German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this.
Liese to block ETS aviation remedy
By Dave Keating
23.1.2014 (European Voice)
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, who is shaping legislation on the integration of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, will today (23 January) call on the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law unless member states start enforcing the existing law.
Liese will be backed at a press conference by environmental groups and the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which has complained that the EU’s “surrender” on the issue will hurt European airlines and benefit their competitors from outside the EU.
All planes landing or taking off at EU airports became subject to fees in the EU’s carbon market as of 1 January 2012. However, after howls of protest from Russia, China, India and the US, the Commission froze application of the charges for non-EU flights. That freeze is scheduled to end soon.
In response to what it says were positive developments toward developing a global mechanism to reduce aviation emissions last year, the Commission in October proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace.
In the meantime, EU regulators are not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese, who supports the Commission’s approach, is calling on the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges.
Liese will say that a vote scheduled for the environment committee on 30 January should go ahead, but that the plenary vote should not be scheduled until member states co-operate.
Because of the way France and Germany transposed the ETS directive, they only have the legal authority to punish non-compliant airlines for one year. This authority will expire on 1 May. The MEPs believe that the two countries are trying to run out the clock until then, and that after 1 May they will say their law simply doesn’t allow them to punish the foreign airlines. Sources say France currently has no intention of enforcing the directive, while Germany is pleading with the Chinese airlines to voluntarily comply.
MEPs believe they have leverage because member states need this rule to be in place before foreign airlines become liable at the end of the freeze on charges. On Tuesday the Parliament’s transport committee backed the member states, rejecting the Commission’s ‘airspace’ approach. However the environment committee has the lead on the file and is expected to side with the Commission.
The European Parliament proposes to assess all airlines for CO2 emissions while overflying 27 European Union members plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the North Sea and the Mediterranean – despite ICAO consensus to develop a global scheme by 2016.
Despite an apparent historic consensus at the ICAO Triennial Assembly in Montreal in early October to develop a global market-based mechanism for managing aircraft emissions, the European Commission (EC) has pressed ahead with plans to implement emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the meantime. The key difference lies in the fact that the new policy would apply only to fuel burned within European airspace, rather than cover full intercontinental flights to and from European cities.
But, crucially, it would still apply to non-EU airlines, provoking renewed resistance from the air transport industry, even though European officials always made clear their intention to take some form of limited unilateral action ahead of implementation of the envisioned worldwide system.
“It would take us back to the brink of a trade war, a situation the industry certainly would want to avoid,” warned Paul Steele, senior vice president of member and external relations for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), at a media event last month in Geneva, Switzerland.
The European Parliament must vote on the plan by April for airlines to meet emissions reporting requirements for applicable flights in 2013. Schedules call for a preliminary vote to move forward on January 30 in the parliament’s environment committee. Upcoming elections in late May for most of the parliament’s 766 members appear sure to complicate the political wrangling.
The new plan still requires all airlines that fly into or out of airports in the European Economic Area (EEA) to account for their carbon dioxide emissions and purchase carbon credits for any that are not covered by an allowance of free credits. TheEEA comprises the 27 members of the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Airlines would not have to report their emissions while flying over Switzerland, which is a member of neither the EU nor EEA.
More than a dozen other countries, known as “the coalition of the unwilling”—including the US, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia—opposed the original EU-ETS scheme on sovereignty grounds. The U.S. Congress passed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act 2011, barring U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the EU-ETS.
China used economic leverage, holding up a $12 billion order for Airbus aircraft. TheEU backed off, deferring in November 2012 to the forthcoming ICAO assembly and implementing a “stop the clock” policy that applied only to European airlines. The Chinese then allowed the order for Airbus A330s and A380s to proceed.
Plans for the EU to forge ahead on its own have drawn dissension within Europe. French, German and UK government leaders—three countries with huge stakes in Airbus—have publicly opposed the new EU emissions implementation.
Meanwhile, European low-fare carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair object to the prospect of EU-only fees diminishing their competitiveness against non-European airlines. European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) secretary general John Hanlon has called for reversion to an all-flights ETS as “the real way to remedy the reduction in environmental effectiveness, instead of the attempt to inflict further discriminatory and distortive penalties on those operators and their end-customers,EU citizens.”
Environmental groups consider the ICAO resolution, which calls a market-based mechanism plan by 2016 and implementation by 2020, a delaying tactic. Peter Liese, a spokeman for the European Parliament’s environmental committee, called the ICAO resolution “a very modest result.”
“We have no guarantee that a system will be introduced in 2020 and that the benefit for the environment is substantial,” he added. “There are too many ifs and buts. EU law has to be applied and we can’t give in to threats. We must not capitulate and be bullied by third countries.”
NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace
December 20, 2013
France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations. Click here to view full story…
Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France
December 5, 2013
The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal. Click here to view full story…
Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS
November 29, 2013 .The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later. ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly. Click here to view full story…
Count us out of carbon-neutral growth measures, China and other major emerging countries tell ICAO
November 4, 2013 At the ICAO Assembly last month, it was agreed it would work towards a global market based measure (MBM) for aviation emissions, by 2020 – itself a weak position taking too long to start to deal with the issue. GreenAir online reports that now China says the adoption of a carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020 without differentiated responsibilities would impede development of its international aviation activities. China and other emerging countries, with fast expanding aviation, say that though they may want goals to reduce international aviation emissions, it should be the responsibility of the developed countries to make the cuts. ie. this is further wrangling within the ICAO, which is why the organisation has failed over decades to get any agreement on practical action on aviation emissions. To add to the obstacles in getting progress on a MBM, the USA has objected to the de minimis provisions [ie. that the smallest countries, which contribute each below 1% of global aviation CO2 are excluded] in the Assembly climate resolution and the inclusion of the differentiated responsibilities principle. The deep divisions remain on this issue, between the developed and developing world. Click here to view full story…
In a blog for Business Green, James Murray writes on the important – and generally ignored – topic of human myopia when it comes to considering future generations, and what the impact of our current actions will be on them. Most climate models indicate that by 2100 the global temperature may be 4-6C higher than now. “But the world will not end in 2100. Unless we get a handle on climate change in the next few decades we risk bequeathing the next century environmental challenges so great they will make our current problems look like the Garden of Eden. ” “Projections for the 22nd Century based on business as normal emissions suggest that climate change and ocean acidification could leave generations just a few decades hence with a biosphere only science fiction directors would recognise. Does any of this matter? None of us will be around to see it and we all know that economists discount future generations.” Yes, it does matter. Taking a relaxed approach to climate change and arguing “something will turn up to address the problem” is not enough. We cannot blindly take the view that the current generation must take primacy.
The world does not end in 2100
Why is there so little engagement with the concept of historic legacy when it comes to climate change?
10 Jan 2014 (James Murray’s blog, at Business Green)
……. (first few paragraphs not copied here, as not directly relevant to climate ….)
The reason I’ve been thinking a lot about a lecture theatre from 10 years ago is that the past few months has seen the climate change debate informed by what I regard as a highly dubious fixation on short term concerns – and by short term I mean up to 2100.
A lot has been written in the past about the tactical and strategic lessons environmentalists can learn from successful campaigns for socio-economic transformation, such as emancipation, universal suffrage, and civil rights. But what these analyses often fail to emphasise is the way in which the success or failure of these campaigns is felt decades and centuries later.
Just to be absolutely clear I am categorically not arguing that there is an equivalence between the current carbon reliant economic system and the economic systems underpinned by slavery, sexual discrimination, or apartheid. Environmentalists can learn a lot from previous economic transitions and humanitarian campaigns, just as they can learn a lot from the industrial mobilisation achieved during the war years, but the parallels are not exact. Decarbonisation is not the same as ending slavery, just as it is not the same as mobilising for war, despite the tendency of some environmentalists to equate the green economy with these historic events.
However, there are similarities in the way that the implications of historic industrial, economic, legal, and political revolutions are measured using timescales that run into decades and centuries, not just the next quarter or the next political cycle.
When it comes to climate change, this historical perspective is hugely important and oft-ignored.
The vast majority of climate models run through to 2100 and warn that we face hugely damaging warming of between 4-6C unless urgent action is taken to curb global emissions with almost immediate effect. Throw in the “known unknowns” that could materialise in the form of runaway climate change trigger points and the last few decades of this century could end up looking extremely bleak. But the world will not end in 2100. Unless we get a handle on climate change in the next few decades we risk bequeathing the next century environmental challenges so great they will make our current problems look like the Garden of Eden. The relatively few projections that have been done for the 22nd Century based on business as normal emissions suggest that climate change and ocean acidification could leave generations just a few decades hence with a biosphere only science fiction directors would recognise.
Does any of this matter? None of us will be around to see it and we all know that economists discount future generations. Besides, some of the short term impacts of climate change may actually benefit us, as everyone’s favourite climate contrarians keep arguing.
Well, I’d argue it does matter. It really matters.
First, some of us will see it. As I’ve argued before, if I live as long as my eldest grandfather I will see the 2070s. A child born today, and you’ll probably each have your own young relative to think of here, has a good chance of seeing the turn of the century. The future is unknowable, but it is generationally true that many of the grandchildren of my coevals will be able to remember us in 2150. In this context, I’m not sure how much the precise year that we get an ice free Arctic Sea matters if scientific projections are right and it is a likely occurence at some point in the decades hence.
Writing about HS2 recently, Times columnist Matthew Parris expressed his bemusement of the attitude of those in late middle age who dismiss the project on the grounds that they will never be able to ride on it, as if there is no merit in infrastructure that will benefit future generations. As the famous Ancient Greek proverb goes: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never see”. Exactly the same argument stands as one of the primary reasons why urgent action to tackle climate change is not just economically sensible, but morally essential.
This is one of the main reasons I find those arguments that accept manmade climate change is happening, but insist we should relax because some climate impacts may benefit us, because we are uncertain about the precise nature of the impacts, or because a silver bullet technology will make it easier to combat in the future so flawed. Not only are they guilty of blatant cherry-picking from climate models to support their case, but they operate on the reckless assumption that in just a few decades time we will somehow solve this problem and we need not worry about it too much in the meantime.
We are being asked to play Russian Roulette and the point at which we get to pull the trigger isn’t even that far away. Even if the suggestion climate change benefits outweigh costs through to the 2060s is valid – and there are plenty of scientists and economists who argue that it is not in any way valid – many of us will still be alive in 2070. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I don’t really want to live through the results of an experiment on the biosphere during my last few years on this mortal coil.
Of course, advocates of this relaxed approach to climate change would argue that something will turn up to address the problem and in the meantime the current generation must take primacy and we must do all we can to help poor and vulnerable communities now, including by giving them access to low cost dirty power.
There is some genuine merit in this argument, but it rather ignores the fact many of these communities are already being impacted by climate change, they would prefer cost effective clean power (a reality in many parts of the world) over dirty power, and regardless of short term concerns absolutely no one will thank our generation if the worst case climate scenarios prove even halfway accurate. Moreover, simply hoping that the technology fairy will save us is the very height of recklessness when the stakes are so high.
Does this matter to businesses, particularly when they face such intense short term challenges? Well, it matters to those businesses that have been around for decades and want to be around in decades hence. There are many great corporate institutions that were founded during the last industrial revolution and want to prosper during the next industrial revolution. There are even some that played a role in either prolonging or challenging slavery, much as they may like to now forget that part of their history. Virtually all businesses will want to still be around in the 22nd century. Moreover, any political or business leader who puts any truck in the concept of legacy – and don’t they all? – must realise that where they stand on climate change has the potential to echo through the ages.
There are numerous short to medium term reasons why the world should mobilise urgently to build a low carbon economy. BusinessGreen reports on them every day and they include, but are not limited to, the need to minimise the climate impacts we will experience in the next few decades, the health benefits associated with cleaner air, water and soil, the economic benefits associated with resource efficiency, energy efficiency, and less volatile energy sources, the commercial gains that will come from new green technologies, and the humanitarian benefits that could be realised through a more sustainable agricultural system and better fisheries management.
But there is also a compelling long term reason for action that can best be articulated by a simple question: How do you want the students of the 2150s to remember us?
At the first Prime Ministers’ Questions of the New Year, David Cameron revealed that he “very much suspects” increased incidents of extreme weather are linked to climate change. In comments that may not please his climate sceptic Conservative colleagues, the Prime Minister acknowledged that climate change was likely to be contributing to an increase in extreme weather experienced by the UK and underlined his commitment to the Climate Change Act and the government’s Green Investment Bank. Responding to a question from Lib Dem President Tim Farron in which he asserted that there was “no doubt” climate change was having some impact on extreme weather and urged Cameron to commit to climate change targets, the Prime Minister stopped short of confirming that he would block any changes to the current fourth carbon budget when it is reviewed this year. But he insisted the government was “committed to carbon reduction targets” and had taken steps to ensure that they are met, such as the launch of the Green Investment Bank. Earlier the shadow Environment team implied that the Secretary of State Owen Patterson’s well-documented climate scepticism could undermine the UK’s ability to respond to worsening extreme weather impacts.
Cameron “suspects” extreme weather linked to climate change
Prime Minister commits Defra to report on whether UK flood preparedness is adequate in light of climate threat
By James Murray
8 Jan 2014 (Business Green)
The first Prime Ministers’ Questions of the New Year saw climate change back at the top of the political agenda, as David Cameron revealed that he “very much suspects” increased incidents of extreme weather are linked to climate change.
In comments that will anger some of his climate sceptic colleagues, the Prime Minister acknowledged that climate change was likely to be contributing to an increase in extreme weather experienced by the UK and underlined his commitment to the Climate Change Act and the government’s Green Investment Bank.
Responding to a question from Lib Dem President Tim Farron in which he asserted that there was “no doubt” climate change was having some impact on extreme weather and urged Cameron to commit to climate change targets, the Prime Minister stopped short of confirming that he would block any changes to the current fourth carbon budget when it is reviewed this year.
But he insisted the government was “committed to carbon reduction targets” and had taken steps to ensure that they are met, such as the launch of the Green Investment Bank.
The exchange came after Labour leader Ed Miliband challenged the Prime Minister to explain why it had taken longer than expected to restore power to some households affected by the recent flooding and asked him whether Defra would now report by the end of the month on the current level of flood preparedness.
Cameron confirmed that Defra would report again on the response to the floods and future flood plans, reiterating his argument that flood defence work had helped to protect around 800,000 homes last month and stressing that government and private sector money was being invested in flood protection.
Exchanges during PMQs were notably more civil than in recent months, however Cameron and Defra can expect to face tough questions over the government’s flood strategy in the coming weeks, with Labour and green groups arguing that government spending on flood management has fallen in real terms during this parliament.
It also echoes questioning of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson by Labour MPs this week, during which the shadow Environment team implied that the Secretary of State’s well-documented climate scepticism could undermine the UK’s ability to respond to worsening extreme weather impacts.
Most notably, critics have highlighted how the government’s new Flood Re insurance scheme fails to take account of future climate projections, meaning that thousands of at-risk households could end up uninsured.
Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said that Paterson now had “serious questions to answer” about Defra’s flood preparedness and climate adaptation strategy.
“With Owen Paterson in charge of defending the country from flooding, the government’s credibility is sinking fast,” he said. “The Environment Secretary says the government is spending more on flood defences, when in fact he’s presided over a real-terms cut and hundreds of Environment Agency jobs are under threat – his refusal to accept the science of climate change may be blinding him to the human costs of the consequences of this.”
Cameron ‘suspects’ floods linked to climate change
The floods affecting large parts of the country are probably connected to climate change, David Cameron has said.
The prime minister told MPs that there were more “abnormal” weather events occurring and he “suspected” they were linked to global temperature changes.
Several senior Conservatives, including former Chancellor Lord Lawson, are professed “climate change sceptics”.
Whatever the reason for the recent weather, Mr Cameron said it made sense to invest in the UK’s flood defences.
David Cameron says floods around the UK over the last few weeks are probably connected to climate change
The government has insisted it is spending more on flood defence than its predecessor but critics say budget cuts in recent year have affected planning, maintenance and the capacity to respond to incidents.
Shortly after taking office in 2010, Mr Cameron pledged to lead the “greenest government ever” but critics have accused ministers of rowing back on a range of commitments in the face of business and political concerns.
Some Tory MP and peers, Lord Lawson being the most prominent, have cast doubt on scientific theories on climate change which argue that human activity is predominately responsible for recent rises in global temperatures.
Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is”
Labour has suggested Mr Paterson, who became environment secretary in 2012, is sympathetic to their views and suggested this may have influenced decisions on flood budgets – claims described as “nonsense” by government sources.
Speaking on the BBC’s Any Questions programme in June, Mr Paterson said the climate had been “going up and down” for centuries and pointed out that the earth’s surface temperature “has not changed in the last 17 years”.
“The real question, that everyone is trying to address, is this influenced by man-made activity in recent years.”
“There is almost certainly bound to be some influence by man-made activity but we have just got to be rational and make sure the measures we take to counter it do not actually cause more damage,” he said.
Mr Cameron made the comments in response to a question from Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, who suggested the recent weather was a “destructive and inevitable consequence, at least in part, of climate change”.
Mr Cameron replied: “I agree with you that we are seeing more abnormal weather events. Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is.
“The point is that whatever one’s view it makes sense to invest in flood defences…It makes sense to get information out better and we should do all of those things.”
The prime minister said the coalition was committed to reducing carbon emissions and meeting its international targets.
“We worked with the last government to put the Carbon Act into place. It wouldn’t have happened without our support,” he added.
“We also have the Green Investment Bank up and running in Edinburgh and it’s going to be investing billions of pounds in important green projects.”
The world’s addiction to flying shows no signs of slowing, despite increasing concerns over the industry’s impact on climate change. New data from the Worldwatch Institute shows the number of people taking flights in 2012 hit 2,957 million, a 4.7% increase on 2011. That’s triple the number of people flying in 1986. Boeing predicts world passenger numbers and air cargo traffic will rise 5% annually until 2032. The“insatiable” desire for air travel is bad news for climate change, as growth in the sector is faster than fuel efficiency improvements – giving a large net increase in CO2 emissions each year. In 2012, aviation produced 689 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of the global total. A 2009 paper in the Atmospheric Environment journal calculated air travel was responsible for 4.9% of man-made climate change. As their affluence increases,people travel more and more. International flights are responsible for the majority of air miles travelled. In 2012, while only 39% of passengers were on international flights, they accounted for 62% of the overall distance travelled. The world’s aircraft fleet is expected to grow to 36,500 carriers by 2032, says Airbus, or to more than 41,000, says rival Boeing.
Aviation industry set to expand 5% per year
2 January 2014 (RTCC)
“Insatiable” desire for travel bad news for climate change, as aviation sector grows faster than fuel efficiency improvements
The world’s addiction to flying shows no signs of slowing, despite increasing concerns over the industry’s impact on climate change.
New data from the Worldwatch Institute reveals that the number of people taking flights in 2012 hit 2,957 million, a 4.7% increase on 2011.
That’s over nine times the population of the USA, and triple the number of people flying in 1986. Leading plane manufacturer Boeing predicts world passenger numbers and air cargo traffic will rise 5% annually until 2032.
In 2012, aviation produced 689 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of the global total. A 2009 paper in the Atmospheric Environment journal calculated was responsible for 4.9% of manmade climate change. ( link)
“The desire for travel is insatiable. We love to see foreign countries and if we can afford to do it we will,” Guy Turner, chief economist at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told RTCC.
“Air technology is improving so they’re getting quieter, more efficient, which is allowing people to travel more and more as their wealth increases.”
International flights are responsible for the majority of air miles travelled. In 2012, while only 39% of passengers were on board international flights, they accounted for 62% of the overall distance travelled because of the greater number of kilometres clocked up by each flight.
Air travel punches above its weight as far as environmental impact is concerned, since emitting CO2 high up in the atmosphere has a greater greenhouse impact than on the ground, yet policy attempts to control the industry are as slow as they are acrimonious.
Last year, attempts to regulate the industry through a carbon trading or offsetting scheme fell through at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) meeting in Montreal, and will not be discussed again until 2016.
This is in spite of warnings from scientists that a market-based mechanism is the most effective way to regulate the emissions from the industry.
Meanwhile, the expansion in unlikely to stop any time soon, with the world’s commercial aeroplane fleet expected to explode to 36,500 carriers by 2032, according to forecasts by aircraft manufacturer Airbus, or to more than 41,000 according to their rival Boeing.
The UK is currently debating a controversial extra runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick airport, three years after previous plans were shelved.
According to ICAO, this fleet has already risen by 33% since 2003, up to a total of 25,252 aircraft. The US dominates this market, with a total 6,000 in service, followed by China, which has just fewer than 2,000. Most of these planes are used to carry passengers.
The growth of the industry has only ever stalled on two occasions: the September 11 attack in 2001 and just after the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.
Efficiency not enough
The sector will continue to play a disproportionate role in the worsening climate crisis over coming years; Turner points out that improvements in the efficiency of airlines is not enough to combat the growth projected over the coming years
“Yes, aircraft are getting more efficient, but the increase in the demand for travel is growing faster than the improvements in efficiency of the aircraft. The net effect will be a gradual increase in emissions from aircraft,” he said.
“The only way the industry can achieve a stabilisation of emissions or even a reduction would be by offsetting emissions by paying for emission reductions elsewhere in the economy.”
Recent research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicated that the cost of the credits required to meet 50% of the aviation industry’s needs would cost less 0.5% of the industry’s total revenue.
But while economically achievable, co-author Turner added that offsetting enough emissions to achieve the aviation sector’s goal of carbon neutral growth by 2020 “is not trivial to implement”, and would require a gesture of political will from all the countries and airlines involved.
In 2012 the number of people traveling on airplanes reached 2,957 million, which was 4.7% more than the previous year.1 (See Figure 1.)
Although this figure includes a substantial number of people who travel multiple times during the year, it is equivalent to 42% of the world’s population.2
The number of passengers is up 95-fold from 31 million in 1950, when flying was a luxury few could afford, and it is triple the 960 million passengers in 1986, when air travel was already quite common.3
The average length of a flight doubled from 903 kilometers in 1950 to 1,816 kilometers in 2000, but it has not changed much since then and stood at 1,827 kilometers in 2012.4
Longer flights and expanding passenger numbers generated a strong expansion of total passenger kilometers (pkm) traveled— up 193-fold from the 28 billion pkm in 1950 to 5.4 trillion pkm in 2012.5 (See Figure 2.)
The only pauses in an otherwise inexorable expansion came in 2001–02 (following the September 11 attacks in the United States) and in 2008–09 (after the start of the world financial and economic crisis).6
Like passenger air travel, air freight transport has expanded strongly. In 2012, some 49.2 million tons of goods were transported by plane worldwide.7 Even though this is down 1% from 2011, it is 71% more than in 2001.8
For full access to the complete trend and its associated charts, log in to Vital Signs or:
Connie writes that one of the major dilemmas facing political leaders across the world today is how to combine economic prosperity with bold climate action. It is obvious that climate policy-makers must anticipate the economic impacts of climate policies. Anything else would be irresponsible. Everybody agrees to this elementary reasoning. But, she says, how come it is not equally elementary to all that economic policy-makers must anticipate the climate impacts of their proposed economic policies? Global economic leaders are finally beginning to understand that, beyond the global economic crisis, the world is experiencing a climate crisis. And none can be resolved without addressing the other. In January the European Commission will propose a new climate and energy framework for 2030. Europe’s ambition will be seen by many countries as a benchmark, both in terms of timing and ambition, and an important driver in securing ambition for the domestic preparations of other countries and, as a result, for the 2015 agreement in Paris. The summit of world leaders on climate change that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host in September 2014 will be a crucial milestone on the road to Paris.
Why bold climate action is in Europe’s economic interest
6.1.2014 (European Commission)
One of the major dilemmas facing political leaders across the world today is how to combine economic prosperity with bold climate action.
It is obvious that climate policy-makers must anticipate the economic impacts of climate policies. Anything else would be irresponsible. Everybody agrees to this elementary reasoning.
But how come it is not equally elementary to all that economic policy-makers must anticipate the climate impacts of their proposed economic policies?
However, when World Bank President Jim Yong Kim calls climate change a fundamental threat to economic development, IMF’s chief Christine Lagarde says it is by far the greatest economic challenge of this century, and OECD’s chief Angel Gurria says we face a choice “between stranded assets and a stranded planet”, you know that climate change is moving towards the centre of the debate on economic policy.
Global economic leaders are finally beginning to understand that, beyond the global economic crisis, the world is experiencing a climate crisis. And none can be resolved without addressing the other.
With Europe’s economy growing more slowly than those of its major competitors, its leaders must take a more far-sighted approach to restoring – and preserving – its growth potential. This is why in January the European Commission will propose a new climate and energy framework for 2030. Of course a framework that does not run counter to Europe’s economic interests.
Just take our energy bill as an example. For years, imports of fossil fuels have weighed in negatively on the European balance of trade. In 2012 alone, Europe’s imports of oil, coal, and gas, amounted to EUR 545.9 billion, a figure equivalent to the combined GDP of Finland, Hungary, Portugal and Slovakia, or more than five times the aggregate EU trade deficit the same year. Would it not be wise – also economically – to bring down those sorts of bills by saving and producing energy here in Europe?
Furthermore, with record-high unemployment rates, Europe needs jobs in dynamic, competitive industries that cannot easily be outsourced. Currently over 3.5 million people work in the green sector in Europe. Between 1999 and 2008, Europe’s green sector created 180,000 jobs per year. And most of these jobs were retained – and many more created – during the worst years of the economic crisis.
Europe’s competitive edge lies in innovation, technology and increased energy and resource efficiency. And taking climate action yield most of these important economic benefits. But still, some businesses and politicians fret over the risk of climate policies driving away energy intensive businesses.
Carbon leakage is an important risk but it shouldn’t be exaggerated. In designing climate policies, we have identified the key sectors that are genuinely at risk of carbon leakage and then developed targeted remedial policies. That is of course the sensible thing to do.
With the current safeguards in place, recent independent studies show that Europe is actually guarding well its industries against carbon leakage.
So maybe we should be a bit more concerned about the risk of low-carbon leakage. Without ambitions climate polices, Europe will fail to attract investments in rapidly innovating economic sectors and the high-quality jobs we so badly need. Europe is leading the low-carbon technology race, but other international players are catching up fast. Renewed climate ambition is required to maintain Europe’s advantage in rapidly growing low-carbon markets.
Europe is by far the largest importer of fossil fuel in the world. And as growth in oil production slows and global demand continues to rise, sustained high oil prices and price spikes will have a significant impact on the European economy.
But the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that Europe does have options: we can build an economy that is less dependent on imported energy through increased efficiency and greater reliance on domestically produced clean energy.
Of course, Europe cannot resolve the climate problem alone. We must continue to demand action from the other major economies. Last month, the UN climate conference in Warsaw agreed that all countries, developing and developed, must contribute to the new climate deal to be struck in Paris in 2015, and that all countries should now go home and do their homework, that is, preparing their emission reduction plans well in advance of Paris.
This is what Europe is now busy doing. Europe’s ambition will be seen by many countries as a benchmark, both in terms of timing and ambition, and an important driver in securing ambition for the domestic preparations of other countries and, as a result, for the 2015 agreement.
And with political progress edging forward, the summit of world leaders on climate change that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host in September 2014 will be a crucial milestone on the road to Paris.
Business as usual is not an option if the economic recovery is to be sustained. Many economic leaders get that already. They understand that there is not a choice to make between good economics and climate protection, but that climate action is indeed good economics. European leaders must take bold climate action for their own economy’s prospects for a sustainable economic recovery.
Connie Hedegaard: “Europe is taking responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until global action begins”
The European Commission today proposed amending the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) so that aviation emissions would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace.
The adjustment in the legislation would apply from 1 January 2014 and until a global market-based mechanism (MBM) becomes applicable to international aviation emissions by 2020, as planned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Connie Hedegaard said: “In the light of the recent progress made at ICAO, not least thanks to Europe’s hard work and determination, the European Commission today has proposed to adjust the EU ETS so that emissions from the aviation sector would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace. The European Union has reduced greenhouse gas emissions considerably, and all the economic sectors are contributing to these efforts. The aviation sector also has to contribute, as aviation emission are increasing fast – doubling since 1990.”
She added: “I am confident that the European Parliament and the Council will move swiftly and approve this proposal without delay. With this proposal, Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins.”
Writing in the Observer, Andrew Simms (fellow at the NEF and author of the book, “Cancel the Apocalypse”) says that the UK needs to learn to live within the biosphere’s thresholds, its ability to absorb our waste and replenish its productivity. We are not doing this at present, and act as if there were infinite resources available and the planet has infinite capacity to deal with our wastes. He says Britain’s economy is in the grip of an Icarus complex. ” It touches everything from, appropriately, the debate on aviation expansion, to our increasing dependence on fossil fuels and more.” By operating within the biosphere’s thresholds, “this introduces an urgent and immediate decision tree. If something like a new airport runway, or expansion of fossil fuel extraction, is going to take you closer to, or further beyond, one of the biosphere’s tolerance thresholds – such as potentially runaway climate change – you branch off and do something else …. that would mean no enlargement of Heathrow, or having to identify compensatory carbon savings elsewhere. The latter is not as easy as it sounds as some official projections for expansion lead to the aviation industry using up the UK’s entire fair global share of safe carbon emissions before too long.”
The only sober way to run Britain’s economy is to learn our limits
The UK’s economy has an Icarus complex: but with finite resources available, we must stop flying too close to the sun
Limits govern everything – from the speed of light to our ability to absorb oxygen or withstand heat. The art of operating within the tolerance thresholds of the material world is what keeps roofs above our heads and bridges standing.
Yet, we blithely disregard this at the level of the whole economy. When Daedalus, the Athenian master craftsman, flew, it was a triumph of intelligently crafted ambition. The fall of Icarus, his son, when he failed to respect the heat tolerances of the wax and feathers keeping him aloft, is a lasting monument to fatal disregard of material boundaries.
Britain’s economy is in the grip of an Icarus complex. It touches everything from, appropriately, the debate on aviation expansion, to our increasing dependence on fossil fuels and the historically unprecedented scale and speed of tropical deforestation driven by over-consumption.
At the micro level, engineers learn to work within the thresholds of the material world, but at the macro level economists do not. Their models allow them to externalise the cost of failure. However – as with pyramid-selling schemes – this only delays and makes larger a later, system-wide collapse. The macroeconomics practised by government remains clueless with regard to any theory of optimal scale. Yet, as finance and the sub-prime mortgage market discovered, bigger often doesn’t equal better.
A straightforward proposal logically follows: the economy should operate within the biosphere’s thresholds, its ability to absorb our waste and replenish its productivity. Good estimates are available for what this means in terms of most of our planetary boundaries, from the climate to forests, farming and fisheries.
Once this simple principle is adopted, it introduces an urgent and immediate decision tree. If something like a new airport runway, or expansion of fossil fuel extraction, is going to take you closer to, or further beyond, one of the biosphere’s tolerance thresholds – such as potentially runaway climate change – you branch off and do something else. In a world of rational policy debate that would mean no enlargement of Heathrow, or having to identify compensatory carbon savings elsewhere. The latter is not as easy as it sounds as some official projections for expansion lead to the aviation industry using up the UK’s entire fair global share of safe carbon emissions before too long.
All the tax breaks and subsidies given for gas fracking or offshore oil would be redirected to beneficial alternatives.
If you reject the notion of living within our environmental means and the immediate choices it implies, what is the logical counter-proposal: that we consume and produce waste beyond the biosphere’s ability to absorb and replenish? Such an approach relies upon magical thinking. Yet this is the proposition on which every major economy operates, because none seeks scientifically to identify and operate within the best estimate of its limits.
A peculiar self-absorption allows us to think we can exist separately to the laws that govern the physical world. In its survey of economists for 2014, the Financial Times asked a question about the likely “sustainability” of the UK economy in the year ahead. In it the meaning of sustainability was completely drained of any sense of the environment. It referred only to whether “recovery” – growth in consumption – would continue.
Strangely, the economics of austerity is held up with constant reference to more ideological, self-imposed limits: limits to what we can expect from health, education and other public services, of the pay we can expect or the age at which we can receive a pension. Expectations and ambitions for what the public sphere can achieve are constantly restrained. The only area which knows no bounds in policy terms is the assumption of unlimited consumption growth from finite ecosystems.
There’s an unspoken judgment that to acknowledge limits is defeatist, rather than a mature recognition of basic operating conditions. But, as any architect or civil engineer will tell you, the art, precisely, is in discovering what can be achieved creatively given the tolerance of your materials. Working with physical, material limits doesn’t block creativity, it sets it free – think of the sound unleashed from wood and gut crafted into a violin, the sight lines of a Frank Gehry building or a statue in stone by Michelangelo, Moore or Hepworth. Push, yes, but don’t break.
Concern for the environment doesn’t mean a hair-shirt rejection of the material world. On the contrary, it calls for a healthy relationship with it, based on more respect, knowledge, creativity and care. Yes, it rejects wasteful, debt-fuelled, passive consumerism and calls instead, for a more engaged, hands-on “new materialism”.
A green economy does this by insisting on quality over quantity, repairability over disposability and by treating people as intelligent agents, capable of learning about, using, maintaining and remaking material objects that endure. In an economy that recognises and revels in the real world, and more active, creative production, there is far more potential for novelty and pleasure.
The popular retelling of the Icarus myth tends to overlook the achievement of Daedalus, who not only flew but landed safely because he understood limits. Take flight, says the moral of the story – soar – but find a way to do so that doesn’t melt your wax.
nef is the UK’s leading think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice. Our purpose is to bring about a Great Transition – to transform the economy so that it works for people and the planet.
The UK and most of the world’s economies are increasingly unsustainable, unfair and unstable. It is not even making us any happier – many of the richest countries in the world do not have the highest well-being.
Daedalus was shut up in a tower to prevent his knowledge of his Labyrinth from spreading to the public. He could not leave Crete by sea, as the king kept strict watch on all vessels, permitting none to sail without being carefully searched.
Since Minos controlled the land and sea routes, Daedalus set to work to fabricate wings for himself and his young son Icarus. He tied feathers together, from smallest to largest so as to form an increasing surface. He secured the feathers at their midpoints with string and at their bases with wax, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of a bird.
When the work was done, the artist, waving his wings, found himself buoyed upward and hung suspended, poising himself on the beaten air. He next equipped his son in the same manner, and taught him how to fly. When both were prepared for flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high, because the heat of the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, because the sea foam would soak the feathers.
They had passed Samos, Delos and Lebynthos by the time the boy, forgetting himself, began to soar upward toward the sun. The blazing sun softened the wax which held the feathers together and they came off. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned. His father cried, bitterly lamenting his own arts, and called the land near the place where Icarus fell into the ocean Icaria in memory of his child.
The Scottish Government has saved more than £500,000 and shrunk its carbon footprint through cutting back on business flights. Their figures show that in the past 5 years, the Scottish government has reeduced yearly flights from 11,169 to 8,036. That is reported to mean a cut of 650 tonnes of CO2. The cuts have means an annual saving of some 31%, from £1.85 million to £1.27m. The total distance flown dropped by 23%, from nearly 8 million kilometres to 6 million kilometres. The reductions are due to the government taking part in the WWF “One in Five Challenge” to cut one flight in every five, in 5 years. The Scotland government is the first administration in the UK to successfully fulfil the WWF’s challenge. WWF Scotland said: “By successfully completing WWF’s One in Five Challenge, the Scottish Government has clearly demonstrated that many business flights are unnecessary and can easily be replaced with lower-carbon alternatives such as rail travel or video conferencing.” Much time is saved by public servants if they can use video-conferencing instead of flying, and that saves money. Time spent travelling by train, not air, is generally useful time in which work can be done. Scotland is aiming to cut its CO2 emissions by 42% by 2020.
Scottish Government praised after slashing flights
by ILONA AMOS
2.1.2014 (Scotland on Sunday)
THE Scottish Government has saved more than half a million pounds and shrunk its carbon footprint through cutting back on business flights.
New figures released today show that in the past five years, the government has slashed its carbon dioxide emissions by reducing yearly flights from 11,169 to 8,036 and cutting the distances flown by nearly two million kilometres.
This resulted in a reduction in emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases of 650 tonnes.
Cutting back on flights also brought about a drop in the annual spend on airline tickets from £1.85 million to £1.27m, a saving of 31 per cent. The total distance flown dropped by 23 per cent, from nearly eight million kilometres to six million kilometres.
Climate campaigners praised the efforts made by Scottish ministers and their staff, who made the cuts as part of an awards scheme run by environmental group WWF.
Scotland’s government is the first administration in the UK to successfully fulfil the “One in Five Challenge”, which requires members to cut business flights by 20 per cent within five years.
“Scottish ministers and their staff are to be congratulated for cutting their flights and carbon emissions by over a fifth,” said Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland.
“By successfully completing WWF’s One in Five Challenge, the Scottish Government has clearly demonstrated that many business flights are unnecessary and can easily be replaced with lower-carbon alternatives such as rail travel or video conferencing.
“Flying is the most polluting form of transport, as well as being a costly waste of time for our public servants. Using video-conferencing or taking the train turns wasted time into useful time and could save millions of pounds in these times of tight public finances.”
Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Government has worked hard to reduce flights for business travel, achieving a 28 per cent cut since 2007. This is an important part of our overall environmental strategy to reduce our carbon footprint, and we have met the target by increasing the use of video and web-conferencing facilities for meetings and encouraging greater use of more sustainable travel options.”
A 2010 report for WWF estimated that the UK government and devolved administrations could save more than £100m and 59,000 tonnes of CO2 if they eliminated unnecessary journeys by air. Entitled Excess Baggage, the study showed 90 per cent of flights taken by government ministers and officials over the previous three years were within the UK.
The most common domestic routes were London to Edinburgh and London to Belfast, while the top short-haul overseas trips were to Brussels, Geneva, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.
Scotland’s climate targets are some of the most ambitious in the world, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by the end of the decade.
In August 2010 a spokesman for the Scottish government said, when they joined the WWF 1 in 5 Challenge:
Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport and Climate Change with the Scottish Government said:
“The Scottish Government is proud to be the first Government organisation to sign up to WWF’s One in Five Challenge. Since setting our world-leading emissions reductions target of 42 per cent in our Act last year, Scotland has continued to set the pace on action on climate change.
“As an organisation, we are taking action to ensure that, where business journeys are necessary, we travel sustainably. We flew half a million miles less in 2008/09 and have delivered a considerable reduction in our air travel costs. This dropped by 24 per cent from July to December 2009, compared to the previous six months. And we already have a carbon emissions levy in place so that whenever a Minister or staff member travels by air, we pay a carbon levy per journey to offset the carbon emissions. We are also making increasing use of video conferencing facilities, when appropriate, instead of travelling to meetings in the UK.”
Scottish Government squanders £8 million on record number of luxury and short-haul flights
by Declan Pang (Burning Our Money)
Since May 2007, the Scottish Government has spent more than £8 million on a record numbers of flights – an average of 25 flights for every working day since taking office. Earlier this year, nearly £50,000 was spent on a 4-day trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco where Alex Salmond attended the US premiere of the animated fantasy film Brave, which is set in the Highlands of Scotland.
In the last five years, Ministers and officials have travelled on more than 32,000 flights, over 4,000 of them on business and first class journeys, to destinations all over the world.
One ticket to the US cost £7,000, while more than £20,000 was frittered away on five luxury business class tickets for staff to travel to locations like Doha and Abu Dhabi.
The figures, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, also reveal that several Scottish ministers have spent thousands of pounds on short flights between London and Edinburgh, despite pledging to cut costs and carbon emissions from flights.
Our previous research shows that it is not just Scottish politicians and bureaucrats who like the jet-set lifestyle. Just last week we revealed that nearly £500,000 was spent on flights by councils in the North East over the last three years. TPA activists in Hampshire also uncovered £135,000 worth of flights spending over two years. We also found thatcouncils in the Midlands (excluding Birmingham) spent £275,000 on flights over the same period.
All of those flights can be viewed on this interactive map.
With modern communications and technology, many long distance journeys are now increasingly unnecessary. Public sector bodies are having to make savings so they should be working a lot harder to cut their travel costs.
Alex Salmond’s entourage spends £48,000 to attend “Brave” premier in California
Scottish ministers and their cilvil servants have spent more than £8 million of taxpayers’ money on a record number of flights, new figures reveal.
By Simon Johnson, Scottish political editor (Telegraph)
20 Aug 2012
Scottish ministers and their civil servants have spent more than £8 million taking a record number of flights including nearly £50,000 so Alex Salmond could attend a US movie premiere.
New figures revealed £8.4 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on 32,000 flights for officials since the SNP took power five years ago – an average of 25 per working day.
This includes more than 4,000 business-class and first-class journeys all over the world, with one luxury return ticket to the US costing more than £7,000.
Flights for civil servants accompanying the First Minister on a four-day trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco earlier this year cost £48,000.
His most high-profile engagement was attending the California premiere of the new Disney / Pixar movie Brave. Robbie Coltrane, one of the stars, has accused the Scottish Government of trying to “hijack” the film to promote independence.
In addition ministers, including Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, have spent up to £564 per return flight between Edinburgh and London.
The figures, released under freedom of information legislation, also revealed thousands of flights between the Scottish and English capitals. This is despite ministers urging people to reduce the number of short-haul trips.
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green Party co-leader, said: “SNP ministers like to lecture people about the need to be green but they fail to put their money where their mouth is.
“It’s time they were brought down to earth and had to make do like the rest of us. When parliament debates the Budget later this year, we should place a cap on their travel costs.”
Among the other flight costs listed are £5,500 for a civil servant to travel to Chicago and back and more than £20,000 on five business class tickets for officials to go to Doha and Abu Dhabi.
Miss Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, charged the taxpayer £564.25 for a return flight from Edinburgh to London in February this year.
Alex Neil, the Scottish Infrastructure Minister, made the same trip for £534.93 in April and Mr Salmond charged taxpayers £462.25 when he flew to London the same month.
He even used a speech on his trip to boast about Scotland’s green energy potential. Return flights between Edinburgh and London can be bought for less than £100 on budget airlines.
A Scottish Government spokesman said they have cut the cost of air travel for official business by 44 per cent since 2006-7.
“Foreign travel is tightly controlled and business class only approved for long flights where it is necessary to deal with official business immediately upon landing,” he added.
Helping companies fly less – good for business, good for the planet
WWF’s One in Five Challenge helps companies and government cut their costs as well as their carbon emissions from business travel.
Participants commit to cut 20% of their business flights within five years.
The Challenge is a guided programme and award scheme which suggests practical ways to cut flying and use lower-carbon ways of staying connected.
The latest three-year results are impressive: members have, on average, cut their flights by 38%, saving £2 million and 3,000 tonnes of Co2.
The Third Annual Report for the ‘One in Five Challenge’ is being published online 23 January 2014. The Challenge Toolkit, showing how successful organisations have achieved the Challenge, will also be published on this date.
One in Five Challenge Members
The following companies & organisations have been members of WWF’s One in Five Challenge:
Balfour Beatty, BSkyB, BT, Capgemini, Lloyds TSB, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft UK, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Government, Skanska, Vodafone UK and WWF-UK.
The following members have achieved the One in Five Challenge Award:
Rewarding positive changes
Financial pressures and carbon reduction targets are already forcing many companies to cut their business travel. But to continue making these cost and carbon savings, companies will need to reduce their reliance on business flying.
They can do this by increasing the use of audio, web and videoconferencing. And rail travel offers a lower carbon alternative to flying. These lower-carbon ways of staying connected improve the productivity and well-being of staff.
Companies that successfully meet the Challenge receive a specially-designed Panda logo and WWF’s public recognition. There are also opportunities to share a public platform with WWF to demonstrate the benefits of flying less.
The business case for flying less:
Financial savings from avoided flights and accommodation
Lower emissions to meet carbon reduction targets
Increased productivity due to more time in the office
Better global collaboration and faster decision making
Better work–life balance for staff, which can boost staff retention
Improved ability to operate in a carbon-constrained future
Membership of the One in Five Challenge entitles you to:
A toolkit to help you develop and implement a greener travel policy
An online system to report and submit data for the Challenge
Consultancy support from travel planning experts to meet the Challenge
Annual reports to record progress
One in Five Challenge branding to communicate your participation and success
Ideas for improved engagement and buy-in from staff
An annual workshop and a quarterly e-newsletter
Audited data you can report to government and investors
Chris Huhne, writing in the Observer, says the poorer countries, that have been adversely affected by climate change, have an increasingly strong legal argument against the rich countries that have been the historical main emitters. The more certain is the attribution for blame, the more justified many developing countries will feel in protesting. There is the possibility that the victims of climate change could begin to take international legal action against the countries responsible, particularly the early industrialisers, such as Britain, Belgium and Germany, whose carbon continues to warm the planet a century after it was emitted. “Legal action is not a substitute for politics, but it could highlight the evidence in an uncomfortable way.” Philippe Sands QC, the UCL professor of international law, said: “There will definitely be a case in my lifetime and probably within five to 10 years …. The only questions now are where, how and to what purpose.” Huhne says: “It is not a defence that we did not know what we were doing, nor does a case have to target everyone who might have historic responsibility: countries are jointly and severally liable.”
It won’t be long before the victims of climate change make the west pay
The scientific case is strengthening: developed countries are to blame for global warming – and there will soon be a legal reckoning
‘Legal action is not a substitute for politics, but it could highlight the evidence in an uncomfortable way.’ Illustration by Andrzej Krauze
Would you enjoy the cosiness and warmth of Christmas with your children or grandchildren just that little bit less if you knew that other people’s children were dying because of it? More than four million children under five years old are now at risk of acute malnutrition in the Sahel, an area of the world that is one of the clearest victims of the rich world’s addiction to fossil fuels.
About 18 million people in the Sahel – the vulnerable pan-African strip of land that runs from Senegal to Sudan along the southern edge of the Sahara – faced famine last year. Life has never been easy there. Its land is poor. Its people are often semi-nomadic, moving their animals between the grasslands. But science is increasingly pointing a hard finger at those to blame for the persistence of Sahelian drought – and it is us.
This is an ineluctable consequence of improving the computer models of climate change. Of course, there are still large uncertainties. But what has long persuaded me of the strength of the scientific case for human-induced climate change is that climate-sceptic scientists have not managed to build a model that explains global warming without human-induced effects. The human hand is indispensable in understanding what has happened.
There are legitimate doubts about the scale of the impact, and about other offsetting factors that may reduce human-induced global warming. But what should be a wake-up call is science’s growing ability to highlight the blame for particular extreme events, and not just in the Sahel.
For instance, a recent paper by Fraser C Lott and colleagues examined the increased probability that the 2011 East African drought in Somalia and Kenya can be attributed to human-induced climate change. Pardeep Pal and others investigated the impact of climate change on the £1.3bn insured losses from the flooding in the UK in 2000. Peter A Stott and others looked at the hot European summer of 2003, and its heatwave-related deaths.
Richard Washington, the professor of climate science at Oxford, rightly highlights the importance of this scientific work for its ability to change the global political and legal game. We saw how high feelings run with the walk-out by 132 developing countries at the Warsaw climate-change talks last month when the new Australian government tried to block all talk of loss and compensation until after 2015.
The more certain is the attribution for blame, the more justified many developing countries will feel in protesting about the impact of rising sea levels on small island states such as the Maldives and Fiji or low-lying delta cultures such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. Moreover, fair-minded democracies will find the call for compensation hard to resist at home.
The science also opens up the possibility that the victims of climate change could begin to take international legal action against the countries responsible, particularly the early industrialisers, such as Britain, Belgium and Germany, whose carbon continues to warm the planet a century after it was emitted. Legal action is not a substitute for politics, but it could highlight the evidence in an uncomfortable way.
This year a group of small island states threatened by rising sea levels, led by Palau, came close to asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the responsibility of historic emitters for global warming. The main reason they did not press ahead then was that the scientific case is strengthening by the month. A later case will be even stronger.
“There will definitely be a case in my lifetime and probably within five to 10 years,” says Philippe Sands QC, the UCL professor of international law, who has advised many endangered nations, including Bangladesh. “It is going to happen. The only questions now are where, how and to what purpose.”
The UN framework may not be ideal, precisely because it is dominated by the historic five powers, all of whom have their own interests. But the Hamburg-basedInternational Tribunal for the Law of the Sea may be a forum that would hear the matter.
It is not a defence that we did not know what we were doing, nor does a case have to target everyone who might have historic responsibility: countries are jointly and severally liable, which may help to deal with the problem that the United States is often not a signatory and hence denies international jurisdiction.
Paradoxically, one of the strongest cards that the historic emitters can play is to highlight the international effort to tackle climate change. Legally, they can argue that the global process under way since 1992 through the Kyoto Protocol and the countless meetings of the “convention of the parties”, is itself a response to the need for action, and displaces the need for lawsuits.
But that implies that the global political process must hold out – as it can and should – a real possibility of delivering change. If it fails, the historic emitters may want to consider some of the consequences, not least of which is the possibility that embarrassing legal cases will display the increasingly strong scientific evidence about who is to blame.
Philippe Sands joined the Faculty in January 2002. He is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals in the Faculty, and a key member of staff in the Centre for Law and the Environment. His teaching areas include public international law, the settlement of international disputes (including arbitration), and environmental and natural resources law.
Philippe is a regular commentator on the BBC and CNN and writes frequently for leading newspapers. He is frequently invited to lecture around the world, and in recent years has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto (2005), the University of Melbourne (2005) and the Universite de Paris I (Sorbonne) (2006, 2007). He has previously held academic positions at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Kings College London and , University of Cambridge and was a Global Professor of Law at New York University from 1995-2003. He was co-founder of FIELD (Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development), and established the programmes on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. He is a member of the Advisory Boards of the European Journal of International Law and Review of European Community and International Environmental Law (Blackwell Press). In 2007 he served as a judge for the Guardian First Book Prize award.
As a practicing barrister he has extensive experience litigating cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, and the European Court of Justice. He frequently advises governments, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector on aspects of international law. In 2003 he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel. He has been appointed to lists of arbitrators maintained by ICSID and the PCA.
Philippe Sands, QC (born 17 October 1960) is a British lawyer at Matrix Chambers, and is Professor of International law at University College London. Sands is notable for writing Lawless World (2006), in which he accused US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of conspiring to invade Iraq in violation of international law. His next book, Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values (2008), dealt with the decisions by top US policymakers to use torture in interrogation of suspects in the war on terror. He also was the first to refer to the Bush-Blair memo that contained the claim that Bush wanted to lure Saddam Hussein’s forces to shoot down a UN plane.The Guardian reported Sands’s claims about the memo, which stated that Bush had proposed trying to provoke the Iraqis to fire on fighter planes in United Nations colours.
The Philippines’s Typhoon Haiyan and its appalling death toll is a terrible example of the increasing force of extreme weather events. Will it shatter complacency about climate change, and electrify the laborious UN ministerial negotiations that are taking place in Warsaw? Do not bank on it, but do not despair either.
Hurricane Katrina came and went in 2005, and Gallup found that Americans worried about climate change jumped from 51% to 62%. Since then, recession focused people on survival, and climate worries receded. In Maslow’s hierarchy, basic needs always trump the far-off threat. With recovery and Hurricane Sandy, American public concern is rising again, and it’s now at 58%.
Our own flash floods in the summer of 2007 cost £3.2bn – part of a pattern of rising storm damage – but the impact was soon eclipsed by the Climategate email scandal casting misplaced doubt on the science, and then by the recession. Public opinion has only just begun to turn around again, with YouGov finding a rising 56% believing in man-made climate change.
If you were told that your house was virtually certain to burn down, you would think that an insurance premium costing 2% of your income in 2050 – Lord Stern’s economic estimate of the cost of sorting carbon emissions – looked like a steal.
The reason is the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic. If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled, and the pause disappears. The trend of the last decade looks exactly the same as the trend since the 1950s.
The problem is simple. If we are to hold the rise in global temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial levels – the point at which global damage becomes potentially catastrophic – we have to stop increasing our carbon emissions by the end of this decade, and then reduce them. This is still possible, despite the backsliding on the Kyoto protocol begun by the Canadians.
The Japanese, never keen on Kyoto, have announced they are reducing their carbon target due to a phasing out of low-carbon nuclear in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. They have been followed by the new rightwing Australian government, dumping the Labor coalition’s flagship carbon tax. Both moves are causing understandable bad feeling among developing countries in Warsaw, but they are not yet fatal. Other countries are ramping up: the new German coalition, for instance, is likely to aim for 40% cuts in carbon emissions by 2030.
Targets are important, and so is the international agreement now promised for the Paris annual meeting in 2015, not least because it would kill the myth in so many countries that only they are tackling climate change. Why inconvenience ourselves when China is building new coal power stations by the month?
The reality is that China and the United States are continuing to take action. China’s low-carbon zones are working. Its low-carbon nuclear energy programme is enormous: it is building another 30 reactors to add to its 17. Its renewable energy target is 15% of primary energy consumption by 2020, the same as the UK’s modest contribution to the overall EU target of 20%.
The US federal government is tightening emission standards for coal generators. California is the world’s twelfth-largest economy, and is responsible for vehicle standards that are driving electrification of cars. BMW’s electric car range is a clear response to the inroads that the electric Tesla is making in this key market.
Both solar panels and onshore wind can, in the right sunny or windy conditions, be cheaper ways of generating electricity than fossil fuels. Solar panels are a quarter of their cost in 2008. Industry estimates suggests that solar will be cheaper (without subsidy) than other ways of generating electricity almost everywhere by 2020, and onshore wind even earlier.
But both solar and wind are intermittent, so a key is battery storage, which is still too expensive. With cheap batteries in the loft or the substation, home heat and light using low-carbon electricity will be attractive. It will open up a new path for developing countries, leapfrogging the need for costly grids and big power stations. In transport, batteries provide long ranges and quick charging for an upmarket luxury car like the Tesla, but the price will need to tumble to attract the mid-range Mondeo buyer.
The shape of low-carbon technology is increasingly clear. The issue is keeping up the pace of change to avert disaster. That means a global deal in December 2015 to curb emissions by 2020, however lopsided it may be. The US Senate will not find the two-thirds majority to ratify a treaty, but the Obama administration can and should make commitments backed up by domestic legislation.
A solution also means tackling the remaining obstacles to the electric economy, particularly batteries. As the EU, let’s offer big money like theLongitude prize to spur research. Let’s do joint EU-US research with real urgency, like the wartime Manhattan project to make the nuclear bomb.
We need to capture and store the carbon emitted by fossil fuels, or they must be competed out of existence. There has never been a change in the capitalist economy as potentially disruptive or which is likely to be so hard fought by vested interests. For the sake of the victims of Haiyan, and other disasters still to come, it can and must happen.
The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP speech to the Durban COP17 Climate Conference Plenary
Department of Energy & Climate Change
Delivered on: 8 December 2011 (Original script, may differ from delivered version) Page history:Published 8 December 2011 Policy:Supporting international action on climate change Topic:Climate change Minister:The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP
Thank you, Mr President.
One year ago, we brought these negotiations back from the brink. As the global economic crisis deepened, we turned away from low ambition.
This year, we must back high ambition. Economic uncertainty may be dominating the headlines, but emissions are rising fast. Against dark skies, we must summon the strength to commit to a brighter future.
Nowhere is this more essential than here in Africa, the continent most vulnerable to climate change. For millions of Africans, climate change is not a matter of negotiating texts, informal informals or square brackets. It is a matter – literally – of life and death.
So here in Durban, we must signal that our objective remains a legally binding global deal.
Nothing else will provide certainty for the businesses and investors who are building the next generation of homes, vehicles and power plants. Nothing else will close the emissions gap, delivering the carbon cuts we need to keep global warming within 2 degrees. Nothing else will show our determination to meet the climate challenge as fairly and as fully as possible.
That is why the UK, with our EU partners, remains a firm advocate of a global legally binding agreement within the UNFCCC. We want all countries to commit now to a comprehensive global legal framework, and to complete negotiations on it by 2015 at the latest.
The UK remains fully committed to the Kyoto Protocol. We are proud of the Protocol and the part we have played in it; it is driving the low-carbon transformation in Europe. Together with the EU, we have clearly stated that we are willing to move to a second Kyoto commitment period, maintaining ambition and environmental integrity.
But to do that in isolation makes no sense. A second commitment period covering only the EU and two or three other developed countries would control less than 15 per cent of global emissions; some 85 per cent of global emissions would remain uncontrolled.
That would not provide the certainty that investors need; it would not close the emissions gap; it would not meet the hopes of Cancun; it would not help the poor and the vulnerable.
We need a clear roadmap to a wider agreement. If that roadmap cannot be agreed here in Durban, we will not agree a second commitment period of Kyoto.
Let me be absolutely clear about this. The roadmap and the second commitment period are part of the same package, the same route towards a legally binding global deal. They cannot be separated from one another, and we will not let them be. We recognise and are encouraged by the fact that the vast majority of countries here, developed and developing, share this view.
The UK’s commitment to tackling climate change is clear. We have adopted strict domestic targets for reducing emissions: a 50 per cent cut by the mid 2020s. We are meeting our fast start finance obligations: we have allocated more than £1 billion to date.
On Tuesday, I announced our package for Africa:
£38 million for climate-resilient agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa, helping 250,000 small-scale farmers
£27 million for the Energy and Environment Partnership in southern Africa
£15 million to support Ethiopia’s new national climate strategy
£7 million for an adaptation and resilience programme in Kenya
support through the Clean Technology Fund for low-carbon projects in Nigeria
£30 million for the Least Developed Country Fund
£10 million for the Adaptation Fund
£85 million for the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience
By the end of 2012 we will have met in full our pledge of £1.5 billion in fast start finance. And we already have committed financial support beyond the end of the fast start period.
We are determined to make the Green Climate Fund a reality and to develop long-term sources of finance. We must make progress on technology, adaptation, forests and MRV. We must move towards a common understanding of the size of the emissions gap, and how we can close it.
These are all steps on the road to a comprehensive global agreement. And this goal is not beyond our reach. Last year’s conference in Cancun showed what we can achieve when we display flexibility and the will to compromise.
If we continue to choose co-operation over conflict, we can show that all nations are indeed united by a common ambition: to protect our planet and our people from the dangers of climate change.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has announced it will report to parliament in July 2014 on the impact of the Airports Commission’s plans on the UK’s climate commitments. The Commission’s report referred to the previous recommendations of the CCC, but was opaque on how those targets could be met, if expansion is permitted. The Commission said aviation CO2 emissions could be kept at 2005 levels by 2050 if passenger demand growth is kept to 67% by 2050. [The earlier CCC advice in 2009 was maximum 60% passenger growth over 2005 level by 2050]. The CCC’s David Kennedy said: “The expansion of Heathrow by one runway would stay within the 60% limit, depending on the extent of demand growth at other locations.” But a second runway probably would not. The Commission itself suggested that to meet the CO2 targets, the carbon price would have to rise to £600 per tonne of CO2 by 2050, as opposed to the current price of £3 per tonne, if runway capacity was totally unconstrained. The cost of flights would have to rise substantially. The CCC said that the cost of long-haul flights would need to rise by up to £200 to curtail demand and stay within the UK’s carbon emissions targets. “The higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide targets”.
The CCC report is likely not to be a separate document, but part of their report to Parliament on the 4th carbon budget.
Heathrow climate report scuppers Tory plans to delay expansion debate
Blow to Conservatives as watchdog announces summer report, saying flight prices would need to rise to meet climate targets
The climate change committee will report on the climate impact of new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick. Photograph: Stewart Capper/the Guardian
David Cameron’s attempt to neutralise the toxic political issue of airport expansion until after the next election has been thwarted by the climate change watchdog, (The Commititee on Climate Change) which has announced it will report this summer [summer 2014] on the impact of the plans on the UK’s climate commitments.
The news is a blow to politicians who hoped they could avoid taking a view on a politically fraught decision until after the 2015 election, when the Davies commission will report on Britain’s airport needs.
The government’s climate change committee said it expected to report to parliament in the summer on the environmental implications of airport expansion.
Citing figures fromHoward Davies’ interim report, the committee’s chief executive, David Kennedy, also said that the cost of long-haul flights would need to rise by up to £200 to curtail demand and stay within the UK’s carbon emissions targets.
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said last week that he would not allow expansion if it breached the government’s climate change commitments.
The Davies commission interim report, published last week, referred to the previous recommendations of the climate change committee, but was opaque on how those targets could be met, expansion permitted.
Ministers are committed by law to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 2005 levels, with emissions from aviation and shipping to be included in this target. The climate change committee has said this would require aviation emissions to return to 2005 levels by 2050.
The Davies commission has said this is achievable if passenger demand growth is kept to 67% by 2050. * [The earlier CCC advice was 60% passenger growth over 2005 level by 2050. link to 2009 advice ].
Kennedy told the Guardian: “We said back in 2009 that it would be possible for the government to plan for 60% demand growth, and stay inside the climate change commitments. That is the scope for demand to increase.
“We are due to report to parliament next July on the progress on meeting carbon budgets, and that would be the occasion for us to consider the report of the Davies commission.
“The expansion of Heathrow by one runway would stay within the 60% limit, depending on the extent of demand growth at other locations.”
He said it was an open question whether government targets could be met if a second runway at Heathrow was proposed or expansion was allowed at Gatwick.
The Davies commission favoured three options: a third runway north-west of Heathrow, the airport’s preferred choice; a second proposal to double the length of an existing runway at Heathrow, put forward by the unconnected Heathrow Hub group; and a second runway to the south of Gatwick.
The Davies commission itself suggested that to meet government targets, the carbon price would have to rise to £600 per tonne of CO2 by 2050, as opposed to the current price of £3 per tonne, if runway capacity was totally unconstrained, and no other fuel-efficiency measures were found. That would require the current average short-haul fare rising from £103 to £146, and the average long-haul fare rising from £397 to £602.
Kennedy explained: “The Davies commission has said if capacity is unconstrained and demand rose for example by 200%, it would be necessary for the carbon price, and cost of flights, to rise by the figures in the report to keep the increase in demand to 60%.”
Kennedy stressed other environmental factors would be in play, but were not his committee’s responsibility. He said: “If the climate change targets are being met, then the remaining issues become cost, and local impacts relating to the economy, air quality, noise and traffic congestion, but these are issues for which the climate change committee does not have responsibility.”
He expressed confidence that the commission will not ignore the climate change implications of expansion. He said: “We wrote to the Davies commission and they seem to be taking commitments under the Climate Change Act seriously.
“The higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide targets”.
UK aviation emissions: 37.5 million tonnes and not a molecule more!
It isn’t just the Prime Minister (“Divisive airport debate returns to haunt Cameron”) who has problems with the Davies’ Commission look at UK CO2 emissions from civil aviation, as your political editor, Patrick Wintour, points out in his reporting of the committee on climate change chief executive David Kennedy’s initial analysis. There is a “never exceed” finite limit of 37.5 million tonnes of CO2 from all UK flights that has to be respected now to plan future capacity and to ensure that this target is actually achieved by 2050, however “opaque” the Airport Commission’s report seems at first glance. And opaque it certainly is!
It is just possible to grow UK aviation capacity by 60%, providing efficiency targets for aircraft performance, air traffic management and daily operations are all met within this absolute carbon cap but even these targeted 1% per annum gains across the UK’s air transport system will be difficult and costly; David Kennedy’s unassailable mathematics and view that one additional runway at Heathrow might be possible but only at the expense of curtailing almost any growth elsewhere, could well give airlines and airport executives the kind of present don’t want to find nestling under their Christmas trees.
It seems, however, that Mr Cameron’s deputy, Nick Clegg, does realise the implications of a tight carbon cap for civil aviation and just like those of us in the environment NGO community, is looking forward to and will support the committee on climate change’s evolving views due in a few months time.
So roll on summer – 37.5 million tonnes allocated to all UK civil aviation within our legally-binding climate targets and not a molecule more is the end game as the CCC point out. This is a substantial cap on unrestrained growth and needs heavyweight political endorsement from all party leaders. Now that would be a truly great Christmas present.
Aviation Environment Federation
Fourth Carbon Budget Review – part 2
The cost-effective path to the 2050 target
Committee on Climate Change l December 2013
http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/1785a-CCC_AdviceRep_Singles_1.pdf Progress meeting carbon budgets
The Climate Change Act requires that we report annually to Parliament on progress meeting
carbon budgets. We have published five progress reports in October 2009, June 2010,
June 2011, June 2012 and June 2013. Our next annual report is due in July 2014 and will include a backward look at how the first carbon budget (2008-12) was met.
Recent decisions and analysis reinforce the need to prepare for deep emissions cuts by 2050:
• The Government confirmed in December 2012 that emissions from international aviation
and shipping are included in the 80% emissions reduction target for 2050. Given the
difficulty in delivering deep reductions in emissions from international aviation and shipping
(e.g. due to limited opportunities for low-carbon fuels and projected aviation demand
growth), this reinforces the need to develop options that could reduce emissions in other
sectors to very low levels.
Emissions from international aviation and shipping are not currently included in carbon budget accounting, but Government have confirmed that they are
included in the 80% emissions reduction target for 2050.
“The Airports Commission’s carbon capped, capacity unconstrained forecast [their scenario 3 – see Page 107 updates the previous work of the CCC, using a broadly similar approach. The Commission’s updated analysis suggests that:
●● based on current forecasts, the compatible level of passenger demand growth
is around 67% by 2050;
●● this translates into an increase of around 38% in the number of ATMs, given
current assumptions around average aircraft sizes and load factors; and
●● as the CCC found, this is compatible with a range of policies on capacity
4.17 Notwithstanding some differences in the DfT and CCC models, the results are
broadly similar. The differences between the estimates can be attributed largely to
assumptions regarding load factor and aircraft fuel efficiency. For instance, the CCC
model forecasts average load factors of 85% by 2050, whereas the Commission’s
forecasts are lower at 80%.”
Committee on Climate Change reminds Airports Commission of carbon restriction on aviation growth
Lord Deben (John Gummer), who is the Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, has written to Sir Howard Davies and the Airports Commission on the issue of UK aviation and climate change. He reminds the Commission that UK aviation emissions are included in the UK’s target to reduce economy wide CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050 on 1990 levels. This implies a trade off between emissions from aviation and from other sectors: the higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide target. The CCC has illustrated how the 80% target could be achieved through reducing aviation emissions to 2005 levels in 2050 and reducing emissions in other sectors by 85% on 1990 levels. That would mean limiting demand growth to around 60% in 2050 compared to 2005. Unless the rest of the UK economy can cut emissions by over 85% (unlikely) then aviation demand cannot grow by more than 60%. Lord Deben recommends that this should be reflected in the Commission’s economic analysis of alternative investments in airport infrastructure. Each should be assessed in terms of whether it would make sense if demand growth were to be limited to 60% by 2050.
We read with interest the Aviation Commission’s discussion paper “Aviation and Climate Change”.
In working out appropriate investments in aviation infrastructure, it is essential to recognise that aviation emissions are included in the target to reduce economy wide emissions by 80% in 2050 on 1990 levels, which is set in the Climate Change Act.
The fact that aviation emissions are in the 2050 target implies a trade off between emissions in this and other sectors of the economy: the higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide target.
Our analysis has illustrated how the 80% target could be achieved through reducing aviation emissions to 2005 levels in 2050 and reducing emissions in other sectors by 85% on 1990 levels.
Reducing aviation emissions to 2005 levels in 2050 could be achieved through a combination of fuel and operational efficiency improvement, use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to around 60% in 2050 compared to 2005.
Reducing emissions in other sectors by 85% in 2050 on 1990 levels is at the limit of what is feasible, with limited confidence about the scope for going beyond this.
It is of course possible that there may be scope to reduce emissions more in other sectors, which would allow aviation demand to grow by more than 60% in 2050. However, this may well be the limit, here and in other developed countries, compatible with achieving the internationally agreed climate objective.
Given the need to limit aviation demand growth in a carbon constrained world, we
recommend that this should be reflected in your economic analysis of alternative investments.
For example, for each investment, you should assess whether this would make sense if
demand growth were to be limited to 60% by 2050.
We would be very happy to come and discuss these issues with you and the Commission if that would be useful.
In September 2012, Lord Deben was confirmed as Chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change, succeeding Adair Turner. The committee advises the UK Government on setting and meeting carbon budgets and on preparing for the impacts of climate change.
Link to open letter from a large number of NGOs, to the Airports Commission, on aviation carbon emissions and climate targets.
Aviation must not be dropped from UK carbon target, say campaigners
AirportWatch has condemned plans to exclude international aviation and shipping from the UK’s carbon budgets, a move they claim would seriously damage the country’s targets to cut climate change emissions. Any suggestion from DfT and the Treasury for removal of aviation and shipping from the UK’s fifth carbon budget, due for consideration in 2015 will be actively opposed. At a select committee on energy and climate change meeting this week the DfT argued that the UK could save money in future if it were to drop aviation and shipping emissions from its 2050 target. The DfT did however note that this would sacrifice the environmental benefit of including them. The Committee on Climate Change stressed at the meeting that excluding these important sectors (likely to account for around 25% of the UK’s total emissions by 2050) would mean the UK would be very likely to miss our climate objective of limiting the risk of global warming exceeding 2 degrees C and there was now no good reason for excluding them. Representatives of the aviation and shipping industries confirmed that they were comfortable with aviation and shipping being included in budgets. Neither industry would either attract further costs or need to limit expansion as a result of their inclusion.
The Aviation Environment Federation has set out three tests, to apply to the Airports Commission’s Interim Report, published on 17th December 2013. These are on climate: “Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?”. On quality of life: “Does the Airports Commission only short-list options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?” and on Social Cost Benefit Analysis: “In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm, does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the short-listed proposals over the course of 2014?” They have had a quick, initial look at the Interim Report, and set out areas on each of these where there is evidence of “positive steps” and areas of “missed opportunities”. On climate AEF regret that there is uncertainty on international agreements, and that non-CO2 impacts of aviation may need to be taken into account in the future – but are not yet. On quality of life, AEF regrets that noise, air quality and local impacts have not yet been satisfactorily addressed. AEF say a clear and transparent social cost benefit analysis of each of short-listed options is needed as part of the Commission’s appraisal in 2014.
The AEF’s 3 tests of the Airports Commission’s Interim Report
The Aviation Environment Federation has set out three tests, to apply to the Airports Commission’s Interim Report, published on 17th December 2013. These are:
Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?
2. Quality of life
Does the Airports Commission only short-list options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?
3. Social Cost Benefit Analysis
In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm, does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the short-listed proposals over the course of 2014?
Below there is more detail about these tests.
Three tests for the Airports Commission’s Interim Report
The Commission has emphasised that a ‘predict and provide’ model of airport capacity would be insufficient, and that the scale of capacity needed must be assessed within the context of environmental limits and social considerations that “takes into account the potential constraints on expansion” .
Below, we pose three tests against which the Airports Commission’s Interim Report should be judged.
We ask interested parties to conclude for themselves whether the Interim Report passes these tests and delivers a well based analysis of the potential constraints on expansion, or simply provides the infrastructure the industry claims is necessary.
Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?
In his October speech Sir Howard recognised the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. This Committee estimated using ‘likely’ improvements in technology and operations that a 60% growth in passenger numbers over 2005 levels would not compromise the UK’s emissions target. There is already sufficient space in existing runway capacity to accommodate this growth[ii].
This means building and using one new runway would require capacity limitations on existing airports in the South East and the rest of the UK if we are to meet our national emissions target[iii].
The use of a second runway would be dependent on ‘speculative’[iv] technology improvements and a heavy reliance on alternative fuels if the UK is to have any chance of meeting climate targets.
Does the Airports Commission only shortlist options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?
Aircraft noise is the main driver of community opposition to airport expansion and is an unacceptable burden on many people living close to airports. Nearly ¾ million people already live within the EU contour of noise annoyance at Heathrow[v], a third of the total number of people affected by aircraft noise across the entire EU.
Airports likely to be shortlisted, such as Heathrow, are close to and often breach EU limit values on air quality introduced to protect public health[vi].
Both air pollution and aircraft noise pose risks to public health. Air pollution is estimated to cause 29,000 deaths a year and costs the economy £16 billion each year[vii]. A recent study found that people living in areas around Heathrow with the most aircraft noise were 10-20% more likely to have heart problems and suffer from strokes[viii].
In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm[ix], does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the shortlisted proposals over the course of 2014?
The economic benefits of airport expansion are frequently highlighted in the media at the expense of wider economic and social costs.
Each shortlisted proposal should be assessed against a “no new runways” benchmark. Given sufficient capacity exists, it is important to only to consider the additional benefits of funding a new runway.[x]
[i] Quote taken from Sir Howard Davies’ speech ‘Emerging thinking: aviation capacity in the UK’ made at the Centre for London on the 7th October 2013
[ii] In 2011 AEF and WWF carried out research to examine how much growth in passengers and number of movements is possible within existing airport capacity when an aviation carbon target is in place. ‘Available UK airport capacity under a 2050 CO2 target for the aviation sector’ is available from:http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/airport_capacity_report_july_2011.pdf
[iii] AEF and seven other environmental NGOs recommended this to the Airports Commission in an open letter to Sir Howard Davies’ speech on 7 October available online from:http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=1651
[iv] The Committee on Climate Change defines the speculative scenario as very unlikely. The scenario requires technological breakthroughs and a significant increase in the pace of aircraft fuel efficiency improvements. In addition, it would require the development of sustainable biofuels which are speculative, such as algae, or developments in land use so that biofuels can be grown at a large scale.
How well did the Airports Commission’s interim report do on the AEF’s three environmental and social tests?
Dec 20 2013
Before publishing the interim report, Sir Howard Davies and the Airports Commission he chairs emphasised the importance of not simply providing the capacity that industry demands in deciding the need for additional runway capacity.
Instead, Sir Howard argued that the Commission engaged with wider social and environmental issues, that the Commission was “alive to the climate problem” and that local issues such as air pollution and noise would “play a key part as we identify our interim recommendations”.
We therefore set three tests for the Airports Commission in advance of the interim report to see how far it engaged with these wider concerns (the basis for each test is set out above).
Below we compare the main findings of the report with each of the tests. In the New Year, AEF will be releasing a series of policy briefs looking at the Airports Commission’s work in more detail. A summary of the interim report’s findings and recommendations is available here.
First Test: Does the Commission demonstrate a pathway to meet our national climate change target in a one or two new runways scenario using realistic assumptions?
The interim report makes significant improvements on DfT forecasts of growth in passenger demand up to 2050 which had limitations in terms of how they handled uncertainty beyond 2030 (as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) provides forecasts of oil prices up to this year only). Our concern over the long-term uncertainty of DfT forecasts was referenced in the interim report.
In the revised forecasts, the Airports Commission also include carbon traded and carbon capped scenarios. This is an improvement on the scenarios currently considered by the DfT. The carbon traded scenarios include the assumption that aviation emissions will be included in an emissions trading system such as a global offset scheme. Carbon capped scenarios include the assumption that aviation emissions will be limited to the recommendations by the Committee on Climate Change that emissions can be no higher in 2050 than they were in 2005.
The latter scenario produces the lowest forecast of constrained and unconstrained growth. In an unconstrained carbon capped scenario, the Airports Commission estimate that passengers can increase by 67% above 2009 levels while the number of movements (number of planes flying) can increase by 38% (compared to 60% and 55% respectively in the CCC’s 2009 analysis).
The interim report highlights the ongoing uncertainty in international negotiations and the fact that non-CO2 impacts of aviation may need to be taken into account in the future, but offers no indication of how much the industry can grow in the absence of an effective emissions trading scheme in the future or if non-CO2 impacts are included in climate targets.
Second Test: Does the Airports Commission only shortlist options that will not worsen the quality of life for communities around airports?
At the very beginning of the executive summary, the report emphasises the negative impacts of air quality and noise on the quality of life for people who live or work nearby, and that the planning process must ensure that decisions on airport capacity balance local considerations with the national interest. However, the Airports Commission will only be able to take the local impacts into account next year when it considers the short-listed options in detail.
The Airports Commission also recommended the creation of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority which would provide advice and recommendations on an impartial basis. As the Commission points out, there is a real need for improved transparency in noise reporting by the industry as noise causes the most tension with communities. The interim report also points to good examples from Australia and France of independent noise bodies providing accurate and impartial information to all stakeholders.
As we highlight in a Huffington Post blog post, the Airports Commission’s staged approach means that local considerations appear an afterthought, which will leave people living in communities seeking reassurances from politicians.
However, the Commission is to set out its draft Appraisal Frameworkin early 2014 on how the different options should be considered and analysed. That will present an opportunity for the Commission to demonstrate how local concerns will be considered.
There is also a concern that forming an independent noise body would constitute passing the baton of noise regulation on and not actually contribute to improve the current noise problem.
Third Test: In light of extensive challenges to the assumptions of economic benefits of expansion and recommendations by a well known economic consultancy firm[ix], does the Airports Commission commit to carrying out a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of each of the shortlisted proposals over the course of 2014?
The interim report highlights that the Commissions has not followed a “mechanistic predict and provide model.”
The Commission states that their approach has been informed by the principles of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive to support the Government’s decision. The Commission also says that the methodology used takes account of the social and environmental costs of policy options alongside their anticipated benefits.
The interim report also states that social cost-benefit analysis is the standard methodology used in the public sector but then says that the costs involved are primarily those of a constrained airport and calculates the overall cost to the economy by 2080 will be up to £45 billion.
It appears that the social cost-benefit analysis calculated only takes into account the possible negatives of a constrained airport, and not the potential benefits. We would like more detailed information on the different factors that were included in the analysis.
However, as well as stating the need for one additional runway by 2030, the Commission states that it is likely that there will be “a demand case for a second additional runway way by 2050”. The Commission commits to analysing this possibility in the next phase of its work programme.
We expect the Airports Commission to carry out a clear and transparent social cost benefit analysis of each of shortlisted options as part of their appraisal in 2014, as the Commission has promised to take into account the economic, social and environmental impacts.
The AEF will go into more detail on each of these issues in the New Year with a series of policy briefs about the Airports Commission’s work.