Friends of the Earth warn that airport expansion will undermine UK climate action

Commenting ahead of the Airports Commission report which is expected to recommend airport expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow, Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: “It’s simply not credible for the Government to build a new runway in the South East and still claim to be serious about tackling climate change.  “Airport expansion will also have huge impacts on the local community, noise levels and air quality. We can’t preach to the world about stopping catastrophic climate change on the one hand and send aviation emissions soaring on the other.”
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Airport expansion will undermine UK climate action, warns Friends of the Earth

30.6.2015  (FoE press release)

Commenting ahead of Wednesday’s (1 July 2015) Davies Commission report which
is expected to recommend airport expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow,
Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said:

“It’s simply not credible for the Government to build a new runway in the
South East and still claim to be serious about tackling climate change.

“Airport expansion will also have huge impacts on the local community, noise
levels and air quality.

“We can’t preach to the world about stopping catastrophic climate change on
the one hand and send aviation emissions soaring on the other.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. The case for expanding airport capacity is extremely weak. Taken together London’s five major airports serve more destinations than any other European city – over 360 with at least a weekly service – see [1] (section 2.5)

2. The Committee on Climate Change says 37.5Mt CO2 is an appropriate cap [2] for the UK’s aviation emissions in 2050 to fit with the Climate Change Act.

However even if capped at the level the CCC suggests:
•   aviation emissions would represent a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions  [3] in 2050
•    [4 ]other sectors would have to cut emissions by 85% [5] rather than the average 80% needed overall by 2050

____________
http://www.foe.co.uk
info@foe.co.uk
020 7490 1555

[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/138162/aviation-connectivity-and-the-economy.pdf
[2]http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/02/19/climate-change-committee-is-airport-expansion-viable-when-emissions-are-capped/
[3]http://www.aef.org.uk/2014/09/29/environmental-policy-proposals-for-airport-expansion/
[4]http://www.aef.org.uk/2014/09/29/environmental-policy-proposals-for-airport-expansion/
[5]http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/06/03/briefing-environmental-challenges-to-airport-expansion-in-the-south-east/

 

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/airport-expansion-will-undermine-uk-climate-action-warns-friends-earth

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Blog from The Carbon Brief: Aviation’s battle to limit rising emissions – maybe only by limiting demand growth

A huge question mark hangs over how the new runway would be compatible with the UK’s climate change targets. The key issue is not where a runway should be built, but whether it should be built at all.  A blog by the Carbon Brief discusses how the UK dilemma on this is a microcosm of the global story of rapid expansion in the aviation industry, at a time when emissions need to rapidly decrease.  Currently, UK aviation emissions are set to far exceed 2005 levels in 2050 – though the CCC has today reiterated that UK aviation must not emit more than around the 2005 level (about 37.5MtCO2 per year) by 2050.   Even if no new runways are built in the UK,  aviation CO2 emissions  may be at 47Mt in 2050, according to DfT statistics. Without a carbon price and if airport expansion is unconstrained, the CCC project that UK aviation demand could grow more than 200% between 2005 and 2050.  Globally, according to the UNFCCC, aviation emissions increased by 76.1% between 1990 and 2012.  Projections from ICAO indicate that CO2 emissions from global aviation are set to grow 200%-360% on current levels by 2050.  Reducing demand or, at the very least, reducing the growth in demand, may be the only way to keep the CO2 emissions down. The Carbon Brief adds: “If the UK government decides to give the go-ahead for a new runway, it will find it has a difficult task ahead in proving that it is not part of the problem.”

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Explainer: Aviation’s battle to limit rising emissions

30 June 2015 (Carbon Brief)

By Sophie Yeo

Tomorrow, the Airports Commission is expected to make its recommendation on how to expand the aviation industry in the UK.

Sir Howard Davies, the economist behind the report, has weighed up three options: a new runway at Heathrow, a new runway at Gatwick, and extending Heathrow’s northern runway.

But a question mark hangs over how the new runway would be compatible with the UK’s climate change targets, rendering it an issue of not where it should be built, but whether it should be built at all.

The UK’s dilemma is a microcosm of the global story of rapid expansion in the aviation industry, at a time when emissions need to rapidly decrease.

UK aviation emissions

Under the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, emissions must be reduced by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.

In 2009, the government decided that aviation emissions must be capped at 2005 levels – 37.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) – by 2050. However, in 2012, it said it would not officially incorporate this target into its legally binding carbon budgets due to policy uncertainty at an international level.

Nonetheless, the government has informally left space within its carbon budgets to accommodate 37.5MtCO2 from the aviation sector in 2050.

Currently, aviation emissions are set to far exceed 2005 levels in 2050.  Even if no new runways are built in the UK,  aviation CO2 emissions are expected to be at 47Mt in 2050, according to statistics from the Department of Transport.

Without a carbon price and if airport expansion is unconstrained, aviation demand could grow more than 200% between 2005 and 2050, the Committee on Climate Change projects.

The chart (see image here) illustrates the growth in UK international aviation emissions between 1972 and 2012.

By the government’s own admission, expanding both Gatwick or Heathrow will push the UK beyond its target for aviation. In 2050, in a scenario where the UK meets its 37.5MtCO2 goal, Heathrow will be responsible for 16.6MtCO2, and Gatwick for 3.9MtCO2.

A new runway at Heathrow would add an extra 3.9MtCO2 to its baseline, or 1.4MtCO2 at Gatwick.

Global aviation emissions

Globally, aviation is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UN’s climate body, aviation emissions increased by 76.1% between 1990 and 2012.

In 2012, aeroplanes were responsible for 689MtCO2. By 2013, this had increased to 705MtCO2, according to analysis by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) of figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This represents around 2% of global CO2 emissions – or around the same volume of CO2 emitted every year by Germany. This means that, if the aviation sector were a country, it would be the world’s seventh largest emitter.

Aviation’s contribution to climate change does not only lie in its CO2 emissions. Aeroplanes also emit water vapour, chemicals and other substances that can form contrails, changing the natural formation of clouds. These impact the overall energy balance of the planet, known as radiative forcing, which is what causes the global temperature to rise.

A special report into aviation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1999 estimated that aeroplanes were responsible for 3.5% of total human-caused radiative forcing, excluding the impact of clouds.

International efforts

However, unlike a country, the aviation industry will not face a binding requirement to tackle its emissions at the UN climate talks in Paris this December, where a new international deal is set to be signed.

The draft of the text currently under negotiation passes responsibility for reducing aviation emissions to the International Civil Aviation Authority, a specialised agency of the UN.

ICAO has set several goals aimed at limiting and then reducing emissions from aviation. This includes the “aspirational” target of improving fuel efficiency by 2% every year, limiting emissions at 2020 levels and then reducing them to half of 2005 levels by 2050 – all non-binding.

Yet, according to ICAO’s 2013 projections, shown in the graph below, emissions from the aviation industry are set to grow 200%-360% on current levels by 2050, including the maximum use of lower-carbon alternative fuels. This is far in excess of the goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020.

ICAO’s crowning achievement would be the development of a global carbon market to limit emissions from the world’s aviation industry.

The 191 countries represented at ICAO have agreed to do this and have outlined some potential options for how such a mechanism could shape up.

One possibility is to use carbon offsets, which participants could buy to neutralise their emissions above an agreed limit. Another possibility is to do this, while simultaneously applying a charge for every tonne of CO2, generating a stream of revenue that can be used for other climate-related projects. The final possibility is to develop a cap-and-trade scheme for the industry.

But while the options are on the table, progress has been slow, held up by the inevitable political difficulties in attempting to implement the world’s first global carbon market for a certain sector.

Developing a market mechanism for aviation includes an added complication: establishingwhich emissions belong to which country. Some argue that countries ought to take responsibility for all emissions from the aeroplanes departing from their territory. Others say it should depend where the airline operator is registered. A third option is that countries should take responsibility for the CO2 emitted in their airspace.

At ICAO’s general assembly in 2013, countries reaffirmed that they would develop a market-based mechanism for the industry, and develop the options for doing so. A decision is due on this in 2016.

Technology

The markets offer one method of scaling down aviation emissions, but they are not the only answer. Technology, operational improvements and biofuels also offer opportunities for reducing aviation pollution.

From an operations perspective, this can mean advanced communications, navigation and surveillance, along with better air traffic management, which can reduce the amount of time that the plane spends in the air.

Technological improvements include more efficient engines, advanced lightweight materials and improved aerodynamics.

Biofuels can also be used as an alternative to traditional fuels – although the level of the benefits that they offer is contentious, due to possible competition for land with CO2-absorbing forests.

Nonetheless, developing a market-based mechanism for the aviation industry remains key if the aviation industry is going to achieve its own goals without dramatically reducing demand for flights.

These alternative approaches, known as the “basket of measures” in ICAO jargon, will not alone put the aviation industry on track to achieve carbon neutral growth after 2020, according to a paper by Professor David Lee, who leads the Centre for Aviation, Transport and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University.

It finds that applying new technology, advanced operational procedures, using more biofuel and extending out market mechanisms to 2050 cannot stop emissions growing. Under the maximum level of ambition that the researchers modelled, emissions would still rise to 774MtCO2 per year – more than today’s emissions of 705MtCO2.

The graph below shows the ranges of outcomes depending on how enthusiastically improvements to the industry are adopted.

The paper concluded that no currently available measures, or any combination of them, could achieve the goal of carbon neutral growth after 2020 for any scenario of the industry’s growth. But since regional markets have reduced emissions most effectively so far, it says, a global mechanism would be the most effective means to achieve this goal in the future.

Demand

There is one other way to cut aviation emissions: reduce demand – or, at the very least, reduce the growth in demand.

Unsurprisingly, this is the less popular option among countries and industries that want to see the continued expansion of aviation.

At its 2013 general assembly, ICAO emphasised “the need to ensure that international aviation continues to develop in a sustainable manner”.

A 2014 paper published in the journal Atmospheric Environment reinforced the point that improved airline efficiency will not be able to compensate for the growth in emissions that will result from increased demand.

In order to achieve an overall reduction in CO2 from the industry, “behaviour change will be necessary to reduce demand for air-travel”, it says. Reduced demand could be brought about by an increase in ticket price of around 1.4% per year, say the authors – reversing the current trend that has seen the price of international tickets fall by 0.5% per year between 1990 and 2012.

A study released in March 2015 by the Tyndall Centre suggests that climate scientists themselves should lead the way through shunning air travel, wherever possible.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change says that national growth in aviation demand must be limited to 60% in order to meet the government’s target of keeping emissions in 2050 at 2005 levels.

In the UK, the majority of the industry’s growth has come from holiday makers, rather than business trips. The graph below shows that growth in business flights had started to flatline even before the financial crisis of 2008.

Reasons for UK passengers travelling abroad by air. Credit: Carbon Brief, based on ONS statistics

This undermines the argument made by some, such as former Conservative MP Tim Yeo, that there is a strong business case for a third runway.

Recently, a group of individuals from tax and environmental campaigning groups wrote a letter in The Observer backing instead a “frequent flyers levy”, which would tax travellers based on how regularly they fly. They wrote:

“Our research shows that this ‘polluter pays’ approach would enable the UK to meet our climate targets without making flying the preserve of the rich – and without needing to build any new runways.”

National action

While an international mechanism to reduce aviation emissions has yet to materialise, countries are increasingly taking action at the national level.

The EU has included aviation emissions within its Emissions Trading System, facing down fierce opposition, including some US airlines, who unsuccessfully fought a case against the Commission in the European Court of Justice in 2011.

The scheme only covers flights that both takeoff and land within the EU (and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). The EU agreed to exclude international flights entering its airspace, in the hope that it would ease political tension and facilitate an agreement on a global market mechanism in 2016.

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently acknowledged the role of aviation emissions in causing global warming, and said it will develop rules in line with ICAO regulation to reduce emissions from the industry, as it has done for vehicles and power plants.

But while the EU, in particular, has shown leadership on this issue, national actions alone cannot tackle the enormous growth of the industry, and cannot compensate for the particularly fierce growth in developing countries. The burden to act first falls on developed countries, with ICAO recognising the UN principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

For instance, between 1990 and 2012, emissions from the aviation industry grew 913% in Benin, 800% in Mongolia and 500% in Nepal. This compares to growth of 10% in Canada, 63% in the US and 84% in Germany.

overed by only weak regulation, and with the prospect of future reductions still shadowy, aviation is one of the most difficult issues of climate change policy. The methods to significantly reduce its emissions – a global market mechanism, or simply flying less – are unpopular and difficult to implement.

If the UK government decides to give the go-ahead for a new runway, it will find it has a difficult task ahead in proving that it is not part of the problem.

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See full article at

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2015/06/explainer-aviation-battle-to-limit-rising-emissions/

for many charts and graphs included.

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Committee on Climate Change confirm aviation CO2 must remain capped – putting new runway into question

On the eve of the Airports Commission’s runway recommendation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has told Government it has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions. The Government’s official advisory body on delivery of the UK’s Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’ to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand.  The CCC says that given the anticipated growth in emissions from the sector, the DfT must set out how it will ensure that emissions from aviation are no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005 (37.5 Mt).  The limited scope for improvements in aviation technology mean that demand growth must be kept to no more than 60% above its 2005 level. Current forecasts of air passenger growth with associated CO2 emissions exceed this level EVEN WITHOUT adding a new runway. With a new SE runway the growth in passenger demand – and thus CO2 emissions – would be even higher.  Extensive analysis by the AEF has shown that a new runway would make the aviation emissions cap (37.5MtCO2 annually) impossible to achieve. Ruling out a new runway is the most obvious first step for the Government to take in response to the CCC’s advice. Adding a runway, and then having to deal with the extra carbon problem it has produced, is not an efficient way to deal with the issue.
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Runway recommendation under threat by Climate Committee report: AEF comment

On the eve of the Airports Commission’s runway recommendation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today told Government it has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions. The Government’s official advisory body on delivery of the UK’s Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’ [1] to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand.

Given the anticipated growth in emissions from the sector, the Department for Transport must set out how it will ensure that emissions from aviation are no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005 (37.5 Mt), the CCC states in its advice to ministers. The limited scope for improvements in aviation technology mean that demand growth must be limited to no more than 60% above its 2005 level. Current forecasts exceed this level even without adding new airport capacity and a new runway would increase passenger growth still further.

Cait Hewitt from Aviation Environment Federation, the leading UK environmental NGO campaigning on the environmental impacts of airports and flying, said:

The CCC’s report highlights the need for Government intervention to manage aviation demand just at the time when a decision on new airport capacity is looming. Our work has shown, a new runway would make the aviation emissions cap impossible to achieve in the real world.

“Ruling out South East airport expansion is the most obvious first step for the Government to take in response to today’s advice from the CCC. At the very least it must postpone a decision on a new runway until after it has published an emissions action plan for aviation.”

While the CCC’s recommendations for limiting aviation emissions are not new, the specific requirement to set out a plan for achieving them will put new pressure on the Government as it considers the recommendation of the Airports Commission. Even with current runway capacity, emissions are currently forecast to overshoot the maximum level CCC say is permissible. A new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would significantly increase the scale of the challenge[2], as the Airports Commission’s own modelling has shown.

As set out in the report we published earlier this month[3], the only options for tackling CO2 from the sector if expansion was approved at either Heathrow or Gatwick would be draconian restrictions on regional airports or large increases in the cost of flying to manage demand. In reality, neither approach would be deliverable.

—ENDS—

Notes to Editors

For more information contact the AEF office on 020 3102 1509.

The Aviation Environment Federation is the leading UK organisation campaigning exclusively on the environmental impacts of aviation. We represent community groups and individuals around many of the UK’s airports and airfields. Further information can be found on our website:www.aef.org.uk

[1] The Committee on Climate Change’s 5th Progress report is available here: http://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/reducing-emissions-and-preparing-for-climate-change-2015-progress-report-to-parliament/ See Table A.1 Recommendation 19 in ‘Summary of Recommendations’ on Page 41 and page 145 of main report

[2] View our infographic demonstrating future emissions forecasts with expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick here:http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/03/16/infographic-why-airport-expansion-risks-the-uks-climate-change-commitments/

[3] Our report is available here: http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/06/19/aviation-emissions-to-soar-under-airports-commission-proposals-new-aef-report-shows/

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US airline industry lobby, A4A, hoping it will not need to make further CO2 savings – more NextGen instead

The trade lobbying group, Airlines for America (A4A), argues that the airline industry has already done its part to reduce CO2 emissions. It says it is now up to the US government to get improvements to the air traffic control system that could reduce airline fuel consumption, by cutting extra miles flown. Recently the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) released an “endangerment finding” that that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health. So A4A is pushing back, and saying that US airlines have “more than doubled fuel efficiency since 1978 [planes were very fuel inefficient then].” Leaving out the constantly rising numbers of flights and passengers, they hope to persuade government that there is no need to have any further regulations on their carbon emissions, or emissions standards for aircraft. While the industry hopes for 1.5% efficiency gains per year, this would be negated by its hopes of growing by 4% per year.  There is the issue of whether the US and the EU might have different emissions standards, and how that affects trans-Atlantic flights. Airlines are thriving, the fuel price has fallen, and they are making profits. But the industry wants more flight path changes, to cut costs, through NextGen, which have proved so unpopular in subjecting communities to worse noise.
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US airline industry, government at odds over emissions standards

By Danny King (Travel Weekly)

June 24, 2015

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves to catch up with overseas regulators by enacting emissions standards for the aviation industry, the largest U.S. airline trade group is pushing back.

The trade group, Airlines for America (A4A), argues that the industry has already done its part to reduce emissions and that it now is up to the government to address improvements to the air traffic control system that could further reduce airline fuel consumption.

Just weeks after the EPA reported that its early findings confirmed that aircraft carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming, A4A was gearing up for a lobbying effort that will highlight both the industry’s fuel-efficiency gains and the need for the federal government to update aircraft-control systems. A4A is pointing to data suggesting that U.S. carriers have more than doubled fuel efficiency since 1978 and that airlines account for 5% of the U.S. economy, but just 2% of the country’s emissions.

“The U.S. airlines carried 20% more passengers and cargo in 2014 than they did in 2000, while emitting 8% less carbon dioxide,” A4A spokesman Vaughn Jennings said. “Coupled with the long-term fuel efficiency improvements the U.S. airlines have accomplished [dating] back to the late 1970s, there is a real question as to whether any [greenhouse-gas] emissions regulation is needed.”

As it is, the EPA appears to be following up efforts by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which has been trying to address the issue of aircraft emissions for at least five years and is pushing for the global aircraft industry to boost fuel-efficiency by 1.5% a year through 2020. ICAO is working with the industry to develop aircraft emissions standards, which could be disclosed as soon as early next year.

One burning question for airlines is whether the EPA’s move toward emissions standards would end up creating a system in which different emissions mandates would apply to aircraft flying in Europe and those flying in North America. Similar conflicting standards already exist in the global automobile industry. And it’s not clear which standard would then apply for aircraft used for transatlantic flights.

In a June 10 statement, the EPA said it was pursuing policies “that are equitable across national boundaries,” but it did not explain what that meant or offer further detail. Meanwhile, Jennings said it was “critical” that international emissions standards be common.

Bob Offutt, senior technology analyst at Phocuswright, said that while it was unclear which standards would apply on transatlantic flights, he expected them to be similar, with the greatest potential for differences arising with when the emissions standards would be phased in.

Regardless, Offutt said the EPA’s timing is no accident. The concept of aircraft pollution and its potential impact on global weather patterns have been discussed in scientific journals since at least 9/11, when, in the days following those terrorist attacks, flights were grounded, offering a chance to test theories on the impact of aircraft emissions.

Even so, in the ensuing years as the aviation industry was riddled by lackluster customer demand and higher fuel costs, the EPA appears to have taken a hands-off approach to the issue of aircraft emissions and their potential impact on global warming.

What has changed in recent years is that fuel prices will have fallen 20% between 2013 and 2015, while worldwide passenger departures will increase 6.8% this year, to 3.53 billion, and air transport will boost passenger revenue by 4.3% this year, to $823 billion, according to IATA.

As a result, many U.S. airlines are reporting record profits. United reported net income of $1.13 billion last year, compared with a $723 million net loss in 2012, while American Airlines earned net income of $2.88 billion in 2014, compared with a $1.88 billion loss two years prior.

“The airlines had complained that they were struggling. This is old news, of course,” Offutt said. “The EPA may have been holding off for a while so that [the airlines] could be profitable. Now, the EPA is saying, ‘your turn.'”

Indeed, the EPA noted in its June 10 statement about addressing aircraft greenhouse-gas emissions that U.S. aircraft account for 29% of global aircraft emissions as well as about 11% of emissions from the domestic transportation sector.

“In 2009, EPA determined that GHG [grenhouse-gas] pollution from cars and light trucks threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects. The body of science on human-induced climate change has strengthened, supporting today’s proposed finding … that GHGs emitted from aircraft engines contribute to pollution that causes climate change endangering public health and welfare.”

While the airlines have not denied those assertions, A4A has already made it clear that the industry feels that a large part of solution to the emissions problem lies with the country’s outdated air traffic control system, which damages the industry’s efficiency. A replacement Gen-3 system has long been a political football in Congress. The airlines and A4A will likely use the EPA data in their push for the government to transition from an outdated radar-based infrastructure to a satellite-based GPS.

“While the A4A airlines are doing all that they can to promote efficiencies within the current air traffic management system, the limitations of that system account for over 10% of unnecessary fuel burn and resulting emissions,” Jennings said.

http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Government/Airline-industry-government-at-odds-over-emissions-standards

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See earlier:

After EPA “endangerment finding” USA starting to take CO2 emissions from aviation seriously

The Obama administration has now released a scientific finding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health. This is called an “endangerment finding” and it paves the way for regulating CO2 emissions from the US aviation industry.  It would allow the US to implement a global CO2 emissions standard for new aircraft, that is being developed by ICAO.  However, the ICAO CO2 standard will only start in late 2016 and only apply to new plane designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world’s existing fleets unaffected for years to come.  But James Lees, from AEF, writing in a blog, says this EPA move could mark a turning point in efforts to regulate CO2 emissions from aviation globally.  While most sectors are expected to cut their emissions, the CO2 from aviation is expected to triple by 2050. Today’s airline fleet is more carbon efficient than it was in the early 1970s but efficiency improvements slowed down dramatically since 2000 – while passenger demand grows at 5.5% per year. It is hoped the UK, the EU and the US can now push for an effective global standard.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/06/26492/

 

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Andrew Simms: “Forget Heathrow and Gatwick expansion, the Davies report should tackle frequent flyers”

 

Forget Heathrow and Gatwick expansion, the Davies report should tackle frequent flyers

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“Government airbrushes aviation’s non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions” – new report

It been recognised for many years that the climate change impacts of aviation extend well beyond those of carbon dioxide (CO2), due to jet fuel being burned at high altitude, creating a range of impacts – including formation of cirrus cloud from contrails.  But this fact is largely ignored by the government and its agencies. A new report, produced for AirportWatch, examines the reasons for this and proposes an ‘index’ which will help to ensure that the issue of non-CO2 gases is properly accounted for. Though DECC continues to use a multiplier of 1.9 for the CO2 alone, in its conversion factors, the issue of the non-CO2 impacts has been systematically downplayed by the UK government and its associates over recent years. While ‘scientific uncertainty’ is claimed as the reason to ignore non-CO2, the report considers the real reason is that aviation emissions are an embarrassment to government and others who want to expand airports and air travel. The new paper suggests a new index should be developed. To be very conservative, this should be set at a multiplier of 1.6 of the CO2 emissions alone. It would be an interim measure, pending a thorough and independent review of the issue of aviation’s non-CO2 emissions. Ignoring the non-CO2 impacts of aviation, due to scientific uncertainty, is not acceptable. Using lack of certainty as a justification for ignoring a known issue would not be accepted in other areas. 
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“Government airbrushes aviation’s non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions”

By Nic Ferriday, for AirportWatch

June 2015
1. Introduction

While it been recognised for many years that the climate change impacts of aviation extend well beyond those of carbon dioxide (CO2), this fact is largely ignored by the government and its agencies. Our report examines the reasons for this and proposes an ‘index’ which will help to ensure that the issue of non-CO2 gases is properly accounted for.
2. Executive summary

In recent years there has been systematic downplaying of the issue of non-CO2 gases by the UK government and its associates. This report provides the evidence for that claim.

While ‘scientific uncertainty’ is claimed as the reason to ignore non-CO2, the real reason is that aviation emissions are an embarrassment to government and others who want to expand airports and air travel.

In earlier governmental and academic studies a ‘Radiative Forcing Index’ (RFI) has been used in order to capture non-CO2 impacts. However, RFI is a ‘backward looking metric’ and is therefore considered unsuitable for informing aviation policy.

This report argues that instead of just dropping the previously used RFI, it should be replaced by a ‘Global Warming Potential’ (GWP) index for estimating impacts and developing policy responses.

A rough value for the index of 1.6 is estimated. CO2 emissions should be multiplied by 1.6 in order to allow for the impact on non-CO2 GHGs. This is a very conservative figure – the true figure could be much higher, due mainly to cirrus.

The estimate and calculations around it are very approximate. The factor of 1.6 should therefore be regarded very much as an interim, pending a thorough and independent review of the issue of aviation’s non-CO2 emissions.

Although the proposed index is approximate and interim, it should be used forthwith in order to demonstrate impacts and inform policy. Citing scientific uncertainly as a justification for ignoring an issue would not be acceptable in other fields of public policy and should not be accepted when it comes to aviation emissions.

AirportWatch Briefing on Radiative Forcing June 2015


 

11. Discussion

The material presented above gives clear evidence of a progressive downplaying of the impacts of aviation’s non-CO emissions by DfT, CCC and latterly AC.  Their documents recognise that non-CO2 emissions are significant but then simply ignore them or give excuses for ignoring them.

There seem to be two main arguments given for ignoring non-CO2 GHGs.  Firstly that RFI is an inappropriate metric.  Secondly, that the science is uncertain.  We examine these below.

It is argued by Lee and others that the use of RFI is inappropriate because it is a ‘backward-looking’ metric.  It tends to over-emphasise the impacts of non-CO2 gases because the residence time of those gases is less than CO2.  That RFI is a backward-looking metric and that some ‘forward-looking’ metric is better is common ground.  However, this recognition is nothing new and so does not explain the progressive downplaying of non-CO2 emissions.

Other forward-looking metrics, notably GWP, have been proposed.  GTP has also been proposed but, as explained in app 1, we consider the use of GTP inappropriate because it ignores all climate impacts and costs up to the year in which it applies, eg 100 years hence.

While GWP may not be ideal, it is the best there is at present.  It therefore makes sense to use it when assessing impacts and developing policy.  This principle extends to all area of scientific research and public policy.  In our real and imperfect world we have to use the best evidence and the best estimates that are available.  To argue that because our knowledge is imperfect, we should ignore an issue is absurd.  Such an argument is not applied in other areas of public life.  Uncertainly about future terrorist attacks or Ebola outbreaks is not used as a reason to ignore the issues.

The real reason for airbrushing non-CO2 emissions is not hard to find.  There is increasing pressure on and from politicians to expand airports and air travel.  The climate impacts of such a policy represent a highly ‘inconvenient truth’.  Given the widespread recognition of the role of CO2, government and its agencies could not hope to ignore CO2 impacts without attracting the severest criticism.  But for non-CO2 emissions, about which there is as yet very little public knowledge, government and its servants can hope to ignore the impacts while escaping criticism.

Global Warming Potential (GWP) is noted in the literature as a promising metric.  However a period need to be defined over which the effect are integrated.  We argue in app 7 that an average of GWP35 and GWP100 should be used.

Including cirrus, GWP35 and GWP100 are 3.69 and 1.9 respectively, giving an average of 2.8.  However, the uncertainty around cirrus is especially large.  This, leading to possibly misleading high impacts, makes a case for omitting cirrus from an index at present.

Excluding cirrus, GWP35 and GWP100 are 1.92 and 1.4 respectively, giving an average of 1.61, rounded to 1.6.  This is a very conservative figure – that is, it is likely to be lower than the true values.  (It is conservative because cirrus, although subject to great uncertainty, is nonetheless expected with a fair degree of confidence to add significant radiative forcing.  The calculations also assume a ‘low’ inpact of NOx.)

Where there are significant uncertainties, it seems appropriate to use conservative values.  This will avoid ‘overshoot’ whereby a high index is initially selected, leading to a particular set of policy responses, only for the index to be reduced in the light of further research, leading to possible differences or even reversals of policy responses.

Based on the foregoing, we propose an index of 1.6, based on GWP calculations.  That is, impacts of CO2 alone should be multiplied by 1.6 to allow for non-CO2 impacts.  This factor should be applied forthwith in order to inform the debate on the impacts of aviation and policy responses to it.

The data and calculations supporting this are indeed approximate, but there is very strong evidence that non-CO2 impacts are significant.  Furthermore, the factor of 1.6 is very conservative.  These are compelling reasons to allow for non-CO2 emissions and to apply this factor.  Simply citing ‘scientific uncertainty’ as a reason for ignoring non-CO2 emissions and not applying any factor is not tenable.

Recognising the ‘rough and ready’ nature of the calculations, the proposed index of 1.6 should be regarded very much as an interim figure.  A proper and fully independent study should be undertaken in order to refine this index or, indeed, to devise an alternative approach for addressing non-CO2 impacts.

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The report:

AirportWatch Briefing on Radiative Forcing June 2015

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Darren Johnson asks: Why spend billions on a new runway and then tax us to keep demand for flights down?

Darren Johnson, writing in Best Foot Forward, says there is a huge hidden assumption, in the small print of the Airports Commission. It is that in order for Heathrow or Gatwick to expand, air fares will have to rise across the UK to the point where potential customers abandon the northern and regional airports in favour of their more efficient rivals in the south east. Without more runways in the south east, the regional airports will see a small expansion in flights, but the UK may well be able remain below our CO2 limit for aviation in 2050 (37.5 MtCO2 per year). With another SE runway, the only way to stop it filling up and being intensively used, is to raise fares – a lot – to deter demand, so aviation CO2 emissions remain under the cap. Otherwise the CO2 will just be too high. All this is tucked away in the small print of various appendices. Darren has written to the Commission about this, and responses show they (and the DfT) are aware that a high carbon price would be needed. Estimates vary, but this could add £100 to £150 to a return flight to Ibiza by 2050. Are we just leaving our children to sort out the mess in future? Rather than building a runway, and then having to cut demand (London and the regions) by high taxes, surely it makes more sense not to build the runway in the first place?
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Why spend billions on a new runway and then tax us for using it?

By Darren Johnson  (Green Party Member of the London Assembly)

22.6.2015 (Left Foot Forward)

Working my way through all the detailed research that the Davies Commission has produced on Climate Change, I suddenly realised how much was buried in the small print.

The biggest hidden assumption appears to be that in order for Heathrow or Gatwick to expand, fares will have to rise across the UK to the point where potential customers abandon the northern and regional airports in favour of their more efficient rivals in the south east.

The logic of the Davies Commission is simple. Aviation will soak up nearly all the UK allowance of climate change emissions by 2050 as transport and energy become carbon free (an optimistic view).

Without more runways in the south east, the regional airports will see a small expansion in flights, but we will be below our CO2 limit in 2050. If the go ahead is given to more runways around London then the only way to stop these airports filling up and exceeding our emissions cap will be to raise fares – a lot.

All this is tucked away in the small print of various appendices, and it bothered me so much that I wrote to the Davies Commission outlining a set of questions about the small print.

I’m told that it bothered Davies too and he has rewritten the climate change section to make it more convincing and to address the negative consequences for Scottish, Welsh and regional English airports.

An initial report by the Davies Commission contained a graph on the price of carbon needed to meet the emissions cap under different scenarios. This indicated that Carbon Trading would add over £360 on a tonne of Carbon (in 2008 prices). This adds around £150 to the cost of a return flight to Ibiza in southern Spain by 2050.

This is not as unlikely as it sounds. The latest government (Department for Transport, 2014) assumption is that the that the Real Traded Carbon Price for 2050 (if no new runways are built) ranges from £99 per tonne of CO2e to £297 per tonne.

So the government is predicting that the Ibiza return flight will go up by only around £100. Their current modelling for 2050 shows that the price will need to be at the high end in order to reduce emissions to within the carbon cap, even without expansion.

Obviously, with an expansion of capacity, there will be a need to introduce a much higher price. I have asked Davies whether his final report will have a calculation of how much prices will need to increase.

Of course, Davies may argue that his brief extends to 2030 when the new runways are built and that any necessary reduction in flights after that to meet our 2050 climate change targets is for a future generation of politicians to sort out.

This all raises two important question for the Davies Commission. First, why lay all that expensive tarmac, if your intention is to tax people in order to stop them using it?

Second, will future governments have the political will to levy these hefty taxes on flights, and be seen to punish the rest of the UK for the benefit of London and the South East?

Should expansion go ahead I would support taxing flights to stop global warming, because the future stability and prosperity of our planet has to come first.

But it makes far more sense to scrap expansion plans and to avoid some of those extra costs.

With the final report from the Davies Commission due in the next couple of weeks, I hope that the huge flaws in the logic of aviation expansion will be exposed.

It makes no sense for the planet, or for Londoners living with the more immediate consequences of noise and air pollution.

Darren Johnson is a Green Party member of the London Assembly. Follow him on Twitter 

http://leftfootforward.org/2015/06/why-spend-billions-on-a-new-runway-and-then-tax-us-for-using-it/
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See also

The UK’s richest households receive double the transport subsidy of the poorest

Lucy Shaddock
18.6.2015
Inequality is entrenched even in the way we travel

The Budget next month should end speculation about where government spending will be directed and where any cuts will fall.

For some policy areas like welfare, it’s not difficult to see how proposed changes could increase inequality, but there are other unexplored areas where existing spending is already entrenching inequality.

Take transport for example, an unglamorous policy area which is continually overlooked. There is an annual £5.4bn spend on transport subsidies – more than double the amount we spend on NHS A&E services across the country.

For those of us regularly stranded by ‘leaves on the track’, it’s understandable that transport headlines focus on price hikes, poor services and frustrated commuters.

But our new report Taken for a Ride reveals a more fundamental and troubling problem with our system of public transport funding: it actually perpetuates inequality, and has been doing so for decades.

When looking at transport subsidies we found that, in total, the richest ten per cent of households benefit from £978 million in transport subsidy – over three times more than the £297 million received by the poorest ten per cent.

This inequality persists even when you look at household level and adjust for their different sizes, with the richest ten per cent still gaining £294 per year per household compared to the poorest households’ £162.

Perhaps more worrying is just how long this inequality has been going on. For most of the last 20 years, the richest ten per cent has received over four times the level of subsidy of the poorest ten per cent.

This matters because it means we’re doing a fine job spending huge amounts of money ferrying the relatively well-off into decent paying jobs. But we’re doing far less to provide those on low incomes with similar prospects.

The result is not only that the poorest are effectively locked out of decent jobs; they’re also prevented from accessing good health and education services and even cultural activities.

The problem isn’t just one of rich and poor either. The development of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ will be a major project this parliament, and the economic benefits of the greater connectivity that comes from infrastructure investment should be celebrated.

But investing in transport links alone is a job half done and an opportunity wasted if the poorest can’t afford to benefit, and if some regions are receiving far less support than others.

A household in the north east or north west receives about half the rail subsidy received by a household in London. It’s even worse in Wales, where a household receives almost four times less rail subsidy than one in London.

If we can’t fix this, we’re in danger of creating growth that benefits some but leaves many others behind.

It’s not easy to turn around such institutionalised inequality, but it is possible. Our report recommends that all government departments’ cost-benefit evaluations should consider whether new proposals increase inequality, and that the net effect of their policies as a whole should also be measured against this.

Inequality permeates every area of life in the UK, even the way we travel. Addressing it should be a government priority.

http://leftfootforward.org/2015/06/the-uks-richest-households-receive-double-the-transport-subsidy-of-the-poorest/
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The report “Taken For A Ride – How UK public transport subsidies entrench inequality”

is at
http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/Taken%20for%20a%20Ride.pdf

Section on Air Travel on Page 7

“Plane usage

“Air travel is technically considered a form of public transport but is not considered
in our analysis because there is insufficient data on government transport
subsidies. However, there is some evidence it too shows signs of widening
inequality within transport usage.

“Air travel is clearly no longer the preserve of the rich and famous. But despite the
boom in budget airlines over recent years, government surveys on air travel indicate
that, like other areas of transport, how rich you are determines how often you fly22.
While two thirds of those earning over £26,000 (just under the national average for
full time workers) had flown at least once in the 12 months up to March 2014, more
than 70 per cent of those with a gross income under £8,319 did not fly at all in
that time.

“The data here is limited in that it focuses on the lowest half of the income scale
and does not further categorise people with an annual gross income of £26,000 or
more, but it helps to illustrate an economic disparity in another important area of
public transport.”

http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/Taken%20for%20a%20Ride.pdf

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Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary

Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts. These include the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others.  In a letter to the Observer – in order to remove the alleged “need” for a new south east runway – they put forward the concept of allowing each person one tax-free flight per year, but increasing the rate of tax for people who fly frequently. The levy would rise with each successive flight. This would mean that instead of APD (£13 per return flight to Europe) there would be a higher rate of tax for frequent fliers. Their analysis shows that 15% of the UK population take 70% of all the flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year. Rather than a new runway being vital for business, the reality is that it would be used for the better off to take more leisure flights (holidays or visiting friends and family).  The proposed levy would mean the number of flights would be cut to a level that would make a new runway unnecessary. The authors of the scheme have also shown that this change to the taxation of air travel would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.
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Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary

Proposed tax would only hit better-off who holiday more than once a year

By Toby Helm Political editor
Saturday 20 June 2015

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Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts.

Ministers, and candidates seeking to be the next mayor of London, including Tory hopeful and green campaigner Zac Goldsmith, are being urged to back the proposals, which supporters argue in a letter to the Observer would relieve ministers at a stroke from having to make the invidious choice between expanding Heathrow or Gatwick airports.

Sir Howard Davies, former leader of the CBI and head of the Airports Commission, will report within a fortnight on how he thinks capacity can best be expanded in the south-east. He is expected to make a recommendation to develop either Heathrow or Gatwick, but may insist on tough environmental conditions being met by the “winner”. These could allow ministers room to judge which option they believe would achieve the best balance between the economic benefits and environmental impact.

The decision is one of the most controversial and politically difficult facing the new Tory government. Expansion of Heathrow is being resisted by several Tory cabinet ministers – including international development secretary Justine Greening and foreign secretary Philip Hammond –whose constituencies would be affected, as well as by London mayor Boris Johnson. A group of Tory MPs is also campaigning against an expansion of Gatwick.

With debate intensifying, green campaigners, transport groups, economists and tax experts have joined to propose the radical plan, which they say would reduce costs for once-a-year holiday travellers, while hitting those who choose to fly regularly. They say it would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.

Under the plan, backed by the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others, air passenger duty would be scrapped and replaced by a new frequent flyers levy. Everyone would be able to take one flight a year without paying any levy, but for subsequent journeys the levy would rise each time.

Using accepted methods to calculate the effect of price on demand, experts say the number of flights taken by the better-off for leisure purposes – which account for much of recent growth – would be cut to a level that would make extra airport capacity unnecessary.

In their letter they say: “Britain’s skies are already some of the busiest in the world, and Howard Davies knows that these expansion plans cannot be made to fit with the UK’s long-term commitments under the Climate Change Act. Contrary to aviation lobby rhetoric, a new runway is not needed to allow more international business flights, which have been declining steadily since the turn of the century.

“The hub airport argument is a smokescreen. In reality, growing demand for air travel is concentrated in the short-haul leisure sector and among a small, wealthy minority of the population. It is more of these flights that a new runway will in practice service.

“This growth in flights is driven by air fares that are kept artificially low through generous tax subsidies; aviation is exempt from fuel duty by international treaty and zero rated for VAT, alongside wheelchairs and baby clothes. Yet these tax breaks almost exclusively benefit the richest section of British society. Our analysis of passenger survey data shows that 15% of the UK population are taking 70% of all our flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year.”

They argue the new levy would shift the burden “away from families flying to their annual holiday and on to the frequent fliers who are driving expansion. Our research shows that this would let the UK meet our climate targets without making flying the preserve of the rich – and without needing to build any new runways.”

Stephen Joseph, director of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Replacing air passenger duty with a frequent flyers levy could, on the evidence so far, make it unnecessary to build any new runways. As the politics of airport expansion get more difficult, we think the government should look seriously at the levy proposal, to ensure that the richest who take the most flights pay the most tax.”

John Stewart, chair of Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, (HACAN) which campaigns against expansion of Heathrow, added: “The beauty of this proposal is that it ticks both the equity and green boxes. It is a way of controlling the growth of aviation but still allowing ordinary families a holiday in the sun.”

With business leaders impatient for a decision, the government has said it will not comment on airport expansion until Davies has reported. Sources have indicated that a decision on which option to back is unlikely until the end of the year. Some government insiders believe it will then be difficult to back expansion of Heathrow in the run-up to the mayoral elections next May.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/20/frequent-flyer-tax-leisure-airfares

APD frequenty flyer

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Comment by an AirportWatch member:

This novel way to think about the taxation of air travel (which is exempt from VAT and fuel duty) has been widely welcomed as clever and innovate way to open up the debate, and explore the issue of the cost of air travel – and who is flying. This helps move the debate on – rather than just the sterile and repetitive war of words and claims between the Heathrow and the Gatwick runway schemes. The issue if very much IF a runway should be built, not just about WHERE to put it.  This new proposal gets straight to the heart of the problem – tacking the “elephant in the room” of leisure flights by the better off being too cheap.


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The letter in the Observer

It’s not about where we put a runway. Don’t build one at all

Introduce a polluters’ tax on frequent flyers
The Observer,

Any moment now, the Airports Commission will finally publish its recommendation for new runway capacity at either Heathrow or Gatwick. What will be missing from this report is a third option that would be preferred by many: no new runway at either airport.

Britain’s skies are already some of the busiest in the world and Howard Davies knows that these expansion plans cannot be made to fit with the UK’s long-term commitments under the Climate Change Act. Contrary to aviation lobby rhetoric, a new runway is not needed to allow more international business flights, which have been declining steadily since the turn of the century. The hub airport argument is a smokescreen. In reality, growing demand for air travel is concentrated in the short-haul leisure sector and among a small, wealthy minority of the population. It is more of these flights that a new runway will in practice service.

This growth in flights is driven by air fares that are kept artificially low through generous tax subsidies; aviation is exempt from fuel duty by international treaty and zero rated for VAT. Yet these tax breaks almost exclusively benefit the richest section of British society. Our analysis of passenger survey data shows that 15% of the UK population are taking 70% of all our flights. That’s why we are calling today to replace air passenger duty with a frequent flyer levy that taxes travellers according to how often they fly, shifting the burden away from families flying to their one annual holiday and on to the frequent flyers who are driving expansion. Our research shows that this “polluter pays” approach would enable the UK to meet our climate targets without making flying the preserve of the rich – and without needing to build any new runways.

Signed by:

John Stewart, HACAN;

Stewart Wallis, New Economics Foundation;

John Sauven, Greenpeace UK;

Joe Jenkins, Friends of the Earth;

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport;

Manuel Cortes, TSSA Union;

Tahir Latif, PCS Union Aviation Group president;

John Christensen, Tax Justice Network;

Duncan Exley, Equality Trust;

Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK;

Ed Gillespie, London Sustainability commissioner and co-founder Futerra;

Andrew Simms, co-founder of the New Weather Institute & fellow of NEF;

Elena Blackmore, Public Interest Research Centre;

Jamie Andrews, Loco2;

Leo Murray, 10:10;

Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland;

Colin Howden, Transform Scotland

http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2015/jun/21/letters-athletes-dont-care-about-politics

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FAQs from “A Free Ride”

http://blog.afreeride.org/faqs/

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Report for Fellow Travellers, by NEF (New Economics Foundation)

Managing aviation passenger demand with a Frequent Flyer Levy,

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HACAN backs Frequent Flyers Levy to replace Air Passenger Duty as “both green and equitable”

21.6.2015

Campaign group HACAN has given its backing to the plan for a Frequent Flyers Levy to replace Air Passengers Duty.  The proposal, released this weekend (1) and based on reports from the New Economics Foundation and CE Delft, suggests that each person is given one tax-free flight a year (if they want to take it) but that the tax rises with every subsequent flight taken (2).

Just days before the Airports Commission is due to publish its recommendation on whether a new runway should be built at Heathrow or Gatwick, the New Economics Foundation report suggests that no new runways would be needed if a Frequent Flyers Levy was introduced.  The growth in aviation would be curbed sufficiently to allow existing runways to cope with future demand.

The backers of the Frequent Flyers Levy argue that 85% of the British public would benefit from it:  Last year:

  • 52% of us took no flights
  • 22% took one flight
  • 11% took 2 flights
  • Less than 15% of people took 3 or more flights

15% of people took 70% of flights.  These are the people identified as the frequent flyers. Their defining characteristics are that they earn more than £115,000 a year and have a second home abroad. Most of them come from the City of London, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Surrey.  And their most popular destination is tax havens!  These are predominately not business flights.  Business travel by the UK population is declining.  It is now just 12% of all flights.  It is leisure travel, particularly by the frequent flyers, which has soared.

Work commissioned from the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) found that over 50% preferred the Frequent Flyers Levy to Air Passenger Duty

HACAN chair John Stewart said, “The beauty of this proposal is that it ticks both the equity and green boxes. It is a way of controlling the growth of aviation but still allowing ordinary families a holiday in the sun.”

Organisations backing the Frequent Flyers Levy include the Campaign for Better Transport the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

ENDS

 Notes for Editors: 

 (1).http://gu.com/p/4axmn/stw 

(2). More information Frequent Flyers Levy Briefing    or    http://blog.afreeride.org/faqs/

http://hacan.org.uk/latest-news-2/

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Also article, and discussion, at Tax Research UK

By STEPHEN DEVLIN (NEF – New Economics Foundation)

 

We all know that flying is bad for the environment and a major driver of climate change. What’s more, demand for flights is expected to more than double over the next few decades, making the problem even worse.

But what most of us don’t know is that the majority of flights are taken by a very small and very rich segment of the population. It’s estimated that 70% of the total number of flights are taken by only 15% of the population, while 57% of the population took no flights abroad whatsoever in 2013. Those who do fly are significantly wealthier – for example, the average income for leisure passengers at Edinburgh Airport in 2013 was more than twice the average Scottish income.

Why should we allow a small number of rich people to take advantage of a global environment that belongs to all of us? And why should we assist those flights with fuel duty and VAT exemptions, as we do in the UK? It stands in stark contrast to those in low-earning countries who stand to suffer the worst effects of a changing climate.

The fair solution is obvious: those that fly more should pay more.

The majority shouldn’t have  to subsidise the air miles lifestyle of the elite. That’s why we’re joining forces with the Fellow Travellers campaign in proposing that the current system of Air Passenger Duty, which levies the same small charge regardless of how frequently we fly, should be replaced with a Frequent Flyer Levy. A move to this system would see nothing charged on the first return flight that an individual takes each year, but would see it increase progressively the more flights the individual takes.

By doing this we can help limit the environmental impact from flying in a way that is fair and doesn’t penalise the majority for the actions of an e elite. We can have a future in which flying is not reserved for the rich and we don’t have to keep building more runways for the benefit of the few. But to do that we need to correct the injustice in our tax system.

Our report, Managing aviation passenger demand with a Frequent Flyer Levy, forms part of the newly launched Fellow Travellers project. Together we are making the case for replacing the biased system of Air Passenger Duty with a fairer Frequent Flyer Levy. We show how this can both reduce the environmental impact of flying and redistribute flights away from the richest towards the rest of us.

There’s a way fairer way, so let’s make it happen.

http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/a-fairer-way-to-fly

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New AEF report on how new SE runway would mean slashing growth at regional airports to meet UK climate targets

AEF has produced a new report called “Flying into trouble: London airport expansion would mean slashing growth at regional airports to meet UK climate targets.”  AEF believe the Airports Commission, when it reports (probably within two weeks) will be handing Government an incomplete analysis with no convincing or credible answers on how to limit carbon emissions. AEF calls on the Government to reject the Commission’s report, pending a proper analysis on the carbon challenge. The CCC says UK aviation CO2 emissions should not exceed a cap of 37.5MtCO2 per year by 2050. An extra SE runway would require slashing the projected number of flights using UK regional airports, to keep under the cap. The Airports Commission’s own analysis shows that under current trends, this limit will be breached – even without a new runway. The problem would be made far worse by adding a runway.  AEF says the figures could only be balanced by limiting the growth of airports in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and other regions, which would directly contradict Government policy for regional airport growth. It would be impossible to deliver, in practice. The Commission’s own figures show how the number of flights using regional airports would fall, with a new SE runway – and these economic costs are not factored in.
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Flying into trouble: London airport expansion would mean slashing growth at regional airports to meet UK climate targets


Flying into trouble: London airport expansion would mean slashing growth at regional airports to meet UK climate targets

The Airports Commission set to hand Government an incomplete analysis with no convincing answers on how to limit emissions

Building an extra runway at Heathrow or Gatwick airport would mean slashing the projected number of flights to and from airports in all other parts of the UK in order to meet the UK’s climate targets. In a new report the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), the UK’s leading environmental organisation working exclusively on aviation’s impacts, criticises the Airports Commission for failing to put forward credible policies on curtailing carbon emissions and calls on the Government to reject its report pending a proper analysis on the carbon challenge.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the Government’s statutory advisor, says annual emissions from aviation should not exceed 37.5 Mt (million tonnes) by 2050. The Airports Commission’s own analysis shows that under current trends, this limit will be breached even in the absence of a new runway. However, the Commission is widely expected to compound the problem by recommending expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick putting UK aviation in further breach of the CCC’s cap, without explaining how the additional emissions can be squared with climate policy.

The Airports Commission has simply failed to make a convincing argument that airport expansion in the South East can be compatible with the UK’s carbon emissions legislation,” said Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of the Aviation Environment Federation.

The only way to make emissions fit with climate legislation if you build a new South East runway would be to limit growth in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and other regions, which would directly contradict Government policy for regional airport growth and be impossible in practice to deliver.”

Using the Commission’s own modeling of how aviation in various regions would respond to economic constraints on flying, AEF calculates that compared to the growth currently expected, a new Heathrow runway would mean:

  • 36% fewer passengers per year flying in and out of airports in the southwest of England by 2050
  • Scottish airports losing 11% of passengers
  • A 14% cut in the northwest of England (where Chancellor George Osborne hopes to grow a ‘northern powerhouse’ economy’)
  • In the West Midlands, a whopping 55% drop in passengers.

A Gatwick runway would imply less serious cuts, the Commission’s forecasts suggest, on the assumption that a new runway there would cater predominantly for short-haul flights with comparatively lower emissions, but it would still see contraction in all regions compared with the growth currently forecast.

The necessary reduction in growth elsewhere in the UK is forecast by the Commission to be greater in the case of a runway at Heathrow than at Gatwick. This finding rests, however, on the assumption that the growth facilitated by Gatwick expansion would be predominantly in short-haul leisure travel rather than long-haul flights (which generate higher emissions per flight). If in fact Gatwick expansion were to be accompanied by an increase in long- haul business flights, as the airport hopes, differences in terms of the carbon impacts of the three expansion proposals (and therefore in terms of impacts on airports outside the South East) would reduce.

The Airports Commission says that with ‘capped emissions’ a new runway is justified, but it has so far put forward no credible policies for achieving the cap. Limiting aviation emissions is required under the UK Climate Change Act, which Prime Minister David Cameron recently pledged to support.

AEF also shows that in making its case for the economic benefit of expansion, the Commission has not factored in the national or regional costs of capping aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act, despite being specifically requested to do so by the CCC. If aviation blows its budget, other sectors, such as agriculture, would have to shoulder tougher carbon cuts than the CCC considers feasible.

“The Airports Commission has done a half-baked analysis that puts any claim of an overall economic benefit to the UK in serious doubt,” said Cait Hewitt.

As with its last minute, three-week long consultation on air quality, it just hasn’t taken seriously the climate change challenge to expansion, and will be handing back an incomplete and ill thought-through piece of work to Government.”

Independent studies have found that technological and operational measures have limited potential to reduce emissions, leaving the onus on policy-makers to take action: in future only marginal improvements in aircraft efficiency will be possible, and the Government estimates that only 2.5% of aviation fuel is likely to come from alternative sources by 2050.

 

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The full report:

“All set for take off? Aviation emissions to soar under Airports Commission proposals”

The Aviation Environment Federation is the leading UK organisation campaigning exclusively on the environmental impacts of aviation. We represent community groups and individuals around many of the UK’s airports and airfields. Further information can be found on our website. www.aef.org.uk 

For more information contact the AEF office on 020 3102 1509

http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/06/19/airport-expansion-would-mean-slashing-regional-airport-growth-to-meet-climate-goals-aef-report/

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After EPA “endangerment finding” USA starting to take CO2 emissions from aviation seriously

The Obama administration has now released a scientific finding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health. This is called an “endangerment finding” and it paves the way for regulating CO2 emissions from the US aviation industry.  It would allow the US to implement a global CO2 emissions standard for new aircraft, that is being developed by ICAO.  However, the ICAO CO2 standard will only start in late 2016 and only apply to new plane designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world’s existing fleets unaffected for years to come.  But James Lees, from AEF, writing in a blog, says this EPA move could mark a turning point in efforts to regulate CO2 emissions from aviation globally.  While most sectors are expected to cut their emissions, the CO2 from aviation is expected to triple by 2050. Today’s airline fleet is more carbon efficient than it was in the early 1970s but efficiency improvements slowed down dramatically since 2000 – while passenger demand grows at 5.5% per year. It is hoped the UK, the EU and the US can now push for an effective global standard.
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America Is Finally Taking Emissions From Flying Seriously – So Let’s Not Drop the Ball

11.6.2015 (Huffington Post)
By James Lees, from AEF

 

Past attempts to find a global way of dealing with aviation’s carbon emissions have fallen short, most recently with European countries like the UK trying to impose a carbon regulation but lacking international support, particularly from across the pond.

So today’s announcement by the American Environmental Protection Agency that carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft are a danger to the health of the public could mark a turning point.

It is not surprising (the agency had already ruled that greenhouse gas emissions present a risk to US citizens) but given the aviation sector is increasingly culpable when it comes to climate change, the consequences of the ruling could be monumental.

Aviation accounts for around 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, roughly equivalent to Germany’s total output (which is the country with the seventh highest emissions in the World) . While most sectors are expected to cut their emissions, aviation is expected to grow its carbon footprint, with it potentially tripling by 2050.

The challenge for aviation, being an international activity by nature, is finding leadership to tackle its emissions. The European Union tried by including aviation in the European emissions scheme but strong political and industry pressure led to the scheme’s coverage being cut by two thirds.

Now the US environment agency’s finding paves the way for a different approach, most likely initially a performance standard for aircraft CO2 emissions.

One of aviation’s unique privileges is that it is the only transport sector without a standard for CO2 emissions anywhere in the world and yet it urgently needs some kind of measure to push future efficiency improvements. Today’s airline fleet is undoubtedly much more efficient than it was back in the early 1970s but efficiency improvements have slowed down dramatically since 2000 at a time when the global number of airline passengers is growing at around 5.5% per year.

The UN aviation body (ICAO) is already working on a CO2 emissions standard, which could make things easy for the US (it is likely just to include a global standard in its national legislation) and keep the industry satisfied. However, the standard being developed globally may not be fit for purpose – there’s a risk that it will not drive the improvements needed and ultimately have little to no impact on CO2 emissions. It could also only apply to new types of aircraft (rather than the types that have only just hit service such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner), meaning it may only cover a small fraction of the fleet in 2030, hardly an example of the ambitious climate policies required to globally meet the 2°C target.

Here is where the UK could help. With the EU and, this time, the support of the US, we could push for an effective global standard.

It would make cutting emissions in our own countries easier, help reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and could be a useful step towards a globally coordinated approach to bringing aviation in line with wider climate commitments. Tackling aviation emissions will require a whole range of measures beyond efficiency measures including offsetting future emissions and a very cautious approach to new airport capacity.

The UK is currently considering a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. But any hope that this could be compatible with our climate goals depends on speculative assumptions about future action to tackle the sector’s CO2 emissions. An effective aircraft standard could be one part of the solution.

The global aviation sector needs to start playing catch up with other transport modes on measures to tackle emissions and the UK and EU are well placed to maintain their leadership on the issue, especially now the US is on board.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/james-lees/america-is-finally-taking_b_7552934.html

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EPA Takes First Step To Regulate Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Updates with quote from EPA finding)

By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, June 10 (Reuters)

The Obama administration on Wednesday released a scientific finding that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health, paving the way for regulating emissions from the U.S. aviation industry.

The “endangerment finding” by the Environmental Protection Agency would allow the administration to implement a global carbon dioxide emissions standard being developed by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

In its 194-page finding, the EPA said it took “a preliminary but necessary first step to begin to address greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector, the highest-emitting category of transportation sources that the EPA has not yet addressed.”

The ICAO is due to release its CO2 standard in February 2016, with the aim of adopting it later that year.

But the requirement is expected to apply only to new aircraft designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world’s existing fleets unaffected for years to come.

Aviation accounted for 11 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector in 2013, and nearly 30 percent of global aircraft emissions in 2010, the latest year with complete global emissions data.

The EPA’s ruling will mark the first step toward regulating aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and aviation will become the latest industrial sector to be regulated under the Clean Air Act after cars, trucks and large stationary sources like power plants.

But it came only after a federal court ruled in 2012 in favor of environmental groups that had sued the EPA, saying it was obligated to regulate aircraft emissions under the law.

The airline industry favors a global standard over individual national standards since carriers operate all over the world and want to avoid a patchwork of rules and measures, such as taxes, charges and emissions trading programs.

“If you’re a big airline and you’re flying to 100 countries a day, then complying with all those different regimes is an administrative nightmare,” said Paul Steele, senior vice president at the International Air Transport Association, the industry’s main global organization.

But some environmental groups are concerned that the standard being discussed at ICAO will do little to change the status quo right now.

“The stringency being discussed at ICAO is such that existing aircraft are already meeting the standard they are weighing,” said Sarah Burt, a lawyer at Earthjustice, one of several groups that sued the EPA.

Planes generally stay in service for 20 or 30 years, she added.

International Council on Clean Transportation Program Director Dan Rutherford said that to ensure real emissions reductions from airlines, ICAO should apply a carbon dioxide standard to all new aircraft delivered after 2020.

But ICAO is weighing a standard that would apply only to new designs certified after the expected application date of Jan. 1, 2020.

Such an approach would mean the standard would only cover about 5 percent of the global aircraft fleet in 2030, he said. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Miami; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Christian Plumb)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/10/epa-aircraft-gas-emissions_n_7551318.html

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Earlier:

 

US move to curb airplane emissions ‘may amount to greenwashing’

Environmental Protection Agency expected to extend regulation of carbon emissions to airplanes, but green groups criticise anticipated lack of ambition

The US EPA is expected to formally declare its intent to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplane pollution.

By Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian)

3.6.2015

Environmental groups have warned that the first step by the Obama administration to curb rapidly rising carbon pollution from airplanes, expected as early as Friday, may amount to little more than greenwashing. The announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency is eight years in the making and comes in response to lawsuits from environmental groups, and a failed effort by the European Union to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions.

With Friday’s expected announcement, the EPA will extend regulation of carbon pollution from power plants, cars and trucks, to air planes. The move puts the EPA on pace with the International Civil Aviation Organisation in setting global rules for carbon pollution.

But those rules, due to be adopted in February 2016, are unlikely to deliver any significant reductions in carbon pollution, environmental groups said. “It’s not a particularly ambitious action,” said Sarah Burt, a lawyer for Earthjustice which first sued the EPA in 2007 on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups. “You will get a standard that is not at all ambitious at best and at worst is essentially greenwashing.”

The EPA and the White House would not comment on the announcement in advance. The first step of the EPA process begins unfolding on Friday when the agency will formally declare its intent to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplane pollution. The airline industry had fought for years to delay just such a measure – and in 2012 forced the EU to back down on its plans of cutting greenhouse gas emissions on international flights.

Obama at the time had sided with the airline industry in its refusal to fall into line with the EU plan. The new ICAO targets in some ways represent a victory for that stonewalling – buying the airlines time and weakening the rules. The international air authority had struggled for 20 years to deal with climate change. “The EPA has dragged its heels and delayed with its eyes on the international negotiations,” Burt said. “The EPA does not want to go out ahead of the international community.”

The international rules are expected to be exceedingly weak, with virtually all of the airplanes flying today making the grade, which means ICAO is unlikely to deliver any real reductions on greenhouse gas emissions. “It is a CO2 standard but everyone already meets the standard so it results not only in no decrease, but also in a net increase when you see how emissions stand,” Burt said.

Carbon pollution from airplanes is expected to double by 2020. US airline carriers on their own account for about a quarter of global aviation emissions. A number of developing countries, such as India, are expected to see big increases in air travel over the coming decades.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/03/us-epa-airplane-carbon-emissions-greenwashing


 

U.S. may take first step to curb airline emissions this week

2.6.2015

BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI (Reuters)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans as soon as Friday to determine whether carbon dioxide from aircraft endangers public health, a first step to regulating emissions from the aviation sector, sources familiar with the rulemaking process said.

The EPA has yet to issue its “endangerment finding,” despite pressure from environmental groups who first sued the agency to start the rulemaking process in 2010. A federal court in 2011 said the EPA must address aircraft emissions under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The EPA had initially promised the finding would be ready in 2014.

Most observers expect the EPA to say that aviation emissions endanger public health but are not sure how much the agency and the Federal Aviation Authority will reveal about their vision for a carbon dioxide emissions standard for new aircraft.

“We have efficiency standards for cars, trucks, but we don’t have one for airplanes,” said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. “We think this is an industry that has great potential in technical terms, and there is nothing like having an ambitious standard to drive innovation.”

A domestic rulemaking process would lay the groundwork for the United States to adopt a global carbon dioxide standard currently being developed through the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

ICAO is also working on an international “market-based mechanism” to push airlines to slash their emissions, with a goal of final approval in 2016.

U.S. airlines, which favor a global industry standard, said they were encouraged that the EPA and FAA are cooperating with ICAO as the UN body works to develop it.

“As aviation is a global industry … it is critical that aircraft emissions standards continue to be agreed at the international level,” said Vaughn Jennings, managing director for government and regulatory communications for U.S. airline lobby group Airlines for America.

Environmental groups hope the EPA’s announcement will be more ambitious.

“We hope the EPA can push the envelope beyond what ICAO is looking at,” said Ben Longstreth of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of five green groups that sued the EPA to speed up its rulemaking.

Andrew Murphy, a policy officer at Brussels-based NGO Transportation and Environment, said European regulators might also step up pressure on ICAO to deliver a strong standard.

“The European Aviation Safety Agency has raised the prospect of setting European standards if global ones prove insufficient,” he said.

Global aviation emissions are on pace to triple by 2050 if they continue unregulated, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/02/us-carbon-aviation-idUSKBN0OI24320150602

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