Aviation’s climate footprint could be 3 times bigger than its current estimate, according to a new study by the EU’s aviation regulator EASA, which has been sent to the European Commission. It examined the climate impact of aviation emissions other than CO2, which include nitrogen oxides, soot particles, oxidised sulphur and water vapour. The report found that after including the non-CO2 impacts “are currently warming the climate at approximately three times the rate of that associated with aviation CO2 emissions alone.” This is likely to put airlines under more pressure to clean up the industry. Aviation is responsible for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, but that does not reflect aviation’s true climate impact. The non-CO2 impacts have been ignored for far too long, and must be properly assessed and included in plans to limit global heating and climate breakdown. Jo Dardenne, aviation manager at green group Transport & Environment, said measures like putting a tax on jet fuel could be introduced rapidly. “The European Commission was first tasked with addressing the non-CO2 emissions of flying in 2008. It shouldn’t waste any more time in implementing the solutions that are available today.” . Tweet
Aviation’s climate impact much greater than previously thought, regulator finds
The EASA report proposes financial, fuel-related and air traffic measures to cut non-CO2 emissions. The report is likely to put airlines under more pressure to clean up the industry
BY MARI ECCLES (Politico EU) November 25, 2020
Aviation’s climate footprint could be three times bigger than its current estimate, according to a new study by the EU’s aviation regulator EASA. https://www.easa.europa.eu/
The study, sent to the European Commission on Monday, examined the climate impact of aviation emissions other than CO2, which include nitrogen oxide, soot particles, oxidized sulfur and water vapour.
The report found that after including the impact of non-CO2 gases and particles “aviation emissions are currently warming the climate at approximately three times the rate of that associated with aviation CO2 emissions alone.”
The report is fodder for climate activists who have long called for stronger regulation for the airline industry, and is likely to put airlines under more pressure to clean up the industry. Aviation is responsible for about 2% of global CO2 emissions. [That is probably an under-estimate. It is at least 2.5% ]
Jo Dardenne, aviation manager at green group Transport & Environment, said the report “confirms that carbon emissions are only the tip of the iceberg when accounting for aviation’s climate impact. Contrails and other non-CO2 effects of aviation need to be urgently tackled to avert climate crisis.”
Stay Grounded, another advocacy group, said the EU should ensure “aviation’s real climate impact is accounted for in emission inventories and policy measures,” adding that policymakers “ignored” the effects of non-CO2 emissions by taking so long to study their effects.
The report itself comes almost a year after the Commission was supposed to publish it. When asked about the delay in March, Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean’s office said it was “due to the scientific complexity of the issues at stake, the fact that new findings are still expected, and the limited pool of experts specialized in this field.”
The impact of non-CO2 aviation emissions is not well studied, partly because they are difficult to quantify. Emissions like contrails — the vapor trails created when cruising at high altitudes — are temporary. Non-CO2 emissions could have a cooling or warming effect depending on the altitude or location. For emissions like soot and sulfur, the study said a greater understanding of their effects is “urgently required.”
It’s partly due to their previously unknown effects that non-CO2 emissions have been kept out of major aviation climate schemes including the U.N.-sponsored Corsia and the EU’s Emissions Trading System.
In its accompanying note to the European Parliament and Council, the Commission said the report’s findings “need to be addressed,” but warned that “the complexity of non-CO2 climate impacts relative to CO2 ones and the trade-offs between various impacts, poses a challenge” in terms of what policymakers ought to do.
Innovate, tax or tweak
The report proposed three kinds of policy measures — financial, fuel-related and air traffic management-related — to tackle the impact of emissions.
Financial: Among the financial measures, the report suggested including non-CO2 emissions in the EU’s Emissions Trading System, where they are currently not counted, and introducing a charge on nitrogen emissions.
Fuel-related: To tackle non-CO2 emissions at source, the EU Aviation Safety Agency recommended the mandatory use of sustainable aviation fuels and to use fuel with a different composition so that fewer non-CO2 particles are emitted when burnt.
Air traffic management: Under the air traffic management options, EASA’s report suggests a “climate charge” to address all non-CO2 effects, and managing flight routes to avoid regions considered climate-sensitive.
Some of the measures suggested would take years to implement, the report said. Others, like a tax on jet fuel and an expansion of the ETS, are currently being considered.
“The European Commission was first tasked with addressing the non-CO2 emissions of flying in 2008. It shouldn’t waste any more time in implementing the solutions that are available today,” Dardenne said.
New study indicates non-CO2 impacts of aviation are twice as large as the CO2 alone (study by a large number of authors, including many eminent UK climate scientists)
September 4, 2020
A new study trying to elucidate the various non-CO2 impacts of aviation has been published. There is very complicated science about the positive radiative forcing (ie. extra impact on increasing global temperature) of the water vapour, NOx and other gases, and particles emitted from jet engines at altitude. This study concludes that the non-CO2 impacts of “aviation emissions are currently warming the climate at approximately three times the rate of that associated with aviation CO2 emissions alone.” They have looked in detail at the various effects and interactions. There are numerous non-CO2 impacts, some of which cause more radiation to be reflected back out to space, and some cause heat to be trapped, warming the earth. These effects include the contrails, ice cloud changes, sulphate and soot particles from jet engines, water vapour from jet engines, NOx emissions and production of ozone. The effects of contrails and extra cloud formation are perhaps easier to study, and more research is needed on the impacts of soot and sulphate particles. The confirmation of the large contribution to warming, from the non-CO2 impacts of aviation is important. The climate impact of aviation, including non-CO2 effects, has to be fully taken into account in how the sector fits into the UK’s climate targets, and reaching “net zero”. Currently the DfT ignores non-CO2 impacts, though the CCC has recommended that they should be included.
Boris Johnson’s “jet zero” goal of a commercial transatlantic flight producing no carbon emissions by 2025 is a “gimmick”, according to experts, who say technology alone cannot solve the impact of global aviation on the climate crisis. Such a flight could only be a one-off and would encourage the view that other measures such as taxing jet fuel and frequent fliers were not needed to tackle aviation’s carbon problem. The aviation industry says more fuel efficient planes and buying millions of tonnes of carbon offsets can compensate for big future increases in passenger numbers and carbon emissions. Instead independent experts say new taxes to deter flying are vital, to reduce demand. There may be a very small contribution from alternative fuels, made using surplus renewable energy (not competing with land needed for agriculture or causing deforestation) in future decades, but that is speculative. Long-haul electric or hydrogen planes are unlikely before the middle of the century, if ever, by which time emissions should already have been cut to zero. Tim Johnsons, from AEF, said as well as taxes, regulation was needed, and the inclusion of international aviation emissions in countries’ national carbon plans submitted to the UN. Currently they are exempt. . Tweet
Boris Johnson’s ‘jet zero’ carbon flight goal dismissed as a gimmick
Experts says technology alone will not get close to solving aviation’s emissions problems
Independent experts say new taxes to deter flying are vital, but agree with the aviation industry that green jet fuels are needed too.
By Damian Carrington (Environment editor, The Guardian) @dpcarrington
Wed 25 Nov 2020
Boris Johnson’s “jet zero” goal of a commercial transatlantic flight producing no carbon emissions by 2025 is a “gimmick”, according to experts, who say technology alone cannot solve the impact of global aviation on the climate crisis.
Such a flight would not be impossible, the experts said, but could only be a one-off and would encourage the view that other measures such as taxing jet fuel and frequent fliers were not needed to tackle aviation’s carbon problem.
The jet zero technology idea was part of Bois Johnson’s 10-point “green industrial revolution” plan launched last week. But experts called jet zero “severely underfunded”, and pointed out that the government would not begin consulting on a strategy to decarbonise aviation until next year.
The UK has also not demanded green action from airlines in return for coronavirus bailouts, unlike France. The pandemic has halved passenger numbers but the industry expects them to recover by 2024. However, the experts also praised the UK for taking some action, given that only a few countries are even beginning to tackle an issue seen as one of the most difficult climate challenges.
The aviation industry says more efficient planes and buying millions of tonnes of carbon offsets can compensate for big future increases in passenger numbers.
Independent experts say new taxes to deter flying are vital, and agree with the aviation industry that green jet fuels are needed too. These exist and could power long-haul flights, but are currently expensive. Long-haul electric or hydrogen planes are unlikely before the middle of the century, if ever, by which time emissions should already have been cut to zero.
“We will position the UK at the forefront of aviation,” says Boris Johnson’s green plan. “British innovation will unlock the world of sustainable fuels [to] allow the opportunity of global travel whilst also safeguarding our planet.”
The jet zero council, which brings together ministers and industry chief executives, has met once, in July. The prime minister told the group he wanted “ambitious goals for aviation, such as the first zero-emission commercial transatlantic passenger flight by 2025”, according to published minutes.
Johnson’s green plan said a £15m competition to support the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in the UK would be held in 2021, alongside a consultation on introducing a requirement to blend green fuels into kerosene, “possibly starting in 2025”. Another £15m is to be spent on a 12-month “fly zero” study examining zero-emission aircraft that could fly from 2030.
“I guess enough [SAF] could be produced to fuel a single, oneoff operation in 2025 but that would of course just be a gimmick – anything beyond that would be very much unrealistic,” said Chris Lyle,the chief executive of the Air Transport Economics consultancy and former official at the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency. Regulations would also have to be changed to allow 100% SAF to be used.
Dan Rutherford, a programme director the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), said: “It would be like a crash space programme to plant a flag on the moon, without knowing when you’d go back again.”
Stefan Gössling, a professor at Linnaeus University in Sweden, said such a flight may even be technically feasible by 2022, but would reinforce the industry’s suggestion that “we will resolve the problem [with technology] – keep flying”.
“Technology alone can in no way get close to solving aviation’s emissions problems,” said Lyle. The omission in UK plans of other measures such as taxes was “emphatically a mistake”, he said The lack of tax on jet fuel gives aviation an unfair advantage against train and coach travel, Lyle added.
Gössling said a carbon tax on kerosene was needed to pay for the climate damage it causes and deter the growth in air travel, adding that such a tax would also make green synthetic fuels more cost-competitive.
According to Rutherford, the UK’s jet Zero goals are “aggressive” but also “severely underfunded”. He said the latest research estimated commercial SAF plants were likely to cost £600m–£700m while new conventional aircraft cost at least $10bn (£7.5bn) to develop. “£15m investments are something that could excite academics but aren’t going to move the needle in any significant way on electric or hydrogen aircraft, for example,” Rutherford said,
Tim Johnson, the director of the Aviation Environment Federation who sits on the jet zero council, said: “A few funding initiatives plus lots of ambition won’t get the industry anywhere near net zero.” He said regulation and taxes were needed, as well as the inclusion of international aviation emissions in the national carbon plans submitted to the UN. Currently they are exempt.
Removing the exemption, said Lyle, “would give individual countries more incentive to do something about them”.
Lyle was dismissive of the UN aviation body’s efforts to cut emissions, saying: “The ICAO is still studying the ‘feasibility’ of an aspirational long-term emissions goal for aviation, which it was given a mandate for by its assembly in 2010.”
Gössling said the UK’s aviation goals placed it among the leading nations, but only because ambition was absent in most countries. A spokesman for Iata, which represents the airlines industry, said: “The UK is a leading country when it comes to action on emissions.”
Gössling said rather than a single transatlantic zero emissions flight in 2025, a better UK goal “would be that, by 2025, 10% of all fuels used will come from renewable sources, or better, will be non-biogenic synthetic fuels”.
A few other nations including France already have such fuel mandates. Norway’s is the most ambitious, requiring 30% from renewable sources by 2030. But airlines, such as those in the US, oppose SAF mandate proposals.
“The timing needs to be realistic,” said the Iata spokesman. “It will take time to scale up production. It usually takes three to four years to build a plant, so I think a five-year window [to 2025] to get supply up and running is necessary.”
He added: “We believe we can solve the problem of CO2 emissions with technology. There is a growing body of research that says we have clear pathways to achieving our 2050 goals of a 50% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels and quite possibly zero emissions from 2060-65, through the scaling up of SAF, and future technology like electric and hydrogen powered flight, from 2035. Offsetting is also available but we currently see this as a short-term measure while technology is scaled up.”
Sustainable Aviation, a UK industry [lobby] group, has set out a road map to net zero emissions that allows for a 70% growth in passengers by 2050 and relies heavily on buying carbon offsets elsewhere.
Andy Jefferson, the group’s programme director, said there was no “silver bullet” to tackling aviation carbon emissions but said there was clear evidence that taxes had no environmental benefits and were the least effective way to reduce carbon emissions. “With the right [government] support as we do not see the need to impose additional demand reduction measures,” he said.
Tim Johnson said any financial assistance to aviation from taxpayers should come with the requirement of action: “Talk of incentives and funding is misplaced when the industry is only offering voluntary commitments in return. Technology aspirations shouldn’t provide continued cover for the industry to get away with no effective accountability, tax or regulation on its emissions.”
“Jet zero isn’t a substitute for the government setting out the policies required to set the UK aviation sector on a trajectory to net zero emissions,” said Tim Johnson. “A cleaner and leaner air travel sector will mean we need to fly less, and we shouldn’t be expanding our airports.”
£200 million from government for research into lower carbon planes
July 21, 2020
The UK government has unveiled £400m in private and public sector funding for technologies and research aimed at cutting aviation CO2 emissions. BEIS has announced that projects aiming to develop high performance engines, new wing designs and ultra-lightweight cabin seats – all intended to cut fuel consumption – will be getting funding from the Government’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme of £200 million. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the £200 million would be matched by £200m from industry. There may also be money from universities, including Nottingham and Birmingham, for this research. The ambition is “zero carbon aviation” as part of the Government’s FlyZero initiative. Britain would like to become a world leader etc in lower carbon aviation technologies. There is a The Net Zero All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of MPs that is working on the necessary transition to “net zero” by 2050. The UK needs to be seen to be leading on this, before hosting COP26 in November 2021 (postponed from Nov 2020). The APPG has a 10 point action plan that says fossil fuel extractors and importers, as well as airlines, should be required to permanently store an increasing percentage of CO2 generated by the products they sell, rising to 100% by 2050, via a proposed “carbon takeback obligation.”
The Jet Zero Council held its first meeting, online, on 22nd July. Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the only representative on the council, representing environmental issues. Government press release on the first meeting said: “Chaired by the Transport and Business Secretaries, today’s first ever Jet Zero council meeting will discuss how to decarbonise the aviation sector while supporting its growth and strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in the sector.” And Grant Shapps said: “The Jet Zero Council is a huge step forward in making change – as we push forward with innovative technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and eventually fully electric planes, we will achieve guilt-free flying and boost sustainability for years to come.” … Producers of novel fuels are excited. … They all want lots of government money. Tim Johnson said: “It was a positive start, with an appropriate degree of ambition and urgency, a technology-neutral stance that will treat all options equally, and recognition that getting new technology and SAF into the fleet requires a regulatory framework that includes carbon pricing. That’s a good platform to work from.”
Government announce a new “Jet Zero” council … but no details or notice to environmental organisations
June 17, 2020
In a surprise announcement at Friday’s government Covid-19 daily briefing, Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, revealed plans for a ‘jet zero’ council, that will include representatives from the aviation industry, Government and environmental groups. Its alleged goal is “to make zero emissions transatlantic flight possible within a generation.” No further details were made available. No environmental group was given any notice about this new initiative. As the principal environmental body working on aviation issues, the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) should have been included, if the government initiative was serious – not just a bit of nice publicity for the aviation sector. AEF has written to Shapps, to say that if the ‘jet zero’ council is to be a worthwhile initiative, the Government must ensure that it does not simply provide good PR for airlines and airports about a future aspiration – while allowing current emissions to grow unhindered. The initiative must be part of a wider programme of government action to deliver the UK’s climate commitments. The council must operate in a transparent manner including engaging with environmental organisations and all relevant stakeholders. To read the letter in full, click here.
In 2019, emissions from the global civil aviation sector were more than 900 million tonnes of CO2. In 2016 the figure was around 814 million tonnes, and around 650 million tonnes in 2005. IATA has a target that the sector’s carbon emissions will be half their level in 2005, by 2050 ie 325 million tonnes. And that is to happen, while the industry aims for compound annual growth of 3%. This year, due to Covid, global demand for air travel has been down hugely, with airports like Heathrow having as much as 80% fewer flights than a year ago. But IATA has admitted that even with that immense reduction in flights, the sector will still have emitted more than 325 million tonnes of CO2. This highlights the scale of the challenge for the industry, to “square the circle” of trying to keep growing, but emitting less carbon. This issue is to be discussed at IATA’s virtual AGM on 24 November. The industry body ATAG is anticipating that demand for air travel, and hence carbon emissions, might be 16% lower than pre-Covid forecasts by 2050, as there has been behaviour change and social change, caused by the pandemic. . Tweet
Crisis CO2 levels highlight scale of airline challenge: IATA sustainability chief
By Lewis Harper (Flight Global)
20 November 2020
The huge reduction in carbon emissions from commercial airlines in 2020 paradoxically highlights the scale of the challenge ahead for the industry to meet its sustainability targets, according to IATA’s director of aviation environment, Michael Gill.
In a year that has seen connectivity devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, overall CO2 emissions will still be higher than the industry’s target level for 2050, Gill tells FlightGlobal ahead of IATA’s AGM on 24 November.
“I don’t want to be unduly negative,” he states. “It’s really to give an idea of the order of magnitude that we’re dealing with.
In 2019, emissions reached more than 900 million tonnes of CO2, notes Gill, who is also executive director of industry body Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). [IATA says “In 2016, civil aviation, as a whole, emitted around 814 million tonnes of CO2”.]
Gill says the crisis has impacted traffic forecasts through to 2050
Crucially, with ATAG’s (Air Transport Action Group) latest projection of a 3% compound annual growth rate in airline traffic through to 2050 – and demand expected to be back at 2019 levels within a few years – an absolute reduction in CO2 emissions still needs to be achieved amid much more air travel.
It is therefore no surprise that of the two resolutions planned for this year’s stripped-down IATA AGM, one will reaffirm the industry’s commitment to its environmental targets – an issue that had shot up the airline agenda pre-pandemic.
The crisis has “really focused peoples’ minds on our long-term objectives and the goals we set”, Gill remarks.
SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL IS IMPORTANT FOCUS
Among IATA’s top priorities, it aims to promote the role that sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) could play in achieving sustainability targets, and the need for government support to drive that agenda. [Not “need”; the aviation sector’s wish].
SAF is part of a suite of measures the industry is counting on to meet its targets, which also includes advancements in technology – notably in aircraft design – alongside operational and infrastructure improvements, all underpinned by ICAO’s CORSIA emissions offset scheme.
At the same time, Gill states that IATA is “actively looking at the pathways that could take the industry to an even more ambitious objective, to a net-zero emissions future, and that will come out of the AGM discussions”.
Helpfully, perhaps, the current crisis is having an impact on long-term emissions growth.
“The impact has been so great, we still think it’s going to have a knock-on effect on our emissions even out to 2050, because the emissions then are forecast to be about 16% less than we had thought they were pre-Covid,” Gill says.
ATAG released a revised outlook in late September, showing that it expects the aviation sector to be transporting around 10 billion passengers a year by 2050 – more than twice 2019 levels, but 16% down on previous forecasts
“So, yes, there’s going to be a recovery, but the impacts of Covid as far as emissions are concerned are going to be felt for some time,” Gill observes.
WILL STRUGGLING AIRLINES STILL FOCUS ON THE ENVIRONMENT?
Amid that unplanned – and relatively minor – moderating of the sector’s impact, is there an immediate danger that debt-laden airlines emerge from the crisis without the resources or time to focus on sustainability?
“For some carriers it may have some short-term impact,” Gill says, citing delayed fleet-renewal programmes and a reduced ability to invest in SAF – particularly if they cannot access the fuel “at more or less parity” with traditional jet fuel in cost terms.
But sustainability is an “unavoidable” issue for airlines, Gill says.
And, if anything, the crisis has intensified the focus on the industry.
He highlights how government bailouts of some carriers carry conditions around reducing the environmental impact of their operations.
At the same time, ”we’re hearing from passengers that the environment is going to be one of the key questions they consider” before booking a flight.
Crucially, “people have got used to not flying” during the crisis, and may see “some benefits” to that, Gill states.
Such considerations make it more important than ever that the industry gets its response right, he says.
WHAT IS IATA’S MESSAGE TO GRETA THUNBERG?
Indeed, with movements such ’flygskam’, or ’flight shame’, and high profile figures such as Greta Thunberg attracting support – particularly among younger generations – the scrutiny of the industry is only likely to become more intense.
Asked what his message would be to those advocating that people fly less, Gill says engagement is the starting point.
“Coming from an association’s perspective it would be: engage with us, come and talk to us,” he states. “We have a clear and a credible story to tell, we recognise that others are challenging us and others have different views.”
So far, the dialogue has only been in one direction, he notes.
“We haven’t yet seen a genuine effort coming from the anti-aviation movement to really sit and talk with the aviation sector, try and understand the particular constraints we have, and try and understand what we’re trying to do to address those challenges,” Gill says. [What nonsense ! The aviation sector wants to keep emitting more carbon. People deeply concerned about climate breakdown know that has to be prevented. It is not a matter of “coming and speaking to us” so the aviation sector can try to hoodwink opponents, with talk of magical, unrealistic future “solutions”. AW comment]
A number of airport community groups have written to the Prime Minister, in response to a letter that he has been sent by the lobbying body, “Sustainable Aviation. The UK aviation industry leaders are asking the Government to co-finance the sector’s decarbonisation. The community groups are pleased the industry is starting to realise that it must address its climate change effects and other adverse environmental impacts. Instead of yet more aspirational words, the industry should now start taking decisive and long-overdue action. Regrettably, however, its willingness to do so appears to be conditional on the taxpayer bearing the cost of the transition it needs to make. That should not happen: there is no economic or social case for public investment in aviation’s decarbonisation. Most flights are for leisure purposes; a high proportion are by frequent flyers; in any one year, about half the UK population does not get into a plane. The sector already receives an effective subsidy, by not paying VAT or fuel duty. Government’s role should be to regulate the industry’s emissions and other adverse environmental and health impacts properly, by setting and enforcing challenging targets and defined timescales. Aviation’s decarbonisation should be paid for by the industry, not by the taxpayer. . Tweet
AirportWatch Aviation Communities Forum (ACF) FlightFree UK Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) Heathrow Association for the Control of Air Noise (HACAN) Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN) No 3rd Runway Coalition Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE)
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA
19 November 2020
Dear Prime Minister
Regulating aviation decarbonisation to deliver a green economic recovery
We are writing in response to the recent letter to you from UK aviation industry leaders, which asks the Government to co-finance the sector’s decarbonisation. [ Letter copied below ].
We are pleased the industry is beginning to acknowledge that it must address its climate change effects and other adverse environmental impacts. Its track record to date is dismal. UK aviation’s CO2 emissions grew by nearly 16% between 2010 and 2018 (and by 124% since 1990) and reached a new record high in 2019. The Climate Change Committee project that aviation will account for 35% of the UK’s residual emissions by 2050, placing a restrictive burden on other areas of the productive economy, perhaps most particularly upon regions of the UK requiring further development.
Encouraged by the absence of effective regulation of its adverse environmental impacts, aviation has adopted a “words not actions” strategy, periodically announcing, then missing, a series of aspirational environmental targets. Instead of yet more words, the industry should now start taking decisive and long-overdue action.
Regrettably, however, its willingness to do so appears to be conditional on the taxpayer bearing the cost of the transition it needs to make. That should not happen: there is no economic or social case for public investment in aviation’s decarbonisation.
UK aviation overwhelmingly provides leisure flights to a small and relatively wealthy sector of society: government data shows that 80% of UK passengers travel for leisure purposes and that 15% of people take 70% of flights. The industry already benefits from extensive public funding and tax advantages. Requiring the general taxpayer to cross subsidise further the low-margin high-volume business model the industry has chosen and the lifestyle choices of a small minority of the population would be wrong in principle. It would also perpetuate the current moral hazard in which the industry pollutes with impunity but expects others to bear the consequences and clean up after it.
Instead the Government’s role should be to regulate the industry’s emissions and other adverse environmental and health impacts properly, by setting and enforcing challenging targets and defined timescales.
The current regulatory vacuum, including the lack of any legal requirement on airlines to reduce emissions (in contrast to the requirements imposed by the Climate Change Act on other sectors), creates uncertainty that airlines will be willing to pay the premium that low carbon technologies and fuels will incur and is holding back the development of those markets. By contrast, effective regulation that obliges the industry to decarbonise would incentivise the market to develop, and the industry to adopt, low carbon solutions without the need for public funds. Reforming regulation of the industry’s environmental impacts should therefore be at the top of the government’s aviation action list.
Investment to decarbonise aviation and reduce its other adverse impacts is essential, but the costs and risks of that investment must be borne fully by the polluter – the industry and its customers – not by the taxpayer.
Sarah Clayton, AirportWatch Charles Lloyd, Aviation Communities Forum Anna Hughes, FlightFree UK Peter Barclay, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign John Stewart, Heathrow Association for the Control of Air Noise Andrew Lambourne, Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise Paul McGuinness, No 3rd Runway Coalition Martin Peachey, Stop Stansted Expansion
cc: The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport Robert Courts MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Huw Merriman, Chair, Transport Committee Chris Stark, Chief Executive, Climate Change Committee Karen Dee, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive, Airlines UK Dr Andy Jefferson, Programme Director, Sustainable Aviation
The letter to the Prime Minister from Sustainable Aviation
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA
16 November 2020
Dear Prime Minister,
Putting aviation decarbonisation at the heart of a green economic recovery
As leaders of the UK’s world-leading aviation industry, we know that our future must be environmentally sustainable. That is why in February this year UK aviation collectively committed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in a world-first for our sector.
This steadfast commitment has not changed, even as the world has changed around us. But to deliver net zero, partnership between Government and industry is now more vital than ever. The creation of the Jet Zero Council, bringing industry and Government together with the goal of making zero-emissions flight possible, has been a welcome and exciting step forward.
There is now a once in a generation chance for the UK to seize the opportunity to lead the world, both in delivering net zero flight, and to enable UK aviation to support our economic recovery through the high skilled jobs, supply-chain and export benefits that investment in new green aviation technology will bring.
To achieve this, support is critical in three areas. First, we urge the Government to take the next step and enable the emergence of a domestic UK Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) industry, principally through targeted loan guarantees and the provision of capital grants. Utilising the UK’s unique skills and capabilities we have identified seven UK industrial clusters which have the potential to generate thousands of highly skilled green jobs and help to level-up the UK.
SAF is essential as the primary and only envisaged pathway to decarbonise long-haul flight, and as existing technology can make a difference this decade. Early support is critical to the delivery of first-of-a-kind plants, the foundation for up to 14 plants generating sustainable fuel from household and industrial waste by the mid-2030s.
Second, Government should increase its support for technological innovation through the Aerospace Technology Institute – helping deliver those ground-breaking electric, hybrid and hydrogen powered aircraft which have the potential to revolutionise regional and short-haul travel and deliver net zero aviation, building on this year’s ground-breaking zero-emissions electric and hydrogen flights from Cranfield. Investment will be needed in infrastructure to support these electric and hydrogen planes, once operational.
Third, the UK must maintain its commitment to delivering airspace modernisation, a critical nextstep on the path to net-zero. It will eliminate inefficiencies, shorten journey times and reduce carbon emissions, so we urge the Government to support the short term funding request from ACOG that would progress this through the Airspace Masterplan.
We look forward to working with Government to build a sustainable recovery for our sector and the UK economy, and maintain the UK’s proud tradition of aviation and aerospace excellence.
Karen Dee Chief Executive Airport Operators Association
Sir Martin Donnelly President, Boeing Europe, Managing Director Boeing UK and Ireland Paul Stein Chief Technology Officer Rolls-Royce plc
Nick Barton Chief Executive Birmingham Airport
Alberto Martin CEO London Luton Airport Dave Lees CEO Bristol Airport
Henrik Wareborn CEO Velocys PLC
Tim Alderslade Chief Executive Airlines UK
Mark Tanzer Chief Executive ABTA
Charlie Cornish Chief Executive Officer Manchester Airports Group
Paul Everitt Chief Executive ADS
John Holland-Kaye Chief Executive Officer Heathrow Airport Ltd
Peter Mather Senior Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK bp plc
Stewart Wingate Chief Executive Officer London Gatwick
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren Chief Executive Officer LanzaTech
Sean Doyle Chief Executive British Airways
Martin Rolfe Chief Executive Officer NATS
Johan Lundgren Chief Executive Officer EasyJet
Robert Sinclair Chief Executive London City Airport
Alex Doisneau Managing Director Dnata
Katherine Bennett CBE Senior Vice President Airbus in the UK
Stephen Heapy Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Jet2 plc
The Government has produced a new 10-point plan, “for a Green Industrial Revolution – Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero.” Much is aimed at creating new jobs in new sectors. There is little about aviation, and nothing of much substance, except hopes for “sustainable aviation fuels” (SAF) for future use. It says government will put £15m into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030. Also a £15m competition to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels production. They will establish a Sustainable Aviation Fuels clearing house to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space. There will be a consultation in 2021 on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend “greener” fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. The mandate would start in 2025. Government will invest in R&D for the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircraft. And there will be a consultation on an Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021. . Tweet
“Green Industrial Revolution – Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero”
18.11.2020 – Government announcement
The Prime Minister’s 10 point plan is now available here:
Point 1. Advancing Offshore Wind Point 2. Driving the Growth of Low Carbon Hydrogen Point 3. Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Power Point 4. Accelerating the Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles Point 5. Green Public Transport, Cycling and Walking Point 6. Jet Zero and Green Ships Point 7. Greener Buildings Point 8. Investing in Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage Point 9. Protecting Our Natural Environment Point 10. Green Finance and Innovation
Key aviation commitments:
1) £15m into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030.
2) £15m competition to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels production.
3)Establish a Sustainable Aviation Fuels clearing house to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space.
4) A consultation in 2021 on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend greener fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. Mandate to start in 2025.
5) Invest in R&D into the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircraft.
6) Consultation on Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021.
We will position the UK at the forefront of aviation and maritime technology to push forward low carbon travel and build on UK strengths. By taking immediate steps to drive the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels, investments in R&D to develop zero-emission aircraft and developing the infrastructure of the future at our airports and seaports – we will make the UK the home of green ships and planes. Internationally, we will continue to lead efforts to find solutions to global aviation and maritime emissions, including using our COP Presidency to develop a sector-led goal.
A century ago, a Mancunian and a Glaswegian completed the first non-stop transatlantic flight and created civil aviation. Fast-forward to September 2020 when the first commercial aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell took off in Cranfield. British innovation will unlock the world of sustainable fuels, turning these fossil fuel intensive journeys into lower carbon routes of transportation that allow the opportunity of global travel whilst also safeguarding our planet. To achieve this, we have established the Jet Zero Council as a sector-wide partnership to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies to help develop our strategy to reach net zero aviation, which we will set out next year. We are investing £15 million into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030.
Moving to sustainable fuels is one of the key steps to success that we can unlock. We will run a £15 million competition to support the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in the UK, building on the success of the Future, Fuels for Freight and Flight Competition. We will establish a SAF clearing house, the first of its kind in Europe, to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space. Alongside this, we intend to consult on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend greener fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. To support the emergence of a market in zero emission aircraft we will invest in R&D into the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircrafts.
The UK has a strong history in shipbuilding, with the maritime sector employing 185,000 people. To complement our work on aviation, we will invest £20 million into the Clean Maritime Demonstration Programme to develop clean maritime technology. We are already running hydrogen ferry trials in Orkney and due to launch a hydrogen refuelling port in Teesside, as we seek to revitalise our ports and coastal communities.
Taking action on net zero aviation and green ships could deliver…
Up to 5,200 jobs supported by a domestic SAF industry
Future proofing the aerospace industry which is worth £12bn to the economy
Savings of up to 1MtCO2e by 2032 from clean maritime and
nearly 15MtCO2e by 2050 from SAF
• These measures will enable the production of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK, supporting industry and driving fuel uptake.
• Our action will cement our position as a global leader in aerospace, (worth £12 billion to the UK economy), and position the UK at the forefront of the zero-emission aircraft revolution.
2021. We will consult on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy.
2025. We will consult on a SAF mandate and run a £15 million competition for fuel plants in 2021, with a mandate possibly starting in 2025
Comment by an AirportWatch member:
This lacks any policies to reduce aviation carbon emissions or hold the industry to account – it is just some funding initiatives and aspiration that SAF will be successful.
It is hoped that there will be more in terms of policy, (a DfT transport decarbonisation plan in December) and more on aviation restart and recovery policy, due to the Covid pandemic,. There may also be an aviation net zero consultation in 2021, though whether that will contain anything of substance is anyone’s guess.
The CCC will be making new aviation recommendations alongside their 6th carbon budget recommendation in December.
The think-tank, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), has worked out that the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport could cost the region up to £3.1billion in lost economic activity by 2050. The plans would enable the airport to handle 7 million annual passengers, up from around 4 million in 2019. Most passengers will be on low cost leisure flights. The claims by the airport ignore the huge loss to the UK because people who fly abroad on holiday do not spend that money in the UK. The airport also claims (as all airports always do) that the expansion will create many new jobs. In fact, the aviation sector becomes increasingly automated, with fewer and fewer jobs per 1,000 passengers – and this has accelerated through the Covid-19 crisis. NEF says: “The predicted business benefits are overstated, because businesses are making less and less use of air travel, especially in the fallout from coronavirus.” Also that: “With the leisure and hospitality industries on their knees, this expansion would damage the local recovery from the Covid pandemic.” . Tweet
Leeds Bradford Airport expansion could COST region £3.1bn over 26 years, claims think tank
A think-tank has claimed the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport could cost the region up to £3.1bn in lost economic activity by 2050.
By Richard Beecham (Yorkshire Evening Post)
Monday, 16th November 2020,
Analysis published by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) claims that the expansion plans do not include the cost to Leeds in lost money from tourists flying out of the region, adding the proposed expansion is ‘not economically wise’.
The report went on to claim the airport’s expansion plan overestimates the amount of new jobs the scheme would create, and does not address the likely reduction in jobs in the aviation sector or its impact on the climate crisis.
But Leeds Bradford Airport has said the findings of the report are “untrue”, and that ample evidence had been submitted to Leeds City Council showing tourism in the region would not be affected, and that jobs would indeed be supported by the redevelopment.
Alex Chapman, consultant at the NEF, said: “The climate change risks of the proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport are obvious. What is discussed less is that the economic benefits the scheme claims to create are based on inconsistent and logically flawed economics.
“The proposed jobs will not materialise because the aviation industry is automating, creating less and less jobs, and this trend has just accelerated through the Covid-19 crisis.
“The predicted business benefits are overstated, because businesses are making less and less use of air travel, especially in the fallout from coronavirus.
“Finally, the airport ignores the negative impacts of incentivising Leeds City Region residents to take cheap flights out of the country, instead of spending their money in the local economy. With the leisure and hospitality industries on their knees, this expansion would damage the local recovery from the Covid pandemic.”
The report added the airport’s economic case for expansion as “selective and logically inconsistent”, particularly regarding whether costs – like noise pollution – or benefits – like new jobs – will be newly created or relocated from elsewhere in the country.
Leeds Bradford Airport’s proposed £150m expansion is would involve building a new so-called “eco-friendly” terminal to accommodate more flights. Leeds City Council decision-makers are expected to rule on the plans over the coming months.
LBA said it had presented a detailed socio-economic report to Leeds City Council with the new terminal’s planning application, which concludes that over 12,000 jobs will be supported by the development, and that this report was compiled by “leading industry experts and has been peer reviewed by Leeds City Council.”
It added that the report made reference to jobs which “cannot be automated”, such as highly-skilled positions in ground operations, air traffic control, engineering and maintenance.
The spokesperson added: “The findings of this report are untrue. LBA is already an economic hub and the Council’s Local Plan supports the continued development of the Airport. It is, and will continue be, a cornerstone of the regional economy, providing jobs and livelihoods for thousands of people and vital connectivity for Yorkshire’s economy.
“In these difficult times of COVID-19, Yorkshire needs its economy to recover quickly and to thrive. LBA’s plans to modernise can be a key part of that recovery by generating inward investment and attracting international tourists and students. We look forward to helping businesses in our region to meet this demand in the coming decades.
“To say that jobs in aviation are unsustainable is misleading. On the contrary, the sector has jointly committed to becoming net zero by 2050 and there are advances in technologies and fuels on the horizon. We know we have work to do to get there, but the long-term future for sustainable aviation, and the jobs that it will create and sustain, is positive. Leeds as a city will only have the ability to innovative if it enjoys strong connectivity with the rest of the world.”
The New Economics Foundation is an environmentally-focussed economics think tank. It is a registered charity and is funded by organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Friends of the Earth. You can find a full list of its financial backers here ( https://neweconomics.org/about/who-funds-us ).
Extinction Rebellion to protest in Leeds against Leeds Bradford Airport expansion plans
August 27, 2020
Socially-distant protesters plan to gather in Millennium Square on August 29 in support of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA). GALBA will be cycling a route around Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield to highlight areas which may be affected by aircraft noise pollution if the airport’s expansion plans are approved. Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) submitted plans to build a new “state of the art” £150million terminal in early 2020. It would be closer to a proposed parkway rail station, announced by Leeds City Council last year. The terminal would accommodate seven million passengers per year by 2030. Extinction Rebellion (XR) has held several protests this year against the expansion plans, both outside Leeds City Council’s Civic Hall headquarters and outside a public consultation meeting held at the Mercure Parkway Hotel. XR says the proposed expansion, yet to be approved by the council, will increase carbon emissions – fuelling climate change. One activist said: “I will be able to look my daughter in her eyes and tell her I tried to put an end to this madness, that we knew there was a better way to live and I fought for it with everything I had.”
Young climate activists urge council to reject Leeds Bradford Airport development – “Don’t let us down”
July 23, 2020
‘DON’T let us down’ was the plea being made by young climate activists who are calling on Leeds City Council to reject plans for a new airport terminal. Leeds Bradford Airport is seeking permission to create a new, £150 million building to replace its current terminal which dates back to the 1960s. Environmental campaigners say the terminal flies in the face of attempts to tackle global heating. Leeds YouthStrike4Climate (Leeds YS4C) have sent an open letter to the city council’s leaders which reminds them that they declared a Climate Emergency in March, 2019. The expansion plans would make it ‘impossible’ for Leeds City Council to keep its promise to make the city carbon neutral by 2030. There will also be a lot more plane noise pollution. Leeds climate striker Annwen Thurlow said: “Our house is already on fire – we cannot let this expansion add more fuel. The council has a responsibility to protect our health and wellbeing, of people and planet. Young people in Leeds and across the world are relying on them. “So we say to them – please don’t let us down.”
Leeds Bradford Airport: Scientists object to expansion plans which will increase CO2 emissions
July 22, 2020
A group of five climate scientists have objected to Leeds Bradford airport’s expansion plans as they make it “impossible” for Leeds to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target. The airport wants to build a new terminal, but this would mean more flights and more passengers, and so more carbon emissions. The scientists said the expanded airport’s greenhouse gas emissions would be higher than the emissions allowed for the whole of Leeds in 10 years’ time. The airport could cause the emission of 1,227 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, compared to 1,020 kilotonnes allowed for the whole of Leeds in 2030. One of those objecting is Prof Julia Steinberger, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which advises the United Nations. The IPCC has warned that restricting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. The scientists say expansion would just represent “business as usual” and lock in higher CO2 emissions. “If similar developments were replicated around the world, it would lock us into catastrophic climate change, which highlights that the proposed development is not only highly harmful but also unfair.”
Natural England says Leeds Bradford Airport expansion should not be approved – necessary details have not been provided
July 13, 2020
The government’s environment adviser, Natural England, says Leeds City Council should not approve controversial plans for the Leeds Bradford Airport expansion, unless further evidence on the potential impacts is provided. Natural England states the airport’s planning application lacks detail and “there is currently not enough information to rule out the likelihood of significant effects” on the environment. It has asked the airport to provide additional information, so the council can asses the impact the new £150 million terminal would have on air quality, local wildlife and protected landscapes. Natural England therefore advises Leeds City Council that it should not grant planning permission at this stage. The airport wants to increase passengers numbers from 4 million to 7 million a year. Climate scientists, environmentalists, The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) and four Leeds MPs are also calling on the council to reject the new plans. GALBA, said the airport has not bothered to assess the damage that their expansion plans would do to wildlife and nature.
A study by Linnaeus University in Sweden found that frequent-flyers who represent just 1% of the world’s population caused 50% of aviation’s carbon emissions in 2018. They also said that only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018; of those only 4% flew abroad rather than within their own country. The carbon emissions of US air passengers are bigger than those of the next 10 countries combined, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia. The lead author of the study, Stefan Gössling, said: “If you want to resolve climate change and we need to redesign [aviation], then we should start at the top, where a few ‘super emitters’ contribute massively to global warming.” Aviation in 2019 emitted around 1 billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100bn (£75bn) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they cause, with most not paying fuel duty, or VAT in Europe. In a typical year, like 2018, 48% of people in the UK did not fly at all; the figure was 53% in the US; and 65% in Germany. Other data shows in the UK that about 70% of flights are taken by 15% of the people. Also just 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly 20% of all flights abroad; and the 10% most frequent flyers in England took more than 50% of all international flights in 2018. . Tweet
1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions – study
Exclusive: Researchers say Covid-19 hiatus is moment to tackle elite ‘super emitters’
Frequent-flying “‘super emitters” who represent just 1% of the world’s population caused half of aviation’s carbon emissions in 2018, according to a study.
Airlines produced a billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100bn (£75bn) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they caused, the researchers estimated. The analysis draws together data to give the clearest global picture of the impact of frequent fliers.
Only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018 and 4% flew abroad. US air passengers have by far the biggest carbon footprint among rich countries. Its aviation emissions are bigger than the next 10 countries combined, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, the study reports.
The researchers said the study showed that an elite group enjoying frequent flights had a big impact on the climate crisis that affected everyone.
They said the 50% drop in passenger numbers in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic should be an opportunity to make the aviation industry fairer and more sustainable. This could be done by putting green conditions on the huge bailouts governments were giving the industry, as had happened in France.
“If you want to resolve climate change and we need to redesign [aviation], then we should start at the top, where a few ‘super emitters’ contribute massively to global warming,” said Stefan Gössling at Linnaeus University in Sweden, who led the new study.
“The rich have had far too much freedom to design the planet according to their wishes. We should see the crisis as an opportunity to slim the air transport system.”
Dan Rutherford, at the International Council on Clean Transportation and not part of the research team, said the analysis raised the question of equality.
“The benefits of aviation are more inequitably shared across the world than probably any other major emission source,” he said. “So there’s a clear risk that the special treatment enjoyed by airlines just protects the economic interests of the globally wealthy.”
The frequent flyers identified in the study travelled about 35,000 miles (56,000km) a year, Gössling said, equivalent to three long-haul flights a year, one short-haul flight per month, or some combination of the two.
On average, North Americans flew 50 times more kilometres than Africans in 2018, 10 times more than those in the Asia-Pacific region and 7.5 times more than Latin Americans. Europeans and those in the Middle East flew 25 times further than Africans and five times more than Asians.
The data also showed a large growth in international flights from 1990-2017, with numbers tripling from Australia and doubling from the UK.
The researchers estimated the cost of the climate damage caused by aviation’s emissions at $100bn in 2018. The absence of payments to cover this damage “represents a major subsidy to the most affluent”, the researchers said. “This highlights the need to scrutinise the sector, and in particular the super emitters.”
The figure for the social cost of carbon emissions was actually a bit conservative, Rutherford said.
A levy on frequent fliers is one proposal to discourage flights. “Somebody will need to pay to decarbonise flight – why shouldn’t it be frequent flyers?” Rutherford said. But Gössling was less enthusiastic, pointing out that frequent flyers were usually very wealthy, meaning higher ticket prices may not deter them.
A spokesman for the International Air Transport Association (Iata), which represents the world’s airlines, said: “The charge of elitism may have had some foundation in the 1950s and 1960s. But today air travel is a necessity for millions.”
“We remain committed to our environmental goals,” the Iata spokesman said. “This year – in the teeth of the greatest crisis ever facing our industry – airlines agreed to explore pathways to how we could move to net zero emissions by around 2060.”
Other research by Gössling found that half of leisure flights were not considered important by the traveller. “A lot of travel is going on just because it’s cheap.”
He stopped flying for holidays in 1995 and more recently stopped going to academic conferences and taking long-haul flights. “I’m not saying I’ll never fly again. But if I can avoid it, I really, really try,” Gössling said.
Just 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly a fifth of all flights abroad, according to previously unpublished statistics.
The new findings bolster calls for a frequent flyer levy, a proposal under which each citizen would be allowed one tax-free flight per year but would pay progressively higher taxes on each additional flight taken.
The revelations follow a new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s official adviser, which urged ministers to put tougher regulations on the international aviation and shipping sectors to keep the economy on track for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Environmental activists said the new figures showed the UK could cut air traffic and emissions without affecting ordinary holidaymakers.
“What we need to do is target a minority of problem flyers and stop them from taking so many flights,” he added.
The findings are based on responses from more than 15,000 English residents who participated in the 2018 National Transport Survey and were revealed to the Guardian following a Freedom of Information request.
The aviation sector accounted for about 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. It is projected to be the single biggest source of emissions in the UK by 2050 due to the steadily increasing demand for flights.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, also endorsed the idea of a frequent flyer levy. “It makes it easier for families to fly once a year, but the escalating tax on further flights means that the people responsible for most of the problem are the ones who end up paying most of the tax – or, ideally, flying a lot less,” he said.
Siân Berry, co-leader of the Green party, said the new data showed the UK could cut its air traffic without hitting those who can least afford it. “It’s about people who fly again and again and again.”
“A progressive tax on the most frequent flyers is a fair policy that most people would come behind if the government put it forward,” she added.
Tuesday’s CCC report suggested a number of policy options to curb demand for flights, including a frequent flyer levy, and said technological improvements alone could not be the solution to the growing emissions problem. There is currently no country in which travellers pay an escalating levy on each flight they take in a year.
Emissions from international aviation are not currently included in national carbon budgets such as the UK’s but instead managed by a dedicated UN agency – the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). However, some have said the body is too secretive and close to industry to take on the major polluters.
The CCC said international air travel should be included in the UK’s climate strategy like any other business sector.
“Not having [international aviation] in the target is a barrier to putting in place good policies to get us on the trajectory to be net-zero overall,” said Chris Stark, the CCC’s chief executive.
He argued that the UK should take a leading role in cutting emissions from the sector, rather than wait for more comprehensive international agreements to be struck.
“There should be no barrier to bringing aviation emissions into the carbon budgets and then putting in place a set of policies that at some stage in the future will be compatible with those international agreements,” Stark said.
A DfT spokesperson said: “Tackling climate change is one of the most urgent and pressing challenges that we face. Which is why this government has set a bold 2050 net zero target for the UK and a greener aviation industry will play a key role in that.
“The government is funding the future of flight and have announced £5m in funding for new technologies like electric and autonomous aircraft to help us tackle climate change. We are working with our partners to ensure the government takes a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector.”
The European Investment Bank (EIB) could withdraw support for new airports, according to a draft climate roadmap seen by EURACTIV. However, the bank is set to keep funding motorways, as well as approving investments under the old rules until 2022. According to the EIB’s leadership and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the bank should become “the EU’s climate bank” and a new strategy seeks to align the lender’s investment planning with the Paris Agreement by the end of 2020. It aims to stop lending to fossil fuel companies, and instead lend to renewable energy and other low-carbon projects. Half of the bank’s lending will be for climate projects by 2025 but the other 50% will need to be “Paris-proofed”. On 11 November, its directors will consider adopting the new climate plan. An EIB draft says “support will be withdrawn from airport capacity expansion and conventionally‐fuelled aircraft”; this is something that has been requested by civil society groups. They might instead invest in improving the efficiency and environmental footprints of existing airports. Over the last 3 years, €4 billion was invested in airports. . Tweet
EU bank mulls ban on cash for airport expansions
By Sam Morgan | EURACTIV.com
5 Nov 2020
The European Investment Bank (EIB) could withdraw support for new airports, according to a draft climate roadmap seen by EURACTIV. However, the bank is set to keep funding motorways, as well as approving investments under the old rules until 2022.
According to the EIB’s leadership and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the bank should become “the EU’s climate bank” and a new strategy seeks to align the lender’s investment planning with the Paris Agreement by the end of 2020.
That process began last year, when the EIB updated its energy lending policy, which sought to scrub the bank’s loan books of fossil fuel projects. Exemptions remain but the review earned plaudits for redirecting money towards renewable energy and other low-carbon projects.
EU bank brokers late-night deal to phase out fossil fuels. The European Investment Bank (EIB) decided on Thursday (14 November) to end financial support for fossil fuels from 2021, after marathon talks ended in a compromise that has been hailed as “a significant victory” for green policies.
Half of the bank’s lending will be targeted exclusively towards climate projects by 2025 but the other 50% will need to be “Paris-proofed”, according to the EIB. On 11 November, its directors will consider adopting the new climate plan.
A draft version seen by EURACTIV shows that “support will be withdrawn from airport capacity expansion and conventionally‐fuelled aircraft”. That is a key ask of civil society groups, which penned an open letter to the EIB in June with their wishlist of climate measures.
The bank will instead focus investments on improving the efficiency and environmental footprints of existing hubs. Over the last three years, €4 billion was invested in airports.
In terms of research and development investments, the lender will cease support for technologies like the internal combustion engine and fossil-fuelled propulsion for ships and planes.
But the EIB will not pull the plug on funding motorway expansion. Instead, “an adapted economic test for large projects” will be carried out and aim to exclude roadways that rely on big short-term increases in traffic volumes to turn a profit.
Road transport is the main contributor to the sector’s increasing greenhouse gas emissions and EIB funding of new motorway builds has been heavily criticised by climate activists. A new project in Germany is going ahead despite mass protests at the site.
EU bank urged to put brakes on Germany’s motorway millions. The European Investment Bank’s decision to loan Germany €264 million to build a new stretch of autobahn has provoked outcry from environmental activists and raised doubts about whether the Luxembourg-based lender can yet claim to be the ‘EU climate bank’.
Between 2016 and 2019 the bank poured more than €10 billion into motorways and is set to continue supporting roadways that are covered by the EU’s TEN-T network, as well as certain corridors outside of the bloc.
“There’s no excuse for the EU’s self-proclaimed climate bank to allow funding for fossil fuels, motorway expansions, and industrial farming,” said Greenpeace EU’s Piotr Wojcik.
According to the draft plan, the EIB will not fund farming activities that “expand into areas of high carbon stocks or high biodiversity value” or any export-focused operations that require air transport to shift goods and livestock.
All projects that have already been submitted for assessment will be considered by the bank regardless of the new criteria until 2022, “due to the lag between initial appraisal and the final presentation”.
The true cost
The climate strategy proposes major changes to how the bank calculates climate impact and will tweak the so-called shadow cost of carbon, which is used to estimate the societal benefits of saving one tonne of emitted CO2.
“The current EIB carbon values are based on studies that pre‐date the Paris Agreement, and in particular does not reflect the [EU’s] net-zero emission target by 2050, or 1.5˚C of global warming,” the draft strategy explains.
It adds that the bank’s calculation metrics will be updated so that the shadow cost is €250 tonnes of carbon by 2030 and that by 2050 the cost will have increased to €800. An annual review will adjust the price, either up or down, accordingly.
Road infrastructure projects, in particular, will be graded against this new metric, the bank insists.
For the energy sector, the bank will rely heavily on its already updated energy policy and the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy, which will grade what is and what is not considered a sustainable investment.
The draft plan adds that “the electricity sector can be deemed to be on track with a low‐carbon pathway. It follows that all sectors of the economy that rely predominantly on electricity are therefore also aligned, at least where applied in an energy‐efficient context.”
As most public transport is powered by electricity, the bank will assume that mass transit systems are Paris-aligned and, therefore, will remain eligible for funding.
Nuclear power is not mentioned at all in the roadmap. The EIB has reiterated recently that atom-smashing is eligible for support but that under current models new builds are unlikely to make a sufficiently strong business case.
Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) wants to expand from 4 million passengers per year to 7 million by 2030. LBA has submitted a planning application to Leeds City Council (LCC) seeking permission to extend daytime flying hours, allow more flights at night, and build a new passenger terminal. The local campaign, Group for Action on LBA (GALBA) is fighting this application, with a particular focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Now LCC has been given legal advice on how councillors should consider the CO2 and GHG emissions from the expansion. This says LCC does not need to take these into account, only the emissions from the airport itself. The advice states that emissions from UK domestic flights are covered by the UK carbon budgets, and those from international flights are (theoretically) covered by the UN’s CORSIA offsetting scheme. GALBA does not accept that the GHG from expansion should be ignored in the local planning decision on the airport. GALBA’s barrister Estelle Dehon, of Cornerstone Barristers, has sent advice to all councillors, that permission cannot be granted unless the likely significant impact of the proposal on climate change is understood. See details of the arguments. https://www.galba.uk/ . Tweet
Blog from GALBA (the Group for Action on LBA) – the local community group opposing expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport
3rd November 2020
By Nick Hodgkinson, (GALBA)
Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) wants to expand from 4 million passengers per year to 7 million by 2030. LBA has submitted a planning application to Leeds City Council (LCC) seeking permission to extend daytime flying hours, allow more flights at night and build a new passenger terminal. The Group for Action on LBA (GALBA) is fighting this application, with a particular focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We now know that LCC has been given legal advice on what councillors should take into account in respect of GHG emissions, which has presented us with a worrying problem. The following sets out the advice given to LCC and GALBA’s response.
Leeds City Council’s advice:
when LBA’s planning application was discussed at a recent meeting, planning officers gave legal advice (paid for by the Planning Dept) to councillors on the committee. This advice accepted that the climate impact of LBA development is material to the decision but said that councillors should not take into account the climate impact of GHG emissions from domestic and international flights – only GHG emissions from LBA’s ground operations.
Planning officers said that domestic flight GHG emissions are covered by the UK carbon budgets, and international flight GHG emissions are covered by the UN’s CORSIA offsetting scheme, therefore they should not be taken into account in local planning decisions. At the meeting, LCC’s legal officer said that because of this, if councillors were to take GHG emissions from flights into account in their decision, they would effectively be ‘double counting’ them. Policy SP12 of the Leeds Development Plan (called the Core Strategy) supports development at LBA subject to any adverse environmental effects being properly mitigated. Planning officers said that their legal advice means that policy SP12 can only cover the environmental impacts over which LBA has direct control – ie ground based GHG emissions only.
The Group for Action on LBA (GALBA’s) response:
GALBA’s barrister is Estelle Dehon, of Cornerstone Barristers. She has sent open advice directly to all councillors on the planning committee (called Plans Panel).
“When considering Leeds Bradford Airport’s planning application, the Plans Panel is under two legal obligations relating to the climate change impact of the proposal:
(1) The Panel cannot grant or refuse planning permission unless it:
(a) understands whether the proposal will have a likely significant impact on the environment by contributing to climate change and
(b) takes that impact into account in making its decision on planning permission.
This is the obligation in regulations 3, 4 and 26 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2017 (“EIA Regulations”).
(2) The Panel is obliged to consider climate change impacts when it decides whether the proposal fails to comply with the Core Strategy policy SP12 because of its adverse environmental effects; and whether it fails to comply with paragraph 148 of the National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”), which requires planning decisions to “shape places in ways that contribute to a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”.
It would be unlawful for the Plans Panel to ignore the climate change impact of the proposal, or to assume that the impact can be accommodated (for example, by assuming that national carbon budgets can absorb any extra emissions; or by assuming any international carbon reduction schemes will reduce or neutralise extra emissions).
If the Panel made these assumptions, it would be doing the opposite of what the EIA Regulations require. Ignoring the climate change impact would also fail to understand policy SP12 and paragraph 148 of the NPPF.”
The open advice goes on to outline in more detail the obligations imposed on the planning committee by the EIA Regulations. It explains that ‘climate change impact’ means the impact of any additional emissions which contribute to global heating, both GHG emissions and non-CO2 radiative forcing.
It points out that the EIA Regulations require all climate impacts to be taken into account: direct (from building a new passenger terminal); indirect (from the additional flights allowed by changing current restrictions), cumulative (over the years) and in-combination (occurring alongside similar developments).
The open advice then stresses: “The existence of … national [carbon] budgets does not mean the Panel can avoid determining the likely significant climate change impacts of the proposal, nor can the Panel just assume that the national government can absorb the extra emissions from the proposal into the budgets.” It also explains: “…carbon budgets are only one of the [UK’s] environmental protection obligations. There is also the more stringent obligation under the Paris Agreement.”
The open advice continues: “it would also be unlawful for the Panel to assume that any extra emissions would be absorbed by CORSIA” pointing out that: “CORSIA has not in fact begun to operate as a carbon offset regime. It begins with a pilot phase in 2021 and a voluntary phase in 2024, and the details of the scheme are yet to be determined… even if it operates with the best anticipated efficiency, [it will] only cover 6% of projected CO2 emissions from all international aviation between 2015 and 2050.” The open advice also refers to the CCC’s Net-Zero Report (May 2019) which states: “It is essential that these internationally focused efforts are additional to putting in place robust and effective policies to achieve net-zero GHG emissions domestically in the UK and are not an alternative for doing so.”
On the requirements of local and national planning policies, the open advice reminds councillors that local policy SP12 only supports development at LBA subject to the proper mitigation of adverse environmental impacts, saying: “the Panel cannot simply assume that the existence of the UK carbon budgets and CORSIA will mitigate the GHG emissions or the warming impact of contrails…”
Finally, it reminds the Panel that paragraph 148 of the NPPF requires planning decisions to “shape places in ways that contribute to a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”.
in summary, the open advice states: “the legal obligations in regulations 3, 4 and 26 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2017, the statutory duty in section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the obligation in national policy to secure a radical reduction in GHG emissions mean that it would be unlawful for the Plans Panel to ignore the climate change impact of the proposal, or to assume that the impact can be accommodated.”
No date has been set for the Plans Panel to make a decision, though we believe it will be late November or December 2020.
Whatever happens, it is unlikely the story will end there. If GALBA wins, LBA can appeal; if LBA wins, GALBA will raise funds to seek a Judicial Review.
The transport NGO, ICCT (the International Council on Clean Transportation) in the US has updated a study of commercial aviation carbon emissions. Their data, looking at the years 2013, 2018 and 2019, shows that global passenger operations are becoming slightly more fuel-efficient, in terms of carbon intensity per passenger, this is not happening fast enough to offset air traffic growth. Commercial traffic has increased nearly four times faster than fuel efficiency improvement. Overall the CO2 emissions from all commercial flights (passenger and freight) rose by 29% between 2013 and 2019 (to 918 million metric tons in 2019). Passenger aircraft CO2 emissions rose 33% between 2013 and 2019. The ICCT looked at the emissions in premium (First and Business class) seating, and found it produced 19% of CO2 from commercial aviation in 2019. A passenger in premium class emitted 2.6 to 4.3 times more CO2 per kilometre than a passenger in economy class, depending on aircraft class. The CO2 per passenger is even higher in private jets. 85% of emissions derive from passenger transport, and 15% is from freight. The aviation of the US, the EU and China make up 55% of the global aviation CO2 emissions. . Tweet
CO2 emissions from commercial aviation: 2013, 2018, and 2019
This report updates a working paper released last year, and details a global, transparent, and geographically allocated carbon dioxide (CO2) inventory for three years of commercial aviation.
For the first time, we estimate absolute emissions and carbon intensity per passenger by both seating class and aircraft class.
While results show that global passenger operations are becoming more fuel-efficient, this is not happening fast enough to offset traffic growth. Commercial traffic has increased nearly four times faster than fuel efficiency improvement, and passenger aircraft CO2 emissions increased 33% between 2013 and 2019.
Additionally, the large share of emissions from premium seating suggests that carbon pricing for aviation could be improved and made more equitable by reflecting the emissions increase from passengers in first class and business class.
The authors provide the data describing passenger operations and CO2 emissions by country.
Some key findings:
CO2 emissions from all commercial operations in 2019 totaled 918 million metric tons, an increase of 29% since 2013. 85% of emissions derive from passenger transport.
On average, passenger aviation emitted 90 grams of CO2 per passenger-kilometer in 2019, a decrease of 2% from 2018 and of 12% from 2013. Thus, airlines remain on track to meet their goal to improve fuel efficiency by 2% per year for international flights.
The three largest passenger markets in 2019 were the United States (23% of CO2), the European Union (19%), and China (13%). Collectively, they accounted for more than half of CO2 from passenger operations.
19% of CO2 from commercial aviation in 2019 was linked to passenger movement in premium seating (first and business classes), higher than the share from air freight. A passenger in premium class emitted 2.6 to 4.3 times more CO2 per kilometer than a passenger in economy class, depending on aircraft class.