MP’s from four Parliamentary select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots. The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution. The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits. Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee (dealing with the draft NPS on Heathrow), said emissions from vehicles are a significant problem and the standards that governments have relied on have not delivered the expected reductions: “We will be asking what more can be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles as well as to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.” Deadline is 12th May 2017.
FOUR SELECT COMMITTEES LAUNCH AN UNPRECEDENTED JOINT INQUIRY ON AIR QUALITY
20.3.2017 (Environmental Audit Committee)
MP’s from four select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots.
The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution.
The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July.
Poor air quality is contributing to the early deaths of some 40,000 people in the UK each year. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Committee said
“Poor air quality is affecting on the health of millions of people across the U.K. because of the impact of invisible particulates and other pollutants. Our joint inquiry will include an examination of the scale of the harm caused and the action necessary to tackle it.”
MPs will examine whether revised Government plans required by the courts to be published by 24 April will go far enough to cut pollution, not only to meet legal limits but also to deliver maximum health and environmental benefits.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said:
“The UK courts have twice told the Government to raise its game to clean up our filthy air because of European Union legislation. My Committee has repeatedly pressed Ministers on their plans for improving air quality as we leave the EU; we hope that the new air quality plan, and this unique joint inquiry, will give us more clarity.”
Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee said:
“The UK economy depends on an efficient and flexible transport system but emissions from vehicles are a significant problem and the standards that governments have relied on have not delivered the expected reductions. We will be asking what more can be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles as well as to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.”
Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said:
“The solutions to cleaning up our air are not the responsibility of just one minister. That’s why we have taken the unprecedented task of convening four select committees so we can scrutinise the Government’s efforts from every angle and look for holistic solutions that are good for health, transport and the environment.”
The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday 12th May.
How to submit a response:
You need to write your submission as a Word document, and attach it to your online response at
You can send in a response as an individual – it is not only for organisations.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
The Committees will be considering the following questions:
– How effectively do Government policies take account of the health and environmental impacts of poor air quality?
– Are the Government’s revised plans for tackling nitrogen dioxide levels sufficient to meet the High Court and European Commission requirements for urgent action?
– Does the revised plan set out effective and proportionate measures for reducing emissions from transport?
– Is there sufficient cross-government collaboration to ensure the right fiscal and policy incentives are adopted to ensure air quality targets are achieved?
In order to inform the Committees’ hearing with Ministers, any written submissions which stakeholders may wish to make should be made no later than 5 pm on Friday, 12th May 2017.
Notes to Editors:
-There has been increasing public and professional concern about the health and environmental effects of air pollution over the last decade. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates have been causes of particular concern.
-The Government has lost two UK court cases concerning its plans to meet EU limits on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air.
The High Court ruling on 2 November in the case of ClientEarth v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is at
-On 15 February, the European Commission issued a ‘reasoned opinion’ requiring the Government to take action within two months in 16 UK zones currently exceeding these limits—or face infraction proceedings.
The M25 South West Quadrant Strategic Study (M25SWQ), has been published by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England. It claims to “identify and appraise options for improving performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant”. It has concluded that the M25 should not be widened (beyond what is already committed) in the SW quadrant, because that would have “significant (negative) effects on surrounding communities” and would not be effective in reducing congestion”. The study was looking at the section of the M25 between, and including, junction 10 for the A3 at Wisley and junction 16 for the M40 in Buckinghamshire. This is the busiest section of the M25, close to Heathrow. The report says future work on the M25 should not focus on widening it, but reduce the pressures and recommends further work to “Explore options for new or enhanced highway capacity, separate but parallel to the M25.” “This should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes. … But the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.” There could be upgrades for existing roads, and options for roads to fill in the gaps.
Plans not to widen south-west section of M25 welcomed by campaigners
16 March 2017 (Campaign for Better Transport)
Campaign for Better Transport responds today, Thursday 16 March, to the Department of Transport’s M25 south-west quadrant strategic study.
This study is part of the first phase of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy which was published in December 2014.
Bridget Fox, Sustainable Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport, said:
“We welcome the recognition that we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. The M25 study is right to focus on improving capacity on the existing network through moving to more sustainable modes. That makes sense for the environment and the taxpayer too.
“Those measures should be implemented in full before any new roads are planned. New roads create more traffic, and it is wrong to sacrifice precious countryside for more tarmac when positive alternatives are available.”
– Campaign for Better Transport is the UK’s leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people’s lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
Widening M25 ‘not the answer’ to congestion problems – government report
Widening the M25 would have “significant effects on surrounding communities” and would not be effective in reducing congestion, a new government report has revealed.
The weighty M25 South West Quadrant Strategic Study (M25SWQ), published by the Department for Transport (DfT) on Thursday, claims to “identify and appraise options for improving performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant”.
The study looked at the section of the M25 between, and including, junction 10 for the A3 at Wisley and junction 16 for the M40 in Buckinghamshire.
The report states future work on the M25 should not focus on widening the road, but rather look to “reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network”.
“The evidence gathered to date suggests directly adding capacity to the M25 (beyond what is already committed) is technically challenging and would have significant effects on surrounding communities,” says the report.
“It also shows that where alternative capacity exists away from the M25, conditions are better. This suggests planners should think about the M25SWQ as a corridor and not an asset which ends at the motorway’s boundary fence.”
The report continues: “This study recommends the focus of future work should not be on widening the existing road. Instead, attention should be given to how to reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network.
“This should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes.
“But the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.”
What are the timescales?
The report recommends two pieces of further work to improve journeys on this part of the M25:
– Examining the current situation and other methods of transport, such as public transport, to assess what is necessary – Explore options for new or enhanced highway capacity, separate but parallel to the M25
Reads the report: “The first is to join up local partners and transport providers to understand in detail the viable options on the local road network and railways.
“This means understanding the feasibility and scale of impact options on the local road network and public transport would have on the M25SWQ.
“These should reduce the need to travel, improve public transport and enhance local roads to reduce pressure on the M25.”
It adds: “In parallel, the Department for Transport and Highways England should explore the potential for new and enhanced highway capacity.
“This is likely to begin with developing upgrades for existing roads in the study area but could also investigate options for roads away from existing alignments to fill in the gaps between existing roads.
“Any proposals for additional highways should find the most efficient and least disruptive options, whilst making best use of environmental mitigation and design.”
Below are a few sections from the report that mention Heathrow:
1.1.1 The requirement for the M25 South West Quadrant (M25SWQ) strategic study was set out in the first Road Investment Strategy (RIS), published in 2014, which announced a programme of new Strategic Studies to explore options to address some of the Strategic Road Network’s (SRN) largest and most complex challenges.
1.1.2 The strategic aim of the study is to identify and appraise options for improving the performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25SWQ1 , boosting economic growth and prosperity, and improving journeys.
1.1.3 This document describes the study findings and explores the case for investing in a range of interventions which impact on transport and travel in and around the M25SWQ. It identifies the elements which are likely to present the strongest business cases for investment, and proposes a strategic framework through which they could be delivered.
Heathrow, the UK’s biggest air freight and passenger airport, directly employs 69,700 on site, 7,000 off-site, and a further 40,000 full time equivalent jobs through its supply chain making it the largest single employment location in the study area.
Alongside this, each LEP in the study area has set targets for ambitious employment growth in key national sectors of the economy. The anticipated levels of new employment and housing, new homes, combined with aviation expansion centred on Heathrow, will increase the demand for travel across the study area. This will, in combination, place substantial additional strain on transport networks and services.
3.6.7 Government policy is set out in the 2013 Aviation Policy Framework, which identifies the key objective of ensuring the UK’s air links continue to make it one of the best connected countries in the world. Government has accepted the need for additional airport capacity in the south east, having endorsed the Airports Commission’s recommendation for a new Northwest runway at Heathrow Airport. A new northwest runway at Heathrow is the Government’s preferred option for airport expansion.
Expansion will be associated with both additional demand for travel to airports and pressure on existing transport infrastructure in the study area.
3.6.8 The Government has recently laid before Parliament a draft Airports National Policy
Statement and commenced a public consultation process and an accompanying
Parliamentary scrutiny process. The Airports National Policy Statement, if designated, would provide the planning policy framework for making decisions on any future development consent application of a new Northwest runway at Heathrow.
3.6.9 It is evident that upgraded and new transport infrastructure will be required to
support additional airport capacity. The challenge will be to ensure airport-related
travel demand does not unduly impact on the efficient operation of the transport networks.
There are also a number of major public transport investments underway or with some degree of commitment in the study area. Of particular significance are:
– Crossrail 1 (to be known as the Elizabeth Line), which will provide additional east-west capacity through central London, and free up capacity on the Great Western Mainline (GWML);
– Electrification of the GWML and Midland Mainline, to enable faster trains with more capacity;
– High Speed 2 (HS2), the new rail line from London to the West Midlands and North of England, with an interchange at Old Oak Common;
– TfL’s first stage of the Four Lines Modernisation, with new, higher capacity, walkthrough
trains introduced on the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and District lines;
– Night Tube, introducing night-time services on Fridays and Saturdays on selected lines including the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow T1-3 and T5;
– Thameslink Programme, a combination of signalling, track and station works to increase train frequency through central London, along with new and longer, higher-capacity rolling stock; and
– Wessex Improvement Programme, comprising infrastructure improvements and train lengthening to deliver a 30% increase in capacity on the lines into Waterloo; and
– Western Rail Link to Heathrow, to connect the Great Western Main Line to
3.6.14 A common thread running through the majority of the major investment programmes
is emphasis on radial improvements, rather than orbital connections, and on tackling existing capacity issues which will persist into the future. There are, however, notable schemes which will improve orbital journeys, including the Western Rail Link to Heathrow and Metropolitan Line Extension and the proposed Southern Rail Access to Heathrow.
There are options which could address key areas with poor public transport accessibility to airports, including southern access to Heathrow and North Downs Line to Gatwick, allowing travellers further alternatives to driving to either airport;
At Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a new airport is planned to replace the existing Nantes airport. The battle has been going on for years. Now exactly five years after the French state expropriated a large area of land for the airport, there has been no start to the project – there is not even a start date in prospect. Therefore under the French system, as work has not begun, those who have lost ownership of their land (they may still live on it for the time being) can apply to get it back. Around 30 people affected are now submitting the necessary legal papers to get their land, farmland and buildings back, to the court in Saint-Nazaire. These people have not used the money, and they don’t want it. They want ownership of their land and property back. The French system did not anticipate, in the law relating to expropriation, that any scheme would have delays for as long as five years.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: some 30 expropriates demand the restitution of their property
17 March 2017
They had been expropriated from their home, from their operation five years ago, for the construction of the airport. Since nothing has moved and the law allows them to claim a retrocession.
The expropriates of Notre-Dame-des-Landes want to recover their land. They are farmers or lived at the place where the future airport is to be built, but since they were asked to leave five years ago, the site has not yet begun . The law allows them to claim the surrender of their real estate. Around thirty people will file a request to this effect before the Saint-Nazaire tribunal de grande instance.
“We did not touch the pennies, they did not start work.” Among those who want to recover their property, figure Sylvain Fresneau, farmer and historical opponent at the airport . “We have been expropriated more than 100 hectares, from the house, from the farms, and we demand the restitution of it.” We have never touched the pennies, they have not begun the work , we say to them: Sylvain Fresneau is optimistic: “We are going to recover everything. We are at home, we can continue to exploit, more serenely than we do now.”
“It is not today that we will let go”. The farmer also appears very determined: “It is not today that we will let go, even less than yesterday.” The political context he considers “bizarre” does not seem to him to be an additional asset. “I’m waiting to see, I have no confidence.”
In Notre-Dame-des-Landes, expropriates want to recover their land
By EMILIE TORGEMEN
20 January 2017
The code of expropriation specifies that if the building or the land has not received the intended destination, the former owners may claim the surrender of their property.
The former Prime Minister Manuel Valls had promised to send the first excavators to the site of the future airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes “in the fall”, but that was not the case.
As a result, the inhabitants of the area have been expropriated for years, or “the code of expropriation specifies that if the building, namely the building or the land, has not received the intended destination, The surrender of their property “. [In the French system, the land is first expropriated by the state. The occupants can continue to live on it, but ulitmately they are forced off. It is a bit different to the compulsory purchase situation in the UK. AW comment].
A small group of these expellees met on Thursday, five years to the day after receiving the order that the state owned their fields or their farm on January 18, 2012.
They own agricultural land, houses or buildings Livestock farming, distributed throughout. Some have never accepted the compensation payment, others are willing to make the money touched. At the beginning of the week, on Monday or Tuesday, they will send a written request to the State and Grand Ouest Airport (AGO), Vinci’s subsidiary and concessionaire of the future airport.
This is an “exceptional” procedure, says Maître Lemoine. And for good reason, it is very rare that a project of public utility does not succeed after this date of expiry.
But for Notre-Dame-des-Landes, supposed to replace the current airport of Nantes for more than 50 years, everything seems out of the ordinary. “The land is not used, and the works are not even started,” notes the lawyer.
This new legal battle does not imply the “zadists”, new occupants of the zone come to settle to express their opposition. “We need a title deed” insists Julien Durand, representative of the Inter-municipal Citizens’ Association of the populations concerned by the airport project (ACIPA).
He himself with his wife and part of his family owns a piece of land in the northeast of the area, near the town of Grand-champs-des-Fontaines.
“For us it is also a way to dispel suspicion when we have been accused of starting a legal guerilla war only to get bigger compensation. That’s wrong, we want to get our property back!”
Today, about thirty files have been compiled, ie a little more than 100ha of the 650 ha of the development zone. “It is not excluded that other owners will join us,” said Julien Durand who promises that if the state does not give them reason, they will go to court to “put an end to this airport project”.
From the original in French:
A Notre-Dame-des-Landes, des expropriés veulent récupérer leur terres
By EMILIE TORGEMEN (Le Parisien)
20 janvier 2017
Le code de l’expropriation précise que si l’immeuble à savoir, le bâtiment ou le terrain n’a pas reçu la destination prévue, les anciens propriétaires peuvent réclamer la rétrocession de leur propriété.
L’ancien Premier ministre Manuel Valls avait promis d’envoyer les premières pelleteuses sur le chantier du futur aéroport de Notre-dame-des-Landes « à l’automne », ça n’a pas été le cas.
Résultat, voila des années que les habitants de la zone ont été expropriés or «le code de l’expropriation précise que si l’immeuble à savoir, le bâtiment ou le terrain n’a pas reçu la destination prévue, les anciens propriétaires peuvent réclamer la rétrocession de leur propriété ».
Une petit groupe de ces expulsés se sont réunis ce jeudi, cinq ans jour pour jour après avoir reçu l’ordonnance qui rendait l’Etat propriétaire de leurs champs ou de leur ferme le 18 janvier 2012. Ils possèdent des terres agricoles, maisons ou bâtiments d’élevage, répartis un peu partout. Certains n’ont jamais accepté le chèque de compensation, les autres sont prêts à rendre l’argent touché. Ils adresseront en début de semaine, lundi ou mardi, une demande écrite à l’Etat et à Aéroport du Grand Ouest (AGO), filiale de Vinci et concessionnaire du futur aéroport.
C’est une procédure « exceptionnelle » précise Maître Lemoine. Et pour cause, il est très rare qu’un projet d’utilité publique n’aboutisse pas après cette date de péremption. Mais pour Notre-Dame-des Landes, censé remplacer l’actuel aéroport de Nantes depuis plus de 50 ans, tout semble hors-norme. «Les terrains ne sont pas utilisés, et les travaux ne sont pas même commencé» note le juriste.
Cette nouvelle bataille juridique n’implique pas les «zadistes», nouveaux occupants de la zone venus s’installer pour manifester leur opposition. «Il faut un titre de propriété » insiste Julien Durand, représentant de l’Association citoyenne intercommunale des populations concernées par le projet d’aéroport (ACIPA). Lui-même possède avec son épouse et une partie de la famille de celle-ci un terrain au Nord-Est de la zone, près de la commune de Grand-champs-des-Fontaines.
« Pour nous c’est aussi un moyen de dissiper les soupçons alors qu’on nous a accusé de nemener une guérilla juridique que pour obtenir de plus grosses indemnisations. C’est faux, nous voulons récupérer notre bien ! »
Aujourd’hui, une trentaine de dossiers ont été compilés, soit un peu plus de 100ha sur les 650 ha de la zone d’aménagement. «Ce n’est pas exclu que d’autres propriétaires nous rejoignent » souligne Julien Durand qui promet que si l’Etat ne leur donne pas raison, ils iront devant le tribunal pour « mettre un point final à ce projet d’aéroport ».
In a long, but very informative article, Carbon Brief discusses the problems of the non-CO2 impacts of aircraft emissions. These are from water vapour, aerosols and nitrogen oxides emitted by aircraft at cruise altitudes. Though these impacts may be short lived, they have definite climate forcing effects, though these are complicated, while CO2 has easily understood impacts and lasts in the atmosphere for decades or centuries. The impact of contrails forming cirrus cloud is to slow the radiation of heat back into space, causing more warming. But this effect is greatest at night, when contrails persist, and also in areas where there is colder, damper air. So the impacts are not uniform across the globe. The article discusses possibilities of planes avoiding certain areas where contrails persist, either on a daily basis or with blocks of airspace out of use for particular periods. Or of planes flying less high. Both those options are likely to increase fuel use – and thus CO2 emissions – by planes, and so need to be carefully organised, to avoid having yet more overall climate impact. Even if the ICAO deal requires planes to pay a small amount to “offset” their CO2, they are not required to pay for non-CO2 impacts. With the global aviation industry expected to increase its CO2 emissions by 200%-360% by 2050, the non-CO2 impacts are a very real problem, and one that should not be ignored. Small changes to flight routes are unlikely to make more than a token difference.
Explainer: The challenge of tackling aviation’s non-CO2 emissions
15.3.2017 (Carbon Brief – Explainers)
. Last October, the 191 member states of the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to a new deal to cap international aviation emissions using a carbon offset approach.
Despite relief from some quarters that this long-awaited deal – which aims to cap growth in aviation emissions at 2020 levels – had finally been achieved, there is still a long way to go before the problem of fast-rising aviation emissions is solved.
First, the offsetting nature of the ICAO scheme means countries still need to translate exactly how a deal – which doesn’t actually stop aircraft emitting more CO2 and only begins in four years – will be able to align itself with the limits in global temperature rise set out in the Paris Agreement.
Second, there is another rather ominous hole in the efforts to tackle flight emissions which remains all but completely neglected.
The new ICAO deal only addresses CO2 emissions, ignoring other emissions from planes which research has shown could result in warming several times greater than for CO2 alone.
Carbon Brief takes a look at the impact of these non-CO2 emissions and examines new research setting out how they could be limited.
Globally, aviation is responsible for around 2% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, but its impact is projected to rise by 200%-360% by 2050, even when the maximum use of lower-carbon alternative fuels is factored in.
This is a significant problem. For example, Carbon Brief analysis has shown the sector could claim as much as two-thirds of the UK’s carbon budget for 1.5C by 2050.
Significantly, these calculations don’t take into account the radiative forcing – the impact on the overall energy balance of the planet – caused by non-CO2 warming pollutants, such as water vapour, aerosols and nitrogen oxides.
The impacts of non-CO2 aircraft emissions at high altitudes came to prominence back in 1999 following publication of a special report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on aviation. This estimated the total historic impact of aviation on the climate to have been two to four times higher than for CO2 emissions alone.
But while it has been well established for more than a decade that air traffic affects the climate through emissions other than just CO2, putting a number on the overall effect of these emissions has proven tricky.
In particular, the contribution of aircraft emissions to the formation of additional cirrus clouds – thin and wispy high-level clouds which can be formed by aircraft contrails – has proven extremely difficult to pin down. While it is known these clouds can trap thermal radiation – research has indicated their impact on global warming could dwarf that of CO2 from aviation – the mechanisms remaining poorly understood.
Estimates for radiative forcing from global aviation in 2005. The induced cloudiness (AIC) estimate includes linear contrails. Error bars represent the 90% likelihood range for each estimate. The level of scientific understanding (LOSU) is shown on the right. Source: CCC (2009), reproduced from Lee et al. (2009) See link for the table.
Most of the impact of these non-CO2 emissions comes from the “cruise phase” of a flight when the plane is at high altitudes. Importantly, though, this impact depends largely on atmospheric conditions, such as temperature and the background concentrations of water vapour and nitrogen oxides.
Contrails, for example, form when water vapour condenses on aerosol emissions. They are thought to have a significant warming effect. But, typically, they only last a few seconds in specific conditions of coldness and humidity.
In its 1999 special report on aviation, the IPCC set out four broad areas where greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced from flights:
– technological improvements, such as lightweighting;
– changes to (or replacements for) jet fuel;
– operational changes;
– and regulatory or economic options.
Even for CO2 alone there is a struggle to use these measures to limit aviation’s impact enough to meet targets without reducing the number of flights.But reducing the potentially larger non-CO2 warming impacts could be even more complex.
This is because the short atmospheric “lifetime” of many of these pollutants make their climate impact highly dependent on the location, season and time of day of emissions – unlike CO2 emissions, which spread out over the globe during their lifetime of centuries or more.
However, the short lifetime of non-CO2 emissions also means changes in operational procedures, such as air traffic management, could reduce their impact more than for CO2 emissions.
How do aircraft emissions lead to climate change?
For example, some researchers have argued that simply optimising flight routes to minimise the time spent in highly sensitive atmospheric areas could have a big impact. This could include changing the altitude or position of a flight to avoid colder pockets of air, especially at times of day or during seasons when the emissions will have the highest impact.
A Nature study published in 2006 found that night-time flying accounts for 60%-80% of all contrail forcing from planes, despite accounting for just a quarter of flights.This is because while contrails trap warming infrared energy during both day and night, this is offset somewhat during the day by a cooling effect as they reflect sunlight back into space.
The study also found winter flights have a far bigger overall warming effect than those taken during the rest of the year, since contrails are more likely to form when it is cold.
Therefore, adjusting the times and seasons when flights are taken could cut their non-CO2 impact significantly.
Another study,published in 2014, suggested lowering the altitude of aircraft by around 2,000 feet (610 metres) could reduce the radiative forcing from emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by two-fifths. [But aircraft engines work less efficiently -using more fuel – at lower altitudes. AW comment]
A further studypublished the same year found re-routing flights to avoid climatic regions which are particularly sensitive to the effects of non-CO2 emissions could lower their climate impact by a quarter, at a cost increase of just 0.5%. [ie. flying a slightly longer route, using slightly more fuel. AW comment]
Problem with rerouting
Altering flight trajectories to limit climate impacts presents some significant challenges.
For example, at a time when government policy and airspace regulators are already working to free up more airspace capacity, rerouting would instead create a new source of congestion.
The possibilities for designing altered routes could be hindered by air traffic service routes and national airspace boundaries.
Procedures to ensure there is enough space between planes could also force planned climate-friendly trajectories to be changed. And there remain significant barriers to providing the required accuracy in predictions of wind, temperature and weather predictions.
Meanwhile, the new routes would have to be carefully balanced to ensure the resulting reduction in radiative forcing from non-CO2 emissions is not offset by the increased CO2 emissions of flying longer routes.
In addition, these longer routes would mean a bigger fuel cost for airlines, which currently don’t pay any penalty for their non-CO2 emissions.
Nevertheless, work is ongoing to scope out ways in which non-CO2 impacts could be reduced.
A new paper released last month proposed an alternative form of flight rerouting using a regulatory approach to overcome some of the barriers.
Rather than optimising routes of individual aircraft, it proposes restricting planes from flying in whole regions of airspace.The system would force aircraft to fly around regions where non-CO2 emissions would have a large impact on radiative forcing.
The proposal would see a threshold value of climate costs set by policymakers, with airspaces which passed this value being closed until they had slipped below it again.
The paper argues this option, which could see airspaces closed for hours, days or even months in a situation akin to military restricted airspace, could be easily implemented by air traffic controllers and could be used as an interim solution to longer term proposals to cut non-CO2 emissions from air travel.
It finds the climate impact of flights could be cut by 12% at no extra cost to operators using such an approach. However, larger route changes could increase fuel costs and CO2 emissions, though still resulting in less forcing overall.
Malte Niklass, a researcher at the German Aerospace Center and lead author of the paper, says these so-called “climate restricted airspaces” would overcome the issue of aircraft operators often having little incentives to bear the additional costs of rerouting.
He adds that a similar market-based approach could create “climate charged airspaces”, where the highly climate sensitive regions are not fully cut off but levied with an environmental unit charge to encourage planes to fly around them.
However, responding to the paper, Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), highlights the barriers that such a scheme would face, including the significant coordination of airspace management it would need among states – something she says has been surprisingly hard to achieve, even for more straightforward changes that would improve airspace efficiency. Such schemes could create a new source of congestion in lower airspace, she adds.
Meanwhile, setting a threshold for when a no-fly zone is switched on would need agreement from policymakers.For example, when should minimising non-CO2 emissions take precedence over minimising CO2 through more direct routing? “That’s unlikely to come any time soon,” she says.
Niklass himself admits there are significant challenges to such a scheme, including the ability to predict climate sensitive regions with a reasonable accuracy and the political decision on what the threshold should be. In the paper, he suggests the scheme could be applied to only the most ecologically harmful trajectories.
However, others argue there remains merit in researching ways to minimise non-CO2 emissions. Responding to the new paper, Tim Johnson, director of the AEF, says the scientific community should be “applauded for reminding us of the importance” of non-CO2 effects at a time when policymakers are focused solely on carbon emissions.
He tells Carbon Brief: “We need effective policies that tackle the total climate impact and not just CO2. These additional effects need to be included in our climate goals and accounting.”
A related paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters (ERL) earlier this month found airlines could reduce their climate impact by up to 10% simply by making small changes to flight routes at a cost increase of just 1%.
Keith Shine, professor of meteorology and climate science at the University of Reading and co-author of the new ERL paper, said, with more targeted research, such adjustment could become a reality in the next 10 years. “Climate-friendly routing of aircraft has an exciting potential to decrease the climate impact of aviation, without the need for costly redesign of aircraft, their engines, and airports,” he said.
Despite this research, the prospect of policymakers tackling non-CO2 emissions any time soon remains slim, especially considering the difficulty in pinning down the precise magnitude of their impact. If anything, it seems to have slipped down the “to do” list since the 1999 IPCC report first put them in the limelight.
In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which is the government’s official climate advisory body, has recommended aviation CO2 emissions be limited to around 2005 levels by 2050. But it has refrained so far from recommending any limit be set for non-CO2 emissions, noting in a 2009 report on aviation the “considerable scientific uncertainty” over their precise magnitude.
However, the report also noted a “likely need” to account for these effects in future global and UK policy frameworks, acknowledging this could have implications for the appropriate long-term UK aviation target.
There remains much debate over how these effects could even be accounted for. Several different metrics have been proposedto factor in the impact of non-CO2 effects compared to CO2 alone. The “radiative forcing index” (RFI), for example, reflects the ratio of total radiative forcing to date for aviation compared to just CO2 emissions alone.
However, these ratios remain hard to define due to the uncertainty in overall forcing of non-CO2 emissions. Meanwhile many argueusing the RFI as a simple multiplier underplays the significance of CO2 since it doesn’t account for its longer lifetime compared to other emissions.
While the government’s guidelines for company greenhouse gas reporting recommends an emissions multiplier for all aviation effects (similar to a radiative forcing index) of 1.9 times the effects of CO2 alone, the government has so far avoided factoring it into any of its own policy.
When the House of Commons environmental audit committee (EAC) last year asked Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, whether the government’s upcoming aviation strategy would examine greenhouse gases other than CO2, he said there was “no clear scientific bases” to look at non-CO2 emissions, although argued they would still be reduced by efforts to reduce CO2.
While NOx levies are charged by some countries in selected airports around the world – including Heathrow in the UK – there are currently no regulations for non-CO2 emissions at the cruise phase of flights, when they cause more impact.
During negotiations over aviation’s inclusion in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) in 2007 and 2008, MEPs in the European Parliament argued for the inclusion of a two-times emissions multiplier for NOx emissions.
Airlines, such as British Airways, lobbiedagainst such multipliers, saying they were a “mis-application of science” since they failed to account for the lifetimes of different emissions. AEF’s Johnson explains the outcome:
“Member states disagreed with this proposed amendment, but, as a compromise, the [European] Commission agreed to undertake a feasibility study to introduce an en-route NOx charge in parallel. The proposal was not taken any further and the EU ETS continues to cover CO2 emissions only.”
The amount that non-CO2 emissions contribute to warming can vary significantly depending on the conditions where they are emitted, while their mechanisms are not well understood. This means their impact has proven difficult to pin down, though research shows it is likely to be significant.
Research setting out potential means of tackling these emissions can seem high unlikely in the current policy climate. However, it can also act as a pertinent reminder that non-CO2 emissions are difficult to ignore in a world attempting to fulfill its collective commitment, agreed in Paris in late 2015, to limit temperature rise to “well below” 2C.
A new deal to secure the air link between Dundee City Airport and Stansted for another two years has been announced. The UK and Scottish governments and Dundee City Council have agreed a public service obligation (PSO) contract worth almost £3.7m. Loganair will continue to operate the route from 26 March. The service will see two return flights each weekday and one return flight on a Sunday. The UK Government will contribute 50% of the total funds, (ie.about £1,8 million over the two years) with the Scottish government putting in £1.4m and Dundee City Council providing £400,000 of funding. UK Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad announced it, with comments about the importance of connections between Scotland and England for trade and tourism – “helping business and leisure travellers alike”. So much of this public money is to assist leisure travel. The UK government funding is through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which aims to maintain connectivity between London and smaller regional airports, where routes are at risk of being withdrawn.
UK government invests a further £1.8 million over 2 years in the Dundee-London air route.
Dundee-London air route funding secured until 2019
From: Department for Transport, Scotland Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and Lord Dunlop
14 March 2017
The UK government has today announced more than £1.8 million to secure a vital air link between Dundee City Airport and London Stansted for another 2 years.
The public service obligation (PSO), agreed between the UK government, Transport Scotland and Dundee City Council, guarantees almost £3.7 million to keep the route open over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.
The UK government will contribute 50% of the total funds, with the Scottish government putting in £1.4 million and Dundee City Council funding a further £400,000.
Loganair will continue to operate the route from 26 March 2017, with the service comprising 2 return flights each weekday and 1 return flight on Sundays.
The Dundee-London link, which launched as the first government PSO in 2014, plays an important role in promoting Dundee as a business and tourist destination, offering additional travel options to railway and road. Flight times between the 2 airports currently stand at around an hour and a half.
Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said:
I am delighted that Loganair will continue to operate this direct air service between Dundee and London Stansted for another 2 years.
Passengers and businesses will continue to benefit from the connectivity this route provides. It will further boost trade and tourism opportunities will continue to flourish in Scotland.
Regional airports are vital to our long-term economic strategy, and we are committed to strengthening links across the whole country and in particular ensuring access to London to further boost growth across the whole of the UK.
UK government Minister for Scotland Lord Andrew Dunlop said:
It’s great news for Dundee that the UK government is investing a further £1.8 million over 2 years in the Dundee-London air route, building on our investment of £2.85 million over the past 2 years.
Good air connectivity is vital to Dundee’s prosperity and its ambitious regeneration plans. There is a huge amount going on in Dundee, and London air links offer fantastic opportunities for Tayside.
Dundee City Council leader Ken Guild said:
As the city continues its long-term regeneration programme, having a direct air link to London fulfils an important role for business and leisure travellers.
Securing the route for a further 2 years through this latest PSO gives the council and its partners an opportunity to build on the service and attract other routes.
The Scottish government’s Minister for Transport Humza Yousaf said:
The award of this contract to Loganair is welcome news which provides continuity of service on this important route.
This flight not only provides a direct link to London, but also offers passengers a wide number of onward connecting destinations from Stansted. This will continue to benefit business and leisure travellers alike.
In the wider context, this service is vital for the future of Dundee Airport and we will continue to work with all partners to add new flights to its roster. I wish Loganair every success with this service.
The government maintains regional airport links through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which can be used to protect important air connections to London which may otherwise be lost.
Last month, the UK government gave its first ever backing for a PSO in Northern Ireland.
Deal secures Dundee-London Stansted air link for next two years
13 March 2017
A new deal to secure the air link between Dundee City Airport and London Stansted for another two years has been announced.
The UK and Scottish governments and Dundee City Council have agreed a public service obligation (PSO) contract worth almost £3.7m.
Loganair will continue to operate the route from 26 March.
The service will see two return flights each weekday and one return flight on a Sunday.
The UK Government will contribute 50% of the total funds, with the Scottish government putting in £1.4m and Dundee City Council providing £400,000 of funding.
UK Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “I am delighted that Loganair will continue to operate this direct air service between Dundee and London Stansted for another two years.
“Passengers and businesses will continue to benefit from the connectivity this route provides. It will further boost trade and tourism opportunities will continue to flourish in Scotland.”
Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The award of this contract to Loganair is welcome news which provides continuity of service on this important route.
“This flight not only provides a direct link to London, but also offers passengers a wide number of onward connecting destinations from Stansted. This will continue to benefit business and leisure travellers alike.”
Dundee City Council leader Ken Guild added: “Securing the route for a further two years through this latest PSO gives the council and its partners an opportunity to build on the service and attract other routes.”
The UK government funding is through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which aims to maintain connectivity between London and smaller regional airports, where routes are at risk of being withdrawn.
Unlike the UK, India puts VAT on the price of jet fuel. Sales Tax (levied by the State Governments) averages across India at 25%. But now domestic air travel from Delhi is likely to get cheaper with the Delhi government deciding to cut value added tax on aircraft turbine fuel (ATF) to 1% from the existing rate of 25%. As part of the central government’s connectivity scheme, the Delhi government reduced VAT on ATF by 24% to boost links with smaller airports in its budget for the year 2017-18. Delhi will have cheaper air links especially to the smaller airports to the north west. India is the world’s fastest-growing aviation market but most of the air travel is between big cities. Under the regional connectivity scheme, the government will subsidise part of the cost for airlines to operate flights to smaller towns. Jet fuel is one of the biggest costs for airlines, especially for low-cost carriers such as IndiGo Airlines, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, SpiceJet and GoAir. Airline shares rose on the news.
Indian capital Delhi cuts tax on aviation fuel to boost travel to smaller cities
Reuters (Times of India)
The Delhi government has reduced the tax on aviation fuel to 1 percent from 25 percent for flights operating to smaller towns and cities, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, in a move to reduce costs for airlines flying to remote areas from the Indian capital.
The tax reduction is only for airlines operating under the federal government’s regional connectivity scheme, introduced last year to make flying more affordable, Sisodia said on Wednesday while presenting Delhi’s annual budget.
India is the world’s fastest-growing aviation market but most of the air travel is between big cities. Under the regional connectivity scheme, the government will subsidise part of the cost for airlines to operate flights to smaller towns.
Jet fuel is one of the biggest costs for airlines, especially for low-cost carriers such as IndiGo Airlines, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, SpiceJet and GoAir.
Aditya Ghosh, president of IndiGo, India’s largest carrier, requested that the tax break be extended to all air travel out of Delhi, which is the airline’s biggest base.
Airline stocks surged after the news. InterGlobe shares rose as much as 4.37 percent, SpiceJet was up as much as 8.6 percent and Jet Airways gained as much as 6.6 percent. (Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Sunil Nair)
Delhi budget: Air travel to get cheaper, AAP govt cuts tax on air turbine fuel
Mar 08, 2017
By Faizan Haidar (Hindustan Times – Delhi)
Domestic air travel from Delhi is likely to get government cheaper with the Delhi government deciding to cut value added tax on aircraft turbine fuel (ATF) to 1% from the existing rate of 25% .
As part of the central government’s connectivity scheme, the Delhi government reduced VAT on ATF by 24% to boost links with smaller airports in its budget for the year 2017-18 announced on Wednesday.
“The central government had asked airports part of the regional connectivity scheme to reduce the VAT on ATF. Delhi was not part of it but we proactively reduced VAT so that Delhi can be connected with smaller airports, specially to the northeast,” Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal praised the decision and said this would lead to air tickets getting cheaper.
“With this, new airlines can come and operate from Delhi. ATF decides flight ticket rates and this will be a huge bonus for fliers,” said a finance department official.
Talking to Property Weekly, Heathrow’s head of property and facilities, John Arbuckle, is bullish and “excited” about all the property and developments he is looking forward to, with a 3rd runway, He can see “redevelopment opportunities as well as maximising revenues from the airport’s property.” The Heathrow investment property portfolio is worth around £2bn, and that will grow when more land is obtained (by compulsory purchase, and by buying up homes that will be too polluted or too noise to live in). Heathrow now has around “1.9m sq ft of buildings, 100 hectares of leased land, more than 200 houses and 807,000 sq ft of warehousing and offices leased from third parties.” Heathrow also owns around 1,250 hectares of land around the airport. It is expected that there will be more hotels, for the expanded airport. John Arbuckle, in typically bullish Heathrow fashion, hopes to “put the building blocks in place for a third runway in 2025.” He manages to coyly avoid mentioning the destruction of much of Harmondsworth and parts of the Heathrow villages, and compulsory purchase, just talking about the airport “working closely with our local communities” and “being great neighbours to the local community.” Property companies are rubbing their hands with glee at increased demand for commercial office and industrial space near Heathrow.
Heathrow Airport: project runway
10 March 2017
By Steven Thompson (Property Weekly)
Extract from a longer article:
While there remain both planning and political obstacles to overcome, the property team at Heathrow is gearing up to take advantage of the third runway.
Leading the charge is John Arbuckle, Heathrow’s head of property and facilities, who is tasked with identifying redevelopment opportunities as well as maximising revenues from the airport’s property.
Arbuckle is in charge of an investment property portfolio worth around £2bn, a figure that now looks likely to increase significantly as developments associated with the third runway come on stream. [That probably means if they end up buying some 3,500 properties, that will become too unpleasant – from noise and pollution – for residents to remain in. AW comment]
“It is a really exciting time for me,” he says. “I want to focus on developing growth areas for our current customers as well as looking at how we might attract new customers. Our targets are to increase customer satisfaction and develop space solutions that are built sustainably and safely. This is at the heart of everything we do and informs all our future plans.”
Arbuckle’s property team manages around 1.9m sq ft of buildings, 100 ha of leased land, more than 200 houses and 807,000 sq ft of warehousing and offices leased from third parties.
The type of space varies from hotels to offices and VIP passenger lounges to aircraft hangars, as well as a host of operational facilities.
The portfolio is 99% occupied and Arbuckle says there is high demand from prospective tenants, although it can be difficult to accommodate them.
Heathrow owns around 1,250 ha of land around the airport, but most of it has already been developed and there is no land bank. The airport uses “every piece” of land it owns, according to Arbuckle.
“My role involves making the most of what we have and identifying redevelopment opportunities,” he says. “We work in a very constrained environment where every square metre is important to us.
“Our priority is to understand and respond to the space needs of our customers. We have a wide range of property customers, from airlines to service companies, hotels, lounge operators and business centres, and they each have individual requirements. So it is important we listen to them and continue to work with them to meet their needs.”
The airport continues to develop new passenger lounges for airlines and independent lounge operators, as well as Regus Express business centres. New spaces for Regus are planned for Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, in addition to the existing location in Terminal 5, which opened in 2014.
A number of hotels are also scheduled to open in response to the growing need for hospitality close to Heathrow. The airport’s recent successes include the extension of its partnership with the Arora Group to deliver two new terminal-linked hotels: the 750-bed Crowne Plaza/Holiday Inn Express at Terminal 4 and a 300-bed Hilton Garden Inn at Terminal 2.
“Part of my role involves developing our existing infrastructure to put the building blocks in place for a third runway in 2025,” explains Arbuckle. “We will complete the first stage of our long-term plan by 2019 when the new Terminal 2 hotel opens. Work begins this month.”
Despite the land constraints, Arbuckle is excited about the prospect of further development around a third runway. But he is keen to point out that working with the local communities surrounding Heathrow, many of whose residents work at the airport, remains a key priority. [What this delicately omits to say is that there will be around 780 homes compulsorily purchased, with residents made involuntarily homeless. Many others will have no obligation but to take Heathrow’s terms and sell up, moving away from their homes and communities. AW comment]
“The government’s support for the expansion of Heathrow brings with it the opportunity to develop the surrounding areas,” he explains. “We have a dedicated expansion team that is working closely with the government, our local communities and our airlines throughout the consultation and delivery process to ensure Heathrow expansion is affordable and benefits all of Britain. [Typical example of the sort of slippery language that conceals the reality of the removal of half of Harmondworth, and its death as a village. And damage to other Heathrow villages. AW comment]
“On a local level, it is important we work with local businesses and the community on benefits and what this means for those living close to the airport. We have to work hard to make the most of the space we have and develop it in a way that takes into account both the smooth running of the airport operation and being great neighbours to the local community.” [Sic].
Over the next five to 10 years there are plans to develop the Central Terminal Area (Terminal 2 and Terminal 3), which will involve ensuring all existing lettable space is being maximised and identifying opportunities for new commercial developments.
Logistics space is likely to come to the fore. Not only is Heathrow the UK’s largest airport, it is also one of the country’s primary cargo hubs, so the decision to expand presents an opportunity for more logistics development in the vicinity of the airport.
The connectivity that is vital to local businesses will continue to be on their doorstep – Adam Hetherington, CBRE [CBRE is a large, global property group]
In the wake of the Heathrow announcement, CBRE said that it expected expansion to lead to increased requirements for commercial office and industrial space within easy reach of the airport.
The airport itself expects a doubling of cargo throughput once a third runway is in place.
Adam Hetherington, CBRE’s London managing director, says that occupiers surrounding Heathrow can now make long-term location commitments “with the certainty that the national and international connectivity that is vital to their businesses will continue to be on their doorstep”.
Arbuckle’s task is to exploit the opportunities that the new runway and greater connectivity will bring. The challenges are very real, but if he can pull it off so too are the potential rewards.
An analyst with Transport & Environment questions whether biofuels could ever make more than a minute impact on aviation carbon emissions. He says we know from past experience with biofuels for road vehicles that they can actually be worse for the environment than the fossil fuels they replace. Unless biofuels are sourced very carefully indeed, they rise causing drastic changes in land use, including deforestation and peatland drainage. Even if biofuels could be produced on land currently used for agriculture, this means there are indirect land use changes (ILUC) meaning that whatever was previously produced there needs to be produced somewhere else. ie. the result may be cutting down forests to create new land to grow crops. Guarantees are needed to ensure that fuels worse than kerosene are not promoted – in terms of carbon emissions, but also loss of wildlife or violation of human rights. “The aviation sector often hypes up a new technology as the solution to its climate problem, only to admit that it is not feasible or prohibitively expensive. It quickly moves on to another ‘solution’. All this serves to convince policymakers that sustainable aviation is around the corner. Biofuels may be the latest example of this strategy.” Aviation biofuels, at a very minimum, must be better on carbon and environmental impact than fuels they replace.
Aviation biofuels: Won’t get fooled again
DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.
By Carlos Calvo Ambel (a transport and energy analyst at sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E).
March 7, 2017
Biofuels are being touted as a solution to the problem of aviation emissions. But previous experience shows us we must take care to ensure they are not actually worse for the environment than the kerosene they replace, writes Carlos Calvo Ambel.
Is it a good idea to fly on an aircraft powered by plant-based fuel? This is one avenue being explored by many in the aviation sector, including the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the industry itself. They see biofuels as a key way, perhaps the biggest way, to cut the sector’s emissions.
We all agree that action is needed to address aviation emissions, but we must not ignore two main issues:
First, to travel the same distance, aviation is the mode that contributes the most to global warming.
Second, ICAO projects that the emissions from aviation could grow 300% by 2050 if no action is taken, potentially consuming up to one quarter of the global carbon budget to keep warming below 1.5°C.
Hence, even though many of us enjoy the convenience and the speed of travelling by plane, action is needed to rein in these emissions. And this is especially the case for aviation, because it is mainly the world’s elite who fly.
It may be that only 5% of the world population has ever flown, but it’s the world’s most vulnerable who will suffer the impacts of climate change.
Some are highly optimistic that biofuels could replace kerosene. However, a reality check is needed. Aviation needs to look at the painful lessons of Europe’s recent foray into biofuels for road transport, as it turned out to be quite problematic.
A quick recap: in 2009 the EU created a mandate to achieve 10% of “renewables” in transport by 2020. Demand for land-based biofuels subsequently skyrocketed. In order to meet this demand, global production increased, causing drastic changes in land use, including deforestation and peatland drainage.
The impact of this was felt especially in Indonesia. When rainforests, grasslands or peatlands are cleared for agricultural use, climate change is exacerbated because carbon stored in trees and soils during hundreds of years is released.
Some claim that biofuels can also be produced using crops grown in Europe. True, but what matters isn’t just where the biofuel is produced, but on what type of land it is produced. If on already existing agricultural land, whatever was previously produced there needs to be produced somewhere else. [ ie. ILUC – Indirect Land Use Changes ]
When these indirect impacts are accounted for, i.e. cutting down forests to create new land to grow crops, certain aviation biofuels can be worse than kerosene in terms of their climate impact. These indirect effects may be hard to quantify, but we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to ignore them.
Guarantees are needed to ensure that fuels worse than kerosene are not promoted. Ensuring that aviation biofuels produce fewer emissions than their fossil counterparts is the very minimum. But sustainability is much more than that. Aviation biofuels production should not result in wildlife loss or the violation of human rights.
To prevent this, sound and integral sustainability criteria for producing aviation biofuels is needed, preferably at global level. The system should be transparent and seek to build confidence that aviation biofuels do not have negative effects. Relying on unsustainable biofuels carries huge risks for airlines – few want to fly in a plane that causes deforestation or an increase in food prices.
The aviation sector often hypes up a new technology as the solution to its climate problem, only to admit that it is not feasible or prohibitively expensive. It quickly moves on to another ‘solution’.
All this serves to convince policymakers that sustainable aviation is around the corner. Biofuels may be the latest example of this strategy.
We need to be realistic about how much biofuels could contribute. Sustainable feedstocks available for the production of non-land using biofuels, made of waste and residues, are limited and other sectors want to use them as well. [Examples would be used cooking oil, or municipal rubbish. AW comment].
Some advanced biofuels, such as those derived from waste, might play a role but on a modest scale. And in any case, biofuels do not eliminate the considerable climate change effects of aviation induced cloud formation. [These are referred to as non-CO2 impacts of aviation ]
Municipal organic waste, waste wood or some forest and agricultural industry residues are positive examples under development, but there will be limits to the quantities available. Research and development must look into “disruptive”, sustainable, scalable fuel technologies. [A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. Link ]
Reducing the climate impact of aviation is challenging and requires effort on many fronts. There is no reason to keep kerosene tax-free or to exempt flights from VAT.
There also need to be effective fuel efficiency standards, [for aircraft] which currently do not exist. All these policies are more credible and, importantly for fighting climate change, may have a more immediate impact on reducing aviation’s climate impact.
ICAO is currently drawing up rules around the use of biofuels. These will need to be robust to avoid deforestation-driven biofuels becoming the winners of this ‘green’ bet.
If alternative fuels are going to be promoted for environmental gains, the very minimum is to ensure that they are actually better than what they are supposed to replace. Otherwise, why to do it in the first place?
The high flown fantasy of aviation biofuels – Blog by Biofuelwatch
Date added: September 9, 2016
In a blog, Almuth Ernsting, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch, explains some of the issues with aviation biofuels, and the problems of ICAO hoping aviation can use them to get off the carbon “hook”. The reality is that only a tiny number of flights have been made using biofuels, with the only ones claiming to be genuinely “sustainable” being those derived from used cooking oil. There are various ways of making jet fuels out of biofuel, with the most successful and commercially viable one being HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) or HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids). Other processes are based on gasification and Fischer-Tropsch reforming; farnesene which is produced from sugar using GM yeast; and producing fuel from bio-isobutanol. HVO production is relatively straightforward, cheaper than the others, and already happening on a commercial scale. However HVO relies largely for its feedstock on vegetable oil, though tallow and tall oil can also be used. In Europe, HVO production is heavily reliant on palm oil, with its well known environmental /deforestation problems. Airlines have so far been careful to avoid sourcing biofuels from palm oil, fearing bad publicity. Greater aviation biofuel use, from any vegetable oil, is likely to drive up demand and push up the global price of vegetable oils – making land conversion, particularly in the tropics even more lucrative.
Air Passenger Duty is just £13 for an adult (over 18) for any return flight to Europe. It is £26 for a return flight inside the UK. It is just £75 for an adult to any destination further away than 2,000 miles, and higher for higher class tickets. Air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty, and the combined amount per year that these two could bring in amounts to around £8 – 10 billion per year, even after the receipts from APD are taken into account. APD is charged by the Treasury because there is no logical reason why air travel (most of which is discretionary, and much of which is for pleasure) should be untaxed. After cutting the rate of longer haul APD (over 4,000 miles) in April 2915, the tax as just risen by the rate of inflation – RPI. But the airlines complain about it every time there is a budget. Now Heathrow and the Airport Operators Association have complained again, that APD has not been cut. They would like to see air travel almost not taxed at all, to boost the number of passengers -and hence their profits. Heathrow has the DfT falling over itself to promote its 3rd runway. It is a little distasteful for it to be pressing for effectively further subsidy, when its runway would end up costing the taxpayer a huge amount in necessary improvements to surface access, which the airport is unwilling to stump up for. It is indeed a very greedy industry, relentless in its demands.
There was no change to APD in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement on 7th March 2017
The Budget just said: “3.26 Air Passenger Duty (APD) – APD rates for 2018-19 will be uprated in line with RPI. To provide good notice for the airline industry, rates for 2019-20 will be set at Autumn Budget 2017.”
Their views were of slight disappointment regarding Air Passenger Duty.
Responding to today’s Spring Budget, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:
On Air Passenger Duty:
“We’re disappointed the Government has not taken the opportunity to reduce air passenger duty. The increase today, and the signal of potential further increases in the coming years, hands a great advantage to our European competitors. If Britain is to be one of the best places in the world to do business then we must work towards abolition of this tax on British competitiveness, tourism, investment and trade.” http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Corporate-operational-24/8346
And on increased investment and focus on technical education, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, said:
“We welcome the creation of ‘T Levels’ and extra funding for PHDs in STEM subjects which will help provide the workforce Britain needs for the future. Heathrow expansion, along with other strategic infrastructure projects, will create thousands of highly skilled jobs. These Government reforms are crucial to ensuring we can deliver a modern, affordable Heathrow and make sure today’s schoolchildren are able to make the most of the opportunities.”
Meanwhile, when responding to the Chancellor’s Budget Statement, Chief Executive of the AOA, Karen Dee said: [Karen Dee has been Chief Executive of the AOA since 10.1.2017]
“Airports provide the necessary infrastructure for the UK’s international connectivity, with aviation the transport mode of choice for most people travelling to and from the UK and for 40% of the UK’s trade. Boosting that international connectivity through unlocking new destinations will be crucial to achieve the Chancellor’s aim of building the foundations of a stronger, fairer, more global Britain.
“That is why it is a missed opportunity for the Chancellor not to have cut Air Passenger Duty today and instead announcing another rise in line with RPI in 2018/19, on top of the RPI rise from April 2017.
The UK’s APD is already one of the highest air taxes in the world. With most of our nearest neighbours either charging nothing or less than half of what the UK levies, APD is a tax on the UK’s global competitiveness and connectivity.
The UK’s APD is already one of the highest air taxes in the world.
“Halving APD, as the AOA had called for alongside A Fair Tax on Flying campaign partners, would have brought the UK into line with the next highest APD equivalent in the EU, in Germany. It would have encouraged airlines to schedule new routes between the UK and new destinations, including in emerging markets, by making those flights more economically viable. It would also have made boosting capacity on existing routes more attractive.
“Cutting APD will boost the UK’s international connectivity and we urge the Chancellor to take action at the first available opportunity. We also continue to urge the Chancellor to make clear that any cut in any part of the UK would immediately be matched across the rest of the UK.”
who went through the calculations, bringing them up to date with newer data in 2012. While APD rises very slightly with RPI, the number of passengers rises. So the overall loss to the Treasury probably rises each year, depending on passenger growth.
Heathrow has regularly produced annual sustainability reports (they do not seem to be on its website any longer). The report from 2014 is here. Now, in an a serious attempt to be seen as a truly “environmentally friendly” airport they have produced a glossy report called “Heathrow 2.0” which endeavours to show that – with 50% more flights, producing nearly 50% more CO2 emissions, is a shining example of environmental leadership for us all. Some ex-environmental campaigners helped Heathrow put the report together. While it is hugely to be welcomed that Heathrow will try to have as low an environmental footprint as possible, within the airport itself – the problem is confusing that with the immense environmental impact the airport has outside its perimeter. The report has nothing much to say on that, other than offsetting schemes of one sort or another. The airport hopes to become “carbon neutral” but that is only by offsetting – effectively buying the emissions reductions of others. Heathrow wants to be seen to be “green” by helping to fund some peat-bog restoration, and buying renewable energy. It aims to do a bit more on preventing illegal trafficking of wildlife through its air freight etc etc et. All laudable stuff. But there is no reason why Heathrow needs to have another runway, in order to do all these good environmental things that it could perfectly well be doing (should be doing) as a 2 runway airport. Check the report for high level greenwash ….
[Time and energy prevent, so far, taking the report apart, item by item. It is a long report – but its actual content, of real actions to make an effective difference, is very thin. AW comment]
Heathrow promises to clear green aviation R&D incubator for take-off
28.2.2017 (Business Green)
By James Murray
Under fire from environmentalists over its controversial expansion plans, Heathrow has today unveiled a wide-ranging new sustainability strategy designed to make it one of the world’s greenest airports.
Dubbed Heathrow 2.0, the new strategy pulls together a host of initiatives, including plans to step up R&D investment in low carbon aviation technologies, reduce the environmental impact of its operations, and enhance air quality around the airport.
Specifically, the airport announced it has invested an initial £500,000 in a new R&D incubator tasked with identifying ways to minimise noise and carbon emissions from flights.
“Heathrow will consult leading experts to identify participants from the aviation industry, academia and business,” the company said. “By the end of the year, more funding sources will also be identified so that the incubator opens its doors in 2019.”
In a further bid to encourage airlines to switch to more efficient modern fleets, the strategy includes proposals for a ‘Fly Quiet and Clean’ league table, which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise and emissions.
Heathrow also pledged to become the latest high profile firm to switch to 100 per cent renewable power, vowing to only source electricity from renewable sources from the end of the this year as part of a wider emission reduction plan designed to ensure the planned new runway is “carbon neutral”.
In addition, the plan includes proposals to establish an “airside ultra-low emission zone” by 2025, designed to reduce air pollution in the area, and sets a new target to ensure half of passengers travel using public or sustainable transport.
Unveiling the new plan at the British Chamber of Commerce conference, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the strategy represented “a step-change for our business, and accelerates the shift in our industry towards a sustainable future for aviation”.
“By focusing on the long-term, and through working together, we can deliver a world-leading economy – innovative, competitive, successful and sustainable,” he said. “And we can create a future where our business, our people, our communities, our country and our world, can all thrive.”
The plan comes as airports and airlines face mounting pressure to develop lower carbon aviation technologies, following an international agreement last year that aims to cap emissions from the sector from 2020 and introduce a new offset scheme during the 2020s that should effectively impose a carbon price on aviation emissions.
However, many environmental groups have argued the new international deal is not ambitious enough and Heathrow is continuing to face significant opposition over its plans to build a third runway, with campaigners voicing scepticism the project is compatible with the UK’s carbon budgets.
Last week the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs accused the government of not doing enough to demonstrate how Heathrow expansion is in line with emissions obligations and accused ministers of preparing to “water down the limits on aviation emissions recommended by its own climate change advisers”.
However, the airport has consistently argued that improvements in technology will allow it to expand the airport while complying with the UK’s Climate Change Act and air quality rules.
The huge growth in flights from Heathrow’s planned new runway could be carbon neutral, according to an ambition revealed by the airport.
The 260,000 extra flights a year anticipated from the third runway would make the airport the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions. But Heathrow’s new sustainability plan suggests other ways to offset the leap in emissions, including by restoring British peat bogs.
The new plan, called Heathrow 2.0, sets a wide range of targets to tackle carbon emissions, illegal levels of local air pollution, and noise. The airport will use 100% renewable electricity from April and aim to get 35,000 more people a day using public transport rather than arriving in cars by 2030 and double that by 2040.
The third runway, now backed by the government, is highly controversial, with critics arguing it could dash hopes of meeting the UK’s climate change targets and solving local air pollution problems. About 95% of Heathrow’s carbon emissions come from aircraft, but aviation is one of the toughest sectors in which to cut carbon, as the electric batteries than can power cars are too heavy for planes.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, said: “We are not doing this to convince somebody that we are anything we aren’t. We are setting out what we are going to do and people can judge us by our actions. We are going to play our part in the challenge of climate change.”
The plan sets out firm short-term targets, including removing the last 5% of flights made by the most polluting aircraft by 2020 and cutting the number of late-running flights arriving in the middle of the night – currently about one a day – by half this year.
The aspiration to make growth from the new runway carbon-neutral relies significantly on the global aviation deal agreed in October to offset most new emissions after 2020. The most novel aspect of Heathrow’s new plan to explore the restoration of peatlands in the UK to offset carbon, which would be “a very British solution”, said Holland-Kaye.
Peatlands cover 12% of the UK but 80% are in poor condition. “The opportunity is absolutely massive,” said the environmentalist Tony Juniper, who was a paid consultant on Heathrow’s new plan. “The vast majority of peatlands are degraded and it is releasing billions of tonnes of carbon over decades.” He said restoration would also benefit flood prevention and wildlife.
Holland-Kaye said it was vital to also set out longer term plans even if it was unclear as yet how to achieve them: “There are some really challenging aspirations around carbon, and even if we don’t get all the way there, every tonne of carbon we are able to prevent going into the atmosphere is a tonne less that our children have to deal with.”
Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth said: “We have to say, that if you look at this coldly, it makes Heathrow one of the most progressive airports in the world. But there is a jumbo-jet sized elephant in the room – a new runway that would see 260,000 extra flights a year, and that comes at a significant environmental price.”
“It is deeply irresponsible of the government to sign off on this expansion on the assumption that something will come along” to solve the challenges, he said. A cross-party committee of MPs recently accused the government of “magical thinking” over the future solutions to Heathrow’s environmental challenges.
Tim Johnson of the Aviation Environment Federation said: “The plan aspires to a cleaner and quieter future but its detail is largely concerned with short-term, incremental improvements that are not up to the challenges that would come with runway expansion. There is nothing in this report to suggest that we are any closer to finding effective solutions.”
“If you have a plan and you really focus on it, you can make a significant change in people’s behaviour,” he said. “The great thing about the VW scandal is that the government is now taking [air pollution] seriously, because they are the ones who can have the most influence. Once the will of government gets behind these things, big things can happen relatively quickly.”
The new runway would open by 2025 at the earliest, and Holland-Kaye said the new HS2 train line and possible new rail links to the west and south could be a “gamechanger”.
Heathrow is planning to increase the number of short-haul flights within the UK, and will discount their landing fees this year. Critics say such flights should be replaced by rail travel but Holland-Kaye said they were important in helping all regions of the UK to grow. “Unless we have an economy which pays for a shift to being low-carbon, we are not going to make that shift,” he said.
The Heathrow plan is “bold and brave”, according to Juniper: “The difference here is the extent to which they have really embraced the challenge rather than trying to avoid taking responsibility.” Asked if fast-growing aviation can ever be sustainable, he said: “It is going to have to be” because stopping more people flying “is not going to happen”.
The Prince of Wales’s green adviser has been accused of hypocrisy over being paid to help Heathrow to justify building a third runway after spending years opposing it.
Tony Juniper, 56, who co-authored the recent Ladybird book on climate change with the prince, advised Heathrow on a “sustainability strategy”, which seeks to justify the airport’s expansion.
Mr Juniper campaigned against the expansion of Heathrow when he was director of Friends of the Earth, which he left in 2008 shortly before becoming special adviser to the prince on environment projects.
He supported activists who blockaded airports in protest over the impact of flights on climate change. He also accused Gordon Brown of hypocrisy when he was prime minister for supporting action on climate change while backing a third runway at Heathrow.
Mr Juniper began advising Heathrow 18 months ago via Robertsbridge, the sustainability consultancy that he co-founded with Charles Secrett, also a former director of Friends of the Earth, and Peter Ainsworth, a former Conservative MP.
Mr Juniper’s key idea to help to justify the third runway’s 260,000 extra flights a year is “carbon offsetting”, which allows emissions to rise if an equivalent amount is prevented elsewhere.
Heathrow is holding talks with conservation groups about paying to protect a British peat bog which, it is claimed, might otherwise dry out and release vast amounts of carbon.
Jeff Gazzard, co-ordinator of the GreenSkies Alliance, which opposes airport expansion, said: “Tony Juniper has given his name to world-class greenwash. It’s massively inconsistent and he must have known he was going to get labelled a hypocrite.
“He has turned himself from a figure of admiration to the Neville Chamberlain of corporate social responsibility.”
John Stewart, chairman of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, which campaigns against the third runway, said: “This appears very inconsistent with the previous very public stance Tony Juniper took in opposing a third runway.”
Mr Juniper said that he believed the third runway could be built sustainably but denied that this contradicted his previous stance.
He said he had adopted a “parallel and equally credible position . . . that if society is going to say we are going to accommodate growth rather than to try and block it then the best possible thing you can do is to try to ensure it is as sustainable as possible”.
He added: “I’m agnostic on a third runway at Heathrow but I would say we have a growing demand for aviation and we need to be able to deal with that through a number of different approaches.”
Heathrow’s strategy pledges to make the new runway “carbon neutral”. Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s director of sustainability, said that carbon neutral expansion was an “aspiration” rather than a commitment. He declined to say how much Heathrow would be investing in the peat bog project but said it would be a “meaningful contribution”. He declined to say how much Mr Juniper and Robertsbridge had been paid.
Tony Juniper made his name in the environmental movement by travelling to Brazil in 1990 and discovering the last surviving wild Spix’s macaws.
That same year he joined Friends of the Earth (FoE) and worked his way up to be director.
He successfully campaigned for the Climate Change Act 2008, which committed the UK to the world’s toughest emission reduction targets.
After leaving FoE in 2008, he became special adviser to the Prince of Wales, first on his Rainforests Project and then his International Sustainability Unit.
He was the Green Party candidate in Cambridge at the 2010 general election.