Climate change will lead to bumpier flights caused by increased mid-air turbulence, according to an analysis by scientists, at the University of Reading. This could hit insurers by making plane journeys bumpier, It could also make flights longer, as planes need to fly round areas of turbulence – itself causing higher fuel use and carbon emissions (helping to increase climate change). Research has shown that planes travelling from Europe to North America could face an increased chance of hitting turbulence by as much as 170% later this century. This is because climate change will strengthen instabilities within the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic Ocean. The turbulence could also be up to 40% stronger. The work is part of a wider body of research by University of Reading into the interaction of aviation and atmospheric physics. This includes the extra non-CO2 impacts of aviation due to contrails, formed behind aircraft flying at high altitude, which also adds to global warming by adding to cloud cover, preventing heat from escaping Earth’s atmosphere. The extra problems from turbulence might lead to more passenger injuries, and more damage to planes, affecting the insurance industry. Longer journeys could increase flight times and delays, an increase ticket prices.
TURBULENCE EXPERT REVEALS COST OF CLIMATE CHANGE TO AVIATION INSURERS
Climate change could hit insurers by making plane journeys bumpier, a University of Reading scientist has told an audience of leading insurers.
The Insurance Institute of London lecture at Lloyds of London on Wednesday 18 January, was attended by the City’s leading insurance players including CEOs, managing directors, brokers, underwriters, and lawyers.
Atmospheric scientist Dr Paul Williams, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, told the audience in Lloyds’ Old Library about the likelihood of increased turbulence and more extreme weather.
Research by Dr Williams has shown that planes travelling from Europe to North America could face an increased chance of hitting turbulence by as much as 170% later this century. This is because climate change will strengthen instabilities within the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic Ocean. The turbulence could also be up to 40% stronger.
Diverting around the additional turbulence has the potential to lengthen journeys and increase fuel burn, which could add to ticket prices and also contribute to climate change, completing a vicious circle.
“Increased turbulence and flight times could have a knock-on effect on passengers and the aviation and insurance industries”
Dr Williams said: “The aviation industry is facing pressure to reduce its environmental impact, but our work has shown how aviation is itself susceptible to the effects of climate change.
“Increased turbulence and flight times could have a knock-on effect on passengers and the aviation and insurance industries.”
Dr Williams’ work is part of a wider body of research by University of Reading experts into the interaction of aviation and atmospheric physics.
For example, research by Professor Keith shine and Dr Emma Irvine has shown that condensation trails, or contrails, formed behind aircraft flying at high altitude, can also add to global warming by adding to cloud cover, which prevents heat from escaping Earth’s atmosphere.
Researchers at Reading have also been central to efforts to study the spread of volcanic ash in the upper atmosphere. Their work helped to aid the safe resumption of flights after the grounding of all UK air traffic following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland in April 2010.
Watch Dr Williams explain why turbulence could increase in this video.
Climate change will lead to bumpier flights caused by increased mid-air turbulence, according to an analysis by scientists, at the University of Reading, of the impact of global warming on weather systems over the next 40 years. The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The increasing clear air turbulence results from the impact of climate change on the jet streams, which are at the altitude at which airliners fly. The jet streams are driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. More turbulence will cause more injuries to passengers and aircrew every year, as well as delays and damage to planes. There is an estimate of this costing some £100m each year. The Reading study indicated the frequency of turbulence on trans-Atlantic flights will double by 2050 and its intensity increase by 10-40%. Rerouting flights to avoid stronger patches of turbulence could increase fuel consumption and carbon emissions, make delays at airports more common, and ultimately push up ticket prices. Ironic. Aviation helps drive climate change – and gets some of its adverse impacts.
Climate change will lead to bumpier flights, say scientists
The shifting of the jet stream over Europe caused by global warming will lead to clear-air turbulence
Climate change will lead to bumpier flights caused by increased mid-air turbulence, according to an analysis by scientists of the impact of global warming on weather systems over the next four decades.
The increasing air turbulence results from the impact of climate change on the jet streams, the fast, mile-wide winds that whistle round the planet at the same altitude as airliners. The shifting of the jet stream over Europe has also been blamed for the UK’s wash-out summer in 2012 andfrozen spring this year.
Paul Williams, at the University of Reading who led the new research, said: “Air turbulence does more than just interrupt the service of in-flight drinks. It injures hundreds of passengers and aircrew every year. It also causes delays and damages planes, with the total cost to society being about £100m each year.”
The study, which used the same turbulence models that air traffic controllers use every day, found that the frequency of turbulence on the many flights between Europe and North America will double by 2050 and its intensity increase by 10-40%.
“Rerouting flights to avoid stronger patches of turbulence could increase fuel consumption and carbon emissions, make delays at airports more common, and ultimately push up ticket prices,” said Williams.
The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, focused only clear-air turbulence, rather than the buffeting caused by major storms, which may also become more common in a warming world. “Clear-air turbulence is especially problematic to airliners, because it is invisible to pilots and satellites,” said Manoj Joshi at the University of East Anglia, who also worked on the new study.
There is evidence that clear-air turbulence has already risen by 40-90%over Europe and North America since 1958, but that is set to increase further due to global warming. The jet streams, which meander for thousands of miles, are driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics, Williams explained.
Climate change is heating the Arctic faster than lower latitudes, because of the rapid loss of reflective sea ice, so the temperature difference is growing. That leads to stronger jet streams and greater turbulence. The modelling done by Williams and Joshi assumed that carbon dioxide levels will double from pre-industrial levels by 2050, which is in the mid-range of current projections for future emissions.
Most injuries caused by clear-air turbulence occur to passengers not wearing their seatbelts, who hit their heads on the aircraft’s ceiling. Williams said his new findings, the first to assess the impact of climate change on turbulence, has already changed his own behaviour: “I certainly always keep my seatbelt fastened now, which I didn’t used to do.”
Air travel to get bumpier as CO2 emissions rise, scientists say
* Turbulence to become more frequent, stronger by mid-century
* CO2 emissions forecast to double by 2050
By Nina Chestney
Turbulence on transatlantic flights will become more frequent and severe by 2050 as carbon dioxide emissions rise, leading to longer journey times and increased fuel consumption, British scientists said in a study on Monday.
Any air traveller has probably experienced turbulence. It can happen without warning and is caused by climate conditions such as atmospheric pressure, jet streams, cold and warm fronts or thunderstorms.
Light turbulence shakes the aircraft, but more severe episodes can injure passengers and cause structural damage to planes, costing around an estimated $150 million a year.
Turbulence will be stronger and occur more often if carbon dioxide emissions double by 2050 as the International Energy Agency forecasts, scientists at the universities of Reading and East Anglia said in the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Carbon dioxide is one of the most potent greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Increasing emissions raise the global average temperature, heating up the lower atmosphere.
However, warming also changes the atmosphere 10 km above ground level, making it more unstable for planes, Paul Williams at the University of Reading and co-author of the report, told Reuters.
FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS
The scientists focused on the North Atlantic flight corridor – where 600 planes travel between Europe and North America each day – using computer simulations to examine the effects of climate change on conditions there.
They found that the chances of encountering significant turbulence by the middle of the century will increase by between 40 and 170 percent, with the most likely outcome being a doubling of airspace containing significant turbulence.
The average strength of turbulence would also increase by between 10 and 40 percent.
Bumpier air journeys would make flying more uncomfortable and raise the risks to passengers and crew.
Detours to avoid strong patches of turbulence would lengthen flight times, increasing fuel consumption, emissions and airport delays, which would ultimately drive up ticket prices, Williams said.
Air travel is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon dioxide emissions, but the effects of climate change on turbulence have not been studied before.
“Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate in the first place. It is ironic that the climate looks set to exact its revenge by creating a more turbulent atmosphere for flying,” Williams said.
The International Air Transport Association said the issue of climate sensitivity still held many uncertainties and the study would not change airline procedures.
The aviation sector is aiming to halve its net CO2 emissions by 2050 from 2005 levels through new technology, alternative fuels and increased efficiency.
There have also been attempts to tax the sector amid slow progress towards a global deal on curbing aviation emissions.
The European Union tried to force all airlines landing or taking off from EU airports to pay for their emissions last year through its carbon trading scheme. But opposition was so fierce it almost led to a trade war, so the law was frozen for a year for inter-continental flights. (Editing by Alistair Lyon)
Gatwick Airport says it has joined more than 80 global companies in a programme to generate a “massive increase” in the demand for renewable electricity. It says it has been buying 100% renewable electricity since 2013, and it has plans for its airport operations to become ‘carbon neutral’ by the spring. That is all good – better if the airport’s buildings etc are as low carbon as possible. But this entirely ignores the massive carbon emissions of the flights using the airport – which Gatwick wants to increase as much as it can. AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) commented that while welcoming the use of renewable electricity, Gatwick’s use is just for airport infrastructure and vehicles. “The planes that fly out of Gatwick are still powered by fossil fuels and will remain so for decades to come. Around 99% of the emissions associated with Gatwick are not from the airport itself but from the aircraft that use it. If you take into account emissions from departing planes, Gatwick has the second highest level of CO2 emissions of any airport in the UK, and this level is set to grow even though the airport was not the Government’s preferred choice for a new runway in the South East.”
Gatwick’s carbon neutral commitment excludes 99% of emissions
Jan 18th 2017 (AEF – Aviation Environment Federation)
Gatwick Airport announced today its participation in a global renewable electricity alliance designed to generate increased demand for renewable electricity, alongside plans to become ‘carbon neutral’ by the spring.
Gatwick will be the first UK airport to join the RE100 alliance, led by the Climate Group, which sets 100% renewable energy targets for its 87 members. Whilst this is a progressive step which should not be overlooked, it is important to note that this does not account for the emissions from the aircraft using the airport.
Deputy Director of AEF, Cait Hewitt, said:
“We welcome initiatives that will increase the use of renewable electricity in the UK. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Gatwick’s commitment extends only to the airport infrastructure and vehicles. The planes that fly out of Gatwick are still powered by fossil fuels and will remain so for decades to come. Around 99% of the emissions associated with Gatwick are not from the airport itself but from the aircraft that use it. If you take into account emissions from departing planes, Gatwick has the second highest level of CO2 emissions of any airport in the UK, and this level is set to grow even though the airport was not the Government’s preferred choice for a new runway in the South East.”
Gatwick said it has been purchasing 100 per cent renewable electricity since 2013 and is one of three new companies to join the RE100 alliance in an announcement made during the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
The airport’s use of 100 per cent renewable electricity is a key part of the airport becoming carbon neutral later this year, as electricity comprises 80 per cent of the airport’s operational carbon footprint.
[Gatwick’s use of 100% renewable electricity is a key part of the airport becoming carbon neutral later this year, as electricity comprises 80% of the airport’s operational carbon footprint. The remaining emissions will be offset through investments in international, national and local renewable energy programmes, in addition to continued investment in energy and fuel efficiency. Link ]
Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, said: “The initiatives announced today are important milestones in Gatwick’s journey to become the UK’s most sustainable airport and one of the greenest in the world.
“We are serious about growing sustainably and we have some ambitious plans to develop in the most environmentally responsible way possible. We expect to see our world first waste plant generating heat for our North Terminal this year and we are introducing an electric car sharing service, the first of its kind for a UK airport.
“A set of rigorous environmental targets is driving our overall environmental performance and, despite a dramatic increase in our passenger numbers, I’m delighted to say that our environmental footprint is the same or better today than it was in the early 1990s despite our passenger numbers doubling.”
This states (read with caution… don’t be too gullible…)
“Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 is playing a big part in achieving our vision of making every journey better. It has been designed with the needs of passengers at its heart and with sustainability as a guiding principle.
Opened in June 2014, T2 welcomes 20 million passengers per year. The new Heathrow Energy Centre provides 20% renewable energy to T2, helping us to meet our energy needs cost efficiently while improving our energy efficiency by 40% more than required through building regulations (Part L 2006).
Heathrow’s Energy Centre delivers heat and cooling to T2 through a 10MW biomass Combined Heat and Power Plant. It is one of the largest biomass initiatives of its kind in the UK.
The Energy Centre is helping us work towards our target to achieve a 34% reduction in CO2emissions from energy used in our buildings by 2020 (from a 1990 baseline in line with Government CO2 targets). When operating at its full potential, it will offset around 40,000MWh/year of gas and 12,000MWh/year of electricity, saving around 13,000 tonnes of CO2 each year compared to the use of gas and grid electricity. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of 6,500 passenger cars.
The biomass boiler needs around 25,000 tonnes of woodchip per year. We source the timber locally (75% from within 50 miles) which helps support our local communities through providing jobs and further reducing CO2 emissions from transport. Other benefits include:
Tightly controlled air quality emissions;
100% of the bottom ash is collected and reused as a soil conditioner in agriculture or forestry;
Promoting local woodland management;
Promoting local economic investment and employment opportunities.
Responsible Heathrow 2020 is our commitment to supporting the UK and local economies and reducing Heathrow’s environmental impacts, while looking after our people and passengers.It is helping us achieve our ambition to be one of the most responsible airports in the world.
This story illustrates how the cost of flying does not reflect the environmental cost, and its price is far too low. Two women decided to save themselves a small amount of money, by travelling to Malaga to meet up, rather than one making train journey between Birmingham and Newcastle. The cost of a flight on 7th January by Ryanair from Newcastle to Malaga was £9.99 each way. Total £19.98. [The APD would be £13, so Ryanair made just £7 from transporting this passenger 2,700 miles]. (2,700 miles round trip). The cost of a return flight by Vueling from Birmingham to Malaga was £55.29 (2,200 miles round trip). By contrast the cost of a return train trip from Newcastle to Birmingham was £105. The two girls therefore spent about £75 on travel, (plus another £60 on hostels in Malaga for 3 nights, so they were actually out of pocket … compared to the rail trip and one staying at the house of the other …) The cost of staying in Malaga, off season, is also very cheap, encouraging Brits to take yet more trips very, very cheaply – regardless of their person carbon footprint, and the environmental impact. Newcastle and Birmingham are not really that far apart. How is the price for one return ticket as high as £105? And how can airlines be allowed to sell a ticket for a journey of 1,300 miles for just £10? There is something (well, many things) deeply rotten with the current system.
Cost of flight by Ryanair from Newcastle to Malaga, £9.99 each way. Total £19.98. (2,700 miles round trip). [The APD would be £13, so Ryanair made just £7 from transporting this passenger 2,700 miles]
Cost of flight by Vueling from Birmingham to Malaga, total return £55.29 (2,200 miles round trip).
Cost of train from Newcastle to Birmingham £105. (400 miles round trip).
Comments on this daft story by AirportWatch members:
Ryanair sort-of swallowed the APD on the basis that since the aircraft would fly the journey anyway, any contribution to the bottom line they can get for an otherwise-empty seat is worth having: and they won’t be the only carrier with the same approach.
But I do question the fundamentals of the story – apart from what they may have spent on in-flight refreshment or In-Malaga ditto, unless they lived on top of the airports they used it must have cost them more just to get to the airport and back home again than they spent on their flights.
I suspect it’s the journos not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. There are no aviation news items around at the moment, so perhaps some creativity is being required!
It isn’t true. It says ‘Distance: 200 miles, 400-mile round trip, cost of one return rail fare £105 …Total cost of both flights: £75.27 Saving: £29.75′, but in fact you can pick up single rail fares just a week in front, as follows:
Newcastle-Birmingham £35; Birmingham-Newcastle £28 – total £63.
Life imitating comedy (or the other way round?): this is the same story as Andy Parson was joking about on the News Quiz last week, but he was just imagining it. Could they in someway be related?
It is too bonkers to believe, but the Mail story has been widely read …. Good to know rail can still compete.
Deeply irritating if Ryanair gets away with its horrible encouragement of very cheap hypermobility, just because it can. Must just be that it is putting on too many flights in the off season and cannot fill them.
People like these girls all contribute to Ryanair being able to say they have very high load factors ….
Someone I know has just flown home from Portugal, where he works, to Bournemouth with Ryanair for the Princely sum of €5. That’s less than half the price of my journey by train from Surrey to Waterloo, off peak and with a senior railcard.
In my view it’s high time the rail industry fought back both in terms of its pricing and running a high profile rail v air campaign. Until Government formulates a coherent transport policy linked to environment to penalise this “stack em high, sell ‘em cheap” aviation business model, this nonsense will continue.
Two friends living in Newcastle and Birmingham met up in Malaga because it was cheaper to fly to SPAIN than getting the train to see each other
Lucy Walker, from Newcastle, and Zara Quli, from Birmingham, planned to meet
Rail fare between cities was £105, but Lucy found Ryanair return flight for £20
Zara got flight from Birmingham for £55.59 and accommodation cost just £10
The two trips totalling 6,000 miles were cheaper than one 150-mile train fare
By James Dunn For Mailonline
Two friends living in Newcastle and Birmingham met up in Spain because two return flights were cheaper than one rail fare between the two English cities.
Lucy Walker had planned to travel to Birmingham to see her university friend Zara Quli but was shocked to discover that the return trip would cost £105.
Lucy, aged 27, who teaches English as a foreign language, looked online and found that she could travel from Newcastle to Malaga for less than £20 return with Ryanair. Zara found flights from Birmingham for £55.59
The flights cost a total of £75, which is £30 less than a single rail fare between the two cities (in purple)
The pair decided to go to Malaga and were enjoyed Spanish tortillas, coffee and olive oil in the sun instead of seeing each other in either Newcastle or Manchester.
Zara, a 26-year-old charity worker, also found flights from Birmingham for £55.59 with Spanish budget airline Vueling and hostels were as cheap as £10 per night.
With the two return flights costing £30 less than a rail ticket, the pair were reunited in Malaga on Saturday, January 7, and spent three nights enjoying the 20C weather.
Former Nottingham University student Lucy said: ‘Trying to travel last-minute in the UK is always such a kick in the teeth as they put such a big premium on it. ‘There are always these last minute deals for flights and so we just checked for a better deal.
‘We realised it was cheaper for the both of us to go to Malaga instead.
‘Considering I try to be environmentally friendly it is not something I would normally do but the train is so expensive and this was just so much cheaper.’
They both flew to Malaga on a three-day trip totalling 6,000 miles, and managed to save £30 on travel compared to what they would have spent on a 200-mile rail ticket
Lucy paid £9.99 each way for her tickets with Ryanair, and Zara paid £55.29 return to travel with Vueling.
The flights were cheaper than the rail fares between Birmingham and Newcastle would have been, despite the two cities being only 200 miles apart.
Newcastle to Birmingham by rail
Distance: 200 miles, 400-mile round trip, cost of one return fare £105
Newcastle to Malaga
Distance: 1,350 miles, 2,700-mile round trip, £9.99 each way
Total cost: £19.98
Birmingham to Malaga
Distance: 1,100 miles, 2,200-mile round trip
Cost of outbound flight: £36.99
Cost of return flight: £18.30
Price of flights: £55.29
Total cost of both flights: £75.27
The distance between the UK and Malaga is roughly 1,500 miles, meaning Lucy and Zara made round-trips of about 3,000 miles to see each other.
Lucy said: ‘It was more expensive to check a bag in than the cost of the tickets. You get quite a generous hand luggage allowance though so we didn’t even need to.’
The pair spent two nights in a hostel for about £10 a night then travelled to Granada where they stayed for one night in a hotel for £11 each.
Lucy added: ‘Everything is cheaper out there, lots of things that add up in the UK, like the transport to get from the airport into the city is just one euro eighty, about £1.50.
‘It works out a lot cheaper when you go out for a drink too. The law in Granada is they have to bring you tapas when you order drinks.
‘They start off quite basic but by the time you are on your third drink they start to bring out prawns and things.
Chris Grayling, and Caroline Low from the DfT, gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on 30th November. Chris Grayling was not able to give the committee satisfactory assurances on how much UK aviation emissions would rise, due to a new runway. Nor was he able to comment on the CO2 cuts needed by other sectors, to accommodate aviation CO2 rise. He said: “Of course in the case of carbon emissions, there is no law of the land that requires us to meet any particular target.” When asked by Mary Creagh when we could see the aviation emissions strategy, Grayling could give no answer other than an evasive: “documentation on that expansion will be published in the new year.” Grayling’s responses indicate only an incomplete grasp of the facts on carbon, avoiding specific answers to questions, but with the intention of allowing aviation expansion (and perhaps later trying to sort out the problem). He hides behind the CCC as much as possible. On the issue of non-CO2 impacts, he says “there is no international evidence at the moment”for this” – and then some half-digested waffle about cutting CO2 by more direct routing of flights. He also hopes biofuels will make a difference in future, despite this being unlikely to provide more than a tiny % of fuel. Grayling makes it clear he has no intention of letting aviation CO2 get in the way of a 3rd Heathrow runway.
The Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Mary Creagh, heard oral evidence from Chris Grayling, and Caroline Low (Dft) on 30th November.
“The Airports Commission Report: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise, HC 840 Wednesday 30 November 2016
Members present: Mary Creagh (Chair); Peter Aldous; Caroline Ansell; Glyn Davies; Caroline Lucas; Mr Gavin Shuker.
Questions 1 – 133 Witnesses: Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, and Caroline Low, Director of Airport Capacity, Department for Transport.
The questioning covered several environmental issues. Below are the sections dealing with questions and answers on climate.
Q49 Caroline Lucas: In your response to the Committee, and indeed in the statement to the House, you said that Heathrow can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations, but the figures in the Government’s business case assume that aviation will emit 15% more CO2 than the amounts allowed for in the carbon budgets by 2050. I wonder how you reconcile those statements.
Chris Grayling:There are two different ways that this could happen. It is worth saying of course that international aviation is not within the current climate change legislation. Notwithstanding that, we and the international community are taking this issue very seriously, hence you will be aware of the recent ICAO agreement in Montreal. We believe that a number of different factors will have a material impact on the level of emissions from this sector.
One of those is change in technology, with the emergence of a new generation of much more fuel-efficient aircraft that will emit less carbon than has been the case in the past; a second is the development of biofuels, and we yesterday published a consultation on how we intend to incentivise the increased use of biofuels in aviation in this country. Of course many airlines are doing this already. Virgin Atlantic, for example, is already well advanced in the development of biofuels technology for use in their planes, so that is the second factor.
Of course the third element, which was at the heart of the ICAO agreement, is the international plan for offsetting in this sector. I am very confident that with the package that is available we will achieve what the Airports Commission said we would be able to achieve, which is to deliver the expansion of airport capacity in the south-east without breaching the carbon goals that we have. Is there anything else to add to that, Caroline?
Caroline Low: Just to pick up on that, there has been some press about this and comments from the Committee on Climate Change. The further work that was published alongside the decision was supplementary to all of the work that the Commission did, and we absolutely accept the recommendations and the scenarios that they ran in relation to carbon. As you know, there was a carbon cap and a carbon traded scenario, which probably represent extremes. In our further sensitivities we ran those off the carbon traded scenario, but that was not to imply that that is the scenario that we expect to be in. We still expect to be somewhere in the middle, depending on the range of policy approaches taken. In summary, we stand by the work that the Commission did on carbon, which was accepted by the CCC.
Q50 Caroline Lucas: I will come back to some of these issues around ICAO and biofuels in a moment, but biofuels are only likely to be able to be substituting a very small proportion of fossil fuels.
Chris Grayling: Yes, it is a factor. It is not a transformative—
Caroline Lucas: It is a very small factor. I just wanted to come back to the issue of offsetting, because in the letter from the Committee on Climate Change to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State, they make very clear that they do not think that carbon offsetting should be factored into the targets that you are aiming for. Not least, they say that because, “The Committee has consistently said the Government should not plan to use credits to meet the 2050 target because these credits may not be available in the future and they may not be cheap”. Relying on offsetting when that is flying in the face of what the Committee on Climate Change is recommending seems unwise.
Chris Grayling: We have not taken a policy decision yet on whether we will go for a hard target or whether we will include offsetting. My point was that of the options available to us for the future, that is one of them.
Q51 Caroline Lucas: The trouble is that is one of them, but it is one that the Committee on Climate Change is recommending you do not use. Another option presumably, if you went more towards the carbon cap scenario, would be that you would be expecting Herculean cuts in emissions from other sectors in order to allow the aviation industry to continue to grow, and already the Committee on Climate Change is saying that the expectations of the other sectors cutting by 85% or more is at the upper end of what is likely to be possible. It seems to me that if you are not going to go down the traded side, then you are going to be expecting even greater emission cuts in sectors that are already under massive pressure. How realistic is that?
Chris Grayling: I am not ruling out the trading side. We have just signed up to the ICAO agreement, which is a big international agreement as to how most of the leading countries in the world are going to deliver the objectives in international aviation.
Q52 Caroline Lucas: It is voluntary?
Chris Grayling: It is voluntary, but none the less, the planned participation is very substantial. It is an option for us for the future, which we believe is one part of the policy decision we have to take.
Q53 Caroline Lucas: The trouble with your answer, with respect, is that we have looked at what would happen if you went down the carbon traded route and we have established the fact that the Committee on Climate Change is recommending you do not do that, for very practical reasons. We have now looked at the issue of whether or not you will be expecting other sectors to make greater cuts in order to allow aviation to expand, and it appears that, because you will not put down your flag on what you are going to do, you are able to evade the downsides and the flaws in either of those strategies and—
Chris Grayling: You have to bear in mind how closely the Committee on Climate Change worked with the Airports Commission. The Airports Commission conclusion has taken into account all the factors available to them and taken into account the Committee on Climate Change’s modelling that we could deliver a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick within our overall carbon goals. That work was done very closely between the two organisations, so this isn’t something that we, as a Government, are suddenly plucking out of the air. We are simply accepting a recommendation from our independent Commission, which worked very closely with the Climate Change Committee before it arrived at that conclusion or recommendation.
Q54 Caroline Lucas: But your business case is assuming that aviation will emit 15% more CO2 than the amounts allowed for in the carbon budgets by 2050. You have a letter from the Committee on Climate Change, which is saying that they think you might have misunderstood them and they would like to point out, for example, that they have limited confidence about the options for other sectors to go beyond cuts of 85%, which are already factored into your calculations. I will just put it to you that you are boosting the amount that you think that aviation is going to be allowed to emit in the face of the evidence.
Chris Grayling: I don’t think that is right. The Airports Commission worked very closely with the Committee on Climate Change. It reached the conclusion on the basis of that joint work.
Caroline Low: Just to be clear, the carbon traded scenario is not the business case. You have to look at all of the scenarios that we put out. Going forward, there is general agreement that dealing with this at the international level is the right thing. That is why we were waiting to see where we got to in Montreal before doing further detailed analysis and putting forward policy proposals on this. We will be taking that work forward now. We will be putting out discussion papers on carbon strategy for aviation next year.
Caroline Lucas: Can I ask one further follow-up?
Chris Grayling: Of course.
Q55 Caroline Lucas: On the issue of whether or not there might be an expectation on other sectors to decarbonise even more dramatically than is currently anticipated, have you had any discussions with Ministers from other Departments and industries about the feasibility of that assumption?
Chris Grayling: Not at the moment. We have a number of cross-Government forums where we discuss environmental issues, but my belief is that we will in due course take a policy decision that will provide the right balance between the different tools and options available to us.
Q56 Chair:Just on the carbon trading scenario, you are saying, “There are two different types of models here. One is a carbon traded assumption, one is a carbon capped assumption, but we are not really looking at either of those. There is some sort of Goldilocks option right in the middle”. Is that correct?
Caroline Low: The Commission also ran a carbon sensitivity model, so the carbon capped and carbon traded models were effectively artificial modelled scenarios run off a carbon price rather than actual policies. The carbon sensitivity model, which sits somewhere in the middle and allows for about 80% growth, starts to bring in looking at the most efficient policies to reduce carbon, the sort of things we have talked about: fuel efficiency and aircraft operational policies, and offsetting. Having understood now where we will get to from ICAO, we can take forward and put forward a range of policy measures. Perhaps you are right to call it a Goldilocks in-between, but we will be putting the flesh on the bones of that going forward.
Q57 Chair:The Airports Commission modelled carbon prices of between £200 a tonne and £380 a tonne in 2050. That stands in sharp contrast to €11 a tonne, which is what it was under the EU trading scheme. Where do you think carbon prices will be in 2050, and what will that add to the price of a flight?
Chris Grayling:The answer is we don’t know. The Airports Commission has taken some fairly prudent assessments on this. If we find ourselves in the year 2050 where technology has not moved as fast as we expected, where other factors come into play, inevitably that will have an impact on the cost of flying. If you look at how fast aerospace technology is changing at the moment—this is the point we have not touched on to enough of a degree so far—most of the airlines will now say that the new generation of aircraft is dramatically reducing air fuel costs, dramatically reducing the level of fuel consumption, and by definition therefore also dramatically reducing carbon emissions. I fully expect to see over the next 10 or 20 years quite substantial changes to the nature of the fleets on the tarmac.
If you just go to Heathrow now you will see a massive move by most of the big airlines into new aircraft, 787s particularly, with an expectation that the A350 will do the same.These are significantly reducing carbon levels on the existing paradigm. Caroline Lucas is right that the biofuels element is not transformational, but a contribution of biofuels of percentage points to the level of emissions clearly makes a difference as well. This is a moving feast—
Q58 Chair: But you are about to publish your aviation emission strategy next year, aren’t you?
Chris Grayling: Yes.
Q59 Caroline Lucas: How can we be confident that this expansion can be delivered within our climate obligations when the strategy to achieve this has not yet been written by you? You are sort of setting some of it out, but it is kind of like, “Trust me, I’m—”
Chris Grayling: It is not. We have a well cast independent Airports Commission, in consultation with the Committee on Climate Change, which has said to the Government, “You can achieve this expansion within your carbon targets”. That is what we are basing ourselves on. This is not, “Let’s pluck something out of the air and go for it”. We have gone through a process of getting serious independent analysis done, which has reached the conclusion on the issues of air quality and of carbon emissions that we can achieve our objectives within the limits that are currently set.
Of course in the case of carbon emissions, there is no law of the land that requires us to meet any particular target. We are doing what we believe is right. We are partners in the ICAO agreement. We are looking to a strategy that delivers what we need to achieve, as the Airports Commission said we could, within carbon targets that are not found in UK statute, but are things that we are pursuing nonetheless.
Q60 Chair: We are doing it because we want to, rather than because we are mandated by climate change—
Chris Grayling: It is a matter of fact that international aviation is not in the legislation. That is not stopping us pursuing a sensible strategy on the carbon emissions from aviation.
Q61 Chair: When can we see the aviation emissions strategy? When will that be published?
Chris Grayling: All the documentation on that expansion will be published in the new year and will obviously be available for scrutiny through next year.
Q62 Chair: Simultaneously?
Caroline Low: The work on wider aviation strategy will be coming out later next year.
Q63 Chair: We are going to have the national planning statement on the future of this strategic national infrastructure airport coming out before we have an emissions aviation strategy published?
Caroline Low: The NPS that we will be consulting on we will be based on the work, as the Secretary of State said, done by the Airports Commission in consultation with the CCC. The question then is, what next for the industry? That is what we will be consulting on later next year.
Q64 Chair: Don’t they go hand in hand?
Chris Grayling: No, because they are not simply about Heathrow. There is a broader national strategy on aviation as well.
Q65 Chair: But you are going to expand demand and capacity at one airport, and you are going to do that policy statement before you have put out a strategy on what we are going to do on aviation emissions. Doesn’t that seem like putting the cart before the horse?
Chris Grayling:No, because what we have done is we have taken proper independent advice on can we deliver the expansion of airport capacity in the south-east and keep that within our emissions targets, given the factors that we have discussed this afternoon, and the answer was yes.
Q66 Chair: When will the carbon reduction plan be published? Will that be coming out after the national policy statement on Heathrow as well?
Chris Grayling: The work that is going to be published in the national policy statement will be based on what has been done by the Airports Commission in consultation with the Committee on Climate Change.
Q67 Chair: When is the carbon reduction plan coming out—after the end of the year?
Chris Grayling: That is right.
Caroline Low: Yes. It is not a carbon reduction plan. It will be a discussion paper around carbon. We will be putting out a number of papers around wider aviation strategy to update the aviation policy framework, which is the current overarching document. Having taken the decision on south-east capacity, we then need to look more broadly at aviation strategy and update it in line with having taken that decision. One of the issues we need to look at is carbon. At the moment we are doing the analysis following the ICAO decision. I am not sure exactly when that will be complete, but I expect it to be spring/summer next year.
Chris Grayling: Some of the issues that you describe will lie somewhere in the future. If you look at what the Airports Commission recommended, it said that we would need extra capacity by 2030 and that by 2030 we could deliver that capacity and keep within carbon goals. It said that we might subsequently, by 2050, need a further runway in the south-east, but that could only happen depending on where we are with carbon emissions at the time, so there is a clear process going forward. As far as I am concerned, the work that has been done by the Airports Commission, in consultation with the Committee on Climate Change, is the work upon which this expansion should be based. The question is about where the direction of travel goes beyond this for the future of the aviation sector in the United Kingdom. It has to take into account where we get to at the end of the Heathrow expansion process or at the end of the national policy statement process.
Q68 Chair: But there is a gap between the various things that are in play now and where we need to get to in order for Heathrow to expand and for us to meet our—
Chris Grayling: No. It is important to challenge that. I don’t accept that. What we have is a very detailed piece of independently carried out work that says, “You can expand Heathrow based on the existing situation. Based on your overall carbon goals, this is something that can be delivered”. That work was carried out by the Commission in consultation with the Committee on Climate Change. I am satisfied that that gives us the basis to move forward. There isn’t going to be some radical additional new piece of work that lies on top of what the Airports Commission has done that is a whole new strategy. The Airports Commission has done that work for us. The further work we need to do for the future is based on the rest of the aviation sector, over and above and beyond what happens at Heathrow.
Q69 Caroline Lucas: There is just one thing on that, because you said you would be basing the way forward on this close collaboration between the Committee on Climate Change and your Department. But I would come back to the letter from the Committee on Climate Change of 22 November, which clearly says that aviation emissions should be at the same level in 2050 as they were in 2005, without the use of international credits. Can you rule out now that you will be using international credits if you are going to be in line with what the CCC says?
Chris Grayling: We have not reached a decision yet on whether to do that or not. We have just been—
Q70 Caroline Lucas: But you cannot say on the one hand that what you are doing is being sanctioned and agreed to by the Committee on Climate Change if in the next breath you are saying, “One of the things we did—”
Chris Grayling: Yes, I can, because what you are doing is conflating two separate issues. The one issue is the work done by the Airports Commission and the Committee on Climate Change on the expansion of Heathrow—can that be delivered? Indeed. Not just expansion of Heathrow, but the additional runway in the south-east—can that be done within climate targets? The answer to that was yes. What you are quoting is them saying, “But we do not think you should use credits”. That is a different question.
Caroline Lucas: Discuss. To my mind, they seem to be pretty—
Chris Grayling: I disagree. There is a much broader issue. This is not just about Heathrow Airport for the next 30 years. It is about aviation across the United Kingdom and aviation policy across the United Kingdom. That is a different question from whether we can expand one airport with an additional runway. They are saying they don’t think we should use credits. That is a policy debate that we will have to have and we will have to reach. That is a different question from whether we can, within those limits, expand one airport.
Caroline Lucas: That begs a whole load of other questions.
Q71 Chair: It is keeping going, isn’t it? If I can just finish off, your aviation strategy is coming out after the national planning statement on Heathrow, and you said it will be sort of the middle of next year, alongside the carbon reduction plan. I am asking you about the cross-governmental—
Chris Grayling: The cross-Government—
Caroline Low: There is a phased carbon reduction strategy, which is due out early next year. As I understand it, that is not about aviation, because as we have been discussing, aviation is not included in those targets at the moment.
Q72 Chair: You are doing a carbon reduction plan as well, are you?
Caroline Low: We will be putting out, as part of our discussion of future aviation policy, some discussion papers around carbon.
Chris Grayling: If I can give you an example of where that comes into play, one part of what we are going to be producing is a future strategy for the use of airspace. Quite clearly, if we can use new technology to reduce stacking, that reduces fuel consumption and reduces carbon emissions, so it is not about, “Here is a carbon reduction strategy”. It is a strategy to improve the performance of aviation generally, reduce costs, reduce fuel use and reduce emissions.
Q73 Chair: Although you can argue that we already have very efficient aviation use in this country compared with other countries—
Chris Grayling: I would argue that actually we don’t.
Chair: Okay. We will have to take that outside, but—
Chris Grayling: Okay, but let me get this in very quickly, because it is quite important. A very practical example of that: you can today follow an aircraft all the way from its point of origin to its point of destination and talk to it on the way. In the past, an air traffic controller only got into contact with a plane in the last stages of its flight. If a plane is flying the Atlantic and it is clear to air traffic control when it arrives over the south-east, and it is going to spend half an hour flying in circles over Cobham, then saying to that plane in advance, “Slow down, use less fuel, don’t stack” becomes a real option in airspace management terms. That is the kind of improvement that we are going to need for the future. That simply does not happen now. If you are in the south-west of London or the north-west of London, you are well used to planes flying in circles over you overhead for long periods of time, completely unnecessarily. If we can manage it so that does not happen, that is a material benefit to carbon emissions.
Q74 Chair: Will you be examining non-CO2 emissions as part of that aviation strategy?
Chris Grayling: There is an extensive debate about the non-CO2 emissions. Our view is that if we reduce fuel consumption—which is happening in a variety of different ways, one of which I have just described, and technology is another—then we will see those emissions reduce as well. But there is no clear scientific basis to look at other emissions and put those at the heart of our strategy.
Q75 Chair: Are demand-side measures something that you are examining as part of the aviation strategy?
Chris Grayling: If you are talking about, for example, increasing air passenger duty, they have happened in recent years, but that is very much a matter for the Treasury.
Q76 Chair: The Committee on Climate Change has said passenger demand growth cannot realistically exceed a 60% increase between 2005 and 2050 to be consistent with carbon budgets.
Chris Grayling: Yes.
Caroline Low: What we will be putting out as part of the carbon discussion next year is an updated marginal abatement cost curve, which looks at all of the policies that you can use and the relative efficiency of different policies to manage carbon. One of them is demand management. It is relatively inefficient compared to some of the other policies, but there is a 2011 analysis on that that we will be updating for part of this work.
Chris Grayling: It also depends on the technology for the future. They don’t know; we don’t know. There have been over the past 35 years some pretty dramatic changes in aviation technology. Going back 35 years, fly-by-wire was only just starting. The kind of technology you are now seeing in the Dreamliner, the A350, the new 737s were nowhere in sight at that point. It is a bold assumption to assume that there is no possibility for that to happen, but our view is that what we are doing is completely consistent with what the Committee on Climate Change has described.
Chair: Thank you. We have been joined by colleagues. Welcome to Gavin Shuker. I do not know if you have any interests you wish to declare.
Mr Gavin Shuker: No, I don’t.
Chair: Excellent, and Peter Aldous. Caroline, you had a—
Q77 Caroline Lucas: A couple of follow-ups. I want to go back to the non-CO2 emissions, because they are significant. This is an issue I worked on in the European Parliament when we were doing aviation in the EU ETS proposal, and although you are right to say that there isn’t an absolutely defined figure everyone agrees to, everyone agrees that there are significant non-CO2 impacts—in other words, when you have contrails—when you have NOx emissions at altitude. It seems to me just to say, “Because we don’t know the exact figure we are just not going to take them into account at all” is rather reckless. Putting a modest figure on it, it might be that the total impact is around double the impact of CO2alone, so can you say what kind of research is going on in your Department or elsewhere to get a handle on it? Because the idea that, “We don’t entirely know, therefore we are not going to follow it up” seems to be completely in contradiction to the precautionary principle.
Chris Grayling: There is no international evidence at the moment, no firm international scientific base for this.
Q78 Caroline Lucas: Yes, there is. There are huge amounts of evidence of the non-CO2 impact of aviation. We don’t know the exact calculation, but it is not in question that there is a—
Chris Grayling: But there is no scientific basis for us to take specific policy decisions, because we don’t have, as you say, the very specific data on which to base such decisions. My view on this is that if a central part of our goal is to reduce fuel consumption—and that is going to come through technology, better airspace management, as we described earlier—then that has the same beneficial effects on non-CO2 emissions as it does on CO2 emissions.
Q79 Caroline Lucas: That is true, but if the impact of aviation emissions could well be double what you are working on, then the impact of all of your modelling is in question, and given that that is a debate that is being had in many of the big organisations now, in ICAO and elsewhere, I want to know in what way you are at least anticipating that this might need to be factored in at some point.
Chris Grayling: The phrase “could well be” is not something that we yet have sufficient evidence to adapt policy on.
Q80 Caroline Lucas: The precautionary principle? There is a lot of evidence that there is a significant impact and we can—
Chris Grayling: What is that impact?
Caroline Lucas: Somewhere between 1.3 and 1.9, from my recollection. I will stand corrected. By the way, if you did it by 0.5, I would be happy enough, but I want you to acknowledge that there is an impact that could well be escalated as we find out more.
Chris Grayling: If evidence emerges, we will have to respond to it.
Q81 Caroline Lucas: I look forward to that. Can I move on quickly to the ICAO issue, and then we will move on? Just on ICAO, we were mentioning it earlier, but the scale of its ambition falls short in key ways of the UK’s domestic policy. What will the Government be doing to strengthen that ICAO agreement and to bridge the gap?
Chris Grayling: I think it is quite a success point to have reached the ICAO agreement, to be honest. As Caroline said earlier, this is something we believe has to be addressed on an international basis. This is not something where the UK acting alone unilaterally can make a significant difference. It has to be done on an international basis. The ICAO agreement is a significant step forward, and is a significant step further forward than appeared might be the case in the run-up to the reaching of that agreement.
Q82 Caroline Lucas: You have no plans at this point to be looking to strengthen it.
Caroline Low: There are reopeners in the agreement, which we would seek to build on, but I think the first thing is to take the agreement we have, to work through the detail, which is what we are doing now, and to make sure what we have is properly implemented. We can then look to build on that agreement going forward.
Q83 Caroline Lucas: One final question on biofuels, as we mentioned those earlier. Will the Government be addressing the full lifecycle emissions of biofuels, including land use change, when you are developing policy in that area?
Chris Grayling: Yes. This is something I feel quite strongly about. There is a role for biofuels and there is a particular role for biofuels that reprocess waste products. I am not comfortable with a strategy that simply causes people to grow palm oil plantations around the world and to get rid of rainforest, for example, to make way for them. I am seeking to be very cautious across the Department’s activities—and this is not just in the area of aviation—to make sure that we do not promote a policy that encourages detrimental land use change, as opposed to using materials where there is a positive benefit in creating biofuels. I will be very watchful of that in my time as Secretary of State.
Q84 Caroline Lucas: I have one very last one—sorry—going back to ICAO. ICAO, which I didn’t mention earlier, does not reduce aviation emissions, of course. It simply commits to offsetting them. Given there is no guarantee that there will be capacity in world carbon markets to achieve that, isn’t it risky to be putting a lot of emphasis on assuming that that ICAO agreement is going to dig you out of a hole?
Chris Grayling: I am not assuming it is going to dig us out of a hole, but it seems to me to be the best way that we have of getting an international focus on the issue, getting countries working together on the issue and getting countries taking action to offset the issue. With the best will in the world, saying to countries around the world that are in a growth spurt, “You have to stop expanding aviation” is not going to get us very far, so I think the—
Q85 Caroline Lucas: No, but they might be saying that perhaps we need to reduce aviation in order to allow them equitably to increase it. I will leave that point with you. I am not expecting a response.
Chris Grayling: I think our aviation market is increasingly dwarfed by others.
Chair: Gavin, you had a very quick follow-up.
Q86 Mr Gavin Shuker: Yes. In a bid to atone for the fact that I have joined the session slightly late, I will only ask questions on one topic, which is this: given that we have a legally binding carbon budget, do you think that aviation gets enough of that budget with the size of the pie that we currently have?
Chris Grayling: Of course the issue is that international aviation is not contained within the current legal limits for carbon emissions. It has always been expressly treated as an international matter. We could perfectly well say, “Nothing to do with this. We will leave aviation to its own devices”. We don’t do that. We are working quite carefully to make sure that aviation policy is consistent with our overall goals. But in terms of legal obligation, there isn’t the same legal obligation that exists in other sectors.
Q87 Mr Gavin Shuker: Just briefly as a follow-up, do you feel there are other sectors of the economy where—through greater use of energy efficiency, for example—you might be able to offset some of the impact of what you are proposing, which is to expand the great proportion, over time, of carbon that is being used by UK passengers in aviation?
Chris Grayling:If you take one example we were talking about earlier, I support the growth of electric vehicles and I would like to see dramatic growth in electric vehicles around the world. That offers us the opportunity to deliver a step change reduction in the generation of carbon from one part of the transport system, but I don’t think that is a satisfactory alternative to looking to use new technology in the aviation sector to reduce fuel consumption as well. It is a virtuous circle, in that we reduce fuel consumption, we reduce cost, we reduce the price for passengers, but at the same time we reduce carbon emissions. My view is that the dramatic transformation of aircraft technology and aero engine technology that is currently taking place is a real, positive benefit that makes the future of international aviation much more sustainable than would otherwise be the case.
Q125 Chair: There is a trade-off though, isn’t there, on the biofuels debate between carbon savings and the noise issue? How are you going to balance those competing priorities? You are doing a biofuels competition. What is more important?
Chris Grayling: There are two things happening in parallel at the moment. We are looking to encourage innovation in the biofuels arena. I am particularly concerned that we do this around sustainable sources of material for biofuels. At the same time you have airlines that are very actively engaged in trying to develop biofuels. There is a trade-off, but I think trade-offs get rapidly overtaken by technological development. I would be very surprised if the next generation of biofuels aren’t smoother running, better suited to what we have discussed. This is something that is not going to happen overnight. It is a process over time, but it is a process over time at a time when aircraft noise is coming down sharply as well. I don’t think that will be a major issue for us.
Q126 Chair: Are you planning on running a biofuels competition for aviation?
Chris Grayling: We are currently doing a competition for biofuels development, not specifically tied absolutely to aviation, but with aviation in mind.
Q127 Chair: Great. If I can take you back to the carbon issue and ICAO as a final set of questions, the ICAO agreement does not reduce aviation emissions, it commits to offsetting them. There is no guarantee that there will be capacity in world carbon markets to achieve this, is there?
Chris Grayling: I would argue that there is, in the sense that the way you offset is either through a reduction elsewhere or through the replanting of an area of land that has lost its foliage over the years. The sad thing is, this planet has no shortage of areas that were once green and are no longer so. One of the things that we will all need to do for the future is to bring back into agriculture or forestry—or indeed simply wild-planted areas—areas that are now arid.
Q128 Chair: The agreement’s credibility obviously depends on large emitters living up to their voluntary commitment to participate fully in the programme from 2021. What will UK aviation be doing differently after 2021?
Chris Grayling: I expect, if we are moving ahead with this, that UK aviation will be funding offsetting projects.
Q129 Chair: Where? In this country or developing countries? What mechanisms?
Chris Grayling: To be discussed. That is certainly market-based, to see who comes up with the most innovative plans that make the biggest difference. We fortunately do not have too many arid areas in this country, so I suspect it will be global. A lot of the offsetting projects that exist at the moment are global. As to the behaviour of other countries, we cannot guarantee that, but we can seek to influence them.
Q130 Chair: I can perhaps suggest some recommended reading. We did an excellent report on soil health, which might change your mind on arid areas in this country, so it is worth having a look.
Chris Grayling: I will look at that. I have no prejudgment about where the money should be spent. I suspect that what we will see as the ICAO agreement takes shape is a strengthening of the opportunities for smart environmental projects to offset the impacts of the emissions covered by the agreement.
Q131 Chair: What analysis have you made of the incoming President-elect’s proposals around this and encouraging the new US administration to continue its commitments?
Chris Grayling: I haven’t yet, but I already made the acquaintance last summer—before either of us held our current posts—of the new US Secretary of Transportation. I shall have to meet her before too long and I am sure we will be discussing a whole range of things, including the ICAO agreement.
Q132 Chair: Finally, have carbon savings from the Single European Sky been factored into the calculations for the emissions impact of the Heathrow expansion?
Chris Grayling: We have not yet taken decisions about what we will do on the Single European Sky. Clearly that is something that will be part of the decision-making post the Brexit vote and as we move towards the negotiations, so I can’t give you a comment on that today, I am afraid.
Q133 Chair: Does it not have a material impact on the Heathrow expansion?
Chris Grayling: We will need to take into account a number of factors before deciding what our strategy is around European aviation, the Single European Sky, IATA and the rest. That work is yet to be completed.
We face the prospect of flying becoming even cheaper, encouraging yet more “hyper-mobility” and “binge flying”. This is not just from the UK government hoping to add another runway at Heathrow, so hugely increasing UK airport capacity (and in doing so, threatening UK carbon targets) but from more no-frills, budget long haul trips. Norwegian, the Scandinavian airline that Gatwick has high hopes of, is offering one-way flights from Edinburgh to New York starting at £56. Some analysts believe 2017 could turn out to be the breakthrough year for low-cost, long-haul with a boom in the number of routes being offered, mainly on the North Atlantic network, but with other flights added into Asia and possibility South America. Back in 1977 Freddie Laker tried cheap transatlantic flights but by 1982 “Skytrain” had gone bust; priced out by airlines that dropped their fares to put Laker out of business. The low cost model might have more chance now, with lighter planes burning less fuel per unit distance, eg. Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 737 Max, and the A350 XWB and A321Neo from Airbus, and engine makers using lighter alloys. Efforts are being made to cut weight, eg. taking out screens on seats. The lighter planes can also fly further on the same amount of fuel.
Pared-back planes offer true budget flying
By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (Times)
December 31 2016
Norwegian, the Scandinavian carrier, has caused a storm in the industry by offering one-way flights from Edinburgh to New York starting at £56
It has been a feature of short-haul flights around Europe for a generation. Millions of travellers each year ditch the free in-flight meals, glasses of wine and weighty check-in luggage in favour of roughing it on low-cost airlines.
Now, the trend for stripped-down, budget flight has reached the long-haul travel market.
This week, Norwegian, the Scandinavian carrier, made waves by boasting of one-way flights from Edinburgh to New York starting at £56. Last night, analysts said 2017 could turn out to be the breakthrough year for low-cost, long-haul with a boom in the number of routes being offered, mainly on the North Atlantic network, but with other flights added into Asia and possibility South America.
Yet this is not a new phenomenon. Sir Freddie Laker, the aviation entrepreneur, offered cheap transatlantic flights four decades ago. In 1977, he sold no-frills seats on his Skytrain from London to New York for as little as £59, a third of the cost of his competitors.
His profits were £1 million in the first year. However, by 1982 Skytrain had gone bust; priced out by airlines that dropped their fares to put Laker out of business. Now, experts suggest that the model is on the rise again due, in large part, to the development of lighter jets that burn less fuel to keep costs down.
Aircraft such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and 737 Max, and the A350 XWB and A321Neo from Airbus, are pushing the boundaries of long-haul travel. Jets built of carbon plastic fibres and other composite materials cut weight by a fifth and engine makers such as Rolls-Royce are using lighter alloys.
Engineers are rethinking every aspect of design to keep weight down, including windows, seats, wings, the tail, rudder and even replacing the pilot’s controls with touch-screens.
WestJet, flying between the UK and Canada, stripped the seatback screens from its aircraft in favour of streaming films to passengers’ phones or tablet computers — reportedly removing two thirds of a ton from each plane.
In the UK, low-cost long-haul is being led by Norwegian. From 2017, it will expand its Gatwick operation from 22 to 34 flights a week, starting at £135 one-way. This includes a twice-daily service to New York JFK.
Elsewhere, WestJet flies from Gatwick and Glasgow to Canada, with prices from £180.
The German airline Eurowings offers the Far East and South and North America. Wow, the Icelandic budget airline, flies from Britain to the US and Canada, via Reykjavik. It has fares from £119 one-way.
On 30th November, Chris Grayling gave evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) about their concerns regarding a 3rd Heathrow runway. Chris Grayling gave very inadequate responses on carbon emissions, and whether the government planned to keep to the cap recommended (since 2009) by the Committee on Climate Change. This is that UK aviation CO2 should not rise above about 37.5MtCo2 per year by 2050. That is the level in 2005. Now Mary Creagh MP, the Chair of the EAC, has written to Chris Grayling to get some confirmation of the government’s position. She asks: “Could you please tell us: Whether the Government will be working towards the CCC’s planning assumption for actual UK aviation emissions to be around 2005 levels by 2050? If so, whether you accept the CCC’s advice that this implies an increase in passenger growth of around 60% over the same period (which already takes into account forecasts around the impact of the the chronological and other advances that we discussed in the hearing)? If not, what empirical basis is the Government using to support its assumption that excess emissions from aviation can be compensated for by deeper cuts from other sectors.” She has asked for a reply by the 11th January, and the EAC will publicise it.
Letter from Mary Creagh to Chris Grayling regarding carbon emission targets, 19 December
Whether the Government will be working towards the CCC’s planning assumption for actual UK aviation emissions to be around 2005 levels by 2050?
If so, whether you accept the CCC’s advice that this implies an increase in passenger growth of around 60% over the same period (which already takes into account forecasts around the impact of the the chronological and other advances that we discussed in the hearing)?
If not, what empirical basis is the Government using to support its assumption that excess emissions from aviation can be compensated for by deeper cuts from other sectors. “
And the letter continues on air pollution questions.
Wednesday 30 November, Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport
Caroline Low, Director of Airport Capacity, DfT
Response from the Government
The Environmental Audit Committee has today published a response from the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, to the Committee’s interim findings on the Airport Commission’s Report: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise.
The Committee conducted an inquiry in autumn 2015 into the environmental aspects of the Airports Commission’s findings. The Committee said it would hear oral evidence from the Secretary of State for Transport if the Government agreed with the Airports Commission’s recommendation to build an additional runway at Heathrow Airport. The Committee’s report, and the evidence received by the inquiry, can be found on the Committee’s website.
Commenting on Mr Grayling’s response, the EAC Chair Mary Creagh MP said:
“We’re particularly keen to hear from the Secretary of State about how the third runway will be compliant with our EU air quality obligations, especially in light of the High Court’s judgement that the UK’s air quality plan is illegal.”
In a fascinating article in “The Conversation” a Psychology lecturer from the University of Brighton puts forward the concept of “hyper-normalisation” as an explanation for decisions made by society and government. Instead of government accepting the reality, and dangers, of our global climate change predicament, it carries on apparently oblivious of the dangers with policies that can only worsen the problems. The decision to build a Heathrow runway is only “truly momentous”, as Chris Grayling described it, because it shows just how far government etc “are willing to go in denying that climate change and related ecological crises require us to significantly change the way we live.” Those in power seem to be “increasingly incapable of dealing with a sequence of global issues with any meaningful plan. They are devoid of any vision beyond the maintenance of the status quo.” Hyper-normalisation as a way of dealing with the issues facing humanity provided a “simplified, reassuring and fake version of the world in the face of unprecedented global challenges”. We know that practices and pastimes such as frequent and long-haul flying, are unsustainable. But the new hyper-normalisation view of the world may allow societies to re-interpret reality, to avoid uncomfortable and inconvenient actions. Read the blog.
#Hypernormalisation – and why Heathrow plan is proof we exist in a catastrophic fantasyland
By Matthew Adams (Principal Lecturer in Psychology, University of Brighton)
Disclosure statement: Matthew Adams does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, referred to the decision as “truly momentous” while for the prime minister, Theresa May, the planned expansion is “vital for the economic future of the whole of the UK”.
The decision to approve airport expansion is indeed “truly momentous” – because it shows just how far governments, but also trade unions, businesses and many individuals, are willing to go in denying that climate change and related ecological crises require us to significantly change the way we live. In fact, as a policy move, it arguably epitomises the phenomena of “hyper-normalisation”, as described in Adam Curtis’s new documentary of the same name.
HyperNormalisation was commissioned by the BBC and released as an iplayer exclusive on October 16 2016 – you can watch it here. Curtis is a fascinating filmmaker. He weaves archive footage of events over the past half-century into provocative historical narratives. His commentary is informed by sociological theory, political economy and much more besides.
Are we living in the real world?
HyperNormalisation is no exception. It clocks in at just under three hours and takes in numerous people, places and events.
Curtis’s overarching claim is that those in power have been increasingly incapable of dealing with a sequence of global issues with any meaningful plan. They are devoid of any vision beyond the maintenance of the status quo. He uses the term hyper-normalisation to explain the prevailing response of politicians to this state of affairs, and the effect it has on the wider population.
This manically heightened state of fake normality – and collective investment in it – is “hyper-normalisation”.Curtis uses the term more loosely. He argues that it can be used to make sense of the maintenance of a simplified, reassuring and fake version of the world in the face of unprecedented global challenges that incumbent governments and power alliances do not have the competence or inclination to address.
Climate change and environmental disasters do not loom large in the HyperNormalisation film, but they are, for me, an extension of the phenomenon – precisely the kind of challenge we might expect to be “hyper-normalised”.
The decision to approve Heathrow’s third runway is a government policy manifestation of hyper-normalisation. Those in power simply do not have the capacity or willingness for leadership on climate change as an issue that demands societal transformation.
The alternative, if we apply Curtis’s logic, is to strive to maintain a narrative in which these issues do not appear to really matter. Everything, we are told instead, is going to be fine.
Instead of dealing with the real issues at hand, we will instead be admitted to the fantasy land of accelerated mobility and consumption. In this alternate reality, the “environmental future” must not impinge on May’s “economic future”.
The dangers beyond the fantasy
But of course events are unfolding in the world outside the hyper-normal narrative of business as usual: the well-documented forces unleashed by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, the ongoing extinction and displacement of countless species, warming and acidifying oceans, deforestation and arctic melting.
These forces are the product of industrial society and capitalism, now exacerbated by the demands of a globalised consumerism. We know that the practices and pastimes that make up these societies, including frequent and long-haul flying, are unsustainable.
Every government leader in the world knows this. But the psychological and social processes we engage in to avoid confronting the implications of climate change are now well documented in the social sciences – as individual and collective forms of denial.
These dynamics of denial and displacement are precisely those that reflect and maintain a state of hyper-normalisation. So airport expansion can be heralded unequivocally as “momentous”, “correct” and “bold” in the same week that global concentrations of CO2 pass 400 parts per million. It is a policy move which simply does not make sense … unless we are operating in an atmosphere of hyper-normalisation.
Defending it on behalf of our “economic future” is a grotesquely comic perpetuation of that fakery. If it goes ahead, it is likely that history will judge the expansion of Heathrow as an act of collusive madness, a desperate attempt to add another coat to the painted theatre set of the hypernormal.
The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.
A reformed and full scope EU ETS would deliver substantially more savings than ICAO’s measure over the period 2021-2035, and that’s especially the case for flights within Europe. When aviation was included in the ETS in 2012, it covered all flights within, into and out of Europe. Due to huge opposition from countries such as the USA, the ETS was altered in 2013 to include only flights within Europe. ICAO finally came up with a very weak and incomplete global deal in October. New analysis for T&E shows that with the original full ETS in place, and with a cap on carbon emissions, the reduction in emissions from flights into, out of and within Europe would be four times as great than with the weak new ICAO scheme, during the period 2021 – 2035. The study comes as MEPs this week vote on proposals to reform the EU ETS. The proposals include a progressive decrease of both the cap on aircraft emissions and of free allowances available to airlines, thus bringing aviation into line with obligations on other industries. Just considering the CO2 from flights inside Europe, the full ETS would mitigate about 950 Mt of CO2 while ICAO’s scheme, (on the same flights) would mitigate a maximum of about 270 Mt (2021 – 2035). If a scheme as strong as the ETS scheme was introduced globally, it would be hugely more effective than the ICAO plan, which may only mitigate a maximum of about 2,700 Mt by 2035.
A reformed EU ETS will cut almost four times more aircraft CO2 in Europe than ICAO’s global scheme – report
From T&E (Transport & Environment)
Strengthening the ETS as proposed by MEPs will cut almost four times more emissions from flights within Europe than the UN’s new offsetting scheme for aviation CO2, a new independent study [by CE Delft] has revealed.
Europe has faced sustained pressure from industry and other states to remove aviation from its ETS and leave climate action to UN aviation body ICAO.
But the study, commissioned by Transport & Environment, also finds that the ICAO global scheme will deliver less for the climate than the original aviation ETS, which only covers flights in, from and to Europe.
The study comes as MEPs this week vote on proposals to reform the EU ETS. The proposals include a progressive decrease of both the cap on aircraft emissions and of free allowances available to airlines, thus bringing aviation into line with obligations on other industries.
Reforming the aviation ETS in this way and still only covering flights within Europe will mitigate 956Mt of CO2 while ICAO’s scheme, applied to those same intra-EU flights only, would mitigate a maximum of just 271 Mt over its 2021-2035 lifetime, consultant CE Delft found. 
Even when applied to flights “globally”, the ICAO scheme will only mitigate a maximum of 2,711 Mt – less than what the original full-scope aviation ETS would have delivered and much less if the cap was decreased annually from 2021 in line with other sectors.
Andrew Murphy, aviation policy officer at T&E, said: “We now know why industry wants the ICAO deal and not the ETS. A reformed ETS is much more effective than the cheap offsets that the ICAO deal will rely on.”
The CE Delft report also finds that ICAO’s scheme will offset only a maximum of about one-fifth (22%) of emissions over the 2021-2035 period because it just addresses emissions growth above 2020 levels and then only some 80% of that target due to countries not participating.
The ETS cap is much stricter. The climate effectiveness of ICAO’s scheme also depends heavily on the application of strict rules governing the quality and type of offsets which will be permitted.
Without strong political will, it’s possible that airlines will be able to purchase cheap offsets which in fact deliver no real-world emission reductions. The agreement adopted by ICAO as yet contains no such rules.
Andrew Murphy concluded: “This report shows that good regional action delivers more than weak global action. Cutting the cap in the ETS, as Parliament will be voting on, is the way to go. An ICAO-only approach, which has been the mantra of some in Europe for too long, won’t do the job. ICAO is only the bare minimum and Europe needs to build on it.”
Europe launched its ETS in 2005 and included emissions from all flights within, to and from Europe from 2012. This step was taken after ICAO repeatedly failed to act, but faced immediate resistance from industry and other states who claimed a global approach was better for such an intense and rapidly growing driver of climate change. Under this pressure, the EU relented and agreed to suspend flights to and from Europe from its ETS, leaving only flights within Europe (intra-EU) in the system.
Aviation‘s CO2 and non-CO2 make it 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. Aviation CO2 has grown from 1.4% to 4.5% of Europe’s emissions between 1990 and 2014, due largely to Europe’s indifference to the sector’s climate impact.
Note to editors:
 The study based a reformed ETS on a linear reduction factor, by which the cap on the total number of ETS allowances is reduced, of 2.2% each year from 2021. This is widely expected once the current reform process is finalised by lawmakers.
ICAO’s aviation offsetting deal is a weak start – now countries must go further to cut CO2
October 7, 2016
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.”
Report shows EU’s ‘imperfect’ ETS still outperforms draft UN aviation deal on aviation CO2
September 26, 2016
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.
China, US and EU reported to have pledged to join the weak, voluntary, initial stages of ICAO scheme for CO2
September 5, 2016
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.
MEPs shocked by ‘secretive’ and unacceptably unambitious ICAO plan to cut aviation CO2 emissions
September 1, 2016
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.
Growth in CO2 emissions from shipping and aviation will undo nearly half (43%) of the savings expected to be made by the rest of transport in Europe through to 2030, a new independent study by CE Delft has found. It means that almost half of the already-inadequate emissions savings expected in land transport will be cancelled out by ships and planes. Under measures already in place, land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) less energy per year in 2030 than it did in 2010. Even this 43 Mtoe cut is less than half of what will be required from land transport under the EU’s proposed 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation, by which cars, vans, trucks, trains and barges should cut their CO2 emissions by 30% compared to their 2005 levels. Yet by comparison with this 43 Mtoe cut by land transport, aviation and shipping are expected to consume 19 Mtoe MORE fuel annually in 2030 than in 2010. Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping director at T&E, said: “Planes and ships are free riding at the expense of land transport’s already insufficient efforts to cut emissions.” In January the European Commission will make a proposal on aviation’s future in the ETS. The recent ICAO deal on aviation carbon is only for participating countries to offset but not reduce CO2, and on a voluntary basis.
Ships and planes will wipe out half the CO2 emissions savings to be made by cars and trucks – study
December 6, 2016 (Transport & Environment)
Growth in emissions from shipping and aviation will undo nearly half (43%) of the savings expected to be made by the rest of transport in Europe through to 2030, a new independent study has found. It means that almost half of the already-inadequate emissions savings expected in land transport will be cancelled out by ships and planes, according to the report commissioned by sustainable group Transport & Environment (T&E).
Under measures already in place, land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) less energy per year in 2030 than it did in 2010, according to consultant CE Delft.
Even this 43 Mtoe cut is less than half of what will be required from land transport under the EU’s proposed 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation.
Yet ships and planes in Europe will consume 19 Mtoe more fuel annually in 2030 than they did 20 years earlier. So the growth in these two sectors will undo almost half of the already insufficient progress made by cars, vans, trucks, rail and inland navigation.
Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping director at T&E, said: “Planes and ships are free riding at the expense of land transport’s already insufficient efforts to cut emissions. This is not only unfair but a roadblock to Europe meeting its own climate commitments. Governments need to think again and include shipping in the emissions trading system and strengthen its aviation provisions.”
Shipping emissions are totally unregulated but next week the European Parliament will consider a proposal to fix this by creating a Maritime Climate Fund and including ship emissions in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS).
In January the European Commission will make a proposal on aviation’s future in the ETS.
Shipping CO2 emissions can be reduced cumulatively by 80 million tonnes by 2030 if the sector is included in the ETS, compared to the status quo where its emissions are not regulated, according to the European Commission.
The difference between action and inaction up to 2030 amounts to the total annual emissions of Austria. Currently MEPs in the environment committee are discussing whether to include the sector in the ETS through a Maritime Climate Fund. The fund would rebate a portion of ETS revenues back to the sector to finance sustainability projects.
Shipping, one of the fastest growing sources of transport emissions, is projected to account for 17% of global emissions by 2050. Yet the International Maritime Organisation has decided to delay by at least seven years any agreement on introducing a global measure to reduce GHGs from the sector with the actual implementation date possibly many years further away.
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. A global agreement will see airlines in participating countries offset but not reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft, and on a voluntary basis.
Notes to editors:
 CE Delft’s based its calculations on the European Commission’s own projections for greenhouse gas emissions to 2050.
 The Effort Sharing Decision establishes binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for EU member states. These targets concern emissions from most sectors not included in the ETS, such as land transport. The Effort Sharing requirements of land transport – cars, vans, trucks, trains and barges – are calculated based on a 30% reduction of their 2005 emissions levels.
 EC, 2013, Impact Assessment, Accompanying the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport and amending Regulation (EU) n° 525/2013
This report analyses the demand for liquid fossil fuels in the EU transport sector over the years 2010 to 2030, notably for the sectors maritime transport and aviation. The estimations are based on figures published in the EU energy transport and GHG trends to 2050 – reference scenario for 2013 that accompanied the 2030 climate package Impact Assessment of the European Commission, as well as on the analysis underlying the European Commission’s Impact Assessment on MRV regulation for the maritime transport sector.
Planes and ships hampering road transport’s climate efforts
January 5, 2017
The extent to which transport is falling behind in reducing its CO2 emissions is highlighted in a new report by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft. It shows that emission reductions from land-based transport are still significantly behind what they need to be, and nearly half of the forecast reductions are set to be wiped out by the growth in emissions from aviation and shipping.
The report predicts that growth in emissions from shipping and aviation will add 19 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in emissions between 2010 and 2030. This is nearly half (43%) of the savings currently forecast to be made by the rest of transport in Europe in the same period. Under measures already in place, land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe less per year in 2030 than it did in 2010, but that will mean transport as a whole is only cutting its CO2 emissions by 22 Mtoe.
That is well below what it needs to achieve under the EU’s effort-sharing scheme. The effort-sharing decision established obligatory annual greenhouse gas emission targets for EU states covering most sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System (ETS), such as land transport. Under the scheme, land transport – cars, vans, trucks, trains and barges – needs to reduce emissions by around 30% on 2005 levels, or 138 Mtoe. That means the 43Mtoe cut, for which it is on course to achieve, is less than a third of the required amount, or just 16% if aviation and shipping were included.
Bill Hemmings, T&E’s aviation and shipping director, said: ‘Planes and ships are free-riding at the expense of land transport’s already insufficient efforts to cut emissions. This is not only unfair but a roadblock to Europe meeting its own climate commitments. Governments need to think again and include shipping in the ETS and strengthen its aviation provisions.’
Tackling the environmental impact of aviation and shipping has been problematic for more than two decades. Aviation was included in the EU ETS from the start of 2012, but the EU was forced to cut back its environmental scope by 75% following international pressure to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation time to act. The Commission is due to report later this month on the outcome of ICAO’s recent assembly where a voluntary offsetting regime, to begin in 2021, was agreed. The aviation ETS reverted to full scope on 1 January 2017
Shipping is back in the spotlight after the International Maritime Organisation’s October meeting effectively delayed any decisions on a global reduction target or market based measure until 2023 at the earliest. Just before Christmas, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted convincingly to create a Maritime Climate Fund under the EU ETS. Shipowners could either voluntarily opt in to the fund, or alternatively be obliged to join the ETS. If agreed by the full Parliament and then in negotiations with member states later this year, the scheme would become operational in 2023 unless the IMO had a comparable global scheme in place by 2021.
A commission appointed by the Swedish has recommended that airlines operating in Sweden should pay a tax of between 80 and 430 Swedish crowns ($9-47 or £6.80 to £29) per passenger per flight to compensate for carbon emissions. One the levy is instituted, the cost of a domestic flight would rise by 80 crowns and an international flight by 280 to 430 crowns (£24 – 29), depending on the distance of the flight. Currently in Sweden airlines pay VAT of 6% on domestic flights while international flights are exempt from VAT. Predictably, the centre-left government’s plans for an airline tax have been criticised by opposition parties who say it would do little to reduce CO2 and would harm the airline industry, by very slightly reducing demand. The government is expected to incorporate a form of the proposal, possibly amended, within their next autumn budget in October 2017. The Swedish commission proposed that the tax come into force on January 1, 2018 and it would be expected to raise around 1.75 billion Swedish crowns (about £150 million) per year. Many other countries have charges for flights, at different levels, and for different reasons. These include Australia, Norway, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Hong Kong. Details below.
Swedish government commission proposes airline climate tax
A government-appointed commission recommended on Wednesday that airlines operating in Sweden should pay a tax of between 80 and 430 Swedish crowns ($9-47 or £6.80 to £29) per passenger and flight to compensate for climate pollution.
One the levy is instituted, the cost of a domestic flight would rise by 80 crowns and an international flight by 280 to 430 and crowns, depending on the distance of the flight.
Under current rules in the Nordic state, airlines pay value-added tax of 6 percent on domestic flights while international flights are exempt from VAT.
The centre-left government’s plans for an airline tax has been criticized by opposition parties who say it would do little to reduce carbon dioxide and would harm the airline industry.
The government is expected to incorporate a form of the proposal, possibly amended, within their next autumn budget in October 2017.
The commission proposed that the tax come into force on Jan. 1, 2018 and said it would be expected to raise around 1.75 billion Swedish crowns per year.
Australian Passenger Movement Charge to rise from $55 to $60 for any flight from Australia
November 10, 2016
In Australia the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) was established in 1995, replacing Departure Tax (which began in 1978). It has been at he level of $55 (Australian dollars) for anyone aged over 12 travelling outside Australia (unless they are in transit through Australia). The relevant Senate committee has been investigating the proposal to raise it $5 to $60, and will produce its report shortly. $60 per person (about £36.50) is the cost for any length of trip, economy or premium class, for air travel or sea travel. It is administered by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The Australian PMC is considered to be the highest departure tax in the world, after the UK. The airlines, and IATA, naturally do not like the tax – let alone the tiny increase, and have complained how it cuts travel and could allegedly – they claim – damage the economy. As the charge is a flat rate, it is a higher proportion of short haul flights to Tasmania, than on long haul. IATA says the tiny rise might cut the number of international return flights to Australia by some 30,000 per year. “It will act as a brake on the Australian aviation sector,” IATA said, and they give estimates of up to $375 million for the national economy, and 3,800 more jobs if there was no PMC. IATA told the Senate committee that the PMC was “tax on tourism.”
Assessment of proposal to cut APD by 50% in Scotland shows likely overall fall in revenue
May 17, 2016
The Scottish consultation on cutting APD ran from 14 Mar 2016 to 2 Jun 2016
An assessment of the Scottish Government’s plans to cut the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) shows that the aviation industry’s analysis has not accounted for the impact of a fall in domestic tourism. The 50% cut in APD proposed would have the effect of damaging the Scottish economy and reducing funding for public services. The report “APD Cut: A Flighty Economic Case” challenges claims that reducing APD by 50% will lead to sufficient economic growth to cover the short-fall in revenue from the tax cut. In reality, cheaper tickets will encourage more Scots to take cheap foreign trips. The amount of money they take out of Scotland on these extra trips is likely to be larger than the amount brought in. The inbound tourists with greater spending power than typical domestic tourists are the least likely to be sensitive to airline ticket prices. In a buoyant economy, the increase in outbound trips is likely to exceed the increase in inbound trips. The case for business growth due to an APD cut appears particularly weak as business flights are driven by need and time pressures rather than price. They are know to be price insensitive. There could also be a reduction in domestic tourism by Scottish people, who instead take cheap foreign breaks, so reducing employment in Scottish tourism.
Norwegian government introduces approx €8.5 tax per air passenger on all flights
May 29, 2016
The Norwegian government will introduce an Air Passenger Tax, starting on 1st June 2016. It will be at the rate of a 80 Krone charge (around €8.64, £6.59, US$9.67) per person for both domestic and international flights. Exceptions of the tax include those under two years old and those transiting flights on the same airline. The airlines have, predictably, reacted with fury at being “defied” by the government. They say this tiny tax “threatens to reduce demand by 5%, equal to 1.2 million passengers a year,” and they say it could mean airlines might lose €150 million per year as a result. The airline lobby group, “Airlines 4 Europe” (whose members include EasyJet, Ryanair, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air Shuttle and International Airlines Group) is lobbying hard. They all completely ignore the inconvenient fact that air travel demand is artificially high, as it pays no VAT and no fuel duty. Those together amount to a massive annual subsidy (in the UK this is a net annual loss to the Treasury, even including takings from APD, of perhaps £9 blllion per year). Several European countries do have a ticket tax, with the UK levels being the highest (Brits also fly more than most others). There are small charges in France, Germany and Austria. Ireland and the Netherlands scrapped theirs, due to airline pressure.
Middle Eastern airports now adding air passenger charges, to pay for airport infrastructure
September 2, 2016
As well as the UK charging Air Passenger Duty, Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Norway and others have a comparable charge. Germany has the second highest charges in Europe after the UK with levels of around €7, €23 and €42 for different bands of countries. Norway now has a charge of about €8.50 on all flights. But other airports else where in the world are increasingly charging. Hong Kong has now started a charge, of around £14 – 16 depending on length of flight and class of seat, in order to pay for the 3rd runway. The charges may last till 2031 when the runway is fully paid for. Now Middle Eastern airports have started to charge all passengers, to contribute towards the cost of the huge airport infrastructure. Dubai introduced a charge of around £7 for all passengers, except children under the age of two and transit passengers remaining on the same plane. Abu Dhabi also introduced the same fee as did Sharjah – all started on 30th June. Now Doha’s Hamad Airport says it will introduce a Passenger Facility Charge of about $10 for all departing passengers, together with transferring passengers who make a connection within 24 hours. It will come into effect on December 1st. Australia has had a Passenger Movement Charge since 1995 for any departing passenger on an international flights, at around £31.
Departing passengers will pay around £8 – 16 tax till perhaps 2031 to fund 3rd Hong Kong airport runway
June 3, 2016
Outbound and transit passengers will pay up to between a bout £8 and £16 (HK$ 90 -180) to fund the construction of Hong Kong airport’s third runway system from August 1st. Initial reclamation work for the project is scheduled to start on the same day. The airport construction fee for short-haul economy departing passengers will be HK$90, and in first or business class, HK$160. For long-haul passengers, the fee for economy will be HK$160 and first or business class HK$180. Short haul economy passengers will pay HK$70. The costs would remain at the same level, but continue till the runway is fully paid for, which may be till 2031. Meanwhile, People’s Aviation Watch, an organisation opposing expensive infrastructure projects at the airport, said a judicial review to challenge the environmental impact assessment report for the runway will be heard in court this July. They say the Airport Authority’s decision to charge the fees before any verdict on the start of the runway disregards the law. But in March opponents lost a bid to legally challenge the ability of the airport to charge for the runway. A total of five judicial review cases or appeals against the runway are being planned. The new runway is likely to increase CO2 emissions by about 50%, and create serious noise pollution for some areas.
Chancellor cuts rate of Air Passenger Duty for long haul (over 4,000 miles) flights from 1st April 2015
March 19, 2014
In the Budget 2014 the Chancellor has announced that rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) are to be reduced for flights of over 4000 miles from London, from April 2015. Rates of APD will rise by the rate of inflation (RPI) during 2014. After 1st April 2015, distance bands for all journeys longer than 2,000 miles will all be lumped together. While the rate of APD during 2014 (from 1st April 2014) is £13 for a return trip below 2,000 miles (anywhere in Europe), and the rate for journeys of 2,000 to 4,000 miles in length is £69 – the rates from April 2015 will be £13 for the short flights, and £71 for all other distances. The rates of APD in 2015 for premium classes will be £26 and £142. Commenting on this retrograde move by the Chancellor, the Aviation Environment Foundation said it is a backward step environmentally and economically. Aviation is already massively under-taxed compared with the £10 billion that would be raised per annum if aviation wasn’t exempted from fuel taxes and VAT. APD was a means of redressing this problem but any cut means that taxes will have to be raised elsewhere to balance government spending. Long-haul flights contribute more greenhouse gases in absolute terms than shorter flights. It is therefore right that the duty is proportional to the distance flown and the associated emissions. Eliminating bands C and D breaks the link between environmental impacts and tax and breaches the principle of fairness.
The table below shows a breakdown of the key charges levied by the state in four EU countries (all per departing passenger);
Air Transport Levy EUR 8.00
Civil Aviation Tax EUR 4.31
Solidarity Tax EUR 1.00
Airport Tax* EUR 12.00
National Surcharge EUR 1.25
Air Traffic Control Law EUR 8.00
Aviation Security Fee* EUR 5.24
Air Passenger Duty GBP 13.00
France leads the way in the number of different taxes it levies on passengers, with four. The Airport Tax varies by airport, though outside of the main airports in France it is usually levied at EUR 12.00 per departing passenger. Taken together, these taxes make passengers departing from France the most heavily taxed in Europe.
The state levies two passenger taxes in Germany, a departure tax and a security fee. The departure tax does vary by distance, though for this analysis only the short-haul tax is required. The Security Fee varies by airport of departure, but is usually within the range of EUR 4.00 to EUR 7.00 per departing passenger.
Spain has increased the amount of departure tax it charges. The increase will be, on average, only perhaps 20% above the current level, but from the largest Spanish airports, it will be almost doubled. This will mean a rise of some €5 to €9 or so. The tax is charged to the airline, and they can choose whether to pass it on to the passengers – Ryanair certainly will get its passengers to pay. The tax is applied “retrospectively to customers who booked flights before 2 July 2012 and are travelling from 1 July onwards. Spain is implementing drastic measures to try to slash its budget deficit to 5.3% from 8.5% in 2011.