How well did the Airports Commission’s interim report do on the AEF’s 3 environmental & social tests?

The Aviation Environment Federation has set out three tests, to apply to the Airports Commission’s Interim Report, published on 17th December 2013. These are on climate:Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?”. On quality of life: “Does the Airports Commission only short-list options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?” and on Social Cost Benefit Analysis: “In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm, does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the short-listed proposals over the course of 2014?”  They have had a quick, initial look at the Interim Report, and set out areas on each of these where there is evidence of “positive steps” and areas of “missed opportunities”. On climate AEF regret that there is uncertainty on international agreements, and that non-CO2 impacts of aviation may need to be taken into account in the future – but are not yet.   On quality of life, AEF regrets that noise, air quality and local impacts have not yet been satisfactorily addressed. AEF say a clear and transparent social cost benefit analysis of each of short-listed options is needed as part of the Commission’s appraisal in 2014.
.

 


.

The AEF’s 3 tests of the Airports Commission’s Interim Report 

The Aviation Environment Federation has set out three tests, to apply to the Airports Commission’s Interim Report, published on 17th December 2013. These are:

1. Climate

Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?

2. Quality of life

Does the Airports Commission only short-list options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?

3. Social Cost Benefit Analysis

 In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm, does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the short-listed proposals over the course of 2014?


.

Below there is more detail about these tests.

Three tests for the Airports Commission’s Interim Report

(AEF)  16.12.2013

.http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=1669

The Commission has emphasised that a ‘predict and provide’ model of airport capacity would be insufficient, and that the scale of capacity needed must be assessed within the context of environmental limits and social considerations that “takes into account the potential constraints on expansion” [1]. 

Below, we pose three tests against which the Airports Commission’s Interim Report should be judged. 

We ask interested parties to conclude for themselves whether the Interim Report passes these tests and delivers a well based analysis of the potential constraints on expansion, or simply provides the infrastructure the industry claims is necessary.

 

First Test: 

Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?

  • In his October speech Sir Howard recognised the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. This Committee estimated using ‘likely’ improvements in technology and operations that a 60% growth in passenger numbers over 2005 levels would not compromise the UK’s emissions target. There is already sufficient space in existing runway capacity to accommodate this growth[ii].
  • This means building and using one new runway would require capacity limitations on existing airports in the South East and the rest of the UK if we are to meet our national emissions target[iii].
  • The use of a second runway would be dependent on ‘speculative’[iv] technology improvements and a heavy reliance on alternative fuels if the UK is to have any chance of meeting climate targets.

 

Second Test: 

Does the Airports Commission only shortlist options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?

  • Aircraft noise is the main driver of community opposition to airport expansion and is an unacceptable burden on many people living close to airports. Nearly ¾ million people already live within the EU contour of noise annoyance at Heathrow[v], a third of the total number of people affected by aircraft noise across the entire EU.
  • Airports likely to be shortlisted, such as Heathrow, are close to and often breach EU limit values on air quality introduced to protect public health[vi].
  • Both air pollution and aircraft noise pose risks to public health. Air pollution is estimated to cause 29,000 deaths a year and costs the economy £16 billion each year[vii]. A recent study found that people living in areas around Heathrow with the most aircraft noise were 10-20% more likely to have heart problems and suffer from strokes[viii].

 

Third Test:

 In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm[ix], does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the shortlisted proposals over the course of 2014?

  • The economic benefits of airport expansion are frequently highlighted in the media at the expense of wider economic and social costs.
  • Each shortlisted proposal should be assessed against a “no new runways” benchmark. Given sufficient capacity exists, it is important to only to consider the additional benefits of funding a new runway.[x]

NOTES


[i] Quote taken from Sir Howard Davies’ speech ‘Emerging thinking: aviation capacity in the UK’ made at the Centre for London on the 7th October 2013

[ii] In 2011 AEF and WWF carried out research to examine how much growth in passengers and number of movements is possible within existing airport capacity when an aviation carbon target is in place. ‘Available UK airport capacity under a 2050 CO2 target for the aviation sector’ is available from:http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/airport_capacity_report_july_2011.pdf

[iii] AEF and seven other environmental NGOs recommended this to the Airports Commission in an open letter to Sir Howard Davies’ speech on 7 October available online from:http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=1651

[iv] The Committee on Climate Change defines the speculative scenario as very unlikely. The scenario requires technological breakthroughs and a significant increase in the pace of aircraft fuel efficiency improvements. In addition, it would require the development of sustainable biofuels which are speculative, such as algae, or developments in land use so that biofuels can be grown at a large scale.

[v] EU noise annoyance contour is 55 Lden. A definition of Lden can be found on the CAA website:http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=7&pagetype=70&gid=2124&faqid=1268. The actual figure around Heathrow is 725,500 as used in the Airports Commission Discussion paper on noise.

[vi] In 2012, Heathrow breached the annual NO2 limit at the measuring station within the airport compound. Levels of PM10 also breached legal limits on eight separate periods around the Heathrow area. More information is available in the Heathrow Airport air quality review for 2012:http://www.heathrowairwatch.org.uk/documents/Air_Quality_at_Heathrow_Aiport_2012_Report_Issue_1.pdf

[vii] These figures are taken from the Defra webpage on ‘Protecting and enhancing our urban and natural environment to improve public health and wellbeing’.https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/protecting-and-enhancing-our-urban-and-natural-environment-to-improve-public-health-and-wellbeing

[viii] The study was carried out by Kings and Imperial College London. The press release is available here:http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_8-10-2013-16-59-51

[ix] CE Delft released a report in March 2013 titled ‘The Economics of Airport Expansion’. Available from:http://www.cedelft.eu/publicatie/the_economics_of_airport_expansion/1363

[x] Under DfT’s 2013 central forecast, the unconstrained passenger demand will be 320 mppa in unconstrained compared to 315 mppa constrained which would only squeeze out 1.6% of growth forecasted. DfT figures are available from:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223839/aviation-forecasts.pdf

.

.http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=1669

.


.

AEF then asks:

How well did the Airports Commission’s interim report do on the AEF’s three environmental and social tests?

Dec 20 2013

Before publishing the interim report, Sir Howard Davies and the Airports Commission he chairs emphasised the importance of not simply providing the capacity that industry demands in deciding the need for additional runway capacity.

Instead, Sir Howard argued that the Commission engaged with wider social and environmental issues, that the Commission was “alive to the climate problem” and that local issues such as air pollution and noise would “play a key part as we identify our interim recommendations”.

We therefore set three tests for the Airports Commission in advance of the interim report to see how far it engaged with these wider concerns (the basis for each test is set out above).

Below we compare the main findings of the report with each of the tests.  In the New Year, AEF will be releasing a series of policy briefs looking at the Airports Commission’s work in more detail. A summary of the interim report’s findings and recommendations is available here.


 

First Test: Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?

Positive steps

The interim report makes significant improvements on DfT forecasts of growth in passenger demand up to 2050 which had limitations in terms of how they handled uncertainty beyond 2030 (as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) provides forecasts of oil prices up to this year only). Our concern over the long-term uncertainty of DfT forecasts was referenced in the interim report.

In the revised forecasts, the Airports Commission also include carbon traded and carbon capped scenarios. This is an improvement on the scenarios currently considered by the DfT. The carbon traded scenarios include the assumption that aviation emissions will be included in an emissions trading system such as a global offset scheme. Carbon capped scenarios include the assumption that aviation emissions will be limited to the recommendations by the Committee on Climate Change that emissions can be no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005.

The latter scenario produces the lowest forecast of constrained and unconstrained growth. In an unconstrained carbon capped scenario, the Airports Commission estimate that passengers can increase by 67% above 2009 levels while the number of movements (number of planes flying) can increase by 38% (compared to 60% and 55% respectively in the CCC’s 2009 analysis).

Missed opportunities

The interim report highlights the ongoing uncertainty in international negotiations and the fact that non-CO2 impacts of aviation may need to be taken into account in the future, but offers no indication of how much the industry can grow in the absence of an effective emissions trading scheme in the future or if non-CO2 impacts are included in climate targets.


 

Second Test: Does the Airports Commission only shortlist options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?

Positive steps

At the very beginning of the executive summary, the report emphasises the negative impacts of air quality and noise on the quality of life for people who live or work nearby, and that the planning process must ensure that decisions on airport capacity balance local considerations with the national interest. However, the Airports Commission will only be able to take the local impacts into account next year when it considers the short-listed options in detail.

The Airports Commission also recommended the creation of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority which would provide advice and recommendations on an impartial basis. As the Commission points out, there is a real need for improved transparency in noise reporting by the industry as noise causes the most tension with communities. The interim report also points to good examples from Australia and France of independent noise bodies providing accurate and impartial information to all stakeholders.

Missed opportunities

As we highlight in a Huffington Post blog post, the Airports Commission’s staged approach means that local considerations appear an afterthought, which will leave people living in communities seeking reassurances from politicians.

However, the Commission is to set out its draft Appraisal Frameworkin early 2014 on how the different options should be considered and analysed. That will present an opportunity for the Commission to demonstrate how local concerns will be considered.

There is also a concern that forming an independent noise body would constitute passing the baton of noise regulation on and not actually contribute to improve the current noise problem.


 

Third Test: In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm[ix], does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the shortlisted proposals over the course of 2014?

 

Positive steps

The interim report highlights that the Commissions has not followed a “mechanistic predict and provide model.”

The Commission states that their approach has been informed by the principles of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive to support the Government’s decision. The Commission also says that the methodology used takes account of the social and environmental costs of policy options alongside their anticipated benefits.

The interim report also states that social cost-benefit analysis is the standard methodology used in the public sector but then says that the costs involved are primarily those of a constrained airport and calculates the overall cost to the economy by 2080 will be up to £45 billion.

Missed opportunities

It appears that the social cost-benefit analysis calculated only takes into account the possible negatives of a constrained airport, and not the potential benefits. We would like more detailed information on the different factors that were included in the analysis.

However, as well as stating the need for one additional runway by 2030, the Commission states that it is likely that there will be “a demand case for a second additional runway way by 2050”. The Commission commits to analysing this possibility in the next phase of its work programme.

We expect the Airports Commission to carry out a clear and transparent social cost benefit analysis of each of shortlisted options as part of their appraisal in 2014, as the Commission has promised to take into account the economic, social and environmental impacts.

The AEF will go into more detail on each of these issues in the New Year with a series of policy briefs about the Airports Commission’s work. 

 

.


.

.
.
.

Read more »

NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace

France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations. 
.


 

 

Letter to governments of France, Germany, and the UK regarding Europe’s ETS for aviation

December 19, 2013  (T&E)

France, Germany, and the UK have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights thus leaving 75 per cent of emissions uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations.

NGOs wrote to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) urged the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations. The letter sent to Prime Minister Cameron is copied below.

link 

 

Letter from T&E. AEF, BUND and RAC France at

http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2013%2012%2018%20NGO%20letter%20to%20UK%20DE%20FR%20aviation%20ETS.pdf

T&E AEF Bund RAC

Prime Minister David Cameron,
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
Great Britain
18 December 2013
Re: Aviation EU ETS
Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you and to your German and French counterparts to express our deep concerns about your governments’ continued efforts to weaken Europe’s emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation, to urge you to support the recent proposal from the European Commission, and to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations.

Globally, aviation emits more CO2 each year than either France or the UK and only slightly less CO2 than Germany. EU aviation emissions – a third of global totals – have doubled since 1990 and will double or triple again by 2050. Inclusion of aviation in the ETS was a necessary step; over 85% of total European aviation emissions arise from international flights while ICAO has shown a complete inability to act.

For 2012, the first year that aircraft operators were included in the ETS, compliance comprised over 98% of emissions, demonstrating that European action is indeed workable.

A year ago your government, acting in concert with France and Germany, prevailed on the European Commission not to enforce the ETS for extra-EU flights in 2012 leading to Stop the Clock. Last July your Government again in concert with France and Germany pressed the EU to advocate in ICAO a reduced scope for the aviation ETS to cover EU airspace only. This was in response to an American proposal at ICAO, which China, India (on a national basis), Japan, Singapore, the UAE, Mexico and others also endorsed because it addressed their concerns about extraterritoriality and reflected the Chicago Convention’s clear confirmation of states’ absolute sovereignty in their airspace.

Last month with the ink on the Commission’s ‘airspace’ proposal barely dry, your Government adopted a joint position with France and Germany pressing for yet a further retreat, so that the system would leave out flights from and to Europe entirely, and cover flights within Europe only.

Suggestions that the airspace proposal is unworkable are incorrect; the Commission’s assessment reveals no significant implementation hurdles. Environmentally, retreating from EU airspace to intra-EU flights only is highly damaging since it would further reduce the amount of emissions captured by a third and exempt long-haul flights which account for over half of EU aviation emissions.

Politically, its sends the damaging signal that Europe is not even prepared to defend a scope which regulates emissions from all flights operating within Europe itself and whose consistency with member states’ sovereign rights under the Chicago Convention was never questioned at ICAO.

We feel that any political advantages of retreat are speculative, whereas the damage is clear. Failing to pursue any credible ambition at home while eschewing a leadership role in ICAO is a self-defeating approach that risks failure on both fronts. The ICAO resolution on mutual agreement was clearly aimed at any European move – whether intra EU, airspace or full scope – and is best addressed by noting, as Europe has done before, that such motions are non-binding.

The retreat that France, the UK and Germany now propose will in fact not diminish foreign resistance or resolve enforcement issues; the reduced scope only cuts the number of affected airlines by three (all very marginal operators) down to 142, while emissions captured shrink to only 25% of the original scheme.

Moreover, the self-evident linking of your recent actions to further orders of Airbus aircraft clearly sends a strong geopolitical signal about who is in charge of aviation policy in Europe – and it does not seem to be the UK, French or German governments.

Commercial orders that depend on European governments complying with foreign demands are severely damaging to democracy, sovereignty, political standing, and with that ultimately the economy too. Concessions today will inevitably lead to further concessions tomorrow. These are not short-term consequences.

NGOs call on you urgently to withdraw your joint proposal and lend your government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace.

Doing so will confirm that Europe has listened to ICAO by modifying the ETS while retaining the sovereign rights and responsibilities conferred through the Chicago Convention. More crucially, by requiring the EU to regulate emissions in regional airspace, you will be publicly upholding the urgent need for early and effective action, confirming Europe’s right to do so and reinforcing the ICAO principle of equal treatment of carriers.

We also call on your Government to ensure that appropriate enforcement procedures are taken against those airlines that have failed to comply with the 2012 legislation and to confirm to us that this action has taken place.

Without effective enforcement of the 2012 statutory obligations, carriers from both within and outside Europe cannot be expected to comply with future legislation.

.
Yours sincerely,

.
Jos Dings, Director,  Transport & Environment, Brussels

Pierre Perbos,  Président, Pour le RAC-France

Olaf Bandt, Director Director Policy & Communication, Bund, Friends of the Earth Germany

Tim Johnson, Director,  Aviation Environment Federation

 
Also addressed to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Président Francois Hollande.

.


.

For more news on the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS see 

 

Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France

December 5, 2013

The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal.    Click here to view full story…

 

Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS

November 29, 2013      .The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later. ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly.      Click here to view full story…

 

 

Read more »

Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France

The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal.

.

 

There are 3 committees in the European Parliament considering the proposal for changes to the inclusion of aviation in the ETS:  Industry, Research & Energy;  Transport & Tourism and Environment. The report from the Environment committee is good – it is at ENVI draft report Nov 2013 . The other two are disastrous as they exempt all international flights from the ETS (only intra-European flights are in) until at least 2017.  Meanwhile UK, France and Germany have also come out with a proposal to exempt all international flights from the ETS.

 

 

Caving in on the cave-in

Wednesday 4 December 2013  (European Voice)

by Dave Keating (European Voice’s environment reporter)

It’s not looking good for the European Commission’s proposal to undo an EU law that would have charged all airlines for the emissions of flights taking off or landing in Europe. An increasing number of member states and MEPs are coming out in opposition. But they don’t have a problem with the retreat. They say the Commission isn’t retreating far enough.

Last week Germany, France and the UK told a meeting of member states that they want to change the proposal to a more complete surrender. The Commission proposed to change the law so that emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States.

Seeing the writing on the wall, many MEPs are now quickly lining up against the Commission as well. But the Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat.

Sovereignty spat

The ETS Directive, adopted in 2008 by the Parliament and member states, mandates that from January 2012 all flights leaving or landing at an EU airport must purchase credits for the carbon emissions they have emitted.

But after global powers including China, India, Russia and the United States objected on sovereignty grounds, the Commission announced it would temporarily exempt non-EU airlines from the rules, to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) room to reach a deal for a global market mechanism to reduce aviation emissions.

The freeze is set to expire at the end of this year. In September the EU offered to permanently exclude emissions which take place outside EU airspace – if ICAO at least agreed a timeline to a future global mechanism. Unlike with the freeze, foreign airlines would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports.

ICAO did adopt a timeline to a future deal in 2020, and so in October the European Commission made good on its offer, proposing to exempt from the ETS any emissions that take place outside of EU airspace. This angered many in the European Parliament, as well as many European airlines, which said the Commission was caving in to foreign pressure even though nothing real had been agreed at ICAO.

However even this offer from the Commission did not mollify the foreign powers. Charging their airlines anything for emissions, even those that take place inside EU airspace, would be a violation of sovereignty, they insist.

The proposal to amend the ETS legislation has to be approved by the Parliament and Council.  Airbus, fearful of retaliatory action from China, has been leaning on Berlin, Paris and London to change the proposal so that only flights flying entirely within the EU would be subject to the ETS.  Such flights are, obviously, almost entirely operated by European airlines. Foreign airlines operating in Europe will be off the hook.

This week Finnish centre-right MEP Eija-Riitta Korhola, who is leading the file in the Parliament’s industry committee, submitted a report backing the intra-EU approach.

Centre-right German MEP Peter Liese, who leads on the issue in the environment committee, is defending the Commission’s airspace approach. [See the Draft Report by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety entitled "Draft report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community, in view of the implementation by 2020 of an international agreement applying a single global market-based measure to international aviation emissions"  at  ENVI draft report Nov 2013 ].

Meanwhile many Green and Socialist MEPs are still furious that the EU caved in so easily on this issue and they do not want to vote for any change to the law.

Though the upcoming Parliament vote on this issue may be split, it’s pretty clear who will win this fight in the end. With Berlin, Paris and London all intent on changing the legislation to match the demands of third countries, it’s very unlikely that the Commission’s original proposal will see the light of day. And there are few with the appetite left to fight for it.

A traumatic experience

The aviation emission dispute has been fairly traumatic for Brussels lawmakers. It now appears certain that a democratically-enacted law, which Berlin, Paris and London all approved back in 2008, will be easily bent through foreign pressure. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. Admitting this limit to EU influence and respect in the world has been a tough process.

“Why do we even bother making laws?” one disgruntled Parliament assistant grumbled to me. “The US just comes in and says, no, that’s not your law, this is your law.”

The irony, of course, is that a similar inclusion of international aviation in carbon trading was part of the US climate change bill that was being drafted back in 2008. That climate bill eventually failed. But what if it hadn’t, and the US had included foreign flights in its cap and trade scheme? Would the international community have demonstrated the same lack of respect for US law as it has for EU law? Would Washington have been so willing to change its laws because of the displeasure of its global partners?

For the EU, the cave-in is already guaranteed. The question now is how big it will be. The choice now lies between partial retreat and full retreat. The EU will most likely choose the latter. It’s a less-than-inspiring saga for Europe, and it’s one that lawmakers seem to want to get behind them as quickly as possible.

http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/european-voice-blogs-dave-keating/3554.aspx?blogitemid=1823

.

.


 

.

See also

 

Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS

November 29, 2013      .

The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later. ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly.

Click here to view full story…

 

 

.

.

.

.

Read more »

Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS

The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS.  The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later.  ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly. 

 

.

 

MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU aviation emissions law

29 November 2013 (Euractiv)
 

Environmental groups have welcomed proposals by the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, who wants to tighten an EU directive incorporating aviation within the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), despite rumbles of dissent from low-fare airlines.

The dispute between the EU and third countries over making airlines pay for their carbon emissions is far from being resolved.

But the German liberal MEP Peter Liese, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the European Commission’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments aimed at further strenghtening it.

These were welcomed by green campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E).

“MEP Liese’s report puts a minimum of environmental effectiveness back into an unambitious Commission proposal,” Aoife O’Leary, the aviation campaigner at T&E told EurActiv.

Reintroducing full ETS from 2017

While the current EU proposal compromised “between two extremes”, Liese said, parts of it were weak. He is advising the EU to shorten a deadline for revising its relevant legislation from 2020 to 2016 to put more pressure on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to reach a global deal sooner rather than later.

Until last year, the EU had insisted that all international airlines transiting EU airspace pay a small carbon charge for their emissions. But under pressure from the US, which authorised its airlines to disobey the scheme – and countries such as China and India which actively flouted it – the EU ‘stopped the clock’ on the proposal to give the ICAO more time to reach a global deal.

The UN’s civil aviation body agreed in October to develop a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to reduce emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That mechanism could take effect in 2020.

But European trust in the talks’ outcome is waning. The assembly was tasked with devising such a scheme under the Kyoto Protocol but never did so. Promises it made on aviation emissions in 2001 were also not delivered, Liese regretted.

He said: “Unfortunately, the resolution includes a lot of conditions and preconditions. Therefore, it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.”

By reducing the timeframe in his draft proposal, the rapporteur is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached.

Environmental organisations reacted warmly. “The Commission will have to come forward with a new and more sustainable proposal. There are no excuses to give ICAO more time,” T&E’s O’Leary commented.

Equal treatment, really?

Liese also sought to redress generous tax dispensations that Europe’s aviation industry currently receives, by asking for an increase in the amount of its emissions auctioned under the ETS, and a stricter cap.

“The level of auctioning in the aviation ETS is only 15% compared to an average of 40% for the rest of the industry. The cap is only 5% while other parts of the industry have to reduce their emissions by 21% by 2020,” Liese said to justify his amendments.

In 2008, the European Parliament called for the equal treatment of all transport sectors.

But while the current proposals may seem like a push for more equal treatment between sectors, low fares airlines that operate almost exclusively inside the EU airspace, such as Ryanair or EasyJet, feel penalised.

John Hanlon, the secretary general of the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), told EurActiv that “ELFAA cannot support the attempt to address the loss of environmental effectiveness of these flawed decisions by the EU, in contravention of the findings of the Court of Justice of the EU, by seeking to further penalise intra-EU operators through adjustment of the level of auctioning, an annual reduction of allowances and amendment of the cap”.

For low-cost airlines a “reversion to full scope ETS is the real way to remedy the reduction in environmental effectiveness, instead of the attempt to inflict further discriminatory and distortive penalties on those operators and their end-customers, EU citizens”, Hanlon added.

Liese, however, denied such accusations, saying that the latest figures showed that the current legislation’s “cost for Ryanair has been €0.03 per passenger, €0.11 for EasyJet”.

Call for a swift adoption

The rapporteur has urged MEPs to adopt the amended legislation on aviation greenhouse gas emissions by April 2014, to avoid a prolongation of ‘stop the clock’.

Liese, who is a member of the centre-right group EPP in the Parliament, is confident that his group will back the proposal. Socialist and Democrats are also likely to back the deal.

http://www.euractiv.com/transport/draft-report-seeks-strengthen-eu-news-532025#.UpiSnaRtJa4.twitter

.

NEXT STEPS:
  • January 2014: Vote in Environment Committee on the draft report
  • April 2014: Vote in Plenary
  • 2016: ICAO Assembly to come back on global MBM to reduce emissions

.


 .

Earlier:

Peter Liese says amending the ETS to just apply to EU airspace until 2020 is for too long. ICAO are supposed to agree in 2016 after all.

EU Lawmaker Liese to Seek Changes to Draft Aviation Carbon Law

By Ewa Krukowska

November 20, 2013 (Bloomberg News)

European Union lawmaker Peter Liese plans to propose changes to a draft law on emissions from airlines to shorten the period in which curbs on international carriers are limited to the bloc’s airspace.

Liese, a German member of the European Parliament who oversees the aviation measure in the assembly, said in an interview he wants to present his amendments on Nov. 27 in Brussels. The draft law that he wants to be changed was proposed by the European Commission last month and would narrow the scope of greenhouse-gas curbs on flights to and from the region’s airports from next year through 2020.

The aim was to keep pressure on nations worldwide to agree on a deal to cut aviation emissions. The EU also wanted to scale down the risk of a trade war after the original design of the bloc’s carbon market, which covered emissions the entire length of all flights to and from European airports, triggered opposition from the U.S. to Russia and India.

“I will support the commission’s approach in general but I don’t think we need to wait that long and give other countries time until 2020 to move,” Liese said in an interview in Warsaw yesterday. “The International Civil Aviation Organization pledged to aim for a deal in 2016. Either we have an agreement and then our law will change accordingly or we don’t and we return to full emission curbs.”

Stop the Clock

ICAO, which is the United Nations aviation agency, agreed on Oct. 4 in Montreal on a roadmap to a decision on a global carbon measure at its next triennial assembly. It also declined to validate the EU carbon market, calling instead on member states to engage in consultations when designing new or implementing existing emission-reduction programs.

The outcome of the ICAO meeting was weaker than expected by the EU, which was seeking approval of carbon programs run in regional airspace, such as its 53 billion-euro ($71.7 billion) Emissions Trading System. To facilitate talks in the UN agency, Europe suspended carbon curbs on foreign flights from 2012, the year of the expansion of the cap-and-trade program into aviation. That is known as the stop-the-clock initiative.

Under the latest proposal by the commission, which followed the ICAO assembly, stop-the-clock provisions will be extended until the end of 2013 before the carbon program is limited to European airspace. It will still be less stringent than originally designed after countries including Russia and India flagged the risk of a trade war. Airbus SAS said in June that 27 orders fromChina for Airbus A330 wide-body jetliners are still in limbo after the government there froze the contracts as part of a campaign against the EU plans.

Under Pressure

“Now the commission is under pressure from two sides: low-cost airlines want the original legislation to be restored and Airbus argues for prolonging stop-the-clock,” Liese said. “The commission proposal is balanced in between.”

The draft legislation is in line with international law, according to Liese. “It may be against the letter of the ICAO resolution of October but this resolution is not binding and many countries, including the EU members, made reservation on the respective part,” he said.

Europe, which wants to lead the global fight against climate change, included airlines in its carbon market last year after aviation emissions in the region doubled over two decades. Companies in the system are subject to a decreasing cap on their emissions and have to submit allowances by the end of April each year to cover discharges for the previous year.

There will be an extraordinary two-year compliance cycle for airlines from 2013 through 2014, according to the commission proposal. Allowances for emissions in those two years need to be surrendered by April 30, 2015. Carriers in the ETS are given free emission permits making up 85 percent of the industry cap and have to buy the remaining 15 percent at auctions.

The proposed legislation also reflects special exemptions for flights to and from developing states, as agreed by ICAO. Routes to and from those states whose share of international civil aviation is less than 1 percent should not be subject to carbon-market measures until a global program is implemented, ICAO decided earlier this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Warsaw at  ekrukowska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-20/eu-lawmaker-liese-to-seek-changes-to-draft-aviation-carbon-law.html

.

.

.

.

.

 

 

Read more »

University of Calgary analysis tar sand oil extraction show it is sometimes not even a net producer of energy

According to a new scientific analysismany tar sands wells are actually using more energy than they produceIf 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.
.

 

The Tar Sands Smoking Gun

NOV 26th 2013
By 
CANADA TARSANDS ALBERTA
For years the Canadian government has been lobbying governments across Europe not to “discriminate against the tar sands” as the EU implements its ground-breaking climate legislation called the Fuel Quality Directive.

The Canadians have argued that the carbon intensity of tar sands production is similar to other crudes and therefore should not be “discriminated against”.

For years, the Canadians have also been lobbying the Obama administration to approve the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

On both sides of the Atlantic, a central part of their lobbying campaign has been the claim that the exploitation of the tar sands is both economically and ecologically sustainable.

But the tar sands industry has a dirty little secret that has overwhelming political and economic consequences for the development of the tar sands.

According to a new scientific analysismany tar sands wells are actually using more energy than they produce.

From an economic and environmental perspective, this is total madness.

In fact, according to the paper, the only reason that these wells are in any way economical is due to the prevailing low natural gas price in North America.

If and when the price of natural gas increases, these wells will go bust.

So what is going on?

Some of the most iconic and disturbing images associated with the tar sands are huge open pit mines, with vast dumper trucks, but this production method is increasingly being outdated as producers move to develop deeper bitumen deposits.

These deeper deposits account for 80 percent of total proven tar sands reserves and are expected to account for 80 percent of total tar sands production, up from about 50 percent today.

They are extracted in a process called Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage, or SAGD for short, which has now become the extraction method of “choice”.

SAGD uses two wells: one to inject steam to heat and reduce the viscosity of the tar sands, and one to collect the oil.

So a study carried out at the University of Calgary, published in the journal, Fuel, has examined the energy and emissions intensity of operating SAGD projects, and argues that “SAGD requires large amounts of energy and emits significant volumes of greenhouse gases”.

The scientists conclude that the thermal efficiency of SAGD projects varies immensely due to the huge differences in geology and differing properties of fluids used in the extraction process.

Actual oil sands reservoirs are completely different from the homogeneous sandstones with uniform fluids envisaged by the reservoir engineers that developed the early SAGD process,” the scientific paper warns.

Field data suggests that these wells are operating with a thermal efficiency of less than 40 per cent, with some wells even less efficient.

The scientists conclude that:

many operations exceed this value and thus are not net energy generation processes yet may be ‘‘economic’’! With disconnected price markets for natural gas and bitumen, it is possible for bitumen recovery under these conditions to be economically viable today even though it makes no sense to pursue such an energy inefficient process“. (Our emphasis added)

So many wells are using more energy than they produce. However because tar sands companies burn cheaper natural gas to produce more expensive oil, the low gas price is hiding how inefficient the wells are.

This led the industry’s top trade journal, the Oil Sands Review, to suggest that:

“From the standpoint of many of Alberta’s thermal bitumen producers, a recent study on the efficiency of SAGD could be titled “Thank God for low natural gas prices.”” (our emphasis added, article behind pay wall).

It goes without saying, the U of C scientists warn, that “in all cases, carbon dioxide intensity is high”.

It also goes without saying that this research is the smoking gun that shows that the tar sands are not economically or environmentally sustainable at all.

Given that SAGD is the future of tar sands production, and that the standard progression of oil exploration is to exploit the richest deposits first, the study should be cause for a reexamination of the data on the carbon intensity of tar sands production.

The industry, the Canadian government, and the U.S. Department of State, which is analyzing the climate impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, all use data from a handful of SAGD and mining projects to extrapolate a figure for tar sands carbon intensity.

It is clear from this study that if a full survey were conducted, the true climate impact of tar sands production would be much higher than current figures suggest.

As the U of C scientists conclude:

“The results demonstrate that on an energy and carbon dioxide emissions basis, bitumen or bitumen-based energy recovery processes need to step well beyond the capabilities of current steam-based bitumen recovery processes, such as SAGD, if practical and sustainable energy balance and emissions scenarios are to be achieved from the in situ oil sands operations.”

Given that there are dozens of SAGD projects under construction and proposed, it is clear that the tar sands industry is out of control and needs to be stopped in its tracks.

The first step is to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

http://priceofoil.org/2013/11/26/tar-sands-smoking-gun/

.


 

.

University of Calgary analysis of energy balances and emissions of SAGD oil sands production finds need for improved processes; some operations not thermally efficient or net generators of energy

19 October 2013

Although optimized SAGD can yield “reasonably high” recovery factors, they found, the economic and environmental costs can be large given the amount of steam required. The data suggests that at the extreme, some operations are actually not net energy generating—i.e., the energy injected via steam exceeds the recovered chemical energy in the retrieved bitumen. The results suggest that in situ bitumen recovery processes need to advance well beyond current capabilities “if practical and sustainable energy balance and emissions scenarios are to be achieved,” they said.

One of the key challenges in producing bitumen and heavy oil is their high, variable viscosity. Heavy oil (between 10° and 20° API) has a dead oil viscosity ranging up to the thousands or tens of thousands of cP. Bitumen (<10° API) has viscosities ranging from the tens of thousands to more than 10 million cP at reservoir conditions.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/10/20131019-calgary.html?cid=6a00d8341c4fbe53ef019b00253142970b

.


 

.

Low energy return on investment (EROI) need not limit oil sands extraction

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/10011

June 10, 2013

This is a guest post by Adam Brandt, Assistant Professor from Stanford University, Department of Energy Resources Engineering.

1. Introduction

[EROI is Energy Return on Energy Invested]

Low energetic returns (e.g., EROI, NER) from oil sands extraction and upgrading have been noted as a potential limit to the development of the oil sands as a substitute for depleting conventional oil resources (e.g., Herweyer and Gupta, 2008). In this article we will examine this claim from a variety of perspectives. Specifically, we will examine the following questions:

  • Are the energetic returns from oil sands extraction lower than conventional oil?
  • How have the energy returns from oil sands extraction varied over time?
  • What energy sources are used in oil sands extraction, and what are the implications of this sourcing for net energy availability from the oil sands?
  • Will low energy returns limit the net output of energy from the oil sands industry?

This article is based on the peer-reviewed journal article: Brandt A.R., J. Englander and S. Bharadwaj (2013). The energy efficiency of oil sands extraction: Energy return ratios from 1970 to 2010. Energy.

….      there is a long article ……. which  contains this couple of paragrphs:

“5. Will low energy returns limit the output of net energy from the oil sands?

These data suggest that oil sands processes exist that have reasonably high energetic returns relative to external energy provided by other energy sectors. That is, relative to the amount of energy that they consumed from the rest of society (e.g., natural gas, imported diesel, and electricity), these processes produce a significant amount of net energy output. This is partly a result of historical development and geographic considerations: the oil sands mining operations developed in a remote and poorly-integrated part of Alberta, and therefore were designed to be largely energy self-sufficient. Importantly, these conclusions are not just limited to mining operations. In situ operations such as the Nexen Long Lake project produce steam using upgrader by-products (asphaltene residues).

“Our results suggest that it is not realistic to expect oil sands extraction to be limited by their calls on natural gas and other resources. If natural gas becomes expensive, processes can be adopted to use byproducts of the processing of bitumen to fuel extraction (e.g., integrated operations). However, these integrated processes have implications for the amount of oil sands resource available (e.g., not all barrels able to be produced will be available as “net” barrels of output) and can have important climate implications (e.g., using coke for fueling bitumen separation or steam production is more GHG intensive than using natural gas). ”

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/10011

.


.

Tar Sands Too Inefficient & Energy Intensive, Not Worth Cost

10.3.2012 (The Independent Report)

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s been in the news a lot lately. The pipeline was intended to carry tar sands oil across the Canadian border to the U.S.There was a big hullabaloo in Congress over the pipeline, which was finally voted down by the Senate this week. Notably, 45 Republicans voted in favor, while the other two abstained.

The obvious question is, what is the value of tar sands?

The story currently being promoted by some suggests that Canadian tar sands (also known as oil sands) are the solution to America’s energy needs and a way to relieve us of our reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

Somehow, this story ignores the fact that tar sands are still a form of imported oil, and that most of America’s imported oil already comes from Canada and Mexico, not the Middle East.

But that’s not the heart of the matter.

Here’s the key question: What is the net energy returned after utilizing oil or natural gas to obtain more oil? In the oil business, this is referred to as Energy Return On Energy Investment (EROEI).

EROEI is defined in the following way: Energy Produced / Energy Used = EROEI

For example, if oil is selling for $100 per barrel and it costs $10 in energy to produce a barrel, the EROEI is 10. Traditional oil development is currently estimated to have an EROEI of about 15.Obviously, the higher the number (i.e., the higher the EROEI), the better.

If it requires a barrel of oil to retrieve a barrel of oil, then what’s the point? Energy producers have to take into account the market price of oil or natural gas, versus how much it will cost to extract and refine them.

The light, sweet crude is the good stuff that sits at the top, where it’s relatively easy to extract. The lower quality oil — like tar sands — just happens to be the most expensive oil because it is the most difficult to extract.

With tar sands, the cost to produce a unit of energy is much higher than with traditional oil. Simply put, tar sands do not come cheaply.

Just how energy-intensive are tar sands? Professor Kjell Aleklett of Uppsala University in Sweden, a recognized expert on tar sands, puts it this way: “The supply of natural gas in North America is not adequate to support a future Canadian oil sands industry with today’s dependence on natural gas.”

The problems begin right at the start of the operation. Tar sands are typically mined, which means a large amount of energy is required just to get the process started.

Tar sands are a mixture of roughly 90 percent sand, clay and water, plus 10 percent bitumen, a thick hydrocarbon liquid. After extracting that 10 percent of bitumen from the tar sand mixture, the bitumen can be purified and refined into synthetic crude oil.

Bitumen is one of the world’s most expensive and heaviest hydrocarbons. And it is very energy intensive. In fact, bitumen production requires so much natural gas for processing and enrichment that it now accounts for one-fifth of Canada’s natural gas demand.

That’s the problem Professor Aleklett was referring to above.

Since bitumen is a highly viscous “heavy” oil that doesn’t flow as easily as lighter crude, it requires more processing to facilitate its flow through oil pipelines.

In fact, bitumen is so heavy and viscous that it will not flow unless it is heated or diluted with lighter hydrocarbons, such as natural gas. Typically, tar sands are produced using natural gas to heat the steam that drives the oil out of the sands. And it takes a lot of gas to do this.

Finally, bitumen has to be upgraded so that it can be refined. This can be done by adding methane or hydrogen — from even more natural gas — to the bitumen to create lighter oil.

Even if electricity is used to extract the tar sands and natural gas, this ultimately comes from a coal-fired power plant. It doesn’t change the equation; you’re still exchanging one form of energy for another.

Perhaps you now get a sense of just how inefficient tar sands really are. In fact, tar sands are so inefficient that just 75% of the bitumen can be recovered from sand.

At the turn of the 20th Century, it took just one barrel of oil to find and liquidate 100 barrels. That amounted to an extraordinary Energy Return on Energy Investment.

However, according to Peter Tertzakian, the chief energy economist at ARC Financial Corporation, the EROEI for tar sands amounts to 7:1 for extraction and drops to 3:1 after it has been upgraded and refined into something useful, such as gasoline.

The process of making liquid fuels from oil sands requires abundant energy from beginning to end, extraction to refining. The entire process generates two to four times the amount of greenhouse gases per barrel of final product as the production of conventional oil.

Ultimately, squeezing oil out of tar sand is an extremely wasteful process, requiring between two and four tons of tar sand and two to four barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil. The current level of water consumption is enough to sustain a city of two million people every year, according to an analysis by Energy & Capital. And after the water has gone through the entire process, it is so toxic with contaminants that it cannot be released into the environment.

When you look at the big picture, tar sands clearly aren’t the answer to our energy needs. They’re not even part of the answer. They are too energy intensive, release far too much carbon into the atmosphere and are far too dirty, polluting precious water supplies.

Until some renewable, synthetic fuel is developed that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, conservation will be our best bet. Oil prices are in a long term upward trend, and tar sands present more problems than solutions.

http://independentreport.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/tar-sands-too-inefficient-energy.html

 

 

.


 

Also

Greenpeace website at  http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/files/tarsands/tar-sands.html

Disaster for the Albertan wilderness and people

The tar sands are already the biggest industrial development anywhere on Earth, and also the biggest opencast mining operation.

The tar sands deposits of heavy oil mixed with clay and sand lie below the surface of the Canadian wilderness. To extract the tar, oil companies clearcut the Canadian boreal forest, gouge out hundreds of metres of topsoil, and turn the landscape into a gaping black pit. Two tonnes of earth has to be dug up and processed to produce each barrel of bitumen. The tar sands are producing 1.35 million barrels a day.

The huge lakes of toxic sludge that fill with the toxic water used in the operation are poisoning the Albertan landscape and water supplies. The impact falls heavily on the First Nations indigenous people of the area. George Poitras, a member of Mikisew Cree indigenous First Nation, says: “My people are dying, and we believe British companies are responsible … UK oil companies like BP … are extracting the dirtiest form of oil from our traditional lands, and we fear it is killing us.”

If the bitumen is too deep to be mined, the oil companies inject high-pressure steam into the ground, to blast the oil out of the sand and up to the surface. This is called ‘in-situ’ extraction, and as oil companies begin to go after the tar sands deposits that are deep underground, it’s lined up to be the extraction method of the future.

In-situ extraction doesn’t create the same enormous opencast pits, but to install the gas piping, roads and rigs it requires still means cutting a swathe through the Canadian boreal forest, destroying the habitat of many plants and animals, and driving many local wildlife species to extinction.

Disaster for the planet

It’s very carbon-intensive to produce oil from the tar sands. The site that BP is planning to invest in will produce about three times the emissions per barrel of oil than you would get from normal crude. The steam used in the extraction is produced by burning huge amounts of natural gas – in energy terms, it’s up to seven times less efficient to get oil from the tar sands than it is from normal crude.

On any rational assessment of what’s happening to the climate, there’s no way tar sands make any sense. This is the most polluting source of oil in existence.

 

.

.


.

See also:

Nobel laureates demand European Commission action to classify oil from tar sands as very high carbon

28.10.2013

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.
.
http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=18125

.


.
See also

German research institute pulls out of Canadian tar sands project

 19.3.2013  (Euractiv)

“A 2011 report commissioned by the EU from Adam Brandt, an Assistant Professor at Stanford University, found that the lifecycle emissions of fuel from tar sands – also known as oil sands – were between 12-40% higher than conventional crude, with the most likely barrel being 22% more carbon intensive.

“Brandt wrote that tar sands were “significantly different enough from conventional oil emissions that regulatory frameworks should address this discrepancy with pathway-specific emissions factors that distinguish between oil sands and conventional oil processes.”  ”

http://www.euractiv.com/science-policymaking/german-research-institute-pulls-news-518608

 

Read more »

Happy 5th Birthday to the UK Climate Change Act

In hard economic times there is always a temptation for politicians to prioritise short-term economic growth and electoral success above cutting carbon emissions – despite recognition that man-made climate change is one of humanity’s most important issues. This shows the importance of the Climate Change Act, which reached its 5th birthday this week. It was given Royal Assent in 2008, when it became the first national law committing to legally binding annual cuts in CO2 emissions. Its purpose is to limit the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted, not just long-term reduction targets, so 5 year carbon budgets are needed. And these are legally binding. There are people and politicians now who advocate weakening the 4th carbon budget, 2023 and 2027. But the CCC says there is no scientific or legal basis to do so, and if anything carbon pollution limits should be made tougher. The problem is that these budgets are set by politicians, not scientists. UK international aviation remains outside the carbon budgets. The UK Climate Change Act has so far successfully constrained UK politicians who want to ignore the reality of climate change. But it only covers the UK – the world needs a global carbon budget.
.

 

Happy Birthday Climate Change Act

Mike Childs: The UK Climate Change Act has successfully constrained UK politicians who want to ignore the reality of climate change, now it’s time to go global.
Posted by 
Tuesday 26 November 2013  (Guardian)
Christiana Figueres at a press conference after the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, 23 November 2013.
Christiana Figueres at a press conference after the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, 23 November 2013. Photograph: RAFAL GUZ/EPA
.

In hard economic times there is always a temptation for politicians to prioritise short-term economic growth and electoral success above cutting carbon pollution, despite recognition that man-made climate change is one of the most important issues facing humanity – and tackling it can bring economic rewards. This demonstrates that politics matter in environmental protection, often more so than science. It also shows the importance of the Climate Change Act, which today marks its fifth anniversary.

The Climate Change Act was given Royal Assent in 2008, when it became the first national law committing to legally binding annual cuts in greenhouse gases. But the story starts back in the early Noughties, with a Labour government way off-track from meeting its manifesto promises to cut the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Friends of the Earth’s flagship campaign The Big Ask was a bold attempt to build on growing public and scientific concern about climate change, to make it legally and politically difficult for politicians to ignore their commitments. It was launched in May 2005, fronted by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and was thereafter supported by hundreds of thousands of people.

The campaign rested on one scientific truth: it is the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted that matters, not long-term reduction targets. Something that leading climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson continues to reiterate now.

It was this scientific truth that found its way into the Climate Change Act in the form of carbon budgets – forcing the UK to limit its carbon pollution within five year periods. [UK international aviation remains outside the carbon budgets.]  There are some people today who advocate weakening the fourth carbon budget, which limits the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions between 2023 and 2027. But the Government’s statutory advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, have said in no uncertain terms that there is no scientific or legal basis to do so, and if anything carbon pollution limits should be made tougher.

The carbon budgets within the Climate Change Act are not however set by scientists. They are informed by science but derived from political agreements.

Two degrees of global warming is commonly regarded as the most we can allow if we are going to avoid dangerous climate change. But this is a political decision rather than a scientific one, first agreed by EU Heads of State in 1996 with no real public debate, and in Friends of the Earth’s view, too weak a target (pdf).

Science does not tell us how a global carbon budget consistent with this target should be shared out between nations. This is also a political – and an ethical – decision, and as Kevin Anderson demonstrates, one that is consistently skewed in favour of rich countries.

However, science had a significant role in inspiring The Big Ask campaign for a Climate Change Act. Scientific warnings galvanised environment and development groups to campaign together to make it happen.

Science also informs the world about limits to carbon emissions for particular temperature rises. For example the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now identified a global carbon budget (pdf) consistent with avoiding two degrees warming which, if implemented, would mean most of our proven fossil fuel reserves shouldn’t be burnt.

And science informs on the likely impacts of climate change, for example on the likelihood of more frequent typhoons such as just seen in The Philippines – prompting David Cameron to reiterate the need to take climate change seriously. In 2014 the IPCC will release its updated understanding of climate impacts by publishing the findings from IPCC Working Group 2.

But ultimately it is the politics that will decide whether the world avoids two degrees of global warming or not. Politicians will choose to continue to lavish fossil fuels with subsidies or not. They will decide how much support developing countries should get to develop a low-carbon economy as opposed to one based on dirty energy.

What the Climate Change Act does is make it politically difficult for the UK’s government of the day to exceed the UK’s carbon budgets, and it makes it extremely difficult for any government to undo these budgets once set.

This is deliberate. When David Cameron campaigned for the Climate Change Act he said binding targets were needed to take politics out of carbon reductions. And indeed, as political short-termism now takes hold over fracking and energy bills, he himself needs binding targets more than ever.

The UK Climate Change Act has so far successfully constrained UK politicians who want to ignore the reality of climate change. It has injected a degree of surety for long-term low-carbon investors.

But it only covers the UK. The world desperately needs its own Climate Change Act and to agree a global carbon budget, something we arefighting for internationally in the run up to the Paris UNFCCC negotiation in 2015.

Achieving this is a massive political fight will make The Big Ask campaign seem like a stroll in the park. But to stop dangerous climate change it’s a fight we must win.

Mike Childs is Head of Policy, Research and Science at Friends of the Earth. This is first in a short series of posts on the Political Science blog, marking the 5th anniversary of the Climate Change Act. 

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/nov/26/happy-birthday-climate-change-act

.

.

The Climate Act’s target for 2050:

“It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.”

Carbon budgets:

It is the duty of the Secretary of State

(a) to set for each succeeding period of five years beginning with the period 2008-2012 (“budgetary periods”) an amount for the net UK carbon account (the “carbon budget”), and

(b) to ensure that the net UK carbon account for a budgetary period does not exceed the carbon budget.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/part/1/crossheading/the-target-for-2050

.


 

.

see earlier:

 

Government fails to properly include international aviation in UK carbon budgets – decision put off till 2016

19.12.2012

The government was legally required to make a statement to Parliament by the end of December on whether it will include CO2 emissions from international aviation and shipping (IAS) in the UK’s climate target under the Climate Change Act. Today Ed Davey went against the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, and postponed the decision, using some ambiguous wording. His exact words were that the government “is deferring a firm decision on whether to include international aviation and shipping emissions within the UK’s net carbon account” and that it “will revisit this issue when setting the fifth Carbon Budget (2028 – 2032).” ie. in 2016, which is after the next general election. IAS will continue to be excluded from the first 4 carbon budgets, which run until 2027. The Chancellor and many Conservatives are reluctant to do anything that can be seen as strengthening environmental regulations. If the greenhouse gases from IAS were included in the UK targets, other sectors, including electricity generation and industry, would have to make steeper cuts in their emissions. Government justifies its postponement by arguing that there is uncertainty about the EU ETS at present, and also whether there just might be progress on a global aviation carbon scheme through ICAO in 2013. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=972..

.

.

 

Read more »

The myth of the global warming ‘pause’ – actually due to gaps in data on Arctic temperatures

Scientists can now explain the “pause” in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments against anthropogenic climate change. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem. A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as weather station records have been suggesting, but have in fact continued to rise as fast as previous decades, during which we have seen an unprecedented acceleration in global warming. Two university scientists have found that the “pause” or “hiatus” in global temperatures can be largely explained by a failure of climate researchers to record the dramatic rise in Arctic temperatures over the past decade or more.They have found a way of estimating Arctic temperatures from satellite readings. Getting Arctic readings has been difficult, due to seasonal melting so fixed   stations are more difficult. When these readings are included, the so-called pause effectively disappeared. NOAA monthly temperature data on land surface, ocean surface and combined land ocean show recent years have been much warmer than previous averages.
.

 

 

Exposed: The myth of the global warming ‘pause’

Failure to record temperature rises in the Arctic explains apparent ‘flatlining’, study finds, undermining sceptics’ argument that climate change has stopped
by STEVE CONNOR, SCIENCE EDITOR  (Independent)

18 November 2013

Scientists can now explain the “pause” in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem.

A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as weather station records have been suggesting, but have in fact continued to rise as fast as previous decades, during which we have seen an unprecedented acceleration in global warming.

The findings will undermine the arguments of leading sceptics, such as the former Chancellor Lord Lawson, who have criticised scientists from the Met Office and other climate organisations for not accepting that global warming has stopped since about 1998.

Two university scientists have found that the “pause” or “hiatus” in global temperatures can be largely explained by a failure of climate researchers to record the dramatic rise in Arctic temperatures over the past decade or more.

When Kevin Cowtan of York University and Robert Way of Ottawa University found a way of estimating Arctic temperatures from satellite readings, the so-called pause effectively disappeared and the global warming signal returned as strong as before.

The paucity of surface-temperature records in the remote and inaccessible Arctic has long been recognised as a problem for global estimates, not least by the Met Office itself.

However, the scale of the Arctic warming highlighted by Dr Cowtan and Mr Way has surprised seasoned climate researchers.

“The problem with the polar areas lacking data coverage has been known for a long time, but I think this study has basically solved it,” said Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

He added: “People will argue about the details, as is normal in science, but I think basically this will hold up to scrutiny.”

Read more: Gaps in data on Arctic temperatures account for the ‘pause’ in global warming

 

Q&A: What is the global warming ‘pause’ and does it mean we’re off the hook?

.

.


.

NOAA monthly temperature data 

NOAA put together global data each month on temperature. They do global average land surface temperature, global average ocean temperature, and combined land and ocean temperatures. The NOAA global analysis, each month, can be found at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global

The table Summarised NOAA data 2009 to Oct 2013 shows NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) data on global temperatures over the past few years  (just data 2009 to October 2013 shown – put together by AirportWatch).

A section is copied below (comparing each month with the same month in earlier years):
Combined land and ocean temperatures Average ocean surface temperature  Average global land surface temperature
Oct-13 7th warmest 8th warmest 8th
Sep-13 4th warmest 4th warmest 6th
Aug-13 4th warmest joint 1st with 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2009 11th warmest
Jul-13 6th warmest 5th warmest 8th warmest
Jun-13 5th warmest 10th warmest 3rd warmest
May-13 3rd warmest 5th warmest 3rd warmest
Apr-13 13th warmest April 7th warmest April 17th warmest April
Mar-13 10th 9th 11th warmest
Feb-13 9th warmest 8th 11th warmest
Jan-13 9th warmest 8th 13th
 
All of 2012 7th warmest 10th warmest 10th warmest
Dec-12 18th 6th warmest 49th warmest  (ie. very cold)
Nov-12 5th warmest and the 10 warmest Novembers have been in the past 12 years  6th warmest 6th warmest
Oct-12 5th warmest tied 4th warmest 8th warmest
Sep-12 1st warmest tied with 1997 as 2nd warmest 3rd warmest
Aug-12 4th warmest 5th warmest 2nd warmest
Jul-12 4th warmest 7th warmest 3rd warmest
Jun-12 4th warmest 10th warmest 1st warmest
May-12 2nd warmest 10th warmest 1st warmest
Apr-12  3rd warmest 11th warmest 2nd warmest
Mar-12 16th warmest  (March 2012 is the coolest March since 1999 ) 14th warmest –        tied with March 1988 and March 1990 18th warmest
Feb-12 22nd warmest 12th warmest 37th warmest  – coolest February since 1994
Jan-12 19th warmest 17th warmest 28th warmest
 
All of 2011  tied 1997 as the 11th warmest – 35th consecutive year, since 1976, that the yearly global temperature was above average. 11th warmest 8th warmest

Read more »

The myth of the global warming ‘pause’ – actually due to gaps in data on Arctic temperatures

Scientists can now explain the “pause” in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments against anthropogenic climate change. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem. A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as weather station records have been suggesting, but have in fact continued to rise as fast as previous decades, during which we have seen an unprecedented acceleration in global warming. Two university scientists have found that the “pause” or “hiatus” in global temperatures can be largely explained by a failure of climate researchers to record the dramatic rise in Arctic temperatures over the past decade or more.They have found a way of estimating Arctic temperatures from satellite readings. Getting Arctic readings has been difficult, due to seasonal melting so fixed   stations are more difficult. When these readings are included, the so-called pause effectively disappeared. NOAA monthly temperature data on land surface, ocean surface and combined land ocean show recent years have been much warmer than previous averages.
.

Exposed: The myth of the global warming ‘pause’

Failure to record temperature rises in the Arctic explains apparent ‘flatlining’, study finds, undermining sceptics’ argument that climate change has stopped
by STEVE CONNOR, SCIENCE EDITOR  (Independent)

18 November 2013

Scientists can now explain the “pause” in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem.

A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as weather station records have been suggesting, but have in fact continued to rise as fast as previous decades, during which we have seen an unprecedented acceleration in global warming.

The findings will undermine the arguments of leading sceptics, such as the former Chancellor Lord Lawson, who have criticised scientists from the Met Office and other climate organisations for not accepting that global warming has stopped since about 1998.

Two university scientists have found that the “pause” or “hiatus” in global temperatures can be largely explained by a failure of climate researchers to record the dramatic rise in Arctic temperatures over the past decade or more.

When Kevin Cowtan of York University and Robert Way of Ottawa University found a way of estimating Arctic temperatures from satellite readings, the so-called pause effectively disappeared and the global warming signal returned as strong as before.

The paucity of surface-temperature records in the remote and inaccessible Arctic has long been recognised as a problem for global estimates, not least by the Met Office itself.

However, the scale of the Arctic warming highlighted by Dr Cowtan and Mr Way has surprised seasoned climate researchers.

“The problem with the polar areas lacking data coverage has been known for a long time, but I think this study has basically solved it,” said Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

He added: “People will argue about the details, as is normal in science, but I think basically this will hold up to scrutiny.”

Read more: Gaps in data on Arctic temperatures account for the ‘pause’ in global warming

 

Q&A: What is the global warming ‘pause’ and does it mean we’re off the hook?

.

.


.

NOAA monthly temperature data 

NOAA put together global data each month on temperature. They do global average land surface temperature, global average ocean temperature, and combined land and ocean temperatures. The NOAA global analysis, each month, can be found at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global

The table Summarised NOAA data 2009 to Oct 2013 shows NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) data on global temperatures over the past few years  (just data 2009 to October 2013 shown – put together by AirportWatch).

A section is copied below (comparing each month with the same month in earlier years):
Combined land and ocean temperatures Average ocean surface temperature  Average global land surface temperature
Oct-13 7th warmest 8th warmest 8th
Sep-13 4th warmest 4th warmest 6th
Aug-13 4th warmest joint 1st with 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2009 11th warmest
Jul-13 6th warmest 5th warmest 8th warmest
Jun-13 5th warmest 10th warmest 3rd warmest
May-13 3rd warmest 5th warmest 3rd warmest
Apr-13 13th warmest April 7th warmest April 17th warmest April
Mar-13 10th 9th 11th warmest
Feb-13 9th warmest 8th 11th warmest
Jan-13 9th warmest 8th 13th
 
All of 2012 7th warmest 10th warmest 10th warmest
Dec-12 18th 6th warmest 49th warmest  (ie. very cold)
Nov-12 5th warmest and the 10 warmest Novembers have been in the past 12 years  6th warmest 6th warmest
Oct-12 5th warmest tied 4th warmest 8th warmest
Sep-12 1st warmest tied with 1997 as 2nd warmest 3rd warmest
Aug-12 4th warmest 5th warmest 2nd warmest
Jul-12 4th warmest 7th warmest 3rd warmest
Jun-12 4th warmest 10th warmest 1st warmest
May-12 2nd warmest 10th warmest 1st warmest
Apr-12  3rd warmest 11th warmest 2nd warmest
Mar-12 16th warmest  (March 2012 is the coolest March since 1999 ) 14th warmest –        tied with March 1988 and March 1990 18th warmest
Feb-12 22nd warmest 12th warmest 37th warmest  – coolest February since 1994
Jan-12 19th warmest 17th warmest 28th warmest
 
All of 2011  tied 1997 as the 11th warmest – 35th consecutive year, since 1976, that the yearly global temperature was above average. 11th warmest 8th warmest

Read more »

Emissions of CO2 increasing ocean acidification with future serious risks to marine life

The world’s oceans are becoming acidic at an “unprecedented rate” and this may be happening at faster than at any time in the past 300 million years. In their strongest statement yet on this issue, a large number of scientists say ocean acidification could increase by 170% by 2100. They say that some 30% of ocean species are unlikely to survive in these conditions. The researchers conclude that human emissions of CO2 are clearly to blame – humanity is putting some 24 million tonnes of CO2 into the oceans each day.  That is already altering the chemistry of the waters, and will do so even more in future. Since the start of the industrial revolution, the waters have become 26% more acidic – and there are serious concerns about the impact this is having, and will have, on many ocean species. These include oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton. When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk. Today, more than a billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein.  
.

 

Atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH

from
http://www.igbp.net/publications/summariesforpolicymakers/summariesforpolicymakers/oceanacidificationsummaryforpolicymakers2013.html
.
 and

Ocean surface pH projections to 2100

Modelled global sea-surface pH from 1870 to 2100. The blue line reflects estimated pH change resulting from very low CO2 emissions to the atmosphere (IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway, RCP* 2.6). The red line reflects pH from high CO2 emissions (the current emissions trajectory, RCP* 8.5).

Credit: Adapted from Bopp et al., 2013 (reference 9).

from

Emissions of CO2 driving rapid oceans ‘acid trip’

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent,

BBC News

14.11.2013

Great barrier reef
Corals all over the world are threatened by rising rates of acidification in the oceans

The world’s oceans are becoming acidic at an “unprecedented rate” and may be souring more rapidly than at any time in the past 300 million years.

In their strongest statement yet on this issue, scientists say acidification could increase by 170% by 2100.

They say that some 30% of ocean species are unlikely to survive in these conditions.

The researchers conclude that human emissions of CO2 are clearly to blame.

The study will be presented at global climate talks in Poland next week.

In 2012, over 500 of the world’s leading experts on ocean acidification gathered in California. Led by the International Biosphere-Geosphere Programme, a review of the state of the science has now been published.

This Summary for Policymakers states with “very high confidence” that increasing acidification is caused by human activities which are adding 24 million tonnes of CO2 to oceans every day.

Pickled waters

The addition of so much carbon has altered the chemistry of the waters.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the waters have become 26% more acidic.

“This is the state of the art,” said Prof Jean-Pierre Gattuso, from CNRS, the French national research agency.

“My colleagues have not found in the geological record, rates of change that are faster than the ones we see today.”

What worries the scientists is the potential impact on many ocean species including corals.

Studies carried out at deep sea vents where the waters are naturally acidic thanks to CO2, indicate that around 30% of the ocean’s biodiversity may be lost by the end of this century.

These vents may be a “window on the future” according to the researchers.

“You don’t find a mollusc at the pH level expected for 2100, this is really quite a stunning fact,” said Prof Gattuso.

“It’s an imperfect window, only the ocean’s acidity is increasing at these sites, they don’t reflect the warming we will see this century.

“If you combine the two, it could be even more dramatic than what we see at CO2 vents.”

The effect of acidity is currently being felt most profoundly felt in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. These chilly waters hold more CO2 and increasing levels of the gas are turning them acidic more rapidly than the rest of the world.

The more acidic they become, the more damaging they are to the shells and skeletons of marine organisms.

The researchers say that by 2020, ten percent of the Arctic will be inhospitable to species that build their shells from calcium carbonate. By 2100 the entire Arctic will be a hostile environment.

Sea snailPteropods like this are already feeling the corrosive impact of acidic waters in the Antarctic

These effects are already visible says Prof Gattuso.

“In the Southern Ocean, we already see corrosion of pteropods which are like sea snails, in the ocean we see corrosion of the shell.

“They are a key component in the food chain, they are eaten by fish, birds and whales, so if one element is going then there is a cascading impact on the whole food chain.”

The authors warn that the economic impact of the losses from aquaculture could be huge – the global cost of the decline in molluscs could be $130bn by 2100 if emissions of CO2 continue on their current pathway.

Adding alkaline substances such as crushed limestone to the waters has been mooted as a potential way of mitigating the worst impacts of acidification. But Prof Gattuso says it would only have a limited effect.

“Maybe in bays which have a restricted exchange with open oceans it may work, it may give some local relief.

“But the latest research is showing that it is not really practical at a global scale. It is very expensive and very energy intensive.”

Marine protection zones would also give some short term benefit, but the scientists say that in the long term only significant cuts in emissions will slow the progress of acidification.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24904143

.

ACIDIFYING OCEANS

Information from NOAA – the American  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

What is Ocean Acidification?

A pH unit is a measure of acidity ranging from 0-14. The lower the value, the more acidic the environment. Becoming more acidic is a relative shift in pH to a lower value.

The Chemistry

When carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. These chemical reactions are termed “ocean acidification” or “OA” for short. Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most life now congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate minerals.

This means there are abundant building blocks for calcifying organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become undersaturated with these minerals, which is likely to affect the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units. Since the pH scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic, this change represents approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity.

Future predictions indicate that the oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide and become even more acidic. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on business as usual emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.

The Biological Impacts

Ocean acidification is expected to impact ocean species to varying degrees. Photosynthetic algae and seagrasses may benefit from higher CO2 conditions in the ocean, as they require CO2 to live just like plants on land. On the other hand, studies have shown that a more acidic environment has a dramatic effect on some calcifying species, including oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton.

When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk. Today, more than a billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein. Many jobs and economies in the U.S. and around the world depend on the fish and shellfish in our oceans.


Pteropods

The pteropod, or “sea butterfly”, is a tiny sea creature about the size of a small pea. Pteropods are eaten by organisms ranging in size from tiny krill to whales and are a major food source for North Pacific juvenile salmon.

The photos below show what happens to a pteropod’s shell when placed in sea water with pH and carbonate levels projected for the year 2100. The shell slowly dissolves after 45 days.  Photo credit: David Liittschwager/National Geographic Stock. Used with permission. All rights reserved. National Geographic Images.

Pteropod image showing acidification results


Shellfish

In recent years, there have been near total failures of developing oysters in both aquaculture facilities and natural ecosystems on the West Coast. These larval oyster failures appear to be correlated with naturally occurring upwelling events that bring low pH waters undersaturated in aragonite as well as other water quality changes to nearshore environments. Lower pH values occur naturally on the West Coast during upwelling events, but a recent observations indicate that anthropogenic CO2 is contributing to seasonal undersaturation. Low pH may be a factor in the current oyster reproductive failure; however, more research is needed to disentangle potential acidification effects from other risk factors, such as episodic freshwater inflow, pathogen increases, or low dissolved oxygen.

It is premature to conclude that acidification is responsible for the recent oyster failures, but acidification is a potential factor in the current crisis to this $100 million a year industry, prompting new collaborations and accelerated research on ocean acidification and potential biological impacts.

 


Coral

Many marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate shells or skeletons are negatively impacted by increasing CO2levels and decreasing pH in seawater. For example, increasing ocean acidification has been shown to significantly reduce the ability of reef-building corals to produce their skeletons. In a recent paper, coral biologists reported that ocean acidification could compromise the successful fertilization, larval settlement and survivorship of Elkhorn coral, an endangered species. These research results suggest that ocean acidification could severely impact the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance. Other research indicates that, by the end of this century, coral reefs may erode faster than they can be rebuilt.

This could compromise the long-term viability of these ecosystems and perhaps impact the estimated one million species that depend on coral reef habitat.  For more information on the impact of ocean acidification on coral, see NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch website.

Ocean Acidification: An Emerging Global Problem

Ocean acidification is an emerging global problem. Over the last decade, there has been much focus in the ocean science community on studying the potential impacts of ocean acidification. Since sustained efforts to monitor ocean acidification worldwide are only beginning, it is currently impossible to predict exactly how ocean acidification impacts will cascade throughout the marine food chain and affect the overall structure of marine ecosystems. With the pace of ocean acidification accelerating, scientists, resource managers, and policymakers recognize the urgent need to strengthen the science as a basis for sound decision making and action.

http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What+is+Ocean+Acidification%3F

.

.

.

.

.

Read more »

Committee on Climate Change warns that UK must not reduce the level of ambition of its 4th carbon budget (2023 – 2027)

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised that there has been no significant change in the climate science, international and EU circumstances on which the UK’s 4th carbon budget (2023 – 2027) was set in 2011. It says there is therefore no legal or economic basis for the government to change the budget or reduce its ambition.  Only if there is significant change in circumstances can budgets be altered. Considering the recent IPCC report, the CCC agrees the emissions cuts to meet the 4th carbon budget are a minimum UK contribution to required global action. It reiterates that the UK is not acting alone in shouldering its responsibilities. In fact our targets are relatively unchallenging.  It and says the UK has an important role in securing an ambitious international agreement. The latest IPCC report reiterates how vital continued action is and that a global temperature rise of  4 degrees C is likely if emissions continue to increase. The CCC will provide its final advice on the 4th carbon budget in December 2013.
.

 

 

Committee on Climate Change assessment of science and international circumstances reinforces existing fourth carbon budget

7 November 2013 (Committee on Climate Change press release)

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today advised that there has been no significant change in the climate science, international and EU circumstances on which the fourth carbon budget (2023 – 2027) was set in 2011. Therefore, in these regards, there is no legal or economic basis to change the budget at this time.

The CCC’s advice follows an agreement by the Government when setting the budget that this should be reviewed in 2014. Only if there has been significant change in the circumstances on which the budget was set, demonstrated by evidence and analysis, can the budget be changed.

In making its recommendations, the CCC considered the implications of the recent IPCC review for UK approaches to reducing emissions. It concludes that temperature increase of 4 degrees is likely if global emissions continue to rise; that significant cuts in global emissions are necessary to limit this risk; that emissions cuts to meet the fourth carbon budget are a minimum UK contribution to required global action.

The report also considers international action and concludes that the UK is not acting alone: many other countries around the world have made ambitious commitments and are putting in place approaches to reduce emissions. Global emissions cuts to achieve climate objectives remain feasible if challenging. The UK has an important role in securing an ambitious international agreement

At the European level, the fourth carbon budget is at the low end of the range of ambition currently being discussed for EU emissions reductions through the 2020s; if the UK Government is successful in achieving its objectives for EU ambition, a tightening of the budget would be needed.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC said:

“The fourth carbon budget remains sensible in light of the latest evidence on climate science and international action. In these respects there is no legal or economic case to reduce ambition in the budget. The UK’s position in the EU negotiations is fully congruent with the budget although a success at the level hoped for by the UK Government might well require its tightening.

The latest IPCC report reiterates how vital continued action is to address climate change and the international response shows that the UK is in a global race to attract low-carbon investment and jobs. It will therefore be important for Government to make a timely announcement on the fourth carbon budget. A protracted process would exacerbate current uncertainties about its commitment to supporting investment in low-carbon technologies. It is entirely right that the Government should continue to push for agreement on ambitious EU and international emissions reductions and focus on developing policies to support low-carbon investment while ensuring affordability and competitiveness”.

The review of climate science confirmed that:

  • There is increased confidence that long-term warming is as a result of human activity
  • Recent assessments of the likely temperature change in response to raised greenhouse gas concentrations (“climate sensitivity”) confirm assessments in previous years.
  • Temperature change of 4 degrees is likely if emissions continue to increase
  • Global emissions need to peak around 2020 with rapid cuts to reduce emissions by half in 2050. Delaying peaking of global emissions to 2030 will raise the costs and risks of achieving the climate objective underpinning the Climate Change Act and probably make it unattainable.

On progress towards reducing global emissions the report finds that:

  • Progress towards a global deal has been slow but broadly as expected when the fourth carbon budget was set. The UN has formally adopted an objective to limit warming to 2°C and is working towards an agreement aimed at peaking and reducing emissions consistent with this goal. The aim is to resolve that process in Paris at the end of 2015.
  • The UK is not acting alone. There are many countries which have made ambitious commitments to reduce emissions, and are delivering against these commitments. There is now widespread coverage by low-carbon policies of the major emissions sources around the world. This provides a good basis for agreeing and implementing an ambitious global deal.
  • The climate objective and the global emissions reduction required to achieve it remain feasible, but very challenging. These remain an appropriate basis for policy, both because of the very significant risks associated with dangerous climate change and the costs of delayed-action pathways. The fourth carbon budget is important to the global process because of the key role of the UK in securing an effective global agreement.

On EU circumstances the report finds that:

  • The fourth budget is consistent with the cost-effective emissions reduction pathways identified by the European Commission.
  • It is at the low end of the range of ambition for EU emissions cuts through the 2020s currently being discussed (i.e. ambition in the budget is relatively low, emissions are relatively high).
  • If the more ambitious EU targets that the UK has proposed are agreed, then the budget would need to be tightened.
  • There is no justification legal or economic to loosen the budget now and then tighten it later once agreement has been reached. Such an approach would be bad for business confidence and undermine the UK’s credibility in current negotiations over EU ambition.

The CCC will provide its final advice on the fourth carbon budget in December 2013. This will include assessments of technology costs and feasible deployment rates, possible impacts of shale gas, energy affordability, competitiveness and security of supply.

 

http://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/fourth-carbon-budget-review-part-1/

 


 

UK must not waver on carbon budget, warns Committee on Climate Change

Government advisory body categorically rejects argument that UK’s climate action is ahead of other countries and disadvantaging businesses

By Will Nichols  (Business Green)

7 Nov 2013

Chimney emitting pollution at Conesville power plant

Any weakening of the UK’s carbon targets in the mid-2020s will see the country slip further behind China, the US, and many other major economies that are currently taking ambitious action to combat greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will warn today.

In the first of two much anticipated reports on the UK’s fourth carbon budget, which covers the period from 2023 to 2027, the CCC will say there is no basis for altering the current target when it is reviewed next year.

The group will argue that it has assessed both the latest climate science and issues relating to international competitiveness and has concluded that the current goal of halving emissions against a 1990 base line by 2027 should not be watered down.

Chancellor George Osborne has previously claimed that UK businesses would be economically disadvantaged if the country reduced emissions faster than its competitors. He told the 2011 Conservative party conference: “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business. So let’s, at the very least, resolve that we’re going to cut our carbon emissions no slower, but also no faster, than our fellow countries in Europe.”

The argument helped him to secure a formal review of the fourth carbon budget that could allow him to relax the target if it can be shown to be out of step with other nations.

But the CCC will today unequivocally state that not only are other major emitters keeping pace with the UK’s decarbonisation efforts, many of them are actually taking on much more ambitious commitments.

Opponents of low carbon action often cite China’s breakneck expansion in coal power stations as evidence any UK efforts will make no difference to global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But the CCC report outlines how China is planning a renewable energy programme 10 times larger than the UK’s entire power system, as well as accelerating nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) development in line with commitments to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by up to 45 per cent between 2005 to 2020. It may currently be responsible for 29 per cent of global CO2 emissions, but the CCC echoes a number of recent reports in predicting China’s emissions could peak in the early 2020s.

The report also highlights how the US, the world’s second largest emitter with 16 per cent of global CO2 emissions, is on track to deliver its Copenhagen Accord commitment to reduce 2020 emissions by 17 per cent against 2005 levels, while Germany, Japan, the EU, and Mexico have all pledged long-term action on emissions.

In addition, it notes that a fifth of the world’s non-transport emissions are now covered by carbon pricing initiatives and further schemes are either being introduced or have been proposed in China, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Ukraine, Mexico, and parts of the US and Canada.

David Kennedy, chief executive of the CCC, said it is simply a “myth” that the UK is out in front of other countries in terms of emissions reductions and green policies. “It’s right we shouldn’t be leading the world if nobody’s following. But the evidence shows that isn’t the case,” he toldBusinessGreen. “Many major economies around the world have made ambitious commitments [to cut carbon] and are investing in low carbon technologies.”

A further assessment of the fourth carbon budget target with regards to technology costs and feasible deployment rates, the possible impacts of new shale gas developments, energy affordability, competitiveness and security of supply will follow in December. The government will then take a decision next year on whether to leave the budget as it is or try and change it, which would require a strong basis in evidence, subsequent approval from both the Commons and the Lords, and could well be subject to judicial review.

Kennedy insisted the current level of international climate action and the warnings in September’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which said global emissions must peak in the 2020s and be followed by rapid cuts to ensure average global temperature rise stays below 2C, meant the emissions cuts promised in the fourth carbon budget were a minimum contribution to the requisite global action.

“If we were to change the budget we would risk falling behind other countries in Europe and the rest of the world,” he said. “If emissions continue to rise we’re facing 4C of warming by the end of the century. That’s the difference between now and the last ice age. We have to act now to address the risk and [the fourth carbon budget] is our contribution.”

Interestingly, the CCC notes the government is currently negotiating to raise the EU emissions target for 2020 from a 20 per cent reduction relative to 1990 levels to a 30 per cent cut or higher. While the UK’s fourth carbon budget is in line with the current EU goal, this Treasury-sanctioned push for a higher target would actually require a tightening of the budget, running counter to George Osborne’s agenda.

Green groups welcomed the report’s findings and called on the government to take its commitments under the Climate Change Act seriously.

“Recent reports from the IPCC and major institutions like the World Bank have highlighted the risk we face from dangerous climate change. In the face of this significant risk to both our environment and the world economy, to be considering cutting back on action to tackle climate change looks like madness,” said David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK. “Other countries are playing their part, with some going further and faster than the UK and reaping the benefits of the global race. So there’s also an urgent need for the UK to maintain the leadership we’ve shown in the past.”

The report comes ahead of a speech by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in which he is expected to promise that the government will “stay the course” with its environmental commitments and “do everything we can to strengthen the role of the low carbon sector in the new economy.”

Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth’s executive director, said Clegg and other ministers must resist any attempts by George Osborne and the Treasury to undermine the UK’s climate targets.

“The advice is crystal clear. There are no grounds for weakening the fourth carbon budget – in fact it should be made stronger,” he said. “With crucial international talks on climate change kicking off in Poland next week, Ministers could give them a welcome boost by making it clear that the UK is determined to meet its targets for cutting carbon pollution.”

However, Gareth Stace, head of climate and environment policy at manufacturers association EEF, indicated that some companies remain concerned the UK’s carbon targets could result in them facing higher energy costs than their competitors.

“The Committee on Climate Change is right to say that the scientific evidence hasn’t changed but that’s far from the whole story,” he said in a statement. “Climate change policies are pushing UK electricity prices ahead of the rest of Europe and they are set to rise further. It’s vital that government undertakes a full review of all the evidence before deciding on the 4th Carbon Budget and ensures that British industry isn’t saddled with further unilateral cost increases.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/2305409/uk-must-not-waver-on-carbon-budget-warns-committee-on-climate-change

.


.

Fourth Carbon Budget Review – part 1 – Assessment of climate risk and the international response

From the website of the Committee on Climate Change

7.11.2013

4CBRS&IOur latest report advises that there has been no significant change in the climate science, international and EU circumstances on which the fourth carbon budget (2023 – 2027) was set in 2011. Therefore, in these regards, there is no legal or economic basis to change the budget at this time.

Supporting data and research

.

http://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/fourth-carbon-budget-review-part-1/

.


.

Friends of the Earth commented:

4th carbon budget should be made stronger

7 November 2013 

The Committee on Climate Change’s advice to the Government today (Thursday 7 November 2013) that there is “no legal or economic basis” for changing the fourth carbon budget (which sets a UK emissions quota for the period 2023-2027), has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth.

The advice from the Committee on Climate Change coincides – later today (Thursday) – with a speech on the environment by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Commenting on the Committee on Climate Change’s advice, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“The advice is crystal clear. There are no grounds for weakening the fourth carbon budget – in fact it should be made stronger.

“Nick Clegg must use his green speech today to state clearly the Liberal Democrats’ resolve to support strong climate targets, and reject any attempts by George Osborne to undermine them.

“With crucial international talks on climate change kicking off in Poland next week, Ministers could give them a welcome boost by making it clear that the UK is determined to meet its targets for cutting carbon pollution.”

ENDS

==============

Notes to editors:

1.            The Committee on Climate Change’s report makes it clear that since the fourth carbon budget was set:

•             The climate science is stronger and clearer than ever. If anything, the fourth carbon budget should be tighter to reflect this.

•             The UN climate negotiations are progressing very slowly, but this was known at the time the fourth carbon budget was set.

•             The UK is not acting alone – countries like the USA and China are meeting their targets, which are in line with the trajectory assumed in the fourth carbon budget. Other countries like Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the EU27 have set 2050 targets or legally binding plans. Even nations with well documented reverses on climate change, such as Australia and Canada, are making strong progress in other areas, such as renewables and car fuel efficiency.

2.            The fourth carbon budget was set in part based on assumptions on future EU targets. If anything, EU progress since then implies a tighter target than set in the 4CB, and the UK’s own negotiating position would mean a much tighter budget. Even a complete failure in EU negotiations would only imply a marginal loosening of the 4CB, and this is very unlikely.

3.            The Committee on Climate Change’s fourth carbon budget is in Friends of the Earth’s view already far too loose – it is based on a 50:50 chance of exceeding a two degree rise in global temperature, a very high level of risk for something you want to avoid, and it appropriates an unreasonably large share of the global carbon budget to the UK.

4.            UNEP’s emissions gap report makes it clear that fast global action to tackle climate change is the least-cost path, avoiding expensive lock-in to high-carbon infrastructure, and suggests an earlier peak in global emissions than suggested by the CCC.

5.            Nick Clegg is due to make a speech at the Green Alliance’s First Leadership Lecture on Thursday 7 November 2013. The Deputy Prime minister is expected to make significant statements on his party’s approach to the natural environment, energy bills and the low carbon economy.

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/4th-carbon-budget-should-be-made-stronger_07112013

.


 

.

and

Friends of the Earth:

4th Carbon Budget

Fran Graham7 November 2013

Time to stop the delaying tactics and get on with tackling climate change

Two and a half years ago, the Coalition Government signed into law climate targets to slash Britain’s carbon emissions in half by 2025.  In policy-speak, this is known as the UK’s fourth carbon budget. It was a solid achievement – but it was only won with a bruising fight pitting the Energy Department and the Foreign Office against George Osborne’s Treasury.

The Chancellor was defeated, but insisted as compensation on an early review of the fourth carbon budget, to take place in early 2014. At the time, Mr Osborne justified the review on grounds that he didn’t want the UK doing more to tackle climate change than our European partners, for fear of damaging our economic competitiveness.

Since then, his Treasury has been doing everything it can to undermine tough action on climate change – from publishing plans for a dash for gas that would breach the fourth carbon budget, to introducing generous tax breaks for shale gas.

Today, the Committee on Climate Change has published the first of two reports setting out its recommendations on the fourth carbon budget – reviewing EU progress on climate change, and any other international developments that might warrant a change to the carbon budget. Their conclusion: “There is no economic or legal basis to change the budget.” As unequivocal as it gets.

In fact, the report contains four stand-out points that would suggest the targets should actually be strengthened:

  • The current EU emissions trajectory has barely changed since the fourth carbon budget was set. If anything, it implies a slight tightening of the budget.
  • The UK’s own negotiating position for an EU 2030 target – which the Treasury approved – would imply a substantial tightening of the fourth carbon budget.
  • Other countries are making substantial progress – it’s just plain wrong to say that the UK is way out in front. The USA and China are meeting their targets: they’re at the high-end of progress assumed when the fourth carbon budget was set. Many other countries, such as Mexico, Japan and South Korea have either 2050 targets or other legally binding carbon targets. Many EU countries are far ahead of the UK on issues such as renewables and energy efficiency.
  • The climate science has become even clearer. The non-inclusion of chemical feedbacks in the original analysis implies that the budget should in fact be tighter.

 

In addition, Friends of the Earth argues that there are two other major grounds why the original fourth carbon budget was too lax:

  • It was based on a greater than 50 per cent chance of exceeding two degrees warming. These are very bad odds for something governments the world over have said we must avoid.
  • It assumes an unfairly large share of the world’s global carbon budget for developed countries.

The CCC also assumes that global emissions will peak in 2020. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported this week that peaking emissions sooner would be the least-cost approach to tackling climate change – preventing further expensive lock-in to what will become stranded high-carbon infrastructure.

Overall, there is no case for back-tracking on the fourth carbon budget. Business agrees it should be kept – the CBI stated today that the budget should be kept as it is.

Indeed, carrying out the Chancellor’s review at all reduces British businesses’ confidence that there will be a stable policy environment for low-carbon investment, and pushes up costs. Globally, it sends a very poor signal to struggling international climate negotiations – that the UK, as a self-styled leader on climate change, is about to back-track.

Mr Osborne made his arguments against the fourth carbon budget on cost. The Committee on Climate Change will be examining these cost arguments in more detail when they publish their second report on December 11th.

But in fact, it is the delay and uncertainty which George Osborne is causing which will damage the economy, not action on climate change. He should announce that he will leave the fourth carbon budget well alone, and stop blocking the policies needed to deliver it.

This would be a welcome boost to the international climate negotiations starting in Warsaw on Monday, restore flagging trust in the UK’s international standing on climate change, and begin to repair confidence in Britain’s hugely promising green economy.

by Simon Bullock, Senior Campaigner, Climate and Energy Team

http://www.foe.co.uk/blog/4th-carbon-budget

.

.


 

.

 

‘No case’ to water down CO2 targets, chancellor told

Roger HarrabinBy Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment analyst

The UK is allowed to relax its targets for reducing emissions on CCC advice

The government will break the law if it waters down its plans to reduce greenhouse gases, its advisers say.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says there is no legal, environmental or economic case for lowering the fourth UK “carbon budget”, set in 2011.

It says the budget (running from 2023-2027) should be tightened if the EU agrees strict targets on emissions.

This is likely to displease Chancellor George Osborne, who believes the targets would threaten competitiveness.

Under the Climate Change Act, the UK is allowed to relax its targets for reducing emissions if the CCC advises that circumstances have materially changed since the budget was set.

The government asked the committee to review the budget to ensure it was still appropriate.

Last month the committee said there had been no change in the science, or in international policy to cut CO2. Its latest paper says there is no substantial domestic change either.

It repeats its calculation that low carbon policies will put £100 on the average household bill by 2020.

It assesses that fuel poverty will not be materially affected by the policies, and that risks to industrial competitiveness can be mitigated by government exemptions for energy-intensive firms.

The CCC believes low-carbon investments will actually save more than £100bn with gas at its current price, with much higher savings in a world with a high gas price.

The committee’s calculations have been challenged by some who believe they have underestimated the costs of providing new power lines and back-up for wind power.

The report bases its projections on the questionable assumption that the price of emitting carbon will rise as nations move to tackle climate change.

It says this is reasonable as all major nations have stated their determination to reduce emissions, but critics fear that the UK economy could be damaged if Britain presses ahead with progressive policies and the rest of the world fails to follow suit.

The CCC, an expert committee mainly comprising academics, says the fourth carbon budget will bring other benefits including less reliance on fuel imports, improved air quality and reduced noise pollution.

Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said: “This report shows the clear economic benefits of acting to cut emissions through the 2020s. This provides insurance against the increased costs and risks of climate-related damage and rising energy bills that would result from an alternative approach to reduce and delay action.‪

“While it is essential to understand affordability and competitiveness impacts associated with the budget, the evidence suggests that these are relatively small and manageable.”

The CCC says the Chancellor George Osborne has no legal basis for challenging the budget now, and green groups have indicated that they would take a judicial review if he attempted to do so.

There will be a particularly close focus on the effect of the advice on the Chancellor’s gas strategy unveiled last year.

The CCC says the core scenarios in the strategy are in line with the fourth budget, moving toward average emissions of no more than 50-100g per kilowatt/hour in 2030. But one scenario aims for 200g – in excess of the budget.

The CCC says if the government accepts its advice, that would narrow the range of scenarios and increase confidence for investors who are being asked to find more than £100bn to renew the UK’s electricity system.

The report is predictably being backed by green groups but it has also found support from a coalition of charities campaigning on air quality, including the British Heart Foundation, Asthma UK and Clean Air in London.

A spokesman for the charities said: “We strongly support the CCC recommendations to halve UK emissions by 2027 – measures to cut carbon will also have significant benefits for air quality. Many of the root causes are the same, so efforts to tackle both issues go hand in hand.”

There are severe worries about the future cost of energy from large manufacturers, but the CCC has so far managed to keep the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on board.

Rhian Kelly, CBI director for business environment, told BBC News: “It seems sensible to maintain the fourth carbon budget at this point in time.

“It would of course be prudent for the government to look again at the UK’s emissions reduction pathway once EU discussions have concluded, to make sure we remain aligned.”

This is a key issue. Benny Peiser from the climate sceptic group GWPF told BBC News: “Given the EU’s manifest reluctance to follow Britain’s lead, there is no chance that the government will adopt new unilateral targets until and unless there is a legally binding agreement at the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris.”

Lit Ping Low, climate economist for the consultancy PwC, said: “The committee’s endorsement of no change to the budget is important because it sets the tone for the direction of the policies investors and businesses need.

“But it’s important to remember it’s an endorsement of a target that is the minimum we should achieve, when what the IPCC report would tell us is that we need more ambition from all countries.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25324171

.

.

 

.

 

Read more »