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.
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Commission under fire for including ‘carbon sinks’ into EU climate goals

By Frédéric Simon | EURACTIV.com

18 Sep 2020

“The target is what counts, we use every method to get there,” said Frans Timmermans, EU Commission vice-president in charge of the Green Deal.

The European Commission on Thursday (17 September) defended its plan to bring carbon removals from agriculture, land use and forestry into the EU’s updated climate target for 2030, saying this was in line with UNFCCC standards.  [The proposal to increase the climate ambition from 40% to 55% by 2030 ]

“If you look at the logic and the methods applied by UNFCCC, they all include carbon sinks,” said Frans Timmermans, the Commission vice-president in charge of climate policy.

“This is exactly what we have done at the European Commission,” he told journalists at a press briefing. “So I think we’re on solid ground here”.

Timmermans was speaking after the EU executive officially unveiled its plan to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, up from 40% currently.

The updated 2030 target, announced the day before by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, aims to put the EU in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement and the bloc’s broader objective of becoming the first “climate neutral” continent in the world by 2050.

‘We can do it!’: EU chief announces 55% emissions reduction target for 2030

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans on Wednesday (16 September) to target a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as part of a broader European Green Deal programme aimed at reaching “climate neutrality” by mid-century.

‘Accounting trick’

But environmental campaign groups denounced the Commission’s plan to include carbon sinks in the target, saying this was “an accounting trick” to meet the 2030 goals.

“Relying on forests to reach climate targets sends the wrong signal that it’s OK to keep polluting because the land will absorb it,” said Sam van den Plas, policy director at Carbon Market Watch, an environmental NGO.

“The Commission is greenwashing its own climate target: including carbon dioxide removals in the calculations means emissions will actually go down by a lot less. We’re facing a climate emergency, and there isn’t time for games,” said Alex Mason from the WWF.

In Europe, forests are currently a net carbon sink because they take in more carbon dioxide than they emit. On a global level, oceans and forests are the two biggest carbon sinks.

But the capacity of European forests to absorb CO2 “has been shrinking” over the years, Timmermans warned, saying “the sink has to go back to its previous levels” if Europe wants to reach climate neutrality and preserve biodiversity at the same time.

If left unchecked, forest sinks could further decline to 225 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030, down from 300 million tons CO2 in 2010, the Commission says. According to the EU executive, the forests’ declining capacity to absorb carbon dioxide is driven by “further increases in harvesting” and negative impacts from natural hazards such as fires and pests caused by a changing climate and growing demand for biomass.

“We really have to take care of our forests. It’s not enough to say we’ll plant 3 billion trees, we need to make sure our forests stay healthy and this is going to be a momentous task,” Timmermans said.

Environmental groups applauded the Commission’s intention to restore healthy forests and ecosystems. But they pointed to inconsistencies with the EU’s existing climate goal for 2030, which according to them, does not take carbon removals into account.

“The current EU target of ‘at least 40%’ agreed in 2014 does not include sinks,” affirms Bert Metz, a climate scientist who co-chaired the mitigation working group of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1997 to 2008.

“Including sinks means that the new 55% target would effectively be less than 50% in the current target’s terms,” he wrote in an opinion piece for EURACTIV.

“We need to restore Europe’s forests and protect and restore our precious ecosystems, but that must be on top of greenhouse gas reductions, not instead,” he insisted, saying the 55% target  “must be a real, absolute reduction,” not a net target that takes carbon removals into account.

How the EU could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on climate

The European Commission’s commendable move to aim for emission reductions of “at least 55%” by 2030 risks being completely undermined if the target also takes into account “reductions and removals” from forest growth and tree planting schemes, warns Bert Metz.

53% without carbon removals

Timmermans strongly rejected the NGO’s accusation that the net target is an accounting trick.

“I really dispute the idea that this would in fact mean only 50% reduction,” he said. “I don’t understand the logic, carbon sinks play a role, it takes CO2 out of the atmosphere – isn’t that what we want to achieve?”

“I honestly believe there is no problem with that,” Timmermans added, saying all that matters is that the EU achieves its 2030 climate goal.

Officials who briefed the press afterwards told a different story however, and did recognise that the 55% target would be lower by 2% without carbon removals. This would translate into an emissions reduction target of 53%, not 55.

“The 53% is calculated without taking into account the removals, and the 55% is calculated with removals,” the official said. And using the EU’s current method to calculate carbon sinks “would shave away probably about half of those 2 percentage points,” he explained, suggesting the target would effectively be around 54% using today’s carbon accounting rules.

Green campaigners who analysed the Commission’s impact assessment on the 2030 target came to different conclusions, however. Depending on the scenarios, the effect of including carbon sinks “varies from just over 2% to nearly 5%, depending on whether you think the sink will be at the low end (225 million tonnes) or the high end (340 million tonnes),” said Alex Mason from the WWF.

“This makes clear that including sinks in the 2030 target makes a significant difference – it means other sectors such as buildings, transport and agriculture won’t have to cut emissions by as much.”

Mason also insisted that the EU’s current 2030 climate target does not take carbon removals into account, and accused the Commission of trying to cover up the change in carbon accounting rules.

“The Commission is trying to downplay the significance of this change – and appears even to have altered text on its website in order to imply that the 40% target has always been a net target,” Mason told EURACTIV.

“But it’s clear that the 55% target Ursula von der Leyen and Frans Timmermans have been trumpeting is not what it seems, and is even further from the 65% cut in emissions that science demands.”

Timmermans himself seemed to admit that carbon sinks were a new element in the EU’s climate target calculation, saying the Commission drew its figures on carbon removals from the most recent findings of the UNFCCC.

“You could wonder why we didn’t include it in the -40% target at the time, because carbon sink is an important element in all of this,” Timmermans said.

“The target is what counts, we use every method to get there.”

https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-environment/news/commission-under-fire-for-including-carbon-sinks-into-eu-climate-goals/

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Plan B Earth case for Supreme Court appeal by Heathrow, against Appeal Court ruling that ANPS was illegal, due to Paris Agreement

On 7th and 8th October, there will be a Supreme Court hearing of the appeal, by Heathrow airport, against the ruling by the Appeal Court in February 2020 that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was illegal. Heathrow cannot proceed with plans for a 3rd runway, without a legal ANPS.  The government itself decided not to challenge the Appeal Court decision – it is only Heathrow.  Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth are defending the case. The decision of the Appeal Court was due to the failure of the ANPS to properly take into account the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement (aiming to keep global climate warming to 1.5C) and thus its duty to keep carbon emissions from rising. Plan  B Earth has published its response, challenging the Heathrow claim that the Paris Agreement is “not” government policy.  It is a 29 page document, but the conclusion is copied here. It states that: “At the time of the designation of the ANPS in June 2018, the Secretary of State (SST) [Chris Grayling] knew, or ought to have known, that the Government had: a) rejected the 2˚C temperature limit as creating intolerable risks, in the UK and beyond  b) committed instead to the Paris Agreement and the Paris Temperature Limit, and that it had  c) committed to introducing a new net zero target in accordance with the Paris Agreement.  These matters were fundamental to Government policy relating to climate change and it was irrational for the SST to treat them as irrelevant.
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IN THE SUPREME COURT

ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL
[2020] EWCA Civ 214

UKSC 2020/0042

B E T W E E N:

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(1) HEATHROW AIRPORT LIMITED
Appellant

[Arora is no longer pursuing the appeal]

-and-

(1) FRIENDS OF THE EARTH LIMITED
(2) PLAN B. EARTH
Respondents

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CASE FOR PLAN B. EARTH

https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SC-Plan-B-case-final.pdf

J. CONCLUSION

106. At the time of the designation of the ANPS in June 2018, the SST knew, or ought to have known, that the Government had:

a) rejected the 2˚C temperature limit as creating intolerable risks, in the UK and beyond

b) committed instead to the Paris Agreement and the Paris Temperature Limit, and that it had

c) committed to introducing a new net zero target in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

107. In reality these matters were fundamental to Government policy relating to climate change and it was irrational for the SST to treat them as irrelevant.

108. While PA 2008 s.5(8) does not require the SST to follow Government policy relating to climate change it does require that the SST communicate transparently the relationship between the ANPS and that policy, so that any tension arising can be debated openly and democratically. The SST’s failure in this regard was a fundamental flaw in the process.

109. This Appeal is misconceived and should be dismissed.

 

See the full document at

https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SC-Plan-B-case-final.pdf

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See earlier:

 

Supreme Court to hear Heathrow appeal, against judgement on the Airports NPS by the Appeal Court, on 7th and 8th October

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear an appeal from Heathrow Airport and Arora Group  [it appears Arora has now dropped out – Sept 2020 – update ] on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th October 2020 on the plans to expand Heathrow Airport by adding a third runway.  The appeal was granted by the Supreme Court on 7th May, but the dates of the appeal were announced today. Granting of the appeal by the Supreme Court followed an earlier landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal at the end of February which stated that the government has not taken into account the Paris climate change agreement when drawing up its plans to expand Heathrow. Reacting to the news of the hearing dates, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These dates are sooner than some expected. Perhaps because the Supreme Court is as keen to clarify this important area of developing law, as our communities are anxious to see Heathrow expansion shelved, once and for all.  “The sooner this misguided project is put of its misery, the better. So we welcome these dates.” 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/05/supreme-court-to-hear-heathrow-appeal-against-judgement-on-the-airports-nps-by-the-appeal-court-on-7th-and-8th-october/

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See earlier:

Supreme Court grants Heathrow and Arora permission to appeal against the Appeal Court ruling on the ANPS

In February, the Appeal Court ruled that the government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was illegal, because it had not taken properly into account the UK’s responsibilities on carbon emissions, or commitments under the Paris Agreement.  For a Heathrow 3rd runway to go ahead, it has to be in line with the necessary policy document, the ANPS. That document is now invalid in law, and will remain so until it is amended to rectify its deficiencies. It is for the Secretary of State for Transport to do that, but the government declined to challenge the Appeal Court judgement. So Heathrow, and Arora Holdings (the two organisations hoping to get a 3rd runway built) asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Appeal Court decision. That has now been granted, by the Supreme Court.  The legal process is slow, and could take as much as a year. It will probably cost a lot of money, at a time when Heathrow is haemorrhaging money, with minimal income, due to Covid. Only a day earlier, CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye admitted there would not be a need for a 3rd runway for 10-15 years.  Heathrow wants this drag on and on and on …

Click here to view full story…

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Academic study suggests post-Covid re-think of size of airline sector, its costs and impacts

In a new paper, published in Science Direct, Professor Stefan Gossling looks at the future of the airline industry, especially after the set-back it has had from Covid. He says it is important to “think the unthinkable”, and not only what is possible for aviation, but what is desirable for society … most stakeholders in industry and policymakers would agree that it is desirable for aviation to become more resilient financially and more sustainable climatically … COVID-19 has forced many airlines to reduce their fleets, retire old aircraft, or stop serving long-haul destinations  … As a result, air transport capacity is diminished. Further reductions in capacity may be achieved by reducing subsidies … A scenario for a resilient aviation system should have a starting point in the question of how much air transport is needed …where risks are accounted for, and where their cost is part of the price paid for air travel. In a situation of reduced supply, there should be an opportunity for airlines to increase profitability … Many questions need to be asked, such as those addressing volume growth, the sector’s reliance on State aid, its unresolved environmental impacts, and hence the basic assumptions on which aviation operates.
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Scientific paper:   

Risks, resilience, and pathways to sustainable aviation: A COVID-19 perspective

From a long an interesting paper, with a lot of facts and arguments, the conclusion is copied below:

5. Thinking the unthinkable

As proposed by Banister and Hickman (2013), it is important to “think the unthinkable”, i.e. to consider longer-term transportation scenarios that embrace possibility, plausibility and desirability. It may be argued that air transport futures have been discussed mostly in terms of “possibility”, and less in terms of plausibility or desirability. “Possibilities” are framed economically, and by a limited number of actors, the proponents of volume growth. There is a notable absence of any discussion of alternative pathways. Yet, most stakeholders in industry and policymakers would agree that it is desirable for aviation to become more resilient financially and more sustainable climatically. It would seem that for this to happen, very radical changes are necessary in terms of measuring economic performance, the progress and potential of technology change, and the limits to sustainable transitions implied by a rapidly growing transport system (Gössling and Higham, 2020).

In conclusion, this discussion has revealed unsurmountable conflicts inherent in the proposition of continued volume growth and a reduction in risks and vulnerabilities. Hence, a reorientation is necessary that includes the possibility of a shrinking of the global air transport system to increase its desirability for society. It is also plausible. COVID-19 has forced many airlines to reduce their fleets, retire old aircraft, or stop serving long-haul destinations. Airlines have gone bankrupt (Flybee, South African Airways, Eurowings), or entered Voluntary Administration (Air Mauritius, Virgin Australia) (TTRWeekly, 2020). As a result, air transport capacity is diminished. Further reductions in capacity may be achieved by reducing subsidies. This should affect low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, an airline sometimes offering transport at a price below the cost of fuel, while counting among the European Union’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters (The Guardian, 2019).

A scenario for a resilient aviation system should have a starting point in the question of how much air transport is needed; here, the COVID-19 pandemic leaves much room for critical reflection. A desirable aviation system is also one where risks are accounted for, and where their cost is part of the price paid for air travel. In a situation of reduced supply, there should be an opportunity for airlines to increase profitability. COVID-19 thus offers an opportunity to rethink global air transport. Many questions, such as those addressing volume growth, the sector’s reliance on State aid, its unresolved environmental impacts, and hence the basic assumptions on which aviation operates, will be difficult to ask. However, risks and vulnerabilities have to be weighed against short-term benefits, if the sector’s future resilience is to improve. If there is one lesson to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis, it is the demonstration that nation states can take radical structural actions to deal with emergencies.

Author statement
The idea for this opinion piece was developed by the author, who also wrote the entire text.

By Professor Stefan Gossling https://www.stefangossling.de/

See the whole article at

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969699720305160?dgcid=author#bbib2

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Heathrow urged by 5 councils to end 3rd runway ‘fantasy’ – instead focus on cutting CO2 and noise

Councils have called on Heathrow to abandon once and for all its bid for a third runway and concentrate instead on working with the aviation industry to achieve zero carbon emissions and reduce noise impacts for overflown communities. Heathrow is due to challenge February’s Court of Appeal ruling against the expansion plan in October  (7th and 8th) at the Supreme Court. The 5 councils, (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor and Maidenhead) say there is no logic in the airport persisting with its runway fantasy. Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “COVID-19 has changed everything. This is a unique period when we are all rethinking traditional assumptions about how we work, travel and grow our economies. As local councils we want the industry to get back on its feet. But this won’t work without a fundamental rethink about the place of aviation in our society – and indeed where future capacity is most needed. Even Heathrow’s chief executive has admitted that a new runway would not be needed for years due to the pandemic. Yet still the airport and its shareholders press on with the process and the prize of a planning permission for a runway that will never be built.”
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Heathrow urged to end third runway ‘fantasy’

15 September 2020 (Richmond Council)

Councils have called on Heathrow to abandon once and for all its bid for a third runway and concentrate instead on working with the aviation industry to achieve zero carbon emissions and reduce noise impacts for overflown communities.

The airport is due to challenge February’s Court of Appeal ruling against the expansion plan in October at the Supreme Court.

The councils said today (Tuesday 15 September 2020) that there was no logic in the airport persisting with its runway fantasy.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“COVID-19 has changed everything. This is a unique period when we are all rethinking traditional assumptions about how we work, travel and grow our economies. As local councils we want the industry to get back on its feet. But this won’t work without a fundamental rethink about the place of aviation in our society – and indeed where future capacity is most needed.

Even Heathrow’s chief executive has admitted that a new runway would not be needed for years due to the pandemic. Yet still the airport and its shareholders press on with the process and the prize of a planning permission for a runway that will never be built.

The kind of growth that the third runway plan was predicated on was never sustainable. It is an insult to the people who have for years had their lives blighted by the threat of expansion to persist in keeping the threat alive.”

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, added:

“Give the challenges that the aviation industry faces today it beggars belief that one airport should think its own demand for extra capacity should still be on the table.

“At a time when the sector is benefiting from tax-payer funded support – and indeed seeking further help through cuts in airport passenger duty – the priority should be to rebuild the entire aviation economy and set it on a more sustainable footing.

“This should start with a legally binding commitment to achieving zero emissions. It should also mean a permanent end to night flights and the adoption of tougher measures to limit noise impacts. This should include rejecting the practice of ‘route concentration’ as a means of squeezing in more flights over densely populated areas. All this does is both increase noise and emissions.”

The Court of Appeal ruled in February 2020 that the Government had not taken into account the requirements of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change when drawing up its national policy statement (ANPS) giving support to Heathrow expansion. The Court said that the ANPS is legally ineffective unless and until it is reviewed by the Government. Ministers have said they will not be appealing the ruling.

A group of local councils – Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor and Maidenhead together with the Mayor of London and Greenpeace – had challenged the ANPS alongside environmental groups Plan B and Friends of the Earth.

https://www.richmond.gov.uk/heathrow_urged_to_end_third_runway_fantasy

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Richmond Council urges Heathrow to end third runway ‘Fantasy’

15.09.20  (Teddington Nub News)

Richmond Council has called on Heathrow to abandon its bid for a third runway.

The council said Heathrow should instead be focused on working with the aviation industry to reduce pollution and noise for local communities.

The airport is due to challenge February’s Court of Appeal ruling against the expansion plan in October at the Supreme Court.

The council said today that there was no logic in the airport persisting with its runway ‘fantasy’.

Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “Covid has changed everything. This is a unique period when we are all rethinking traditional assumptions about how we work,travel and grow our economies.

“As local councils we want the industry to get back on its feet. But this won’t work without a fundamental rethink about the place of aviation in our society – and indeed where future capacity is most needed.

“Even Heathrow’s chief executive has admitted that a new runway would not be needed for years due to the pandemic.

“Yet still the airport and its shareholders press on with the process and the prize of a planning permission for a runway that will never be built.

“The kind of growth that the third runway plan was predicated on was never sustainable. It is an insult to the people who have for years had their lives blighted by the threat of expansion to persist in keeping the threat alive.”

The Court of Appeal ruled in February that the Government had not taken into account the requirements of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change when giving support to Heathrow expansion.

A group of local councils – Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith and Fulham and Windsor and Maidenhead together with the Mayor of London and Greenpeace– had challenged the plans alongside environmental groups Plan B and Friends of the Earth.

https://teddington.nub.news/n/richmond-council-urges-heathrow-to-end-third-runway-39fantasy39

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Climate Assembly report: members aware future aviation CO2 has to be limited

The Climate Assembly was set up by the UK government in 2019. It consisted of 108 citizens, selected to be representative of the population and its views. They met over 6 weekends, with expert guidance and information, to discuss how the UK could get to net zero carbon by 2050. One of the many issues discussed was air travel. Overall there was wide support among the Assembly for limiting the growth of the sector, to some extent.  The anticipated growth of about 65% (from 2018 to 2050) was seen as too much. Many believed there would be advances in technology that would allow for increased numbers of passengers, but keeping to 30 MtCO2 aviation emissions by 2050 (the CCC’s scenario). There was support for increasing the price of flying for frequent fliers, and those who flew long distances.  Assembly members wanted to see the airline industry invest in greenhouse gas removals, and in lower carbon technologies (which would make flying more expensive). Members wanted more engagement with the UK population, to understand the necessary changes. They wanted more parity between the cost of rail and flying, where flying is now often hugely cheaper.  The committees behind the report have asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to respond before the end of the year.
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Climate change: Tax frequent fliers, get rid of SUVs, government told

10th September 2020

A frequent flyer tax, phasing out polluting SUVs and restricting cars in city centres are among climate change solutions suggested by members of the public.

A citizens’ assembly of 108 people from all walks of life published its report after weeks of debate.

They proposed curbing road building and using the pandemic to cut emissions.

MPs said the report offered a “unique insight”, but activists Extinction Rebellion said it didn’t go far enough.

The report says the government must show leadership on climate change and insists climate policies must be fair to all – especially the poorest in society.

Its radical conclusions may offer political cover to ministers who’re typically nervous of a public backlash against policies that affect lifestyles.

What is the citizens’ assembly?

The group, or citizens’ assembly, was set up by six government select committees – groups of MPs who look at what the government is doing and scrutinise policy.

Members of the assembly were chosen to represent a spectrum of views from all over the UK and committed 60 hours of their time to studying and debating climate change.

They met over six weekends and were asked how to come up with ideas to help the UK achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Their conclusions have been published in a report that is more than 550 pages.

What have they said?

The members said it was “imperative that there is strong and clear leadership from government” to tackle climate change.

One member, Sue, from Bath, said: “Even with the country still reeling from coronavirus, it’s clear the majority of us feel prioritising net zero policy is not only important, but achievable.”

Hamish, a software engineer from rural Aberdeenshire, told BBC News the government needed “to develop a long-term strategy to help us”.

A key theme of the report is education. Ibrahim, a GP from Surrey, said: “The media has to take a role – schools as well. We perhaps need to look at the curriculum.

“You can’t go to someone and say ‘you need to switch to the hydrogen boiler because it’s low CO2’ but they have no idea [about it]. You’re more likely to get a buy-in from people when they know about the issues.”

Members said the government should start phasing out the sale of polluting new vehicles such as SUVs, and clamp down on adverts for highly-polluting goods.

Another central message is the need for policies to be fair. Amanda, from Kent, said: “Electric cars have to be more affordable to everybody – not just people who earn enough money.”

They also supported higher taxes on frequent fliers, and investment in clean aviation technology.

Tracey, a mother from Northern Ireland, said: “I would be a frequent flier myself – so I would say there needs to be something there to stop us from taking so many flights – to reduce our emissions.”

On the subject of what we eat and how we use the land, the assembly urged a voluntary cut of 20-40% in eating red meat.

“The government can’t legislate against eating red meat,” Amanda told us, “but with education, advertising and labelling I think we can change their attitudes towards eating red meat – as we did with smoking.”

They also said:

  • Businesses should make products using less energy and materials
  • People should repair goods and share more, instead of owning all their appliances
  • The UK should get more power from offshore and onshore wind, and solar power
  • New housing developments must have good access to facilities through walking and cycling

Most members were not very keen on nuclear – or on burning wood in power stations – and most weren’t confident in carbon capture and storage.

They think the government should be harnessing the Covid crisis to limit support for high-carbon industries.

What’s the reaction been?

The MPs behind the assembly said the report “provides a unique insight into the thinking of an informed public to the trade-offs and changes required to help deliver on the objective that parliament has agreed”. They said: “Their work merits action.”

Crispin Truman, from the countryside charity CPRE, said it shows “public appetite to end the UK’s contribution to the climate emergency has far outstripped government action.”

And Tom Burke, from the climate change think tank, e3g, added: “This is a striking tribute to the common sense of the British public. There is a clear lesson for politicians and editors across the political spectrum about the role our citizens are capable of playing in shaping public policy.”

However, radical green group Extinction Rebellion (XR) condemned the proposals as too timid to meet internationally-agreed proposals limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C. They warned that the report could get buried in government bureaucracy.

What happens now?

The committees behind the report have asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to respond before the end of the year.

This may be challenging as, according to a recent report by the Institute for Government, Covid and Brexit have forced climate change down the government’s priority list – a claim the government denies.

A government spokesperson said it would study the report.

The organisers of the assembly have requested that only first names of members are used in the media.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54087176#

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Climate Assembly UK full report

10th September 2020

https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/read/#preface

 

It is a very long report, but below is the section on aviation.

From the report:

https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/read/how-we-travel-by-air.html#how-we-travel-by-air

How we travel by air

Air travel accounts for 22% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions overall. Emissions from flying have grown significantly in the last 30 years.10

Key recommendations

Assembly members identified 14 considerations that they would like government and Parliament to bear in mind when looking air travel and the path to net zero. A full list can be found in Chapter 4. Assembly members’ ten highest priority considerations were:

  • Speed up technological progress;
  • Influence the rest of the world;
  • Even out the costs of air travel compared to alternatives;
  • Frequent fliers and those that fly further should pay more;
  • Stay competitive and protect the economy;
  • Engage the population in making the necessary changes;
  • Take account of different travel needs (e.g. people with family far away);
  • Promote and incentivise UK holidays;
  • Scrap incentives to make people fly more (e.g. air miles, first class);
  • Ban polluting private jets and helicopters, moving to electric when possible.

What the future should look like

Assembly members would like to see a solution to air travel emissions that allows people to continue to fly. Assembly members felt that this would protect people’s freedom and happiness, as well as having benefits for business and the economy. Assembly members’ support for continued flying did, however, have limits. Assembly members resoundingly rejected a future in which air passenger numbers would rise by as much as 65% between 2018 and 2050, labelling it “counterproductive”. Instead, assembly members sought to find an acceptable balance between achieving the net zero target, impacts on lifestyles, reliance on new technologies, and investment in alternatives. Assembly members recommended a future in which:

  • Growth in air passenger numbers is limited to 25–50% between 2018 and 2050, depending on how quickly technology progresses. This is a lower rate of growth per year than was seen in recent times prior to Covid-19;
  • 30m tonnes of CO2 is still emitted by the aviation sector in 2050 and requires removing from the atmosphere;
  • There is investment in alternatives to air travel.

How change should happen

80% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that taxes that increase as people fly more often and as they fly further should be part of how the UK gets to get zero (see Figure 1). Assembly members saw these taxes as fairer than alternative policy options. They also suggested a number of points around their implementation for policy-makers to bear in mind. Assembly members would like to see the airline industry invest in greenhouse gas removals. 75% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that this should be part of how the UK gets to net zero. There was also significant support for financial incentives from government to encourage a wide range of organisations to invest. Assembly members tended to feel that ‘the polluter should pay’, although some suggested a need to monitor, scrutinise and perhaps enforce airline industry investment to ensure it actually takes place. Assembly members strongly supported the need to invest in the development and use of new technologies for air travel. 87% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that this should be part of how the UK gets to net zero. These technologies could include electric aircraft and synthetic fuels.

https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/read/#preface

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The full report as a pdf:

https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/read/final-report.pdf

The full report online:

https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/read/#preface   (list of contents at the bottom)

P 120 onwards in the pdf.

How we travel by air

  1. Assembly members identified 14 considerations that they would like government and Parliament to bear in mind when looking at air travel and the path to net zero. These included speeding up progress on technology, influencing the rest of the world, and evening out the cost of air travel versus alternative forms of transport by making the latter cheaper and better.
  2. Assembly members would like to see a solution to air travel emissions that allows people to continue to fly. Assembly members felt that this would protect people’s freedom and happiness, as well as having benefits for business and the economy. However their support for continued flying had limits. Assembly members resoundingly rejected a future in which air passenger numbers would rise by as much as 65% between 2018 and 2050, labelling it “counterproductive”. Instead, assembly members sought to find an acceptable balance between achieving the net zero target, impacts on lifestyles, reliance on new technologies, and investment in alternatives. Their preferences point to a future in which:
    • Air passenger numbers increase by 25–50% between 2018 and 2050, depending on how quickly technology progresses. This is a lower rate of growth per year than was seen in recent times1 prior to Covid-19;
    • 30m tonnes of CO2 is still emitted by the aviation sector in 2050 and requires removing from the atmosphere;
    • There is investment in alternatives to air travel.
  3. 80% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that taxes that increase as people fly more often and as they fly further should be part of how the UK gets to net zero. Assembly members saw these taxes as fairer than alternative policy options.
  4. Assembly members would like to see the airline industry invest in greenhouse gas removals. 75% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that this should be part of how the UK gets to net zero. There was also significant support for financial incentives from government to encourage a wide range of organisations to invest. Assembly members’ tended to feel that ‘the polluter should pay’, although some suggested a need to monitor, scrutinise and perhaps enforce airline industry investment to ensure it actually takes place.
  5. 87% of assembly members strongly agreed that we need to invest in the development and use of new technologies for air travel. These technologies could include electric aircraft and synthetic fuels.

 

How we travel by air

Air travel accounts for 22% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions overall.2 Emissions from flying have grown significantly in the last 30 years.3

Air travel’s contribution to UK emissions comes from both:

  • Domestic travel – travel within the borders of the UK; and
  • International travel – travel that starts in the UK but ends in another country. 96% of the UK’s air travel emissions are from international flights.4

Excluded from these figures are flights from other countries to the UK (for example, return flights from holidays), or travel that UK residents take within other countries or from one foreign country to another. Climate Assembly UK followed the same criteria when deciding what was, and was not, in scope for its discussions.

 

Air travel also includes both passenger or ‘personal’ transport, and freight. Personal transport is what people use to travel for pleasure, like going on holiday or visiting family and friends. It also covers travel for work. Freight is transport used to move goods. Climate Assembly UK considered personal transport only. It did not look at freight.5 This followed guidance from Parliament that, if there was not time to consider both, its committees most wanted to hear assembly members’ views on personal transport.

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and there are many pages about what the Assembly considered and elements of what it decided.

https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/read/how-we-travel-by-air.html#how-we-travel-by-air-how-we-travel-by-air

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New study indicates non-CO2 impacts of aviation are twice as large as the CO2 alone

A new study trying to elucidate the various non-CO2 impacts of aviation has been published. There is very complicated science about the positive radiative forcing (ie. extra impact on increasing global temperature) of the water vapour, NOx and other gases, and particles emitted from jet engines at altitude. This study concludes that the non-CO2 impacts of “aviation emissions are currently warming the climate at approximately three times the rate of that associated with aviation CO2 emissions alone.” They have looked in detail at the various effects and interactions. There are numerous non-CO2 impacts, some of which cause more radiation to be reflected back out to space, and some cause heat to be trapped, warming the earth. These effects include the contrails, ice cloud changes, sulphate and soot particles from jet engines, water vapour from jet engines, NOx emissions and production of ozone. The effects of contrails and extra cloud formation are perhaps easier to study, and more research is needed on the impacts of soot and sulphate particles.  The confirmation of the large contribution to warming, from the non-CO2 impacts of aviation is important.  The climate impact of aviation, including non-CO2 effects, has to be fully taken into account in how the sector fits into the UK’s climate targets, and reaching “net zero”.  Currently the DfT ignores non-CO2 impacts, though the CCC has recommended that they should be included.
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The contribution of global aviation to anthropogenic climate forcing for 2000 to 2018

Academic study, published through Science Direct

Dedication: This paper is dedicated to the memory of Professor Ivar S. A. Isaksen of the University of Oslo, whose scientific excellence, friendship, and mentorship is sorely missed.

Author links

Author links open overlay panelD.S.LeeaD.W.FaheybA.SkowronaM.R.AllencnU.BurkhardtdQ.CheneS.J.DohertyfS.FreemanaP.M.ForstergJ.FuglestvedthA.GettelmaniR.R.De LeónaL.L.LimaM.T.LundhR.J.MillarcoB.OwenaJ.E.PennerjG.PitarilM.J.PratherkR.SausendL.J.Wilcoxm

Received 9 February 2020, Revised 2 July 2020, Accepted 30 July 2020, Available online 3 September 2020.

Highlights

• Global aviation warms Earth’s surface through both CO2 and net non-CO2 contributions.

• Global aviation contributes a few percent to anthropogenic radiative forcing.

• Non-CO2 impacts comprise about 2/3 of the net radiative forcing.

• Comprehensive and quantitative calculations of aviation effects are presented.

• Data are made available to analyze past, present and future aviation climate forcing.

Abstract

Global aviation operations contribute to anthropogenic climate change via a complex set of processes that lead to a net surface warming.

Of importance are aviation emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), water vapor, soot and sulfate aerosols, and increased cloudiness due to contrail formation.

Aviation grew strongly over the past decades (1960–2018) in terms of activity, with revenue passenger kilometers increasing from 109 to 8269 billion km yr−1, and in terms of climate change impacts, with CO2 emissions increasing by a factor of 6.8–1034 Tg CO2 yr−1.

Over the period 2013–2018, the growth rates in both terms show a marked increase. Here, we present a new comprehensive and quantitative approach for evaluating aviation climate forcing terms.

Both radiative forcing (RF) and effective radiative forcing (ERF) terms and their sums are calculated for the years 2000–2018.

Contrail cirrus, consisting of linear contrails and the cirrus cloudiness arising from them, yields the largest positive net (warming) ERF term followed by CO2 and NOx emissions.

The formation and emission of sulfate aerosol yields a negative (cooling) term. The mean contrail cirrus ERF/RF ratio of 0.42 indicates that contrail cirrus is less effective in surface warming than other terms.

For 2018 the net aviation ERF is +100.9 mW (mW) m−2 (5–95% likelihood range of (55, 145)) with major contributions from contrail cirrus (57.4 mW m−2), CO2 (34.3 mW m−2), and NOx (17.5 mW m−2). Non-CO2 terms sum to yield a net positive (warming) ERF that accounts for more than half (66%) of the aviation net ERF in 2018.

Using normalization to aviation fuel use, the contribution of global aviation in 2011 was calculated to be 3.5 (4.0, 3.4) % of the net anthropogenic ERF of 2290 (1130, 3330) mW m−2. Uncertainty distributions (5%, 95%) show that non-CO2 forcing terms contribute about 8 times more than CO2 to the uncertainty in the aviation net ERF in 2018.

The best estimates of the ERFs from aviation aerosol-cloud interactions for soot and sulfate remain undetermined.

CO2-warming-equivalent emissions based on global warming potentials (GWP* method) indicate that aviation emissions are currently warming the climate at approximately three times the rate of that associated with aviation CO2 emissions alone.

CO2 and NOx aviation emissions and cloud effects remain a continued focus of anthropogenic climate change research and policy discussions.

Graphical abstract

Image 1

1. Introduction

Aviation is one of the most important global economic activities in the modern world. Aviation emissions of CO2 and non-CO2 aviation effects result in changes to the climate system (Fig. 1 above).

Both aviation CO2 and the sum of quantified non-CO2 contributions lead to surface warming. The largest contribution to anthropogenic climate change across all economic sectors comes from the increase in CO2 concentration, which is the primary cause of observed global warming in recent decades (IPCC, 2013, 2018).

Aviation contributions involve a range of atmospheric physical processes, including plume dynamics, chemical transformations, microphysics, radiation, and transport. Aggregating these processes to calculate changes in a greenhouse gas component or a cloud radiative effect is a complex challenge for contemporary atmospheric modeling systems.

Given the dependence of aviation on burning fossil fuel, its significant CO2 and non-CO2 effects, and the projected fleet growth, it is vital to understand the scale of aviation’s impact on present-day climate forcing.

Fig 1 is a schematic overview of the processes by which aviation emissions and increased cirrus cloudiness affect the climate system.

Net positive RF (warming) contributions arise from CO2, water vapor, NOx, and soot emissions, and from contrail cirrus (consisting of linear contrails and the cirrus cloudiness arising from them).

Negative RF (cooling) contributions arise from sulfate aerosol production. Net warming from NOx emissions is a sum over warming (short-term ozone increase) and cooling (decreases in methane and stratospheric water vapor, and a long-term decrease in ozone) terms.

Net warming from contrail cirrus is a sum over the day/night cycle. These contributions involve a large number of chemical, microphysical, transport and, radiative processes in the global atmosphere. The quantitative ERF values associated with these processes are shown in Fig. 3 for 2018.

Historically, estimating aviation non-CO2 effects has been particularly challenging. The primary (quantified) non-CO2 effects result from the emissions of NOx, along with water vapor and soot that can result in contrail formation.

Aviation aerosols are small particles composed of soot (black and organic carbon (BC/OC)) and sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) compounds.

The largest positive (warming) climate forcings adding to that of CO2 are those from contrail cirrus and from NOx-driven changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere (Lee et al., 2009 (L09)).

L09 estimated that in 2005, aviation CO2 radiative forcing (RF (Wm−2)) was 1.59% of total anthropogenic CO2 RF and that the sum of aviation CO2 and non-CO2 effects contributed about 5% of the overall net anthropogenic forcing.

Understanding of aviation’s impacts on the climate system has improved over the decade since the last comprehensive evaluation (L09), but remains incomplete.

Published studies of aviation contributions to climate change generally focus on one or a few ERF terms. For example, about 20 studies are cited here that quantify the contribution from global NOx emissions.

In contrast, only a few studies have addressed the net RF from global aviation (IPCC, 1999Sausen et al., 2005; L09). A more recent study updated some aviation terms without providing a net RF (Brasseur et al., 2016).

Here, a comprehensive analysis of individual aviation ERFs is undertaken in order to provide an overall ERF for global aviation, along with the associated uncertainties, which is an analysis unavailable elsewhere.

This step updates and improves the analysis of L09. Best estimates of individual aviation ERF terms are derived here for the first time and combined to provide a net ERF for global aviation. Quantifying the terms required new analyses of CO2 and NOx ERFs and recalibration of other individual ERFs accounting for factors not previously applied in a common framework.

…. and it continues. See the whole (64 pages) study at

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1352231020305689

… it is quite technical ….

 

 

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Draft Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill calls for international aviation to be fully included in the UK’s Net Zero target

The proposed Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE bill) which is to be tabled as a private member’s bill by Caroline Lucas MP on 2nd September, would see international aviation, shipping, and consumption included properly within the UK’s 2050 net zero target. These are necessary in closing the gaps in the UK’s Climate Change Act (CCA), where they have been excluded in the past. The CEE bill has support from the minority parties and Labour, as well as scientists, business figures and Extinction Rebellion. Currently when the UK claims its carbon emissions have fallen, the drop is largely from switching electricity generation from coal to gas, and the arrival of more renewables. Over recent decades, carbon emissions embodied in imports have grown, as have carbon emissions from international aviation and shipping. But those are not considered under the CCA. The CEE Bill proposes legislation to address the biodiversity crisis, by placing a stronger legal requirement for the government to protect and restore forests, soils, and ecosystems so then can provider a natural means of absorbing CO2. Despite Covid, bold government action is needed in the UK, now, especially before the postponed COP26 meeting in November 2021 in Glasgow.
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The draft Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill states:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17KHy7iCDhyWNiTsfiAGAe3VQd5BB1Jit8zqhC46rXxs/edit

2     Duty of the Secretary of State

(1) The Secretary of State must, within six months of the passing of this Act, prepare and publish a Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy (‘the strategy’) specifying the measures that will, in his or her opinion, achieve the objectives.

(2) For the purpose of achieving the objectives, the strategy must— 

(a) set out the steps the Secretary of State will take to achieve the objectives, primarily, by actively reducing emissions to the lowest feasible levels, according to the best scientific evidence, irrespective of negative emissions technologies and natural climate solutions;

(b) include and take account of all of the United Kingdom’s consumption- and production-related emissions, including, but not limited to— 

(i) those emissions relating to imports, exports and all those arising from aviation, shipping and land-based transport, and 

(ii) any other consumption- and production-related emissions, including those arising from the extraction of fossil fuel overseas by persons operating from the United Kingdom; 


MPs table fresh legislation to ‘close gaps’ in UK Climate Change Act

By Michael Holder  @MichaelHolder (Business Green)

2nd September 2020

 

Proposed Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill would see international aviation, shipping, and consumption fall within the UK’s 2050 net zero target, while putting climate assemblies on a formal standing

Legislation aimed at “closing the gaps” in the UK’s Climate Change Act by including the nation’s international aviation, shipping and supply chains in greenhouse gas reduction targets is set to be tabled in Parliament today, pulling in support from MPs across much of the political spectrum.

Spearheaded by Green Party MP Carline Lucas, the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is being tabled as a private member’s bill with the support of MPs from Labour, SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, and the SDLP, as well as scientists, business figures and Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners.

The Bill would require the inclusion of emissions from the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping in the country’s existing 2050 net zero greenhouse gas target, as well as emissions linked to UK supply chains and consumption, none of which currently fall under the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Based on the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century, the proposed legislation also aims to address the biodiversity crisis, by placing a stronger legal requirement for the government to protect and restore forests, soils, and ecosystems so as to deliver a natural means of absorbing CO2.

It also states that only natural carbon capture methods should be used to meet the UK’s net zero targets, effectively ruling out the use of negative emissions technologies and CCS as a means of meeting the targets.

Moreover, it would place ordinary voters at the heart of net zero decision-making, by setting up a citizen’s assembly to work directly with ministers to draw up a strategy for the fairest and most effective means of decarbonising the economy and lifestyles.

Such a move would mirror efforts by Parliamentary select committees, which earlier this year teamed up to establish Climate Assembly UK, a group of over 100 randomly-appointed members of the public who are shortly set to publish their final recommendations to government on how to deliver net zero emissions by 2050. Initial indications from the exercise suggest the British public would be highly receptive to lifestyle changes to combat the climate emergency.

Lucas, a former Green Party leader, said the UK’s existing Climate Change Act – which in 2008 established the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and imposed legally-binding decarbonisation targets on the government – “urgently needs updating in the face of an accelerating climate crisis”.

“We need far earlier, bolder and more comprehensive action to reduce emissions and to restore nature,” she said. “It is vital that we learn the lessons of the coronavirus pandemic, where we have paid a terrible price for poor preparation and a slow and inadequate response. We cannot say there were no warnings of the climate and nature crises – they have been there for years. It’s time we responded at the scale and speed the science demands by passing this Bill and acting on it.”

The Bill comes as major Extinction Rebellion demonstrations kicked off across the country in a bid to once again highlight the scale of the climate crisis facing the world, with protestors taking to the streets in Westminster, Cardiff and Manchester as part of a planned fortnight of action.

XR is reportedly backing the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, alongside a number of leading public figures including British actor Sir Mark Rylance, environmentalist Jonathan Porritt and US journalist Bill McKibben. Environmental business organisations Volans and Business Declares have also joined a host of legal experts in backing the draft Bill, which has been drawn up by academics and climate scientists.

“This Bill outlines the path needed to avoid the catastrophe outlined by the United Nations,” said Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, and former international executive director of Greenpeace International. “It is farsighted aiming to protect those at risk now and in the future.”

The Bill has secured backing from a number of opposition MPs, but like most Private Members Bills it is highly unlikely to pass without the government’s backing.

The government is also unlikely to back the Bill in its current form given parts of the proposed legislation remain controversial. While Ministers have in the past signalled they could consider international shipping and aviation emissions as part of the UK’s climate targets in the future, calls for a greater focus on consumption-based emissions have struggled to gain traction, while negative emissions technologies are widely regarded as a critical component of the net zero transition.

However, advocates of the bill will be hoping that it will effectively highlight the need for bolder climate action during an autumn when a raft of crucial decisions on the UK’s decarbonisation policies and the government’s promised green recovery package are set to be finalised.

https://www.businessgreen.com/news/4019582/mps-table-fresh-legislation-close-gaps-uk-climate-change-act

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Protest by opponents of Southampton airport, against the “madness” of its expansion plans

Opponents of expansion of Southampton airport took part in a protest on Saturday 29th, as did many other groups at airports across the UK.  The group say the airport should not be expanding, at a time of climate crisis, and the impact would be a needless increase in carbon emissions, from the extra flights using the airport.  They said  1. The economic case does not stack up, in jobs, house prices or health impacts.  2. The noise impacts of expansion, with many more local people negatively affected.  3. More air pollution will affect local health and mortality rates, from an increase (the airport’s own figures) of 272%  in NOx emissions. 4. No figures have been provided for ultrafine particles, which could be even worse than NOx for human health.  5.  The expansion will contribute to climate change and a ‘carbon-neutral’ airport is a myth; the expansion would roughly double current carbon emissions, and the airport is only looking to offset the relatively small ground emissions, not those from flights.
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Extinction Rebellion marched – highlighting the madness of Southampton Airport expansion plans

29th August 2020

AXO (Airport Expansion Opposition Southampton)

and Extinction Rebellion in Southampton

At Eastleigh Borough Council (the planning authority for Southampton airport)

They must be as mad as hatters to be considering airport expansion in Southampton, during a climate emergency. So yesterday, we marched!

Why? Mainly because of these 4 key reasons:    

1. The economic case does not stack up

– The airport’s own assessment says there will be ‘neutral’ economic benefit and no increase in jobs.

-The assessment excludes reduced house prices under the flight path and increased costs from ill health due to pollution

2. The noise impacts of expansion make this the worst UK airport to expand

– There will be an increase of 210% in local people affects by significant noise pollution

3. More air pollution will affect local health and mortality rates

– The airport’s figures state there will be a 272% increase in NOx emissions, leading to a 5% increase in local mortality.

– No figures have been provided for ultrafine particles, which are worse for human health

4. The expansion will contribute to climate change and a ‘carbon-neutral’ airport is a myth

– The expansion will roughly double current carbon emissions, and the airport is only looking to offset the relatively small ground emissions, not those from flights.

– Offset schemes are already needed for existing emissions!

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Want to know more? check this out.

https://axosouthampton.wordpress.com/reasons-to-object/

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See earlier:

Southampton airport runway extension plans would lead to higher CO2 emissions

Plans to lengthen Southampton Airport’s runway (by 164 metres) have come under fire amid concerns over their impact on climate change. The airport’s 2nd public consultation on revised plans has now been launched. Local campaigners Airport Expansion Opposition (AXO) said: “A ‘carbon-neutral’ airport’ is like ‘fat-free lard’. It’s just not possible. We need to act now on climate change.  Lower carbon fuels and electric planes capable of carrying significant numbers of passengers are decades away. The airport says extending the runway isn’t about ‘bigger planes’. But its own figures show that it is about flying many more of the bigger, noisier A320 jets than previously. The result of this is, as the new documents show, over 40,000 extra local people being exposed to aircraft noise.” And “Regional connectivity can be maintained with the airport as it currently is, and since most travellers are UK residents heading out on holiday most of the benefit of their travel will be abroad.” The airport claims its future is in doubt (usual stuff about jobs…) unless it lengthens the runway.

Click here to view full story…

Public consultation over Southampton runway extension slightly delayed – and campaigners fight for Marlhill Copse trees

Image

The public consultation through Eastleigh Borough Council over plans to extend Southampton Airport’s runway by 164 metres has been delayed. It was due to start on July 10th, but now the start date is not known – the delay may only be a week or so. The consultation is due to last 30 days. The airport also wants to add 600 more parking spaces to the existing long stay car park. There is a lot of local opposition to the plans, largely due to the noise impact and the extra carbon emissions of more flights. Neighbouring local authorities including Winchester and Southampton councils objected to the scheme.  There has already been one consultation, in late 2019, and the airport may make modifications in this second consultation. The final decision will be by Eastleigh Borough Council. The airport bought a small woodland near the airport, Marlhill Copse in 2018. It now wants to fell many of the trees, citing safety concerns. The trees in fact would only be a potential safety concern if the airport is allowed to expand. Three trees have already been felled, on the pretext of “good forestry management”.  Campaigners are trying to get this tree felling and tree height reduction stopped.

Click here to view full story…

Southampton Airport expansion plans go to second consultation – no date yet set

The airport plans to extend the runway by 164m to allow for larger 190-seater aircraft, and more flights.  It wants to double the number of passengers.  Its plans will go to a second public consultation, by Eastleigh council,  before a decision is made. Environmental campaigners and two neighbouring councils, Southampton and Winchester, have raised concerns over noise and air pollution. The airport makes the usual statements about lots of new jobs, and local economic boost (in reality, more of the passengers will be people in the area taking holidays abroad, taking their leisure money out of the UK). Local group, AXO, Airport Expansion Opposition, has been leading opposition to the plans.  A final decision is expected to be made by Eastleigh Borough Council, but everything is held up by the Covid pandemic, and no date has been set.  The council said: “We are awaiting amended information in support of the application.  Once we have received this, we will undertake a full re-consultation on the proposed runway extension.”

Click here to view full story…

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Bristol Airport Action Network crowdfunding to challenge airport’s appeal against North Somerset Council rejection

BAAN (Bristol Airport Action Network) Committee Coordinators are crowdfunding, to raise £6,000 for their attempt to challenge the airport’s appeal against the refusal, by North Somerset Council, of its expansion plans.  BAAN says: the airport’s plans “would mean an extra 23,600 flights and two million passengers a year (as well as an extra 10,000 car movements a day). They would also mean a further million tonnes of carbon to be emitted a year at this time of climate and ecological emergency. Our position is that this airport expansion (and others that are planned) is not legally compliant with the Climate Change Act, The Paris Agreement and the Government’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 and MUST BE STOPPED.” They are doing all they can to stop the expansion. BAAN say: “We have been given a very favourable fee quote from a specialist planning barrister and are talking to a number of top experts who are likely to give their time pro-bono or at much reduced rates to represent us at the appeal. We are also being helped by Greenpeace and other environmental organisations.” Donations would be greatly appreciated.
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BAAN (Bristol Airport Action Network) Committee Coordinators are crowdfunding

We are committee members of BAAN, a committed group of environmental activists from many different environmental organisations who are determined to stop the reckless expansion of Bristol Airport.

25 days to go
£3,680 pledged of £6,000 target from 62 pledges
Your card will only be charged if the case meets its target of £6,000 by Sep. 26, 2020, 3 p.m.

About the case

BAAN says:

Bristol Airport submitted plans to expand in 2018 which were turned down in Feb this year; they have now appealed against this refusal. Their plans would mean an extra 23,600 flights and two million passengers a year (as well as an extra 10,000 car movements a day). They would also mean a further million tonnes of carbon to be emitted a year at this time of climate and ecological emergency. Our position is that this airport expansion (and others that are planned) is not legally compliant with the Climate Change Act, The Paris Agreement and the Government’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 and MUST BE STOPPED.

We are the coordinating committee of an unpaid volunteer community group-Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) who are determined to challenge the airport’s appeal. The original planning committee hearing was in February 2020 and we helped to mobilise residents. 84% of North Somerset residents who made comments rejected the expansion and over 8,000 formal objections were submitted on the planning website The result was that the local councillors overwhelmingly rejecting the plans at a public committee hearing. However, the airport refuse to accept this democratic decision and have now publicly announced that they intend to appeal.

We are determined to continue to resist their plans and to give evidence (and test the airport’s evidence) at the planning enquiry. This is likely to be a 3-4 week appeal process and, to make a difference, we need to be represented by a specialist barrister and leading experts. We will be concentrating our evidence on the negative effect of the rapidly expanding impact of aviation on the climate and ecological crisis and, depending on the airport’s evidence, the impact of COVID on the need for any expansion.

We have been given a very favourable fee quote from a specialist planning barrister and are talking to a number of top experts who are likely to give their time pro-bono or at much reduced rates to represent us at the appeal. We are also being helped by Greenpeace and other environmental organisations.

Despite this, we still need to raise a large amount of money to pay professional fees. Every penny raised will be spent on fees to convince the Planning Inspector at the appeal that Bristol Airport’s planned expansion is not legally compliant with the Climate Change Act, The Paris Agreement and the Government’s commitment to be carbon neutral.

This is a very important test case for all regional airport expansions as we know that there are more than 20 plus other airports with current expansion plans and ‘live’ applications are currently in place for Leeds & Bradford and Southampton airports. The result of Bristol Airport’s appeal will act as the benchmark and it is vitally important that these expansion plans are resisted. The UK needs to be leading the way as COP 26 approaches and setting international standards.

The science is clear but the airports have totally ignored this and are recklessly pursuing their growth agenda at this time of climate and ecological crisis.

We desperately need your support; please contribute as much as you can and share this page with your networks now!

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-bristol-airport-expanding/

 

Bristol Airport have stated they will appeal their rejection to expand by North Somerset Council.

XR fought a year long campaign & now the legal campaign under BAAN (Coodinating Committee) have launched a crowd funder to raise money to resist Bristol Airports plans. We intend to participate fully in the inquiry using our own barrister & experts. We plan to focus on the impact of aviation on climate change.

We have been told the Bristol Airport decision will be an important test case for the other 20 plus airports who also have expansion plans.

We have a month to raise £6,000! One of our team is a solicitor and is doing a lot of the unpaid legal work which is saving us thousands. However, we still have to pay the barrister (albeit at a much reduced rate) and expert expenses. We are assembling a fantastic team with help from Greenpeace & top experts. WE REALLY BELIEVE WE CAN WIN THIS WITH THE RIGHT PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT. Please give as generously as you can & share widely. If other potential donors have questions we are happy to talk to them.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-bristol-airport-expanding/

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See earlier:

Bristol protests against the airport appealing against North Somerset Council rejection of expansion plans

Extinction Rebellion protesters at Bristol Airport

Extinction Rebellion and local groups held a number of protest on Saturday 29th August, at UK airports. A large event was held at Bristol Airport, in protest against the decision by the airport to appeal against the rejection of their expansion plans, by North Somerset Council. Extinction Rebellion held a “mourning procession” and hundreds of people marched to the airport, observing Covid social distancing, and in silence, to follow a death theme. One of the protest organisers commented: “When the refusal of Bristol International Airport (BIA) expansion plans became international news in February this year, everyone thought we’d seen the death of the terrifying fantasy of an expanded airport in this time of ecological and climate emergency. We were wrong.” Another said the “democratic process, underpinned by massive public objection, is being threatened, whilst lies about economic benefits and carbon-neutrality are spread with flagrant disregard to the truth.” And it is crazy that precious council funds have to be wasted on this unnecessary appeal, when the money is need to deal with Covid-related issues, among many others.

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Around 250 job losses likely at Bristol airport, due to collapse in its air travel demand

Nearly 250 jobs could be lost at Bristol Airport because demand for air travel has plummeted. The unions are saying these redundancies would leave a ‘huge economic hole’ in the region.  Bristol Airport has begun consultation with Unite over making 76 directly employed staff redundant. Swissport has also announced 167 job losses. A smaller number of redundancies at other firms are also expected to be announced soon. There are the usual claims about the alleged economic benefit the airport brings, and the number of jobs it supports. These conveniently ignore the fact that most flights are taken by local people flying abroad for their leisure, spending their money abroad – not in local businesses or local leisure/ holiday destinations.  To try to save jobs, the unions want delay, in the hope that air travel demand picks up.  The AOA – lobby groups for the industry – said this week up to 20,000 jobs at Britain’s airports are at risk as a result of the collapse of air travel due to the Covid pandemic.  Bristol is yet another area has has become too dependent on the airport for jobs, and this vulnerability has now been shown up. Aviation is no longer a sector with guaranteed security and growth for a local economy.

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Bath and North East Somerset Council rejects Bristol Airport application to increase night flights in summer months

Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected an application by Bristol Airport to increase the number of night flights. The airport wants to increase the number of night flights to 4,000 throughout the whole year, starting in summer 2021. Currently the airport is allowed 3,000 night flights throughout the summer months and 1,000 in winter. The airport wants to be able to move some of their winter allocation to the summer, when demand is higher. Bath and North East Somerset Council rejected the application – stating it would have a negative impact on people living in towns near the airport. The request for more flights comes after the council opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport in March 2019. Then in March 2020 North Somerset Council threw out the plans, (which included increasing passenger numbers by an extra two million each year and building more car parks) on the grounds they were “incompatible” with the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.  The extra night flights would cause noise nuisance to people in both councils.

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Bristol Airport expansion plans rejected by North Somerset council by 18-7

North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee has gone against the advice of their own planning officers and have refused permission for Bristol Airport to expand. It has been a “David versus Goliath” battle of local campaigners against the airport, (owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). The airport wanted to expand from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year, with large carpark and other building. The opposition to the plans was huge, on ground of carbon emissions, as well as noise and general local damage. There were almost 9,000 objections sent in by members of the public, against 2,400 in favour.  Councillors voted 18-7 against the plans, with one abstention. Councillors were persuaded that paltry economic benefits to the airport and airlines were far outweighed by the environmental harm. There would be large land take for the parking, and the extra carbon emissions would make targets of carbon neutrality for the area unachievable. Because the councillors went against the officers’ recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant has six months to lodge an appeal, which would be heard at a public inquiry.

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Still unknown if Bristol airport will appeal against expansion refusal – they have to decide by 19th September

Bristol Airport has not yet decided whether to appeal against a decision to refuse its expansion plans. North Somerset Planning and Regulatory committee councillors went against the council officers’ recommendation earlier this year, to reject the expansion plans which would have allowed the airport to increase its current capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year. The councillors ruled that environmental and societal impacts outweighed the economic benefits of the expansion. The airport has 6 months in which to appeal, and that time ends of 19th September 2020. A spokesman for the airport said a decision on whether to lodge an appeal had yet to be made and was still under review. The decline in air travel demand will be a factor in the decision. The costs of a public inquiry could run into tens of thousands of pounds for North Somerset Council. It has confirmed it will defend any appeal but said it was unable to comment on any potential costs. It would be for the Planning Inspector who is overseeing the case to decide what costs and conditions to impose on North Somerset Council, if it loses.

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Extinction Rebellion to protest in Leeds against Leeds Bradford Airport expansion plans

Socially-distant protesters plan to gather in Millennium Square on August 29 in support of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA). GALBA will be cycling a route around Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield to highlight areas which may be affected by aircraft noise pollution if the airport’s expansion plans are approved.  Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) submitted plans to build a new “state of the art” £150million terminal in early 2020. It would  be closer to a proposed parkway rail station, announced by Leeds City Council last year.  The terminal would accommodate seven million passengers per year by 2030. Extinction Rebellion (XR) has held several protests this year against the expansion plans, both outside Leeds City Council’s Civic Hall headquarters and outside a public consultation meeting held at the Mercure Parkway Hotel.  XR says the proposed expansion, yet to be approved by the council, will increase carbon emissions – fuelling climate change. One activist said:  “I will be able to look my daughter in her eyes and tell her I tried to put an end to this madness, that we knew there was a better way to live and I fought for it with everything I had.”
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Extinction Rebellion to protest in Millennium Square against Leeds Bradford Airport expansion plans

By Rebecca Marano
Thursday, 27th August 2020,  (Yorkshire Post)

Socially-distant protesters will gather in Millennium Square on Saturday, August 29 from 3pm to 5pm in support of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA).

GALBA will be cycling a route around Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield to highlight areas which may be affected by sound pollution if the expansion plans are approved.

LBA submitted plans to build a new £150million terminal in early 2020.

In the plans, they claimed that the ‘state of the art’ terminal would include three main floors with improved vehicle access.

It would also be closer to a proposed parkway rail station, announced by Leeds City Council last year.

The terminal would accommodate seven million passengers per year by 2030.

Extinction Rebellion has held several protests this year against the expansion plans, both outside Leeds City Council’s Civic Hall headquarters and outside a public consultation meeting held at the Mercure Parkway Hotel.

The group claims the proposed expansion, yet to be approved by council planning chiefs, will add to climate change due to the increased number of flights likely to take place.

An Extinction Rebellion Families Leeds spokeswoman said: “It breaks my heart to see that businesses, corporations and individuals are still putting profit before the health and wellbeing of humans and all life on this planet.

“When we are facing the worst crises ever imagined – heat waves, floods, droughts and famine; when the world has been struck to stillness by a novel pandemic; when there are hundreds of thousands of people already suffering and dying due to man-made climate related problems; when will it finally be enough?

“I will be able to look my daughter in her eyes and tell her I tried to put an end to this madness, that we knew there was a better way to live and I fought for it with everything I had.

“I hope that more people realise that if we join together for the same cause we will have the power to change before we destroy ourselves completely.”

In July, young climate change activists sent an open letter pleading with Leeds City Council not to approve the plans.

In an open letter sent to senior council decision-makers, Leeds YouthStrike4Climate claimed the plans, which could see the number of flights at the facility increase, could disproportionately affect both disadvantaged areas and schoolchildren.

A statement from the climate strikers said: “There are 36 schools under the flight-path and more noise from increased flights would risk further disrupting pupils’ education following the Covid-19 crisis.”

Campaigner Annwen Thurlow added: “Our house is already on fire – we cannot let this expansion add more fuel. The council has a responsibility to protect our health and wellbeing.”

Leeds YS4C activist Robbie Strathdee said: “The flight-path cuts right across the city, so expansion would do damage to some of Leeds’ most disadvantaged communities.

“The climate crisis is intrinsically an issue of racial and social justice, with disadvantaged communities already suffering its impacts most severely in Leeds and beyond. We mustn’t heap injustice upon injustice through expansion.

“A green recovery for Leeds could look like whatever we want and need as a city – but it cannot look like an expanded airport.”

A response to the statement on behalf of LBA stated while it understood the concerns expressed by Leeds YouthStrike4Climate, the development would in fact create an ‘economic boost to our region’, as well as hundreds of construction jobs, from right across Leeds, Bradford and Yorkshire.

It added any approval of the LBA application would not impact upon Leeds City Council’s ability to meet its climate emergency commitments, adding the aviation industry has made its own commitment to become net zero by 2050.

-> Opposition to Leeds Bradford Airport expansion grows as 90 Leeds academics and third MP object to plans

A spokesperson for Leeds Bradford Airport said: “We value feedback from our communities on our proposals for a replacement terminal.

“While we can appreciate that people will be concerned about noise and emissions, we have made very clear provisions in our proposals around how we will mitigate risk and we encourage individuals to review the reports from leading experts on the portal.

“We also continue to work with the wider aviation industry on our own sustainable targets, which are regulated at an international level and are not part of Leeds City Council’s climate emergency commitments.”

The airport also claimed it had reduced its emissions by 45 percent in the last five years, and expected to see an increase in aircraft arrivals and departures from 30,000 to 46,000 per annum as part of the proposal.

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/environment/extinction-rebellion-protest-millennium-square-against-leeds-bradford-airport-expansion-plans-2954302

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See earlier:

Young climate activists urge council to reject Leeds Bradford Airport development – “Don’t let us down”

‘DON’T let us down’ was the plea being made by young climate activists who are calling on Leeds City Council to reject plans for a new airport terminal.  Leeds Bradford Airport is seeking permission to create a new, £150 million building to replace its current terminal which dates back to the 1960s. Environmental campaigners say the terminal flies in the face of attempts to tackle global heating. Leeds YouthStrike4Climate (Leeds YS4C) have sent an open letter to the city council’s leaders which reminds them that they declared a Climate Emergency in March, 2019.  The expansion plans would make it ‘impossible’ for Leeds City Council to keep its promise to make the city carbon neutral by 2030. There will also be a lot more plane noise pollution. Leeds climate striker Annwen Thurlow said: “Our house is already on fire – we cannot let this expansion add more fuel. The council has a responsibility to protect our health and wellbeing, of people and planet.  Young people in Leeds and across the world are relying on them. “So we say to them – please don’t let us down.”

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Leeds Bradford Airport: Scientists object to expansion plans which will increase CO2 emissions

A group of five climate scientists have objected to Leeds Bradford airport’s expansion plans as they make it “impossible” for Leeds to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target.  The airport wants to build a new terminal, but this would mean more flights and more passengers, and so more carbon emissions. The scientists said the expanded airport’s greenhouse gas emissions would be higher than the emissions allowed for the whole of Leeds in 10 years’ time. The airport could cause the emission of 1,227 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, compared to 1,020 kilotonnes allowed for the whole of Leeds in 2030. One of those objecting is Prof Julia Steinberger, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which advises the United Nations. The IPCC has warned that restricting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. The scientists say expansion would just represent “business as usual” and lock in higher CO2 emissions.  “If similar developments were replicated around the world, it would lock us into catastrophic climate change, which highlights that the proposed development is not only highly harmful but also unfair.”

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Natural England says Leeds Bradford Airport expansion should not be approved – necessary details have not been provided

The government’s environment adviser, Natural England, says Leeds City Council should not approve controversial plans for the Leeds Bradford Airport expansion, unless further evidence on the potential impacts is provided.  Natural England states the airport’s planning application lacks detail and “there is currently not enough information to rule out the likelihood of significant effects” on the environment. It has asked the airport to provide additional information, so the council can asses the impact the new £150 million terminal would have on air quality, local wildlife and protected landscapes.  Natural England therefore advises Leeds City Council that it should not grant planning permission at this stage. The airport wants to increase passengers numbers from 4 million to 7 million a year. Climate scientists, environmentalists, The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) and four Leeds MPs are also calling on the council to reject the new plans. GALBA, said the airport has not bothered to assess the damage that their expansion plans would do to wildlife and nature.

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