The aviation industry is reluctantly realising it needs to cut its carbon emissions, and work is under way, through ICAO, on a “market based measure” by which the industry could pay for carbon emissions. This, like the EU ETS, would be by being able to buy carbon permits from other sectors which had managed to make actual carbon cuts. A hard-hitting article from Tom Burke casts serious doubt on whether this sort of carbon pricing and trading could ever work effectively. He fears many high carbon industries pay lip-service to the concept, in the full knowledge that it will never work sufficiently well to curtail their activities, and it delays the need for any real action. He says: “The intent is to create the impression of an industry in favour of urgent action whilst actually slowing that action down”…. [with the carbon price remaining too low] … “If only governments were brave enough to put the carbon price up higher and faster, they will lament, we would get there sooner. This is hocus-pocus. They know full well governments will be deeply reluctant to put up consumers’ bills.” … “There is no chance that the world will agree on a global price for carbon in the forty years we have to keep the climate safe…. Their purpose is clear, to set a trap for unwary policy makers and environmentalists. Shame on those who fall into it.”
SOMETHING IS HAPPENING HERE
August 17, 2015
by Tom Burke
Environmentalists have long been vulnerable to their own passions. At times this can make us sound shrill and self-righteous. On other occasions it can blind us to political traps. The oil industry is now busy setting a big one for us. It is camouflaged under a call by the industry’s leaders for ‘clear, stable, long-term, ambitious policy frameworks’ to tackle climate change.
Who could quarrel?
This call was set out in a letter to Christiana Figueres, head of the UNFCCC, at the end of May. In case you missed it, it was repeated in a letter to the Financial Times on June 1st. They were specific about what they wanted. Governments should, ‘introduce carbon pricing systems……[and] ….create an international framework that could eventually connect national systems.’
Let me summarise. They want a global carbon price.
Environmentalists have long been beguiled by the pollution syllogism. It runs like this: pollution is sinful; sin must be punished; taxes are punishment, ergo, tax pollution. There is no joy in heaven like that at a sinner repenting.
It would be easy to confuse oil companies calling for a carbon price with sinners repenting. They are not. They are up to something altogether more subtle. The European companies who signed the letter, their American peers declined, have woken up to the existential threat to them posed by climate change.
A brutal combination of rapid technology development and unusual global weather events is reshaping the politics of climate change. The weather events ramp up the pressure on governments to act. Rapidly falling costs for low carbon technologies lower the political risk of doing so.
To have a good chance of avoiding dangerous climate change the world must get to net zero carbon emissions by 2100. That is for emissions from all sources including agriculture and deforestation. For the global energy system it means getting to carbon neutrality much earlier – at or soon after 2050. This goal collides directly with the oil companies’ business model.
Three beliefs define the oil companies current comfort zone. 1. The world needs their product. 2. Governments are on their side. 3. Energy technology change takes decades.
The accelerating surge of investment in renewables and storage as prices collapse undermines two of them. Obama and Clinton choosing to pick a fight over climate change, with the Pope’s blessing, in an election year is sawing away at the third.
Changing your business model is no simple task even for a small company. For behemoths like the oil companies writing to the UNFCCC it may be impossible. I cannot think of an example in corporate history of companies this large doing so voluntarily. In recent months a more alarmed conversation has begun within the oil companies’ leadership.
Its first product is a decision to buy time to think about how to deal with the collision between their business model and a safe climate. Hence the call for a carbon price. The intent is to create the impression of an industry in favour of urgent action whilst actually slowing that action down.
It is a tenet of economic dogma that putting a price on carbon is the most efficient way of dealing with climate change. The oil companies are counting on the weight of orthodox economic opinion supporting them.
The call for a carbon price is a shield with which to defend themselves from calls for faster change. If we are not decarbonising fast enough, they will argue, it is not their fault. If only governments were brave enough to put the carbon price up higher and faster, they will lament, we would get there sooner.
This is hocus-pocus. They know full well governments will be deeply reluctant to put up consumers’ bills. Ask Amber Rudd. This is simply a stratagem to re-balance the political equation. Politicians are to be caught between the pressure to protect the climate and the pain of doing it with a carbon price. You do not have to be a cynic to believe that faced with this kind of dilemma most politicians will do very little.
There is a further subtlety to this plan. Calling for a global carbon price will mobilise hostile, if covert, opposition from every finance ministry on the planet. Few national prerogatives are as fiercely protected as the right to raise (or lower) taxes. Sixty years of building a Single Market have not persuaded the nations of the EU to surrender any taxation prerogatives to Brussels.
Keeping the climate safe means persuading 190 nations to coordinate their energy policies. After thirty years of trying we are still some way from succeeding. Yet, by comparison with coordinating their tax policies this is straightforward. There is no chance that the world will agree on a global price for carbon in the forty years we have to keep the climate safe.
Oil company CEOs lack neither intelligence nor experience. They have not overlooked the political problems of calling for a global price on carbon. They are counting on them. Their purpose is clear, to set a trap for unwary policy makers and environmentalists. Shame on those who fall into it.
Tom Burke, London -August 10th 2015
[ ‘Something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr Jones?’ is a line from ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ by Bob Dylan ]
Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, and an Environmental Policy Adviser (part time) to Rio Tinto plc. He is a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London.
More details and fuller biography at http://www.e3g.org/people/tom-burke
Comment from an AirportWatch member:
“For more than 12 years I have felt as if I was almost a lone voice amongst environmentalists in describing carbon pricing and emissions trading schemes as a complete sham and an excuse for doing nothing. God bless Tom Burke. He has hit the nail on the head with this article.”
Energy round-up: carbon markets have failed
By Stephen Devlin
In theory, the world has the solution to soaring emissions – it’s called carbon pricing.
Carbon pricing is an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by charging polluters to cover their external costs. Most economists and policy-makers argue the only efficient way to do this is through establishing a market for carbon. This is done through an emissions trading scheme (ETS): a fixed number of emissions permits are issued and a cap is set on the total emissions allowed.
Those who then pollute more – oil and gas firms and others [airlines, as another example] who find it harder to make cuts, for example – can cover their higher emissions by buying more permits from those who make reductions easier. But it’s also possible to cover emissions by purchasing offsets from foreign ETS.
In fact, a new report released by the New Zealand government reveals that almost all of their emission reduction obligations for 2014 were met by paying for offsets in transition countries such as Russia and Ukraine, cheaper options because emissions cuts are easier to make there.
The problem is that many analysts believe these foreign emissions reductions would have happened anyway. Cutting waste from coal or pipeline leakages, for example, is win-win for industry as it also keeps their costs down. As a result, the impact of New Zealand’s ETS is close to zero. This also applies to the EU ETS, in which about a third of total emissions reductions come from international offsets.
Not only has this overestimated emissions reductions, it may have also contributed to the collapse of carbon prices. In both New Zealand and EU, markets remain far below the estimated cost of carbon. The actual social cost of carbon emissions is far higher than emissions permit prices imply. This also undermines long-term incentives to innovate as it’s much cheaper to just pay for your pollution.
But reforming emissions trading schemes has been a headache so far. Companies benefit from low prices as offsets depress the market and windfall profits – as permits are issued for free – and those unused can be sold on. Chances are they are not looking to give up paying far below the actual cost of pollution and making a profit from selling excess permits, too. At least in other carbon markets this problem is tackled by auctioning permits.
Financial incentives are a powerful force, but for carbon pricing the market design is flawed.
Over the weekend of 11th and 12th July there was a massive gathering at Notre Dame des Landes, in western France, to show the strong opposition to the building of a new runway there, to replace the current Nantes airport. This “mobilisation” is the 15th that the organisers, ACIPA, have put on over the years. It was estimated that perhaps 15,000 people attended over the two days. People at Nantes are very aware of the carbon and climate implications of a new airport, as well as serious local environmental destruction. They also link the Nantes campaign with other huge infrastructure projects across Europe, that would be damaging in terms of carbon emissions – such as a new runway in the UK. There is a desire to link up campaigns against such developments. The gathering combined a lot of workshops and education sessions with fun, with music, dancing and food -but with a very serious message. On Friday 17th July the Nantes Administrative Court will rule on the last 17 appeals by opponents of the airport project, on several environmental issues in contention with EU law, such as on water law and destruction of protected species. It is thought the court will rule against the opponents,but they will appeal. These legal issues are all that is holding up building of the airport.
Several thousand opponents of the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes met before the final court decision
(Le Monde, France)
Several thousand people attended, Saturday, July 11, to mobilize weekend against the airport project at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, about fifteen kilometers north of Nantes. The stakes are high: if this form of summer gathering takes place every year – this is the fifteenth edition – the 2015 meeting takes place just days before the (near) final court round about the proposed move of the Current Nantes Atlantique airport to the small town of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
By late afternoon, the organizers met a peak at the height of their hopes when many other large projects were contested in the heart of the debate.
The government, through the voice of the Prime Minister in particular, has already indicated that the work of the future airport, told the Great West Airport, a subsidiary of Vinci Airports, could begin once all legal remedies exhausted.
Friday, July 17, the Nantes administrative court must give judgment on the last seventeen appeals by opponents. On June 18, the public rapporteur had rejected them , arguing that the decrees issued by the prefecture, the Law on water and protected species, were consistent with national and European regulations. If the President of the 8 th house, Patrick Chupin had stated that the court would decide “independently” in most cases, the recommendation of the rapporteur public is followed by the judges.
Nothing precludes, in fact, the early start of work, both for the construction of the new airport platform (the terminal and the two tracks) that bar the road which should allow the service of the site.
Obstacles could still nevertheless complicate or delay construction sites. We must move protected species which for some of them, can not be done any time, especially in summer. Opponents, in case of defeat (expected) Friday, intend to appeal, which is not suspensive of a possible start of work.
Finally, the shovel into action in Nantes grove, it will then dislodge tens of zadistes, who occupy the ZAD, zone defense (originally holding zone). It will not be easy, especially as this site, ZAD ancestor that emerged throughout the country, Sivens (Tarn) against a dam in Roybon (Isère) against a Center Park, many reinforcements will come lend a hand strong permanent occupants, as soon as the start of any movement of construction site equipment, escorted by police. An important network of support committees is Woven throughout the country for many years.
The fiasco of “Caesar”
In October and November 2012, the operation “Caesar” that was intended to dislodge the occupants and resume huts and occupied farms had resulted in violent clashes in the peaceful countryside Nantes … and a fiasco. The offensive led by the gendarmes had caused a major demonstration of some 30,000 people, from all over France, with the presence of many political leaders (Europe Ecology-The Greens, the Left Front, Modem, far left, libertarian, etc.) on 17 November.
In May 2013, they were still tens of thousands have made a human chain around the site slated to host the future airport. Will they be as numerous 11th and 12th of July? This is not safe, but mobilization may nevertheless be significant.
Representatives of other strengths to projects like the landfill of nuclear waste in Bure (Meuse) will be there. On this issue, the integration by the Senate of an amendment to the law Macron not put to a vote by resorting to 49-3 Thursday night endorsing the creation of the landfill of nuclear waste, has rankled opponents , environmentalists in mind.
The militants hostile to the construction of the Center Park of Roybon are the guests of honor at the 2015 Notre-Dame-des-Landes. They will know, them, the decision of the Grenoble Administrative Court on their appeals, Thursday, July 16.
“Heater fight! “
Suffice to say that the reasons to prepare future events will not fail and that the coming week is important. After the judicial phase, decisions will be highly political.
At five months of the climate conference that will host delegations from all member countries of the United Nations in Paris, François Hollande he will take the risk of clashes in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, or elsewhere? Environmentalists and anti-capitalist activists, opposed to what they call “big useless projects” have understood the dilemma.
They placed the gathering of the weekend under the sign of planetary rendezvous of the end of November. “heater control, not the climate! “ profess organizers gathered in the opponents to the project Coordination of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, adding, “There is no planet B! Stopping global warming! “ .
The original French at:
Notre-Dame-des-Landes 2015 : Une détermination renforcée par le succès du 15ème rassemblement.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes 2015: A determination reinforced by the success of the 15th gathering.
Bad Google translate English version below (but you can get the gist !):
The resounding success of the fifteenth annual gathering Notre-Dame-des-Landes, 2015, organized by opponents of Coordination for the airport project, leash, as one of our members said, ” there is little doubt about the inability of the Power go back to the act of destruction . ” If the struggle of Notre-Dame-des-Landes has become the “flagship” of European struggles, we have, after this weekend more than warm, accumulated enough energy to help inform other struggles for much longer.
Congratulations and thank you to the committee members who worked for 6 months around those who have become over gatherings of real pros of the organization, support committees and to the many volunteers who helped them to the end, as well as ‘producers who gave products or loaned equipment.
Congratulations and thank you to the 15,000 participants of this great event to have answered our call again! The relaxed but determined atmosphere that settled – under a generous sun this year – has earned us numerous enthusiastic congratulations.
Congratulations and thank you to organizations from all over France – Bure, Roybon, Sivens and even Great Britain and Germany – to provide information on a stand or / and debate through the quarantine proposed forums. The quality of trade increases every year and allows us to say that our traditional appointment has become a festive rendezvous militant of the highest level meet the high expectations of citizens.
Congratulations and thank you to the artists we came to dance and volunteers occupation of heaven to those magical moments.
We were very honored by the presence of Mr. Tognoni, General Secretary of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal and thank him for being with us at this important stage of our struggle.
Tributes to Rémi Fraisse opening rally and political meeting were the highlights, filled with emotion and respect. Everyone was aware that such a tragedy does not happen again.
There is no intention of abandoning the project. We must continue to work on the three pillars of our action:
– We confidently expect the rendering judgment expected Friday, July 17 on the 17 appeals filed notably under the Water Law and Protected Species. It is “a first round in a match in 3 sets” according to another activist.
– On the political side, we must prepare for the month of December in preparation for regional elections (especially in PDL and Brittany, funders Potential of Our Lady of the project-des-Landes) and
-COP 21 which one can say that the debate has already started this weekend at Notre Dame des Landes.
– On the ground, we will remain vigilant, all united components to discourage the slightest hint of the beginning of work on the airport, confident that our civil disobedience is legitimate. All components of the fight work on a common future without airport rich exchange of new agricultural practices and respect for living together in harmony after the abandonment of the project.
We wish everyone a nice summer!
Wear the badge of the struggle of Notre-Dame-des-Landes wherever you go this summer to strengthen it!
Think of other struggles whose representatives came to Notre-Dame-des-Landes weekend that need us to support them! [Heathrow for one].
See you in mid-August to actively resume our actions in non-violence – ie coherent actions with the world we want to help build – with respect for people and property and with a determination not only completely intact but strengthened by what has happened around Notre-Dame-des-Landes in 2015.
The event’s photo album is online here: https://picasaweb.google.com/114351998387816929013/2015071112_NotreDameDesLandes2015#slideshowAnd the videos will be collected there: http://www.scoop.it/t/videos-ndl/?tag=NDL2015
Press Book dedicated: http://www.scoop.it/t/acipa/?tag=NDL2015
Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Une mobilisation studieuse et festive
Notre-Dame-des-Landes. A studious and festive mobilization
The public rapporteur dismisses the actions of opponents of the airport project of Notre-Dame-des-Landes
Le rapporteur public rejette les recours des opposants au projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes
18.6.2015 (Le Monde, France)
Not very good translation into English below:
The decision was expected. The rapporteur has rejected public, Thursday, June 18, the 17 appeals filed by opponents of the proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, announced about fifteen kilometers north of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique). The Nantes Administrative Court will deliver its judgment on 17 July.
From the findings of the known public rapporteur, President (PS) of the Pays de la Loire, Jacques Auxiette, released its satisfaction. “These conclusions are logical , he says. They are in line with a validation of the important and unprecedented environmental measures that accompany the transfer of the existing Nantes Atlantique airport to the grove of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. They show that the years of dialogue were useful because they helped improve the environmental aspect and the necessary compensations. “ It is quite likely that the court follow, as is the case most of the time, the conclusions of the public rapporteur.
For opponents who had filed appeals against prefectural orders “Water Law” and “protected species” – associations (the elected Collective doubting the relevance of the airport [CEDPA], the intermunicipal citizen Association populations affected by the airport project [ACIPA], France Nature Environnement, etc.) and individuals like Julien Durand, a longtime opponent farmer and spokesman of ACIPA -, this conclusion is nonetheless carrier risks.
Indeed, on several occasions, the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said that the future airport work would start as early as the ultimate recourse judged. Nothing therefore should stand in the runway of the airport project proponents, government, the region and the city of Nantes in particular, and Vinci Airports and Airport Grand Ouest subsidiary (AGO ) that was assigned the concession of the future airport platform.
“The battle is not over”
For their part, opponents have expressed their intention to appeal against any decision of the court which would be unfavorable to them. “The battle is not over, we will appeal if necessary because it is completely abnormal that justice follow the advice of Vinci, and government, as we have motivated scientific expert opinion “ , said Françoise Verchère, CEDPA spokesman. “We hope that nothing will be done on the ground before all remedies are exhausted, as Head of State promised, therefore before any appeal “ , she adds.
He cited the example of East Donges, in the 2000s, one of the Autonomous Port of Nantes expansion project that wanted to build new docks by destroying a reed bed in the estuary of the Loire. “The court rejected the opponents but finally we won on appeal “ , she recalls. The Minister of the Environment the time, Jean-Louis Borloo, announced the abandonment of the project on 19 June 2009. After twenty years of fighting.
“Strength of arguments”
The only glimmer of hope for opponents, the president of the 6 th Chamber of the Administrative Court, Patrick Chupin, has insisted that the conclusions of public rapporteur pledged that he and the court would decide in “complete independence” .
“Our goal is to achieve the cancellation of prefectural orders, given the strength of our arguments” , told the World counsel for the opponents, Thomas Dubreuil. In support of their applications, the associations hostile to the project indeed cited the findings of two expert reports that criticize, in particular, compensation systems provided due to the destruction of wetlands where several dozen flourish protected species.
In April 2013, a panel of scientific experts appointed by the government of Jean-Marc Ayrault, then Prime Minister, former mayor of Nantes and always strong supporter of the airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, felt that could not “validate the method as is” scheduled compensation and that he formulated reservations should be lifted so that “the project can be continued.” These criticisms of the Committee related in particular to “insufficient initial characterization of biodiversity “ , “insufficient analysis of quantitative hydrological functioning” , “non-relevant analysis of water quality” or “lack of explicit method for long-term monitoring of compensation measures” .
More recently, in February, it was the turn of the Scientific Council of the natural heritage and biodiversity to convey his reservations to the Minister for Ecology, Segolene Royal. He saw then that “this project would have a major impact on agro-ecosystems of relict wetlands, endangered throughout western Europe, with their valuable ecological functions and biodiversity richness, which offset opportunities alike appear very limited “ . The Board had issued “an opinion that the destruction of this very original set by the realization of the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes” .
The record of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, open for nearly fifty years, is not yet completed. In 2010, the joint association of airport studies foresaw the arrival of the first aircraft in 2017. It will not happen. The battle is not over, especially since the opponents have developed an alternative project, defended a long time: the renovation of the Nantes airport. Friday night, they will present to the press and the public the findings of the “citizen workshop” which, with many architects, worked in particular on the expansion of the existing terminal.
Just a week before the decision of the Administrative Court of Nantes, on 11 and 12 July, the Nantes Bocage and farms occupied by farmers and activists ZAD (zone defending) welcome from supporters of the country to a mobilization weekend. “This will give us the opportunity to re-engage everyone in case it is needed” , says Françoise Verchère. Zadistes, farmers and environmental protection activists have the opportunity to discuss strategies for opposing the start of construction. And the most skeptical about the usefulness of legal battle are sure to then emphasize the need for other means of control.
See the original French below
Notre-Dame-des-Landes : pour les opposants, le projet d’aéroport est contraire aux objectifs de la COP21
In rather poor English translation below:
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: for opponents, the airport project is contrary to the goals of COP21
On one airport to another. From Notre-Dame-des-Landes, where the state, region and Vinci Airports Nantes Atlantique want to transfer the existing airport until Bourget, north of Paris, where the UN Conference will be held climate, COP21, a single combat.
For thousands of opponents (about 15,000 according to the organizers) to the draft new Nantes airport, gathered Saturday 11 and Sunday July 12 in Vigneux-de-Bretagne (Loire-Atlantique), south of the future airport area, there a major contradiction between the declarations in favor of the fight against global warming policies and industrial managers, and the reality of economic policies and infrastructure projects, particularly transport.
“Air transport is stowaways in the fight against global warming, it exempts of all, recalled Lorelei Limousin, Climate Action Network (RAC) at the central meeting on Sunday morning. The absence of tax diesel for the Air lost 550 million euros a year to the government, to which one can add the reduced VAT on airline tickets, € 600 million, more than one billion shortfall. “ She continued, to the applause of hundreds of activists present in a large tent: “Air France is one of the sponsors of the COP21, it boggles. “
Read also: Climate: air transport promises a blue sky
These politicians, Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV), the Left Party (PG) and the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), were hit hard. ” ” The fight against climate change, it is in our advertising, in our communication ” , say the large groups, Air France, BNP Paribas, which invest in fossil fuels in the world, EDF, GDF-Suez, etc., but in reality, they oppose any proposed saving energy , explained Yannick Jadot, MEP EELV. They say yes, but ” not here, not now, not like this ” . “
Martine Billard (PG) mocked those who “want to sell green airports” . “We are sold the same sustainable nuclear; to be sustainable, nuclear is truly sustainable “ , she threw to the conquered militants. According to her, the planet can not travel, unfortunately, to the discovery of all countries of the world. “There are limits, our planet has limits, and we must make choices, what is at stake the COP21 “ , she has said. For the representative of the NPA, Christine Poupin, the question of “expropriation of the big capitalist groups” is asked.
Beyond political statements, facilitated by the full support of the public, the weekend of mobilization against the planned Notre-Dame-des-Landes – and all the “useless major projects” : rail tunnel between Lyon and Turin The Center Parc Roybon (Isère), the dam Sivens (Tarn) … not to mention the “factory” of a thousand cows or landfill of nuclear waste in Lorraine, in Bure … – was the occasion of an intense work on arguments.
“An Airbus A 320 engulf as much energy in one hour at takeoff than me in twenty years on my farm, summarized Daniel Durand of the Confederation Paysanne. To get to New York, it would take 150 ha rapeseed, 300 if we want him back. So useless to think of biofuels for aviation. “
One after another, all stakeholders dozens of forums organized under the six capitals of the site have expressed opposition to current projects. The link with the fight against global warming, five months of COP21, is permanent, highlighted by the presence of officials of the Climate Coalition and 21 of Alternatiba activists who are trying to achieve, by bike, turn, France militant. “heater control, not the climate! “ was the central slogan of the weekend.
And then there was the news of the record of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Friday, July 17, the Nantes administrative court must rule on the last seventeen appeals by opponents of the airport project. The day before, the Grenoble Administrative Court will judge appeals opponents of the Center Parc Roybon.
“If the opinion is unfavorable we, as public rapporteur has suggested, then we will appeal. And according to the political agreement sealed with the president and prime ministers that have succeeded, no construction will not start before the exhaustion of all legal proceedings “ , recalls serene but determined, Julien Durand, farmer and is emblematic of the ACIPA (inter citizen Association of populations affected by the airport project of Notre-Dame-des-Landes).
Around the vast grasslands of La Paquelais, where opponents have installed the rally, dozens of occupants of the “zone defense” (ZAD), distributed between farms and the many huts scattered around the countryside, are also waiting later with the firm intention not to leave the place one day construction machinery.
See the original in French here:
En savoir plus sur http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2015/07/12/pour-les-opposants-a-notre-dame-des-landes-le-projet-d-aeroport-est-contraire-aux-objectifs-de-la-cop21_4680552_3244.html#6f0P5FYPPmU0tASu.99
The Guardian writes that the Airports Commission and most of the reporting of the Heathrow runway recommendation looked only at issues like economic growth, the alleged urgency of more links to emerging markets, and the UK keeping its place as top dog on aviation in Europe. A few voices were raised about the local “environmental” effect, noise, air pollution etc. But these “pale besides aviation’s contribution to the planet’s slow cooking. If there is a difficult question that has been ducked for too long, then that is the one about decarbonising the economy.” Though the Commission looked at carbon, their “emphasis … and the basis for arguing that increased capacity was not merely desirable but imperative, was on a …fairytale future, in which passengers double, under the auspices of comprehensive and globally enforced carbon trading.” This requires an effective global system in which the price of carbon rises from around £5 to several hundred £s which would greatly increase the price of air tickets. That is not likely to happen. The aim of the runway is to make flying cheaper, not more expensive, so people take even more flights. ” The infrastructure we have now is enough to speed climate change. “Transport networks need to be re-engineered for decarbonisation. But that would require some real blue-sky thinking, and of that there is no sign.”
The Guardian view on expanding Heathrow: just say no
The debate about where to build extra airport capacity has been a giant distraction. The climate demands drawing a line under aviation’s growth
‘If there is a difficult question that has been ducked for too long, then that is the one about decarbonising the economy.’
Britain finally confronted the point of a decision on a difficult question that it had ducked for far too long. Or, at least, that is how the Airports Commission presented its endorsement of an extra runway at Heathrow. The airwaves reverberated with the voices of the sort of men who never shrug off a boyhood Airfix fixation, arguing with burning intensity about whether the precise spec and coordinates of the Heathrow proposal, and its Gatwick rival, had the makings of a world-beating hub. A few voices were raised about the “environmental” effect, in the sense of the immediate local environment – questions of noise, of birdlife and the extra fumes that could soon be inhaled by the suffering lungs of Middlesex. These are all real issues, but together with the diversionary debate about “where” rather than “whether”, they pale besides aviation’s contribution to the planet’s slow cooking. If there is a difficult question that has been ducked for too long, then that is the one about decarbonising the economy.
To be fair to Sir Howard Davies, his commission did not ignore carbon. The report predicated its projections of passenger growth on two scenarios, both of which it said could respect UK carbon obligations. The first involved a rigid cap on aviation emissions, a little above current levels. The commission stuck a finger in the air and ventured that this might be compatible with a 61% rise in passengers by 2050, a calculation that must rely on engineering advances easing the brute, energy-intensive physics of lifting people and machinery into the air. The emphasis, however, and the basis for arguing that increased capacity was not merely desirable but imperative, was on a second, fairytale future, in which passengers double, under the auspices of comprehensive and globally enforced carbon trading.
At a time when European integration is under strain, the invitation here is to imagine that something akin to the EU emissions trading system is first extended to the rest of the world, and then made so much more effective that the carbon price rises from a few euros a tonne to something in the hundreds. If all this can be put into practice, then, the theory runs, the value of UK flights will be such that the aviation sector will be able to outbid British factories and foreign enterprises in the scramble for carbon rations. That is a dubious proposition. For all the talk of Heathrow as an engine of growth, many of the new jobs would be low-tech and low-pay: serving the coffee in another Costa, or lugging more suitcases out of holds. The official figures confirm that the proportion of flights dedicated to business is lower than it was at the dawn of the millennium, the result not only of passing recession, but also the march of things like Skype, which allow more business meetings to be held online.
Seeing as – in all likelihood – the price of carbon is not going to rise to the point where the climate problem is fixed, the pertinent question is whether the actual price of flying is going to get closer or further away from where the planet would want it to be. Building more capacity is going to reduce the cost of taking an extra flight: that is its principal aim. It will mean more people choosing to fly, rather than holidaying closer to home, or taking the train. Indeed, nothing betrays the mindset more than the way in which the commission held up the downward trend in regular domestic flights into Heathrow as if this were a problem. It is part of the solution.
In 2009, David Cameron stood against expanding Heathrow, linking his opposition to support for high-speed rail. That grand project may be on track, but other important rail upgrades have just been postponed. The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign has pointed out that existing fossil-fuel stocks are more than sufficient to unleash climate chaos; the same thing is true of the existing infrastructure. Transport networks need to be re-engineered for decarbonisation. But that would require some real blue-sky thinking, and of that there is no sign.
Commenting on the Airports Commission’s recomendation of Heathrow for a 3rd runway, the CEO of WWF-UK, David Nussbam said: “UK aviation has a serious CO2 emissions challenge. Runway expansion would make the problem worse and the solutions tougher. The Prime Minister should consider that ordinary families, businesses and our environment will gain little from a new runway. Expanding Heathrow would be the worst outcome for the environment. It would lead to the greatest increases in noise, in air pollution, and in climate-damaging CO2 emissions. Expanding runway capacity will not make Britain more prosperous, but it will make it impossible for the aviation sector to play its proper role in meeting the UK’s emissions targets, to which the Prime Minister and Climate Change Secretary are committed. The greater the emissions from aviation, the greater pressure there will be on other businesses to reduce their CO2 emissions even further. If the Government supports the Davies report, they will have to present a plan showing how these reductions will be achieved elsewhere – and at what price to the UK economy and people.”
WWF comment on proposed third runway at Heathrow
1 July 2015
Chief Executive David Nussbaum said:
“UK aviation has a serious emissions challenge. Runway expansion would make the problem worse and the solutions tougher. The Prime Minister should consider that ordinary families, businesses and our environment will gain little from a new runway. Expanding Heathrow would be the worst outcome for the environment. It would lead to the greatest increases in noise, in air pollution, and in climate-damaging CO2 emissions.
“Expanding runway capacity will not make Britain more prosperous, but it will make it impossible for the aviation sector to play its proper role in meeting the UK’s emissions targets, to which the Prime Minister and Climate Change Secretary are committed. The greater the emissions from aviation, the greater pressure there will be on other businesses to reduce their CO2 emissions even further. If the Government supports the Davies report, they will have to present a plan showing how these reductions will be achieved elsewhere – and at what price to the UK economy and people.
“The green growth the UK needs would be better served by investing in low carbon technologies and making intelligent use of alternatives to flying. Businesses are already doing this – with increased demand for airport expansion largely coming from a small proportion of the population who take repeated leisure flights each year.”
Expanding Heathrow’s capacity would be the worst choice for Britain, with major impact on air quality, CO2 emissions and environmental disturbance. In choosing this most damaging option, the Government would jeopardise any claim to international leadership on carbon emissions or sustainable development, and place an additional responsibility on other businesses to cut their emissions further and faster.
With all other sectors cutting emissions, all aviation needs to do is limit emissions increases. With airport expansion, the sector will fail to do even that. The aviation sector must play its fair share in tackling climate change.
Having agreed to airport expansion, the government must now set out how they will make up for these additional emissions. Otherwise they will not be able to show leadership at UNFCCC and ICAO and will not be able to meet our existing Carbon Budget.
Business demand for air travel is falling (DfT) as companies are making increasing use of low-carbon alternatives. In 2011, 61% of FTSE 500 companies expected to travel more by train and 87% expected to use more videoconferencing in future (WWF-UK) . Videoconferencing saves time and money as well as CO2 (WWF-UK) . Business travel has fallen both in percentage terms and in absolute terms over the past 15 years (AEF) .
Many flights do not fly at full capacity, and many regional airports have spare runway capacity. Making better use of existing capacity, both on-board planes and in regional airports, would significantly reduce the need for expansion.
Expansion will not drive economic growth. The correlation between aviation capacity and growth is strong in emerging economies and regions but weak in developed economies (like the UK) and regions (like the south east) (WWF-UK/CE Delft) .
The main driver of aviation demand is not business or family holidays, but a small and wealthy subset of the population who take several leisure flights per year. This group, 15% of the UK population, takes 70% of UK flights (Fellow Travellers) .
Environmental case for new Heathrow runway has ‘Airbus-sized holes’
1 July 2015, source edie newsroom
The Airport Commission’s recommendation to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport has been labelled a “hugely damaging decision” and a “backward step on climate change” by green groups.
The Airport Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, released a report this morning, recommending that a new runway at Heathrow should be built because it would offer “the greatest strategic and economic benefits” compared to other London airports.
The report also said the new runway should come with severe restrictions to reduce the environmental and noise effects and would be therefore be compatible with UK climate change and air pollution targets.
However environmentalists were quick to dismiss the Commission’s calculations.
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “When it comes to carbon emissions the Davies’ analysis has holes big enough to fly an Airbus through.
“His claim that a new runway could be compatible with the UK’s climate targets is based on the unrealistic assumptions like the need for a 6,600% rise in carbon taxes, rose-tinted estimates about improvements in aircraft efficiency, and false solutions like biofuels.
“This is just a smokescreen to hide the obvious fact that a new runway will almost certainly derail our legally-binding climate targets. In the year the world is coming together to tackle climate change, we should be talking about how to manage demand, not where to store up a new carbon bomb.”
Air travel emits more than 650 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year – nearly the amount emitted by 136 million cars. The aviation industry has committed to hold its carbon emissions steady after 2020 and cut net carbon emissions to half of the 2005 level by 2050.
Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton commented: “The UK will be a laughing stock if it turns up at crucial climate talks in Paris later this year, claiming global leadership while at home having nodded through new runways, killed its onshore wind industry and foisted fracking on communities that don’t want it.”
Friends of the Earth also claimed that the Government’s case for expanding airport capacity at all is “extremely weak”.
The Aviation Environment Federation, which represents community groups around the UK’s airports, said that all options considered by the Commission would “breach CO2 limits and have unacceptable local environmental impacts”.
Cait Hewitt, AEF’s deputy director said: “The recommendation to expand Heathrow will be fiercely resisted by local authorities, MPs, communities and environmental organisations. Every government that has ever considered Heathrow expansion has ruled it out once the full scale of the environmental impacts has become clear.”
Hewitt added: “The UK has a legal obligation to meet EU air quality legal limits and despite its last minute consultation on the issue the Airports Commission still cannot say confidently whether or not expansion would be legal.”
From a business perspective, the CBI claimed that growing airport capacity in the South East is critical to the whole of the UK’s economic future.
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “It simply isn’t an optional ‘nice to do’. Each day the Government delays taking the decision, the UK loses out as our competitors reap the rewards and strengthen their trade links.”
“Creating new routes to emerging markets will open doors to trade, boosting growth, creating jobs and driving investment right across the country. Our research shows that eight new daily routes alone could boost exports by up to £1 billion a year.
Downing Street officials say they will take their time considering the report’s suggestion, wanting to avoid making “a snap judgement”.
Key flaws in Davies report’s climate argument:
Commenting ahead of the Airports Commission report which is expected to recommend airport expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow, Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: “It’s simply not credible for the Government to build a new runway in the South East and still claim to be serious about tackling climate change. “Airport expansion will also have huge impacts on the local community, noise levels and air quality. We can’t preach to the world about stopping catastrophic climate change on the one hand and send aviation emissions soaring on the other.”
Airport expansion will undermine UK climate action, warns Friends of the Earth
30.6.2015 (FoE press release)
Commenting ahead of Wednesday’s (1 July 2015) Davies Commission report which
is expected to recommend airport expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow,
Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said:
“It’s simply not credible for the Government to build a new runway in the
South East and still claim to be serious about tackling climate change.
“Airport expansion will also have huge impacts on the local community, noise
levels and air quality.
“We can’t preach to the world about stopping catastrophic climate change on
the one hand and send aviation emissions soaring on the other.”
Notes to editors:
1. The case for expanding airport capacity is extremely weak. Taken together London’s five major airports serve more destinations than any other European city – over 360 with at least a weekly service – see  (section 2.5)
2. The Committee on Climate Change says 37.5Mt CO2 is an appropriate cap  for the UK’s aviation emissions in 2050 to fit with the Climate Change Act.
However even if capped at the level the CCC suggests:
• aviation emissions would represent a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions  in 2050
• [4 ]other sectors would have to cut emissions by 85%  rather than the average 80% needed overall by 2050
Blog from The Carbon Brief: Aviation’s battle to limit rising emissions – maybe only by limiting demand growth
A huge question mark hangs over how the new runway would be compatible with the UK’s climate change targets. The key issue is not where a runway should be built, but whether it should be built at all. A blog by the Carbon Brief discusses how the UK dilemma on this is a microcosm of the global story of rapid expansion in the aviation industry, at a time when emissions need to rapidly decrease. Currently, UK aviation emissions are set to far exceed 2005 levels in 2050 – though the CCC has today reiterated that UK aviation must not emit more than around the 2005 level (about 37.5MtCO2 per year) by 2050. Even if no new runways are built in the UK, aviation CO2 emissions may be at 47Mt in 2050, according to DfT statistics. Without a carbon price and if airport expansion is unconstrained, the CCC project that UK aviation demand could grow more than 200% between 2005 and 2050. Globally, according to the UNFCCC, aviation emissions increased by 76.1% between 1990 and 2012. Projections from ICAO indicate that CO2 emissions from global aviation are set to grow 200%-360% on current levels by 2050. Reducing demand or, at the very least, reducing the growth in demand, may be the only way to keep the CO2 emissions down. The Carbon Brief adds: “If the UK government decides to give the go-ahead for a new runway, it will find it has a difficult task ahead in proving that it is not part of the problem.”
Explainer: Aviation’s battle to limit rising emissions
30 June 2015 (Carbon Brief)
By Sophie Yeo
Tomorrow, the Airports Commission is expected to make its recommendation on how to expand the aviation industry in the UK.
Sir Howard Davies, the economist behind the report, has weighed up three options: a new runway at Heathrow, a new runway at Gatwick, and extending Heathrow’s northern runway.
But a question mark hangs over how the new runway would be compatible with the UK’s climate change targets, rendering it an issue of not where it should be built, but whether it should be built at all.
The UK’s dilemma is a microcosm of the global story of rapid expansion in the aviation industry, at a time when emissions need to rapidly decrease.
UK aviation emissions
Under the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, emissions must be reduced by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.
In 2009, the government decided that aviation emissions must be capped at 2005 levels – 37.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) – by 2050. However, in 2012, it said it would not officially incorporate this target into its legally binding carbon budgets due to policy uncertainty at an international level.
Nonetheless, the government has informally left space within its carbon budgets to accommodate 37.5MtCO2 from the aviation sector in 2050.
Currently, aviation emissions are set to far exceed 2005 levels in 2050. Even if no new runways are built in the UK, aviation CO2 emissions are expected to be at 47Mt in 2050, according to statistics from the Department of Transport.
Without a carbon price and if airport expansion is unconstrained, aviation demand could grow more than 200% between 2005 and 2050, the Committee on Climate Change projects.
The chart (see image here) illustrates the growth in UK international aviation emissions between 1972 and 2012.
By the government’s own admission, expanding both Gatwick or Heathrow will push the UK beyond its target for aviation. In 2050, in a scenario where the UK meets its 37.5MtCO2 goal, Heathrow will be responsible for 16.6MtCO2, and Gatwick for 3.9MtCO2.
A new runway at Heathrow would add an extra 3.9MtCO2 to its baseline, or 1.4MtCO2 at Gatwick.
Global aviation emissions
In 2012, aeroplanes were responsible for 689MtCO2. By 2013, this had increased to 705MtCO2, according to analysis by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) of figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
This represents around 2% of global CO2 emissions – or around the same volume of CO2 emitted every year by Germany. This means that, if the aviation sector were a country, it would be the world’s seventh largest emitter.
Aviation’s contribution to climate change does not only lie in its CO2 emissions. Aeroplanes also emit water vapour, chemicals and other substances that can form contrails, changing the natural formation of clouds. These impact the overall energy balance of the planet, known as radiative forcing, which is what causes the global temperature to rise.
A special report into aviation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1999 estimated that aeroplanes were responsible for 3.5% of total human-caused radiative forcing, excluding the impact of clouds.
However, unlike a country, the aviation industry will not face a binding requirement to tackle its emissions at the UN climate talks in Paris this December, where a new international deal is set to be signed.
The draft of the text currently under negotiation passes responsibility for reducing aviation emissions to the International Civil Aviation Authority, a specialised agency of the UN.
ICAO has set several goals aimed at limiting and then reducing emissions from aviation. This includes the “aspirational” target of improving fuel efficiency by 2% every year, limiting emissions at 2020 levels and then reducing them to half of 2005 levels by 2050 – all non-binding.
Yet, according to ICAO’s 2013 projections, shown in the graph below, emissions from the aviation industry are set to grow 200%-360% on current levels by 2050, including the maximum use of lower-carbon alternative fuels. This is far in excess of the goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020.
ICAO’s crowning achievement would be the development of a global carbon market to limit emissions from the world’s aviation industry.
One possibility is to use carbon offsets, which participants could buy to neutralise their emissions above an agreed limit. Another possibility is to do this, while simultaneously applying a charge for every tonne of CO2, generating a stream of revenue that can be used for other climate-related projects. The final possibility is to develop a cap-and-trade scheme for the industry.
But while the options are on the table, progress has been slow, held up by the inevitable political difficulties in attempting to implement the world’s first global carbon market for a certain sector.
Developing a market mechanism for aviation includes an added complication: establishingwhich emissions belong to which country. Some argue that countries ought to take responsibility for all emissions from the aeroplanes departing from their territory. Others say it should depend where the airline operator is registered. A third option is that countries should take responsibility for the CO2 emitted in their airspace.
At ICAO’s general assembly in 2013, countries reaffirmed that they would develop a market-based mechanism for the industry, and develop the options for doing so. A decision is due on this in 2016.
The markets offer one method of scaling down aviation emissions, but they are not the only answer. Technology, operational improvements and biofuels also offer opportunities for reducing aviation pollution.
From an operations perspective, this can mean advanced communications, navigation and surveillance, along with better air traffic management, which can reduce the amount of time that the plane spends in the air.
Technological improvements include more efficient engines, advanced lightweight materials and improved aerodynamics.
Biofuels can also be used as an alternative to traditional fuels – although the level of the benefits that they offer is contentious, due to possible competition for land with CO2-absorbing forests.
Nonetheless, developing a market-based mechanism for the aviation industry remains key if the aviation industry is going to achieve its own goals without dramatically reducing demand for flights.
These alternative approaches, known as the “basket of measures” in ICAO jargon, will not alone put the aviation industry on track to achieve carbon neutral growth after 2020, according to a paper by Professor David Lee, who leads the Centre for Aviation, Transport and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University.
It finds that applying new technology, advanced operational procedures, using more biofuel and extending out market mechanisms to 2050 cannot stop emissions growing. Under the maximum level of ambition that the researchers modelled, emissions would still rise to 774MtCO2 per year – more than today’s emissions of 705MtCO2.
The graph below shows the ranges of outcomes depending on how enthusiastically improvements to the industry are adopted.
The paper concluded that no currently available measures, or any combination of them, could achieve the goal of carbon neutral growth after 2020 for any scenario of the industry’s growth. But since regional markets have reduced emissions most effectively so far, it says, a global mechanism would be the most effective means to achieve this goal in the future.
There is one other way to cut aviation emissions: reduce demand – or, at the very least, reduce the growth in demand.
Unsurprisingly, this is the less popular option among countries and industries that want to see the continued expansion of aviation.
At its 2013 general assembly, ICAO emphasised “the need to ensure that international aviation continues to develop in a sustainable manner”.
A 2014 paper published in the journal Atmospheric Environment reinforced the point that improved airline efficiency will not be able to compensate for the growth in emissions that will result from increased demand.
In order to achieve an overall reduction in CO2 from the industry, “behaviour change will be necessary to reduce demand for air-travel”, it says. Reduced demand could be brought about by an increase in ticket price of around 1.4% per year, say the authors – reversing the current trend that has seen the price of international tickets fall by 0.5% per year between 1990 and 2012.
A study released in March 2015 by the Tyndall Centre suggests that climate scientists themselves should lead the way through shunning air travel, wherever possible.
The UK’s Committee on Climate Change says that national growth in aviation demand must be limited to 60% in order to meet the government’s target of keeping emissions in 2050 at 2005 levels.
In the UK, the majority of the industry’s growth has come from holiday makers, rather than business trips. The graph below shows that growth in business flights had started to flatline even before the financial crisis of 2008.
Reasons for UK passengers travelling abroad by air. Credit: Carbon Brief, based on ONS statistics
Recently, a group of individuals from tax and environmental campaigning groups wrote a letter in The Observer backing instead a “frequent flyers levy”, which would tax travellers based on how regularly they fly. They wrote:
“Our research shows that this ‘polluter pays’ approach would enable the UK to meet our climate targets without making flying the preserve of the rich – and without needing to build any new runways.”
While an international mechanism to reduce aviation emissions has yet to materialise, countries are increasingly taking action at the national level.
The EU has included aviation emissions within its Emissions Trading System, facing down fierce opposition, including some US airlines, who unsuccessfully fought a case against the Commission in the European Court of Justice in 2011.
The scheme only covers flights that both takeoff and land within the EU (and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). The EU agreed to exclude international flights entering its airspace, in the hope that it would ease political tension and facilitate an agreement on a global market mechanism in 2016.
The US Environmental Protection Agency recently acknowledged the role of aviation emissions in causing global warming, and said it will develop rules in line with ICAO regulation to reduce emissions from the industry, as it has done for vehicles and power plants.
But while the EU, in particular, has shown leadership on this issue, national actions alone cannot tackle the enormous growth of the industry, and cannot compensate for the particularly fierce growth in developing countries. The burden to act first falls on developed countries, with ICAO recognising the UN principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
For instance, between 1990 and 2012, emissions from the aviation industry grew 913% in Benin, 800% in Mongolia and 500% in Nepal. This compares to growth of 10% in Canada, 63% in the US and 84% in Germany.
overed by only weak regulation, and with the prospect of future reductions still shadowy, aviation is one of the most difficult issues of climate change policy. The methods to significantly reduce its emissions – a global market mechanism, or simply flying less – are unpopular and difficult to implement.
If the UK government decides to give the go-ahead for a new runway, it will find it has a difficult task ahead in proving that it is not part of the problem.
See full article at
for many charts and graphs included.
Committee on Climate Change confirm aviation CO2 must remain capped – putting new runway into question
On the eve of the Airports Commission’s runway recommendation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has told Government it has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions. The Government’s official advisory body on delivery of the UK’s Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’ to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand. The CCC says that given the anticipated growth in emissions from the sector, the DfT must set out how it will ensure that emissions from aviation are no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005 (37.5 Mt). The limited scope for improvements in aviation technology mean that demand growth must be kept to no more than 60% above its 2005 level. Current forecasts of air passenger growth with associated CO2 emissions exceed this level EVEN WITHOUT adding a new runway. With a new SE runway the growth in passenger demand – and thus CO2 emissions – would be even higher. Extensive analysis by the AEF has shown that a new runway would make the aviation emissions cap (37.5MtCO2 annually) impossible to achieve. Ruling out a new runway is the most obvious first step for the Government to take in response to the CCC’s advice. Adding a runway, and then having to deal with the extra carbon problem it has produced, is not an efficient way to deal with the issue.
Runway recommendation under threat by Climate Committee report: AEF comment
On the eve of the Airports Commission’s runway recommendation, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today told Government it has until 2016 to set out an effective plan for limiting aviation emissions. The Government’s official advisory body on delivery of the UK’s Climate Change Act used its 5th ‘Progress Report’  to Government to highlight the need for action on aviation, including constraints on demand.
Given the anticipated growth in emissions from the sector, the Department for Transport must set out how it will ensure that emissions from aviation are no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005 (37.5 Mt), the CCC states in its advice to ministers. The limited scope for improvements in aviation technology mean that demand growth must be limited to no more than 60% above its 2005 level. Current forecasts exceed this level even without adding new airport capacity and a new runway would increase passenger growth still further.
Cait Hewitt from Aviation Environment Federation, the leading UK environmental NGO campaigning on the environmental impacts of airports and flying, said:
“The CCC’s report highlights the need for Government intervention to manage aviation demand just at the time when a decision on new airport capacity is looming. Our work has shown, a new runway would make the aviation emissions cap impossible to achieve in the real world.
“Ruling out South East airport expansion is the most obvious first step for the Government to take in response to today’s advice from the CCC. At the very least it must postpone a decision on a new runway until after it has published an emissions action plan for aviation.”
While the CCC’s recommendations for limiting aviation emissions are not new, the specific requirement to set out a plan for achieving them will put new pressure on the Government as it considers the recommendation of the Airports Commission. Even with current runway capacity, emissions are currently forecast to overshoot the maximum level CCC say is permissible. A new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would significantly increase the scale of the challenge, as the Airports Commission’s own modelling has shown.
As set out in the report we published earlier this month, the only options for tackling CO2 from the sector if expansion was approved at either Heathrow or Gatwick would be draconian restrictions on regional airports or large increases in the cost of flying to manage demand. In reality, neither approach would be deliverable.
Notes to Editors
For more information contact the AEF office on 020 3102 1509.
The Aviation Environment Federation is the leading UK organisation campaigning exclusively on the environmental impacts of aviation. We represent community groups and individuals around many of the UK’s airports and airfields. Further information can be found on our website:www.aef.org.uk
 The Committee on Climate Change’s 5th Progress report is available here: http://www.theccc.org.uk/
 View our infographic demonstrating future emissions forecasts with expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick here:http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/03/
 Our report is available here: http://www.aef.org.uk/2015/06/
US airline industry lobby, A4A, hoping it will not need to make further CO2 savings – more NextGen instead
The trade lobbying group, Airlines for America (A4A), argues that the airline industry has already done its part to reduce CO2 emissions. It says it is now up to the US government to get improvements to the air traffic control system that could reduce airline fuel consumption, by cutting extra miles flown. Recently the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) released an “endangerment finding” that that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health. So A4A is pushing back, and saying that US airlines have “more than doubled fuel efficiency since 1978 [planes were very fuel inefficient then].” Leaving out the constantly rising numbers of flights and passengers, they hope to persuade government that there is no need to have any further regulations on their carbon emissions, or emissions standards for aircraft. While the industry hopes for 1.5% efficiency gains per year, this would be negated by its hopes of growing by 4% per year. There is the issue of whether the US and the EU might have different emissions standards, and how that affects trans-Atlantic flights. Airlines are thriving, the fuel price has fallen, and they are making profits. But the industry wants more flight path changes, to cut costs, through NextGen, which have proved so unpopular in subjecting communities to worse noise.
US airline industry, government at odds over emissions standards
By Danny King (Travel Weekly)
June 24, 2015
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves to catch up with overseas regulators by enacting emissions standards for the aviation industry, the largest U.S. airline trade group is pushing back.
The trade group, Airlines for America (A4A), argues that the industry has already done its part to reduce emissions and that it now is up to the government to address improvements to the air traffic control system that could further reduce airline fuel consumption.
Just weeks after the EPA reported that its early findings confirmed that aircraft carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming, A4A was gearing up for a lobbying effort that will highlight both the industry’s fuel-efficiency gains and the need for the federal government to update aircraft-control systems. A4A is pointing to data suggesting that U.S. carriers have more than doubled fuel efficiency since 1978 and that airlines account for 5% of the U.S. economy, but just 2% of the country’s emissions.
“The U.S. airlines carried 20% more passengers and cargo in 2014 than they did in 2000, while emitting 8% less carbon dioxide,” A4A spokesman Vaughn Jennings said. “Coupled with the long-term fuel efficiency improvements the U.S. airlines have accomplished [dating] back to the late 1970s, there is a real question as to whether any [greenhouse-gas] emissions regulation is needed.”
As it is, the EPA appears to be following up efforts by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which has been trying to address the issue of aircraft emissions for at least five years and is pushing for the global aircraft industry to boost fuel-efficiency by 1.5% a year through 2020. ICAO is working with the industry to develop aircraft emissions standards, which could be disclosed as soon as early next year.
One burning question for airlines is whether the EPA’s move toward emissions standards would end up creating a system in which different emissions mandates would apply to aircraft flying in Europe and those flying in North America. Similar conflicting standards already exist in the global automobile industry. And it’s not clear which standard would then apply for aircraft used for transatlantic flights.
In a June 10 statement, the EPA said it was pursuing policies “that are equitable across national boundaries,” but it did not explain what that meant or offer further detail. Meanwhile, Jennings said it was “critical” that international emissions standards be common.
Bob Offutt, senior technology analyst at Phocuswright, said that while it was unclear which standards would apply on transatlantic flights, he expected them to be similar, with the greatest potential for differences arising with when the emissions standards would be phased in.
Regardless, Offutt said the EPA’s timing is no accident. The concept of aircraft pollution and its potential impact on global weather patterns have been discussed in scientific journals since at least 9/11, when, in the days following those terrorist attacks, flights were grounded, offering a chance to test theories on the impact of aircraft emissions.
Even so, in the ensuing years as the aviation industry was riddled by lackluster customer demand and higher fuel costs, the EPA appears to have taken a hands-off approach to the issue of aircraft emissions and their potential impact on global warming.
What has changed in recent years is that fuel prices will have fallen 20% between 2013 and 2015, while worldwide passenger departures will increase 6.8% this year, to 3.53 billion, and air transport will boost passenger revenue by 4.3% this year, to $823 billion, according to IATA.
As a result, many U.S. airlines are reporting record profits. United reported net income of $1.13 billion last year, compared with a $723 million net loss in 2012, while American Airlines earned net income of $2.88 billion in 2014, compared with a $1.88 billion loss two years prior.
“The airlines had complained that they were struggling. This is old news, of course,” Offutt said. “The EPA may have been holding off for a while so that [the airlines] could be profitable. Now, the EPA is saying, ‘your turn.'”
Indeed, the EPA noted in its June 10 statement about addressing aircraft greenhouse-gas emissions that U.S. aircraft account for 29% of global aircraft emissions as well as about 11% of emissions from the domestic transportation sector.
“In 2009, EPA determined that GHG [grenhouse-gas] pollution from cars and light trucks threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects. The body of science on human-induced climate change has strengthened, supporting today’s proposed finding … that GHGs emitted from aircraft engines contribute to pollution that causes climate change endangering public health and welfare.”
While the airlines have not denied those assertions, A4A has already made it clear that the industry feels that a large part of solution to the emissions problem lies with the country’s outdated air traffic control system, which damages the industry’s efficiency. A replacement Gen-3 system has long been a political football in Congress. The airlines and A4A will likely use the EPA data in their push for the government to transition from an outdated radar-based infrastructure to a satellite-based GPS.
“While the A4A airlines are doing all that they can to promote efficiencies within the current air traffic management system, the limitations of that system account for over 10% of unnecessary fuel burn and resulting emissions,” Jennings said.
After EPA “endangerment finding” USA starting to take CO2 emissions from aviation seriously
The Obama administration has now released a scientific finding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health. This is called an “endangerment finding” and it paves the way for regulating CO2 emissions from the US aviation industry. It would allow the US to implement a global CO2 emissions standard for new aircraft, that is being developed by ICAO. However, the ICAO CO2 standard will only start in late 2016 and only apply to new plane designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world’s existing fleets unaffected for years to come. But James Lees, from AEF, writing in a blog, says this EPA move could mark a turning point in efforts to regulate CO2 emissions from aviation globally. While most sectors are expected to cut their emissions, the CO2 from aviation is expected to triple by 2050. Today’s airline fleet is more carbon efficient than it was in the early 1970s but efficiency improvements slowed down dramatically since 2000 – while passenger demand grows at 5.5% per year. It is hoped the UK, the EU and the US can now push for an effective global standard.
Andrew Simms: “Forget Heathrow and Gatwick expansion, the Davies report should tackle frequent flyers”
Forget Heathrow and Gatwick expansion, the Davies report should tackle frequent flyers
The Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, is set to publish its report on the next steps for aviation in Britain.
After years of consultation and industry lobbying, the commission will recommend where new airport capacity should be added. The only problem is that many feel it avoided the far more important questions: whether Britain needs any more runways at all and if a better approach would be to tackle the small numbers of very frequent flyers.
There’s an argument from some industry lobbies such as Runways UK that British business is suffering from an aviation capacity crisis. To profit from emerging markets like those in Asia, they say, more space is needed for flights in the south-east, most probably at Heathrow or Gatwick.
But, contrary to popular impressions, official figures point to the trend of a “general decline” in business flights, clearly visible in Office for National Statistics data, and acknowledged by the Airports Commission itself. Only about 11% of flights abroad are now accounted for by business travel.
What has happened, however, is a huge growth of short-haul leisure flights from Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, which has crowded out the potential for new business routes to emerging markets. But this aviation boom has little to do with the hyped democratisation of travel. It is benefiting a small minority and in curious ways.
Over half the UK population doesn’t fly even once a year. A very small minority flies three or more times per year, just 15% of UK residents, and that group accounts for seven out of 10 of all flights taken.
Analysis of data from the International Passenger Survey by Sean Geeling, a PhD student at the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University, reveals an even more interesting twist. The places in Britain which are home to the most frequent flyers are shown to be the City of London, the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, and Surrey. He found the most common destinations these UK residents are flying to are recognised tax havens.
UK regional airports have ample, spare capacity if additional business routes are needed. If government policy better supported Britain’s regional development with business incentives, their use might also balance out Britain’s south-east-heavy economic model. Reining in the flight – literal and financial – of the super wealthy could bring additional, unexpected bonuses.
But this, of course, assumes that business needs to fly more and would benefit from doing so. There are several reasons to believe this is not the case. Aviation is hugely subsidised and compared to other economic sectors enjoys multi-billion-pound tax breaks, from its fuel to its VAT-free tickets and duty-free emporia.
Should sustainability professionals fly less? Read more
Events that followed the eruption in 2010 of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull suggests there is more pain-free wriggle room to downwardly adapt than typically acknowledged. It pumped out a cloud full of fine silica particles, which are potentially lethal to jet engines, and like flicking a switch it brought airports across Europe to a standstill. The loss of the global economy’s airborne arteries could have been a death knell for business. But, the world didn’t end and people adapted astonishingly quickly in ways that had other environmental benefits.
There was an upward spike in the use of video-conferencing facilities saving business travellers time, money and fatigue. One major provider saw bookings go up by 38% in the UK, 12% across Europe and 9% in the US. “As one business contracts, another expands,” as BT’s advert said of its video conferencing. The co-operative retailer John Lewis reported that a big effort from “local hero” producers prevented any major interruption of supplies.
What’s more, stranded people turned to each other for help. The Swedish carpool movement spread its horizons, setting up a new Facebook group called Carpool Europe to share cars and rides. Twitter came into its own with hashtags like #putmeup and #getmehome. The Eurostar train service used spare capacity to carry 50,000 additional passengers over four days who would otherwise have flown. More ferries sailed and more coaches and trains ran in the UK, particularly on routes such as London to Scotland, where it had become more commonplace to fly.
Parcel-delivery services within Europe such as FedEx and UPS shifted from planes to trucks where possible. And Norway’s then prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, stranded in New York, used an i-Pad to keep running the Norwegian government.
With a strong economic and environmental case against expanding airport capacity, coupled with declining business demand, the argument is now being made to democratise flying and apply the polluter pays principle by introducing a frequent flyer levy.
The Airports Commission was scheduled to report after the general election for political reasons. In waiting so long they’ve fallen behind the debate and they are answering the wrong question. Instead of waving more planes into the air, they should keep more feet on the ground and work out how better to manage the skies.
Levy on frequent leisure flyers proposed to make airport expansion unnecessary
Plans for a “frequent flyer” tax to curb demand for leisure flights and make a new runway in south-east England unnecessary have been unveiled by an influential group of transport campaigners, environmentalists and tax experts. These include the Campaign for Better Transport, the New Economics Foundation, the Tax Justice Network, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among others. In a letter to the Observer – in order to remove the alleged “need” for a new south east runway – they put forward the concept of allowing each person one tax-free flight per year, but increasing the rate of tax for people who fly frequently. The levy would rise with each successive flight. This would mean that instead of APD (£13 per return flight to Europe) there would be a higher rate of tax for frequent fliers. Their analysis shows that 15% of the UK population take 70% of all the flights, while half of us don’t fly at all in any given year. Rather than a new runway being vital for business, the reality is that it would be used for the better off to take more leisure flights (holidays or visiting friends and family). The proposed levy would mean the number of flights would be cut to a level that would make a new runway unnecessary. The authors of the scheme have also shown that this change to the taxation of air travel would also ensure the UK could comply with its obligations under the Climate Change Act.