Willie Walsh making the right noises on IAG’s small future fuel efficiency improvements per passenger
British Airways and IAG have not been at the forefront of trying to achieve progress on limiting their airline CO2 emissions. BA is still a long way behind even some other airlines in its fuel efficiency, per passenger-kilometre. A 2014 fuel efficiency ranking of the top 20 transatlantic airlines released by the ICCT put British Airways in last place. The report calculated that its fleet using an average of 51% more fuel for each kilometre travelled than top ranked Norwegian Airlines, while Spanish carrier Iberia – also owned by IAG – used 30% more. BA was also not among the signatories of an open letter, published in November and signed by 28 airline bosses, calling for a market-based solution for tackling aviation emissions. Now Willie Walsh says he has a target for IAG of an 8% cut in per-passenger CO2 by 2020 compared to 2015. This is per passenger emissions, while the total number of passengers grows. ie. a net increase in emissions. Tim Johnson, from the AEF, commented: “Any deal must be environmentally effective, and ambitious enough to reduce aviation emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit temperature rises to 1.5C.” ICAO predicts the CO2 emissions from global aviation could rise by 68% from their 2010 level by 2020.
British Airways owner sets emissions target and calls for global aviation climate deal
by Jocelyn Timperley
17 February 2016
The boss of British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) has announced plans to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per passenger on its flights.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Monday, Willie Walsh laid out his target for IAG to reduce its per-passenger emissions 8% by 2020 compared to 2015. [This is per passenger emissions, while the total number of passengers grows. ie. a net increase in emissions. AW note].
He also called for governments and other carriers to support a proposal from the UN’s aviation agency for a global deal to cut emissions from the aviation industry.
“A fair, uniform system will give aviation a clear and direct financial incentive to develop cleaner aircraft, [“cleaner” aircraft is an odd term which is used to imply lower carbon aircraft] switch to low-carbon fuels and introduce more efficient air traffic systems that eradicate unnecessary flying,” he said. “No other industry has anything like as comprehensive a scheme for reducing its global CO2 footprint.” [Really? Few other industries are not included in the global deal under the Paris Agreement. AW note]
A global deal for aviation carbon emissions is the only way the industry can continue to meet demand sustainably, he added.
However, the sector has previously faced criticism from green groups for making slow progress in developing an international carbon pricing mechanism, lobbying for continued airport expansion, and opposing regional market-based mechanisms for curbing emissions, such as the EU’s inclusion of aviation in its emissions trading scheme (ETS).
Even with the new pledge, British Airways still has a significant amount of progress to make to catch up with industry leaders in cutting its per passenger emissions.
A 2014 fuel efficiency ranking of the top 20 transatlantic airlines released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) put British Airways in last place. The report calculated that its fleet using an average of 51% more fuel for each kilometre travelled than top ranked Norwegian Airlines, while Spanish carrier Iberia – also owned by IAG – used 30% more.
British Airways was also not among the signatories of an open letter, published in November and signed by 28 airline bosses, calling for a market-based solution for tackling aviation emissions.
Last week the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said its work to produce an official international carbon standard for aircraft is making “further and important headway”, with the agency hopeful it will be adopted by its 36-State Governing Council.
The new standard would apply to any new aircraft designs from 2020, as well as deliveries of current in-production aircraft designs from 2023.
A group of international experts on the ICAO’s committee has also recommended that the standard be applied to all new aircraft from 2028 – effectively banning the production of the most inefficient models.
However, green groups criticised the proposed standard for not going far enough and allowing less efficient models to continue to be sold for much of the next decade.
“Willie Walsh is right to call for governments to support a global deal on aviation CO2 emissions, but an agreement should not come at any cost,” Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation Environment Federation and lead representative of the NGO presence at the ICAO meetings, told BusinessGreen. “Any deal must be environmentally effective, and ambitious enough to reduce aviation emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit temperature rises to 1.5C.”
“Even if an effective deal is struck at the UN meeting in the autumn, academic studies indicate that additional measures, including passenger demand management, may still be needed to help reduce aviation emissions in the future, especially as 40% of the sector’s global emissions come from domestic aviation that will be excluded from any deal. This issue isn’t being discussed by industry or governments at the moment.”
“The aviation sector currently produces around 2% of global CO2 emissions, emitting 448 megatonnes in 2010, but the ICAO predicts this could increase to as much as 755 megatonnes in 2020, [a 68% increase from 2010 – in just 10 years] when the industry hopes to first achieve “carbon neutral growth”.
If no action is taken to reduce its footprint the industry could be emitting 1,800 megatonnes by 2040, according to the ICAO.
ICAO proposal to slightly reduce CO2 emissions from new planes, only after 2023, not seen as sufficiently ambitious
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ aviation agency, has approved the first-ever binding agreement to achieve CO2 emissions reductions from new aircraft. New efficiency standards will apply to all new commercial jets delivered after 2028, as well as existing jets produced from 2023. This might achieve a cut in CO2 of about 4% in cruise fuel consumption, compared to the level in 2015. This is a very low level of ambition. Environmental groups, specifically the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said the proposed standards were a missed opportunity and would have little real effect in curbing emissions. The standard excludes aircraft that are already in use, and as most airlines have lifetimes of 20-30 years, it will take decades to cover the current fleet. ICCT says some of the top performing commercial aircraft were already achieving the standard – with room to spare. By 2020, 8 years before the proposed standards were even due to come into effect, the average aircraft would already be 10% more efficient than the ICAO standard. ICAO recognised that “the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.” However, this does very little to achieve that. The exclusion high CO2 emitting international aviation and shipping was a major weakness of the Paris Agreement in December.