and understanding is insufficient to make a quantitative assessment.”
Other recent advances in climate science that were published too late for the Panel to consider relate to the Greenland ice sheet and to the Amazon.
This is not to blame the IPCC for producing a report that has serious gaps. Its assessment reports appear only once every six or seven years, and are written by unpaid volunteers, supported by a permanent staff of around 12 people.
But if you hear the IPCC being accused − as it often is − of alarmism, consider how truly alarming the Summary would have been if the authors had been able to digest all we now know about the effects of climate change. − Climate News Network
An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year to 2020
A cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020: carbon-neutral growth
Cut net CO2 emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 [Net emissions. Not gross].
Air Transport’s Climate Change Track Record
Air transport accounts for 2% of global manmade CO2 emissions
Air transport’s relative contribution has not increased in the past 20 years and is not expected to increase beyond 3% by 2050 according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Air transport has reduced its fuel use and CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer by well over 70% compared to the 1960s.
Although in 2012 passenger kilometer performed increased by as much as 5.3% and tonne kilometers performed by 3.3%, total emissions increased only 1.4% to 689 million tonnes of CO2, compared to 679 million tonnes in 2011
Emissions growth of 1.4% in 2012 is the result of
A 2.7% capacity increase (accounting for 18 million tonnes of CO2)
But was partially offset by an annual percentage efficiency improvement of 1.3%
Carbon-Neutral Growth 2020 (CNG2020)
CNG2020 means that aviation’s net CO2 emissions will not increase beyond 2020 levels even as demand for air transport continues to grow
The industry is working hard to deliver CNG2020 (Four Pillar strategy), but it is also contingent upon action by other stakeholders, notably:
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) needs to adopt a CO2 emission standard for new aircraft types
Governments and fuel companies need to support and scale up the production of sustainable biofuels for aviation
Governments and air navigation service providers need to improve air traffic management, and live up to their commitments to deliver the Single European Sky in Europe and NextGen in the United States
At its Annual General Meeting in June 2013, IATA members adopted a resolutionproviding a set of principles on how governments could integrate a single global market-based measure as part of an overall package of measures to put a cap on net aviation emissions from 2020
Four Pillar Strategy to Address Climate Change
Short-term: enhancements and modifications to existing in-service fleet
Medium-term: accelerate fleet renewal, introduce latest technologies, including drop-in biofuels
Long-term: radical new technologies and aircraft designs
IATA Technology Roadmap identifies technologies that could reduce fuel burn per aircraft by up to 30%
Improved operations can save fuel and CO2 emissions by up to 6% per year (IPCC)
IATA helps fuel conservation by compiling best practices, publishing guidance, visiting airlines and training
IATA will extend fuel conservation programs and promote airline environmental management systems
Governments and infrastructure providers could avoid up to 12% of CO2 emissions by addressing airport and airspace inefficiencies (IPCC)
Some 4% of this has already been achieved since 1999 (according to the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation – CANSO)
Single European Sky (SES), US NextGen Air Transport System and flexible use of airspace would contribute to these savings
To the extent that the industry’s climate change objectives may not be achieved through the first three pillars alone, a cost-effective single global market-based measure is needed to bridge the gap
Considering the international nature of aviation, a global approach to aviation emissions must be preferred over a patchwork of individual and uncoordinated policies:
A market-based measure should be cost-effective and administratively simple
Airlines should only be held accountable once for their emissions
A patchwork of measures may lead to the same emissions being covered by more than one mechanism.
A global mechanism is needed to prevent market distortions and carbon leakage
At its 38th session, the ICAO Assembly decided to develop a global market-based measure for international aviation. It requested the ICAO Council to finalize the work on the technical aspects, environmental and economic impacts and modalities of the possible options for a global MBM scheme. The results of the work of the Council will be reported to the next Assembly in 2016 for approval.
A very readable, short, paper by ICF sets out the extent to which global aviation will not be able to make the carbon reductions it claims will be possible. ICF looked at the global commitment by the industry to make fuel efficiency gains of 1.5% annually to 2020, and then “carbon neutral growth” from 2020 onwards – despite annual growth in passengers of about 4-5% per year. ICF concludes that even with improvements in aircraft technology, airline efficiencies and operational improvements, together with the introduction of 6% biofuels, there will be a sizeable 23% carbon gap between commercial aviation forecasts and industry targets by 2023. Without that much biofuel (which ICF considers unlikely) the gap would be 27%. Without industry efficiencies and biofuels, global aviation would be emitting about 53% more carbon in 2023 than now. ICF believes carbon offsetting to be the most cost-effective way to close the carbon gap – but that only means aviation buying carbon credits from other sectors which are actually reducing their emissions, while aviation can then continue to increase theirs.
Study finds a carbon gap of 220 million tonnes in 2023 will require offsetting by the airline industry
Even with improvements in aircraft technology, airline efficiencies and operational improvements, together with the introduction of biofuels, there will be a sizeable carbon gap between commercial aviation forecasts and industry targets by 2023, according to a study by consultancy ICF International. Without these improvements and biofuel take-up, ICF estimates commercial aviation will produce 53% more carbon in 2023 than today, leading to a 33% gap with the industry’s goal of capping net emissions from 2020. The consultancy’s own forecast is for global CO2 emissions from aviation to reach 942 million tonnes by 2020 and so form the baseline for the industry’s carbon-neutral growth target. With efficiencies and biofuels, the annual carbon gap would be in the region of 220 million tonnes by 2023, which ICF says will have to be mitigated through carbon offsetting.
ICF, which has considerable expertise in airline industry planning and forecasting, estimates global carbon emissions from aviation in 2013 at around 750 million tonnes, a higher assessment than that from the industry itself, which puts the figure at 705 million tonnes. To arrive at the 942 million tonnes by 2020, ICF factored in the industry’s goal of improving annual efficiency by 1.5% through to 2020 against a forecasted increase in global flight hours.
The consultancy believes that compared to most recent industry forecasts, changes in aircraft productivity will reduce the number of flights airlines need to operate to carry the same number of passengers. Over the next 20 years, it says, air traffic will grow by 4% and the fleet required to carry that traffic will increase by just 3.1%.
It says the slower growth in flight hours will make it easier for the industry to achieve its carbon-neutral growth from 2020 goal. “Even with a lower forecast in flying hours, however, the baseline outlook for aviation carbon still exceeds industry targets by 42% in 2023,” cautions ICF in its ‘Mind the Carbon Gap’ white paper.
To close that gap, ICF studied a range of technology improvements and efficiencies that airlines and aircraft manufacturers can introduce over the 10-year period that could cut annual carbon output by 8% in 2023. This would reduce ICF’s baseline estimate of 1,253 million tonnes of CO2 to 1,195 tonnes in 2023.
ICF notes industry groups and individual airlines have built up hopes that biofuels will be a solution to aviation emissions but its study is less optimistic about the prospect.
“Market forces do not appear aligned to make biofuels cost competitive with traditional kerosene in the near term or medium term,” says the paper. “There is little appetite for government subsidies to cover this cost differential, as the United States historically did for corn-based ethanol production or as many governments have done to support renewable electricity. Unfortunately, biofuels are unlikely to close the full gap between projected aviation carbon and the industry’s targets.”
However, ICF estimates that biofuels could contribute to a further reduction of 33 million tonnes of CO2 in 2023, bringing the carbon gap down to 220 tonnes.
The consultancy – which says it has provided guidance on aviation emissions to ICAO, analysis for the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme and is currently helping China design its future carbon trading programme – believes carbon offsetting to be the most cost-effective way to close that gap.
Industry groups and individual airlines have built up great hope — or hype—about biofuels as a solution to aviation emissions. This focus indicates an implicit recognition that even the most optimistic scenarios of efficiency improvements will be insufficient to meet the industry’s commitments to carbon-neutral growth.
The most promising biofuels under consideration today, derived from Jatropha and Salicornia oils, result in 40 to 60% of the lifecycle carbon emissions produced by petroleum jet fuel.
Although biofuels have lower carbon content than oil, energy consumed in production reduces benefits from CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere during cultivation.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that by 2020, biofuels will make up approximately 6% of all aviation fuels. Applying the FAA’s 6% assumption to ICF’s baseline carbon forecast would reduce total aviation carbon output up to 3.6%
during the forecast period.
Unfortunately, this scenario will require a significant coordinated effort to achieve because of a number of obstacles to widespread use of biofuels, some technical and some economic.
Technically, biofuels must gain the trust of airlines and regulators as safe alternatives to kerosene, including the impact on engine maintenance and new methods to ensure safe handling at the airport and procedures for emergency response.
Current aircraft engines depend on aromatic components in petroleum, such as benzene, that help rubber seals expand during engine combustion. Barring development of new engine technology, biofuels will constitute no more than half the total fuel onboard. As a result, biofuels will require a parallel fueling infrastructure at airports to blend fuels in the right mix for each product.
Economically, biofuels may simply be too expensive for airlines to embrace on a wide scale. Biofuels currently cost at least $3.00 more per gallon ($993 per tonne) than jet fuel, or a premium of $15,000 for a typical transcontinental flight. Market forces do not appear aligned to make biofuels cost competitive with traditional kerosene in the near term or medium term. There is little appetite for government subsidies to cover this cost differential, as the United States historically did for corn-based ethanol production or as many governments have done to support renewable electricity.
Meanwhile, other industries are already willing to pay higher prices for bio-based polymers, further reducing market incentives to process feedstock into biofuels for aircraft instead of other purposes.
Unfortunately, biofuels are unlikely to close the full gap between projected aviation carbon and the industry’s targets.
Participants in an emissions trading scheme purchase certificates that prove a carbon reduction has been achieved in another industry or location. In one functioning example, the United Nations certifies carbon reduction actions, such as eliminating fugitive refrigerant emissions. To offset carbon produced in flight, airlines would purchase these certificates, thereby reducing global emissions at a lower cost than airlines would be able to achieve themselves..
On Market Based Measures the report says:
Assuming aircraft manufacturers and airlines implement widespread efficiency improvements, and assuming the airline industry is able to implement some biofuel use, [the ICF says: “We assume that North America and Europe achieve the biofuel usage levels predicted by the FAA and that the Middle East and Pacific Rim ramp up to European production levels by 2020″.] ICF’s forecast still shows a gap between the outlook for aviation carbon and the industry’s stated targets.
This gap equates to 220 million tons of CO2 in 2023, or the equivalent annual emissions from 44 million cars.
For the aviation industry to meet its emissions targets in 2023 and beyond, reductions in other industries will have to offset airline emissions.
There is precedent for reductions in GHG using such market based approaches. In the Northeastern United States, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) invested $700 million over 5 years to produce more than $2 billion in energy savings. RGGI worksbecause producers with the highest emissions were able to purchase reductions from firms with the lowest cost to reduce emissions.
Similarly, after implementing prudent efficiencies in aviation, it is more cost-effective to reduce GHG emissions in other industries. It will simply cost less to install methane digesters on farms or to insulate buildings than to accelerate aircraft retirement.
ICF has experience developing offset programs to enable the most efficient outcomes. ICF gave some of the earliest guidance on aviation emissions to ICAO—the UN body responsible for aviation — and has provided analysis for the European Union’s Emissions
Trading Scheme. Currently, ICF is helping China design its future carbon trading program
. ICF International says of itself: (aviation is just one sector in which it works)
ICF International provides professional services and technology solutions that deliver beneficial impact in areas critical to the world’s future.
The firm combines passion for its work with industry expertise and innovative analytics to produce compelling results throughout the entire program lifecycle, from research and analysis through implementation and improvement.
Since 1969, ICF has been serving government at all levels, major corporations, and multilateral institutions. More than 4,500 employees serve these clients from more than 70 offices worldwide.
DfT estimates of amount of biofuels are between the two figures of 2.5% and 10% biofuel use by 2050.
Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP, has set out clearly why no new runway is needed. The Airports Commission will shortly publish their consultation options, for runway plans at Heathrow and Gatwick. Keith says the extensive evidence against there being a need for a new south east runway is being ignored. The massive advertising and PR budgets by the airports are attempting to persuade that a new runway is vital is described as a con. While in theory the Commission was set up to establish if there was a need for a runway, in reality it has just been a process of making the decision where to build one more politically acceptable. It has not been an issue of “whether” as it should have been – but just “where.” Keith comments: “… it seems the Commission’s sole purpose has become to choose where expansion will go despite the very strong existing evidence against all airport expansion.” People in the UK already fly more than almost any other nation. Economic claims of the benefits of a new runway and claims about jobs created are also grossly exaggerated. The aviation industry is perpetrating a massive hoax, for their own purposes.
SussexVoice “Talk Politics” – Green MEP Keith Taylor – We don’t need more runways
28.10.2014 (By Keith Taylor)
Keith Taylor is Member of the European Parliament for South East England and a Green Party member.
We don’t need a new runway at Gatwick – or Heathrow, or Stansted or anywhere else for that matter.
The overwhelming evidence presented against airport expansion in 2009/10 when the then Labour government was backing proposals for a third runway at Heathrow is being ignored.
The huge budgets of the pro expansion lobby are busy trying to convince people expansion is the only way to go. It’s a con.
When Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Davies Commission in 2012 there was a rising crescendo of business pressure for new runways. Cameron effectively kicked the issue into touch until after the 2015 General Election, ostensibly with a brief to Davies to consider whether expansion in the South East was necessary.
Many people believe Cameron had already privately decided that new runway(s) would be built, and forming the Commission was a cynical attempt at delaying any decision and deferring any political responsibility for implementing their recommendations.
The reality now is that the Davies Commission will recommend not whether expansion will take place but where it will happen.
In fact, it seems the Commission’s sole purpose has become to choose where expansion will go despite the very strong existing evidence against all airport expansion.
Such evidence includes the fact that without the go-ahead for any new runways, Britain is already amongst the most frequent flyers in the world. And that already more passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world.
Furthermore, nine of the ten most popular destinations from Heathrow are short-haul flights. [ Details ] Existing rail services could offer workable alternatives on most of these routes, thus freeing up landing slots for longer haul flights, addressing airport capacity problems. As trains are around ten times less polluting than planes this would also be better for the environment. [ Details of plane/train carbon by Seat 61 ].
The employment benefits of expansion have also been overplayed. Claims that airport expansion will help create thousands of new jobs to help the country through the recession are based on unreliable statistics and in fact, expansion results in more UK tourists going abroad which creates a ‘tourism deficit’, where tourists’ money is exported from UK. [Tourism deficit ].
Economist Brendon Sewill said:
“The Government, aided by the aviation industry, is perpetrating a hoax that airport expansion is vital to the economy and will help us though the recession. Councillors and planning officers are being misled by exaggerated claims that the expansion of their local airports will create lots of extra jobs. For example, ten years ago Manchester Airport claimed that its second runway would create 50,000 extra jobs [ link ] whereas in practice employment at the airport has increased by only 4,000.” [See employment details below. Airport had 2,088 employees in 2013 and 2,585 in 2000].
As anti-aviation expansion campaigners, we must be more strategic. If residents of Gatwick and residents of Heathrow both oppose expansion on their own local impacts then this will just be seen as a NIMBY reaction and our chances of winning will be limited.
But if we can create a situation whereby all anti-aviation expansion campaigners are calling for no runway expansion anywhere – because of the very convincing arguments that we have at our disposal on the environment, climate change, noise, air pollution and community blight – then we’re in with a chance of winning.
That also means supporting the regional airport campaigns in their smaller battles to prevent expansion such as the successful campaign I recently supported at Redhill Aerodrome. [ link ]
The fight-back is already happening and will be strengthened when everyone starts saying ‘Stop All Airport Expansion’ to promote the issues further up the agenda.
I look forward to making these points at the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) conference on Saturday 22nd November.
The EU came to an agreement on 23rd October, to make an overall cut of 40% in carbon emissions, compared to their 1990 level, by 2030. Though proclaimed by governments etc as a huge achievement, in reality it is nothing of the sort. The UK regrettably lobbied to weaken the targets. The 40% target includes some credits from emissions trading with countries outside the EU, so the actual targets are only 27% for energy efficiency, and 27% for renewable energy. Friends of the Earth points out that the EU had already achieved a 20% cut in emissions by 2012, meaning that it is pretty much business-as-usual for the years till 2030, with such a lax target. Leading climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre sent an open letter to David Cameron about the inadequacy of the EU targets. This letter explains why, for the chance of it being “likely” that we do not exceed the international community’s 2°C commitment, requires the EU to reduce the emissions from its energy system by 80% by 2030, with complete decarbonisation just a few years later. Not a mere 40% by 2030.
Friends of the Earth comment:
EU2030 climate decision puts polluters’ interests first
Reacting to new EU targets for tackling climate change agreed last night, Asad Rehman, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:
“David Cameron has written himself into history alongside Canadian PM Stephen Harper and Australian leader Tony Abbott as the men who were willing to turn their backs on climate science, on the demands of their people and on the everyday reality of devastating climate impacts.
“This decision has put the interests of polluters ahead of the interests of people and the planet. Cameron may attempt to spin this backward step on climate as progress but it has effectively shut the door on limiting temperature rises to 2c and that will have devastating consequences for the poorest countries in the world.
“This decision is bad for jobs, the economy and people’s needs. The only winners will be the dirty energy corporations who have panicked Cameron into giving them a fat cheque and a renewed license to pollute.”
Notes to editors
1. The UK government convinced other countries to back their proposal for the EU climate and energy package to consist of only a binding but weak emissions reduction target and non-binding weak targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
2. 40% target – a number that sounds much higher than it is?
The greenhouse target of 40% is a 27% domestic emissions target in real terms (once surplus hot air credits from the discredited Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and ESD surplus are included). The EU has already reached a target of 20% cuts by 2012. For the next 18 years EU emissions cuts could slow down to a crawl.
The EU (28) GHG target in 2020 is 20% on 1990 levels.
According to the EU’s own statistics the EU was at 19.2% in 2012 on 1990 levels – which means that the 2020 target will have been met with 8 years still to go.
In million tonnes of CO2 that means:
In 1990 the EU was emitting 5626 MTCO2 pollutants
In 2012 the EU was emitting 4544 MTCO2 pollutants
with a legally binding target under the Kyoto Protocol of 4398 MTCO2 emissions by 2020.
The 40% target in 2030 being proposed by the UK Govt at the EU Council meeting would mean that in 2030 the EU would be emitting 3375 MTCO2 pollutants.
However the ETS surplus credits which are handed out as free permits to pollute could add in a worst case scenario an additional right to emit 1350 MTCO2 emissions. Alternatively these 1350 will be phased across the 10 year period, slowing the transformation and effort required each year. Please see chart here.
That target for 2030 would therefore not be ambitious than the target for 2020. In essence that means that the EU could take no action between 2012 to 2020. And then between 2020 and 2030 the EU 40% target could mean very little additional action.
3. Is the EU target of 40% a fair share of the global effort needed to keep temperatures below 2c?
Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland together with the support of Stockholm Environment Institute have launched a website to calculate all countries’ fair share of global effort needed to avoid dangerous climate change. It would mean that the EU would actually need to be at negative 3800 MTCO2 by 2030.
Since the EU could no longer deliver all its emissions domestically it would need to help finance actions outside of the EU as part of its mitigation effort. According to FoE EWNI’s statistics this would be a domestic emissions target and an international finance target.
The EU should be at 1462 MTCO2 emissions – which is –74% domestic target for 2030 on 1990 levels and $345 billion in climate finance transfers
4. Is the UK championing an ambitious approach to the Paris COP in 2015? See an analysisby Friends of the Earth of the UK’s approach to the Paris COP in 2015.
5. Is the UK responsible for weak energy renewable energy targets?
The UK also lobbied heavily for a non binding and weak 27% renewable energy target – this represents barely more than business-as–usual and will send a dangerous signal to UK investors that the EU renewables policy is being abandoned. The current renewables directive Europe has developed certain production volumes up to 2020. The target of 27% by 2030 however breaks continuity from 6.4% per cent per year between 2010 and 2020 to 1.4% per cent per year, between 2020 and 2030. The target is so weak that its estimated that the same level of renewables could be achieved without any target. For more informations see: http://www.foeeurope.org/2030-renewables.
6. Is the UK responsible for weak energy efficiency targets?
The UK was also responsible for pushing for non binding energy efficiency targets. Despite energy efficiency being seen as the 1st fuel the UK finally accepted a 27% energy efficiency target rather than its initial proposal of 25% as long as the targets were not binding at a national level. This target fails to meet even the EU’s own very conservative analysis which showed higher targets delivered a huge boost for jobs, the economy and energy security. In effect Cameron has sacrificed British jobs, British warm homes, lower gas imports from abroad as well as a possible 2.68% increase in UK GDP because of pressure from eurosceptics in his and other parties. Gas imports for example are expected to fall by just 12% with a 27% target, compared to 22% with a 30% target and 40% with a 40% target.
7. Are the current targets in line with climate science?
Leading climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre sent an open letterto David Cameron about the inadequacy of the EU targets.
IPCC Vice Chair Professor Jim Skeaalso says thatEU targets will fail to protect the climate.
8. There are widespread concerns over the new EU Commission. Friends of the Earth Europe together with other leading green groups have expressed serious reservationsabout the new Commissions commitment to the environment and to tackling climate change.
Open letter from Professor Kevin Anderson to the PM outlining how 2°C demands an 80% cut in EU emissions by 2030
Below is an open letter (22nd Oct. 2014) to both the UK’s Prime Minister and the Secretary of State at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) [Ed Davey].
The letter summarises why the IPCC’s carbon budgets for a “likely” chance of not exceeding the international community’s 2°C commitment, requires the EU to reduce the emissions from its energy system by 80% by 2030, with complete decarbonisation just a few years later.
22nd October 2014
RE: The EU 2030 decarbonisation target and the framework for climate and energy policies
Dear Prime Minister and Secretary of State,
I wish to state my grave concern about the proposed ‘2030 framework for climate and energy policies’ that is to be finalised at this week’s European Council meeting of heads of state and senior ministers. If the 40% target proposed in the earlier Green Paper  is adopted, the EU will be signalling its dismissal of the IPCC’s carbon budgets associated with a 2°C rise in global temperature. It will give priority to politically expediency at the expense of scientific integrity, irrevocably damaging the climate change negotiations in Paris 2015.
My chief concern with the framework relates to the Commission’s assertion that “emissions would need to be reduced by 40% in the EU to be … consistent with the internationally agreed target to limit atmospheric warming to below 2°C”. Whilst such a position may have political traction, it is in direct breach of the EU’s repeated commitment to reduce its emissions “consistent with science and on the basis of equity”.
The IPCC’s budgets for a “likely” chance of not exceeding 2°C, accompanied by weak allowances for equity, demand the EU deliver, at least, an 80% reduction in emissions from its energy system by 2030, with full decarbonisation shortly after.
This stark contrast with the Green Paper’s proposed 40% reduction arises from two principal issues.
1) The IPCC’s “likely” carbon budgets The IPCC’s budgets, for a “likely” chance of not exceeding the 2°C target, range from around 600 to 1200 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) for the period 2011-2100 . To put this in context, in the four years since 2011 almost 150 billion tonnes have already been emitted; i.e. between a quarter and an eighth of the total carbon budget for the rest of the century. To estimate the budget for energy-only carbon, it is necessary to subtract emissions from deforestation and cement production . Even with stringent control on emissions from these sectors, the remaining carbon budget for energy equates to as few as 5 and at the most 20 years of emissions equivalent to those in 2014 .
2) The inclusion of equity when apportioning emissions to regions The EU has acknowledged the need for its emissions to reach a peak and subsequently begin reducing well before those of industrialising and poorer nations. Even today, the carbon intensity of a typical Chinese person’s lifestyle is considerably lower than that of their European counterpart (5.9 tonnes p.a. per person compared with 9.4 for the EU28, rising to 10.1 and 11.4 tonnes for the UK and Germany respectively ). Under even the most stringent deal at the Paris 2015 negotiations, it is doubtful that the industrialising and poorer nations will collectively reach a peak in their emissions before 2025. However, if this were to be achieved, and if by the 2030s they deliver mitigation rates similar to those of the wealthier nations, the “likely” carbon budget remaining for the EU, USA etc. demands immediate double-digit mitigation rates .
Put simply, the basic arithmetic of: (1) the IPCC’s 2°C carbon budgets; (2) highly optimistic assumptions on deforestation and cement; (3) stringent emissions pathways for industrialising and poorer nations; and (4) the EU’s oft-cited commitment on 2°C; requires the European Council to increase the 2030 target to, at least, an 80% reduction in emissions.
Alternatively, if the Green Paper’s 40% target is adopted, the EU should be honest about why it has chosen to renege on it previous 2°C commitments. Moreover, it should explain the reasoning for judging the challenges of stringent mitigation as more onerous than the increased risk of dangerous repercussions for poorer and climatically more vulnerable communities.
I understand the enormous political difficulties for European heads of state in developing a transparent and evidence-based mitigation agenda. However, the reasons for today’s climate dilemma reside in our prolonged abject failure to set in train an effective programme of mitigation. A quarter of a century on from the IPCC’s first report, the carbon intensity of a typical EU citizen’s lifestyle remains unchanged . I urge you to resist the vested interests calling for continued inaction and instead drive for an ambitious policy framework “consistent with science” and developed on “the basis of equity”. Ultimately, this will be the legacy we bequeath to future generations.
 This is the language used by the IPCC in the AR5 to provide a qualitative interpretation of quantitative probabilities. It is based on the Guidance Note for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties. IPCC Cross-Working Group Meeting on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties. Jasper Ridge, CA, USA. 6-7 July 2010
 IPCC Summary for Policy Makers; Working Group III Table 6.3, p.12. The precise budget range is 630 to 1180 GtCO2
 With the surge in construction required to transition to a low-carbon infrastructure alongside ongoing industrialisation within poorer nations, reversing the 6.9% p.a. growth in emissions from cement will be extremely challenging. The assumptions used in this letter rely on deforestation and cement emissions, for the century, totalling 100 and 200GtCO2respectively. For cement this relates to either: 1) an immediate halving in current growth rates with a transition to zero emissions by 2075; or, 2) a continuation at current rates to 2030 with a transition to zero emissions by 2050.
 Once deforestation and cement emissions are included the remaining budget range for energy-only is ~190 to 740GtCO2 for 2015-2100. Emissions for 2014 will be around 37GtCO2, hence the 5 to 20 year estimate. It is important to note that global emissions are currently growing at ~3% p.a., and that there is no prospect of this changing significantly before 2020, by when emissions from energy will be ~42GtCO2.
 Calculated from consumption-based inventories where emissions from imports and exports are also included. Territorial and consumption-based data is available for the EU28 region and individual EU nations from the Global Carbon Atlas.
* This letter builds on a previous submission (13.12.2013) to the EU Commission President with regards to the Green Paper A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies. Brussels, 27.3.2013 COM(2013) 169 final
EU leaders adopt ‘flexible’ energy and climate targets for 2030
EU leaders Thursday night (23 October) committed by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%, and increase energy efficiency and renewables by at least 27%.
French President François Hollande said the deal would send a clear message to big polluters such as China and the United States ahead of UN talks in Paris next year to agree global legally binding greenhouse gas emissions.
A special “flexibility clause” was added to the final text, making it possible for the European Council to return to the targets after the UN summit in December 2015.
But Hollande told reporters that the clause was not dependent on the Paris talks, as the Council can revisit the targets anytime.
Hollande, who will host the negotiations, said it was a “conclusive and definitive” agreement. It was essential a deal was reached before the Paris summit next year, he said.
Efficiency and renewables targets watered down
But the efficiency and renewables targets were watered down. The European Commission had called for an efficiency goal of 30%. That was reduced to 27% across the EU.The EU level target is not legally binding at the national level or EU level and will be reviewed in 2020 “having in mind” a 30% EU-level target, according to the summit conclusions.
The renewables target of at least 27% is binding at EU-wide level but, after opposition from countries such as the United Kingdom, it will not be binding at national level. All three targets are compared to 1990 levels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also noted that the climate agreement has made the EU capable of being an important player on the international stage. She said that the binding target of at least 27% renewables was particularly important to Germany and that those member states, that want to do more, are able to do so under this agreement.
“Germany will not have a hard time [living up to the targets]. We have already set tougher national targets,” said the German chancellor.
Merkel stressed that while the 40% emissions reduction target is going to be broken down to individual member states based on their GDP per capita, those countries that will have lower targets would have to do more in other areas.
Free allowances of carbon emissions to poorer countries will continue after 2020 to offset competition from countries not subject to EU climate laws.
The deal was condemned by groups such as Greenpeace and Oxfam as being too weak. “It is shocking that business leaders called for more ambitious targets than those agreed by EU leaders,” Oxfam said.
Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said the deal would not cost her country. Poland was the country that mostly opposed ambitious climate goals, fearing for its coal power plants.
“I said that we will not return from this summit with new [financial] burdens, and indeed there are no new burdens,” Kopacz told Polish reporters.
European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030.
But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised.
As well as the greenhouse gas, two 27% targets were agreed – for renewable energy market share and increase in energy efficiency improvement. The former would be binding only on the EU as a whole. The latter would be optional, although it could be raised to 30% by a review in 2020.
“It was not easy, not at all, but we managed to reach a fair decision that sets the EU on an ambitious but cost-effective climate path,” Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council told a press conference in Brussels.
“This package is very good news for our fight against climate change,” the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, added. “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”
With an eye on the haggling expected ahead of a global climate summit in Paris next year, the EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said the agreement was an important step for the whole world. She said: “We have sent a strong signal to other big economies and all other countries: we have done our homework, now we urge you to follow Europe’s example.”
But a clause was inserted into the text that could trigger a review of the EU’s new targets if other countries do not come forward with comparable commitments in Paris.
The Brussels summit was dominated by arguments over energy savings and climate policy, with countries from Poland to Portugal pleading special circumstances and threatening to veto any breakthrough unless their demands were met.
David Cameron was keen to minimise any perceived loss of UK sovereignty over energy policy, for fear of further exposure to attacks from the Eurosceptic wing of his Conservative party and Ukip. The prime minister won a battle to keep policies aimed at boosting renewables and saving electricity voluntary for member states.
“It’s important that you’ve got flexibility over your energy mix,” said a Downing Street spokeswoman. Cameron had hoped to cut the energy efficiency figure to 25%, but was prepared to accept 27% as long as it was not binding on Britain.
Portugal attained a non-binding objective that 15% of the bloc’s energy be transportable via cross-border connections by 2030, with an invitation to the European Commission to make concrete proposals for project financing from the EU budget.
Danish concerns were addressed with the introduction of a “cap and trade approach” to sectors previously considered outside the bloc’s carbon market such as agriculture, buildings and transport – which alone represents 31% of the bloc’s emissions.
Poland, heavily dependent on coal-fired energy production, threatened to block the deal unless the costs to its economy and industry were discounted by €15bn – €20bn (£12bn-£16bn) between 2020 and 2030, under a complicated system of concessions from the EU’s carbon trading system.
Concessions granted to Poland will allow it to continue reaping hundreds of millions of euros in free allowances to modernise coal-fired power plants. Of eight EU nations eligible for the free allocations, Poland claimed 60% of the total up until 2019.
A poll by TNS and YouGov for the online activist group Avaaz late last week found that 56% of Poles thought that EU financial support for energy should back clean energy rather than fossil fuels.
“It’s scandalous,” said Julia Michalak, a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network Europe. “A continuation of free emission permits for Poland’s coal-reliant energy system would be a grave mistake. Leaders who came to Brussels to agree new historic climate goals, are actually discussing whether to hand out money to Europe’s dirtiest power plants.”
Intense bilateral discussions between Cameron, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other EU leaders over the last week tried to find ways of placating the Poles, who kept open their option of vetoing the summit outcome until the end.
The anticipated 40% greenhouse gas cut by 2030 would be measured against benchmark 1990 levels. That figure is to be binding on the EU and the minimum level achieved, with Germany and Britain happy to agree a higher figure.
Tony Robson, the CEO of Knauf Insulation – a leading insulation firm that had threatened to divest from Europe unless firm energy saving targets were announced – said that the 27% figure for energy efficiency improvement was “no better than business as usual” in an open letter to EU leaders.
A 27% target “sends a strong signal to the energy efficiency industry to ‘leave Europe and make your investments elsewhere’”, he wrote.
By contrast with the inadequate deal actually achieved, it is being promoted by government as a great success. Which it is not.
Ed Davey MP writes … Signed, sealed and delivered, an ambitious climate change deal for Europe
By Edward Davey MP (Liberal Democrat Voice)
24th October 2014
We’ve done it! For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far. While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.
What have we achieved? An ambitious Europe-wide climate change deal that will see greenhouse gases cut by at least 40% by 2030. Other countries wanted a lower target, but I argued that the science demanded higher. And I was determined that if in next year’s UN climate talks other countries like the US and China show similar ambition, Europe should be ready to increase its efforts still further – so the words “at least” in the deal are more important than normal.
In the two years I spent working on this, I was also determined the deal was as flexible as possible so we could go green as cost effectively as possible – able to benefit from new technologies as they evolve. We have built the world’s first ever low carbon,electricity market here in the UK to be technology neutral, and now Europe has copied us.
Effectively what we’ve done is Europeanise the UK’s Climate Change Act – the rest of Europe is levelling up to what the UK has already committed to do.
There’s also an added bonus. This deal bolsters Europe’s energy security by moving away from imports and towards a mix of home-grown energy. Mr Putin won’t enjoy reading that this deal will see the EU’s net energy imports reduce by 14%, and EU gas imports by 12% in 2030.
How have we achieved this? Let’s just say that not everyone in government thought we could get agreement on this. Some thought it was too ambitious. But we pushed ahead with it, fought several battles and won cross UK Government agreement.
The key to getting this deal done has been working with like-minded European partners. It’s been a long process, but working with those partners via the Green Growth Group that I set up has meant that we’ve won the argument and the deal has been done.
Make no mistake, this deal is the most significant environment agreement any UK Government has ever been involved with – and the Liberal Democrats led it in the UK and the EU. We can now say, this is the greenest government ever, thanks to the Liberal Democrats.
What comes next? Well, my ambition for cutting climate change doesn’t stop here. We now need to sell this package to the rest of the world. Next year in Paris I want to see an ambitious global deal signed. There is a lot of work to be done over the coming months to ensure we continue this momentum and pave the way for that deal. Rest assured I’ll be leading the charge.
Stansted airport has produced its “Sustainability Report” for 2013. It announces the remarkable claim that: “Our net carbon footprint for 2013/14 was 9,940 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions – a reduction of 66% compared to 2012/13.” It does not specify what a “net” carbon footprint is though. Unfortunately the format of the 2013 Sustainability Report and the format of earlier years makes comparison impossible. However, the claim of a 66% cut – written to imply a cut in the carbon footprint of the whole airport – is only referring to its use of electricity. The press release says: “… 66% reduction in the carbon footprint achieved by moving the airport onto MAG’s group contract for purchasing low carbon electricity, which is generated using only biomass such as wood and straw rather than coal.” It turns out that MAG has a contract with Haven Energy, that is part of Drax, which is turning its generators from burning coal to burning biomass, in the form of wood pellets from forest in the southern USA, doing considerable environmental harm. While Drax claims its biomass electricity has 80% less CO2 than coal, some consider it to produce more, not less. That 66% claim is highly dubious …
Stansted reports 66% reduction in carbon footprint in first year of MAG ownership
21 Oct 2014
Reducing carbon footprint by 66%, diverting 93% of waste from landfill and trialling new technologies to improve aircraft performance on set departure routes are just a snapshot of the highlights in Stansted Airport’s corporate responsibility report published today, reflecting on performance during the first year of M.A.G ownership.
As the biggest single site employer in the region, providing direct employment for 10,850 people across 190 companies based at the airport, Stansted is a gateway to Europe offering more scheduled connections than any other UK airport; and having returned to growth under M.A.G ownership for the first time since 2007 and with a £260million investment programme underway to improve services and facilities for passengers we are a turning point in the airports history.
As Stansted continues to grow, carefully managing the airport’s operations is at the centre of M.A.G’s CSR strategy, which seeks to ensure the social and economic benefits of the airport are shared as widely as possible whilst minimising environmental impacts.
M.A.G’s Director of CSR, Neil Robinson, has lead the transition to bring a renewed focus on CSR at Stansted and commenting on the report published today he said:
“The team at Stansted shared our desire to drive forward a new CSR strategy with great progress made in just the first year, with the most significant saving being a 66% reduction in the carbon footprint achieved by moving the airport onto M.A.G’s group contract for purchasing low carbon electricity, which is generated using only biomass such as wood and straw rather than coal. [It emerges, by separate research, that MAG is buying its power from Drax, which is converting its generators from coal to biomass. It uses pellets obtained largely from forests in the USA, doing environmental harm, and shipping these across the Atlantic. Drax is claiming there is an 80% carbon saving of its wood pellets compared to coal. See below. But opponents suspect that, taking everything into account, the carbon emissions from wood pellets could be even worse than those from coal. Huge subsidies are involved. Stansted can get this electricity at a low price, due to Climate Change Levy Exemption Certificates. AW note]
“Our commitment to waste management was recognised when Stansted was awarded Gold accreditation by National Recycling Stars and with the volume of waste recycled or recovered increased by 24% we finished the year having diverted 93% of waste from landfill putting us firmly on-track to achieve our target of sending zero waste direct to landfill by the end of 2015.
“We had very encouraging results from a trial carried out in partnership with easyJet and in agreement with the CAA of new technology that helps aircraft stay closer to the centre line on set departure routes, which will help reduce the noise footprint of people affected by aircraft noise on the ground and we’re now expanding this trial to other airline partners.
“Our drive to improve staff engagement got off to a flying start when we introduced a dedicated team for internal communications and through renewed focus of our community strategy a new work experience programme was introduced, we increased staff volunteering, set up a mentoring scheme for GCSE students and established the London Stansted Community Network to bring together the 190 companies based at Stansted to talk as one community.
“This report outlines just some of the first stepping stones laid by M.A.G for the new CSR strategy being implemented at Stansted and we’re currently out to public consultation on our draft Sustainable Development Plan which will set the future business objectives and the CSR agenda as we take the business forward.”
Stansted’s report section on its carbon footprint states:
Preventing emissions and improving efficiency
At London Stansted Airport, energy efficiency and carbon emissions are considered at every stage of a project and it is our policy to install energy efficient technology wherever possible in new developments and refurbishment projects. For example, throughout the first stage of the redevelopment and refurbishment of the London Stansted terminal building, we have installed LED lighting systems in the passenger search area and the new toilet block in the international departure lounge. We have also installed LED lighting in office block lobbies, lifts and a number of escalators. We will continue to install LED lighting wherever possible in the building upgrades planned for 2014/15 and are developing plans to change more of our existing traditional
lighting to LED throughout 2014-15. This will include the wholesale change out of lighting in our terminal service tunnel to LED technology.
We have also focused on the terminal building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. During 2013/14 we undertook improvements to our chilled water systems, which have delivered further reductions in energy consumption. We are currently upgrading the air-handling units in the main terminal building to increase efficiency with variable speed drives and better sensors and controls and we will be looking at HVAC systems in a number of other buildings.
These projects have helped to deliver a 6% reduction in the energy consumed by the airport’s operations.
Monitoring and targeting is another key element of our approach to energy management. In
2013/14 we commenced a major programme to upgrade our electricity metering. This will
include the installation of over 100* meters and the connection of meters in our main buildings to an automatic meter reading system (AMR). This programme should be completed by the end of 2014 and will significantly improve our ability to analyse consumption and prioritise energy efficiency measures.
This year we have amended our carbon footprint reporting to align with the wider MAG group and to improve the transparency of our reporting of emissions we can directly control and those we can only influence.
Our net carbon footprint for 2013/14 was 9,940 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions – a reduction of 66% compared to 2012/13. This very substantial reduction is largely due to emissions avoided through our purchase of grid electricity from renewable sources.[No details of figures, or assumptions made, are given. The government presumes the carbon emissions from any source of renewable electricity are zero, though this in actually not accurate. AW note]. Our biomass boiler which we installed in 2008 has had some technical difficulties and we are currently reviewing options for low carbon heat generation for the terminal along with our overall approach to on-site generation from renewables.
We continue to work with our partners to support efforts to reduce their emissions. A number
of the measures described in the noise section also contribute to reduction of emissions from aircraft. We have maintained our record on public transport with over 50% of passengers using public transport to travel to and from the airport.
By contrast, the 2012 Stansted Sustainability Report stated:
Stansted Airport Limited has been producing a carbon footprint since 2008. [sic!!] By thinking creatively about energy efficiency and working closely with business partners,
passengers and our employees we have been able to reduce our carbon emissions by over 60,000 tonnes of CO2 over the last four years. This is the equivalent to taking
5,335 vehicles off the road for a year.
In 2012, we continued with this trend, reducing our full carbon footprint by 6.2%. This equates to a saving 26,788 tonnes of CO2. This is a greater reduction than would have been expected based on reduced passenger numbers which fell by 585,674 or 3.3% compared to 2011 figures. In defining our carbon footprint we have followed Greenhouse Gas reporting protocols and split the emissions into key groups. Direct emissions relate to those emissions Stansted has direct or indirect control of such as gas or electricity use and are technically known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The other emissions result from the operation of the airport which Stansted has limited control or influence over and are known as indirect or Scope 3 emissions. Our direct emissions reduced by 3% primarily due to reduction in the use of gas and electricity and improved management of aircraft and surface transport emissions. The increase in business travel emissions is due to improved data collection and ability to determine precise emissions. The airport’s five yearly data table can be accessed on www.stanstedairport.com/sustainability
Manchester Airports Group (MAG) buy their electricity from Haven Power, which is part of Drax.
“As part of our commitment to make ground operations carbon neutral across the Manchester Airports Group by 2015, we are always looking at ways to reduce energy demand, produce our own renewable energy on site or where this is not feasible, source renewable power. Haven Power’s dedication to renewable energy mirrors our own sustainability values and we are therefore looking forward to developing a long term partnership with them.”
Neil Robinson, CSR Director Manchester Airports Group
Haven Power gets supplies of Climate Change Levy (CCL) exempt electricity. To avoid paying CCL, businesses can request power that is accredited by Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs). electricity through its parent company, Drax Power. This is what MAG has done.
Haven Power publishes a breakdown of the fuel mix used to generate all the electricity it supplies. This is produced on an annual basis in accordance with the terms of Haven Power’s Electricity Supply Licence and the relevant Regulations.
Customers who purchase Climate Change Levy exempt electricity are provided with the appropriate documentation.
Haven Power can supply businesses with Climate Change Levy (CCL) exempt electricity.
This option has been developed for businesses committed to being more sustainable, without increasing their electricity costs.
CCL is a tax levied by the government on fuels used by businesses, including electricity. This cost is passed onto customers by their supplier who collects this Levy with their electricity bills.
To avoid paying CCL, businesses can buy power that is accredited by Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs).
Levy Exempt power does not attract CCL, so despite a slightly higher energy cost, once the CCL tax is removed the overall price is the same as standard power. This option is available on all of products.*
*Available for customers using more than 15,000 kWh [per annum] and with no other form of exemption in place.
To learn more about levy exempt power call us on 01473 725943.
Details of the fuel mix for electricity supplied by Haven Power
Under Haven Power’s licence to supply electricity, we are required to let our customers know about the fuel mix of the electricity we supply.
The fuel mix for electricity supplied by Haven Power during the year ending 31 March 2014 is shown below as well as the contribution of each energy source to the total amount of electricity purchased by Haven Power Ltd.
Haven Power’s Fuel Mix 2014
Source of Electricity Percentage
Natural Gas 20%
Other fuels 4%
Environmental impact 420g CO2/kWh plus 0.00055g high level radioactive waste/kWh.
Drax is transforming itself into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator through burning sustainable biomass in place of coal. We plan to convert three of our six generating units to burn biomass. The first unit was converted in April 2013.
Drax only burns sustainable biomass. Our calculations show that the range of biomass materials we have burnt over the last few years has a far lower carbon footprint than that of fossil fuel-fired power stations.
We measure the full carbon life cycle of generating electricity from biomass, which means we measure the carbon emissions at each step of the supply chain, including harvesting, processing and transportation.
The average carbon dioxide saving, over the full life cycle, resulting from burning biomass in place of coal is above 80%.
Biofuelwatch says on burning biomass to generate electricity in the UK
Power station operators such as Drax Plc and E.On are getting some good PR for supposedly “going green”, but the truth of course, is far from that. As we discuss below, burning biomass actually emits more CO2 from their smokestacks than burning coal does. These conversions are really about keeping old, dirty power stations alive for longer, and cashing in on government subsidies.
These power stations shouldn’t be burning coal or biomass because of the huge impacts both have on communities, the environment and the climate.
Read our coal-biomass conversions briefing below or download it as a pdf here
Forests could face threat from biomass power ‘gold rush’
Sustainability fear over new power stations’ demand for wood pellets after report says their use has implications globally
Bt Jamie Doward (The Observer)
Britain’s new generation of biomass power stations will have to source millions of tonnes of wood from thousands of miles away if they are to operate near to their full capacity, raising questions about the claims made for the sustainability of the new technology.
Ministers believe biomass technology could provide as much as 11% of the UK’s energy by 2020, something that would help it meet its carbon commitments. The Environment Agency estimates that biomass-fired electricity generation, most of which involves burning wood pellets, can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared with coal-fired power stations. Eight biomass power stations, including one in a unit in the giant Drax power station, are operating in the UK and a further seven are in the pipeline. None operates near capacity.
But now environmental groups are questioning where the new plants will source their wood if the technology takes off. A campaign group, Biofuelwatch, calculates in a new report that the UK could end up burning as much as 82m tonnes of biomass each year – more than eight times the UK’s annual wood production. If Drax were to operate at full capacity, it alone would get through 16m tonnes of wood a year, according to the report, which claims a Europe-wide demand for biomass is triggering a “gold rush” for wood pellets that could have implications for global land use.
The report highlights the example of Portugal, where 10% of the country is now covered by eucalyptus plantations much of which is used for biomass energy production. Two campaign groups, the Dogwood Alliance and the US Natural Resources Defence Council, have issued critical reports about the way that forests in the southern states of the US are being used for biomass production. There are also concerns that tracts of Brazil are being used to supply the wood pellets.
But the concerns have been fiercely rejected by the biomass industry. Enviva, which supplies Drax with wood pellets, said its biomass came mainly from offcuts from poor-quality trees that are left over from those grown for the construction and paper industries. It said it would be uneconomic to cut down forests purely for biomass and that the cost of shipping a tonne of wood pellets from the east coast of the US to the UK was similar to transporting the same amount some 225 miles within the UK. It said that even the most optimistic forecasts for global wood pellet demand suggested it would not exceed 40m tonnes – equivalent to 80m tonnes of wood – a year by 2020.
“Biomass is the only renewable energy source that can replace coal quickly and cost-effectively, providing the same operational benefits while dramatically improving the environmental profile of energy generation,” a company spokesman said.
MGT Power, which is behind a proposed biomass plant on Teesside, potentially the largest of its kind in the world, told the Observer it had dropped plans to source its wood from Brazil, although it denied this was to do with sustainability concerns.
A spokesman said that biomass could be an important green technology for the UK. “We feel very strongly that biomass can provide energy at lower prices than offshore wind,” the spokesman said.
In a blog in June 2014, Professor Kevin Anderson writes about the need for people to consider their own behaviour in relation to flying. He is personally highly conscious of his own energy use. He looks in particular at academics and those in the climate change community, and their justification for the use of high carbon travel. These are some quotes: “Amongst academics, NGOs, green-business gurus and climate change policy makers, there is little collective sense of either the urgency of change needed or of our being complicit in the grim situation we now face.” And on the desire to fly to save time to spend with our families: “When we’re dead and buried our children will likely still be here dealing with the legacy of our inaction today; do we discount their futures at such a rate as to always favour those family activities that we can join in with?” And “Surely if humankind is to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by soaring emissions, we, as a community, should be a catalyst for change – behaving as if we believe in our own research, campaign objectives etc. – rather than simply acting as a bellwether of society’s complacency.”
Does Greenpeace’s sanctioning of short-haul flights mirror wider hypocrisy amongst the climate change community?
By Professor Kevin Anderson
The following article is in response to a report in the Guardian in which the head of Greenpeace UK defends the need for one of its top executives to make regular flights between his home and work (Amsterdam and Luxembourg).
The recent suite of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underline the rapidly dwindling global carbon budget into which we have to squeeze twenty first century carbon emissions. This transition from society’s ill-informed focus on 2050 (or some other conveniently far off date) to scientifically credible carbon budgets, reframes the mitigation challenge in terms of deep reductions in emissions delivered over the coming decade.
It is within this context of urgency and in the pivotal run up to the climate negotiations in Paris 2015, that Greenpeace’s sanctioning of regular short-haul flights, needs to be considered.
Defending their international programme director’s regular Luxembourg to Amsterdam flights on the basis of “needs of his family”, resonates with my experience as an academic working within the climate change community. Amongst academics, NGOs, green-business gurus and climate change policy makers, there is little collective sense of either the urgency of change needed or of our being complicit in the grim situation we now face.
Since the first IPCC report in 1990, even the rate of emissions growth has risen – to a point where emissions today, a quarter of a century later, are some 60% higher. If such emission trends continue, then we’re heading for enormous changes for many families even in the short term.
These families may not be our own – much more likely they’ll be those who have not contributed to the problem, have little income and live in areas geographically more vulnerable to climate impacts.
We choose to fly to be with our family as quickly as possible – so as not to be away for more than a few days. But the repercussions (ok, not on a 1-to-1 basis perhaps) are for another family in another place to lose their home, suffer food and water shortages, social and community pressures and wider conflicts – to put at risk the very fabric of their families and communities.
Moreover, using fast and high carbon transport to reduce the time we spend away from our families also has longer-term repercussions for our own children. Are we rushing back for the sake of our families or for our own individual engagement with our families? This is a subtle but important distinction.
Are we concerned about our families only whilst we’re around to enjoy and benefit from them, or are we more altruistically concerned regardless of our own immediate returns? When we’re dead and buried our children will likely still be here dealing with the legacy of our inaction today; do we discount their futures at such a rate as to always favour those family activities that we can join in with?
Flying is emblematic of a modern and thriving society. Regardless of evidence the aviation industry is touted as central to future prosperity – a view deeply embedded in the culture and internationalisation agenda of both universities and many NGOs.
But such a framing of contemporary society is categorically at odds with the carbon budgets accompanying the global community’s pledge to hold the rise in temperature below 2°C – i.e. to avoid “dangerous climate change”.
Aviation, as with virtually every sector, makes all the right noises about becoming more efficient and reducing carbon intensity. But this misunderstands the science and challenge of climate change. All that really matters are absolute emissions – not how efficient we are.
This ultimately is the rub – we have left it far too late for technology alone to deliver the necessary rates of mitigation.
Those of us intimately engaged on climate change know this. Whether academics, NGOs, business leaders, policy makers or journalists, we cannot hide behind a lack of knowledge of our emissions or a poor understanding of the impacts of climate change.
Despite this, the frequency of our flying to ‘essential’ meetings, conferences etc., mirrors the rapid rise in global emissions – all salved with a repeated suite of trite excuses. Surely if humankind is to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by soaring emissions, we, as a community, should be a catalyst for change – behaving as if we believe in our own research, campaign objectives etc. – rather than simply acting as a bellwether of society’s complacency.
Kevin Anderson is professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. He was previously director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s leading academic climate change research organisation, during which time he held a joint post with the University of East Anglia. Kevin now leads Tyndall Manchester’s energy and climate change research programme and is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre. He is research active with recent publications in Royal Society journals, Nature and Energy Policy, and engages widely across all tiers of government.
With his colleague Alice Bows, Kevin’s work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. His work makes clear that there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, Kevin’s research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4°C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society.
Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He sits as commissioner on the Welsh Governments climate change commission and is a director of Greenstone Carbon Management – a London-based company providing emission-related advice to private and public sector organisations. Kevin is a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
His website is Kevinanderson.info comment on climate at http://kevinanderson.info/
The European Commission has proposed scrapping a mandatory requirement to label tar sands oil as highly polluting, after years of industry opposition. The new proposal abandons one obstacle to Canada shipping crude from tar sands to Europe, and will draw strong criticism from environmental campaigners and Green politicians. To extract the oil the tar sands have to be blasted with steam, using large amounts of gas and water. In 2011, the EU agreed that tar sands should be given a carbon value 20% higher than for conventional oil. However, member states could not agree, and the Commission has been reconsidering the proposal ever since. The new proposal released only requires refiners to report an average of the feedstock used. They do not have to single out tar sands. It retains, however, a method for calculating the carbon intensity of different fuel types over their lifecycle. Some of this very high carbon oil is now making its way to Europe, and some will be turned into jet fuel. This will further increase the emissions from aviation, if the fuel used has required high carbon emissions in its production.
What is the problem with using oil derived from tar sands?
“Buried deep under the Albertan boreal forest is 140,000 square kilometres of bituminous sand, known as the ‘tar sands’ – or ‘oil sands’ by the Canadian government and oil industry. The 169.9 billion barrels of proven reserves in Canada are the third largest deposit of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Industry currently extracts 1.5 million barrels of tar sands oil per day (bpd), the majority of which is exported to the US.
“The tar sands are the world’s largest and dirtiest industrial project. Compared to conventional crude oil, oil from tar sands is much more energy-intensive to remove and process, requiring substantially more refining. Like many ‘unconventional’ types of oil, tar sands are extracted in an incredibly environmentally damaging way. The process emits 3.2 to 4.5 times more greenhouse gas than conventional oil extraction, uses vast amounts of fresh water and natural gas, and in many cases leaves behind lakes of toxic pollution. Tar sands developments destroy vast tracts of forest habitat, threatening wildlife with extinction. The resulting pollution has been thought to cause local communities, often First Nations, to suffer rare forms of cancer.”
Commission scraps plan to label tar sands as polluting
The European Commission has proposed scrapping a mandatory requirement to label tar sands oil as highly polluting, after years of industry opposition.
The new proposal abandons one obstacle to Canada shipping crude from tar sands to Europe, and is likely to draw strong criticism from environmental campaigners and Green politicians.
Last June, EurActiv reported about the draft European Commission proposal.
It is suggested in a revised draft law, how refiners should report the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply.
The debate about labelling tar sands, also known as oil sands, dates back to 2009, when EU member states approved legislation with the aim of cutting greenhouse gases from transport fuel sold in Europe by 6% by 2020, but failed to agree how to implement it.
In 2011, the European Union executive agreed that tar sands should be given a carbon value a fifth higher than for conventional oil. However, member states could not agree, and the Commission has been reconsidering the proposal ever since.
Confirming a draft seen by Reuters earlier this year, the proposal released on Tuesday only requires refiners to report an average of the feedstock used. They do not have to single out tar sands.
It retains, however, a method for calculating the carbon intensity of different fuel types over their lifecycle.
“It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through, due to resistance faced in some member states,” Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement.
“However, the Commission is today giving this another push, to try and ensure that in the future, there will be a methodology and thus an incentive to choose less polluting fuels over more polluting ones like, for example, oil sands.”
Oil sands crude, exploited by the major oil firms, such as BP Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, costs more to produce than conventional crude, and uses more energy, water and emits more carbon over its lifecycle.
Found in clay-like sands, it has to be dug up in open-pit mines with massive shovels, or blasted with steam and pumped to the surface, before oil can be extracted.
The revised proposal still has to be debated by member states through a fast-track procedure meant to take less than two months. It also needs a sign off from the European Parliament.
Laura Buffet, clean fuels officer at sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, sent EurActiv a statement saying:
“Company-specific carbon values would provide the incentive for one company to perform better than its competitors, for example by not supplying high-carbon oil like tar sands or oil shale in Europe. If company-specific values are not mandatory, at the very least we must ensure that they are an option to reward oil companies for not bringing in high-carbon oil.”
FQD – Fuel Quality Directive or Frequently and Quietly Delayed?
March 27, 2014 (Transport & Environment)
The Fuel Quality Directive (known in the Brussels bubble by the acronym FQD) is the missing link in the Barroso Commission’s 2020 climate and energy package. This law aims to reduce the carbon intensity of Europe’s transport fuels by 6% by 2020. But its real impact depends on its ‘implementing measures’. These measures rank different types of biofuels and fossil fuels based on their greenhouse gas emissions. They also set up rules requiring oil companies to report the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply. Because of fierce lobbying by oil companies and the Canadian government, the FQD remains unimplemented to this day. This timeline shows the delayed progress of the FQD. http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/fqd-fuel-quality-directive-or-frequently-and-quietly-delayed
FQD – an oily tunnel. But will there be light at the end?
Under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), oil companies must reduce the carbon intensity of their transport fuels by 6% by 2020. But heavy lobbying from industry, Canada and the US has led to a weakened Commission proposal. Laura Buffet of Transport & Environment argues that the option for oil companies to report accurate company-specific carbon values for their different oil is crucial for an effective FQD.
Recent protests greeted the first major shipment of high-carbon Canadian tar sands oil to enter Europe, with 600,000 barrels arriving at a Bilbao refinery. On almost exactly the same day, EU media reported that the European Commission is planning to weaken the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), a law to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of Europe’s transport fuels by 6% by 2020, in order to appease oil industry, Canadian and US government lobbying. As is often the case, there is some truth to the reports on the FQD – but from the version of the draft proposal that T&E has seen, we can say that there are still some useful elements in this weakened text.
The Commission has given in by making the oil industry as a whole, and not individual companies, accountable for the carbon footprint of the fossil fuels that they sell. While the proposal recognises that higher carbon values should exist for unconventional oil like tar sands and oil shale, in terms of complying with the 6% decarbonisation target, fuel suppliers would only use one EU average carbon value. So there is an industry-wide average value instead of different company-specific carbon values for their various sources of oil.
That is a very strange, unfair and inefficient choice. Imagine the same thing for the car industry; it would mean that if Ford chooses to specialize in SUVs, all the others would have to make up for Ford’s cars’ extra emissions. Note that it is the oil industry itself that has asked for this collective arrangement. Either it thinks the law will not be serious, or it behaves like a cartel. The truth is probably a bit of both. Either way, it takes away the incentive to keep tar sands oil – and other high-carbon oil, for that matter – out of Europe. That is a very serious thing, also because it will drive up the cost of our climate policy.
But the sheer fact that big oil and North America are still lobbying in Brussels suggests that this proposal can still have value when it will finally emerge, hopefully this summer.
The draft may not oblige companies to report their individual performance, but it does allow them to do so with a so-called ‘opt-in’ clause. Logically, this might be attractive for the better-performing companies – those with relatively low-carbon products. Strangely enough, even allowing oil companies to use their own performance seems a bridge too far for some departments in the Commission. And surely, and tellingly, the oil industry lobby wants its members not to have this choice either.
The text takes positive steps by calling for the differentiation of oils via their crude trade names. These trade names give an indication of the origin of the oil and indirectly of the initial fields where the crude has been extracted. Fuel suppliers are therefore expected to set up tracking systems for the origin of the petrol and diesel sold. These steps are the start of a much-needed improvement in transparency in the oil market. As other sectors, like the food and car industries, begin to disclose more information about their products, consumers and investors will push for oil companies to do the same. It is about time.
It’s too early for a final verdict, as we still need to see a final proposal and then the actual EU law. Under heavy pressure, the Commission is backtracking. But the oil industry will have to be, and will be, part of the solution, not just part of the problem. And the FQD will be very far from perfect. But it will be a start.
University of Calgary analysis tar sand oil extraction show it is sometimes not even a net producer of energy
November 28, 2013
According to a new scientific analysis, many tar sands wells are actually using more energy than they produce. If it requires a barrel of oil – or its equivalent in gas – to retrieve a barrel of oil, then what’s the point? It appears this is only possible at present in Canada as the price of oil is lower than the price of oil, so it is commercially viable to burn the cheaper gas in order to get out the more expensive oil. It may make some (warped) financial sense, but it makes no energy or environmental sense. But if the price of gas rises, in relation to the price of the oil, these tar sand wells will go bust. The economics of oil extraction use the term EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Investment) – ideally with EROEI as high as possible (eg. the light, sweet crude found near the surface in Iraq). Other assessments have found the EROEI for tar sands may be 7:1 for extraction and 3:1 after it has been upgraded and refined into a useful fuel. Squeezing oil out of tar sand is an extremely wasteful process, requiring between 2 – 4 tons of tar sand and 2 – 4 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. The richest deposits are being exploited first, but already produce a low return – which will become worse once the “lowest hanging fruit” has been removed.
Nobel laureates demand European Commission action to classify oil from tar sands as very high carbon
October 28, 2013
Twenty-one Nobel prize winners, many of whom have won Nobel Peace Prizes, have urged the EU to immediately implement the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which would label tar sands as higher carbon (“dirtier”) than other fuels. The Nobel laureates say the extraction of unconventional fuels – such as oil sands and oil shale – is having a particularly devastating impact on climate change. The powerful letter has attempted to restart the discussion about how tar sands and oil shale should be treated in the EU, a discussion that has been delayed for too long, following a massive lobbying campaign by Canada, the US and the global oil industry. Conventional oil has been given a value of 87.5g of CO2 equivalent per megajoule. In comparison, tar sands oil has a value of 107g, oil shale 131g and coal-to-liquid 172g. The laureates quote IEA warnings that unconventional fuel sources are especially damaging to the environment and climate, and its calculation that two-thirds of known fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground ‘to avoid catastrophic climate change’. The letter says the time for positive action is now. The EU can demonstrate clear and unambiguous leadership on this.
Tar sands extraction is one of the biggest threats to our climate. While Canada and the EU go head to head over the Fuel Quality Directive, and Obama battles hundreds of thousands of US pipeline protesters, a little-known company is planning to slip tar sands-derived fuel into Europe, discreetly and quietly.
We need to pipe up about this now, before it’s too late.
The majority of Valero’s operations are focused on the business of taking crude oil from various sources, processing it at its refineries to produce gasoline (petrol), diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, petrochemicals, and other products, then selling them either on the market or directly to the consumer through its 6,800 retail outlets.
US-based Valero Energy is the world’s largest independent petroleum refiner (a company which refines crude oil, but doesn’t drill for it).
Valero has an appalling environmental record, having repeatedly violated air and water pollution legislation, funded climate change deniers, and fiercely opposed carbon reduction legislation.
Valero is heavily involved in tar sands.
Valero has committed to taking on at least 100,000 barrels a day (20% of initial capacity) from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline until 2030. The company has also recently upgraded its Port Arthur refinery in Texas, increasing its ability to process heavy sour crude (such as tar sands oil) to 80% of its 310,000 barrels per day capacity. Port Arthur is located where the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is planned to finish, on the Texas Gulf Coast, perfectly positioned for export to Europe and Latin America.
Valero has recently expanded into the UK.
In August 2011, Valero purchased the Pembroke refinery in Wales, marking its first foray beyond the Americas. The £450 million deal also included ownership interests in four major pipelines and 11 fuel terminals, a 14,000 barrel per day aviation fuels business, and more than 1,000 Texaco-branded service stations in the UK and Ireland.
In an investor presentation in 2011 Valero (… demonstrated….) its plans to export diesel from its Gulf Coast facilities to Europe:
By 2012, Valero’s investor presentation was showing this map. Worried yet?
[The red lines are “Diesel / Jet” ]
It is difficult to ascertain the exact details of Valero’s plans. Pembroke refinery is not itself configured to process heavy oil straight from the tar sands.
Oil coming to Pembroke or elsewhere in the UK would come from refineries in the Gulf Coast and would include a blend of oil from different origins, making the supply chain difficult to trace. But as more tar sands oil finds its way to the Gulf Coast, more and more of this is likely to originate from the tar sands.
But wasn’t the Keystone XL pipeline stopped?
The Keystone XL pipeline has faced severe opposition from environmentalists, farmers, landowners, First Nations and the general public, and is currently locked in legislative battle in Congress. However, the southern section of the route, from Oklahoma to Texas, was given support by the Obama Administration and construction has already started. In the meantime a series of alternative pipelines routes out of Alberta are being explored.
And wasn’t the FQD meant to prevent tar sands coming here?
The EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD)would discourage the use of high-emission crude oil, like tar sands, in the EU transport sector. Despite strong support for the legislation from the EU Parliament, EU Commission and many member states, the FQD has been subject to aggressive lobbying from the Canadian government and oil companies like Shell and BP, causing severe delays.
Assuming it is eventually successful, the FQD will still not actually ‘ban’ fuel derived from tar sands, but act as an economic disincentive. It will also not prevent tar sands-derived products that are used in sectors other than transport, such as ‘petcoke’, a highcarbon solid fuel used in steel refining, power stations and cement production.
Is there already tar sands oil coming to Europe?
There is a tiny trickle of oil derived from tar sands coming into several locations, such as the Netherlands, Spain and France – but it is almost impossible to accurately trace. And guess who is behind most of this oil – Valero.
Greenpeace and Platform’s report, Tar Sands in Your Tank, provides more information.
The tar sands industry needs to be shut down, not expanded. What can we do?
Challenge Valero to share information. We need to force Valero to fully disclose the origin of the oil it imports to Pembroke and other locations in the UK, as well as its long and medium term plans for how this might change based on pipeline expansion in the US.
The EU is negotiating a Fuel Quality Directive (FQD)with the aim of encouraging the use of low-carbon transport fuels and discouraging the use of high-emission fuel. It aims to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions from road transport by 6% before 2020.
An independent study concluded that oil from tar sands produces 23% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude. Based on this, the EU wants to label tar sands oil as more polluting than conventional oil, which would have the effect of strongly discouraging tar sands imports into the European market.
As a result, the Canadian government is fighting it tooth and nail, largely due to the precedent this would set for other important markets – such as US states. It could also discourage planned tar sands extraction projects in other parts of the world, such as Madagascar.
Once the EU had secured a peer-reviewed study confirming the highly carbon-intensive nature of tar sands extraction, Canada switched tack and beganstalling the FQDby claiming tar sands shouldn’t be singled out until every other possible source of transport fuel is measured for carbon-intensity.
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), a policy-focused UK NGO, is producing a series of policy briefings, to inform the airport expansion/runway debate. The issue remains whether to build a new runway, not merely where. AEF’s new briefing “AIRPORT EXPANSION AND CLIMATE CHANGE – Is a new runway compatible with climate policy?” is a concise, easy to read, document setting out the facts very clearly. A key point is that a new runway would have very significant climate implications that fall outside the remit of the Airports Commission to address. AEF explains how both the Committee on Climate Change and Airports Commission have stated that demand for flights in the UK will have to be restricted to prevent CO2 emissions from the aviation sector overshooting the level consistent with the Climate Change Act. However, neither has identified how this can be achieved if a new runway is built, leaving a policy gap. That gap would result in the UK’s climate targets being compromised. The options are to dramatically increase the cost of flying (by the UK acting alone), restrict capacity available at regional and other South East airports to below today’s levels – or better and more acceptable – make optimum use of existing airport capacity.
New AEF Policy Briefing: Is a new runway compatible with UK climate policy?
A major consideration for the next government when considering the recommendations of the Airports Commission will be whether a new South East runway should be ruled out on climate grounds. Our new policy briefingexamines this concern and considers what options would be available to a future Government if a new runway is built in order to ensure that the aviation sector plays its part in meeting climate change commitments.
We are publishing our briefing at a time when high profile members of Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have all indicated that they remain open to the possibility of an additional runway in the South East. [The LibDems have now voted, at their conference, against a new south east runway, though the leadership wanted to get an amendment to back a new Gatwick runway. David Laws, writing the LibDem manifesto for the 2015 election, has said the party will respect the views of its members, and not just dismiss them, to back Gatwick].
We believe that a new runway would have very significant climate implications that fall outside the remit of the Airports Commission to address.
The Airports Commission’s analysis has built on the work [Dec 2009 CCC] of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in modelling the increase in demand for flights that can be accommodated while keeping aviation emissions at a level compatible with the Climate Change Act by 2050.
Both the CCC and Airports Commission have stated that demand for flights in the UK will have to be restricted to prevent carbon emissions from the aviation sector overshooting this level. However, neither has identified how this can be achieved if a new runway is built, leaving a policy gap that would, we argue, result in the UK’s climate targets being compromised.
If a new runway is built, the available policy options would be to either dramatically increase the cost of flying (by the UK acting alone) or to restrict capacity available at regional and other South East airports to below today’s levels.
Both options would be likely to be politically undeliverable.
AEF’s view, therefore, is that rather than constructing any new runways, making best use of existing airport capacity continues to be the best approach to managing future aviation demand.
This briefing on the climate change impacts of a new runway is part of our series of briefings on the work of Airports Commission which examines why the question about UK airports should be ‘whether’ and not just ‘where’ to build a new runway.
The Airports Commission has concluded that one new runway in the South East would be compatible with the UK’s climate commitments. But in reality new runways cannot be reconciled with legislated carbon goals unless a significant gap in the policy for reducing aviation emissions is addressed by the next government.
LIMITS TO UK AVIATION’S CO2 EMISSIONS
Under the Climate Change Act, the UK is required to reduce emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. While aviation emissions are not formally included in the five year carbon budgets, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended setting aside 37.5 Mt of the UK emissions budget in 2050 for aviation, equivalent to the sector’s emissions in
2005. The Airports Commission refers to this as the emissions cap. According to the CCC, a higher level of aviation emissions would be high risk and not economically optimal.
Improved efficiency of aircraft should permit some growth in the amount of flying without aviation CO2 emissions breaching the carbon cap. The Airports Commission assumes a shift to larger aircraft would mean passenger numbers could increase by 67% and the number of aircraft movements by 38% by 2050.
THE POLICY GAP FOR AVIATION EMISSIONS
Today, aviation takes up around 6% of UK emissions and the proportion is forecast to increase. The Airports Commission’s analysis suggests that emissions may breach the aviation cap even without expanding capacity. See graph below. Building a new runway would lock in future increases in CO2 emissions through significant investment in carbon-intensive infrastructure.
Naomi Klein has written a new book, called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Professor Kevin Anderson has written about one of the key issues of how big business in dealing with carbon emissions, and the need to understand the difference between society (or business) actually cutting carbon emissions, or just cutting them per unit of output. This is a vital distinction, but one often lost in the fog of marketing and publicity. If an organisation manages to cut its carbon emissions by, say 10% while producing the same amount of product, that is great. But if it increases production by, say, 20%, the net impact is an increase in emissions. This is very much the case with the much hoped for carbon efficiencies by the aviation industry. Globally through IATA hopes for “An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year to 2020” (how it is measured is not defined). But the industry wants to expand by at least 5% per year. So regardless of the gains in fuel efficiency, the net effect is more carbon emitted. The aviation industry wants “carbon neutral” growth after 2020, meaning no NET increase in carbon emissions, by trading carbon permits with sectors than are genuinely cutting carbon overall.
Zachary Karabell’s analysis muddles energy efficiency with absolute reductions in emissions. We are many times more efficient now than we were in 1970 and even more than in 1920 – yet energy consumption and emissions continue their relentless rise. The climate doesn’t give a damn about efficiency, only about emissions. So if companies, governments and individuals, at least the wealthier amongst us, are to make a positive contribution, we need to be deliveringabsolute reductions in our emissions. And if we are serious about avoiding the 2°C characterisation of dangerous climate change, then those absolute reductions need to be in double figures (i.e. over 10% p.a.). Anything less and we certainly should not be claiming to be moving in the right direction – rather moving in the wrong direction, just at a slower rate. So in that regard, Zachary’s subtitle that “multinational corporations” are doing something to ”halt climate change” is categorically wrong. They may be doing something to reduce the rate of increase in climate change – but trying to halt it they are not!
Zachery’s highlighting of Maersk as an example of a company with “sustainability and energy-efficiency central to [its] business model” ignores how history typically demonstrates a divergence between these two goals. Certainly Maersk needs to be congratulated relative to an industry who, even assuming its proposed efficiency measures were implemented in full, is set to triple its emissions by 2050 relative to1990 (or double compared with 2010). Lets be clear about this, Maersk, as the best of a bad bunch, is implementing polices that fall a long way short of anything approaching what would be necessary for a 2°C pathway; but they are in good company. All the other firms noted by Zachary could sail a Maersk ship sideways through the gap between their rhetoric and delivery on climate change.
But it is not all down to the companies. Governments are also failing to implement the umbrella of low-carbon policies within which companies could compete on a level(ish) playing field. At the same time, and not withstanding the recent marches and other good work, civil society demonstrates little appetite for anything other than an ongoing increase in its energy and material consumption – and hence in its emissions.
Zachary’s emphasis on the US reducing its emissions by 10% since 2005 demonstrates our desire to hide, even from ourselves, the real story of an inexorable rise in emissions. In the same way that the climate doesn’t care about efficiency, it doesn’t differentiate between the geographical origin of emissions – they all end up in the atmosphere changing the climate. So it is the carbon-profligacy of our lifestyles that matters, not that we have conveniently exported the emissions to another country. This places a different complexion on the issues.. Between 1990 and 2007 the lifestyles of US citizens had, on average, higher emissions year on year – rising by 34% in seventeen years. The reduction that followed was primarily down to the recession and not the consequence of judicious policies on efficiency and emissions by corporate America or the government. Now, with the US economy picking up, so lifestyle emissions are again showing early signs of returning to growth. There is also no meaningful solace to be gained from the US love affair with shale gas. Whilst it may be good for energy security, in terms of emissions the development of shale gas has gone hand in hand with anincrease in the US production of fossil fuels – measured in terms of their carbon emissions (assuming they are combusted).
So I don’t think Zachary’s arguments that “Naomi Klein Is Wrong” stack up. True to say Naomi does not have all the answers – but who does? Set against even a weak 2°C framing of dangerous climate change, she’s not far off the mark. By contrast to suggest, as Zachary does, that Klein’s “rhetoric risks obscuring just how much is being done by large companies around the world to reduce their carbon emissions and environmental footprint” implies a misunderstanding of the timeliness of carbon budgets and their implications for evaluating meaningful action.
However, in the end I think we should studiously avoid setting Zachary’s arguments against Klein’s. When it comes to delivering on our repeated international commitments on climate change we must all solemnly hang our heads in shame, take some time to reflect and then begin anew from where we are today. Meeting our repeated commitments remains an achievable goal – just. But lets not pretend it’s only an incremental step away from where we are today. As Klein rightly notes, “this changes everything.”
Higher oil prices have made US airlines work to control costs. Between 2002 and 2012, the price of jet fuel quadrupled and fuel bills rose from 15% to more than 40% of the operating costs of US airlines, and their single largest operating expense. Airlines have made many efficiencies to cut fuel consumption, including now flying more slowly. Most of the fuel economies which have been implemented in the last decade will not be undone, even if oil prices were to fall (partly due to the possible future costs of CO2 emissions). There is an optimal cruising speed for each aircraft based on altitude. Flying faster increases the amount of fuel burnt. Historically, commercial aircraft have flown on average about 8% faster than their optimal cruising speed. Getting the aircraft to its destination quicker to pick up another load of passengers and minimise crew cost was worth the extra fuel expense. There is a trade-off between fuel consumption and time. But between 2004 and 2011, the average ground speed of seven major US airlines fell by 1.1%. More than anything else, however, airlines have focused on reducing excess weight.
Higher oil prices have had a traumatic effect on U.S. airlines, forcing carriers to re-examine every aspect of the way they do business in a bid to control costs.
Between 2002 and 2012, the price of jet fuel quadrupled from 70 cents per gallon to over $3. Fuel bills rose from 15 percent to more than 40 percent of the total operating costs of U.S. airlines to become their single largest operating expense.
The airlines have responded by changing almost every element of their operations – from restricting capacity growth, eliminating short routes and hiking baggage fees to instructing crews to fly aircraft more slowly and reducing the amount of water carried on board for lavatories and washing.
The results have been impressive. After peaking in 2005, jet fuel consumption in the United States has fallen by almost 15 percent, the equivalent of more than 200,000 barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
U.S. airlines’ fuel saving programme is just one example of how higher oil prices over the last decade have transformed transportation, and led to demand destruction which is likely to prove permanent. Most of the fuel economies which have been implemented in the last decade will not be undone, even if oil prices fall.
“There is a strong correlation between airline mission fuel efficiency and fuel price,” the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research wrote in a recent report (“The impact of oil prices on the air transportation industry” March 2014).
“There is ample evidence that airlines adopted new operational strategies to reduce total fuel burn for the same amount of traffic,” the centre concluded.
Some of the changes have been obvious. U.S. airlines have restrained growth in capacity and increased seat occupancy.
U.S. airlines measure capacity in available seat-miles while utilisation is measured in revenue passenger-miles.
Between 2007 and 2013, the number of available seat miles flown in the United States was cut by around 34 billion (3.25 percent) while revenue passenger-miles rose by 6 billion (0.8 percent).
The result is that seat occupancy, which the airlines call “load factor”, has risen from around 76 percent in 2004 to almost 83 percent in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
While airlines have mostly maintained capacity on major trunk routes, shorter and less profitable ones with lower load factors have seen the number of seats cut or been eliminated altogether.
Carriers have also shrunk the amount of space between seats to increase the number of passengers on each flight and saved more space and weight on the aircraft by installing thinner seats.
Other changes have been much less visible. One of the biggest fuel savings has come from flying aircraft more slowly.
From the perspective of fuel consumption, there is an optimal cruising speed for each aircraft based on altitude. Flying faster increases the amount of fuel burnt.
Historically, commercial aircraft have flown on average about 8 percent faster than their optimal cruising speed. Getting the aircraft to its destination quicker to pick up another load of passengers and minimise crew cost was worth the extra fuel expense.
The trade-off between fuel consumption and time is captured in the airline cost index and implemented in the carrier’s flight management system.
But between 2004 and 2011, the average ground speed of seven major U.S. airlines decreased by 1.1 percent, resulting in an even bigger reduction in fuel consumption, according to the centre for operations research.
Airlines have been pushing for other changes in crew behaviour and operations. Several airlines told the operations researchers they had instructed pilots to use only one engine while taxiing around the airport in order to save fuel.
Most airlines are also trying to maximise the use of ground power for aircraft instruments, heating, cooling and starting turbine engines when the aircraft is on stand rather than using the aircraft’s own auxiliary power units (which consume jet fuel).
One airline has stipulated ground power must be plugged in within 1 minute of the plane arriving at the gate.
More than anything else, however, airlines have focused on reducing excess weight.
In most cases, airlines found aircraft were carrying more water than was actually consumed on the journey. By modelling consumption by the number of passengers and the length of the flight airlines have been able to cut the amount of water loaded on board.
The number of magazines carried has been reduced, and those that are must “pay their way”. Airlines have removed onboard ovens from flights that didn’t need heated food. Safety equipment for a water landing has been removed from aircraft which do not fly over water.
One airline told the researchers that its weight reduction programme had cut the weight of a typical Boeing 777 by 700 pounds.
For some fleets, average weights have actually been cut by as much as 10-15 percent, according to the operations research centre.
USING BIG DATA
One of the most attractive targets for weight reduction is the amount of fuel carried on board. Aircraft must carry contingency fuel to deal with delays, storms or diversions but the reserves add significantly to aircraft weight.
Most airlines are now trying to trim the amount of contingency fuel by using modelling to estimate how much extra fuel must be carried to ensure safe operation of the aircraft based on weather conditions and the availability of alternative airports in case the flight must be diverted.
In fact, big data and computer modelling are revolutionising most aspects of aircraft operation, but changing behaviour is not always easy.
There is often a tension between trusting decisions about contingency fuel, water and flying speed up to the professional judgement of the pilots and allowing them to be determined by a computer model. In many cases pilot contracts limit the operational data which gets reported back to the airline and the ways in which it can be used.
“Two airlines noted the difficulty of enforcing the single engine taxi policy,” the operations researchers explained. “The reason for this is because pilot contracts with airlines often limit access to pilot specific performance data, which includes specific reverse thrust settings.”
Cutting fuel reserves has been a particular source of contention. “For pilots, fuel is like insurance, they take extra fuel to deal with uncertainties in flight. They more fuel the less they care if uncertainties like traffic or weather come up. For the pilot, carrying more fuel means less stress.”
But most airlines are now using computer models to encourage pilots to modify their decisions, and in some cases to compel changes in operating practices.
The result has been a huge improvement in fuel efficiency. Between 1991 and 2012, U.S. airlines cut their fuel consumption at an average annual rate of 2.27 percent per revenue passenger-mile.
Between 1991 and 2001, when jet fuel prices were stable, most of the improvement came from upgrades in the aircraft fleet. Older more fuel hungry aircraft were replaced by more modern and efficient ones. After 2004, however, most of the gains have come from network rationalisation and changes in operating behaviour.
Each model of aircraft has a maximum range speed for a given total load (fuel plus payload), which is the speed at which it is most fuel efficient Flying slower or faster than this optimimum speed increases fuel consumption per mile flown.
There is an optimum speed for efficiency because the component of drag resulting from airframe skin friction against the air increases at a square function of air speed, but the drag resulting from generating lift decreases with air speed. (These are technically called parasitic drag and induced drag, respectively.)
The desirability of a low maximum range speed to reduce environmental and climate impacts is at odds in aircraft design with the benefit to revenue streams of making that design speed higher, to increase the passenger miles flown per day.
Aircraft weight is also a factor in fuel economy, because more lift-generating drag (induced drag) results as weight increases. If airframe weight is reduced, engines that are smaller and lighter can be used, and for a given range the fuel capacity can be reduced. Thus some weight savings can be compounded for an increase in fuel efficiency. A rule-of-thumb being that a 1% weight reduction corresponds to around a 0.75% reduction in fuel consumption.
Flight altitude affects engine efficiency. Jet-engine efficiency increases at altitude up to the tropopause, the temperature minimum of the atmosphere; at lower temperatures, the engine efficiency is higher. Jet engine efficiency is also increased at high speeds, but above about Mach 0.85 the aerodynamic drag on the airframe overwhelms this effect.
This is because above that speed air begins to become incompressible, causing shockwaves form that greatly increase drag. For supersonic flight (Mach 1.0 and higher), fuel consumption is increased tremendously.
Nonetheless, jets have about twice the cruise speed. The early jet airliners were designed at a time when air crew labor costs were higher relative to fuel costs than today. Despite the high fuel consumption, because fuel was inexpensive in that era the higher speed resulted in favorable economics since crew costs and amortization of capital investment in the aircraft could be spread over more seat miles flown per day.
Today’s turboprop airliners have better fuel efficiency than current jet airliners, in part because of their lower cruising speed and propellers that are more efficient than those of the 1950s-era piston-powered airlines.
Among major airlines, those which have turboprop equipped regional carrier subsidiaries typically rank high in overall fleet fuel efficiency. For example, although Alaska Airlines scored at the top of a 2011-2012 fuel efficiency ranking, if its regional carrier—turbo-prop equipped Horizon Air—were dropped from the consideration, the airline’s ranking would be lower.
As over 80% of the fully laden take-off weight of a modern aircraft such as the Airbus A380 is craft and fuel, there remains considerable room for future improvements in fuel efficiency.
The weight of an aircraft can be reduced by using light-weight materials such as titanium, carbon fiber and other composite plastics. Expensive materials may be used, if the reduction of mass justifies the price of materials through improved fuel efficiency.
The improvements achieved in fuel efficiency by mass reduction, reduces the amount of fuel that needs to be carried. This further reduces the mass of the aircraft and therefore enables further gains in fuel efficiency. For example, the Airbus A380 design includes multiple light-weight materials.
Airbus has showcased wingtip devices (sharklets or winglets) that can achieve 3.5 percent reduction in fuel consumption. There are wingtip devices on the Airbus A380. Further developed Minix winglets have been said to offer 6 percent reduction in fuel consumption.
Winglets at the tip of an aircraft wing, can be retrofitted to any airplane, and smooths out the wing-tip vortex, reducing the aircraft’s wing drag.
NASA and Boeing are conducting tests on a 500 lb (230 kg) “blended wing” aircraft. This design allows for greater fuel efficiency since the whole craft produces lift, not just the wings.
The blended wing body (BWB) concept offers advantages in structural, aerodynamic and operating efficiencies over today’s more conventional fuselage-and-wing designs. These features translate into greater range, fuel economy, reliability and life cycle savings, as well as lower manufacturing costs.
NASA has created a cruise efficient STOL (CESTOL) concept.
Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research (IFAM) have researched a shark skin imitating paint that would reduce drag through a riblet effect. Aircraft are a major potential application for new technologies such as aluminium metal foam and nanotechnology such as the shark skin imitating paint.
Jet aircraft efficiency
Jet aircraft efficiencies are improving: Between 1960 and 2000 there was a 55% overall fuel efficiency gain (if one were to exclude the inefficient and limited fleet of the De Havilland Comet 4 and to consider the Boeing 707 as the base case).
Most of the improvements in efficiency were gained in the first decade when jet craft first came into widespread commercial use. Between 1971 and 1998 the fleet-average annual improvement per available seat-kilometre was estimated at 2.4%.
Concorde the supersonic transport managed about 17 passenger-miles to the Imperial gallon; similar to a business jet, but much worse than a subsonic turbofan aircraft. Airbus states a fuel rate consumption of their A380 at less than 3 L/100 km per passenger (78 passenger-miles per US gallon)