In open letter to Ministers, campaigners say moratorium on UK airport expansion needed, due to policy vacuum on future aviation CO2 cap

In an open letter to ministers, Grant Shapps and Robert Jenrick, a large number of airport groups say the government’s aviation strategy is needed, now that the sector is included in the UK’s binding climate targets. Currently there are expansion plans at 7 airports in England: Leeds Bradford, Luton, Bristol, Southampton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manston. Gatwick is also expected to submit plans soon, to make more use of its emergency runway.  The letter says the UK government must suspend all airport expansion plans until it sets out how they fit with its legally binding climate targets and the advice of its own experts, the Climate Change Committee.  The CCC said, in December 2020, that there should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity “unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions”.  Which it is unlikely to be, in the next 20 years.  The growth of the industry, that the expansions would permit, could not be accommodated with a stricter overall carbon cap. The campaigners say: “Until the government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets.”
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Campaigners say UK airport expansion plans must be suspended amid new climate goals

In letter to ministers, groups say aviation strategy needed after sector included in binding climate targets

There are expansions planned at seven airports in England: Leeds Bradford, Luton, Bristol, Southampton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manston. Gatwick is also expected to imminently submit plans.

By Matthew Taylor (The Guardian)
Mon 10 May 2021

The UK government must suspend all airport expansion plans until it sets out how they fit with its legally binding climate targets and the advice of its own experts, campaigners have warned.

In a letter to ministers, groups opposing planned expansions at eight airports around the country say the government’s recent decision to include aviation in its binding climate targets mean the expansion plans must be halted.

“Until the government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets,” states the letter to Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, and Robert Jenrick, the communities and local government secretary.

There are expansions planned at seven airports in England: Leeds Bradford, Luton, Bristol, Southampton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manston – all of which are at various stages in the process. Campaigners are also expecting Gatwick to imminently submit plans to increase capacity.

In December, the government’s own advisers on the climate change committee said there should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity “unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions”.

Ministers have the power to “call in” decisions made at a local level – a process that would allow the national and international climate ramifications of granting permission for the airport to be considered.

Campaigners say it is essential the proposals are halted until the government sets out a comprehensive aviation strategy – expected in the next couple of months.

“Existing policy does not take account of the government’s increased climate ambition for aviation,” the letter states. “Until the government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets.”

A government spokesperson said planning decisions should be made at a local level wherever possible, adding: “The power to call in is used very selectively and when requests to call in an application are made ministers will consider the case individually, in line with our published policy.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/10/campaigners-say-uk-airport-expansion-plans-must-be-suspended-amid-new-climate-goals


The letter:

From

Aviation Environment Federation (AEF),
40 Bermondsey Street London,
SE1 3UD
http://aef.org.uk info
@aef.org.uk
0203 859 9371

 

To

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
33 Horseferry Road London,
SW1P 4DR

and

The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street London,
SW1P 4DF

 

7 May 2021

 

Dear Secretaries of State,

REQUEST FOR A MORATORIUM ON AIRPORT EXPANSION (OPEN LETTER)

In December 2019 AEF and some of the community group signatories to this letter wrote to ask you to intervene to suspend the determination of all applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until noise and climate policies were in place, against which such applications could be judged. You responded by indicating that the Government’s policies supported additional airport expansion in the South East, and airports making best use of existing capacity.

Since then, however, there has been a strengthening of the Government’s ambition to address aviation’s climate change impacts, including the significant decision to include international aviation and shipping emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets and net zero legislation.

We are still awaiting publication of the Government’s net zero aviation policy. However, the Climate Change Committee has made clear that adequate airport capacity already exists to meet the future levels of demand it deems to be compatible with a balanced pathway to achieving net zero by 2050, and advises therefore that there should be no net increase in airport capacity unless the industry over-delivers emissions reductions. The inescapable logic is that any approved expansion at one airport will necessarily impact upon the existing capacity that can be permitted to be used at others around the country.

The pandemic has damaged the business capability of some airports and airlines, reducing their ability to invest, particularly in the innovation required to deliver net zero. However, it appears not to have affected airports’ appetite to pursue permission to expand. All of these expansion plans have the potential to increase greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore run contrary to the recommendations of the CCC.

We believe that there are compelling reasons for you to reconsider the introduction of a moratorium on airport expansion.

Existing policy does not take account of the Government’s increased climate ambition for aviation. Until the Government has consulted on its preferred strategy for net zero aviation, and published its policy, it is impossible to see how local authorities or the Government could justify any given airport expansion as conforming to binding carbon budgets and targets. Assessment needs to be made of the cumulative impacts of these expansions which we estimate, based on an extrapolation of DfT’s own forecasts, could add almost 9MtCO2 by 2050 if allowed to proceed.

While the planning process requires applicants to take such cumulative impacts into account, it is difficult for local authorities accurately to account for proposals that are at different stages of the planning approval process, and to assess the implications in any meaningful way.

Allowing some decisions to be determined locally at this time prejudges the outcome of the Government’s consultation on net zero aviation. We welcome the notice issued to Leeds City Council to postpone sending out a final decision letter while consideration is given to a call-in, and we hope that similar action will be taken in respect of Eastleigh Borough Council’s decision to approve the runway extension at Southampton Airport.

We welcome the Government’s readiness to challenge the aviation industry to accelerate its efforts to decarbonise through initiatives like the Jet Zero Council and inclusion in the Climate Change Act. But an uncoordinated and unplanned approach to airport expansion before appropriate policy is in place puts achievement of net zero in jeopardy. We suggest that until the Government has framed a net zero plan for the sector, including a national strategy for airport capacity which acknowledges and plans for the new carbon constraints, it would only be responsible to impose a blanket moratorium on all airport expansion planning.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation
Charles Lloyd, Aviation Communities Forum
Stephen Clarke, Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN)
John Adams, Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAEx) campaign
Hilary Burn, Chair, Parish Councils Airport Association (Bristol)
Sally Pavey, Chair, Communities Against Gatwick’s Noise and Emissions (CAGNE)
Peter Barclay, Chairman, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign
Paul Beckford, Coordinator, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN)
Paul McGuinness, Chair, No Third Runway Coalition
Chris Foren, Chair, Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport
Andrew Lambourne, Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise
Rachael Webb, People Against Airport Intrusive Noise (Luton)
Anne Marie Nixey, No Night Flights (Manston)
Jenny Dawes, campaigner against reopening Manston
Mark Bayliss, AXO Southampton
Brian Ross, Deputy Chair, Stop Stansted Expansion

 

Cc: Robert Courts MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport


See also:

Two campaign groups join call to suspend expansion of Gatwick Airport

Two campaign groups have joined the call for a suspension on the expansion of Gatwick Airport as well as other airports across the country.

https://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/environment/two-campaign-groups-join-call-to-suspend-expansion-of-gatwick-airport-3231379

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Environment lawyer, Tim Crosland of Plan B Earth fined £5k for contempt of court in Heathrow case

Environmental lawyer Tim Crosland (of Plan B Earth) was fined £5,000 for criminal contempt of court after deliberately making public the Supreme Court ruling related to Heathrow airport before the result was officially announced, in December 2020. The judges could have jailed him for two years. The Supreme Court had ruled that a planned 3rd runway at Heathrow would be legal, as the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was legal, and had dealt adequately with the issue of climate change. Tim and others had argued that the increased CO2 emissions it would cause are incompatible with the UK’s obligations to fight the climate crisis. The judges said there was “no such thing as a justifiable contempt of court” and the fine was needed to protect the integrity of the judiciary. In court on Monday, Tim said “The attorney general prosecutes me for highlighting the government’s dishonesty and climate hypocrisy in the year of [UN climate summit] Cop26. It’s the classic case of retribution against the whistleblower by those attempting to conceal their own guilt.” Acceptance that climate must be a key factor in government planning policies is important – not only for aviation, by other sectors such as road building and other large carbon infrastructure.

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Environment lawyer fined £5k for contempt in Heathrow case

Tim Crosland had claimed he had no choice but to protest against ‘deep immorality’ of backing third runway

 

By Environment editor  @dpcarrington  (The Guardian)

Environmental lawyer Tim Crosland has been fined £5,000 for criminal contempt of court after deliberately making public a supreme court ruling related to Heathrow airport before the result was officially announced. The judges could have jailed him for two years.

The supreme court had ruled that a planned third runway at Heathrow was legal. The runway is highly controversial, with opponents arguing that the increased carbon dioxide emissions it would cause are incompatible with the UK’s obligations to fight the climate crisis.

In Monday’s contempt hearing, Crosland argued his deliberate breach was a reasonable measure to prevent harm from climate change, but the judges said there was “no such thing as a justifiable contempt of court”. Before the hearing, Crosland had said: “If fighting for my children’s lives makes me a criminal, then so be it.”

Crosland, from campaign group Plan B, was one of the parties that brought the legal case against Heathrow’s owners and was therefore given the supreme court’s ruling early. But he made it public on Twitter the day before it was due to be released.

The supreme court ruling overturned an earlier judgment by the court of appeal that the government’s approval of the runway was illegal because ministers had failed to take into account the UK’s commitments under the 2015 Paris climate accord, which requires keeping the global temperature rise as close to 1.5C (a 2.7F rise) as possible.

In court on Monday, Crosland accused the government of a cover-up of the consequences of a third runway and said the former transport secretary Chris Grayling “knew Heathrow expansion was inconsistent with” the terms of the Paris agreement.

“The attorney general prosecutes me for highlighting the government’s dishonesty and climate hypocrisy in the year of [UN climate summit] Cop26,” he said. “It’s the classic case of retribution against the whistleblower by those attempting to conceal their own guilt.”

The contempt case was brought by the attorney general, Michael Ellis, and was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. “We are satisfied to the criminal standard that Mr Crosland has committed a criminal contempt of court,” said Lord Lloyd-Jones.

The judges said Crosland has remained unrepentant and that his gesture had been futile because the judgment was made available within 24 hours. They said the fine, which is unlimited in contempt cases, was needed to protect the integrity of the judiciary.

In April, six Extinction Rebellion protesters were cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters, despite the judge directing jurors that they had no defence in law.

The court of appeal’s Heathrow decision in February 2020 was seen as historic by environmental campaigners, as it was the first significant ruling in the world to be based on the Paris climate agreement. Related cases were subsequently brought against plans to build more roads and gas-fired power plants in the UK.

After the supreme court overturned the court of appeal’s decision on Heathrow, scores of scientists, lawyers and campaigners, including former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King and climate scientist Prof James Hansen wrote a letter of protest to the president of the supreme court.

“We urge you to consider the grave implications of this judgment,” they wrote. “The highest UK court has set a precedent that major national projects can proceed, even where they are inconsistent with maintaining the temperature limit on which our collective survival depends. It substantially reduces humanity’s prospects of maintaining that limit and hence, averting disaster.”

The Climate Change Committee, the government’s official advisers, said in December there should be no airport expansion unless emissions from flights could be reduced to compensate. The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected aviation and some observers have suggested demand for flights will not return to a level that requires a third runway at Heathrow.

PA Media contributed to this report.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/10/environment-lawyer-guilty-of-contempt-heathrow-tim-crosland

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See earlier:

 

Tim Crosland (Plan B Earth) broke Supreme Court judgement embargo as “an act of civil disobedience” that will be treated as a “contempt of court”

The Appeal Court ruled in February that the ANPS was illegal, as it had not taken proper account of the Paris Agreement and the climate targets for the UK.  The case was partly on complicated legal points about to what extent Paris-related obligations were part of UK law.  The two parties taking the challenge to the Supreme Court are Friends of the Earth UK and Plan B Earth.  A day before the court date, Tim Crosland – representing Plan B Earth – decided (on being given a pre-copy of the judgement) in ‘an act of civil disobedience,’ to publicise the decision, though not the details of the judgement. This will be held as contempt of court. Several papers published news of this, but then withdrew comments, for fear of also being held in contempt of court. Tim Crosland believes that the Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling at the time in 2018) should have acted in line with trying to avoid a 1.5C rise in global temperature, not just a 2C rise, and this decision by the Supreme Court puts the well-being and lives of millions of people – especially young people – at risk, from climate related impacts. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/12/tim-crosland-plan-b-earth-broke-supreme-court-judgement-embargo-as-an-act-of-civil-disobedience-that-will-be-treated-as-a-contempt-of-court/

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Supreme Court rules that the Airports NPS is legal; climate issues of a Heathrow runway would have to be decided at the DCO stage

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Airports NPS is lawful. In February 2020 the Appeal Court had ruled that it was not, on climate grounds. The ANPS is the national policy framework which governs the construction of a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Any future application for development consent to build this runway will be considered against the policy framework in the ANPS. The ANPS does not grant development consent in its own right. The Supreme Court rejected the legal challenges by Friends of the Earth, and Plan B Earth, that the then Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, had not taken climate properly into account, nor the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. These are tricky points of law, and definition of the term “government policy” rather than the reality of climate policy.  Heathrow is now able to continue with plans to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) which is the planning stage of the runway scheme.The Supreme Court said at the DCO stage, Heathrow would have to show “that the development would be compatible with the up-to-date requirements under the Paris Agreement and the CCA 2008 measures as revised to take account of those requirements” and“The Court further holds that future applications [for the runway] will be assessed against the emissions targets and environmental policies in force at that later date rather than those set out in the ANPS.”

Click here to view full story…

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Amsterdam banning advertising for fossil fuel products (eg. flights) from the subway stations

Adverts for ‘fossil fuel products’, such as air travel and cars that run on fossil fuels, will no longer be seen in the subway stations in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is the first city in the world that wants to keep fossil fuel advertising out of the streets. Never before has a city taken the decision to ban advertising solely on the basis of climate change. The agreement about advertisements in the metro stations is the municipality’s first step towards making advertising in Amsterdam fossil-free. The Dutch campaign, Reclame Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Advertising), which strives for a nationwide ban in the Netherlands on advertising by the fossil fuel industry and advertising for polluting transport, congratulated Amsterdam and calls it an important step. Some other Dutch cities, The Hague, Utrecht and Nijmegen have said they were “open to a ban on fossil fuel advertising.”  Motions have also been filed in Canada, England (we have the Badvertising campaign), Sweden and Finland.  Fossil Free Advertising strives for a nationwide ‘tobacco-style law’ for the fossil fuel industry, to change public attitudes – as happened with smoking.
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First step: Amsterdam is banning advertising for fossil fuel products from the subway stations

3 MEI 2021

(Verbied Fossiele Reclame – Dutch website) 

First step to keep all fossil fuel advertising out of Amsterdam’s streets

As of today, advertisements for ‘fossil fuel products’, such as air travel and cars that run on fossil fuels, will no longer be seen in the subway stations in Amsterdam. Alderman Marieke van Doorninck (Sustainability) and Radjen van Wilsem, CEO of CS Digital Media, will sign an agreement at 12.45 hours at Amsterdam Central Station. Amsterdam is the first city in the world that wants to keep fossil fuel advertising out of the streets.

Never before has a city taken the decision to ban advertising solely on the basis of climate change. The agreement about advertisements in the metro stations is the municipality’s first step towards making advertising in Amsterdam fossil-free. The capital is still investigating how to ban advertising and marketing (festivals) of fossil fuel companies such as Shell and Exxon.

“The need to combat climate change should also be reflected in the street,” said Alderman Marieke van Doorninck in the 7:45 am news this morning on NPO Radio 1. “Also in advertising. That is why we want to ban fossil advertising in Amsterdam. The subway stations are now taking the 1st step. We also enter into discussions with other operators. But to arrange this properly, a national ban is needed. ”

Important step

Reclame Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Advertising), which strives for a nationwide ban in the Netherlands on advertising by the fossil fuel industry and advertising for polluting transport, congratulates Amsterdam and calls it an important step. Coordinator Femke Sleegers: “The decision to ban fossil fuel advertising from the subway stations comes at a crucial moment in the fight against climate change. We don’t have any time to lose towards the Paris climate goals. Advertisements that portray fossil fuels as normal and aggravate climate disruption have no place in a city or country that has complied to Paris.”

International movement

Amsterdam’s motion to ban fossil advertising had national and international spin off. In answers to written questions the city boards of The Hague, Utrecht and Nijmegen stated that they were open to a ban on fossil fuel advertising, although the latter two cities believe that such a ban must be regulated with a national ban. Motions have also been filed abroad in Canada, England, Sweden and Finland. The New York City government takes a different approach and tries to enforce a court ban on misleading advertising from Shell, BP, Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute.

Letter by 51 organisations

The wish to ban fossil fuel advertising was put forward in a motion that passed in the Amsterdam city council last December. The motion followed after Reclame Fossielvrij and 51 organizations from Amsterdam sent a letter that called on the city to ban advertising that doesn’t fit in with its sustainability policy. Previously public transport company GVB had decided to sharpen its advertising policy in order to keep greenwashing advertisements out of its buses, trams, metros and ferries, after a call for this by Extinction Rebellion Amsterdam.

Tobacco-style law for fossil fuel industry

Fossil Free Advertising strives for a nationwide ‘tobacco-style law’ for the fossil fuel industry. The advertising ban for the tobacco industry was an indispensable step in the fight against smoking. It changed social norms and removed temptation. The same approach is needed for the fossil fuel industry, argues the campaign group.

https://verbiedfossielereclame.nl/first-step-amsterdam-is-banning-advertising-for-fossil-fuel-products-from-the-subway-stations/

First step: Amsterdam is banning advertising for fossil fuel products from the subway stations

See earlier:

Green Party calls for end of adverts for “high carbon” goods & services – eg. SUVs and long-haul flights

At their party conference, members of the Green Party of England & Wales backed an ambitious climate motion to ban advertising for high carbon goods and services,  eg. SUVs and long haul flights. This brings it into official Party policy.  They want advertising rules to be brought into the 21st century.  “This will spark a long overdue conversation about the role of advertising in our lives” says Green Party peer Natalie Bennett.  There are already many restrictions on advertising on products which are socially and physically harmful, such as tobacco which was banned from being advertised and promoted in the UK since 2003. There is good evidence that this tobacco advert ban was effective, awareness about smoking rose, and levels of smoking fell. In August 2020, the ‘Badvertising’ campaign called for adverts for SUVs to be banned, noting that such vehicles make up more than 40% of new cars now sold in the UK, while fully electric vehicles count for less than 2%. We need to stop adverts for products that trash the planet, needlessly encouraging the sale of more of them. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/10/green-party-calls-for-end-of-advertising-for-high-carbon-goods-and-services/

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The Badvertising campaign:

Badvertising

Fossil fuel companies, car companies and airlines spend billions each year advertising their high carbon products – despite growing public concerns over air pollution and climate breakdown.

https://www.badverts.org/

Petition at  https://e-activist.com/page/66459/petition/1

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Airlines must reduce CO2 emissions – instead of using ineffective, unreliable offsets

Airlines are hoping they can look “green” and let customers believe the carbon created by their flights can be cancelled out, by the magic of carbon offsetting. But increasingly it is understood that carbon offsets, that just pay to try to avoid carbon being emitted elsewhere, do not work.  The carbon emitted by the flight is still in the atmosphere.  The aviation sector has been trying to use carbon offsets from the forestry sector, to claim their emissions are cancelled out, but new evidence shows just how unreliable these forest offsets are. The way they are calculated is very unclear and unreliable.  Instead of hoping to negate CO2 by offsets, the first priority for any organisation has to be that they address their own carbon footprint directly. So for airlines, that means reducing emissions from their operations and fossil fuel use, and for passengers to think carefully about their flying habits …. Avoided emissions credits are not going to get us to net zero in the long run.” Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the AEF said we shouldn’t kid ourselves that avoided emission credits from forestry somehow delivers carbon neutral flying. They don’t. It just risks creating the impression that airlines are taking real action on this issue, when they are not. It just stops people confronting difficult truths about the climate crisis.
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Airlines must reduce emissions instead of offsetting, say experts

Campaigners warn offset system is flawed and can produce credits with no climate benefit

By Patrick Greenfield  @pgreenfielduk  (The Guardian)
Wed 5 May 2021

Airlines should focus on reducing emissions from flights instead of using carbon offsets for climate commitments, experts and environmental campaigners have warned.

British Airways and easyJet are among several leading carriers that use carbon offsets to back up claims of “carbon-neutral flying” and net zero pledges by buying credits on behalf of passengers or offering customers that opportunity to buy them when booking tickets.

On Tuesday,an investigation by the Guardian and Unearthed, Greenpeace’s  investigative arm into the forest protection carbon offsetting market used by airlines found it had a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is flawed and can produce credits with no climate benefit.

Environmental campaigners said the airline industry must focus on reducing emissions from aviation and the use of offsets distracts from rising emissions from flights. In response to the investigation, several leading airlines said the use of offsets was an intermediary measure while new technologies were developed.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Oxford Net Zero Initiative, said there had been progress on developing standards of what counts as a high quality climate target, including Race to Zero and Science Based Targets (SBTi), but cautioned the area was still a “wild west”.

“I think there can be a role for offsetting,” Smith said. “But I think the first priority for any organisation has to be that they address their own carbon footprint directly. So for airlines, that means reducing emissions from their operations and fossil fuel use, and for passengers to think carefully about their flying habits.

“Avoided emissions credits are not going to get us to net zero in the long run.”

Under schemes like the SBTi, companies follow a step-by-step process to make a climate commitment that is in line with the goals of the Paris agreement, ensuring their operations help limit global warning well below 2 degrees.

Companies that follow the initiative must track and disclose their progress every year and are not allowed to use offsets to contribute to their goals. Carbon credits are only considered an option for organisations that want to make additional reductions.

In response to the findings of the investigation, airlines said they trusted the quality of Redd+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) credits they used for climate commitments, which were often sourced through a third party.

British Airways said it was committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and offsetting remained a key part of its near-term plan while alternatives to fossil fuels were developed. It added: “In the medium to longer term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon capture technology.”

EasyJet, which offsets fuel emissions on behalf of all customers for “carbon-neutral flying”, said it was an interim measure while zero-emission technology was developed and the airline was confident the projects it supported were in effect preventing forest loss. They are also applying a number of techniques in order to reduce current carbon emissions, such as single-engine taxi, using advanced weather information to optimise routing, and reducing the use of aircraft flaps on approach to landing. “Alongside this we’re already supporting the development of radical new technologies to achieve zero-emission flying in the future which we are committed to transitioning to as soon as they are available and viable.”

Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the UK NGO Aviation Environment Federation, said offsetting using avoided emission credits, such as those from forestry protection, cannot be the solution because emissions in the atmosphere still increase.

“Even if you did correctly manage to invest in a project and therefore avoid some carbon, that doesn’t solve the problem of the emissions from your flight,” Hewitt explained. “I think a lot of these projects probably do really good things. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this somehow delivers carbon neutral flying. That’s that’s just not the case.

“Almost all other sectors are now getting on to the path of cutting emissions and aviation has a real problem. One of the dangers with offsetting is that it risks creating the impression that airlines are taking real action on this issue.”

Leo Murray, an environmental campaigner that co-founded Plane Stupid and now runs the NGO Possible, said carbon offsetting was an alternative to reducing emissions from air travel and was stopping people from confronting difficult truths about the climate crisis.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/05/reducing-emissions-should-be-airlines-first-priority-not-buying-carbon-offsets


 

See earlier:

Study shows carbon offsets, by forest protection, used by major airlines are based on flawed system

An investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace’s Unearthed has found that the forest protection carbon offsetting market used by major airlines for claims of carbon-neutral flying faces a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is not fit for purpose.  Air passengers can buy offsets that, allegedly, help prevent the emission of a quantity of carbon, so they can claim their flight was “carbon neutral”.  The theory is that money is needed for projects to keep intact areas of forest healthy, and prevent deforestation. That depends on knowing how much forest there was, how much would have been destroyed unless the offset money had been paid, and how much has been saved in good condition. In practice, that is not easy to calculate. The study found there is often considerable over-counting, with schemes saying there would have been far higher rates of deforestation than were likely. And some of the areas that remained forested did so for other reasons – like government policy – not the offset money. If forestry offsets are to be used, it is vital that the methodologies they use to calculate the reduction in emissions – and additionality – are rigorous and accurate.

Click here to view full story…

 

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Unconvincing airline hype about large future use of so called “sustainable aviation fuels”

Airlines are falling over each other, to say how much “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” (SAF) they plan to use in future, and how this will greatly increase their carbon emissions. Ryanair says it will use 12.5% SAF by 2030; IAG says it will use 10% by 2030; easyJet says they will use SAF in the short term, but “we must avoid all resources being drawn into SAFs, which don’t fully solve the problem.”  According to the European Commission, SAF currently accounts for just 0.05% of jet fuel use in the EU, and without further regulation, the share is expected to reach just 2.8% by 2050. There is disagreement between low cost, short haul airlines and those flying longer routes, about whether SAF fuel quotas should apply to all flights, not only short haul. Long-haul air services departing European airports accounted for 48% of CO2 emissions from all operations in 2019, while making up just 6% of flights, according to Eurocontrol data.  It is unclear what all this SAF is going to be made from. One of the very few fuels thought to genuinely be low carbon, up to now, has been used cooking oil. But it has been revealed that there is considerable fraud, with virgin palm oil (causing deforestation) being passed off as used.
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Ryanair to power 12.5 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuels by 2030

30 Apr 2021

by Mark Caswell (Business Traveller)

Ryanair has launched a new sustainable aviation research centre in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, along with a goal to power 12.5 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) by 2030.

The initiative will see Ryanair donate €1.5 million which will be used “to seed a multi-disciplinary research team to engage in best-in-class research around Sustainable Aviation Fuels, Zero Carbon Aircraft Propulsion Systems and Noise Mapping”.

Ryanair said that the research, which will start this summer, “will inform the policies of both EU and international governments on making aviation environmentally and economically sustainable, as well as harness future investments by the aviation industry towards sustainability”.

The group said that the project, along with investment in its new Boeing B737 Max 200 “Gamechanger” aircraft (of which the carrier has 210 order), will help it significantly reduce its CO2 and noise footprint over the next decade.

The initiative will accelerate research in three core areas of sustainable aviation fuels, zero carbon aircraft propulsion systems, and noise mapping for low-noise aircraft fleets.

Ryanair recently joined the Fuelling Flight Initiative, which is intended to provide recommendations on the sustainability aspects of the EU’s policy design to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

Earlier this month British Airways’ parent company IAG announced a commitment to operate 10 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030.

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2021/04/30/ryanair-to-power-12-5-per-cent-of-flights-with-sustainable-aviation-fuels-by-2030/

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IAG to operate 10 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030

23 Apr 2021

by Mark Caswell (Business Traveller)

International Airlines Group has announced a commitment to operate 10 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030.

The owner of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling says it will purchase one million tonnes of sustainable jet fuel per year, enabling it to cut its annual emissions by two million tonnes by 2030.

The group says that this equates to removing one million cars from Europe’s roads each year.

In addition IAG says it will extend its 2050 net zero commitment to its supply chain, stating that it will work with suppliers “to enable them to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG”.

The group plans to invest US$400 million in the development of sustainable aviation fuel in the next 20 years, partnering with SAF developers Lanzajet and Velocys.

Commenting on the news Luis Gallego, IAG’s chief executive, said:

“For more than a decade, IAG has led the airline industry’s actions to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s clearly challenging to transition to a low carbon business model but, despite the current pandemic, we remain resolute in our climate commitments.

“Government support is critical to meet this target by attracting investment to construct sustainable aviation fuel plants that will deliver enough supply for the airline industry, creating highly valued green jobs and economic growth at global scale”.

Velocys also provided Business Traveller with the following comment:

“Velocys welcomes our project partner IAG’s commitment to power 10 per cent of its flights with SAF by 2030. Our planned Altalto waste-to-jet-fuel plant will be the UK’s first SAF facility and could be fuelling transatlantic flights in just five years’ time with no need to modify aircraft or engines at all.

“The fuel, based on technology supplied by Velocys, can offer negative-carbon-emissions fuels with the integration of carbon capture technologies.

“We are proud to be collaborating with an organisation who recognise the essential role SAF will play in significantly decarbonising the aviation sector by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

This week the results of a new study carried out on behalf CE Delft on behalf of Transport and Environment Europe’s showed that surging demand for used cooking oil for biofuels could fuel deforestation.

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2021/04/23/iag-to-operate-10-per-cent-of-flights-with-sustainable-aviation-fuel-by-2030/

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Doubts cast over some sources of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

22 Apr 2021 by Tom Otley (Business Traveller)

Doubts have been cast over the sources of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) just as airlines look to increase the amount used for their flights.

SAF is seen as an interim answer to the problem of carbon emissions from flying. It is a ‘drop-in’ fuel, meaning it can be used without adapting conventional jet engines, and although it is up to three times more expensive than kerosene, customers are being persuaded to pay more to encourage increased production and bring prices down.

Air France and KLM launch Sustainable Aviation Fuel option for corporate customers

Governments are also being lobbied to support the SAF industry.

There are doubts, however, including a new study which shows that despite the European Union promoting used cooking oil as a waste product which will reduce the lifetime emissions of the fuel used to power transport, over half of it comes from abroad. As demand could double by 2030, it leaves the EU increasingly reliant on imports, despite EU auditors raising concerns over inadequate systems to stop virgin oils like palm, which drive deforestation, being passed off as used.

NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), which commissioned the study, is calling on the EU to limit the amount of used cooking oil in transport and improve monitoring to avoid fuelling deforestation.

The NGO says that China supplies over a third (34 per cent) of Europe’s used cooking oil imports while almost a fifth (19 per cent) comes from major palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia combined. Within a decade the volume Europe needs could double to 6 million tonnes as EU countries strive to meet targets for renewable fuels in transport, the study finds. This in turn could trigger palm oil being used to replace cooking oil in exporting countries while also incentivising fraud (mixing virgin oil).

Cristina Mestre, biofuels manager at T&E, said: “Europe’s thirst for used cooking oil to power its transport sector is outstripping the amount leftover from the continent’s deep fryers. This leaves us reliant on a waste product being shipped from the other side of the world. Countries that would use used cooking oil for animal feed and other products may end up exporting theirs while using cheap oil, like palm, at home. The EU needs to limit the use of used cooking oil to avoid doing more harm than good.”

It would be possible for Europe to increase local sources of genuine used cooking oil, says T&E, but at present there are the limits both of the capacity of local authorities to collect it and how much used cooking oil Europeans and EU industries can produce.

As used cooking oil is counted double towards national renewables targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, ironically it is often traded at a higher price than virgin oil. This increases the risk that virgin oils could be fraudulently mixed with imported used cooking oil.

The EU Court of Auditors has said that voluntary schemes cannot guarantee that all the UCO imported into Europe is actually ‘used’.

New fraud investigation casts doubt over used cooking oil origins

Cristina Mestre concluded: “The current EU system for biofuels does not provide certainty that used cooking oil is actually used. The EU should strengthen its verification and monitoring requirements along the supply chain and do regular checks to make sure it is really a waste product and therefore sustainable.”

The NGO says that palm oil production is one of the key drivers of deforestation in Southeast Asia and increasingly in South America. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive will be reviewed in June, including the rules that govern renewable fuels in transport.

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2021/04/22/doubts-cast-over-sources-of-sustainable-aviation-fuel-saf/


easyJet to fly hydrogen planes in the 2030s, SAF is the interim step

SAFs continue to be the key technology for long-haul aviation to reduce its impact on the environment

2 April 2021 (H2Bulletin)

Decarbonisation seems to have reset the technological developments in aviation, making the future more complex and challenging. The smaller aircraft industry has now increased its bets on hydrogen fuel cell technology and electrification, though long hauled aircraft will likely tilt towards sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), albeit at slow speed.

A significant advantage of using SAF is that aircraft engines do not need to be redesigned to use them, while SAF can also be blended with conventional fuels. According to the European Commission, SAF currently accounts for just 0.05% of jet fuel use in the EU, and without further regulation, the share is expected to reach just 2.8% by 2050.

Europe’s airlines are united to support the 2050 net-zero target; now, the question of whether to extend the green fuel blending obligation to long-haul flights is revealing some cracks in their unity. Airlines are already divided over the inclusion of long haul, whereas Eurocontrol estimates that just 6% of flights, those over 4000 km in length, create half of the aviation’s CO2 emissions.

In early March 2021, a group of organisations which included Ryanair and easyJet sent a letter to Vice-President of the European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean calling to cover long-haul emissions by the EU’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels mandate. The European Commission will soon release the ReFuelEU Aviation regulation to support green flights, but low-cost airlines worry that large polluters (long flights) will be exempt from the requirement.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said, “SAFs are only an interim step for shorthaul carriers. Our ultimate solution is zero-emission propulsion which is why it is crucial that there are aviation-specific incentives for zero-emissions technologies like electric and hydrogen and why we must avoid all resources being drawn into SAFs, which don’t fully solve the problem.”

At the end of 2019, easyJet signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for research into infrastructure requirements for electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen aircraft. In September 2020, Airbus unveiled three different hydrogen-powered concept planes; turbofan, turboprop and blended wing body. “We are optimistic that we will be regularly flying our customers on electric, hydrogen or hybrid planes by the mid to late-2030s,” easyJet told H2 bulletin.

https://www.h2bulletin.com/easyjet-is-to-fly-hydrogen-planes-in-the-2030s-saf-is-the-interim-step/

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See earlier:

Call for UK government support for sustainable aviation fuels

2 Jun 2020

by Tom Otley (Business Traveller)

The Sustainable Aviation coalition has today written to the UK Government’s Transport Secretary calling for UK aviation to be at the heart of the Government’s economic recovery strategy.

The coalition which is formed of UK airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air navigation service providers, says that capitalizing on the UK’s world leading position on sustainable aviation fuel technology will allow the country to rapidly bounce back from Covid-19.

Europe’s first municipal waste-to-jet fuel facility – Altalto Immingham – was granted planning permission in North East Lincolnshire recently.

The coalition wants the UK Government to work with industry to work on similar projects, as well as:

Develop aircraft and engine technology R&D capabilities, ensuring the UK is among the first in the world to develop hybrid and electric aircraft;
Accelerate UK airspace modernisation, to make use of new aircraft performance capability and reduce emissions and noise; and
Progress robust carbon offset measures and carbon removal technologies.

The commitment would, according to the coalition, require an investment of £500 million as part of the UK Government’s recovery plan. Adam Morton, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said:

“In February this year, UK aviation committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and laid out a plan to achieve this through investing in cleaner aircraft and engine technology, smarter flight operations, sustainable aviation fuels and high-quality carbon offsets and removals.

“Three months on, these actions all remain essential to delivering sector wide decarbonisation, particularly given the role UK aviation can play as an engine for rebuilding the economy. But to capitalise on these opportunities we need urgent action from Government, particularly to support the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel technology in the UK.”

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2020/06/02/call-for-uk-government-support-for-the-sustainable-aviation-fuels-sector/

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Study shows carbon offsets, by forest protection, used by major airlines are based on flawed system

An investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace’s Unearthed has found that the forest protection carbon offsetting market used by major airlines for claims of carbon-neutral flying faces a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is not fit for purpose.  Air passengers can buy offsets that, allegedly, help prevent the emission of a quantity of carbon, so they can claim their flight was “carbon neutral”.  The theory is that money is needed for projects to keep intact areas of forest healthy, and prevent deforestation. That depends on knowing how much forest there was, how much would have been destroyed unless the offset money had been paid, and how much has been saved in good condition. In practice, that is not easy to calculate. The study found there is often considerable over-counting, with schemes saying there would have been far higher rates of deforestation than were likely. And some of the areas that remained forested did so for other reasons – like government policy – not the offset money. If forestry offsets are to be used, it is vital that the methodologies they use to calculate the reduction in emissions – and additionality – are rigorous and accurate.

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Carbon offsets used by major airlines based on flawed system, warn experts

Guardian investigation finds carbon credits generated by forest protection schemes are based on flawed system

By @pgreenfielduk

Tue 4 May 2021

Also by Greenpeace’s Unearthed
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2021/05/04/carbon-offsetting-british-airways-easyjet-verra/

The forest protection carbon offsetting market used by major airlines for claims of carbon-neutral flying faces a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is not fit for purpose, an investigation has found.

Money from carbon offsets can provide vital financial support for projects seeking to protect and restore some of the most beautiful threatened ecosystems around the world. Given that nature-based solutions can make a significant contribution to the climate mitigation needed to stabilise global heating, a functioning finance channel will be important for climate change progress, and particularly for developing countries.

But a joint investigation into the offsetting schemes used by some of the world’s largest airlines carried out by the Guardian and Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm, found that although many forest projects were doing valuable conservation work, the credits that they generated by preventing environmental destruction appear to be based on a flawed and much-criticised system, even though these credits were being used to back up claims of “carbon-neutral flying” and net-zero commitments.

We looked at 10 forest protection schemes that airlines were using before the pandemic which had been accredited by Verra, a US nonprofit which administers the world’s leading carbon credit standard, VCS (Verified Carbon Standard). Projects estimate the emissions they have prevented by predicting how much deforestation and land clearing would have occurred without them. The reductions are then sold on as credits. We found their predictions were often inconsistent with previous levels of deforestation in the area and in some cases, the threat to the trees may have been overstated.

Beyond that, there are concerns about the inherent problem of looking into the future and predicting which trees would and would not have been felled, and of proving additionality – that the project itself made a difference to the outcome – which have dogged the offset system from its outset. Although there has been work to address this fundamental issue, we found that concerns remained.

The findings have been fiercely criticised by Verra, who maintain the methods they endorse have contributed to the fight against climate change and deforestation, and transformed local economies for the better.

Thales West, a scientist and former project auditor, led a study on schemes in the Brazilian Amazon that found that projects had routinely overstated their emissions reductions. He said that the methodologies “are not robust enough” which means “there is room for projects to generate credits that have no impact on the climate whatsoever”.

Arild Angelsen, a professor of economics at Norwegian University of Life Sciences and a specialist in Redd+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), said that although Verra methodologies for claiming credits were a serious attempt to measure emission reductions from reducing deforestation, they were not currently robust enough.

Britaldo Soares-Filho, a deforestation modelling expert and professor at the institute of geosciences at the Federal University of Minas Gerais told the Guardian that under the current system, calculating genuine emission reductions relied on being able to accurately predict the future. “Models are not crystal balls. Models are a sign to help devise policy and evaluate policy choices.”

Land use software that he designed, Dinamica EGO, is frequently used by projects to predict where deforestation would have taken place. Soares-Filho said, in his experience, projects have a tendency to inflate threats to the forest and current modelling approaches result in “phantom carbon credits”.

Alexandra Morel, an ecosystem scientist at the University of Dundee who was involved in setting up one of the 10 projects in question, believes it was difficult to judge if the emission reductions claimed by projects were real.

“It’s impossible to prove a counterfactual,” she said. “Rather than just valuing what forests are actually there, which are actively providing a carbon sink or store right now, we have to surmise which forests would still be here versus which ones are the bonus forests that were spared from the theoretical axe.”

Margaret Kim, the CEO of Gold Standard, another organisation that certifies carbon offsets, told the Guardian and Unearthed that her organisation did not certify Redd+ projects because she believed the way it was set up did not work. “A project can actually cherrypick proxy areas. So a reference region can be set up to be most convenient to a project to maximise its baseline deforestation rate.”

Verra, which certifies the projects studied by this investigation, pointed out that many of the benefits provided by these projects were difficult to measure. “Verra channels finance, technology, and knowhow to forest-dependent rural communities who otherwise lack resources. These projects tackle deforestation in increasingly novel and creative ways.”

All over the world, agricultural land, like the palm oil plantations , is eating into original forest.
 

They create jobs by creating wardens to look out for illegal logging; they support local farmers wanting to move to more sustainable practices; they improve access to water and education. “In a nutshell, projects are working to transform local economies so that they no longer have to depend on cutting down the forest.” Some of the projects pointed out that they were dealing with aggressive cattle ranchers and loggers, corrupt government officials, coca plantations and local drug cartels, and extreme poverty, as well as climate change.

But Verra also believes strongly in its Redd+ programme, and argued that the analysis by our investigation was “profoundly flawed”. It pointed out that since our initial contact with it, it had begun the process of amending its standard with a comprehensive set of updates that it believes represents “our commitment to making sure the accounting for emission reductions from forest preservation efforts is as accurate as possible, consistently incorporates the latest scientific best practice, and supports government-led efforts to stop deforestation”.

Crystal Davis, the director of Global Forest Watch at the World Resources Institute, strongly defended the usefulness of conservation finance mechanisms and pointed out that “tropical forests cannot afford to lose Redd+ as a mechanism for conservation financing at scale”.

She did not think the analysis by McKenzie Intelligence Services (MIS), a London-based company that specialises in geospatial imagery analysis and intelligence, showed projects were inflating their projections, but agreed “that post-facto assessment of the integrity of baselines is really hard to do.

“That’s a big problem. I don’t think Redd+ will ever realise its full potential as a conservation financing mechanism if we can’t create more public-facing transparency and accountability in the system.” She added that she was encouraged to see major efforts under way to achieve this.

It’s well over a decade since the world’s governments came up with a plan to slow and even stop deforestation as part of international action on the climate crisis. The plan was simple: developing countries would, basically, be paid not to cut down trees. The idea, signed off in 2007, was called Redd+.

It was hoped that the emissions reductions would feed into a cap-and-trade system for the climate, a market-based method that had proved successful a couple of decades earlier at dealing with acid rain (and then the ozone layer) by setting limits on how much sulphur dioxide every company could emit. If you needed to emit more than your limit, you bought credits from a company that had managed to emit less. The benefits of emitting less and the cost of emitting more rapidly drove down emissions. The plan was to do the same thing for greenhouse gases on a global scale.

But 13 years later, intense disagreement over the global carbon market that would underpin Redd+ and other climate mitigation systems has meant it is the only part of the Paris agreement rulebook that governments are yet to agree. In the absence of a robust, internationally agreed system, small-scale unregulated forest protection projects have sprung up around the world, often known as “voluntary Redd+”.

There is no official certification system, but the most commonly used is Verra. Companies such as airlines, ice cream companies, banks – anyone who emits carbon and wants to offset their own emissions – give the NGOs money to carry on protecting the forest.

So far the market for carbon offsets has been small, at about $300m (£215m) in 2019. But during the last couple of years, a huge wave of corporate net zero strategies and carbon neutrality claims have changed the need for stringent carbon accounting for Redd+ credits. The former Bank of England governor Mark Carney is leading a taskforce to transform carbon offsetting into a multibillion-pound annual market. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced his intention to make London a global trading hub for voluntary offsets.

If these projects are to play the role outlined for them in the decarbonisation of the developed world, by providing offsets for major companies and helping to contribute to the net-zero journey, then it is vital that the methodologies they use in order to calculate the reduction in emissions are rigorous and accurate.

Currently, Verra has a number of requirements for projects that it will agree to certify and there are several methodologies that can be used. Generally, each Redd+ project must measure deforestation and land use changes in a reference region, a much larger area that is judged representative of the scheme that often includes the project. They must also document environmental threats from nearby areas, their conservation activities, the ecological makeup of the area, and the likely effect of the Redd+ project on the communities that live in and around it, in many cases by projecting historical trends into the future.

The number of carbon credits generated by a project depends on the difference between its prediction of deforestation and what actually happens. Verra says its methodologies are conservative by design to ensure counterfactual predictions are realistic. The claims are then checked by an approved third party auditor to see if they have followed the methodology correctly.

The Guardian and Unearthed looked at 10 projects, which supply credits to six major airlines, including British Airways and easyJet, to assess, as best we could with the help of experts and commissioned satellite analysis, exactly how realistic their predictions were. Although this is not a comprehensive analysis of voluntary Redd+ projects, these projects make up 10 of the 79 that Verra oversees, so an analysis will give some helpful insight into the functioning of the larger sector. We looked at the tools they had used for their predictions, and at the outcomes to date.

The investigation found an inconsistent use of predictive methods and tools. Two of the projects had used Dinamica EGO to estimate where deforestation would take place given threats to the environment. Soares-Filho cautioned against its use for Redd+ projects, and said the modelling approach of calculating forward-looking baselines resulted in “phantom credits” because the software was not designed to accurately predict the future.

Two had modelled deforestation and land use change using a tool that allows them to assume a massive rise in the rate of deforestation compared with the historical rate.

One project had used a simple single variable model, which predicted a large increase in deforestation in the absence of the project. Another two had built their own models – one claiming the entire rainforest would be gone without them, another claiming that about a quarter would go. Another adopted a baseline from the national government. One said it would prevent large amounts of deforestation with sustainable nut farming, another with a mixture of planned logging and forestry protection.

We looked at the previous deforestation rates in and around the projects, and compared them with the predicted rates. Here, we found that where we were able to compare, the projects had generally predicted deforestation rates that seemed inconsistent with previous rates.

One project forecast an annual rate that was triple that in the worst year before it started. One in a remote, inaccessible part of the jungle was basing its predictions on the rate of deforestation either side of a major road. Another was looking after an area which had been converted into a national park and where there had been no illegal deforestation for years. Despite this, it predicted a huge increase in deforestation if the project was not there.

One had very low rates of deforestation before the project started but forecast high annual rates without it, while another had adopted a generally conservative approach. It was impossible to assess the forecasts of five projects because of technical limitations and methodologies they had used.

Four schemes had made deforestation predictions about their project area and a surrounding reference region that we could easily examine. We asked MIS to assess tree cover loss in the reference areas of all four projects, excluding the project areas (for a number of reasons it was not appropriate or possible to examine all 10). If tree cover is lower in that area it could indicate that the original predictions were inaccurate and deforestation baselines were inflated.

However, as Verra, GFW and some of the projects pointed out to us, it could also indicate that the projects had been much more successful than originally expected, and that the work to reduce deforestation within the projects had spilled over into the surrounding area, reducing deforestation across the region.

The MIS analysis did, indeed, find that deforestation in the reference regions was far lower than predicted; in two projects the actual rate of deforestation, according to the MIS figures, was around a third of the predicted rate. In another it was half, while in a third it was just one-fifth. But the difficulty in assessing the meaning of this information highlights a fundamental problem with the accounting system.

We spoke with all the projects about their challenges and benefits of their work. “[We are dealing with] aggressive cattle ranchers and loggers, corrupt government officials, coca plantations and local drug cartels, extreme poverty, tropical storms, forest fires, perverse land use policies, and now climate change,” one project told us.

Several said they were protecting precious ecosystems with rare wildlife, and their activities helped support their survival. “We rely on the voluntary carbon market to pay forest communities for the environmental services they provide for the global community, which include protecting the forest, reducing carbon emissions,” another said. “We use the best science available, and comply with agreed and third-party verified protocols to produce carbon credits that vouch for the environmental services that are being delivered.”

The carbon credits were a vital source of finance for almost all the projects. One said they had filled the gap after western donor funding dried up. Another said the money from credits helped support communities that otherwise would not have an outside source of income. Some Redd+ projects were for-profit schemes and said criticisms of the system were ideological.

Unfortunately, no comprehensive scientific assessment has yet been published on how forest-based carbon offsetting projects affect deforestation. This year, researchers at the University of Cambridge are expected to publish a first-of-its-kind study assessing how well Redd+ projects stop and slow deforestation.

…. and the article continues

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/04/carbon-offsets-used-by-major-airlines-based-on-flawed-system-warn-experts

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See earlier:

European Commission under fire for including ‘carbon sinks’ (eg. forest) into EU climate goal of 55% cut on 1990 level by 2030

The EU has a current target of cutting carbon emissions by 40% on the 1990 level by 2030. But with the European Green Deal, it has been proposed that target should be increased to 55%. Some European countries do not want this – while climate experts say even greater carbon cuts are needed.  The European 55% target would include use of “carbon sinks” in the figures, so there is an assumed amount of carbon being absorbed by forests etc, meaning net carbon emissions would appear to be lower than they really are. This might be a difference of 2% or else perhaps 5%.  Some environmental campaign groups said this use of carbon sinks was “an accounting trick” and “Relying on forests to reach climate targets sends the wrong signal that it’s OK to keep polluting because the land will absorb it.” In Europe, forests are currently a net carbon sink because they take in more carbon dioxide than they emit.  But their capacity to absorb CO2 “has been shrinking” over the years, and if left unchecked, could further decline – due to cutting down trees and forest, and damage to them from fires, pests, more demand for biomass, and impacts of climate change. Mature forests have to be kept healthy, and just planting new saplings is not enough. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/09/european-commission-under-fire-for-including-carbon-sinks-eg-forest-into-eu-climate-goal-of-55-cut-on-1990-level-by-2030/

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REDD forest CO2 offsets used by Virgin shown to be ineffective – much of the forest has been cut down

Virgin Atlantic tries to make out that it is a “green” and responsible airline. It has given its passengers the chance to buy “carbon offsets” to pay for the carbon emitted because they flew. But it has emerged that the forest project, in Cambodia, that Virgin got its passengers to obtain carbon credits from is wholly inadequate. While the hope is that buying an “offset” means carbon is taken out of the atmosphere somewhere, the reality is that forest offsets do not work reliably. The scheme used by Virgin, they said in good faith, only seems to monitor forest project to ensure they meet the necessary criteria, every 5 years. The scheme Virgin used was checked in 2013, and seemingly the right boxes were ticked. Subsequently much of the forest was cleared by the Cambodian military. It no longer exists. So any carbon “offsets” bought by passengers are worthless. Carbon has NOT been taken out of the air – there is cleared land instead. This demonstrates that forest offsets should not be used. They would only work if forest is kept complete and healthy for decades. That cannot be guaranteed. Virgin has now admitted the scheme has not worked and has pulled out of it. Worryingly, this sort of cheap forest “offset” is exactly what ICAO hopes to use, in its CORSIA scheme, to give the impression that growing aviation CO2 is being mopped up elsewhere. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/01/redd-forest-co2-offsets-used-by-virgin-shown-to-be-ineffective-much-of-the-forest-has-been-cut-down/

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In 2019 the CO2 emissions of British Airways were almost as high (18.4 MtCO2) as ALL the vans on UK roads

British Airways flights emitted almost as much CO2 in 2019 as all the vans on UK roads, according to data obtained by non-profit group Transport & Environment (T&E). It emits just under a third of all of the cars in the UK.  It was the 2nd highest-emitting airline in Europe before Covid, with 18.4 million tonnes (Mt) CO2 released in 2019, just short of the 19.4 Mt CO2 equivalent emitted by the UK’s vans in 2018.  It ranks, by CO2 emissions, just behind Lufthansa, which emitted 19.1 MtCO2 in 2019, with Air France in third place at 14.4 MtCO2.  The overall climate impact of aviation CO2 is 2 to 3 times that of burning the same fuel at ground level – that is not included in the 18.4 MtCO2 figure. T&E and partners obtained the data using FoI requests to governments, which now haveto gather CO2 statistics from airlines as part of the UN’s international offsetting scheme for aviation, Corsia. The data has not been made public before. In the UK, about 15% of people take 70% of flights. Accordingly, a large part of the emissions by BA will be by people – those richer than average – who fly often. 
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British Airways Nearly as Polluting as All Vans on UK Roads Combined, Data Shows

By Jocelyn Timperley  (DeSmog)

March 31, 2021

British Airways flights emitted almost as much carbon dioxide in 2019 as all the vans on UK roads, according to newly released data obtained by non-profit group Transport & Environment (T&E).

The UK’s flag carrier was the second highest-emitting airline in Europe before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry, the figures show, with 18.4 million tonnes (Mt) CO2 released in 2019, just short of the 19.4 Mt CO2 equivalent emitted by the UK’s vans in 2018.

Europe’s top aviation polluter is German national airline Lufthansa, which emitted 19.1 MtCO2 in 2019, with Air France in third place at 14.4 MtCO2.

Matt Finch, UK policy manager at T&E, said the scale of BA’s emissions surprised him. “We knew it was going to be big, but we didn’t realise it was actually this big. It’s the equivalent of all of the vans in the UK, or just under a third of all of the cars in the UK. This is one company.”

This is the first time individual European airline CO2 emissions have been disclosed to the public. The figures only cover the CO2 emissions of aviation, however, and not other climate impacts such as those caused by contrails, which a recent study found could triple the climate impacts of aviation compared to CO2 alone.

T&E and partners obtained the data using Freedom of Information requests to governments, which are now required to gather CO2 statistics from airlines as part of the UN’s international offsetting scheme for aviation, Corsia.

“Every government replied, apart from Italy,” says Finch. “It’s the first time anyone has ever been able to get this data and make it public.”

Campaigners have long criticised Corsia as an inadequate policy to tackle aviation emissions, and an unpublished EU report obtained by T&E earlier this month concluded that Corsia is “unlikely to materially alter” the climate impact of air travel. But this new analysis shows Corsia’s data requirements are proving handy for increasing the transparency of airline emissions. Airlines will be required to report the data every year from now on.

Finch said the figures add weight to the push for the UK to include international aviation and shipping emissions in its domestic carbon budgets. A decision on whether the government will do this is expected “any day now”.

Other aviation policies are also needed, he added, such as robust sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandates, fuel taxes for aviation and investment into zero emissions planes. “All of these possible measures should receive more of a priority now,” he said.

Responding to the T&E analysis, a spokesperson from British Airways said the company is taking action to reduce its carbon impact, including by investing in more efficient aircraft and the development of sustainable aviation fuel.

“Our parent company IAG was the first airline group in the world to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and while there is no single solution to this challenge we’ve built a clear roadmap to get us there,” they said.

Frequent flyers taking ‘unfair share’ of flights
A separate analysis released today by climate charity Possible highlights how a small number of frequent flyers, generally in higher income brackets, are taking the majority of flights in many of the world’s highest-emitting countries.

The report brings together a range of different studies and assessments of who takes flights in 26 of the 30 countries with the largest aviation emissions.

In the US, just 12 percent of people take two thirds of flights, it finds, while in France 2 percent of people take half of all flights.

In China, 5 percent of households take 40 percent of flights, while in India a tiny 1 percent of households take 45 percent of flights.

The charity has previously highlighted how 15 percent of people in the UK take 70 percent of flights.

“This report shows the same pattern of inequality around the world – a small minority of frequent flyers take an unfair share of the flights,” said Alethea Warrington, a campaigner at Possible. “While the poorest communities are already suffering the impacts of a warming climate, the benefits of high-carbon lifestyles are enjoyed only by the few.”

In nearly all the countries examined, less than half of the population fly in a given year, Possible found, and in many countries this figure is much lower.

A study released last year found just 1 percent of the world’s population caused half of the carbon emissions from aviation globally in 2018. Just 2-4 percent of the global population flew at all in 2018, it estimated.

Souparna Lahiri, a climate campaigner at Global Forest Coalition in India, said there is a rising inequity in public and mass transport, led by air transport. “Amenities are improved for those who can afford to pay a lot, but not for the common mass who cannot afford air-conditioned travel or high speed transportation,” he said.

Possible is calling for a “progressive tax” on aviation such as a frequent flyer levy that would increase taxes on flights the more someone flies in a given year.

https://www.desmog.co.uk/2021/03/30/british-airways-nearly-polluting-all-vans-uk-roads-data-shows

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See earlier:

New airline CO2 data: Lufthansa, BA, Air France were Europe’s most polluting airlines pre-Covid

Official data, obtained by Transport & Environment, and Carbon Market Watch, shows 3 of the biggest recipients of airline bailouts – Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France – were the 3 biggest European airline carbon emitters before Covid grounded flights. Those 3 airlines got a third or airline bailout money.  It is the first time ever that the total emissions of European airlines have been disclosed, including flights entering and leaving the EU – not only within it. This has exposed airlines which previously emitted most of their CO2 by long-haul flights.  Currently only the carbon emitted on intra-EU flights is included in the ETS (Emissions Trading System for the EU). The non-EU flights made up 77% of the emissions by Lufthansa; 86% for British Airways; and 83% for Air France.  In 2019 Lufthansa emitted 19.11 MtCO2 (bailout about €6,840 million); BA emitted 18.38 MtCO2 (€2,553 million); Air France emitted 14.39 MtCO2 (€7000 + ? €300 bailout); Ryanair 12.28 MtCO2 (€670 million bailout); EasyJet 4.84 MtCO2 (€2,240 bailout).  And many more airlines … Ryanair remains the No 1 emitter on flights within Europe.  There is no data for Alitalia, as the government would not send data. The UN’s ineffective and deeply flawed CORSIA scheme is meant to be a disincentive to airlines increasing their carbon emissions, but it will not have any significant impact. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2021/03/new-airline-co2-data-lufthansa-ba-air-france-were-europes-most-polluting-airlines-pre-covid/

 

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Climate Change Committee professor says demand for flights will need to be cut, eg. by taxing frequent fliers more

Professor Piers Forster, a climate scientist and a member of the Climate Change Committee, who has taken a keen interest in the problem of aviation carbon emissions has said that the government is likely to have to bring in a tax on frequent fliers and a ban on airport expansion if it is to meet its new climate targets – a 78% cut of carbon emissions on the 1990 levels – for 2035. This new, stricter, target will “squeeze” the amount of emissions the rest of the economy can emit over the coming decades. Prof Forster said: “By including [international shipping and aviation] within the target it actually reduces the allowable emissions that are there for the rest of the economy. So all the rest of the economy gets squeezed quite significantly.”  It will be decades ahead, if ever, that flying could be low carbon. In the interim, Professor Forster said the government will need to bring in measures to reduce the amount of flights taken in and out of the UK. Frequent flyers should be deterred, while in the short term, there may be enough carbon budget for the occasional leisure flight.
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Frequent flier tax will be needed to hit climate targets, warns leading scientist

Boris Johnson promised to cut UK emissions by 78% by 2035, the most ambitious carbon reduction target of any country in the world

By Madeleine Cuff, Environment Reporter (the i)
April 26, 2021

The government is likely to have to bring in a tax on frequent fliers and a ban on airport expansion if it is to meet its tough new climate targets for 2035, according to a leading climate scientist.

Last week the Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to cut UK emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, the most ambitious carbon reduction target of any country in the world.

For the first time, the UK’s share of international shipping and aviation emissions will be included in the domestic goal, the government also confirmed.

This change will “squeeze” the amount of emissions the rest of the economy can emit over the coming decades, Professor Piers Forster, a climate scientist at Leeds University and member of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, told i.

“By including [shipping and aviation] within the target it actually reduces the allowable emissions that are there for the rest of the economy,” he explained. “So all the rest of the economy gets squeezed quite significantly.”

The government is pushing the aviation industry to develop green flying technologies, such as electric or hydrogen powered aircraft. But zero carbon commercial flight – particularly on long haul routes – is likely still decades away.

In the interim, Professor Forster said the government will need to bring in measures to reduce the amount of flights taken in and out of the UK.

This is likely to include measures such as a frequent flier tax, which would charge people for additional flights taken each year, he said. Studies have consistently shown that 70% of flights are made by the wealthiest 15% of the population. “If you are getting on aeroplanes ten times each year, perhaps that’s not the best use of precious carbon budget,” he said.

A ban on airport expansion is also likely to be necessary, he said, potentially scuppering plans to expand airports in London Heathrow, Leeds Bradford and Bristol airport.

But he stressed people taking one foreign holiday a year should not worry. “It certainly isn’t my intention, or the Committee on Climate Change’s, to completely destroy the industry,” he said. “We want to live in a world where people can go on aeroplanes.”

“I have tickets to go to Greece myself at the end of June.”

https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/uk-climate-change-frequent-flier-tax-cop26-targets-972634

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Government inclusion of aviation into carbon budgets heralds the beginning of the end for fossil-fuelled aviation

The UK is to become the first major economy to extend its legal ‘net zero’ emissions commitment to departing international flights, including international aviation and shipping in the Sixth Carbon Budget.  AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said: “This should mark the beginning of the end for fossil-fuelled aviation. After many years of slipping the net when it comes to climate change, and expecting special privileges, airlines will now need to start planning for a very different future.  Including international aviation in UK climate law gives a strong message from ministers that all sectors of the UK economy need to be on the same path towards net zero emissions. Now the Government will need to make sure that’s delivered.”  The Government is expected to consult next month on what measures it plans to introduce to put aviation onto a path of cutting CO2. Options it will need to consider include the setting of annual emissions targets for airlines; a review of policy on airport expansions; and new financial measures to limit flying demand such as an air miles tax. So far, the aviation industry has primarily focused on carbon offsetting as a way to attempt to negate carbon emissions – and aspirations for low carbon flight … many years into the future.

Click here to view full story…

UK to include international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets, and aim for overall UK 78% CO2 cut by 2050

In December 2020 the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its guidance for the UK government on its Sixth Carbon Budget, for the period 2033 – 37, and how to reach net-zero by 2050.  That included the recommendation on aviation that there should be no net airport expansion, and that international aviation and shipping (IAS) should be fully included in the carbon budgets.  Now the government has accepted many of their recommendations, including that the UK should cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. This is 15 years earlier than had been the original goal.  The CCC recommended  that IAS should be properly within carbon budgets; also that the target for aviation, instead of being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 per year by 2050, should be reduced to 23MtCO2 by 2050, following the BNZ (balanced net zero) pathway. There is no commitment yet by government to insist on that reduction.  It would mean a large amount of UK engineered greenhouse gas removals by 2050 having to be assigned to making the aviation sector net-zero.  People would have to pay for the carbon they emit being removed, rather than just “fly-tipped into the atmosphere”, which would make flying more expensive. Ways (taxation?) will be needed to make that fair.

Click here to view full story…

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Good Law project, Dale Vince and George Monbiot start legal proceedings to force Government to suspend & review ANPS

In just months, a Government policy – the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) – that pre-dates the Net Zero commitments in the Climate Change Act. could form the basis for a decision to expand Manston Airport in Kent.  Government has refused to say whether a decision on Heathrow expansion will be made under the ANPS but, with an application for a development consent order (DCO) on Manston imminent, the Good Law project hopes it can force its hand – on Manston and on Heathrow. The ANPS is inconsistent with government commitment to tackle the climate crisis. Though the Supreme Court, in December 2020, ruled that the ANPS was legal, it is necessary for the government to suspend and review it. Now the Good Law project, with Dale Vince and George Monbiot, have issued a pre-action protocol letter to the government legal department, asking for the ANPS to be suspended and reviewed. Not only would proper updating of the ANPS prevent expansion of Manston and Heathrow, it would do the same for others in the pipeline – Southampton, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Stansted and Gatwick. Now government has agreed to include international aviation in carbon budgets, and a 78% cut in UK CO2 emissions by 2035, there is even greater urgency for correct UK aviation policy.
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How to stop Heathrow

21.4.2021 (The Good Law Project)

In just months, a Government policy that pre-dates the Net Zero commitments in the Climate Change Act could form the basis for a decision to expand Manston Airport in Kent. Government has refused to say whether a decision on Heathrow expansion will be made under the old policy but, with an application for a development consent order on Manston Airport imminent, we think we can force its hand – on Manston and on Heathrow.

That policy – the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) – is inconsistent with Government’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis. And whilst you might not have heard of Manston Airport, we think the application for a development consent order on Manston gives a chance to force the Government’s hand on a third runway at Heathrow.

For months now, we have been urging Government to live up to its promises to tackle the climate crisis by suspending and reviewing the policy. But Government has dragged its feet, claiming that addressing the Airports National Policy isn’t urgent.

But that’s not good enough. The development of airport infrastructure is continuing, with Southampton Airport the latest example. And so Good Law Project, along with environmentalists Dale Vince and George Monbiot, have taken the first formal step in legal proceedings to force Government to suspend and review the Airports policy. Our Pre-Action Protocol letter can be found here.

Bringing this challenge now, when the Secretary of State is just months away from making a decision on Manston Airport, is the best chance we have of stopping the expansion of Heathrow once and for all. And the best chance to press pause on other environmentally destructive airport projects.

But there’s a further twist in the tale – in the last 48 hours, we have seen reports that the Government is set to make a statutory commitment to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035. The sixth Carbon Budget will incorporate – for the first time – the UK’s share of international aviation emissions in its calculations. While we have not seen the detail just yet, they appear to be positive commitments as we grapple with the defining crisis of our time. What the proposals also do is make the case for reviewing and suspending the ANPS irresistible – the Government can’t reasonably make these commitments without also reviewing and revising a policy that flies in the face of them. We are writing to the Government’s legal team to make sure that their response to our pre-action letter takes these new promises into account. We think there is only one acceptable course of action now.

Government talks a good game when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. But the time for empty promises is over. We are demanding action. If you’re in a position to donate to the legal challenge, you can do so here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/heathrowhellno/

https://goodlawproject.org/update/how-to-stop-heathrow/


See earlier:

 

Manston DCO officially quashed – fresh decision from Sec of State only way the freight airport could proceed

Manston airport becoming a freight airport is the first Development Consent Order (DCO) for an airport. The Planning Inspectorate (PI) advised the DfT that plans should be rejected in October 2019. The DfT then wanted more information about the plans, from the airport developers, RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP).  In July 2020, Sec of State Grant Shapps, for the DfT decided to ignore the PI’s advice, and allow the DCO. This was then legally challenged by local campaigner, Jenny Dawes, and the challenge was allowed to go ahead, in October 2020. By December the Grant Shapps had agreed that his decision approval letter did not contain enough detail about why approval was given against the advice of the PI – so the DCO was quashed. Now on 15th February a High Court judge has ruled that the DCO is quashed.  The Defendant (Secretary of State for Transport) and RSP will pay Jenny Dawes’ “reasonable costs” up to £70,000. Grant Shapps, will now need to issue a renewed decision on the DCO.  If there is another DCO similar to the original, the same arguments against it still stand, based on need, breach of procedural requirements, and the Net Zero carbon duty.  If he decides against another DCO, then RSP may bring another legal challenge, or give up.

Click here to view full story…

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Legal challenges against government – new one by the Good Law Project on aviation and Heathrow

Environmentalists are using the law to force the government to bring infrastructure plans into line with its climate change commitments. There are already legal challenges, on energy and roads. The challenge on road building is by the Transport Action Network, and the energy one is by the Good Law Project.  Now the Good Law Project have started new legal action against the government, to the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). They insist that the ANPS must now be aligned with the Climate Change Act (2008), which is now in force and which demands almost zero emissions by 2050. The ANPS was first written when some believed (wrongly) that airport capacity in south-east England was becoming over-loaded.  Good Law says the strategy should be reviewed due to the likely long-term reduction in business travel due to Covid.  In addition there can be no justification for expanding Heathrow, with the UK’s climate commitments. Boris has been a long term opponent of a Heathrow 3rd runway, so would perhaps welcome a simple – and wise in terms of carbon – way to prevent it, once and for all.  In another legal challenge, Plan B Earth intends to take the Heathrow case to the European Court of Human Rights. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/12/legal-challenges-against-government-new-one-by-the-good-law-project-on-aviation-and-heathrow/
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Supreme Court rules that the Airports NPS is legal; climate issues of a Heathrow runway would have to be decided at the DCO stage

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Airports NPS is lawful. In February 2020 the Appeal Court had ruled that it was not, on climate grounds. The ANPS is the national policy framework which governs the construction of a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Any future application for development consent to build this runway will be considered against the policy framework in the ANPS. The ANPS does not grant development consent in its own right. The Supreme Court rejected the legal challenges by Friends of the Earth, and Plan B Earth, that the then Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, had not taken climate properly into account, nor the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. These are tricky points of law, and definition of the term “government policy” rather than the reality of climate policy.  Heathrow is now able to continue with plans to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) which is the planning stage of the runway scheme.The Supreme Court said at the DCO stage, Heathrow would have to show “that the development would be compatible with the up-to-date requirements under the Paris Agreement and the CCA 2008 measures as revised to take account of those requirements” and “The Court further holds that future applications [for the runway] will be assessed against the emissions targets and environmental policies in force at that later date rather than those set out in the ANPS.” 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/12/supreme-court-rules-that-the-airports-nps-is-legal-climate-issues-of-a-heathrow-runway-would-have-to-be-decided-at-the-dco-stage/

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Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans are ‘dead’, say campaigners, as government tightens UK CO2 targets

Plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow have been struck a massive blow by the government’s new emission targets.  The government announced the new climate change target on April 20th, with an aim to cut carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 78% by 2035 when compared to 1990 levels. For the first time, the Sixth Carbon Budget, covering the period 2033 to 2037, will include international aviation emissions (and also shipping emissions). Previously these had just been “taken account of” in setting the budget. The total emissions cap for the 2033-37 period is set at 965 MtCO2, which is far lower than the cap for the 5th carbon budget.  With Heathrow view with Drax power station to be the UK’s largest source of CO2, emitting (in 2019) about 19 – 20 MtCO2 per year. That is around 52 – 55% of total UK aviation emissions (37Mt CO2 in 2019 link). A 3rd runway, adding another 7 MtCO2 or more per year, would mean that – in order to meet the new legally binding targets – most other UK airports would be required to close. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.”
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Heathrow’s third runway plans are ‘dead’, say campaigners, as government sets new emission targets

By Matt Strudwick, Content editor (Berkshire Live)

21 APR 2021

Local campaign groups have celebrated the change, with the new emission targets seemingly making the third runway project nearly impossible

which was under threat of demolition because of plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport on February 27, 2020 in London, England. Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the court of appeal because it is said that the government’s climate change commitments were not adequately taken into account. The UK government will not appeal the decision whilst they have set a target in law of net zero emissions by 2050

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been struck a massive blow by the government’s new emission targets.

The government announced the new climate change target on Tuesday (April 20), with an aim to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 when compared to 1990 levels.

However, for the first time, this Carbon Budget includes the UK’s share of aviation emissions, including international travel and shipping.

With Heathrow already being the single biggest source of carbon emissions in the UK, emitting around 60 per cent of total UK aviation emissions, a third runway would mean to meet the new legally binding targets most other UK airports would be required to close.

When pressed on the subject at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his views on the matter are “well known” and it was “a matter for the company concerned”.

Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.

“With aviation now having to live within carbon emissions limits, and the government’s position being that there can be no net expansion of UK aviation, the expansion of activity at one airport will need to be offset by the restriction of activity at another.

“So, supporters of Heathrow expansion will need to identify which regional airports in other parts of the UK they would like to see restricted – or closed – to allow for a greater concentration of the UK’s aviation at Heathrow, in the already economically advantaged south-east.

“But I don’t think it’s likely that anyone, other than Heathrow’s foreign-based shareholders, will be foolish enough to advocate for a relegation of economic opportunity in the regions, and an abandonment of the government’s levelling-up agenda.”

In 2015, the now Prime Minister said: “I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway.”

He previously faced criticism for missing a vote on the expansion in 2018, where MPs voted to back the plans, because he was out of the country on an official visit to Afghanistan.

The change in targeting comes ahead of the Prime Minister opening the US Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by President Joe Biden on Earth Day, April 22.

Geraldine Nicholson, from local campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “This is a bold step and is a good news day in our campaign to stop Heathrow’s third runway.

“Aviation emissions were not included in our national emissions targets for too long and now act as yet another death knell for Heathrow airport in their crestfallen quest for expansion.”

Heathrow has been contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.

https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/heathrows-third-runway-plans-dead-20436480

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Plans for Heathrow Airport expansion in doubt following opposition from the Prime Minister

21 April 2021

By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter (London News Online)

Plans for the expansion of Heathrow Airport are in doubt following widespread opposition from the Prime Minister and London mayoral candidates.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing yesterday, Boris Johnson said that his views on Heathrow expansion were “well known” and that the issue was “a matter for the company concerned”.

Mr Johnson has previously been vocal in his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, having said he would “lie down in front of bulldozers and stop construction” when he was Mayor of London.

But the Prime Minister said, “that doesn’t mean I am opposed to aviation” yesterday when asked whether the Government’s inclusion of aviation in emissions targets would prevent the expansion of the airport.

The comments come just days after all four leading candidates in the race to become Mayor of London signalled their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, adding further difficulty to the project.

Current mayor Sadiq Khan said that a third runway would be “disastrous” for the environment, while Shaun Bailey, Sian Berry and Luisa Porritt all said they would oppose the project.

Questions were raised over the future of Heathrow expansion this week following the Government’s declaration that aviation would be taken into account in legally binding targets to cut carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.

Paul McGuiness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Heathrow expansion is dead. It is simply not compatible with the UK Government’s commitment to do our part in protecting the climate.”

“With aviation now having to live within carbon emissions limits, and the Government’s position being that there can be no net expansion of UK aviation, the expansion of activity at one airport will need to be offset by the restriction of activity at another.”

He added: “I don’t think it’s likely that anyone, other than Heathrow’s foreign based shareholders, will be foolish enough to advocate for a relegation of economic opportunity in the regions, and an abandonment of the government’s levelling-up agenda.”

https://londonnewsonline.co.uk/plans-for-heathrow-airport-expansion-in-doubt-following-opposition-from-the-prime-minister/ 

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See earlier:

UK to include international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets, and aim for overall UK 78% CO2 cut by 2050

In December 2020 the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its guidance for the UK government on its Sixth Carbon Budget, for the period 2033 – 37, and how to reach net-zero by 2050.  That included the recommendation on aviation that there should be no net airport expansion, and that international aviation and shipping (IAS) should be fully included in the carbon budgets.  Now the government has accepted many of their recommendations, including that the UK should cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. This is 15 years earlier than had been the original goal.  The CCC recommended  that IAS should be properly within carbon budgets; also that the target for aviation, instead of being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 per year by 2050, should be reduced to 23MtCO2 by 2050, following the BNZ (balanced net zero) pathway. There is no commitment yet by government to insist on that reduction.  It would mean a large amount of UK engineered greenhouse gas removals by 2050 having to be assigned to making the aviation sector net-zero.  People would have to pay for the carbon they emit being removed, rather than just “fly-tipped into the atmosphere”, which would make flying more expensive. Ways (taxation?) will be needed to make that fair.

Click here to view full story…

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