Europe falls behind US in new plans to tackle CO2 emissions from planes
The aviation industry is growing so fast that, on current trends, it could make up 22% of global emissions by 2050, according to a European Parliament study. However, Europe’s proposals for a landmark international fuel efficiency standard for aircraft would save considerably less carbon emissions than those put forward by the US. The US plan could cut emissions by 37.5%, and the EU proposal by 33%. The 4.5% gap is equal to 350 million tonnes of CO2, worldwide, per year – which is slightly more than Spain emits every year. The standard could mark a turning point for efforts to regulate fast-growing CO2 emissions from aircraft, which are not covered by December’s much-hailed Paris climate agreement. The standard would only apply to planes produced after 2020, meaning the planes currently being used – or ordered now – would not be included. Both the US and the EU proposals are going to ICAO, for consideration, next month. ICAO is looking at two approaches to reducing the rate of increase of aviation emissions; a market-based mechanism – MBM – (meaning trading, so airlines have to pay for their CO2); and improving the fuel efficiency of engines and aircraft. ICAO will be working on these this year, with the full council meeting in September, for a possible approval of an MBM in 2017.
Europe falls behind US in new plans to tackle CO2 emissions from planes
Europe’s proposals for a landmark international fuel efficiency standard for aircraft would save considerably less carbon emissions than those put forward by the US
The aviation industry is growing so fast that, on current trends, it could make up 22% of global emissions by 2050, according to a European Parliament study
Friday 22 January 2016 (Guardian)
Europe is calling for a considerably less ambitious carbon emissions standard for airplanes than the US in a new global push to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change, the Guardian has learned.
The standard would mark a turning point for efforts to regulate fast-growing emissions from airplanes, which are not covered by December’s much-hailed Paris climate agreement.
The milestone would apply to new models and existing aircraft put into production after 2020, but the EU’s preferred version would be less stringent than alternative US proposals, which the Guardian has also seen.
Both blueprints have been filed with the UN’s civil aviation agency, Icao, ahead of talks in Montreal next month.
“The US proposal is definitely more ambitious,” said Joris Melkert, a former flight test engineer and senior aerospace lecturer at Delft University in the Netherlands. “It would save more emissions, and the difference is quite considerable.”
The gap between the two proposals is greater than the annual emissions of most medium-sized European countries, and privately confirmed by EU officials.
Aviation is responsible for around 5% of the world’s global warming at present and the industry is growing so fast that, on current trends, it could make up 22% of global emissions by 2050, according to a recent European Parliament study.
The ICAO talks are pursuing a twin track approach of making airlines pay a cost for their CO2 output under a market-based scheme, [a market based scheme means some form of carbon trading] and greening aircraft with a new fuel efficiency standard.
The debate on the standard began in 2007 and proposals agreed in Montreal will be sent on to an Icao council for approval next year. “After many years, decision time has finally come,” one EU official said. “I believe that we are going to have an ambitious standard and I hope we can secure it next month.”
Airplanes emit CO2 in the process of burning engine fuel to provide a lift force that can overcome the aerodynamic drag created by wind resistance. For this reason, the ICAO proposals focus on measures to improve planes’ aerodynamics, lightness and engines.
Under the technical proposals, a stringency option of ‘9’ suggested by the US would reduce overall aircraft emissions by 37.5%, while the ‘7’ setting favoured by the EU would imply a 33% cut. The 4.5% gap is equal to 350m tonnes of CO2, or slightly more than Spain emits every year.
EU officials privately concede that their proposal is “the second most ambitious of the positions put on the table”. But they insist that it is still “quite close to the US one” and that the agreement’s small print on cargo aircraft and categorisations should not be overlooked.
Environmentalists argue that the involvement of the Environmental Protection Agency and an unshackled president Obama in the US has contributed to the relative weakness of the EU’s position.
But insiders in Brussels say that the sheer variety of complex issues still to be agreed – and the amount of aircraft manufacturing countries involved, from Brazil and Ukraine to India and China – make like-for-like comparisons unwise, and stringency factors of ‘10’ impossible.
“There are so many parameters to be decided that it creates a lot of pieces you can move around on a chessboard,” one EU source told the Guardian.
Europe has proposed a 60 tonne threshold for classifying aircraft, as this could cover 90% of emissions and apply to aircraft of the size of a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320 and above.
But the classification would be further sub-divided between new model types and those in production; jets ferrying 19 people or less, and planes carrying freight instead of passengers. Alternate starting dates of 2020 and 2023 for the benchmark are other options under discussion.
An EU source said: “We need a standard that reflects the state of art of the technology, that is as close as possible to what engineers are capable of doing, without going so high that a number of 60-tonne aircraft types would be put out of the market as that would be environmentally unhelpful, economically detrimental and also quite unfair, as lead-in times for aircraft take about 10 years.”
The exclusion of international aviation & shipping CO2 from Paris COP21 deal makes 2°C limit close to impossible
The Paris climate agreement text has now dropped mention of international aviation and shipping. The weak statement that has been removed only said that parties might “pursue the limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” through ICAO “with a view to agreeing concrete measures addressing these emissions, including developing procedures for incorporating emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels into low-emission development strategies.” Even that has gone, so there is no ambition for CO2 regulation. Transport & Environment (T&E) says this has fatally undermined the prospects of keeping global warming below 2°C. The CO2 emissions of these two sectors amount to about 8% of emissions globally. In recent years their emissions have grown twice as fast as the those of the global economy – an 80% rise in CO2 output from aviation and shipping between 1990 and 2010, versus 40% growth in CO2 emissions from global economic activity – and they are projected to grow by up to 270% in 2050. They could be 39% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 if left unregulated. After 18 years of being supposed to come up with measures to tackle aviation emissions, ICAO has done almost nothing – and little is expected of it.
New study by ICCT show new plane fuel efficiency gains are more than a decade late for UN ICAO goal
The European group, T&E, say that since 2010, the average fuel burn of new aircraft has improved by 1.1% per year, which suggests that aircraft manufacturers may miss UN aviation body ICAO’s 2020 fuel efficiency goals by 12 years. This has been show by a new study by the ICCT. IATA forecasts 4.1% annual growth of global aviation for the next 20 years. By contrast, the 1.1% progress in fuel efficiency of new commercial jets falls way behind the progress needed to meet ICAO’s targets. The gap between 4.1% growth and 1.1% improvement is massive. Since 2009 ICAO has been working on a CO2 standard for new aircraft to boost fuel efficiency technology in the fleet. Work should be completed in 2016, with the standard for new commercial jets taking effect in 2020. Decisions on the actual stringency of the standard are due over the next months. T&E said: “ICAO must help airlines meet their own climate goals and agree a CO2 standard that actually forces new technology in the fleet, rather than doing business as usual….. It’s a no brainer for ICAO to agree a global market-based measure that drives fuel prices up steadily over time.” More progress in fuel efficiency strongly correlates with higher fuel prices. Aviation’s massive CO2 emissions are projected to triple by 2050.
Tom Burke article exposes the fallacy of hoping carbon pricing will lower CO2 emissions
The aviation industry is reluctantly realising it needs to cut its carbon emissions, and work is under way, through ICAO, on a “market based measure” by which the industry could pay for carbon emissions. This, like the EU ETS, would be by being able to buy carbon permits from other sectors which had managed to make actual carbon cuts. A hard-hitting article from Tom Burke casts serious doubt on whether this sort of carbon pricing and trading could ever work effectively. He fears many high carbon industries pay lip-service to the concept, in the full knowledge that it will never work sufficiently well to curtail their activities, and it delays the need for any real action. He says: “The intent is to create the impression of an industry in favour of urgent action whilst actually slowing that action down”…. [with the carbon price remaining too low] … “If only governments were brave enough to put the carbon price up higher and faster, they will lament, we would get there sooner. This is hocus-pocus. They know full well governments will be deeply reluctant to put up consumers’ bills.” … “There is no chance that the world will agree on a global price for carbon in the forty years we have to keep the climate safe…. Their purpose is clear, to set a trap for unwary policy makers and environmentalists. Shame on those who fall into it.”
- More at
- ICAO / EU ETS News Stories