Letter in the Guardian, from climate-aware organisations, on the disastrous impact of a new runway

In an open letter, a large number of environmental and climate-aware organisations have written about the disastrous impacts of allowing the expansion of the UK aviation sector by building a new runway.  The letter says: “With the scrapping of vital decarbonisation policies and funding, the UK is already way off-track to meet our climate change commitments. The impacts of any new runway will be devastating to people’s lives and to the planet. … the biggest tragedy of the government’s failure is a global one. … The push for more runway space is not about demand from business – that has been dropping for over a decade. Nor is it about people taking one or two annual holidays. Growth is being driven by the frequent leisure flyers taking weekend breaks and shopping trips by plane. Half of the UK population don’t fly in any given year, yet all of us subsidise the holidays of the rich. The UK must not abandon our commitments under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act for the convenience of binge flyers. We will not allow our government to ignore the promises they have made to us and to the world.”  There are also statements by Professor Kevin Anderson and Professor Alice Larkin, on how building a new runway is entirely incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate. Kevin described adding a runway as demonstrating “a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement.”
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Airport expansion’s disastrous effects, near and far

Letters – The Guardian

The government’s decision to greenlight aviation expansion (Chris Grayling: decision on airport expansion to be made on Tuesday, theguardian.com, 23 October) is a predictable failure, but not an acceptable one.

With the scrapping of vital decarbonisation policies and funding, the UK is already way off-track to meet our climate change commitments. The impacts of any new runway will be devastating to people’s lives and to the planet.

Locally it will see the demolition of hundreds of homes, result in increased noise pollution, and illegal levels of air pollution – already responsible for almost 10,000 premature deaths in London every year.

But the biggest tragedy of the government’s failure is a global one. Only around 5% of the world’s population flies at all, yet the impacts of climate change – droughts, floods and heatwaves – are already hitting poorer communities in the global south, who are the least likely to ever set foot on a plane.

The UK must not abandon our commitments under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act for the convenience of binge flyers. We will not allow our government to ignore the promises they have made to us and to the world.

Craig Bennett CEO, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland,

Nicky Bull Chair, Operation Noah,

Amy Cameron, Director, 10:10,

Sarah Clayton. Coordinator, AirportWatch,

Peter Deane, Biofuelwatch,

Bill Hemmings, Director, aviation and shipping, European Federation for Transport and Environment,

Claire James, Campaigns coordinator, Campaign Against Climate Change

Rosalie James, Chair, Aircraft Noise 3 Villages(Lightwater, Windlesham & Bagshot),

Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation

James MacColl,  Head of campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport,

Kara Moses, Environment editor, Red Pepper 

Leo Murray.  Director, Fellow Travellers

Danielle Paffard, UK divestment campaigner, 350.org 

John Sauven,  Executive director, Greenpeace UK

Kia Trainor,  Director, CPRE Sussex

Anna Vickerstaff,  Co-director, UK Youth Climate Coalition

Vivienne Westwood, Climate Revolution

Peter Willan, Chair, Richmond Heathrow Campaign

… and seven others

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https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/23/airport-expansions-disastrous-effects-near-and-far


See also

 

Statement by Professor Alice Larkin

“The highly constrained carbon budget that is consistent with the Paris Agreement requires all fossil fuel consuming sectors to urgently accelerate towards full decarbonisation – and while some sectors will achieve this sooner than others, no sector can be excluded. Technical and even operational options for decarbonising the aviation sector within a timeframe consistent with the Paris goals are few and far between. As such, demand-side measures that constrain further growth, must receive much greater attention. Equally, policy measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel such as new runways, particularly within richer nations, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and should be avoided .”

Professor Alice Larkin:  

Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy, University of Manchester 


Statement by Professor Kevin Anderson

“The UK Government’s enthusiasm for more airport capacity alongside its clamour for high-carbon shale gas demonstrates a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement. Both of these decisions will lock the UK into ongoing emissions of carbon dioxide for decades to come, putting short-term convenience and financial gain ahead of long-term and genuinely low-carbon prosperity. Such reckless disregard for the prospects of our own children and the well being of poor and climatically vulnerable communities arises from either a scientifically illiterate Government or one that cares nothing for its legacy. Whichever it may be, these are undesirable characteristics of a government facing the climate change and other strategic challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Professor Kevin Anderson: University of Manchester and Uppsala

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Statements by Professors Kevin Anderson and Alice Larkin, about how the UK should NOT be building a runway

 

Statement by Professor Alice Larkin

“The highly constrained carbon budget that is consistent with the Paris Agreement requires all fossil fuel consuming sectors to urgently accelerate towards full decarbonisation – and while some sectors will achieve this sooner than others, no sector can be excluded. Technical and even operational options for decarbonising the aviation sector within a timeframe consistent with the Paris goals are few and far between. As such, demand-side measures that constrain further growth, must receive much greater attention. Equally, policy measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel such as new runways, particularly within richer nations, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and should be avoided .”

Professor Alice Larkin:  

Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy, University of Manchester 


Statement by Professor Kevin Anderson

“The UK Government’s enthusiasm for more airport capacity alongside its clamour for high-carbon shale gas demonstrates a palpable disdain for the Paris Agreement. Both of these decisions will lock the UK into ongoing emissions of carbon dioxide for decades to come, putting short-term convenience and financial gain ahead of long-term and genuinely low-carbon prosperity. Such reckless disregard for the prospects of our own children and the well being of poor and climatically vulnerable communities arises from either a scientifically illiterate Government or one that cares nothing for its legacy. Whichever it may be, these are undesirable characteristics of a government facing the climate change and other strategic challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Professor Kevin Anderson: University of Manchester and Uppsala

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. He is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and is research active with recent publications in Royal Society journals and Nature. He engages widely across all tiers of government; from reporting on aviation-related emissions to the EU Parliament, advising the Prime Minister’s office on Carbon Trading and having contributed to the development of the UK’s Climate Change Act.

With his colleague Alice Bows, Kevin’s work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. His work makes clear that there is now little chance of maintaining the rise in global temperature at below 2C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, Kevin’s research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society.

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If government wants a new runway, why does the UK have no aviation climate strategy?

Business Green has looked at the implications of the UK allowing a new runway for our carbon emissions, and found the government has only an embarrassing space where a credible aviation carbon strategy should be. Government has repeatedly refused the CCC’s requests for clarity on UK aviation carbon policy. It has so far refused to engage with the fact the aspirational target to keep UK aviation emissions at 2005 levels in 2050 is both arbitrary and too weak, and even then the Airports Commission made clear that meeting it requires heroically ambitious (unrealistic) assumptions on future carbon pricing and clean tech adoption.  The Commission hoped that adding a runway would be manageable “if the rest of the economy decarbonises as people expect and aircraft become more fuel efficient”. There is no guarantee of either of those – and in their absence, aviation emissions would rise too high.  The Commission was aware that adding a south east runway would require hardly any expansion at regional airports. Allowing the expansion of aviation means all other sectors having to cut their CO2 emissions by 85% by 2050. Currently the UK is not on track to deliver the decarbonisation of the wider economy as planned.  Large swathes of the economy will have to become virtually zero emission just to give aviation more headroom. “The basic principle of climate action should be to try and pull risk out of the system; new runways simply load more risk in.”
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If the government wants Heathrow expansion, why hasn’t an aviation climate strategy been cleared for take-off?

By James Murray  (Business Green)

18 October 2016

The government appears willing to approve a new runway without so much as a fig leaf to cover the embarrassing space where a credible green aviation strategy should be

It should be the Jumbo Jet in the Cabinet Room. As the Cabinet today discusses whether to give the go-ahead for the expansion of Heathrow, the climate change implications of a new runway ought to be the dominant item on the agenda. And yet if mainstream media coverage and political commentary is any guide, it will barely get a look in.

Political considerations will, of course, be given an airing, as Theresa May mulls the intense criticism and highly-charged by-election that will be triggered if she gives the project the green light.

Importantly, environmental issues will also be addressed, primarily because concerns about air pollution remain the biggest legal blockade faced by Heathrow.

That is why it is more than a little disquieting that a non-peer reviewed report on future air pollution at Heathrow drawing on heroically optimistic assumptions about future adoption of zero emission [NO2] transport technologies could lead the BBC News under the banner headline ‘Heathrow runway ‘within EU pollution laws”.

It is also why today’s latest round in the legal battle between ClientEarth and the government over UK breaches of EU air quality rules will be causing sweated brows at Heathrow as well as in Defra. May could yet approve Heathrow and still find the project locked in years of completely legitimate legal rows over its impact on local air quality.

However, with the government adamant if Heathrow does not go ahead Gatwick will there appears to be zero appetite for a serious discussion about what new runways mean for the UK’s climate change efforts.

From the narrowest political perspective there are actually good reasons for this staggering omission.

Howard Davies initial report on airport expansion argued a new runway could be made compatible with the UK’s climate change goals, giving the government the political cover it needed to swat the climate issue aside.

However, what the government has thus far refused to engage with is the fact the aspirational target to keep UK aviation emissions at 2005 levels in 2050 is both arbitrary and too weak, and even then the Davies report made clear meeting it requires heroically ambitious assumptions on future carbon pricing and clean tech adoption.

The final report adopted a similar line, with Davies arguing a new runway is manageable within the UK’s climate change commitments “if the rest of the economy decarbonises as people expect and aircraft become more fuel efficient”.

This pro-expansion argument was then given a further boost last month when the UN’s ICAO finally agreed an international carbon offset deal, which will impose an emissions price on flights in and out of the UK’s new runway and is underpinned by the industry’s commitment to ensure emissions flatline from 2020. “Look,” Ministers will be able to say. “It all adds up. The additional flights will be offset and there is room in our carbon budgets for a more aviation emissions through to 2050.”

The flaws in this argument are remarkably obvious, if only the government had the nerve to push back against the optimistic analysis it so desperately wanted to receive.

Firstly, as Davies in fairness makes plain, expansion at Heathrow makes further runways at other airports all but impossible.

A Campaign for Better Transport report this summer pointed out how the Davies Report’s assumptions include extremely high carbon prices – an extra £68 on a flight from London to New York, for example – that would serve to actually restrict flight numbers from regional airports.

One government minister told the BBC this week they would like to see new runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick – they are either unaware of or don’t care about the climate change implications.

In reality, expansion at Heathrow could necessitate contraction at other airports if carbon budgets are to be met.

Secondly, even supporters of the UN deal to offset aviation emissions admit in its current form it is too weak and will be phased in too slowly. It is not yet compatible with the Paris Agreement’s 2C goal and is based on optimistic assumptions about the integrity of offsets and the pace of clean tech development.

Thirdly, and most importantly, Davies suggestion Heathrow expansion is compatible with the UK’s climate commitments if wider decarbonisation proceeds as planned and low emission aviation technology materialises is self-evidently based on a massive ‘if’.

Currently the UK is not on track to deliver the decarbonisation of the wider economy as planned.

We all await the promised emission reduction plan with huge anticipation and the government insists it will meet the targets set out in the Climate Change Act, even if it has just been confirmed the crucial plan could be delayed until next February.

But expansion of Heathrow makes delivery of the UK’s currently faltering decarbonisation efforts even more challenging – large swathes of the economy will have to become virtually zero emission just to give aviation more headroom.  [Already the Climate Change Act imposes a legal target of 80% reductions by 2050. But if flights are to keep growing as the commission expects, those cuts would have to rise to 85%.  Monbiot]

The basic principle of climate action should be to try and pull risk out of the system; new runways simply load more risk in.

Moreover, even if the decarbonisation of the economy proceeds smoothly from this point on (spoiler alert: it won’t) UK aviation could still blow its carbon budget if hugely ambitious improvements in fuel efficiency and low carbon technology are not delivered as envisaged.

The government’s long term climate strategy once again rests on a hit and hope approach to new technology development that is not backed by a sufficiently robust plan for ensuring these promising innovations emerge.

The parallels with the fracking debate are marked. There is arguably an environmentally credible route forward for fracking in the UK based on more robust regulations and inspection regimes, the large scale development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and a viable plan for delivering greener heating technologies.

Instead, the government has sought to steamroller opposition to fracking while singularly failing to deliver the safeguards and long term strategy that could potentially make it viable.

Exactly the same thing is happening with aviation expansion. An environmentally credible pathway has been sketched out, but where is the huge R&D effort and firm policy measures to address completely understandable concerns this pathway will not be followed?

Aviation industry progress on biofuels has been reasonably impressive over the past decade, but the UK’s first jet biofuel project was shelved earlier this year and research efforts on the scale that is required remain patchy at best. A co-ordinated transport and carbon pricing policy to bring an end to short haul flights remains a pipe dream.

Aviation remains the area of climate policy where the gap between the politically palatable and the politically necessary is at its widest.

Governments can make the case for clean energy based on long term cost and health benefits, they can make the case for electric cars that tackle air pollution, and insulation that makes our homes warmer.

It is a whole lot harder to make the case for huge surcharges on your summer holiday, even before you consider the difficulty of convincing emerging economies to curb their aviation growth. There simply has to be a technical solution, and yet government efforts to engineer the necessary technical progress remain sparse to the point of virtual non-existence.

This is why the failure to properly debate the climate implications of airport expansion by both the government and the media is so concerning. Any serious engagement with the topic would have concluded a new runway is an extremely risky proposition that is hard to justify.

If Ministers had then still concluded short and medium term economic concerns outweigh the climate costs, then they would have also had to acknowledge the only way to mitigate the resulting risks would be through a concerted and coherent strategy for delivering promised clean tech improvements.

It would still be a pretty reckless approach given the scale and pace of the climate crisis, but it would improve the chances of low carbon aviation one day becoming a reality while retaining the sense Number 10 regards climate action as a genuine priority.

Such a move would have been dismissed by green groups as a fig leaf, but sometimes fig leaves are important – without them you are naked.

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/blog-post/2474489/if-the-government-wants-heathrow-expansion-why-hasnt-an-aviation-climate-strategy-been-cleared-for-take-off

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See also:

Little new on aviation in CCC advice after Paris Agreement – STILL waiting for Government policy on aviation CO2

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice to government on UK climate action following the Paris Agreement last December. It sees aviation as a “challenging” or “hard to treat” sector from which to cut emissions. The CCC advocates greenhouse gas removal options (e.g. afforestation, carbon-storing materials, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) to help deal with these CO2 emissions. It is aware that the option for these measures is limited, though it suggests 10% use of biofuel in aircraft eventually (and reduced red meat consumption in diets as a solution …) The CCC suggests shifting demand to lower emissions alternatives (e.g. virtual conferencing in place of international air travel). The CCC say government should develop strategies for greenhouse gas removal technologies and reducing emissions from the hardest-to-treat sectors eg. aviation. The CCC continues to say UK aviation CO2 emissions should not be above 37.5MtCO2 by 2050. They have said (Nov 2015) that government should publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions by autumn 2016. This has NOT happened. While international aviation is not yet included in UK carbon budgets, the CCC said in Nov 2015 that it would “provide further advice following the ICAO negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.” No mention of that yet.

Click here to view full story…

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George Monbiot: Climate change means no airport expansion – at Heathrow or anywhere

An excellently written and eloquently argued piece by George Monbiot sets out why the UK should not build a new runway. Not at Heathrow. Not at Gatwick. Worth reading the whole article. Some extracts:  … “There is only one way to prevent aviation from wrecking the planet. We need to fly much less … The correct question is not where, it is whether.  And the correct answer is no. …. There is only one answer that doesn’t involve abandoning our climate change commitments and our moral scruples: nowhere. … The prime minister cannot uphold the Paris agreement on climate change, which comes into force next month, and permit the runway to be built. … [airlines] seek to divert us with a series of mumbo-jumbo jets, mythical technologies never destined for life beyond the press release. Solar passenger planes, blended wing bodies, hydrogen jets, algal oils, other biofuels: all are either technically impossible, commercially infeasible, worse than fossil fuels or capable of making scarcely a dent in emissions. … Having approved the extra capacity, the government will discover that it’s incompatible with our commitments under the Climate Change Act, mull the consequences for a minute or two, then quietly abandon the commitments. It’s this simple: a third runway at Heathrow means that the UK will not meet its carbon targets.”
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The correct question is not where, it is whether.  And the correct answer is no.

The prime minister has just announced that her cabinet will recommend where a new runway should be built. Then there will be a consultation on the decision. There is only one answer that doesn’t involve abandoning our climate change commitments and our moral scruples: nowhere.

The inexorable logic that should rule out new sources of oil, gas and coal also applies to the expansion of airports. In a world seeking to prevent climate breakdown, there is no remaining scope for extending infrastructure that depends on fossil fuels. The prime minister cannot uphold the Paris agreement on climate change, which comes into force next month, and permit the runway to be built.

While most sectors can replace fossil fuels with other sources, this is not the case for aviation. The airline companies seek to divert us with a series of mumbo-jumbo jets, mythical technologies never destined for life beyond the press release. Solar passenger planes, blended wing bodies, hydrogen jets, algal oils, other biofuels: all are either technically impossible, commercially infeasible, worse than fossil fuels or capable of making scarcely a dent in emissions.

Aviation means kerosene. Using kerosene to hoist human bodies into the air means massive impacts. Improvements in the fuel economy of aircraft have declined to 1% a year or less, greatly outstripped by the growth in aviation. So other means must be found of trying to make it fit.

The government’s decision will be based on the findings of the Airports Commission, which reported last year. It favours a new runway at Heathrow, and proposes two means of ensuring that the extra flights will not conflict with Britain’s climate pledges. Neither is either fair or workable.

The first is that the rest of the economy should make extra cuts in greenhouse gases to accommodate aviation. Already the Climate Change Act imposes a legal target of 80% reductions by 2050. But if flights are to keep growing as the commission expects, those cuts would have to rise to 85%. This is fundamentally unjust. Three-quarters of  international passengers at the UK’s biggest airports travel for leisure, and they are disproportionately rich: at Heathrow their mean income is £57,000. Just 15% of people in the UK take 70% of international flights. So everyone must pay for the holidays taken by the better off.

The alternative strategy is a carbon tax. The commission is remarkably evasive about what this entails, and its reckonings are opaque, contradictory and buried in remote annexes. Perhaps that’s unsurprising. An analysis by the Campaign for Better Transport suggests that the tax required to reconcile a new runway with our carbon commitments is somewhere between £270 and £850 for a return flight for a family of four to New York.

In other words, the Airports Commission plan amounts to increasing airport capacity then pricing people out.  Where’s the sense in that?

As the commission doubtless knows, no government would impose such charges, or shut down northern airports to allow Heathrow to grow.

Having approved the extra capacity, the government will discover that it’s incompatible with our commitments under the Climate Change Act, mull the consequences for a minute or two, then quietly abandon the commitments. It’s this simple: a third runway at Heathrow means that the UK will not meet its carbon targets. Hold me to that in 2050.

But that’s not the half of it. The Airports Commission based its projections on the work of another government body: the Committee on Climate Change. Last week the committee announced that to meet our commitments under the Paris agreement the UK will need to go much further than the 80% cut envisaged by the Climate Change Act. The Paris deal implies reductions of “at least 90%” by 2050. This is tough under any scenario, simply impossible if airport capacity grows.

It knocks the Airports Commission’s calculations out of court. If the government uses the commission’s figures to justify its decision, it will be relying on estimates that are out of date, invalid and incompatible with its international commitments.

Don’t expect help from the opposition. On Sunday Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, argued that we should pay the environmental consequences of building a new runway “full and proper heed”, then go ahead. The people of future drought zones will feel so much better when they hear about that full and proper heed.

As for the international framework, forget it. Two weeks ago 191 nations struck the world’s only agreement to regulate aviation emissions. It’s voluntary, it’s pathetic, and it relies on planting trees to offset aircraft emissions, which means replacing a highly stable form of carbon storage (leaving oil in the ground) with a highly unstable one vulnerable to loggers, fires and droughts. The meeting at which the deal was done probably caused more emissions than it will save.

For years there has been a lively debate about the noise, local pollution and disruption caused by building a new runway at Heathrow, all of which are valid concerns. But almost everyone ignores the issue that dwarfs all others.Climate change means no new runway.

If our airports are full, there’s an immediate solution. Fly less. The Free Ride campaign has proposed a just means of achieving this: curb demand by taxing frequent flyers but not those who seldom fly. (In case you’re wondering, I limit my flying to once every three years).

Is this beyond contemplation? Are we incapable of making such changes for the sake of others? If so, our ethics are weaker than those of 1791, when 300,000 British people, to dissociate themselves from slavery, stopped using sugar, reducing sales by one-third. They understood the moral implications of an act that carried no ill intent, that seemed sweetly innocent.

The perceptual gulf between us and the distant and future victims of climate change is no wider than the ocean that lay between the people of Britain and the Caribbean. If we do not make the leap of imagination that connects our actions with their consequences, it is not because we can’t, but because we won’t.

But reason has taken flight. The moral compass spins, greed and desire soar towards the stratosphere, and our conscience vanishes in the clouds. Will anyone confront this injustice?

Twitter: @GeorgeMonbiot. A fully linked version of this column will be published at monbiot.com 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/18/climate-change-airport-expansion-heathrow?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco

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An earlier article by George Monbiot,
on the Heathrow protesters who invaded the runway at Heathrow and were threatened with prison (they were ultimately not imprisoned)

The Heathrow ‘hooligans’ are our modern day freedom fighters

By George Monbiot

The trial of 13 climate protesters is not really about aviation, it highlights a glaring democratic deficit
Wednesday 20 January 2016

They have been reviled as vandals, hooligans and lunatics. But to me, these people are heroes. The 13 women and men on trial this week for cutting through the perimeter fence around Heathrow airport and chaining themselves together on a runway were excoriated by police, passengers and politicians. (One of the defendants in the case is a member of the cooperative society that rents my house.) If convicted, they all face a possible prison sentence. But there are two trials here: the legal proceedings in a local magistrates court, and a test of something much bigger.

Aviation enjoys some astonishing exemptions from the civilising rules that constrain other sectors. Other industries must limit the noise they make; but aircraft, thanks to an obscure clause in the 1949 Civil Aviation Act, are exempt. Other industries pay duty on the fuel they use; but even when air passenger duty is subtracted, aviation’s various tax holidays amount to a subsidy of some £7bn a year, forgone by the Treasury. Some industries must limit the air pollution they produce; but while in principle airports are subject to pollution laws, in practice they have been allowed to breach them routinely for years. (In this case the legal immunity also seems to extend to motor traffic.)

Most importantly, international flights are free from all climate constraints. They are covered by neither domestic legislation nor international agreements. There are no targets, no timetables, no limits. Airlines operate in a legislative vacuum, a transnational, extralegal limbo, accountable nowhere and to no one. As a result they threaten everything that was agreed at December’s climate talks in Paris.

At one point the draft Paris agreement contained a paragraph about aviation and shipping (another unregulated industry). By December this paragraph had disappeared, without public explanation or debate. The final agreement simply fails to mention either industry.

Governments left the issue instead to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation, a body whose apparent purpose is not to make progress but to impede it. Dominated by the industry it is supposed to regulate, its work is an exercise in finely calibrated uselessness: it makes just enough noise to create the impression of something being done, without actually changing anything.

It has three main policies. The first is to offset the greenhouse gases planes release by encouraging other sectors to make bigger cuts, in lieu of those that aviation refuses to accept. It’s not just that this policy is likely to be unachievable, as the targets agreed for other sectors in Paris will be tough enough to reach. It is also unjust. Why should this sector, used mostly by the world’s richer people, be allowed to dump its responsibilities on the rest of the economy?

The second is replacing mineral jet fuel with biofuel. Already road fuels made from plants have helped to destroy the forests of Indonesia and west Africa, strip soil off the land, evict local farmers and spread starvation, as plantations of palm oil, maize, sugar cane and other crops grown to feed cars have replaced those grown to feed people. Already, governments envisage covering great tracts of the planet’s surface with energy crops to burn in power stations: a plan that’s asfanciful as it is destructive. Now they want to power planes this way as well? Will any corners of the planet be reserved for food production and wildlife?

The organisation’s third policy is promoting speculative and often unfeasible aviation technologies, that are highly unlikely to materialise. Perhaps we could call them mumbo-jumbo jets.

Because of the physical and technological constraints, the only way in which we can realistically reduce aviation’s greenhouse gases is to fly less. You might not have imagined, in the 21st century, that we would still need to hoist 180lb of human flesh 30,000 feet into the air every time we want a conversation. I’ve been limiting my own flights to one return ticket every three years. Yes, it has sometimes cost me opportunities and income, but this restraint has made me no less happy or fulfilled. If we can only challenge our sense of entitlement, I believe we inflict no damage on our lives by taking to the air less often.

But rather than seeking to manage demand, our government, like most others, aims only to meet its own inflated forecasts. It claims that the 219m passenger journeys through the UK’s airports in 2011 will rise to 445m by 2050, and it hopes to build enough capacity to accommodate them. In doing so, it vitiates every promise it has made about preventing climate breakdown.

Last month the government delayed its decision on a third runway at Heathrow, ostensibly because of concerns about local pollution (though the real reason was to avoid sabotaging the Conservative candidate’s campaign to become London mayor). But this represents no change in policy: Cameron intends to build the new capacity somewhere, even if it’s not in west London.

Each of aviation’s exemptions is a democratic deficit: a failure to hold the industry responsible for the harms it causes. So what are citizens to do, where the writ of government does not run? Sit back and watch? By doing so, we commit a disservice to democracy. A breach of the contract between state and citizens becomes normalised and ratified by our inaction.

Two verdicts will emerge from this trial. One will concern the legal status of what the protesters did, and there is no way of knowing what it will be. The other will concern the moral status. I suspect that if they are locked up then history will pass the same verdict upon them as it has passed upon suffragettes, Chartists, the pioneers of trade unionism, and civil and gay rights activists. Vilified, prosecuted, but – in the court of public opinion – ultimately vindicated: this is what happens to the heroes of democracy.

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Little new on aviation in CCC advice after Paris Agreement – STILL waiting for Government policy on aviation CO2

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice to government on UK climate action following the Paris Agreement last December.  It sees aviation as a “challenging” or “hard to treat” sector from which to cut emissions. The CCC advocates greenhouse gas removal options (e.g. afforestation, carbon-storing materials, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) to help deal with these CO2 emissions. It is aware that the option for these measures is limited, though it suggests 10% use of biofuel in aircraft eventually (and reduced red meat consumption in diets as a solution …)  The CCC suggests shifting demand to lower emissions alternatives (e.g. virtual conferencing in place of international air travel).  The CCC say government should develop strategies for greenhouse gas removal technologies and reducing emissions from the hardest-to-treat sectors  eg. aviation.  The CCC continues to say UK aviation CO2 emissions should not be above 37.5MtCO2 by 2050. They have said (Nov 2015) that government should publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions by autumn 2016.  This has NOT happened. While international aviation is not yet included in UK carbon budgets, the CCC said in Nov 2015 that it would “provide further advice following the ICAO negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.” No mention of that yet.
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New CCC advice offers no wriggle-room on aviation emissions

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A new report from the Committee on Climate Change, published today, on how to deliver the ambitious climate targets agreed in Paris in 2015 identifies aviation as a ‘hard to treat’ sector and continues to caution against unlimited passenger growth.

The Government’s priority, CCC advises, should be to act ‘with urgency’ to close the policy gap for achieving existing climate commitment. The Climate Change Act requires the UK to cut total emissions by 80% of their 1990 levels by 2050 in order to limit the risk of exceeding 2 degrees of warming. [ie. to about 160 Mt CO2 per year]

Today’s report reiterates the CCC’s advice that new policy is required to ensure that UK aviation emissions are limited to around 2005 levels by 2050 (37.5Mt), implying no more than a 60% increase in passenger demand. [The CCC has been asking government for this since June 2015 – nothing has been produced. See link AW note]

The most recent Government forecasts predicted demand growth of 93% even on the assumption that aviation was exposed to carbon pricing and that no new runways were approved. The Airports Commission, in its analysis of possible airport expansion in the South East, predicted that emissions would increase further if a new runway was built, but offered no recommendations for how emissions and passenger growth could be limited to a sustainable level if expansion goes ahead.

Meeting the challenging goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the CCC’s new report says, will require emissions to fall to ‘net zero’ some time between 2050 and 2070. Since it will be impossible to eliminate CO2 emissions from sectors such as agriculture and aviation this will require significant deployment of carbon sinks and negative emissions technologies.

But measures such as direct air capture and storage, and the development of carbon-storing materials will be challenging to deliver, and finding ways to reduce residual emissions from aviation, agriculture and industry is, the CCC advises, a priority. These measures could include, the report suggests, shifting demand to lower-emissions alternatives such as virtual conferencing in place of international travel.

The CCC remains cautious in its view of the potential for biofuel to deliver CO2 mitigation for aviation in the short to medium term. Given the likely ongoing scarcity of sustainable biomass, the report indicates, this should be used as efficiently as possible, with preference given to the use of wood in construction and of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage rather than to create biofuel for aviation.

Nevertheless ‘substantial biofuel use in aircraft’ is cited as one of the few available options for bringing ‘hard to treat’ sectors in line with the net zero target beyond 2050. AEF recently published comment on anticipated proposals for policy incentives for aviation biofuel.

http://www.aef.org.uk/2016/10/13/new-ccc-advice-offers-no-wriggle-room-on-aviation-emissions/


 

CCC’s report entitled: 

UK climate action following the Paris Agreement –
Committee on Climate Change, October 2016

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/UK-climate-action-following-the-Paris-Agreement-Committee-on-Climate-Change-October-2016.pdf


Below are some extracts relating to aviation

Executive Summary says:

The Paris Agreement marks a significant positive step in global action to tackle climate change. This report considers the domestic actions the UK Government should take as part of a fair contribution to the aims of the Agreement. Our conclusions are as follows:

– Set out a strategy for developing options to remove greenhouse gases from the air. Even with full deployment of known low-carbon measures some UK emissions will remain, especially from aviation, agriculture and parts of industry. Greenhouse gas removal options (e.g. afforestation, carbon-storing materials, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, and direct air capture and storage) will be required alongside widespread decarbonisation in order to reach net zero emissions. Success requires a globally co-ordinated effort across the full chain from basic research to market readiness, reflecting the differing levels of development of removal options. A strategy for deployment at scale by 2050 should start now given the timescales inherent in bringing new technologies to market.


There is no single agreed way to define fair contributions of effort between nations. However, it is hard to envisage the UK continuing as a net emitter for longer than the rest of the world:

– The UK’s 2050 target to reduce emissions at least 80% from 1990 (i.e. to around 160 MtCO2e per year) is challenging but can be met in various ways using currently known technologies. Scenarios generally involve deep reductions in emissions from power, heating and transport, where zero-carbon options already exist. More challenging sectors (especially agriculture, aviation and industry) are currently not expected to reach zero emissions on this timescale.


3. Strategies for hard-to-treat sectors and greenhouse gas removals

Even with full deployment of known low-carbon technologies and behaviours some UK emissions will remain, especially from hard-to-treat sectors: aviation, agriculture and parts of industry. Reaching net zero (and possibly net negative) emissions will require technologies to remove greenhouse gases. The UK should pursue a strategy to develop options in both hard-to-treat sectors and greenhouse gas removals, domestically and in collaboration with wider global efforts (for instance Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition). A diverse range of potential removal technologies exists. Currently they face low levels of funding and policy support, without an overall national or international strategy to develop them.


The current challenges to removal technologies at scale mean they are not a substitute for widespread deployment of zero-emission technologies:

• All removal technologies have requirements in terms of land, energy and other resources. Achieving removal levels of over 100 MtCO2e per year in the UK will be very stretching.

• Reducing residual sources of emissions to close to 100 MtCO2e per year would require stretching options in hard-to-treat sectors, such as substantial biofuel use in aircraft and reduced red meat consumption in diets

Finding ways to further reduce residual emissions from aviation, agriculture and industry is therefore an innovation priority. Options could, for example, include support for new technologies, products and innovation in each of these areas and shifting demand to lower emissions alternatives (e.g. increased re-use of products and materials, and further shifts towards virtual conferencing in place of international travel).

Given the very low levels of funding and policy support for removal technologies at present, there is potential for UK efforts to have a significant international impact and to secure a UK leadership position in this area.


4. Implications for UK policy priorities in the nearer term

Current policy in the UK is not enough to deliver the existing carbon budgets that Parliament has set. The Committee’s assessment in our 2016 Progress Report was that current policies would at best deliver around half of the emissions reductions required to 2030, with no current policies to address the other half. This carbon policy gap must be closed to meet the existing carbon budgets, and to prepare for the 2050 target and net zero emissions in the longer term.

The existing carbon budgets are designed to prepare for the UK’s 2050 target in the lowest cost way as a contribution to a global path aimed at keeping global average temperature to around 2°C. Global paths to keep close to 1.5°C, at the upper end of the ambition in the Paris Agreement, imply UK reductions of at least 90% below 1990 levels by 2050 and potentially more ambitious efforts over the timescale of existing carbon budgets.

However, we recommend the Government does not alter the level of existing carbon budgets or the 2050 target now. They are already stretching and relatively ambitious compared to pledges from other countries. Meeting them cost-effectively will require deployment to begin at scale by 2030 for some key measures that enable net zero emissions (e.g. carbon capture and storage, electric vehicles, low-carbon heat). In theory these measures could allow deeper reductions by 2050 (on the order of 90% below 1990 levels) if action were ramped up quickly.

The priority for now should be robust near-term action to close the gap to existing targets and open up options to reach net zero emissions:

• The Government should publish a robust plan of measures to meet the legislated UK carbon budgets, and deliver policies in line with the plan.

• If all measures deliver fully and emissions are reduced further, this would help support the aim in the Paris Agreement of pursuing efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

• The Government should additionally develop strategies for greenhouse gas removal technologies and reducing emissions from the hardest-to-treat sectors (aviation, agriculture and parts of industry).

There will be several opportunities to revisit the UK’s targets in future as low-carbon technologies and options for greenhouse gas removals are developed, and as more is learnt about ambition in other countries and potential global paths to well below 2°C and 1.5°C


Figure 1.  P 17:

ccc-uk-carbon-budgets-to-2050-targetThe allowance (in red) is shown to for aviation and shipping. The UK total target for 2050 for the UK is 160 MtCO2.  The target for aviation alone by 2050 is 37.5MtCO2. Shipping CO2 emissions are smaller than those for aviation – about 12.5 MtCO2 in 2011.

Historical emissions are on a ‘gross’ basis (i.e. actual emissions). Carbon budgets are on the current budget accounting basis, excluding international aviation and shipping (IAS), but allowing for IAS in the 2050 target.

Same table from the CCC in November 2015

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• A linear path from 2014 (when UK emissions where 462 MtCO2/yr including international aviation and shipping) implies reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2033-55 for 2°C and 2026-8 for 1.5°C.

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Achieving all of the options in the Max scenarios would result in net economy-wide emissions of around 64 MtCO2e/yr in 2050 (i.e. 92% below 1990 levels) including the UK share of international aviation and shipping.

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• Achieving net zero domestic emissions of all greenhouse gases would require a combination of further breakthroughs in hard-to-reduce sectors (agriculture, aviation and some industry) and greenhouse gas removal technologies beyond those already in our scenarios (afforestation, wood in construction and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage).

• The aim of the Paris Agreement to balance sources and sinks of greenhouse gases implies the need for a globally coordinated strategy to develop and deploy greenhouse gas removal options. Such options are not a substitute for widespread decarbonisation, given current estimates of the potential scale for greenhouse gas removal both globally and in the UK.

…..

• Bioenergy. Sustainable bioenergy can play an important role reducing emissions where alternative options are very limited. However, there are limits to the sustainable supply so its role must be targeted at options where it has the largest impact on emissions. Our analysis indicates that use should preferentially be as wood in construction or with CCS and/or displacing coal, with further potential for use where alternative low-carbon options are not available (e.g. aviation)

1. Recap of CCC scenarios to 2050

The current UK long-term target implies UK emissions should be around 160 MtCO2e/yr or less in 2050. The CCC has developed a range of scenarios to 2050, but not beyond.

Our approach to scenarios for meeting the 2050 target recognises uncertainties in costs and availability of different options. Rather than defining a single central scenario we have identified a set of building blocks across sectors that can stack up in different ways, allowing the possible lack of delivery in one sector to be compensated by more delivery in others:

• For each sector (power, buildings, surface transport, industry, non-CO2 and aviation & shipping) we have developed three scenarios, “Barriers”, “Central” and “Max”, representing different levels of success in deploying low-emissions options.

‒ Central represents our best assessment of the technologies and behaviours required to meet targets cost-effectively while meeting the other criteria in the Climate Change Act.

‒ Barriers represents less favourable conditions for key measures (technological barriers, failure to achieve cost reductions, or market barriers).

‒ Max represents higher deployment towards the maximum limits that are likely to be feasible, acceptable and sustainable.

 


Table 3.1 sets out brief descriptions of our Max, Central and Barriers scenarios for each sector, and the level of emissions these imply. They are illustrative given the significant uncertainties in demand and technologies to 2050. Alternative low-carbon options may prove more effective or cheaper, whilst other sources of emissions could emerge. The scenarios are intended to give a useful sense of how the 2050 target could be met, given what we know now.

P 39

ccc-max-central-barriers-aviation

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Remaining emissions

It is less clear how to avoid emissions in other sectors, in particular from agriculture, aviation and some parts of industry. These sectors make up around 100 MtCO2e/yr of residual emissions in our Max scenario in 2050 (Figure 3.1):

• Aviation contributes a remaining 35 MtCO2/yr. We assume a maximum of 1.5% annual improvements in fuel efficiency and10% take-up of biofuels. Further emissions reduction would require breakthroughs in advanced low-carbon fuels, alternative propulsion methods (e.g. LNG, hydrogen, nuclear, solar, hybrid planes) or greater shifts in consumer demand away from jet aircraft to alternatives.


…..

• Bioenergy. Sustainable bioenergy can play an important role reducing emissions where alternative options are very limited. However, there are limits to the sustainable supply so its role must be targeted at options where it has the largest impact on emissions. Our analysis indicates that use should preferentially be as wood in construction or with CCS and/or displacing coal, with further potential for use where alternative low-carbon options are not available (e.g. aviation)


Table 4.1. Requirements in the Progress Report for the Government’s plan to meet carbon budgets

“A plan to limit UK aviation emissions to around 2005 levels by 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand, supported by strong international policies” – and the CCC says on this New Policy Required. 

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All the above extracts are from  

UK climate action following the Paris Agreement –
Committee on Climate Change, October 2016

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/UK-climate-action-following-the-Paris-Agreement-Committee-on-Climate-Change-October-2016.pdf


 

Other information from the CCC and elsewhere on aviation emissions:

The fifth carbon budget advice recommends an emissions limit of 1,765 MtCO2e over the period 2028-2032 including emissions from international shipping. This is an emissions reduction of 57% on 1990 levels. The Committee recommended that international shipping emissions were included in the fifth carbon budget, as there are no longer any strong practical reasons which prevent their inclusion. These emissions should be included on the basis of international policy agreed at the International Maritime Organisation, and does not therefore imply a unilateral UK approach. The Committee also said that if international shipping emissions were excluded then an emission limit of 1,725 MtCO2e would be appropriate over the period 2028-2032. The Government is legislating this latter number and excluding international shipping from the formal total for the budget.


In 2011, UK aviation carbon emissions were around 35 MtCO2.  (Aviation contributed 5.9% of the total UK emissions – which do not include embodied carbon in imported goods – of 594 MtCO2.  Shipping contributed about 2.1% which was about 12.5 MtCO2)

uk-co2-all-sectors-2011-ccc

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Aviation-factsheet.pdf


Environmental Audit Committee said (30.11.2015):

By 2040 the Commission estimated aviation would comprise around 24% of national emissions.

The former Airports Commissioners told us they relied heavily on the work of the Committee on Climate Change when undertaking their work. They denied that their modelled carbon prices and policies were policy recommendations – feeling thatthe CCC were better placed to take on this role. Governments have in the past been reluctant to accept CCC policy recommendations on aviation. The Government cannot credibly rely on the Commission’s analysis as evidence that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within the limits set by the 2008 Act if this continues to be the caseWe recommend that the Government give the CCC the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s forecasting of aviation emissions and the feasibility of its possible carbon policy scenarios. The Government should act on any recommendations they make.

Carbon Emissions – Overall Conclusions

29. We draw four conclusions from the evidence we heard on carbon emissions.

Firstly, because the planning assumption requires additional decarbonisation from other sectors, passenger growth in aviation cannot be seen in isolation from the progress on emissions reduction made by the rest of the economy.

Secondly, the industry has taken steps to reduce its carbon emissions and, in areas such as fuel efficiency, market incentives are likely to ensure further progress.

Thirdly, these measures in themselves are highly unlikely to achieve the planning assumption and further measures, including demand management, will be required.

Finally, there is a significant gap between the theoretical models of how a mixture of these measures might allow the planning assumption to be met and the proposals currently on the domestic and international policy tables.

30.  We recommend that any Government decision on airport expansion should be accompanied by a package of measures to demonstrate a commitment to bringing emissions from international aviation within the economy-wide target set by the 2008 Act. They should also, as a minimum, commit to accepting the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on aviation in relation to the fifth carbon budget, introducing an effective policy framework to bring aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 no later than autumn 2016 and pressing for the strongest possible international measures at the International Civil Aviation Organisation next year.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmenvaud/389/38905.htm#footnote-134



See earlier: 

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

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

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/06/committee-on-climate-change-confirm-aviation-co2-must-remain-capped-putting-new-runway-into-question/


CCC.  June 2015

In the context of future policy and infrastructure investment decisions, appropriate long-term assumptions for Government planning are for aviation emissions to be around 2005 levels in 2050 (implying around a 60% increase in demand over the same period), and for shipping emissions to be around one-third lower than 2010 levels. Government should publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions on this basis.

Table 6. Summary of recommendations – central Government

[The DfT should]  “Publish an effective policy framework for aviation emissions: plan for UK 2050 emissions at 2005 levels (implying around a 60% increase in demand) and push for strong international and EU policies.”

This should be ahead of the 2016 Progress Report by the CCC on its carbon budgets.

http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/6.737_CCC-BOOK_WEB_250615_RFS.pdf 

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Committee on Climate Change says additional policies are needed to keep UK aviation CO2 below 37.5MtCO2 cap

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its advice on the level of the 5th carbon budget, covering the period 2028-2032. The CCC states: “While UK demand for international aviation is likely to grow considerably, emissions must be limited. Previous analysis by the Committee concluded that, based on the available evidence, aviation should plan for its emissions in 2050 to be no higher than those in 2005. That requires strong efficiency improvements to balance demand growth of about 60%.”  And …” International aviation emissions should not formally be included in carbon budgets at this stage, though carbon budgets should continue to be set on track to a 2050 target inclusive of these emissions. We will provide further advice following the ICAO negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.” (The CO2 emissions from shipping will be included in the 5th carbon budget.)  UK aviation CO2 emissions are currently set to overshoot the 37.5MtCO2 level even without any new runways and to be higher still if a runway is added at either Heathrow or Gatwick. The CCC says in a scenario where emissions are not capped and only low ‘carbon abatement’ options (such as technology improvements) are available, aviation emissions could be as high as 51.9 Mt by 2050, underlining the need for policy action to address the gap.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/11/committee-on-climate-change-says-additional-policies-are-needed-to-keep-uk-aviation-co2-below-37-5mtco2-cap/

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An extract from the CCC Fifth Carbon Budget Technical Report:

(Page 128) • Aviation. Our previous planning assumption for aviation emissions to be around 2005 levels in 2050 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2), allowing an increase in demand of around 60%, remains appropriate. International aviation emissions should not formally be included in carbon budgets at this stage, though carbon budgets should continue to be set on track to a 2050 target inclusive of these emissions. We will provide further advice following the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) negotiations in 2016, and recommend that Government revisit inclusion at that point.

https://d2kjx2p8nxa8ft.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sectoral-scenarios-for-the-fifth-carbon-budget-Committee-on-Climate-Change.pdf

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See also

Government insists detailed emissions reduction plan on its way

13.10.2016
Business Green

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2474031/government-insists-detailed-emissions-reduction-plan-on-its-way

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Read more »

Might the ICAO deal, weak in itself, be the beginning of the end for very cheap flights?

The recent deal from ICAO on slightly limiting the rise in global aviation carbon emissions would perhaps add around 2% to the price of an air ticket. That would be about the cost of a coffee on many short haul cheap flights – not a deterrent. It would not start till 2020. The aviation industry may worry that its wafer thin margins (shocking it makes so little profit for the emission of SO much CO2) may be further hit.  But the industry is pleased there is an ICAO deal, as it will be much cheaper for them than a patchwork of more stringent regulations by regions or countries. Hence their (muted) enthusiasm for it.  They have got off lightly. The aviation industry currently has very cheap fuel, but it has not had a good year due to fears of terrorism, cutting growth – and also fears of coming economic gloom, with Brexit as part of that. There have been airline staff cuts.  Airlines will need to invest in newer planes, that emit less carbon per mile – to save themselves costs in future. The price of oil is not likely to stay low for ever, especially due to the lack of investment in the current downturn.  With the first mechanism to act on aviation CO2 now agreed, there may in future be more environmental regulation for the sector. With anticipated growth of 4 – 5% per year, the CO2 emissions from global aviation could become around 25%of the total by 2050 – eclipsing the progress made in cutting carbon from other sectors. 
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Is it all over for the age of cheap air travel?

Some UN observers are dismayed at the carbon deal, saying it will amount ‘to little more than adding the price of a cup of coffee to a ticket’

By Jillian Ambrose (Telegraph)
8 OCTOBER 2016

The aviation industry has crossed a threshold. After almost two decades of talks, 191 countries gathered in Montreal last week to adopt a global market-based system to tackle the rise of carbon emissions from international air travel.

The deal has been welcomed by governments as an unprecedented diplomatic success, and by green groups as a hopeful starting point for further environmental progress. But for some embattled airlines, it could deliver a fatal blow to the gilded decades of low-cost flights.

The second half of the last century played host to a revolution in air travel, driving the globalised economy that is taken for granted today. In 1945, it might have taken 130 weeks for a person earning the average Australian wage to earn enough for the lowest Sydney to London return air fare. Now it would take less than two. But the boom in air travel is quickly giving way to an industry-wide bust. Airline profits have plummeted amid terror attacks and economic gloom, sparking aggressive staff cuts and strike action.

Even easyJet, one of Europe’s most successful short-haul players has admitted that it is bracing for a £90m hit in its first profit warning since 2009.

Air Berlin, Germany’s second largest carrier, is expected to slash 1,200 jobs and halve its fleet of 144 aircraft after reporting its eighth consecutive annual operating loss last year. Even with fuel oil costs at historic lows, European airline bosses say the industry is facing the toughest market in 30 years. The gloom could take until the end of the decade to fade.

By then, airlines will need to face up to steadily rising environmental costs running into the billions of dollars while undertaking green investment totalling trillions as the oil market threatens a return to higher prices.

Under the new deal, airlines will be expected to offset their emissions growth after 2020 by buying “offset credits” in line with their carbon footprint.

The carbon costs are expected to incentivise the industry to develop lower-carbon fuels and technologies, while the money raised by the credits will fund environmental initiatives to help to tackle climate change.

This cost is forecast to grow to as high as $23.9bn by 2035, or 1.8% of the airlines’ revenue. At the same time airlines will need to spend more on developing lower emissions aircraft, technologies and fuel.

Still, there are many who believe that the cost is too low. UN observers at the campaign group Transport and Environment claim the costs are “peanuts” to the airlines and will amount “to little more than adding the price of a cup of coffee to a ticket”.

Yet, there seems little doubt that there will be further pressure to ratchet costs higher. The direction of travel raises the question: is the golden age of cheap European air travel losing its gleam?

To date, airlines have avoided the cost burden of addressing climate change, while energy and heavy industry have borne the brunt. But the aviation sector has come under increasing pressure to act after the Paris Agreement, which came into law last week, left out both the aviation and shipping industries.

The global aviation business is a large one to overlook: almost 1,400 airlines operate a fleet of 25,000 aircraft burning 1.5bn barrels of jet fuel every year. Last year alone nearly 3.6bn passengers were carried by the world’s airlines, producing 781 million tonnes of CO2.

Currently, airlines contribute 5% of global CO2 emissions, but the industry’s projected growth of around 4% to 5% a year has unsurprisingly raised concerns that aviation emissions could soon eclipse the progress made in cutting carbon from other areas of the economy.

The world’s commercial jet fleet is expected to more than double by 2025, and by 2050 would be responsible for almost a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions if no action was taken.

The current global fleet of aircraft is estimated to be well over 80% more efficient than aircraft in the 1960s but the industry has a long, costly road ahead if it is to meet its carbon reduction ambitions.

The Air Transport Action Group estimates that by the end of the decade, the world’s airlines will have had to purchase 12,000 new aircraft at a cost of $1.3 trillion to meet its 2020 targets. Still, the group is supportive of the deal in line with other industry groups representing the sector.

At first glance it seems counter-intuitive for an industry to welcome a step that could be the first along a costly road, but the framework represents the path of least pain in an environment where costs are bound to rise.

Tim Alderslade, head of the British Air Transport Association, does little to dispel the claims that the industry is getting off lightly. It might be the beginning of the end of cheap travel, but it helps the industry avoid the more costly fate of individual government intervention.

“The [deal] is the single most cost- effective way for airlines to address carbon emissions, more so than any other solution. It would also be substantially less than a tax would end up costing,” Mr Alderslade says.

HSBC analyst Andrew Lobbenberg says the new carbon plan matters less than what may follow now that the floodgates of environmental regulation have opened.

“What will matter is how much expense the industry ends up facing. It’s a very unprofitable business. In the history of the economy it’s only really started to create value in the last few years,” Mr Lobbenberg says.

He expects most airlines to experience falling profits next year even if market jitters over terrorism and the UK’s Brexit vote begin to wane. The industry’s structural issues, he suggests, could persist for the next three years.

“We do not deny the relevance of the terror attacks and the Brexit decision, but the trend is bigger and simpler: the airline industry is doing what it usually does and is adding too much capacity at the wrong time, exacerbating the impact of regular economic cycles,” Mr Lobbenberg says.

In addition, by 2020, when the first phase of the carbon plan comes into effect, experts predict that the oil market could face a renewed round of price shocks due to the lack of investment in the current downturn. The price of jet fuel makes up a third of an airline’s total costs, potentially delivering a fatal blow to smaller airlines if prices spike.

Accendo Markets’ equity analyst, Mike van Dulken, agrees that the days of cheap and cheerful European air travel could be numbered. Holidaymakers may face a more “budget” experience for higher prices, as airlines are forced to invest in new aircraft to escape escalating carbon costs.

Already British Airways has announced plans to scrap free food and drink on its short-haul flights in favour of selling snacks and sandwiches from Marks & Spencer.

He says: “Unless lower flying costs through fuel efficiency can offset higher aircraft prices, the difference will almost certainly have to be passed on to flyers. Should the oil price rise again due to undersupply in the next five years, this would add an additional unwelcome headwind for airlines already struggling badly.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/10/08/is-it-all-over-for-the-age-of-cheap-air-travel/

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See also

 

ICAO’s aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further to cut CO2

A deal was finally agreed by ICAO on 6th October. It was progress, in that there had never been any sort of agreement on global aviation CO2 emissions before. But it was not a great deal – and far too weak to provide the necessary restriction on the growth of global aviation CO2. It came in the same week that the Paris Agreement crossed its crucial threshold to enter into force, but the ICAO deleted key provisions for the deal to align its ambitions with the Paris aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees with best efforts to not exceed 1.5 degrees C. Tim Johnson, Director of AEF and the lead representative of The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) – the official environmental civil society observer at the global negotiations, said in relation to the UK: “But while today’s deal is applauded, this international effort falls well short of the effort required to bring UK aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act. With a decision on a new runway expected later this month, the UK’s ambition for aviation emissions must match the ambition of the Climate Change Act, and not simply the ICAO global lowest common denominator of carbon neutral growth from 2020. The ICAO scheme could make a contribution towards the ambition of the Climate Change Act, but it does not solve the whole problem.”

Click here to view full story…

Report shows EU’s ‘imperfect’ ETS still outperforms draft UN aviation deal on aviation CO2

When in April 2014 the EU agreed, reluctantly, to “stop the clock” on its inclusion of aviation in the ETS (Emissions Trading System) it was on the condition that this limiting of the scheme would be re-assessed in 2017, depending if ICAO had come up with an effective scheme to restrict aviation CO2 by then. Currently the EU ETS only includes carbon from flights within, (not to and from) the EU. But the deal that ICAO is likely to sign up to next month looks as if it will fail, by being too small in its scope, voluntary not obligatory, and depending on unknown biofuels and technologies in future, no environmental safeguards, as well as unreliable carbon offsets which may not in practice cut CO2 emissions. It will not meet ICAO’s stated goal of “carbon neutral growth” from 2020. Therefore, as the ICAO scheme does not meet the requirements of the EU, in order to suspend its ETS, the EU may find it necessary to revert to its full ETS system, to include flights out of (maybe also into) the EU as well as flights within the EU. The EU needs to ensure it gets agreement through ICAO that it can continue to include aviation in its ETS. The ETS scheme had its faults, but used emissions allowances instead of dubious offsets, was binding instead of voluntary, and include all CO2 emissions. To be fully effective, the cap on aviation carbon in the EU scheme needs to reduce each year. A new report “Aviation ETS – gaining altitude” sets out the details of how the ETS could work in future.

Click here to view full story…

China, US and EU reported to have pledged to join the weak, voluntary, initial stages of ICAO scheme for CO2

It is reported that China, Europe and the US have pledged to join the initial voluntary phases of ICAO’s carbon-offsetting scheme designed to give international aviation a chance of achieving it goal of “carbon-neutral growth” after 2020. On 3rd September, the 44 member states of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) committed to being part of ICAO’s global market-based measure (MBM) scheme “from the start”. On the same day the US and China said they “expect to be early participants” in the global MBM, also called the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA. On 2nd September ICAO released a revised text that will be presented for adoption by the ICAO Assembly in early October. This makes participation voluntary in the pilot and first phases of the scheme, covering 2021-26. The MBM will become mandatory only in the 2nd phase, covering 2027-35, with exemptions for countries with only a small share of international aviation activity in 2018. India and Russia are opposed to joining the global MBM. Under the CORSIA scheme, airlines would “offset” additional CO2 growth beyond 2019-20 levels by buying credits from designated environmental projects.There are concerns about REDD forestry credits being used. ICAO estimates the cost to airlines would only be at most 1.4% of total revenues, by 2035. Far less till then.

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MEPs shocked by ‘secretive’ and unacceptably unambitious ICAO plan to cut aviation CO2 emissions

A meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment has been told of the way a possible agreement by ICAO next month – on global aviation carbon emissions – has been watered down. MEPs were informed of the likely 6-year delay, with the scheme for a global market based mechanism (GMBM) not taking effect properly until 2027, rather than in 2021 that had been foreseen. Opt-in to the GMBM scheme before 2027 would be voluntary, but mandatory from 2027 through to 2035. There will be exemptions for poor nations, and even after 2027 the participation of the least developed countries and small island states would remain voluntary only. EU deputies said they were “shocked” to learn how many concessions the EU was prepared to make at the Montreal meeting, which took place in May behind closed doors. Then, to make matters yet worse, “a special review in 2032 will determine whether the mechanism will be continued,” taking into account progress made as part of a related “basket of measures” which includes “CO2 standards for aircraft”, technological improvements, air traffic management and alternative fuels. In a rare show of unity, Parliament representatives from across the political spectrum urged the EU to be more aggressive in the negotiation. Bas Eckhout, a Dutch MEP, said what is on offer now is not acceptable.

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and more at  ICAO / EU ETS News Stories

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ICAO’s aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further to cut CO2

A deal was finally agreed by ICAO on 6th October.  It was progress, in that there had never been any sort of agreement on global aviation CO2 emissions before. But it was not a great deal – and far too weak to provide the necessary restriction on the growth of global aviation CO2.  It came in the same week that the Paris Agreement crossed its crucial threshold to enter into force, but the ICAO deleted key provisions for the deal to align its ambitions with the Paris aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees with best efforts to not exceed 1.5 degrees C. Tim Johnson, Director of AEF and the lead representative of The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) – the official environmental civil society observer at the global negotiations, said in relation to the UK: “But while today’s deal is applauded, this international effort falls well short of the effort required to bring UK aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act. With a decision on a new runway expected later this month, the UK’s ambition for aviation emissions must match the ambition of the Climate Change Act, and not simply the ICAO global lowest common denominator of carbon neutral growth from 2020. The ICAO scheme could make a contribution towards the ambition of the Climate Change Act, but it does not solve the whole problem.”
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Aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further

October 6, 2016 (Transport & Environment)

Today’s decision to offset but not reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft, and on a voluntary basis, is a weak start which must be followed with more effective measures by states to rein in aviation emissions, Transport & Environment (T&E) has said.

The deal’s coverage of emissions falls well short of the ‘carbon neutral growth in 2020’ target promised by UN aviation body ICAO and industry, and the lack of clear rules for offsets presents a clear risk to the measure’s environmental effectiveness. 

At the last minute states also quietly dropped plans to align ICAO policies with the Paris agreement’s 1.5/2°C warming limit just a day after that agreement crossed its threshold to enter into force.

The decision in Montreal will see airlines in participating countries emit increasing amounts of CO2 so long as the carriers pay for offsetting projects in other sectors.

ICAO still has not agreed on the contentious environmental criteria to ensure offsets have a climate impact, such as whether they are ‘double counted’ or whether the emissions reductions would have happened anyway.

Furthermore the coverage of emissions growth may total between 75-80%, but only 20% of total aircraft CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2035 will be offset [Forthcoming analysis to be published by T&E], shifting the burden onto other sectors to do more if global warming is to be limited at 1.5/2°C, as was agreed in Paris last year.

Speaking in Montreal, T&E aviation director Bill Hemmings said: “Airline claims that flying will now be green are a myth. Taking a plane is the fastest and cheapest way to fry the planet and this deal won’t reduce demand for jet fuel one drop. Instead offsetting aims to cut emissions in other industries.”

ICAO and the aviation industry must finalise and implement robust criteria for offsets and then develop further measures if we are to have any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. This week’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement also means countries and regions – starting with large historical emitters like Europe and the US – must introduce additional measures to close aviation’s ambition gap. In Europe, the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) needs to be strengthened and aviation stripped of its harmful privileges.

Bill Hemmings added: “Today is not mission accomplished for ICAO, Europe or industry. The world needs more than voluntary agreements. Without robust environmental safeguards the offsets won’t cut emissions, leaving us with a deal that amounts to little more than adding the price of a cup of coffee to a ticket.”

T&E is an observer to the ICAO talks as part of the ICSA coalition of environmental NGOs, which said “critical work” remains to be done to ensure environmental integrity and broad participation.

International aviation and shipping were not explicitly mentioned in the Paris agreement. ICAO’s decision today still leaves it unclear how aviation will or intends to meet its reduction commitments.

Aviation is currently responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming. Aircraft CO2 alone is projected to quadruple and will potentially account for 22% of all CO2 emitted globally in 2050.

https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/aviation-offsetting-deal-weak-start-%E2%80%93-now-countries-must-go-further

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Global Aviation Climate Deal Concludes With Mixed Results – AEF comment

Montreal — An overwhelming majority of countries agreed to take a first step to address emissions from international aviation by adopting a global market-based measure (GMBM) for the sector.

However, in the same week that the Paris Agreement crosses its crucial threshold to enter into force, countries sent a worrying signal by deleting key provisions for the aviation agreement that would align its ambitions with the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees with best efforts to not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Commenting on the landmark deal, Tim Johnson, Aviation Environment Federation Director and the lead representative of The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) – the official environmental civil society observer at the global negotiations, said:

“Viewed globally, this is a landmark deal that addresses a gap in the plan to deliver the Paris Agreement, namely how to tackle the soaring emissions from international aviation.

“But there are gaps in coverage and many issues still to be decided that will determine its effectiveness.

“We urge ICAO and states to view the goal of keeping net emissions at 2020 levels as the start of a process. ICAO will now need to show strong leadership to strengthen the goal over time in line with the effort to deliver Paris.

“But while today’s deal is applauded, this international effort falls well short of the effort required to bring UK aviation emissions in line with the Climate Change Act.

With a decision on a new runway expected later this month, the UK’s ambition for aviation emissions must match the ambition of the Climate Change Act, and not simply the ICAO global lowest common denominator of carbon neutral growth from 2020.

“The ICAO scheme could make a contribution towards the ambition of the Climate Change Act, but it does not solve the whole problem.”

Aviation emissions are projected to consume approximately a quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget by 2050, highlighting the urgency of reaching an agreement to tackle airline pollution. AEF recognizes the agreement as a hard-fought political compromise to see that aviation contributes its fair share in the climate change fight, but critical work remains to ensure environmental integrity and broad participation.

The UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreement to establish a GMBM contains some good provisions and a number of troubling elements that need improvement to reflect ICSA’slongstanding recommendations to strengthen the GMBM:

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Positive Elements Negative Elements
The three-year review clause and its connection to the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals in the GMBM resolution, though this connection was substantially  weakened in the accompanying climate resolution adopted by ICAO provisions. The GMBM, falls short of the goals of carbon neutral growth from 2020, Paris Agreement goals, and the industry goal of halving emissions from 2050.
The mandate that emissions unit criteria (EUC) and monitoring reporting verification (MRV) modalities be reflected as standards by ICAO. A lack of public commitment that insists offsets and alternative fuels credited under the GMBM must have high environmental integrity.
A solution to the difficult issue of dividing up offsetting responsibilities. No explicit text mandating that emissions reductions are not double counted.
Explicit text on the importance of avoiding double-counting of UNFCCC emission reductions. Lack of clear provisions on ensuring transparency of the process for finalizing the GMBM

 

ICSA’s current analysis of the resolution text and the commitments from more than 60 countries to join the first phases of the GMBM suggests that the measure will cover an estimated three quarters of international aviation’s expected emissions growth between 2021 and 2035.

Although this falls short of ICAO’s own target of carbon neutral growth from 2020, the anticipated coverage would be 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions, provided the emissions criteria to be elaborated allow only high quality carbon credits.

Importantly, the integrity of the agreement’s emission reductions depend on rules not yet in place.

ICSA welcomes that more than 60 states have so far stated their intent to participate in the measure from the beginning.

However, it is critical to expand coverage of the measure given the shortfall between what was agreed to at the assembly and the goal of stabilizing emissions at a 2020 level and the need for further action.

ICSA urges ICAO member states to use the resolution’s review clause to ratchet up ambition over time. It is also important that states and regions, especially developed and fast-developing ones, adopt additional measures to mitigate aviation’s climate impact.

ICSA is committed to ongoing engagement to ensure a high level of environmental integrity, broad participation, and a transparent process.

ICAO member states should work to align the reduction of aviation climate impacts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets.

ICSA will maintain pressure as discussion on the EUC and overall implementation continue, which will need to stand up to public scrutiny.

 

Notes

The Aviation Environment Federation is the only national NGO campaigning exclusively on environmental impacts of aviation including noise, air pollution and climate change. We represent community groups around many of the UK airports in our work to secure effective regulation of the aviation industry at national and international levels 

The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) works to reduce pollution from air travel. As a network of nonprofit organizations representing millions of members, ICSA is the only environmental civil society group accredited as an observer by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN standard-setting body for international air travel.  

http://www.aef.org.uk/2016/10/06/global-aviation-co2-deal-concludes-with-mixed-results-aviation-environment-federation-comment/

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ICAO deal: Soaring success or timid take-off?

By Madeleine Cuff (Business Green)

7 October 2016

The aviation deal is a step in the right direction, but needs an explicit link to the Paris Agreement goals and a credible offsetting system to really set the industry on a climate-friendly flight path 

What a week. Hot on the heels of the momentous ratification of the Paris Agreement – confirming that the landmark deal will enter into force next month – environmental campaigners and journalists once again rolled out the superlatives to applaud the agreement of the first deal to limit emissions from the international aviation sector.

“Historic”, “unprecedented” and “visionary” were all words used by commentators to describe the deal, which seeks to limit emissions from international passenger and cargo flights at 2020 levels, via a carbon offsetting scheme. Participation will be voluntary at first, and from 2027 most countries are mandated to join.

While the media may be getting superlative fatigue following this week’s mini-flurry of “historic” deals, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreement really is worthy of the fuss. After years of political wrangling, it represents a major diplomatic breakthrough on the topic of international aviation emissions – which have historically been left out of UN climate deals and not regulated under domestic climate law. It is also the first agreement of its kind to cover a single sector of a global industry.

And while not perfect, there is much in the deal to be celebrated.

From 2021 around 75% of emissions from the global aviation sector will be offset, with dozens of countries – including China, the US and Japan – voluntarily taking part in the first phases of the scheme, more than ICAO had assumed would when the idea of a voluntary phase was first floated.

This means that over the 15 years of the programme (from 2021-2035) airlines could offset almost 2.5bn tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to taking 35 million cars of the road each year –according to the Environmental Defense Fund. It seems the ‘peer pressure’ effect that was so important to the early signing and ratification of the Paris Agreement is once again having the desired effect in spurring countries on to commit to higher climate action.

Airlines will now also have a major – read, financial – incentive to make their routes, and their aircraft, more fuel efficient, boosted by new carbon dioxide standards for new aircraft agreed earlier this year by ICAO. By 2021 Virgin Atlantic has promised to have a purely twin engine aircraft fleet – planes which are on average 30% more fuel efficient than traditional aircraft. Other airlines will follow suit.

And although the cost of the scheme is expected to add very little to the cost of the airfare on customers – a maximum of 2% on ticket prices, according to ICAO – as the scheme becomes mandatory it could become a vital source of cash for climate projects around the world. By 2035 ICAO figures suggest it could have funded up to $24bn worth of offsetting projects around the world, from reforestation to alternative energy projects.

And the fact the deal is a single, unitary agreement backed by 191 countries means aviation avoids what many were viewing as the inevitable alternative if a compromise wasn’t reached – a messy patchwork of national and regional policies that could lead to overlapping costs and confusing bureaucracy for many international airlines.

It was a risk ICAO was well aware of going into the meeting: “In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of carbon pricing instruments, such as CO2 taxes or emissions trading schemes, applied around the world,” read one briefing note. “A similar proliferation of carbon pricing instruments on aviation would result in an unsustainable patchwork of measures for operators and for governments. Indeed, there are strong indications that a number of States around the world have considered the adoption of economic measures in this area and the International Monetary Fund has specifically called for a tax on CO2 on aviation and shipping.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/2473448/icao-deal-soaring-success-or-timid-take-off

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UK secures historic deal to combat global aviation emissions

From:  Department for Transport and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

6 October 2016

The UK has agreed a huge aviation climate deal with 190 countries. Airlines will offset emissions aiming for carbon neutral growth from 2020.

The UK along with 190 other countries has secured a major global climate deal to combat aviation emissions. The deal was struck on 6 October 2016.
This is the first worldwide scheme to address emissions in any single sector. Under the deal, airlines will offset their emissions with reductions from other sectors and activities with the aim of delivering carbon neutral growth for the aviation sector from 2020.

It is the most significant global deal on climate since the Paris Agreementlast year, when the world agreed to pursue efforts to keep the global temperature increase well below 2 degrees. As one of the two sectors not covered by Paris, it was critical that international aviation also took action. This agreement is a major step forward, and the UK has played an important part in delivering this.The deal was reached at the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, following 3 years of challenging negotiations.

Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad said:

This is an unprecedented deal, the first of its kind for any sector. International aviation is responsible for putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year than the whole of the UK and yet until now, there has been no global consensus on how to address the growing problem of aviation emissions.

For years, the UK has pushed to tackle aviation emissions globally. Now, 191 countries have agreed on a global measure and sent a clear message that aviation will play its part in combating climate change.

The UK’s focus will now be on ensuring the scheme is implemented successfully across the world.
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Report shows EU’s ‘imperfect’ ETS still outperforms draft UN aviation deal on aviation CO2

When in April 2014 the EU agreed, reluctantly, to “stop the clock” on its inclusion of aviation in the ETS (Emissions Trading System) it was on the condition that this limiting of the scheme would be re-assessed in 2017, depending if ICAO had come up with an effective scheme to restrict aviation CO2 by then.  Currently the EU ETS only includes carbon from flights within, (not to and from) the EU.  But the deal that ICAO is likely to sign up to next month looks as if it will fail, by being too small in its scope, voluntary not obligatory, and depending on unknown biofuels and technologies in future, no environmental safeguards, as well as unreliable carbon offsets which may not in practice cut CO2 emissions. It will not meet ICAO’s stated goal of “carbon neutral growth” from 2020. Therefore, as the ICAO scheme does not meet the requirements of the EU, in order to suspend its ETS, the EU may find it necessary to revert to its full ETS system, to include flights out of (maybe also into) the EU as well as flights within the EU.  The EU needs to ensure it gets agreement through ICAO that it can continue to include aviation in its ETS.  The ETS scheme had its faults, but used emissions allowances instead of dubious offsets, was binding instead of voluntary, and include all CO2 emissions.  To be fully effective, the cap on aviation carbon in the EU scheme needs to reduce each year.  A new report “Aviation ETS – gaining altitude” sets out the details of how the ETS could work in future.
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EU’s ‘imperfect’ emissions trading system still outperforms draft UN aviation deal – report

September 20, 2016

By Transport & Environment

Despite being in need of reform, the EU’s aviation ETS is functioning, is being complied with, and has the potential to deliver real emissions reductions, a new analysis shows.

Its key design features – emissions allowances instead of offsets, being binding instead of voluntary, and full instead of partial coverage of emissions – are all superior to the draft global deal under negotiation at the UN’s aviation agency ICAO.

Europe is under pressure to dismantle its regional measure even though discussions on a global measure at ICAO remain fractious.

The ETS’s use of allowances ensures greater transparency of emission reductions than the agreement taking shape at ICAO, which relies on offsets of potentially unreliable quality, the T&E report finds.

Additionally, once the current surplus in the overall ETS is addressed, it will deliver greater emissions reductions.

Meanwhile, the published draft of the ICAO global measure will fall well short of that organisation’s own goal of carbon neutral growth by the aviation sector in 2020 and lacks essential environmental safeguards.

Andrew Murphy, aviation policy officer at T&E, said: “The EU stopped the clock on its own ETS to give ICAO time to develop an environmentally meaningful measure, not a voluntary scheme which postpones serious action for a decade or more. Europe should be proud of setting the global benchmark, and never replace it with something inferior that is open to bogus offset programmes.”

To realise greater emissions reductions, the EU should reduce the cap of its ETS by 2.6% annually and introduce a similar declining cap for aviation allowances, the report recommends.

Phasing out the free allocation of allowances to aircraft operators would require airlines to purchase more general ETS allowances and start to reflect the true cost of their climate impact.

Andrew Murphy said: “Not only has the EU’s ETS disproved sceptics from both within and beyond Europe, but it has served as a model for nascent trading systems in such countries as China and Mexico. Replacing the ETS with the promise of something to take effect in 2021 which is far less than global, which sets a weaker target and lacks environmental safeguards, is not the way to strengthen Europe or the world’s climate ambition.”

ICAO has been working for almost two decades on aviation’s climate impact and its latest  deadline to produce a result is at its 2016 assembly this month. International aviation and shipping were not explicitly mentioned in the Paris agreement, leaving it unclear how their rapidly growing emissions were to be addressed. Aviation is currently responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming. Without a change in the current projections, emissions will increase by more than four times, potentially to account for 22% of global emissions in 2050.

https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/eu%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98imperfect%E2%80%99-emissions-trading-system-still-outperforms-draft-un-aviation-deal-%E2%80%93-report

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The fight must go on to protect the EU’s right to continue with its own aviation emissions scheme

By Jeff Gazzard

23.9.2016 (GreenAir online)

Over the next couple of weeks, the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will be holding its 39th Assembly in Montreal. One of the key items up for discussion/agreement/stonewalling (take your pick!) is the development and implementation of a Global Market Based Measure (GMBM) to try and control and reduce civil aviation’s growing use of fossil fuel via the use of a price mechanism that includes the cost of CO2 emissions in airline ticket prices – the practical embodiment of the ‘polluter pays’ principle, writes Jeff Gazzard.

Why is this important? GreenAir Online readers, policymakers and those with an environmental responsibility across all sectors of the aviation industry, finally realise that the huge and continuing growth of flight kilometres, based on the consumption of ever-increasing volumes of tax-free kerosene as a fuel, produces a significant climate change impact.

All forecasts from every source that I have monitored in recent months confirm that aviation emissions will put global climate change targets, whether they be 2 degrees or the recent Paris UNFCCC agreement for a lower 1.5 degree limit, at risk.

I am not going to look in any great detail at the figures as, frankly, they speak for themselves. At least the days of the industry’s strategy of “deny, delay and minimise” as a global corporate response to real and proven scientific, environmental NGO and enlightened policymaker concerns are taking a back seat. Hopefully, right at the back, cramped up against the rear bulkhead, by the toilets!

After years of campaigning, policy development, consultations, phoney PR wars and obstructive legal action, the European Union and its parliament voted in July 2008 to extend the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) to aviation.

The vote was carried by 640 votes to 30. In my view it wouldn’t have been possible to have sent a stronger message to the entire aviation industry that the game was up!

With free allowances, complex monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) arrangements, reasonable quality carbon credit availability, all-outgoing flight coverage, new entrant capacity, significant penalties for non-compliance, permanent review and policy development/revision opportunities, open public access to performance reporting and with both Parliament and the European Commission’s (EC) Climate Action Directorate General willing to engage positively with all parties, the policy was a model framework.

Not perfect, but capable of producing something workable and potentially toughened over time.

Of course, those paragons of accepting the will of the European Parliament – the global aviation industry – predictably went collectively nuts at this perceived threat to their very existence, mounting an even more aggressive campaign in what to date has proved an overall futile attempt to destroy the Aviation EU ETS.

Industry did however manage to get the scheme partially rolled back to cover intra-EU airspace emissions only by IATA developing and promoting its own parallel universe project, Carbon Neutral Growth from 2020 (CNG 2020).

This claimed that a combination of measures – technology gains, increased load factors, better ATM and flight operations, plus the aviation alternative fuels/biofuels mirage – would just leave a small amount of CO2 emissions that could be mopped-up by voluntary purchases of low-quality (but cheap!) offsets.

Successful lobbying of civil aviation regulators and transport ministries globally achieved IATA’s goal – supported incidentally by all other aviation trade associations – of transforming their CNG 2020 outline into hard ICAO policy. This neatly puts control of targets, pricing, MRV and everything else, including, funnily enough, disbanding regional schemes (i.e. the Aviation EU ETS), firmly in the hands of what can only be described as an overly bureaucratic, slow, cumbersome and most importantly, entirely producer-captured body that dances (sadly and badly, rather like your Dad!), entirely to the aviation industry’s tune.

The EU’s olive branch offer to compromise on flight coverage, the so-called ‘Stop the Clock’ option, was and is conditional upon the ICAO GMBM project coming into force with a target outcome and components at least as effective as the Aviation EU ETS, plus with the bonus of global airline participation. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Let’s be clear: the entire industry despises the EU emissions scheme precisely because the free allowances will likely disappear over time, the cap will tighten and the unit cost of both carbon allowances within the scheme and their supply will likely rise and tighten too.

The involvement of environment ministries means the industry’s symbiotic relationship with transport ministries and aviation regulators is also significantly watered down.

The IATA/ICAO CNG (carbon neutral growth)  project is simply a fig leaf of business-as-usual greenwash.

So where does this leave the EU scheme and the need for an environmentally effective response to aviation’s CO2 emissions?

Here are my thoughts on the desired outcome from a European viewpoint:

  • Europe, in the form of a tough uncompromising alliance of the EU/EC, the four-person MEP ICAO Assembly delegation and European Member States, along with global environmental NGOs and those countries most at risk from climate change impacts, must come away with the EU’s right to keep the Aviation EU ETS intact.
  • By all means continue to work through ICAO on the GMBM but acknowledge this is not at all acceptable as it stands. Indeed, there really isn’t a complete, comprehensive policy on the table right now, more a fabulous wish-list.
  • Recognise that the “up to 80%” coverage figure quoted is not 80% of emissions but just future growth beyond a contrived baseline of a 2020 start and therefore unacceptably low. It also excludes approximately 40% of worldwide aviation emission as it doesn’t cover domestic emissions at all.
  • Current discussions of offset quality are simply not a serious policy outcome.
  • The degree of exemptions proposed are contrived and unacceptable.
  • The industry cannot be trusted to develop a 1.5 degree compliant policy and indeed most importantly for a UN body, ICAO cannot and should not sign up to a policy that fails to meet the Paris goal, as this proposal singularly doesn’t.

Two weeks from next Tuesday, when the Assembly starts, is a long time to expect anybody to hold their breath in anticipation that the Assembly will transform IATA’s ‘CNG from 2020’ project into a Paris 1.5 degree compliant policy to control and reduce civil aviation’s CO2 emissions.

So I won’t be. But I do expect the EU to return from Montreal with the right to continue with its scheme – the fight will then go on.

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Jeff Gazzard co-ordinates the European GreenSkies Alliance (GSA) network, which is involved in grass roots campaigning, policy development and international advocacy to control and reduce the negative environmental impacts of air transport. He was the co-rapporteur of a task force developing a set of environmental indicators for aviation within the 41-country intergovernmental European Civil Aviation Conference, with which GSA has Observer status. Jeff is an advisor to the WHO on transport, environment and health issues, and is also the policy advisor to the UK All-party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group of MPs. Until recently, he was a Board Member of the Aviation Environment Federation.
Copyright © 2016 GreenAir Communications

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=2285

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Earlier:

Scope of coverage of aviation by EU Emissions Trading System now slashed by 75% until 2017

The compromise deal agreed by the European Parliament in early April means that, until 2017, only flights between EU airports will be regulated, not flights to or from the EU. So the result is that this only covers about 25% of the total EU aviation carbon emissions. About 75% of the total emissions, which were covered in the first year of the ETS, are now not covered – and will not be for years.  The inclusion of aviation in the ETS, agreed in 2008, covered emissions from all flights to, from and within Europe and entered force in 2012. However, an interim one-year freeze of the law, known as ‘stop the clock’, was hurriedly agreed in late 2012  to allow time for the UN’s aviation body, ICAO, to agree a global measure to reduce aviation emissions at its 2013 triennial assembly. The EU decision included a provision that if ICAO fails to agree a global measure by 2017, the original ETS, with full coverage, will ‘snapback’ then.  Bill Hemmings, sustainable aviation manager at T&E commented :”Just when the IPCC’s latest report shows how climate change is already affecting every aspect of human life, European governments and politicians have chosen to effectively scrap the only law in the world that attempts to curb aviation’s soaring emissions.”  

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/05/21158/

 

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China, US and EU reported to have pledged to join the weak, voluntary, initial stages of ICAO scheme for CO2

It is reported that China, Europe and the US have pledged to join the initial voluntary phases of ICAO’s carbon-offsetting scheme designed to give international aviation a chance of achieving it goal of “carbon-neutral growth” after 2020.  On 3rd September, the 44 member states of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) committed to being part of ICAO’s global market-based measure (MBM) scheme “from the start”. On the same day the US and China said they “expect to be early participants” in the global MBM, also called the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA.  On 2nd September ICAO released a revised text that will be presented for adoption by the ICAO Assembly in early October. This makes participation voluntary in the pilot and first phases of the scheme, covering 2021-26. The MBM will become mandatory only in the 2nd phase, covering 2027-35, with exemptions for countries with only a small share of international aviation activity in 2018.   India and Russia are opposed to joining the global MBM. Under the CORSIA scheme, airlines would “offset” additional CO2 growth beyond 2019-20 levels by buying credits from designated environmental projects.There are concerns about REDD forestry credits being used. ICAO estimates the cost to airlines would only be at most 1.4% of total revenues, by 2035.  Far less till then.
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China, Europe & US in historic accord on aviation emissions

China, Europe and the US have pledged to join the initial voluntary phases of the carbon-offsetting scheme designed to help international aviation achieve its goal of carbon-neutral growth after 2020.

On Sept. 3, the 44 member states of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) committed to being part of ICAO’s global market-based measure (MBM) scheme “from the start”.

On the same day, in a joint declaration ahead of the G20 economic summit in Hangzhou, the US and China said they “expect to be early participants” in the global MBM, also called the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA.

ICAO on Sept. 2 released a revised text http://fortune.com/2016/09/03/china-us-europe-aviation-emissions/of the resolution on the global MBM that will be presented for adoption by the ICAO Assembly in early October.

This makes participation voluntary in the pilot and first phases of the scheme, covering 2021-26. The MBM will become mandatory only in the second phase, covering 2027-35, with exemptions for countries with only a small share of international aviation activity.

ECAC members called on other major aviation states, “and those having the capacity to do so”, to commit to the global MBM, “and make their decision public before the end of the ICAO Assembly.”

India and Russia have previously voiced opposition to the global MBM.

Under the CORSIA scheme, carriers would offset additional carbon emissions from international growth beyond 2019-20 levels by buying credits from designation environmental projects.

Depending on the price of carbon, ICAO estimates the MBM will cost airlines 0.2-0.6% of total revenues from international flights in 2025. This will increase to 0.5-1.4% by 2035.

http://atwonline.com/eco-aviation/china-europe-us-historic-accord-aviation-emissions

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CAO has been working for more than a decade on aviation’s climate impact and it has set itself a final deadline of the end of 2016 for a deal. International aviation and shipping were not explicitly mentioned by the Paris agreement, leaving it unclear how their rapidly growing emissions were to be addressed. Aircraft are currently responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming. Without a change in the current projections, its emissions will increase by more than four times, to account for 22% of global emissions in 2050.

Plans to offset aviation’s ever-growing CO2 emissions using REDD credits is supported by nine mainly US-based NGOs. And it’s opposed by more than 80 NGOs internationally.

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Revised text agreed for aviation carbon offset scheme

Participation in a carbon-offsetting scheme being developed to help aviation achieve carbon-neutral growth initially will be voluntary for states under the proposed text of a resolution to be presented for approval by the ICAO Assembly in October.

The latest text, released Sept. 2, is the result of extensive consultation with states on ICAO’s proposed global market-based measure (MBM), called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), culminating in an Aug. 16 meeting to develop a compromise text.

The new text calls for phased implementation of the MBM, beginning with a pilot phase in 2021-23 and first phases in 2024-26 in which participation will be voluntary.

The second phase in 2027-35 will be mandatory, with exemptions for nations with only a small share of international aviation activity as measured in revenue tonne kilometres flown in 2018.

“The new text includes some changes to the recommended MBM that impact the coverage of the system. Most significantly, it pushes back mandatory offsetting from 2021 to 2027,” the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT), an environmental non-government organization, said in an initial analysis of the new draft text.

“The text also allows for countries that volunteer to join these initial phases to subsequently opt out, provided they give at least six months’ notice,” ICCT noted.“How much post-2020 growth will need to be offset now depends upon which countries opt into the initial voluntary phases.”

ICCT has previously calculated the MBM will not offset enough emissions for aviation to achieve carbon-neutral growth.

In the proposed pilot phase, each participating state will be able to choose one of two ways to calculate carbon offsets for international flights by carriers registered in that country: operator emissions in a given year or in 2020 as a baseline. The MBM will be reviewed every three years beginning 2022.

The text proposes that offsetting for the pilot and first phases, from 2021-29, be 100% based on RTKs flown by the overall international civil aviation sector. For the first compliance cycle under the second phase of the MBM, in 2030-32, 20% of offsetting will be based on individual operator’s RTKs, increasing to 70% for the second cycle, in 2033-35.

“The MBM is a significant piece of ICAO’s strategy for mitigating carbon emissions from growth in the international civil aviation sector,” the organization said, noting that emissions from international civil aviation were not covered under the 2015 COP21 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

“Since all scenarios will exempt some traffic growth, no version of the system under debate today is expected to be consistent with the aviation industry’s goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020,” ICCT said.

“There have been predictions that the final agreement will cover 80% of emissions,” the environmental organization noted. “If Russia joins India in opting out, then Chinese participation is likely required to cover 80% of activity growth, and also that level of emissions.”

http://atwonline.com/eco-aviation/revised-text-agreed-aviation-carbon-offset-scheme

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China, US and Europe Pledge Support for Global Aviation Emissions Pact

by Reuters
SEPTEMBER 3, 2016,
Fortune Magazine

China, the United States and Europe all pledged support on Saturday for a new deal to curb carbon dioxide emissions by airlines which is due to be finalized at a meeting of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September and is expected to go into effect from 2021.

Aviation was excluded from last December’s climate accord in Paris when countries agreed to limit the global average rise in in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The proposed new deal on aviation, which aims to cap the carbon pollution of all international flights at 2020 levels will be voluntary between 2021 and 2026 and then mandatory from 2027 for the world’s largest emitters.

Airlines in participating countries would need to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.

ICAO has estimated that carbon offsetting will cost operators 0.2-0.6% of total revenue from international aviation beginning in 2025, and 0.5-1.4% from 2035.

“Today, the United States and China are expressing their support for the ICAO Assembly reaching consensus on such a measure,” the two countries said in a joint statement earlier on Saturday.

The statement, released ahead of a G20 summit in the Chinese coastal city of Hangzhou, said both countries “expect to be early participants in the measure and volunteer to join.”

In a separate statement, the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), a grouping of the EU and 16 other countries, said it would join the market-based plan from the outset and urged all other major airline operating states to do so.

Participation by China, which as a developing country has traditionally been opposed to any binding emissions regime for its industries, is considered crucial to any deal, and experts say they expect it to favor Chinese airlines at least in the initial phase.

“It is not an issue for China to sign up for the ICAO deal, as the mitigation actions are voluntary until 2026,” said Chai Qimin, a researcher with China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC).

Chai said the deal could also favor China by giving it a lower share of all emissions that must be capped starting from 2020, but its participation would still depend on whether other countries could agree on terms.

China has been concerned that attempts to force its planes to buy carbon credits would represent a violation of the “common but differentiated responsibility” principle that says developed countries should take the lead in cutting emissions.

Negotiations are expected until the ICAO meets on Sept. 27.

“There are a lot of details that will determine the level of ambition,” said Li Shuo, climate adviser with Greenpeace.

While China had been more “progressive” when it came to the Montreal protocol and the phasing out of CFCs, it was showing fewer signs of movement on aviation, he said.

Annie Petsonk, international counsel at the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Defense Fund, said 80-90% of emissions above 2020 levels would need to be covered by the agreement for the civil aviation sector to hit a long-term target of carbon-neutral growth.

As an aviation powerhouse, China’s participation in the deal’s initial voluntary phases from 2021 to 2026 would likely be required to hit that 80 percent target, according to calculations by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation.

The council’s Dan Rutherford has said China’s absence from first phases “would definitely be a big hole in the coverage.”

On Thursday, the European Commission’s director-general for transport urged countries to join the deal.

“Our aim must be also to try to maximize the coverage and to try to have all the key aviation nations opting in,” said Henrik Hololei during an environment committee hearing.

China declined to cooperate with EU efforts to compel international airlines to buy carbon credits from its emissions trading scheme to cover flights into European airports, forcing the EU to suspend the plan.

European legislators also remain skeptical of the draft ICAO resolution, arguing it falls short of EU ambitions.

Some members of the EU parliament say the draft does not go far enough to justify extending the exemption for international flights from the EU’s own aviation emissions trading scheme beyond 2016.

The EU has to decide whether to continue exempting international flights by the end of the year.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China would not comment on China’s position, but Chai Haibo, vice-general secretary of the China Air Transport Industry Association, said the industry would support whatever decision the government made.

“Multinational negotiations under a government framework are more favorable, and we hope it will result in an acceptable deal to all parties,” he said.

The growth of low-cost carriers and emerging markets has driven increased demand, Boeing said.

China, US and Europe Pledge Support for Global Aviation Emissions Pact


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See earlier:

MEPs shocked by ‘secretive’ and unacceptably unambitious ICAO plan to cut aviation CO2 emissions

A meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment has been told of the way a possible agreement by ICAO next month – on global aviation carbon emissions – has been watered down. MEPs were informed of the likely 6-year delay, with the scheme for a global market based mechanism (GMBM) not taking effect properly until 2027, rather than in 2021 that had been foreseen. Opt-in to the GMBM scheme before 2027 would be voluntary, but mandatory from 2027 through to 2035. There will be exemptions for poor nations, and even after 2027 the participation of the least developed countries and small island states would remain voluntary only. EU deputies said they were “shocked” to learn how many concessions the EU was prepared to make at the Montreal meeting, which took place in May behind closed doors. Then, to make matters yet worse, “a special review in 2032 will determine whether the mechanism will be continued,” taking into account progress made as part of a related “basket of measures” which includes “CO2 standards for aircraft”, technological improvements, air traffic management and alternative fuels. In a rare show of unity, Parliament representatives from across the political spectrum urged the EU to be more aggressive in the negotiation. Bas Eckhout, a Dutch MEP, said what is on offer now is not acceptable.

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Govt assumed in 2013, with Aviation Policy framework, we could add a runway, as there would be a strong global deal

  1. Reminder. DfT’s Aviation Policy Framework (nearest thing we have to aviation policy) expected ICAO or EU ETS success.  It said:

    Reminder. Airports Commission final report said the UK might need to act if there was no effective measure by ICAO. It said:

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MEPs shocked by ‘secretive’ and unacceptably unambitious ICAO plan to cut aviation CO2 emissions

A meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment has been told of the way a possible agreement by ICAO next month – on global aviation carbon emissions – has been watered down. MEPs were informed of the likely 6-year delay, with the scheme for a global market based mechanism (GMBM) not taking effect properly until 2027, rather than in 2021 that had been foreseen.  Opt-in to the GMBM scheme before 2027 would be voluntary, but mandatory from 2027 through to 2035. There will be exemptions for poor nations, and even after 2027 the participation of the least developed countries and small island states would remain voluntary only. EU deputies said they were “shocked” to learn how many concessions the EU was prepared to make at the Montreal meeting, which took place in May behind closed doors.  Then, to make matters yet worse, “a special review in 2032 will determine whether the mechanism will be continued,” taking into account progress made as part of a related “basket of measures” which includes “CO2 standards for aircraft”, technological improvements, air traffic management and alternative fuels.  In a rare show of unity, Parliament representatives from across the political spectrum urged the EU to be more aggressive in the negotiation. Bas Eckhout, a Dutch MEP, said what is on offer now is not acceptable.
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MEPs shocked by ‘secretive’ ICAO plan to cut aviation emissions

1.9.2016 (Euractiv)

By Frédéric Simon | EurActiv.com

A six-year delay, exemptions for poor nations, and a gradual phase-in system for participating countries are all being considered as part of talks to curb aviation pollution at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), MEPs discovered at a hearing in Parliament today (1 September).

Henrik Hololei, an official who headed the European Commission’s delegation to an ICAO high-level meeting in Canada earlier this year, appeared for a hearing in front of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment.

Deputies said they were “shocked” to learn how many concessions the EU was prepared to make at the Montreal meeting, which took place in May behind closed doors.

The Montreal talks centred on the Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) scheme which has been up for discussion since 2012 when the EU decided to “stop-the-clock” on its own aviation emissions trading system.

The EU initially intended to apply its aviation ETS to all flights landing or departing from EU territory but froze the scheme for international flights until 31 December this year in order to give ICAO a chance to conclude a global deal.

But MEPs were dismayed to hear the significant concessions Henrik Hololei said the EU was now considering in order to preserve chances of reaching an international agreement at the next ICAO general assembly opening on 27 September.

Any change to EU law following an ICAO deal would require approval by the EU assembly.

Six-year delay

According to plans currently under consideration, the global market-based system would be fully up and running in 2027 only, six years later than the initial 2021 deadline originally foreseen by the EU.

“On timing, the verification and monitoring requirements would start applying in 2019,” with the GMBM kicking-in “progressively as of 2021,” Hololei told MEPs at the hearing. “Inclusion in the scheme would become mandatory from 2027 through 2035”.

“On scope, the draft decision as it stands now would have an opt-in phase before all countries come on board in 2027, except those which are exempted,” Hololei continued, referring to small aviation players such as least developed countries and small island states for whom participation will remain voluntary only.

Finally, “a special review in 2032 will determine whether the mechanism will be continued,” taking into account progress made as part of a related “basket of measures” which includes “CO2 standards for aircraft”, technological improvements, air traffic management and alternative fuels.

“So that is what is currently being envisaged but I must stress that this is still very much a moving target,” Hololei said, adding, “the main issues relate to timing and scope”.

MEPs ‘shocked’

In a rare show of unity, Parliament representatives from across the political spectrum urged the EU to be more aggressive in the negotiation.

Bas Eckhout, a Dutch MEP who follows aviation issues for the Greens/EFA group, said he was “shocked” by the Commission’s apparent readiness to make concessions.

“We always said 2021 should be the starting date. What we’re discussing now is a voluntary scheme until 2027 and then still options for exemptions. That is a huge deviation from where we came from!” he exclaimed.

“Have you been brainwashed in Montreal? This sounds like the EU is giving away everything we stood for. Maybe a phase in for some countries can be accepted as of 2021,” but not more, Eckhout said.

“This is really unacceptable,” he added.

“Secrecy and lack of transparency”

Global leaders who met for UN talks in Paris last year agreed to aim for carbon-neutral growth in the aviation sector as of 2020, part of a landmark international agreement to contain global warming below 2°C.  [Carbon neutral growth means, in reality, that emissions from planes continue to grow fast, but offsets can be bought from other sectors that are cutting carbon emissions. ie. aviation does not itself make more than tiny cuts, while growing at 4 – 5% per year. AW note].

But other countries in the ICAO “are much less committed than the EU” to reaching that goal, Hololei pointed out, reminding MEPs that the European Commission had only observer status in the negotiations, which are taking place between ICAO member countries behind closed doors.

For Julie Girling, a British MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), it is the “secrecy and lack of transparency” in the ICAO process which is reason for concern.  No statement or meeting minutes were distributed after the May talks, Girling pointed out, “almost as if nothing had happened”. Hololei later replied that those would be published in the coming days.

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch MEP from the Liberal group ALDE, defended “regional schemes” such as the EU’s aviation ETS as part of any ICAO deal.   IATA, the global aviation industry lobby group, had spoken about “marginal costs for airlines” from the ETS, which shows the issue “is much more political”.

“If the costs are marginal, then why are politicians making a fuss about it?,” Gerbrandy asked. “This is the first big test: are we willing to do what we promised in Paris?”

Peter Liese, a German MEP from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), agreed and pointed to “shortcomings” in the ICAO process. “I’m worried to hear about a pilot phase.  What’s happening in ICAO is not ambitious at all,” he warned, saying climate policy had moved beyond pilot phases. “I find this idea of a pilot phase sobering and scary.”

Speaking earlier, Girling concurred on that point, saying there was a “disconnect” between how Parliament and ICAO see the agreement taking shape.

“We see aviation as having been given an almost inexplicable exemption [from emissions regulations] whereas ICAO sees it as a pat on the back because they’ve been doing so well.”

2021 start date “not the most likely outcome”

Responding to the barrage of criticism, Hololei said the EU had wanted a mechanism to start as of 2021. “But in the international context, this is also a negotiation and there are other partners. And of course, we need to take that into account.”

Hololei, however, assured MEPs that the EU was “negotiating for the best possible outcome”, including on securing a regional scheme for Europe.

“The EU position has always been a mandatory scheme from 2021. We haven’t changed in any way our ambitions on that,” Hololei said. But “that is not the most likely outcome.”

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BACKGROUND

The airline sector, like the maritime sector, has its own UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which is responsible for organising the reduction of its CO2 emissions. ICAO was tasked by the Kyoto Protocol with addressing emissions from the sector.

It has been difficult to reach global agreement. In 2012, with no deal having been made, the EU included aviation emissions in its Emissions Trading Scheme. The decision sparked a backlash from the industry and foreign countries, like China and India who refused to comply with the scheme and threatened the EU with commercial retaliation measures.

The EU’s temporary halt to the ETS was intended to allow time for the ICAO to devise a global alternative. But in the meantime, international airlines which bitterly attacked the cap and trade scheme at every turn will be exempted from it, while intra-European airlines, which had supported it, will not.

>>Read:   Hedegaard stops clock on aviation emissions law

As a whole, the aviation industry continues to fiercely resist market-based measures as anything more than a stopgap, advocating instead a formula of technological and operational improvements – plus the wider use of biofuels – to reduce emissions.

Airlines make up 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions. But the doubling of passengers every 15 years has made it a growing source of greenhouse gases. Due to the strong link between the sector and fossil fuels, reducing its CO2 emission is a challenge. The problem of electricity storage rules out its use in the air, which thus leaves airline manufacturers, which have promised to stabilise their CO2 emissions by 2020, with few options.

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TIMELINE

  • 27 Sept.-07 Oct.: ICAO general assembly in Montreal, Canada.
  • 31 Dec. 2016: End of exemption for international flights under the EU’s aviation ETS.

 

http://www.euractiv.com/section/transport/news/meps-shocked-by-secretive-icao-plan-to-cut-aviation-emissions/


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Some earlier news stories about the ICAO negotiations: 

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Guangdong will include aviation sector in its carbon market (South China)

11 July 2016  (Enerdata)   The Guangdong province will include the aviation sector in its pilot scheme for trading CO2 emissions that will be integrated in a national carbon market in 2017.

The Guangdong emission trading scheme was introduced in December 2013 and covers 189 companies handing over 365 million permits in 2015 (-1.4% from 2014). The province government will set aside 21 million permits for quarterly auctions, that will start in September 2016 (2 million permits will be available for sale). On 20 June (annual deadline for companies to surrender permits to the local government), 33 million permits had been traded (31% of the total number traded in China), corresponding to a 100% compliance rate this year.   China will implement a national CO2 cap-and-trade scheme as of 2017, to limit and and put a price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So far, China has already implemented seven local carbon exchanges in two provinces (Hubei and Guangdong) and in five large cities, namely Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chongqing.  http://www.enerdata.net/enerdatauk/press-and-publication/energy-news-001/guangdong-will-include-aviation-sector-its-carbon-market-china_37669.html


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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

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

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

Click here to view full story…

Read more »