Aviation low carbon future using biofuel from wood waste described as a “pipe dream”

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Wood fuel plan to cut plane CO2 branded as ‘pipe dream’

Plans to cut airline CO2 using greener jet fuels made from waste wood have been dismissed as a “pipe dream” by environmentalists.

Several high octane, waste-based biofuels are being tested by airlines as a way of curbing CO2.

UN officials are set to endorse these fuels as a key part of global plans to stabilise aviation emissions by 2020.

But critics say the plans are unrealistic and airlines are not taking the issue seriously.

Contested airspace

One of the big failures of the Paris climate agreement, adopted in December 2015, is that it doesn’t cover emissions from shipping or aviation.

The scale and impact of carbon from the booming airline business is heavily contested. The industry  points out that in 2015 only 2% of human emissions of CO2 came from aircraft.

Environmentalists point out that this doesn’t include the warming impact of contrails or other gases and aerosols. They believe the true impact is about 5%.

Earlier this year, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), the UN body that regulates this sector, produced a report that predicted a three-fold increase in emissions from airplanes by 2050 if nothing is done to restrict carbon.

ICAO has developed a long term plan that it says will ensure that, by the middle of the century, aviation emissions will be half of what they were in 2005.

One of the key parts of that plan is green jet fuel.

Since Virgin Atlantic flew the first flight powered partly by biofuel in 2008, there have been dozens of tests with many different types of alternative jet fuels, often made from oil seed crops or animal fats.

But in the US earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Authority gave the go-ahead to a new fuel making process that some people believe will be a game changer for greener flying.

The new biofuel is made from a type of alcohol called isobutanol, which occurs naturally in the fermentation process and can be found in many items including bread and scotch whiskey.

Pine scented soup

At a large, warm and sweet smelling industrial facility in St Joseph’s, Missouri, fermenting tanks three stories tall contain a swirling mixture of wood pulp, water and enzymes.

The engineers here call the liquid, a “broth”, and it’s from pine-scented soup that isobutanol is extracted.

 captionThe UN says there could be a three-fold increase in aviation emissions by 2050 if no action is taken

“It’s like making a hot toddy, it has a bit of an alcoholic smell to it but you can still smell the undertones of the pine feedstock in the fermentation,” said Andrew Hawkins from Gevo, the company that has been licensed to make jet fuel using this new method.

The enzymes are used to extract the sugars from the pine. Genetically modified yeast then deliver the isobutanol from the sugars. By this stage, the smell of pine has long departed and the clear liquid remaining has the breathtaking whiff of a high-octane fuel.

One more refining step, at another facility, is required to complete the process.

What’s making airlines excited about using isobutanol based fuel is the fact that it is much more powerful than ethanol, the current biofuel of choice for transport.

Another attraction is that unlike, ethanol, jet fuel made from isobutanol can be carried and mixed in the same pipes and fuel trucks as petroleum products.

By using forest residue, supporters believe the new fuel can make a real and sustainable difference to airline carbon emissions as trees soak up CO2 as they grow and it is only the waste from their harvesting that’s used in production.

“We are short cutting mother nature and sucking carbon directly out of the atmosphere, that maybe yesterday’s plane put into the atmosphere,” Andrew Hawkins told BBC News.

“We then create sugars via these trees and then turn that back into fuel.”

A question of cost?

Gevo say they are planning to increase production to around 1 million gallons this year.

The company believe they can reduce the cost of production to around $3 a gallon – but that is still around $1.80 more than the current market price of petroleum based jet fuel.

Isobutanol made from corn is now being been used in test flights by Alaska Airlines in blends of up to 30% with regular fuel.

But whether they are made from wood waste or corn, the financial cost of these new fuels are likely to prove a major problem according to environmentalists.

“They are far too expensive, and they are not delivering the emissions reductions that would justify the investment,” said Bill Hemmings of campaign groupTransport & Environment.

“The new fuels are two or three times the cost of existing jet fuels, no-one in their right mind would pay that price. People continue to bang that drum about new biofuels, but they are not going to deliver. It’s all fairytale stuff.”

Attempts to regulate airline emissions have proved very difficult as countries haven’t been able to agree on the ways of measurement and responsibility. For example, if an airplane owned by a Middle Eastern airline flies from a poor African country to a poor Asian destination, who should “own” these emissions?

ICAO believe they have found a way forward that would allow airlines to offset emissions in the future by purchasing credits from certified reduction schemes, such as tree planting.

But their long-term goal of halving the level of 2005 emissions by 2050 depends on a rapid uptake of green fuels.

Critics say that this is impossible – it would require around 170 large scale bio-refineries to be built every year between 2020 and 2050, at a cost of up to $60bn a year.

Flying gorillas?

As well as biofuels, UN officials meeting in Montreal in September will also announce tougher standards for new aircraft designs to curb CO2 that will come into force in 2028. Green campaigners say this approach is “incredibly weak”.

They say that around 15% of aircraft flying today perform better than these future criteria.

Real change, they argue, won’t come through these vague international efforts. They believe that the key to solving the problem lies in the US.

“The US is the 800 pound gorilla of carbon pollution in the sky,” said Vera Pardee a lawyer with the Centre for Biological Diversity.

“More than 30% of all international carbon pollution comes from the United States.

“It is the duty of the US to get us out of this problem. If the US Environmental Protection Agency were to adopt meaningful standards then the international community will follow.

“The airplane manufacturers are not stupid, they need to meet the demands of their markets, when a regulation goes into effect for one of their major markets, that will be the catalyst to cause emissions to finally be handled correctly and come down.”

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathBBC and on Facebook.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37108962

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New Alternative Jet Fuel Approved

from the FAA (The Federal Aviation Administration)

The FAA has played an integral role in development, testing and recent approval of a new alternative, environmentally-friendly, bio-based jet fuel, bringing the total number of these approved products for use in air travel to five.

This new fuel will make air travel more sustainable environmentally and increase our national energy resources. In contrast to traditional petroleum-based fuels, these new alternative fuels can reduce air quality emissions and are renewable.

In collaboration with the aviation industry, the FAA approves new renewable jet fuel pathways through ASTM International. The FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) partnership with industry was crucial in completing the necessary steps to support ASTM International’s revised standard for this new fuel, known as Alcohol to Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK). It is created from an alcohol called isobutanol that is derived from renewable feed stocks such as sugar, corn or forest wastes.

Other previously approved fuels include:

  • Synthesized Iso-parafins (SIP) which convert sugars into jet fuel.
  • Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (HEFA-SPK), which use fats, oils and greases.
  • Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (FT-SPK) and Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Kerosene with Aromatics (FT-SKA). Both fuels use various sources of renewable biomass such as municipal solid waste, agricultural wastes and forest wastes, wood and energy crops. These fuels can also be made from fossil resources such as coal and natural gas.

 

These new fuels will help the aviation industry meet its climate change goal of carbon neutral growth. For example, operation with ATJ-SPK could reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a life-cycle basis by up to 85 percent.

As more alternative jet fuels are developed, these products have the potential to be increasingly viable for cost-competitive production and broad use. Another cost-saving goal and FAA focus area is a “drop-in” requirement for alternative fuels.

That means the fuels can be used directly in existing aircraft without any modification to engines or other equipment while maintaining an equivalent level of safety and performance to petroleum jet fuels.

In addition to CLEEN, the FAA is working with industry, other government agencies and academia through the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the agency’s Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT), a consortium of research universities.

https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=85425

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India to summarily reject ICAO’s proposed market based measure for aviation CO2 emissions

ICAO is meant to be getting global agreement in October on some way to control the growth of the aviation sector’s emissions.  However, India – which has a relatively new and very fast growing aviation industry – is not willing to accept anything that might cost the industry money or slow its growth.  The purpose of some form of market based mechanism, agreed through ICAO, is for airlines to have to buy carbon permits to offset CO2 emissions above their level in 2020.  That works by the airlines having to spend money on the permits, with the likely effect of slowing growth.  Airlines are naturally not keen, which is why ICAO has made virtually zero progress on this over several decades.  Officials from India’s civil aviation ministry say Indian airlines are not willing to abide by the proposed “tax”. India as a country has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions, as committed at the UN Climate Change Agreement in Paris last December.  Carbon emissions from Indian aviation could double from their 2011 level by 2020, but India considers itself to be a “developing country” although in many respects it no longer is. ICAO proposes allowing developing countries special leeway with their carbon emissions, but this is intended for small countries that are far less rich – and with far less thriving aviation industries – than India.

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India to summarily reject ICAO’s proposed carbon emission tax

25.8.2016 ( Infracircle – India )Print Friendly
As part of its strategy to counter the carbon emission tax proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation watchdog, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will seek a formal response from the Indian carriers on the issue.

India expressed its disagreement to ICAO president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu during his visit to New Delhi earlier this month, according to a senior official from the [Indian] ministry of civil aviation who did not want to be named.

The official said the Indian government would reiterate its discomfort when the ICAO Council meets in Montreal, Canada, next month to address these carbon emission issues and would again point out that Indian carriers are not willing to abide by the proposed tax.

According to ICAO, the tax is meant to control emission in the aviation sector.  India has also pledged to reduce emissions, as committed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris last year.

Though the aviation sector was not included in the Paris agreement adopted by 195 countries in December 2015, all the member countries have been asked to take measures voluntarily as per their national climate action plans.

“We will explain our standpoint to the ICAO team and reiterate that neither the carriers, nor the government would agree to what has been proposed. We will also hold talks with the airlines and get to know their opinion formally. They have earlier expressed their displeasure regarding the tax,” the [Indian] official added.

The ICAO team will also audit India’s air safety and air worthiness in the next few months after it was downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Authority in January 2014 over safety oversight. The ban was only lifted 15 months later, in March 2015, after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) put in effective measures, as directed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the ICAO.

Currently, 445 aircraft owned by commercial airlines are registered with DGCA. According to DGCA estimates, carbon emission could nearly double to 28 million tonne (MT) by 2020 from 16.33 MT in 2011, if efficient prevention methods are not adopted, especially when the aviation market is growing at a fast clip.

The official also explained that any additional tax on airlines will financially burden them as the sector’s operational costs are very high.

ICAO has been planning to cap the aviation sector’s emission by introducing a tax-based market mechanism, which is being opposed by developing countries.

Another [Indian] civil aviation ministry official, who also did not want to be named, pointed out that the country is moving towards expanding its air services through the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) and “any additional tax will only deter the airlines from taking part in our expansion plans like the RCS. This is one of the reasons we are opposing the carbon emission tax as well”.

Anil Madhav Dave, the minister of state for environment, forest and climate change, had already told the ICAO president about the government’s stand and added that the global market-based measures must take care of the interests of poor and developing countries, the second official said.

Experts support the Indian government’s stand on carbon emission.

Gurcharan Bhatura, an aviation expert and director general of Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism, said, “The government has taken a right call in the interest of the Indian airlines that are surviving on thin profit margins.”

“Any additional burden on airlines will only halt their expansion plans and that would not be good as the country is witnessing good growth in the sector,” added Bhatura, who had earlier been the airport director of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai while he worked for AAI.

Queries emailed to the spokespersons of the ministries of civil aviation, and environment, forest and climate change on 23 August remained unanswered.

The NDA government had stated earlier that the global market-based measures in the international civil aviation sector should follow the principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”, which would put the onus on developed and rich countries to cut emission on a priority basis as they have largely been the big polluters.

Apart from carbon dioxide, aircraft also emit nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, black carbon and water vapour which can form heat-trapping clouds.

In an email response to InfraCircle, Anthony Philbin, chief of communications at ICAO, said its member states proposed and are now considering the details of a global market-based measure to mitigate emissions from international air traffic. However, it won’t impact local/domestic airlines or traffic covered within the state commitments to the recent Paris Agreement.

“This is not an airline tax, but rather a means by which airlines will be obliged (depending on which state they are from and many other related factors) to offset their emissions through the purchase of offset credits,” he clarified.

The ICAO communications head added that the current negotiations will likely see that 2020 deadline moved further into the future for certain states, but those negotiations are still ongoing at the current meetings being held.

“By Friday (26 August) we will have a confirmed resolution on this matter, which will then be considered by the ICAO assembly in September. The full text of the resolution will be available on our website beginning next week,” he said.

http://www.vccircle.com/infracircle/india-summarily-reject-icaos-proposed-carbon-emission-tax/

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Earlier

India tells ICAO ‘no emissions tax for airlines’

India has told the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that the country will not agree to any move to impose a carbon emission tax on its airlines as part of plans to offset emissions in the aviation sector, saying the global market-based measures must “take care of interests of poor and developing countries”.

India’s environment minister Anil Madhav Dave told the visiting president of ICAO Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu: “The interests of poor and developing countries should be taken on board in the development of the global market-based measures.”

He said the global market-based measures in international civil aviation sector must follow the principles of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ (CBDR-RC). These principles mean rich nations bear the greater cost of emission cuts as they historically have been the biggest polluters.

http://www.impactpub.com.au/micebtn/85-news/btn-news/18314-india-tells-icao-no-emissions-tax-for-airlines

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World Bank to change classification of countries; India will now be called ‘lower-middle income’

31.5.2016 (Economic Times)

MUMBAI: For decades, ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ have served as agreeable economic nomenclatures to classify countries based on their prosperity and standards of living. That’s about to change, with the World Bank switching to more precise, though unvarnished, descriptions of economies.

And India — which till now found a place under the common umbrella with other ‘developing’ countries —will now be called ‘lower-middle income country/South Asia’.

The more specific definitions are aimed at categorising economies which though ‘developing’ in character, differ dramatically from one another. For instance, India, Mexico and Malawi may be hardly comparable even if a few economic and social parameters overlap.

With economies becoming less and less homogeneous, the multilateral agency will group countries based on geographical coverage and income levels to capture the changing world.In its annual edition of world development indicators (which was released a fortnight ago), the World Bank has no longer distinguished countries as developing and developed. Till now, developing stood for low-and middle-income countries while high-income countries were called ‘developed’.

Few, except developmental economists, bothered beyond it. But rising global prosperity coupled with growing inequality will now call for a sharper, less benign — and certainly less politically correct — nomenclatures. A fast changing world has made the earlier terms less relevant and not reflective of the heterogeneous sample of countries.

For instance, Mexico, China and Brazil are ‘upper-middle income’; India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are ‘lower-middle income’ (a categorisation that could irk not only New Delhi but most Indians); while ‘Malawi’ is, understandably, a notch lower at ‘low income’. So far, all were ‘developing countries’.

The bank’s logic: Malawi with per capita gross national income (GNI) of $250 can’t be in the same group as Mexico with per capita GNI of $9,860.

On measures like fertility and infant mortality rates — often considered proxies for a country’s overall well-being — the stark difference that once existed between developed and developing regions has narrowed.

In its publications and databases, the World Bank has already started phasing out the term ‘developing world’; instead, it’s focussing on the ‘sustainable development goals’ for the entire world.

……. and there is more ….

According to the World Bank data, India languishes on world indicators like labour force participation rate, electricity generation and access to improved sanitation facilities.

However, there is an improvement in certain aspects, such as under-five mortality rate and maternal deaths.

Time required to start a business in India was 29 days in June 2015 against the global average of 20 days.

In 2015, only 40% of Indians had access to improved sanitation facilities, against the world average of 68%.

The World Bank decision (to change the way countries are classified) may prompt the United Nations to follow suit. The international body has no formal definition of developing countries, but still uses the term for monitoring purposes and considers as many as 159 countries as developing.

…… and more details at

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52512636.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

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Aviation Week blog says forecast aviation demand is unsustainable and must be dampened

A blog in Aviation Week, by Antoine Gelain who works for an investment company, provides some cutting insights into demand for air travel.  He says: “When it comes to sustainability of air travel, the aviation community is lying to itself. There is an elephant in the room and nobody wants to see it. Without more significant efforts—some would call them sacrifices—air travel will continue to be a huge contributor to this planet’s pollution and global warming, with dire consequences for future generations” … and … “The bottom line is that with all the talk about the aviation community being committed to action on climate change  … and about how various supply-driven measures will improve air travel’s sustainability, everybody knows that serious progress will not be achieved unless we address the other part of the equation, aviation’s “sacred cow”—demand.” … and … “Air travel has essentially doubled in the past 15 years (and so have related CO2 emissions) and is expected to double again over the next 15 years. There is just no way supply-based measures such as technology and infrastructure improvements will come close to offsetting such rapid growth and its impact on the environment.” … and … If we in the aviation community are really serious about addressing climate change, we first need to accept that the current and forecasted demand for air travel is unsustainable and therefore must be dampened.” … and more ….
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Opinion: The Uncomfortable Truth About Aviation Emissions

The aviation community must face the truth about CO2

Aug 10, 2016

by Antoine Gelain | Aviation Week & Space Technology

When it comes to sustainability of air travel, the aviation community is lying to itself. There is an elephant in the room and nobody wants to see it. Without more significant efforts—some would call them sacrifices—air travel will continue to be a huge contributor to this planet’s pollution and global warming, with dire consequences for future generations, whether they are air travelers or not.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the first time officially acknowledged its duty to promulgate standards applicable to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft. Indeed, aircraft remain the single largest GHG-emitting transportation source not yet subject to GHG standards in the U.S.

FACING FACTS

Air travel and related emissions have doubled in the past 15 years

Aircraft is the largest transportation source not subjected to U.S. greenhouse gas standards

Forecasted growth in air travel is unsustainable if climate change is to be tackled

The uptake of sustainable alternative fuels, which are meant to be a large part of the solution by 2050, has been extremely slow, with only two airports in the world—Oslo and Los Angeles—offering biofuels to airlines.

As for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) progress on setting a CO2emissions standard, it is as slow as it can get. Having set some “aspirational” goals in 2010 for global net carbon emissions, it is only now getting to the point of recommending that new aircraft models entering service after 2020 and existing aircraft models coming off the production line after 2023 meet the new technical standard—which has yet to be introduced.

The bottom line is that with all the talk about the aviation community being committed to action on climate change (see, for example, the Air Transport Action Group’s position paper signed by aviation industry leaders in 2012) and about how various supply-driven measures will improve air travel’s sustainability, everybody knows that serious progress will not be achieved unless we address the other part of the equation, aviation’s “sacred cow”—demand.

Air travel has essentially doubled in the past 15 years (and so have related CO2 emissions) and is expected to double again over the next 15 years. There is just no way supply-based measures such as technology and infrastructure improvements will come close to offsetting such rapid growth and its impact on the environment.

As for the so-called “market-based measures,” such as the European Union’s Emissions Trading System or other carbon-offsetting schemes, they are just gap-filling measures that make people feel good without really changing the fundamental dynamics of the industry.

These dynamics are essentially about convincing as many people as possible to fly as often as possible. This is achieved in two ways: First, by making air travel affordable for mass consumption and second, by enticing business travelers with all sorts of bells and whistles.

The low-fare airline model has certainly made air travel more accessible to many, but in that process it has contributed to its excessive commoditization. And while it may be “low-fare,” it certainly is not “low-cost” as far as the environment is concerned. In that respect, air travel is very much akin to fast food: It may seem to be a bargain, but it passes the true cost on to the public health and purse and pushes it into the future.

As for major airlines, they are just milking the top of the market by catering to the desires of an international business community that is self-important enough to believe it deserves nothing less than increasingly dedicated and expensive services such as all-business-class flights, upscale cabins, exclusive lounges and loyalty rewards. Yet frequent-flier programs themselves create the wrong incentives, as they encourage business customers—most of which do not pay for their tickets themselves—to fly more and spend more on flights than may be necessary.

If we in the aviation community are really serious about addressing climate change, we first need to accept that the current and forecasted demand for air travel is unsustainable and therefore must be dampened. We as air travelers must become wiser customers: Do we actually need to fly to all these business conferences? Is it worth paying 10 times the price of an economy ticket for better wine, free lounge food and a more comfortable seat? Do we really believe a €20 ($22) trip from London to Copenhagen covers its true cost and true value?

Traveling to different countries can be one of the most enriching experiences in life. Let’s not trivialize it to the point where we do not think twice before buying a cheap air ticket. Let’s be honest with ourselves and accept the basic but uncomfortable truth that to make air travel sustainable, we first need to change our individual behaviors and become more discerning consumers. In the must-win fight for sustainability, there cannot be gain without pain.

Antoine Gelain is the managing director of Paragon European Partners. He is based in London.

http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/opinion-uncomfortable-truth-about-aviation-emissions

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New runway would push up air fares due to carbon emissions, and restrict regional airports – new report

A new report for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has analysed the Airports Commission’s backing for new runway in relation to carbon emissions, and says the necessary carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050.  The Commission was aware that UK aviation is expected to far exceed the cap set for the sector’s CO2 emissions (37.5MtCO2) before 2050.  Adding another runway only makes the situation far worse, by exacerbating the problem. The only way to keep aviation emissions down, with a new runway, is greatly increased cost of flights, trying to reduce the demand that has been increased by adding capacity.  This means a carbon price massively higher than today – at several hundred £s. The report, by Leo Barasi and Leo Murray, say that as well as making flights expensive (perhaps pricing out those on low pay) the addition of a new SE runway means growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded London capacity.  Dame Julia King, who was on the Airports Commission and is on the Committee on Climate Change, admits that regional airports would need to be restricted in order to allow growth in the south east.  There has been far too little assessment and acknowledgement of the CO2 implications of a runway. The government should not rush into approving a runway until this has been fully accepted.
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Third Heathrow runway would push up air fares, say campaigners

By Gwyn Topham (Guardian)

8.8.2016

The report here

Analysis of Airports Commission’s backing for new runway claims carbon pricing would end low-cost flights by 2050

Passengers would be forced to pay substantially higher air fares if a new runway was built in the south-east and Britain kept to its carbon targets, according to an analysis of the Airports Commission’s backing for a third runway at Heathrow.

A report “air-traffic-controls: the hidden costs of a new london runway” published by the Campaign for Better Transport claims that carbon pricing, a measure the Commission suggested could be needed to ensure British aviation emissions remain on target, would add hundreds of pounds to air fares by 2050, spelling the end of low-cost flights.

Another consequence of the Airports Commission’s analysis is that growth at regional airports would have to be restricted to allow expanded capacity at Heathrow.

A member of the government-appointed commission said that prohibitive pricing or other measures to curb demand for air travel would be needed whether or not a new runway was built in the south-east.

The CBT report, Air Traffic Controls, claims that the additional carbon price to offset the growing demand in air travel from a new runway could amount to more than the cost of the ticket itself on some flights. The extra costs, implied by the commission’s data but not previously calculated, would be up to £127 for return flights from Manchester to Tenerife, £148 from Newcastle to Sharm el-Sheikh or £221 from London to Florida.

Leo Murray, one of the report’s authors, said: “There has been far too little scrutiny of the Airports Commission’s proposals for squaring airport expansion in the south-east with the UK’s climate change targets, with the details hidden deep inside hundreds of pages of technical reports. Building a new runway, while still meeting our climate change commitments, is expected to add hundreds of pounds to the cost of flights from all of the UK’s airports if the commission’s proposals are enacted.”

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “If the government approves a new runway in the south-east, it risks either breaking the national carbon budget, or pricing those on lower incomes out of the sky entirely. The Airports Commission uses heroic assumptions about technology and efficiency improvements which are at odds with the government’s own analysis. Worse, the huge sums the commission proposes adding to the cost of plane tickets to allow a new runway to be built have so far gone almost unnoticed.”

However, Julia King, who was on the commission and is a member of the Committee on Climate Change, said it was impossible to make accurate fare predictions for 2050, but that the level was irrelevant to the commission’s verdict on runways. “We already have enough runway capacity in Britain to exceed carbon emissions as it is,” she said. “The reality is that independently of whether we build a new runway or not, we will have to control the increase in flights.”

The CBT report shows price rises are likely to see regional airports decline while London’s grow. King said that while it could seem “a harsh message”, the commission’s analysis of catchment areas and hub activity meant only expansion in the south-east would make longhaul flights to key destinations economically viable for airlines.

“Clearly there would need to be slower growth at regional airports generally if you have additional capacity in London. All the indications were that the big demand is in the south-east.”

She added: “If we are to have to compensate for reduced trade with the EU post-Brexit, the longhaul requirements become even more critical – and our conclusion that the need is best fulfilled from Heathrow becomes even stronger.”

[And some vacuous and disingenuous comments from Heathrow and Gatwick are added to the article:]

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow supports the international aviation industry’s commitment to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and the UN’s international civil aviation organisation, which plans to introduce a mandatory carbon offset system to achieve this goal.”

A spokesperson for Gatwick airport said: “Our analysis shows that expansion at Heathrow would be significantly less carbon-efficient than expansion at Gatwick.” He added that Gatwick had pledged to cap landing charges, meaning fares would stay lower.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/08/heathrow-third-runway-higher-air-fares-airports-commission?CMP=share_btn_tw

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47 MtCO2 by 2050.  See reference  http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Richmond-Heathrow-Campaign-Climate-Change.pdf


In a climate-constrained world, could London airport expansion price other cities out of the market?

By Jocelyn Timperley  (Business Green) 

8 August 2016

Campaign for Better Transport analysis finds Heathrow expansion relies on higher carbon prices that could reduce demand in other parts of the country

Theresa May last week talked up plans to bolster the government’s push to reduce the divide between the economies of London and other British cities, even if she is loath to deploy George Osborne’s “northern powerhouse” rhetoric.

But a new report released today has highlighted one little spoken of, but potentially huge hiccup in the drive to balance the British economy more evenly – namely that a large-scale expansion in London’s air capacity, as would occur with the expansion of Heathrow of Gatwick airport, would necessitate a future reduction in the capacity of airports elsewhere in the country if the UK is to keep within its carbon budgets.

The analysis, published by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), scrutinises the assumptions and conclusions made in the final report of the Airports Commission, an independent body set up by the government in 2012 to look at how the UK should maintain its global aviation hub status. Published last July, the report recommended a third runway be built at Heathrow. When challenged on whether this would be compatible with the UK’s already generous allocation for the aviation sector in its 2050 climate target, the commission reassured those concerned that it was.

But by looking deeper into the Airports Commission’s figures, the new CBT analysis has highlighted a potential flaw behind that reassurance: the commission’s projections for keeping within the aviation climate budget rely on soaring carbon prices that would reduce the number of UK flights taken elsewhere.

A return flight from London to New York, for example, would have a £68 carbon price added to the cost of the ticket, the new report highlights. The assumption goes that this price hike would keep overall demand within the level needed to hit the sector’s carbon target – a return to 2005-level emissions by 2050, which is already an extremely generous allowance compared to other sectors that allows for a 60 per cent increase in flight demand assuming fuel efficiency improvements and the wider use of biofuels materialise as planned.

But the Airport Commission also found that expansion at Heathrow (or Gatwick for that matter) would still be justified, because even with the hike in carbon prices it expects all new London capacity to be used – an assumption which inherently means it will be those airports outside London where people are less able to pay the increased cost of flying where the number of flights will be curbed.

In addition, the report argues that under the Commission’s carbon pricing vision if a new runway is built and assumptions about demand and technology-delivered emissions-reductions prove too optimistic, prices will have to rise even further to ensure aviation remains within its carbon cap. Examples given in the report include an increase in prices of £108 by 2050 for a return ticket from Edinburgh to Malaga, a £116 increase on the cost of a flight from London to Athens, and a price hike of £140 for flights from Manchester to Tenerife. The cost for a family of four to fly from London to New York and back would be bumped up by up to £855 – a price hike with significant implications for those on a tighter budget in a country where an estimated 15 per cent of the population already take over 70 per cent of flights, and over half of people do not take any flights at all in a given year.

“They’re using carbon pricing to reduce demand, and that both means that ticket prices would be really quite a lot higher and even if we accept all their assumptions they’re quite a bit higher,” Leo Barasi, climate policy specialist and co-author of the analysis, tells BusinessGreen. “But if we start questioning whether every single one of their assumptions about technology and biofuels – which are all at the upper end of optimistic – if any of those don’t happen then the carbon pricing that they suggest would have to be higher still.”

It is important to note the expected increased in flights over the next few decades means flight numbers are still likely to increase everywhere, so that other areas will only be hit relative to the increase in flights they could have expected if no London airport expansion was delivered.

But the report echoes a warning made in June last year by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) that by 2050, an extra runway at Heathrow would result in 55 per cent fewer passengers per year flying in and out of airports in the West Midlands, alongside a 14 per cent cut in the North West, a 36 per cent reduction in the South West, and a 11 per cent cut in Scotland compared to business-as-usual.

The new report argues the Airports Commission are likely already aware of the potentially huge impact of aviation carbon prices and have in fact concluded there would still be enough extra demand in London for a new runway to be economically worthwhile despite the assumed carbon price. However, while there are certainly reasons to believe London flight numbers will keep climbing, it is also important to note that Office for National Statistics data shows that the number of overseas business flights by UK residents has actually flatlined for the past 20 years, making up a smaller proportion of overall flights each year. Meanwhile, holidays abroad and family visits are the main growth areas for the UK aviation industry – a fact that also likely contributed to the UK’s rising tourism deficit this year reaching £17bn.

“I think they’ve applied a very narrowly economic lens to the question and I have no reason to doubt their view that the most economically efficient thing to do might well be to continue to prioritise growth in the richest part of the country and the place where most immigrants and businesses want to be,” says Barasi. “But then it’s a question for the country as a whole about where we want to put our investment in infrastructure and where we want to pursue growth.”

It’s also important to note says Barasi, that fears that London could lose out competitively compared to other European airports such as Amsterdam when it comes to being a global flight hub could be misplaced. “What’s always missed in that is that all of our European competitors that might build an alternative hub have in fact the same challenges that we do, so it’s not like we’re the only one struggling with this,” he argues.

With Department for Transport’s own projections showing the UK is currently set to exceed its aviation emissions target by 25 per cent even without increased airport capacity in London, Theresa May and her transport ministers face what should be a very tough decision on Heathrow. However, while local environmental impacts were cited as one of the main reasons for the most recent delay to the decision in December, the government has so far given little indication it would consider shelving plans for London airport expansion. Either Heathrow or Gatwick are set to be expanded, with all the implications that has for aviation emissions, carbon pricing scenarios, aircraft fuel efficiency, and regional airports.

When asked about the findings of the new report, a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport told BusinessGreen the government is fully committed to delivering runway capacity on the timetable set out in the Airports Commission’s report. “The Secretary of State and his ministerial team will consider all of the evidence very carefully before the government reaches a view on its preferred scheme,” she added.

But the CBT analysis shows if expansion goes ahead, the implications on an already tight carbon budget could be severe, while the question will also be raised as to whether people who can less afford it will accept the potentially huge rises in the costs of flights, even if such price hikes are deemed environmentally necessary.

“It feels like this is the first really difficult climate decision that the UK’s had to face, that so far it’s either been relatively small scale decisions that aren’t that expensive or things that you can present as a win-win,” says Barasi. “It’s perhaps a sign of some of the challenges that we’ll have to confront in the future.”

With aviation only representing six per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, a failure to reach the allocated budget wouldn’t necessarily mean we breach the Climate Change Act, assuming even deeper emissions cuts are delivered elsewhere. But considering the challenges already facing the country as it strives to decarbonise other sectors of the economy on schedule, giving aviation a free pass would certainly make complying with the Climate Change Act considerably more difficult.

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/2467292/in-a-climate-constrained-world-could-london-airport-expansion-price-other-cities-out-of-the-market

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ICAO agreement to get global aviation industry to limit CO2 may just be “voluntary” for years

ICAO is meeting in Montreal from 27th September to 7th October, with the intention of agreeing some mechanism globally to limit, or trade, aviation carbon emissions in future. However, aviation was not included in the Paris agreement, and ICAO has made little progress in getting airlines internationally to agree measures that would be effective. Aviation should contribute to the global ambition of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C (or 1.5 degrees C ideally) above pre-industrial levels. Now it appears that there may not even be a mandatory system, but just a voluntary one for the first 5 years for certain countries. This apparently is not yet meant to be public knowledge. Environmental groups said a voluntary first phase waters down a deal that already exempts too many countries, including most developing states, during its first five years. It will not achieve the ambition of making aviation making a fair contribution on the needed emissions reductions, especially if the largest carbon emitters do not join it.  Airlines from countries that voluntarily participate would have to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world. 
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U.N. aviation emissions pact may be voluntary at first – sources

Aug 2, 2016

By Allison Lampert  (Reuters)

MONTREAL  – A deal to limit carbon emissions from global civil aviation could be voluntary for the first five years instead of mandatory for certain countries under the current proposal, four sources familiar with the matter said.

Facing an October deadline, countries have been unable so far to agree on the metrics that would oblige participants to be included, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are involved in the talks and the idea of a voluntary first phase has not been made public.

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meets Sept. 27 to Oct. 7 and it will be under pressure to finalise a deal that would cap the carbon pollution of all international flights at 2020 levels. Aviation was excluded from last December’s climate accord in Paris when countries agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

One source from an Asian member state of the ICAO said many countries were receptive to a voluntary first phase. A second source, a Western state negotiator, said that the deal would be effective if the countries that generate most of the world’s aviation emissions join.

“What’s going to make or break this is knowing who is going to be in the first phase,” the Western negotiator said.

Airlines from countries that voluntarily participate would have to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.

The market-based plan must win the support of ICAO’s 191 member states at its assembly in Montreal, or risk the European Union breaking off talks and imposing its own emissions trading plan on international airlines.

An ICAO spokesman said the agency would only know its members’ positions at the assembly and otherwise declined comment.

Some environmental groups said a voluntary first phase waters down a deal that already exempts too many countries, including most developing states, during its first five years.

“Aviation, in particular, will need to make a fair contribution on the needed emissions reductions,” Bill Hemmings, director of aviation and shipping at Transport & Environment in Brussels, a non-governmental organisation, said in an email.

“A voluntary scheme will not achieve this,” Hemmings said.

Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, noted other global climate agreements such as the Paris deal were voluntary, but contained participation thresholds that had to be met for the deal to take effect.

Countries are under pressure to approve the two-phase agreement, starting in 2021, that would curb emissions from aviation, a sector that would be the world’s seventh largest carbon emitter if it were a country. The mandatory second phase would begin in 2026.

The United States, Canada, Mexico and Singapore have said they would join the first phase, while European negotiators want the 44 states in the European Civil Aviation Conference to participate, said two of the sources.

It is not yet known whether India and China with their fast-growing aviation sectors would volunteer for the first phase. A spokesman for India at ICAO declined to make his country’s position public, while China’s air transport industry association could not be reached for comment.

Countries with a high-growth aviation sector want more latitude to produce emissions than developed countries, which are growing more slowly but were responsible for generating the bulk of the industry’s greenhouse gases.

Most future global air traffic will come from Latin America and Asia, according a New Climate Economy report this year. In 1993, more than 73 percent of all traffic was carried by airlines in Europe or North America. By 2033, that share is expected to shrink to 38 percent.

(Additional reporting by David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Amran Abocar and Grant McCool)

http://in.mobile.reuters.com/article/idINKCN10D22N?irpc=932

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Some recent news stories about ICAO and its work on aviation CO2:

 

Bill Hemmings: An ICAO deal that falls well short of “carbon-neutral growth” target will have no credibility

Bill Hemmings, (from T&E) explains the hurdles to ICAO agreeing an environmentally meaningful deal in October. The global aviation sector needs to play its part in the international aspiration, from the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, or 2 degrees at worst. However, ICAO is not looking as if this is likely, largely due to the differences between historical and current CO2 emissions, and current and future growth rates, between airlines from countries (US and Europe largely) with historic aviation sectors, and those of developing countries, with young aviation industries. Ways to apportion the CO2 fairly need to be agreed, but solutions favour one group or the other. The developing countries (including Brazil, South Africa, and Nigeria) want their aviation CO2 to be exempted from any scheme. But emissions gap would amount to around 40-50% of the total, and so directly threatens the integrity of the commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020, to which IATA pays lip service. Then there is the problem how to determine what percentage of emissions above the 2020 baseline airlines should have to offset each year. European and US airline CO2 is barely growing, but the CO2 from some is rising by 8% per year. US airlines do not want to pay for this. The issues are complicated. Read Bill’s explanation.

Click here to view full story…

New petition demanding real action to address global aviation CO2 – not ineffective use of “REDD” offsets

The group REDD-Monitor and other organisations have a petition asking people to sign up, to oppose the use by the global aviation industry, through ICAO, of “offsets” for its emissions using forestry. These offsets, through REDD or REDD+ (meaning (‘Reduce Deforestation from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’) would be very cheap and available in huge numbers. They would not be an effective way to compensate for growing aviation carbon emissions. The industry’s only plan to control its CO2 emissions, while doubling them, is buying credits from other sectors. In April 2016, more than 80 NGOs put out a statement opposing the aviation sector’s carbon offsetting plans through use of REDD credits. There are many really serious problems with REDD credits. Some are: They would only use large forestry institutions, or monoculture farming, not small landowners or forest peoples. Most REDD projects are not those that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging etc. REDD credits carry the additional risk of becoming null and void when wildfires, storms or natural decay cause uncontrollable release of carbon stored. There are serious risks of lack of monitoring, and of fraud. REDD offsets should not be allowed for aviation carbon credits.

Click here to view full story…

ICAO still very far from any effective means of limiting aviation CO2 to be in line with Paris Agreement

Operating without fuel taxes, VAT, legally-binding fuel efficiency requirements or limits on its CO2 emissions, the aviation sector operates in something of a parallel universe. ICAO will have an opportunity to finally take a step forward on climate action. ICAO will discuss the impact of the Paris Agreement on the sector, and specifically the next steps for an aviation carbon offsetting scheme currently under negotiation. Their earlier response to the Paris Agreement was to try to give the impression that the sector is making huge progress. In reality, industry lobbyists succeeded in preventing an explicit reference to aviation in the text. But the globally-agreed goal of striving to limit global warming to 1.5C does apply to aviation. All ICAO Parties are also Parties to the Paris Agreement. If they let aviation off the hook, the target 1.5 degree, or even 2 degree, global target will simply be impossible to reach. The aviation sector will have to act – rapidly and radically – on climate if the Paris goal can be achieved. But ICAO’s current proposals are a very inadequate first step, and the industry plans for up to 300% growth by 2050. Even their modest goal of buying carbon permits to offset aviation carbon is not ambitious enough, as proposed exemptions for airlines of less developed countries amount to about 40% of global aviation CO2.

Click here to view full story…

ICAO aviation offset market talks yield little progress, but backtracking on previous agreement

ICAO has concluded 3 days of talks to try to achieve a deal on a market-based offsetting mechanism for international aviation emissions from 2020. It has not made much progress. The industry has expressed the hope of “carbon neutral growth” after 2020, which means continuing to grow and emit more carbon, but buying offsets from other sectors that actually do cut CO2 emissions. Unless this is done, the prospect of the world achieving a limit of global temperature of 2 degrees C is remote. However, there are difficult issues to be resolved, of how to divide up the offsetting responsibilities between fast-growing airlines in emerging economies, and established carriers often with older, less fuel-efficient fleets and based in the industrialised world. Neither side will accept being disadvantaged. There have been proposals to try out a “pilot” scheme, and delay the 2020 date. Either way, the ICAO scheme only intends to cover international flights, not domestic – which form a large proportion in countries like the USA and China. That means only about 62% of the total aviation CO2, assuming the EU counts as a single bloc (more like 40% otherwise). Airlines do not want a patchwork of different systems in different parts of the world.

Click here to view full story…

and more at

 http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/eu-emissions-trading-scheme/eu-ets-news-stories/

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Committee on Climate Change report stresses the problems climate change will cause for the UK

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Climate change: Advisers warn of climate change domino effect

Climate change could have a domino effect on key infrastructure in the UK, government advisers have warned.

In a 2,000-page report, the Climate Change Committee says flooding will destroy bridges – wrecking electricity, gas and IT connections carried on them.

The committee also warns that poor farming means the most fertile soils will be badly degraded by mid-century.

And heat-related deaths among the elderly will triple to 7,000 a year by the 2050s as summer temperatures rise.

The UK is not prepared, the committee says, for the risks posed by climate change from flooding and changing coasts, heatwaves, water shortages, ecosystem damage and shocks to the global food system.

The projections are based on the supposition that governments keep promises made at the Paris climate conference to cut emissions – a pledge that is in doubt.

The committee says if emissions are allowed to spiral, London summer temperatures could hit 48C (118F) in an extreme scenario, although the advisers say they don’t expect that to happen.

The report from 80 authors is the most comprehensive yet on the potential impact of climate change on the UK.

‘Cascade of risks’

It identifies 60 risks and opportunities – many of them happening already as the climate has warmed.

Its conclusions on the inter-linking nature of threats to infrastructure is based on recent research.

The chairman of the committee’s adaptation sub-committee, Prof Sir John Krebs, told BBC News: “Infrastructure could be affected in a way that interacts.

“So, if you take electricity supply, the delivery of fuel to power stations might be affected by flooding which would then affect electricity.

“Then look at flooding… if bridges are affected then they carry electricity cables and communications infrastructure, so we have to look not just at how each piece of infrastructure works but how they interact together.

“There could be a cascade of risks.”

Higher food prices

On food and farming, the committee warns that UK shoppers could face higher food bills as imported crops like soya are harmed by heat or drought.

It says farming in the UK might benefit from more warmth but warns that soils are likely to dry out quicker, and that rain is more likely to arrive in unhelpful downpours.

The committee also says some of the UK’s most fertile land – the peat fields of the East Anglia fens – are suffering badly from decades of intensive farming.

Prof Krebs said 85% of the peat had been washed or blown away, and the rest would follow in coming decades unless farmers were more careful.

On over-heating, the committee forecasts a risk to the health of elderly people in homes, hospitals and care homes.  Prof Krebs said he had tried to insert rules in recent housing legislation to oblige builders to ensure adequate ventilation, but the government deemed these onerous to business. 
Dr Sari Kovats, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “We are far from prepared to deal with these changes. 
“More heatwaves in the UK are also likely, yet there are no comprehensive policies in place aimed at reducing the risk of overheating in new and existing homes.”

Risks and opportunities

Among the other risks needing more action the committee mentions:

• Coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure

• Risk of shortages in public water supply with impacts on freshwater ecology, water for agriculture, energy generation and industry

Opportunities for the UK from climate change include:

• Economic opportunities for UK businesses from an increase in global demand for adaptation-related goods and services, such as engineering and insurance

• Milder winters should reduce the costs of heating, helping to cut winter cold deaths.

Prof Piers Forster, from the University of Leeds, said: “The UK gets off lighter than many countries but this important report confirms that we are already seeing damage to homes, businesses and livelihoods. 
“There are a few opportunities hidden in the mix but the future is clearly one of increased risk that we need to prepare for now.” 
The report will inform the government’s climate change adaptation strategy, due in 2018. Ministers are about to publish their National Flood Resilience Review.  
A government spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure the UK is prepared for the challenges of climate change. That is why we are investing record amounts in flood defences, developing a long-term plan for the environment and reviewing planning legislation so new construction projects are sustainable and resilient.”

 

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36765925

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Prime Minister Theresa May must get serious about climate change – now

By Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party
12.7.2016

The status quo is not an option and demands urgent action, writes Natalie Bennett

Today the Committee on Climate Change released a deeply concerning report warning that the UK is ill-prepared for the effects of climate change set to hit this country in the coming decades – including fatally hot summers, new diseases and flooding here, and climate-stoked wars and rising migration overseas.

The report is a stark reminder that while political parties wrangle and cabinets reshuffle, the climate is burning, and it must decisively set the agenda for new Prime Minister Theresa May.

Under David Cameron, the Tories’ promise to be the ‘greenest government ever’ turned into a sad, sick joke as subsidies for solar power and onshore wind were slashed, plans to force all homes to be zero-carbon from 2016 were scrapped, fracking was given the green light and vital regulations were stripped away.

The vote to leave the EU has put our environment further at risk, as we stand to lose protections for clean air, wildlife, and water and targets on renewable energy and emissions.

Theresa May’s record on climate change and environmental issues does not look promising: she has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change, in favour of the disastrous badger cull, and against stronger regulation of fracking.

However, there is still room for her to show the leadership that the country – and the planet – needs. The environmental crisis we face is one which crosses party lines and requires tough decisions and urgent action.

Today’s report warned that deadly heatwaves like that of 2003 will become normal by 2040; by 2050 the number of homes at risk of flooding will double; and extreme weather will lead to lost crops and drive up food prices.

These are not fringe issues or distant concerns but serious threats to our health and security which will impact us within our lifetime.

This is only one of the crises facing our new prime minister.
…. and it continues on other matters ….

https://leftfootforward.org/2016/07/prime-minister-theresa-may-must-get-serious-about-climate-change-now/

 

 

Read more »

Bill Hemmings: An ICAO deal that falls well short of “carbon-neutral growth” target will have no credibility

Bill Hemmings, (from T&E) explains the hurdles to ICAO agreeing an environmentally meaningful deal in October.  The global aviation sector needs to play its part in the international aspiration, from the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, or 2 degrees at worst. However, ICAO is not looking as if this is likely, largely due to the differences between historical and current CO2 emissions, and current and future growth rates, between airlines from countries (US and Europe largely) with historic aviation sectors, and those of developing countries, with young aviation industries. Ways to apportion the CO2 fairly need to be agreed, but solutions favour one group or the other. The developing countries (including Brazil, South Africa, and Nigeria) want their aviation CO2 to be exempted from any scheme. But emissions gap would amount to around 40-50% of the total, and so directly threatens the integrity of the commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020, to which IATA pays lip service. Then there is the problem how to determine what percentage of emissions above the 2020 baseline airlines should have to offset each year.  European and US airline CO2 is barely growing, but the CO2 from some is rising by 8% per year. US airlines do not want to pay for this.  The issues are complicated. Read Bill’s explanation.
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An ICAO deal that falls well short of carbon-neutral growth target will have no credibility

Thursday 7 July 2016 (GreenAir online)

By Bill Hemmings (Aviation Director of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment)

 

ICAO’s triennial Assembly, to agree on how to address the climate impact of international aviation, is just two months away. (Starts 27th September, ends 7th October). States undertook in 2013 to develop a global measure that would cap annual aviation CO2 at 2020 levels. 

Largely reflecting industry concerns over cost, it was later agreed that this would be achieved by requiring airlines to purchase carbon offsets for all emissions above the 2020 baseline.

Industry and the US argued strongly that a global deal was preferable to a so-called patchwork of measures, a reference to Europe’s first-of-its-kind emissions trading system (ETS).

The EU was prevailed upon to drastically reduce the scope of the ETS to give ICAO and its parties time to sort out details of the global market-based measure (GMBM) before the forthcoming assembly. Regrettably, important details remain unresolved, potentially putting any credible and environmentally meaningful ICAO agreement at risk.

At the heart of the issue is the question of differentiation, a fundamental aspect of all international climate agreements. In the case of ICAO, differentiation means asking how the obligations of all carriers can reflect the fact that the vast bulk of historical emissions are due to legacy carriers headquartered chiefly in North America and Europe. Should developing country carriers have to share an equal burden? A Chinese proposal to have obligations related to the share of carriers’ emissions since 1990, when developing country aviation was largely in its infancy, was rejected on grounds that there was no data.

Initially, Europe, and later civil society, called for a route-based system where carriers on routes between geographic regions might bear varying carbon obligations depending on the density of traffic or country status – a rough indicator of where historical emissions lie.

In the end, however, the ICAO Council President opted for a simple system for determining eligibility and obligations based on traffic generated by each country’s registered carriers, together with a GDP per capita formula that was later discarded.

Most African countries, which account for barely 2-3% of global emissions, were always going to be exempt. But the President’s proposal exempted a second tier of countries with a larger share of emissions – including Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria and possibly even smaller EU countries.

ICAO's patchwork of measures

The emissions gap due to these exemptions is now some 40-50% and directly threatens the integrity of the commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020. The position of countries like China and Russia in any agreement also remains unclear.

The only element of differentiation left in the deal – apart from the huge exemptions gap – is the formula for determining what percentage of emissions above the 2020 baseline carriers should have to offset each year.

The ICAO proposal has all carriers together offsetting the average growth of the sector above 2020 levels. This introduces an important element of differentiation, as fast-growing carriers – more often than not from the emerging markets – will have to offset a lower percentage of their emissions above 2020 levels than if the obligation were to be based on individual carrier growth.

However, US carriers represented by A4A together with IATA are arguing for an approach based more on individual airline growth. And now it seems the US supports this position, calling for carriers over time to pay a percentage closer to their actual growth rate.

The reason is not hard to find; according to the latest IEA statistics, US international outbound CO2 emissions between 2010 and 2013 declined on average 0.02% a year while Chinese international outbound emissions grew on average 8.02% a year in the same period.

If we assume national airline traffic/emissions growth is pretty closely related to growth in a country’s total outbound emissions, then we can roughly estimate a carrier’s annual growth in emissions. So if the US and Chinese trends above are any indication of the state of the industry post 2020, under the individual approach a carrier like United Airlines might well incur zero or near zero offset costs while an airline like China Southern might have to pay over 8%.

The table below  (see http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=2257 ) from the most recent IEA data suggests airlines from Mexico, India, Brazil, Argentina and Nigeria might be in a similar position if the formula for determining offsetting obligations was based on individual carrier growth.

Such a formula would represent a pretty good deal for US carriers like United. The more so given that unlike Europe where domestic emissions are covered by its ETS, US carriers are currently bound by no domestic climate measures, yet they generate within the US alone almost 20% of all aviation CO2 globally.

On top off this, at its recent AGM, IATA has stated bluntly that “emissions which are not covered by the scheme, as the result of phased implementation or exemptions, should not be re-distributed to those operators which are subject to the scheme.”

Since it is only airlines that will have to offset their emissions, it is either the case that negotiations in the next few weeks prevail upon a wider group of countries to join the GMBM and their routes close the gap, or carriers on routes within the GMBM offset more in order to close the gap. The ideal solution is a mixture of minimising the gap through increased participation and then closing the gap through a higher offsetting obligation on carriers operating on developed country routes. Industry should be to the fore in calling for such an outcome.

However, rather than use its influence to help resolve this, IATA’s statement regrettably seems tantamount to industry washing its hands of the huge emissions gap problem. It removes any possibility of achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020, something industry claimed to support.

Even worse, suggestions are now circulating that there should be no eligibility criteria for exemptions; states should be given the option at the Assembly of stating whether they would like their airlines to opt in or not. A patchwork of measures indeed.

Industry and the US need to think again. A deal which falls well short of the target of carbon neutral growth from 2020 goal will have no credibility.

As it is, such a commitment is a very modest first step for the sector to deliver the level of reductions that the Paris agreement requires and would need to be strengthened and supplemented quickly.

And if there is no deal, or a weak deal – possibly because the US, industry and others wind back on differentiation – then we are back to where we started, perhaps choosing between patchworks, but after three wasted years while the planet warms.

Bill Hemmings is Aviation Director of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=2257

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The Paris Agreement and Implications for Reducing Aviation Emissions

The Paris Agreement and the ICAO process to adopt effective climate measures are not separate. The Paris Agreement covers all anthropogenic emissions, sets out important principles on carbon markets, and sends a clear signal that the aviation sector must act.

Download the full document “THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR REDUCING AVIATION EMISSIONS”  here

This states that the Paris Agreement: 

“SETS A LONG-TERM GOAL FOR ALL MAN-MADE EMISSIONS

The Agreement commits parties to limit an increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C, pursue eforts to limit that increase to 1.5°C, and reduce emissions to net zero. This would achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases since the second half of the 20th century. Not only would this transpire on the basis of equity, but in the context of sustainable development and eforts to eradicate poverty. As aviation emissions, both international and domestic, are very much caused by humans, this directly brings them into the ambition and requirements of the Agreement.

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It “ESTABLISHES THE PRINCIPLE OF INCREASING AMBITION OVER TIME

The contributions put forward by parties to date are insufficient to achieve the 1.5/well below 2°C objectives. The Agreement therefore requires the ambition of these contributions to rise over time in order to reach the 1.5/well below 2°C objectives. These increases in ambition will take place as part of a regular, five-year review process starting with a stock-take in 2018. Simply maintaining the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Global Market Based Measure (GMBM) target of stabilizing net emissions at 2020 levels will be inconsistent with the 1.5/well below 2°C objective. It is important that the ICAO commits to substantially increasing its ambition to bring its reduction targets in line with temperature objectives as soon as possible.”

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The document concludes:

“THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND THE ICAO MBM (Market Based Measure) ARE MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE

The Paris Agreement and the ICAO process to adopt efective climate measures are not separate. The Paris Agreement covers all anthropogenic emissions, sets out important principles on carbon markets, and sends a clear signal that the aviation sector must act. While measures adopted at the ICAO level must have unique features – such as respecting the principle of nondiscrimination between airline operators – this is not a barrier to swift and effective action to reduce aviation’s climate impact. The spotlight is now on ICAO to live up to its commitment to finalize a (global market based measure) GMBM at its upcoming Assembly in October 2016.”

http://icsa-aviation.org/the-paris-agreement-and-implications-for-reducing-aviation-emissions/

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UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, urges Britain to remain a global leader on tackling climate change

Christiana Figueres, completing her second term as Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, has said the UK’s Brexit vote is not an obstacle to continued cooperation between Britain and the EU on climate change. She says Britain must continue to be a world leader when it comes to acting on climate. Though when Article 50 is triggered, for the two year process of leaving the EU, will cause huge uncertainty, cooperation on climate change could be one area of continuity between the UK and EU.  Climate change action is now unstoppable, and global. In the UK there are fears that many politicians backing “Leave” are climate sceptic, and this could result in climate policies and protections being weakened. However, carbon targets are enshrined in UK law under the Climate Change Act, which was passed in 2008 with just five MPs voting against it, and requires steeper emissions cuts than EU targets.  The UK has not yet ratified the  Paris Agreement on climate change, and neither has the EU. There are fears that Brexit could mean the UK delays ratification, unless the current government does this quickly.  There are fears the Brexit climate scepticism could lead to weakening of targets and commitments by other countries. Outside the EU, the UK would have to agree its own contribution to emissions cuts if it stays in the Paris accord. These would most likely be based on the Climate Change Act.
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UN climate chief urges Britain to remain a global warming leader

Christiana Figueres tells business leaders that Brexit vote is not an obstacle to continued cooperation between Britain and the EU on global warming

‘Climate change action is by now unstoppable. It is global,’ Christiana Figueres tells business leaders at a summit in London.
‘Climate change action is by now unstoppable. It is global,’ Christiana Figueres
tells business leaders at a summit in London. Photograph: Matt Alexander/PA

Britain must continue to be a world leader when it comes to acting on global warming despite the EU referendum result last week, the UN’s climate chief has urged.

Christiana Figueres warned that should article 50 be triggered it would bring uncertainty for two years but cooperation on climate change could be one area of continuity between the UK and EU.

“Should that be the case [article 50 being triggered], there is going be quite a lot of uncertainty, transition, volatility for at least two years,” she told an audience of business leaders in London on Tuesday.

“However, let us remember that the Brexit vote was not about climate change, it was not about should the UK continue to modernise its industry and its manufacturing, and it was certainly not a vote about innovation, which is fundamentally the opportunity that we have by acting on climate change,” said the outgoing executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“Over these next two years, my suggestion would be to use the proverbial UK [message]: ‘stay calm and transform on [to a low-carbon economy]’. It’s not ‘stay calm and do nothing’, it’s ‘stay calm and transform on’ because the UK and EU have had a very important leadership on climate change, there’s no reason to change that whatsoever.”

Asked if the Brexit vote would become an obstacle to action on climate change, she said: “No. Climate change action is by now unstoppable. It is global.”

A pre-referendum poll found that leave voters were more likely to be climate sceptics than remain voters, and green groups have raised fears that the Brexit vote could lead to “the climate change-denying wing of the Conservative party” being strengthened.

However, carbon targets are enshrined in UK law under the Climate Change Act, which was passed in 2008 with just five MPs voting against it, and requires steeper emissions cuts than EU targets.

Figueres said that if the UK were to go ahead with leaving the EU, action on climate change could be a much-needed track of stability and continuity between the two.

She added that a Brexit may force the EU to revisit the emissions plan it submitted to the Paris summit last year.

Figueres’s comments were echoed by Ed Miliband on Monday, who stressed the need to fight for a vision of a “new relationship withEurope which has environmental protection at its heart”.

Speaking at a panel discussion in London hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund Europe, the former Labour leader, who was climate and energy secretary under Gordon Brown, said that Britain could continue to negotiate alongside the EU on climate and energy matters: “we’re stronger negotiating with them than we would be on our own.”

Miliband also argued that it is crucial that Britain maintains the “progress that was made through Europe on a whole range of environmental protections and other issues”.

“I do think it’s very very important that we don’t leave the debate about this – no pun intended – to those who wanted to come out of Europe,” he added, “because they wanted a race to the bottom … they didn’t believe in climate change and all of that”.

“The debate cannot be left to them, with the Remain part of the argument being ‘we’d like to reverse the decision, thank you very much,’ because then that will leave the field clear for those who have a horrible agenda on this.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/28/un-climate-chief-urges-britain-to-remain-a-global-warming-leader-brexit

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EU out vote puts UK commitment to Paris climate agreement in doubt

Leave victory risks delaying EU ratification of the Paris deal, leaving the door open for Obama’s successor to unpick the pact

By Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent (Guardian)

Saturday 25 June 2016

Neither the UK government or the EU have ratified the Paris climate agreement yet.

The UK government won high praise six months ago for taking a leading role in the successful Paris climate change agreement, the first legally binding commitment on curbing carbon emissions by all 195 United Nations countries.

With the vote to leave the EU, the UK’s future participation in that landmark accord is now in doubt.

More importantly, for the rest of the world, the Leave campaign’s victory provides a fillip globally for groups opposed to climate action, and if it causes delays to the Paris accord coming into effect, it could provide an opening for aspiring right-wing leaders – including Donald Trump – to try to unpick the pact.

“There is a risk that this could kick EU ratification of the Paris agreement into the long grass,” Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability at PwC, told the Guardian.

That would be a setback to the UN in itself, but also concerns participants because of the US presidential election this year.

Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement if elected. Proponents of the agreement are therefore hoping for a quick process of ratification by as many parties as possible, including EU member states, which would bring the agreement into immediate effect and make it much harder for countries to renege upon afterwards.

As an EU member state, the UK negotiated on key issues such as greenhouse gas emissions limits as part of the bloc, and was expected to take on its own tally of emissions reductions based on an EU-wide “burden-sharing” agreement, yet to be worked out.

But while the UK is also individually party to the agreement, as a sovereign nation, neither the government nor the EU has yet ratified the accord in law.

This means a future, possibly Eurosceptic, prime minister will face the choice of whether to ratify, unless the current government, led by David Cameron for the next three months, decides to do so as a matter of urgency.

France became the first EU member state to ratify the agreement individually earlier this month, so in theory Britain could follow suit quickly. But this would be an unusual step given the host of pressing issues following from the referendum, and would be likely to prompt an outcry from sections of the pro-Brexit right, prominent members of which are also climate change sceptics.

Amber Rudd, the energy and climate change secretary, who was praised by many other countries for taking a leading role at Paris, has not yet revealed what the plans are likely to be.

The UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said in advance of the referendum that Brexit would require a “recalibration” of some kind but it is not clear what that might entail.

The UK would have to agree its own contribution to emissions cuts if it stays in the Paris accord. These would most likely be based on the Climate Change Act, which sets out long-term targets on greenhouse gases and five-yearly “carbon budgets” that governments must meet. To renege on the act’s commitments would require its repeal, as favoured by some Brexit campaigners, but this is unlikely in the short term as they lack broad enough support in parliament.

Stephen Cornelius, chief adviser on climate change at WWF-UK, said: “The UK has signed up to the Paris agreement in its own right.

“Outside the European Union the UK can still play a leading role in fighting climate change. It should ratify the Paris agreement as soon as possible, pass the fifth carbon budget under our domestic Climate Change Act and turn this into an ambitious international pledge to cut emissions.”

That will be largely an issue for the UK, which accounts for less than 2% of global emissions. What is of much wider concern is the signal the referendum vote to leave sends to the world.

Grant said: “Today’s outcome is a major setback for the type of collaboration needed to tackle global environmental issues such as climate change. The UK government has been a champion of climate action at home, within the EU, and in Paris. This leadership is at risk, with many supporters of Brexit also opposed to climate policies such as carbon taxes and efficiency standards.”

The wider political implications, rather than the mechanics of the accord, will take time to work out, but it is already clear that the Brexit vote will be used as a rallying cry for an agenda that frequently includes climate scepticism among its tenets, alongside curbs to immigration and to government regulation.

Many climate sceptics around the world will have been encouraged by the Brexit vote, as there is so much overlap between the two camps, and environmental and carbon goals under the EU were a key target of the Leave campaigners. For instance, Lord Lawson, one of the leaders of the Leave camp is also founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic thinktank.

Trump hailed the referendum result in visiting the UK. Some of his supporters share his climate scepticism, and the common cause with Brexit campaigners will have given both sides a boost.

The calls from right-wing parties for further breaks from the EU could also endanger climate consensus within the EU, which has been a key driver of actions on climate change within the UN and other international institutions. Without a unified EU, support for those actions could decline.

Green campaigners were quick to call for the UK to maintain its commitments on climate change, irrespective of Brexit.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, told the Guardian: “Britain isn’t leaving the international community, and we’re certainly not leaving the planet. That means the Paris agreement is every bit as vital to our future as it was yesterday. In fact, sticking to our Paris promises is more important than ever: we are about to negotiate new trade deals, and the last thing we can afford to do is break the commitments we made to the world just six months ago.

“Cameron’s successor has a chance to immediately reaffirm Britain’s relationship with the international community by ratifying the Paris deal.”

Debbie Stockwell, managing director of Sandbag, a campaigning group focused on the EU’s carbon commitments, said: “The UK has agreed to contribute to the Paris agreement as part of the EU. Now that the country has voted to leave, both the UK and the EU will have to reconsider this arrangement. It is vital that the UK continue to work with the EU to deliver ambitious action to tackle climate change.”

Nick Mabey, chief executive of E3G, https://www.e3g.org/about predicted that the UK would hold true to its promises, and its national interests: “The Brexit vote does not end the climate crisis. The UK will still ratify and implement the Paris climate agreement as this protects Britons from the worst impacts of climate change.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/25/eu-out-vote-puts-uk-commitment-to-paris-climate-agreement-in-doubt

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Amber Rudd confirms government will agree 5th Carbon Budget on 30th June

The government was under obligation to write the 5th Carbon Budget into law by 30th June. Amber Rudd has now made a statement to confirm this will be done. The budget sets the cap on UK emissions for the period 2028-2032, and requires cuts in the UK’s CO2 emissions of 57% against 1990 levels by 2032.  The carbon budgets are important for aviation, even though international aviation and shipping are not included in them. The CCC advises that “International aviation should continue to be allowed for in the size of the budget for other sectors, but not formally included.” The CCC has long recommended that in order to allow for aviation’s future inclusion in carbon budgets, Government should plan on the assumption that aviation CO2 emissions in 2050 should not exceed their level in 2005 – 37.5 MtCO2. With the Brexit vote, there were fears that a more climate-sceptic government might try to weaken the budgets.  Amber Rudd has now said that though “Brexit would result in a “harder road” for the UK as it worked to meet its climate goals, the government remained firmly committed to the emission reduction targets set out in the Climate Change Act.” Amber said, in relation to climate-sceptic Boris, that the stance of a candidate for Prime Minister on climate would be important in her decision of who to back.
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Amber Rudd: UK remains fully committed to climate action in wake of Brexit vote

By Michael Holder and James Murray  (Business Green)
29 June 2016

Energy and Climate Change Secretary insists government is still “full tilt” behind Hinkley Point, and says she will only support a Tory leadership candidate who takes climate action seriously

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd today sought to reassure green businesses and investors of the government’s continued commitment to securing clean energy supplies and building a low carbon economy in the wake of last week’s decision to leave the European Union.

In her first major speech since the referendum result, Rudd – who was a leading backer of the Remain campaign – stressed that while she still believed Brexit would result in a “harder road” for the UK as it worked to meet its climate goals, the government remained firmly committed to the emission reduction targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

She also confirmed the government would announce its decision on the long-awaited Fifth Carbon Budget tomorrow, the day of the legally binding deadline for approving new carbon targets for the early 2030s.

Appearing at the Business and Climate Summit in London, Rudd reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the Hinkley Point nuclear power project, and emphasised that she would strive to make sure the UK secured a strong Brexit deal with the EU that supported continued investment in clean energy infrastructure.

“The decision to leave the European Union was of historic significance – I argued fervently against it but a clear majority disagreed with me,” said Rudd. “So what do you do after you’ve lost such a battle? You dust yourself down, take a deep breath and get back to fighting for what is best for the country.”

She told the audience that despite the referendum result and uncertainty over who would take over as Prime Minister, the government remained committed to delivering a secure energy supply alongside affordable bills for families.

“I want to outline our commitment to climate change,” she said. “We made a clear commitment to tackling climate change in our manifesto last year. That will continue.

“So while I think dealing with the planet has been made harder by last Thursday, our commitment to dealing with it has not gone away,” she added. “Central to that is the Climate Change Act.”

Rudd also emphasised that the 2008 Climate Change Act was “not imposed on us by the EU – it was delivered with cross party support” in Parliament, before praising the legislation for “underpinning remarkable investment” in low carbon technologies and renewable energy since 2010.

Observers have voiced fears that the involvement of leading climate sceptics in the Leave campaign could lead to post-Brexit push to water down environmental policies and low carbon investment programmes.

But Rudd insisted the government remained fully committed to meeting its climate goals and would continue to work with international partners to tackle the threat presented by climate change. “As investors and businesses you can be confident we remain committed to building a low carbon infrastructure fit for the 21st century,” she told the audience of green business executives.

 

…. more on energy infrastructure ….

….

But asked whether she approved of Boris Johnson’s previous hints that he did not fully accept warnings from climate scientists, Rudd stressed that any contender she ended up backing would have to be committed to tackling climate change. She added that their stance on climate change would “absolutely essential to my decision and I will be very clear on getting a commitment on that”.

Rudd closed by arguing that for those who voted to leave the EU, the decision was an emotional one rather than an economic one and as such presented a lesson for green businesses and campaigners. She said it was important for the government and green business leaders to make a stronger emotional argument for tackling climate change and boosting clean energy investment, given it was ultimately about “protecting our planet and protecting our future”.

The speech was widely welcomed by green groups.

“Coming a few days after the outcome of the EU referendum, it is positive to hear Amber Rudd highlight the importance of continuing to tackle climate change,” said Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group.

“As shown by the 195 countries that adopted the Paris Agreement in December, climate change is an issue that is of major concern to leaders around the world. The world economy is also seeing an important shift towards low carbon technologies, with a record $285bn invested in renewable energy in 2015 and countries such as China reducing their production of coal. It is in the UK’s environmental and economic interest to stay in touch with these global trends, remain actively involved in international climate change diplomacy and support the growth of a strong national low carbon economy that already employs over 238,500 people directly.”

His comments were echoed by Sue Armstrong Brown, policy director at Green Alliance, who said Rudd’s speech “embodied the best of the Conservative political tradition, demonstrating that the government’s commitment to the protection of our green and pleasant land is undiminished, despite the fast changing geopolitical landscape”.

She added that to provide investors with further assurances the approval of the fifth carbon budget now needed to be “quickly followed by a robust carbon plan, to improve investors’ damaged confidence and to enable the UK to attract much needed infrastructure investment”.

Sam Barker, director of the Conservative Environment Network, said green businesses now had an opportunity to help shape a Brexit deal that benefits the environment.

“Ministers across this Conservative government have delivered significant environmental improvements, from planning an ambitious coal phase-out to creating the world’s largest marine reserve,” he said. “That is a strong foundation for coming years. The result of the referendum provides an unprecedented opportunity for innovative environmental action. New policies can deliver new markets and bring greater protection to nature. All the leadership contenders must set out their stall as regards the environment.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2463181/amber-rudd-uk-remains-fully-committed-to-climate-action-in-wake-of-brexit-vote

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UK ministers to approve world-leading carbon emissions target

Fears had been raised that EU referendum would result in deadline being missed but sources say carbon budget will be agreed

By  (Guardian)   @adamvaughan_uk

Ministers will this week approve a world-leading carbon emissions reduction target for the early 2030s, the Guardian understands.

Fears had been raised by green groups and industry that the EU referendum would cause the UK government to miss a deadline on Thursday for accepting carbon targets from its statutory climate advisers.

But a Whitehall source has confirmed that the so-called fifth carbon budget – put forward by the Committee on Climate Change last November – will be agreed before the month is out, as legally required by the Climate Change Act.

The commitment should allay anxieties in the green energy sector that last week’s leave vote would water down the UK’s leadership on climate change, or that the decision to approve the budget would be left to the next prime minister.

The question of whether to accept the last emissions target – the fourth carbon budget – sparked a battle in 2011 between factions in the coalition government, with David Cameron eventually intervening to approve the target.

The energy secretary, Amber Rudd, is scheduled to give a speech on climate change on Wednesday to business leaders in London, though she is not expected to use it to announce the acceptance of the fifth carbon budget

Separately, the UN’s climate change chief has urged a post-Brexit Britain not to give up its leadership on global warming action.

Christiana Figueres warned on Tuesday that should article 50 be triggered it would bring uncertainty for two years but cooperation on climate change could be one area of continuity between the UK and EU.

“Should that be the case [article 50 being triggered], there is going be quite a lot of uncertainty, transition, volatility for at least two years,” she told an audience in London.

…….

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/28/uk-ministers-world-leading-carbon-emissions-reduction-target-climate-change

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From the Committee on Climate Change website:

The fifth carbon budget – The next step towards a low-carbon economy

This report presents the Committee’s advice on the fifth carbon budget, covering the period 2028-32, as required under Section 34 of the Climate Change Act 2008.

The Committee recommends that the fifth carbon budget is set at 1,765 MtCO2e, including emissions from international shipping, over the period 2028-2032. That would limit annual emissions to an average 57% below 1990 levels. This balances a range of factors the Committee must consider, keeps the UK on its cost-effective path to the 2050 legislated commitment to reduce UK emissions by 80% on 1990 levels, and continues the UK’s historical rate of emissions reduction.

To date, in line with advice from the Committee, four carbon budgets have been legislated. The Government must legislate the level of the fifth carbon budget by June 2016.

The fifth carbon budget report

Individual chapters 

https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/the-fifth-carbon-budget-the-next-step-towards-a-low-carbon-economy/

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See earlier: 

 

Conservative backbenchers urge Cameron to back Fifth Carbon Budget targets (against Treasury and BIS)

Before the end of June the “Fifth carbon budget” must be written into law by Parliament. The budget will set the cap on UK emissions for the period 2028-2032. It would see cuts in the UK’s CO2 emissions of 57% against 1990 levels by 2032. That represents steady ongoing progress towards the UK’s long-term legal requirement to cut CO2 by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. It builds on the 36% reduction already achieved by 2014 and the 52% reduction by 2025 already committed to under the existing four carbon budgets.  But the government, especially the Treasury and BIS, would like the target weakened. International aviation and shipping are not included. Now 20 Conservative backbenchers have written to the Prime Minister, calling on him to adopt Committee on Climate Change recommendations for post-2030 carbon targets. They want him to ensure there is “early and full agreement” across government in support of the adoption of the Fifth Carbon Budget.  Earlier, the Fourth Carbon Budget was only rubber-stamped during the last parliament following a lengthy row between Ministers at DECC, against the Treasury and BIS.  The UK is already off track for meeting the goals. The letter is signed by a number of high profile former ministers.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/05/conservative-backbenchers-urge-cameron-to-back-fifth-carbon-budget-targets-against-treasury-and-bis/

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Aviation emissions must be accounted for in carbon budgets, AEF says in evidence to CCC

The Committee on Climate Change put out a call for evidence last year, on its 5th Carbon Budget, which will cover the period 2028-32.  The Government must legislate the level of the 5th Carbon Budget by June 2016. The CCC has recommended that the CO2 emissions from international aviation must be accounted for in the setting of the 5th carbon budget to provide the appropriate framework for future climate change policy. But the CO2 emissions from international shipping are fully included. AEF, the Aviation Environment Federation, say it is particularly important to have aviation CO2 properly included now as the Government has indicated its theoretical support for a new runway in the South East, which could significantly increase the scale of the UK aviation emissions challenge. It is disappointing that the CCC did not recommend formal inclusion of aviation in the carbon budget, which would provide greater certainty in relation to the sector’s future development. AEF believes that the CCC’s recommended approach of setting the budget with a view to aviation’s formal inclusion in future budgets provides a ‘next best’ alternative. The CCC has long recommended that in order to allow for aviation’s future inclusion in carbon budgets, Government should plan on the assumption that emissions from the sector in 2050 should not exceed their level in 2005 – 37.5 MtCO2 – allowing for a 60% growth in aviation passengers between 2005 and 2050.  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/02/aviation-emissions-must-be-accounted-for-in-carbon-budgets-aef-says-in-evidence-to-ccc/

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New petition demanding real action to address global aviation CO2 – not ineffective use of “REDD” offsets

The group REDD-Monitor and other organisations have a petition asking people to sign up, to oppose the use by the global aviation industry, through ICAO, of “offsets” for its emissions using forestry.  These offsets, through REDD or REDD+ (meaning (‘Reduce Deforestation from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’) would be very cheap and available in huge numbers. They would not be an effective way to compensate for growing aviation carbon emissions. The industry’s only plan to control its CO2 emissions, while doubling them, is buying credits from other sectors. In April 2016, more than 80 NGOs put out a statement opposing the aviation sector’s carbon offsetting plans through use of REDD credits. There are many really serious problems with REDD credits.  Some are: They would only use large forestry institutions, or monoculture farming, not small landowners or forest peoples.  Most REDD projects are not those that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging etc.  REDD credits carry the additional risk of becoming null and void when wildfires, storms or natural decay cause uncontrollable release of carbon stored. There are serious risks of lack of monitoring, and of fraud. REDD offsets should not be allowed for aviation carbon credits.
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Sign the petition: “No aviation growth! No false climate solutions!”

2016-06-20-150058_1225x1026_scrotThe International Civil Aviation Authority is currently considering how it can continue to expand while appearing to address greenhouse gas emissions from flying. Predictably, for a massively polluting industry with huge plans to expand, buying cheap offsets looks very attractive.

Of course, offsets will not help address climate change. It’s a recipe for burning the planet – cooked up with help from Kevin Conrad and the usual bunch of BINGOs and vested interests.

In April 2016, more than 80 NGOs, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, put out a statement opposing the aviation sector’s carbon offsetting plans.

Now Finance and Trade Watch, an Austrian organisation, is coordinating a petition against the aviation sector’s plans. The petition is supported by around 40 NGOs, including Attac, Friends of the Earth International, La Vía Campesina Europa, Transnational Institute, FERN, and several groups struggling against airport construction projects.

The petition demands real action to address climate change that will reduce emissions from aviation rather than giving aviation a licence to pollute through carbon offsets.

http://www.redd-monitor.org/2016/06/20/sign-the-petition-no-aviation-growth-no-false-climate-solutions/

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Note from a large number of civil society organisations, concerned with climate, environment, forest, indigenous peoples etc, in April 2016  

“Aviation industry plan to offset emissions is serious distraction from need to reduce emissions from the sector”

http://www.fern.org/sites/fern.org/files/briefingnote_airplane_1.pdf
This states:

Forests and soils do not offset fossil fuel emissions

Land-based carbon offsets, such as from REDD+ type projects or from agriculture are particularly contentious, with greater risks for the climate.
By nature, REDD+ projects place restrictions on existing land use – that is how they generate the carbon savings sold as offset credit. Because the large majority of REDD+ projects (wrongly) blames deforestation on small-scale peasant farming, in particular where it involves shifting cultivation, such restrictions have a detrimental impact on peasant livelihoods and forest peoples’ way of life.
By contrast, REDD+ projects that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging and international trade in agricultural commodities – are by and large absent.7
With the challenges of counting emissions reductions and distributing offset payments to multiple small-scale farmers, there is a risk that agricultural offsets would favour large-scale farmers or monoculture farming practices, creating one more driver of land dispossession of smallholder farmers, particularly in the Global South. Offset credits from forest conservation, tree plantation or soil carbon sequestration carry the additional risk of becoming null and void when wildfires, storms or natural decay cause uncontrollable release of carbon stored in the trees, soils or other natural habitats. This is one of the reasons why the CDM excludes all offset categories related to forest or agriculture land use except for afforestation, reforestation and biomass energy projects. Even then, credits from these tree planting offset projects are sold as temporary carbon credits that need to be bought again in a matter of years because credits from tree planting projects cannot be considered to permanently store carbon.

In short, land-based offset credits are controversial, and experience from REDD+ has shown that certification standards or safeguards cannot prevent conflicts.8

We, the undersigned, call on the members of ICAO to ensure measures adopted at the 39th ICAO meeting will make an adequate and fair contribution to the global effort to limit global warming to well-below 2 degrees Celsius. Any measure adopted at the 39th ICAO meeting must make a serious proposal to reduce emissions. It must also exclude land based offset credits, such as REDD+ type projects for the reasons given in this letter.

http://www.fern.org/sites/fern.org/files/briefingnote_airplane_1.pdf


See also

NGOs call on ICAO not to use REDD+ carbon credits – forests & soils cannot offset aviation CO2

The organisation, FERN* has published a letter signed by around 82 environmental NGOs around the world, calling on the global aviation sector through ICAO to actually reduce carbon emissions, rather than just the proposed use of carbon offsetting. The NGOs say plans to offset most of the sector’s growth in emissions are a significant distraction from real measures to reduce aviation emissions.  Under business-as-usual, aviation is projected to increase emissions by between 300 – 700% by 2050, despite only being used by well below 10% of the world’s population. The NGOs are particularly concerned that carbon offsets that are inappropriate and unreliable would be used, as  ICAO is considering a carbon offset system called REDD+ (‘Reduce Deforestation from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’). The NGOs say REDD+ credits should not be used, as they do not even meet ICAO’s own standards, and include double counting. REDD+ projects that tackle the real drivers of large-scale deforestation – extraction of oil, coal, mining, infrastructure, large-scale dams, industrial logging and international trade in agricultural commodities – are largely absent. There is also a risk that agricultural offsets would favour large-scale farmers or monoculture farming practices. These are not suitable offsets for aviation. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/04/ngos-call-on-icao-not-to-use-redd-carbon-credits-forests-soils-cannot-offset-aviation-co2/


REDD:

An introduction http://www.redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/

REDD, or reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is one of the most controversial issues in the climate change debate. The basic concept is simple: governments, companies or forest owners in the South should be rewarded for keeping their forests instead of cutting them down. The devil, as always, is in the details.

The first detail is that the payments are not for keeping forests, but for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This might seem like splitting hairs, but it is important, because it opens up the possibility, for example, of logging an area of forest but compensating for the emissions by planting industrial tree plantations somewhere else.

The idea of making payments to discourage deforestation and forest degradation was discussed in the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol, but it was ultimately rejected because of four fundamental problems: leakage, additionality, permanence and measurement.

  • Leakage refers to the fact that while deforestation might be avoided in one place, the forest destroyers might move to another area of forest or to a different country.
  • Additionality refers to the near-impossibility of predicting what might have happened in the absence of the REDD project.
  • Permanence refers to the fact that carbon stored in trees is only temporarily stored. All trees eventually die and release the carbon back to the atmosphere.
  • Measurement refers to the fact that accurately measuring the amount of carbon stored in forests and forest soils is extremely complex – and prone to large errors.

Although much has been written about addressing these problems, they remain serious problems in implementing REDD, both nationally and at project level.

REDD developed from a proposal in 2005 by a group of countries lead by Papua New Guinea calling themselves the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. Two years later, the proposal was taken up at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Bali (COP-13). In December 2010, at COP-16, REDD formed part of the Cancun Agreements, in the Outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention.

REDD is described in paragraph 70 of the AWG/LCA outcome:

“Encourages developing country Parties to contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector by undertaking the following activities, as deemed appropriate by each Party and in accordance with their respective capabilities and national circumstances:

(a) Reducing emissions from deforestation;
(b) Reducing emissions from forest degradation;
(c) Conservation of forest carbon stocks;
(d) Sustainable management of forest;
(e) Enhancement of forest carbon stocks;”

This is REDD-plus (although it is not referred to as such in the AWG/LCA text). Points (a) and (b) refers to REDD. Points (c), (d) and (e) are the “plus” part. But each of these “plus points” has potential drawbacks:

  • Conservation sounds good, but the history of the establishment of national parks includes large scale evictions and loss of rights for indigenous peoples and local communities. Almost nowhere in the tropics has strict ‘conservation’ proven to be sustainable. The words “of forest carbon stocks” were added in Cancun. The concern is that forests are viewed simply as stores of carbon rather than ecosystems.
  • Sustainable management of forests could include subsidies to industrial-scale commercial logging operations in old-growth forests, indigenous peoples’ territory or in villagers’ community forests.
  • Enhancement of forest carbon stocks could result in conversion of land (including forests) to industrial tree plantations, with serious implications for biodiversity, forests and local communities.

There are some safeguards annexed to the AWG/LCA text that may help avoid some of the worst abuses. But the safeguards are weak and are only to be “promoted and supported.” The text only notes that the United Nations “has adopted” the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The text refers to indigenous peoples’ rights, but it does not protect them.

But perhaps the most controversial aspect of REDD is omitted from the REDD text agreed in Cancun. There is no mention in the text about how REDD is to be funded – the decision is postponed until COP-17 that will take place in Durban in December 2011.

There are two basic mechanisms for funding REDD: either from government funds (such as the Norwegian government’s International Forests and Climate Initiative) or from private sources, which would involve treating REDD as a carbon mitigation ‘offset’, and getting polluters to pay have their continued emissions offset elsewhere through a REDD project. There are many variants and hybrids of these two basic mechanisms, such as generating government-government funds through a “tax” on the sale of carbon credits or other financial transactions.

Trading the carbon stored in forests is particularly controversial for several reasons:

  • Carbon trading does not reduce emissions because for every carbon credit sold, there is a buyer. Trading the carbon stored in tropical forests would allow pollution in rich countries to continue, meaning that global warming would continue.
  • Carbon trading is likely to create a new bubble of carbon derivatives. There are already extremely complicated carbon derivatives on the market. Adding forest carbon credits to this mix would be disastrous, particularly given the difficulties in measuring the amount of carbon stored in forests.
  • Creating a market in REDD carbon credits opens the door to carbon cowboys, or would be carbon traders with little or no experience in forest conservation, who are exploiting local communities and indigenous peoples by persuading them to sign away the rights to the carbon stored in their forests.

Yet many REDD proponents continue to argue that carbon markets are needed to make REDD work. Environmental Defense Fund, for example,on its website states that,

“Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), which EDF helped pioneer, is based on establishing economic incentives for people who care for the forest so forests are worth money standing, not just cleared and burned for timber and charcoal. The best way to do this is to allow forest communities and tropical forest nations to sell carbon credits when they can prove they have lowered deforestation below a baseline.”

While there has not yet been any agreement on how REDD is to be financed, a look at some of the main actors involved suggests that there is a serious danger that it will be financed through carbon trading. The role of the World Bank is of particular concern, given its fondness for carbon trading.

The World Bank’s main mechanism for promoting REDD is a new scheme, launched in Bali in 2007: the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The FCPF was set up with the explicit aim of creating markets for forest carbon, as the Bank announced in a press release on 11 December 2007:

“The facility’s ultimate goal is to jump-start a forest carbon market that tips the economic balance in favor of conserving forests, says Benoit Bosquet, a World Bank senior natural resources management specialist who has led the development of the facility.”

Carbon markets are not included in the Cancun REDD text. Yet in December 2010, the World Bank’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Andrew Steer, wrote that one outcomes of Cancun was that “Forests [are] firmly established as a key for addressing climate change, and to be included in a future carbon trading system.”

There is a serious risk of REDD leading to increased corruption, if large sums of money start to flow – particularly for unregulated trade in REDD carbon credits in poorly governed countries. Forestry departments are among the most corrupt departments in some of the most corrupt countries in the world. The complexity of carbon markets combined with poor regulation leads to the increased risk of fraud and corruption in the rich countries. Billions of dollars have already been lost from carbon markets in Europe through fraud.

Peter Younger at Interpol is already concerned. “Alarm bells are ringing. It is simply too big to monitor,” he said in October 2009, adding that “Organised crime syndicates are eyeing the nascent forest carbon market.”

“Fraud could include claiming credits for forests that do not exist or were not protected or by land grabs. It starts with bribery or intimidation of officials, then there’s threats and violence against those people. There’s forged documents too. Carbon trading transcends borders. I do not see any input from any law enforcement agency in planning REDD.”

Without monitorable and enforceable safeguards, and strict controls and regulation, REDD may deepen the woes of developing countries – providing a vast pool of unaccountable money which corrupt interests will prey upon and political elites will use to extend and deepen their power, becoming progressively less accountable to their people. In the same way that revenues from oil, gold, diamond and other mineral reserves have fuelled pervasive corruption and bad governance in many tropical countries, REDD could prove to be another ‘resources curse’. Ultimately, this will make protection of forests less likely to be achieved and will do nothing to ameliorate carbon emissions.

http://www.redd-monitor.org/redd-an-introduction/

 

This Introduction was updated in February 2011.

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