BA has been trying to get some jet fuel made from domestic waste that would otherwise go to landfill, so it can claim it is using “low carbon” fuels. There were plans for a plant in east London, by Solena, back in 2014 but that never got off the ground; Solena went bust in October 2015. Now BA and Shell and Velocys are hoping for a plant on an 80-acre site on Humberside, to convert waste that would go to landfill, into jet fuel. However, Natural England are worried it could harm local wildlife and have filed an objection. Velocys says the plant would turn household waste into 60 million litres of “low-carbon” jet fuel every year. The project is backed by £4.5m of investment from Shell and British Airways, alongside a £434,000 grant from the Department of Transport. In a letter dated 20 February 2020 Natural England said it objects to the development because trucks ferrying waste to the site could increase nitrogen oxide levels – which can cause serious health impacts for humans and wildlife. It is also concerned construction and waste from the site could disturb nearby habitats for rare birds. It is now for North East Lincolnshire Council to decide whether to approve the scheme. . Tweet
Natural England objects to proposed green jet fuel plant backed by BA and Shell
First of its kind plant could slash carbon emissions from flights, but Natural England are worried it could harm local wildlife
By Madeleine Cuff (The i) Thursday, 2nd April 2020
Plans to build a low-carbon jet fuel plant on the Humber Estuary are in jeopardy after Natural England filed an objection to the development.
Developer Velocys wants to develop Europe’s first full scale green jet fuel plant in Lincolnshire, turning household waste into 60 million litres of “low-carbon” jet fuel every year.
The project is backed by £4.5m of investment from Shell and British Airways, alongside a £434,000 grant from the Department of Transport.
But Velocys’ attempts to gain planning permission for the 80-acre site have stalled after Natural England filed an objection to the plans in February.
In a letter dated 20 February 2020 Natural England said it objects to the development because trucks ferrying waste to the site could push up nitrogen oxide levels – polluting gases that can cause serious health impacts for humans and wildlife. It is also concerned construction and waste from the site could disturb nearby habitats for rare birds.
The proposed development lies next to protected wet grassland and open water habitats, where birds such as lapwings, curlews, teals, egrets and avocets roost and feed.
Natural England has demanded a more detailed assessment of the development’s potential impact on air quality and wildlife before it considers changing its mind.
“Natural England notes that the application site is located in close proximity to the Humber Estuary [Site of Special Scientific Interest],” it warned. “Based on the plans submitted, Natural England considers that the proposed development could have potential significant effects on the interest features for which the site has been notified.”
The objection does not prevent North East Lincolnshire Council approving the scheme, but it does make winning the green light much trickier for Velocys. It has already led to significant delays to the scheme, which had expected to receive planning approval by Autumn 2019.
Velocys insists the scheme could be built and operated without significant impacts on human health or local wildlife, and argues the jet fuel would save 80,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year from flights.
It told i it has met with Natural England to discuss its concerns, and said it was “confident” the project would progress. “This is a complex and unique development, the first of its kind on this scale in Europe, so it is essential that appropriate consultees thoroughly review all information,” a spokesperson said.
Paul Duncan, North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Area Manager for Natural England, told i: “We recognise the site’s potential benefits and we have not objected outright to it. What we have done is request more information about work to mitigate potential damage to the local area and wildlife, which is internationally recognised for its precious natural heritage and rare bird species.”
Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA
August 27, 2019
Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into so-called “sustainable” aviation fuel. The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration. That would be converted into fuel, to be used by the aviation industry (some could be used for road vehicle fuels…). The scheme is claiming it would “reduce reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent.” The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides – but gives no explanation how. It also claims the process produces less air pollution that if the waste was incinerated or landfilled (but gives no details). Usual blurb from British Airways (desperate to try to make out that aviation will emit less CO2 in future, while continuing to grow) about “Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation…” blah blah… BA had proposed a similar plant in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.
DfT, always trying to make aviation growth look “green”, to pay £434,000 to fund waste-to-jetfuel project
June 18, 2018
A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) “sustainable” jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK. This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste – otherwise destined for landfill – and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of “sustainable” fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).
Solena, the company meant to be producing jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt
October 29, 2015
In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d domestic waste into aviation fuel. The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions. The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping. Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena.
On 27 February 2020 the Court of Appeal declared the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to be illegal as the Government had not taken into consideration their commitments on climate under the Paris Agreement.
The Court ruling means that the Government must either withdraw the ANPS or seek to amend it. This has never been done before so the Government will be breaking new ground and I know I’m not the only one concerned at the amount of discretion that is given to the Secretary of State [Grant Shapps] in this process – though at least Mr Grayling is no longer in office.
Expansion at Heathrow would have had a negative impact on the regions of the UK. According to a recent report by the New Economics Foundation which analysed DfT data, by 2050 as many as 27,000 jobs and £43bn in GDP growth would be displaced from the regions to London and the South East.
This ruling and the forthcoming Aviation White Paper [Aviation Strategy] provide the opportunity for the Government to have a rethink about its entire aviation policy, particularly with regard to any future airport expansion.
The Committee on Climate Change have recommended that the Government can only permit 25% growth in aviation by 2050 if we are to meet our climate targets. However, this will still require a faster reduction in carbon emissions in other sectors of the economy. [At least 90% CO2 cuts on 1990 levels, while aviation is allowed to more than double theirs].
The DfT published last week its Transport Decarbonistion strategy which revealed that UK aviation emissions in 2018 were at an all-time high, a total of 38.5MtCO2.The strategy seeks to enable passenger growth of 73% with emissions remaining roughly the same in 2050 as today. This will be done through technological solutions that either do not yet exist or will not be commercially viable within the timeframe required.
The aviation industry’s own plans show very little progress in the next five years which will forcing larger carbon reductions on other sectors of the economy which will have a particularly negative impact on those regions with large manufacturing sectors. In 2010 the aviation industry pledged to source 10% of fuels from sustainable sources in 2020. Yet by 2018, the industry had managed to source a grand total of 0.002%.
This cannot be left to the market to solve. The idea that we can carry on as normal contradicts all the evidence showing that we must act now to protect our climate. The Government should take this opportunity to put people and planet before profit by including international aviation and shipping emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets as soon as possible. [Currently they are not in the 5 yearly carbon budgets, but just “taken account of”].
Government is considering a flat carbon tax, yet this is regressive and would hurt the poorest in society the hardest as well as having a disproportionate impact on the regions outside of London and the South East. In my view it is vital that this if any growth in aviation is to be permitted then it has to be distributed evenly around the regions and nations of the UK.
The Government are rightly focused on responding to the coronavirus crisis. However, any financial support for the aviation industry must be targeted at workers and not shareholders.
There is not a strong case for aviation to get preferential treatment. The only special consideration that is credible should be on providing the goods and services that the population use and need every day. If this means that the Government has to take a financial stake in an airline or airport to ensure that our aviation infrastructure remains intact to deliver the goods that our NHS requires then that is a price worth paying many times over.
Any Government support for the aviation industry should also be conditional on a strong commitment to future operations taking place in line with our environmental commitments. Financial measures that appear designed to boost aviation demand or support failing businesses simply cannot be justified in light of the climate crisis.
The carbon emissions of EU airlines grew in 2019. There will be a steep fall in their emissions for an unknown amount of time, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But air passenger numbers repeatedly broke records in the aftermath of global shocks such as the 2008 financial crisis, the September 11 attacks, the Gulf War and the SARS outbreak. This will happen again this time, unless aviation carbon is taxed and regulated. Governments must break that cycle of crisis+growth by sticking with the European Green Deal commitment to rein in emissions growth. In Europe political momentum has been gathering to end both airlines’ tax exemption and the free pollution permits they receive in the EU’s ETS. The EU would like airlines to use lower carbon fuels, if these can be located (they are scarce and expensive). The EU is moving to curb airline emissions due to serious doubts over the UN’s controversial/ineffective CORSIA scheme, which will allow airlines to continue increasing their CO2 emissions by buying ultra-cheap offsets instead of reducing their own CO2. . Tweet
Big airline polluters grew emissions in 2019 ahead of expected COVID drop
Fourteen of the 20 biggest polluting airlines grew their CO2 emissions within Europe in 2019 – according to official EU figures released today – ahead of an expected fall this year. In the past the 20 airlines’ emissions accounted for almost three-quarters of all airline CO2 within Europe.
Transport & Environment (T&E) said aviation pollution is likely to grow again once COVID restrictions are lifted unless the sector is required to take up green technology and pay taxes on its fuel.
The 14 carriers released an extra 1.6 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 last year. The European Commission will publish the airline sector’s total emissions later this month.
Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E, said:“Airlines grew their emissions right up until this crisis. But this current bust will be followed by another boom in CO2 so long as aviation emissions remain untaxed and unregulated. Governments must break that cycle by sticking with the European Green Deal commitment to rein in emissions growth.”
While airlines’ emissions will fall this year due to COVID groundings, they are expected to bounce back once the global health crisis has passed. Passenger numbers have repeatedly broken records in the aftermath of global shocks such as the 2008 financial crisis, the September 11 attacks, the Gulf War and the SARS outbreak, industry data  shows.
T&E said governments should support aviation workers through the current crisis, but airlines must be required to start paying taxes and use cleaner fuels once conditions improve.
In Europe political momentum has been gathering to end both airlines’ tax exemption and the free pollution permits they receive in the bloc’s emissions trading system. The European Commission last week said it was exploring requiring airlines to start using cleaner fuels such as synthetic e-fuels.
Europe is moving to curb airline emissions due to serious doubts over a controversial UN offsetting scheme for aviation. Known as Corsia, the scheme will allow airlines to continue growing their emissions by buying ultra-cheap offsets – where they invest in environmental projects, such as a hydrodam project which later collapsed, instead of reducing their own carbon footprint.
Notes to editors:  The 20 airlines were the biggest emitting carriers in 2018. In 2019, five of these airlines – Alitalia, TUI Airways, British Airways, Eurowings, and Norwegian Airlines – decreased their emissions. One carrier, SAS, did not report its pollution.
Support airlines in crisis, but on condition they start paying tax and take up green technology – T&E
EU transport ministers discussing Covid-related financial aid to airlines must make bailouts in these hard times conditional on carriers starting to pay tax once conditions improve and taking up green technology, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The ministers discussed measures to shore up the aviation sector in an emergency meeting via video conference today.
By Eoin Bannon (Transport & Environment)
March 18, 2020
The aviation industry employs tens of thousands of people across the EU, and financial support must be prioritised for the paychecks of workers whose jobs are in danger, T&E said.
But state aid to airlines should only be approved if countries ensure they will later start to pay tax and contribute to severely strained public coffers. Carriers have long been exempt from fuel taxation and VAT on international flights in Europe. Their jet fuel tax exemption is valued at €27 billion a year. They have also been slow to use cleaner fuels such as synthetic kerosene and waste-based biofuels.
Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E, said: “Airlines calling for public support in bad times should accept they need to start paying taxes in good times. EU governments should make airline bailouts conditional on carriers paying fuel, ticket and other taxes once the crisis has passed. They should also require airlines to start using low-carbon fuels once conditions improve. Public money should support the technologies of the future and not reinforce the mistakes of the past.”
There are lots of comments in the media about how society recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the unique opportunity the crisis has provided for a re-think of many aspects of our economies. Governments and business etc will want to go for maximum economic growth, as soon as the crisis has been dealt with. The climate and ecological crises the earth faces will not have gone away, and will continue to worsen unless decisive and effective action is taken. Time may have been wasted on cutting carbon emissions, due to the virus crisis. There is a risk of environmental constraints being abandoned, in the rush for a return of economic growth. But there is also talk of the de-growth economy – slowing of growth in sectors that damage the environment, such as fossil fuel industries, and strengthening others, until the economy operates within Earth’s limits. Such a transformation would be profound, and so far no nation has shown the will to implement it. Coronavirus has caused unprecedented and rapid societal changes, and social constraints that would have been considered unimaginable just 2 months ago. There are practical lessons and opportunities we could take away from the coronavirus emergency as we seek to tackle climate change, though that is neither short-term, nor rapidly overcome. . Tweet
By Natasha Chassagne, University Associate, University of Tasmania
Every aspect of our lives has been affected by the coronavirus. The global economy has slowed, people have retreated to their homes and thousands have died or become seriously ill.
At this frightening stage of the crisis, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. But as the International Agency has said, the effects of coronavirus are likely to be temporary but the other global emergency – climate change – is not.
Stopping the spread of coronavirus is paramount, but climate action must also continue. And we can draw many lessons and opportunities from the current health crisis when tackling planetary warming.
A ‘degrowing’ economy
S&P Global Ratings this week said measures to contain COVID-19 have pushed the global economy into recession.
Economic analyst Lauri Myllyvirta estimates the pandemic may have reduced global emissions by 200 megatonnes of carbon dioxide to date, as air travel grinds to a halt, factories close down and energy demand falls.
In the first four weeks of the pandemic, coal consumption in China alone fell by 36%, and oil refining capacity reduced by 34%.
In many ways, what we’re seeing now is a rapid and unplanned version of economic “degrowth” – the transition some academics and activists have for decades said is necessary to address climate change, and leave a habitable planet for future generations.
Degrowth is a proposed slowing of growth in sectors that damage the environment, such as fossil fuel industries, until the economy operates within Earth’s limits. It is a voluntary, planned and equitable transition in developed nations which necessarily involves an increased focus on the environment, human well-being, and capabilities (good health, decent work, education, and a safe and healthy environment).
Such a transformation would be profound, and so far no nation has shown the will to implement it. It would require global economies to “decouple” from carbon to prevent climate-related crises. But the current unintended economic slowdown opens the door to such a transition, which would bring myriad benefits to the climate.
The idea of sustainable degrowth is very different to a recession. It involves scaling back environmentally damaging sectors of the economy, and strengthening others.
A tale of two emergencies
Climate change has been declared a global emergency, yet to date the world has largely failed to address it. In contrast, the global policy response to the coronavirus emergency has been fast and furious.
There are several reasons for this dramatic difference. Climate change is a relatively slow-moving crisis, whereas coronavirus visibly escalates over days, even hours, increasing our perception of the risks involved. One thing that history teaches us about politics and the human condition in times of peril, we often take a “crisis management” approach to dealing with serious threats.
As others have observed, the slow increase in global temperatures means humans can psychologically adjust as the situation worsens, making the problem seem less urgent and meaning people are less willing to accept drastic policy measures.
Key lessons from coronavirus
The global response to the coronavirus crisis shows that governments can take immediate, radical emergency measures, which go beyond purely economic concerns, to protect the well-being of all.
Specifically, there are practical lessons and opportunities we can take away from the coronavirus emergency as we seek to tackle climate change:
Act early: The coronavirus pandemic shows the crucial importance of early action to prevent catastrophic consequences. Governments in Taiwan, South Korea and Singaporeacted quickly to implement quarantine and screening measures, and have seen relatively small numbers of infections. Italy, on the other hand, whose government waited too long to act, is now the epicentre of the virus.
Go slow, go local: Coronavirus has forced an immediate scale-down of how we travel and live. People are forging local connections, shopping locally, working from home and limiting consumption to what they need.
Researchers have identified that fears about personal well-being represent a major barrier to political support for the degrowth movement to date. However with social distancing expected to be in place for months, our scaled-down lives may become the “new normal”. Many people may realise that consumption and personal well-being are not inextricably linked.
The global changes to the aviation sector, caused by Covid-19, have been rapid and radical. It would have been impossible back in January to anticipate how many flights would be grounded, how air travel demand would sink, and how many airlines would be struggling to stay solvent. In a thoughtful piece by the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation), they consider how aviation policy needs to be re-thought, when the virus crisis is over. It is an opportunity to re-think society’s relationship to air travel, in a world that has been woken up to the realities of a global pandemic, and its consequences. Even when the sector hopes, post-virus, to get back to “business as usual” flying, the long-term danger of climate breakdown remains – and the threat worsens. The AEF says it is time to cease aviation exceptionalism, and the special treatment is gets on environmental policies and regulations. This needs to change. And there should not be measures to cut aviation tax, as demanded by the industry, that increase air travel demand. That is not justifiable. Covid-19 has demonstrated the desire, by millions, to look after and care about the welfare of others. Perhaps this virus wake up call could bring the dawning of a more responsible age. .
Coronavirus may prove to be the biggest shock ever seen to the aviation industry. Some airports could close, while airlines are cutting services by 80% or more as a result of travel restrictions and are talking about imminent bankruptcies. Virgin Atlantic, whose majority shareholder is billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is understood both to have requested a government bailout of the airline and to have asked its staff to take 8 weeks of unpaid leave.
The Airlines Operators Association has called for a package of measures including suspension of business rates and regulatory costs, airlines want an APD holiday and air traffic control charges frozen, and Unite the Union has called for part nationalisation of the industry, and subsidies for certain routes.
The drop off in aviation activity has already meant a reduction in aviation pollution. Fewer planes mean less noise and a dramatic reduction in emissions. Flights departing the UK emit around 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per day, so a reduction in flights of 80% would reduce emissions by around 80,000 tonnes of CO2 for every day that measures are in place. Yet for those impacted by or particularly at risk from the virus, and for those, including airport and airline staff, facing an uncertain future and economic hardship, these are extraordinary and difficult times.
Coronavirus and the policy response: what do we want to see?
How, then, should the Government respond? The situation, in terms of how long restrictions are likely to be in place, and what the UK and other governments will do in response, is changing daily. It is right for aviation activity to be curtailed to limit the spread of coronavirus between countries. Possible financial support and possible bailouts for the industry are currently being negotiated.
Here are our thoughts so far on this:
Financial support must be targeted at workers, not airline shareholders
Many staff within the aviation industry will, along with those in many other sectors, be facing sudden loss of income and potential redundancy. The Government should keep under review what extra financial support they may need during the crisis. This should be designed as far as possible to directly benefit staff and not to bail out airline or airport businesses.
The Government should resist aviation exceptionalism
In his statement on measures to be implemented in response to the virus on 17th March Chancellor Rishi Sunak singled out aviation as likely to need a special package of support, alongside the wider offer being made to UK businesses. Aviation as an industry has long been given special treatment, including exemptions and exclusions from a raft of environmental policies and regulations over the decades. We think it’s time to think differently about this.
In terms of the sector’s economic significance or otherwise, as head of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol has pointed out in the context of government rescue plans being drawn up around the world, “Aviation represents 1% of the global economy but it’s 8% of global oil consumption”. Passenger air travel is a service used by only half of us in any given year in the UK, and even then, most likely for leisure (over 70% of trips are for holidays). Any ‘special’ considerations should instead , surely, be focused on providing the goods and services we use and need every day. And while it is true that airlines will be hard hit by Covid-19, so too will other sectors. It’s hard to see why aviation should be given preferential support compared with, for example, hospitality, leisure or retail.
Perhaps, in fact, the Chancellor has come to a similar view. It’s being reported in the media that Rishi Sunak has written to the industry to say there would be no sector-wide rescue to prevent companies going out of business, and that further taxpayer support for the sector would only be possible once they had exhausted other options including raising money from shareholders, investors and banks.
Recovery plans should focus on building a sustainable future
Before the Coronavirus outbreak, a different crisis had started to make headlines, one with its own communities of vulnerable people, and its own threats to health and security. The impacts of Covid-19 are already proving brutal, but the climate crisis is likely both to be more complex to tackle and to have longer lasting impacts. Just before the virus hit in the UK, we had the historic court ruling that the Government’s approach to Heathrow expansion had failed to consider the Paris Agreement on climate change, and we’d started to see evidence of shifts in the public and political mood around aviation that were opening up conversations about growth, demand and the place of aviation in a zero carbon future. A government consultation on this had been imminent.
We can’t let the Government drop the ball on climate change. To quote Fatih Birol again, “This is a historic opportunity for the world to, on one hand, create packages to recover the economy, but on the other hand, to reduce dirty investments and accelerate the energy transition.” In planning short-term measures such as bailouts, guarantees and tax cuts, politicians need to stay focussed on the longer-term goals of decarbonisation and public wellbeing. Industry loans or moves for Government to buy out parts of the industry must not, for example, lock in incentives to deliver levels of aviation activity that are fundamentally unsustainable. Any financial measures that appear designed to boost aviation demand, such as the removal of Air Passenger Duty (a tax levied not on airlines but on passengers) cannot be justified, even if they apply only once flight restrictions are lifted, as argued for by the AOA.
In terms of jobs, in future, we need more people to be working on zero carbon fuels, carbon capture and storage, railways, and domestic tourism and the Government’s plans need to keep this bigger picture in mind.
What lessons can we take from people’s response to this situation? The current reality – fear, people staying isolated in their homes and avoiding contact with people outside their own family, small businesses failing and streets deserted – is a world away from the vision of personal wellbeing, and of strong and active local communities that motivates many environmental campaigners.
But perhaps there is some hope to be drawn from the fact that governments have acted quickly (if, some argue, not quickly enough) to deal with a global emergency despite economic consequences. Populations have been ready to make enormous sacrifices (alongside some examples of selfish panic buying) for the wellbeing not just of themselves and their families but of people who are more vulnerable. It’s become socially unacceptable to put other people at risk, we’re trying to work out who our neighbours are and how to be neighbourly, and people who have never taken part on online meetings are learning how they work.
How much of this will stick, and how the aviation sector in particularly is impacted in the longer term is hard to predict. We don’t yet know how far the Government will yield to the demands of the AOA to do “whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry”. Some anticipate mass airline closures and bankruptcies, others argue that the industry typically recovers – and resumes its upward CO2 trajectory – faster than expected. Let’s hope that by the time the UK emerges from this horrible crisis we’ll have had the opportunity, during the slowdown in global CO2 emissions, to ourselves slow down and think about the kind of future we want, collectively, to rebuild.
The DfT has quietly published (no press release or announcement – we are in the Covid-19 crisis) a consultation about Decarbonising Transport. The end date is around June, but not specified. Shapps says: “2020 will be the year we set out the policies and plans needed to tackle transport emissions. This document marks the start of this process. It gives a clear view of where we are today and the size of emissions reduction we need.” And, less encouragingly: “We will lead the development of sustainable biofuels, hybrid and electric aircraft to lessen and remove the impact of aviation on the environment and by 2050…” (he actually believes electric planes will make much difference in a few decades??). It also says “Aviation, at present, is a relatively small contributor to domestic UK GHG emissions. Its proportional contribution is expected to increase significantly as other sectors decarbonise more quickly.” And while saying we are working with ICAO on its CORSIA carbon scheme (unlikely to be effective) the document states: “…we would be minded to include international aviation and shipping emissions in our carbon budgets if there is insufficient progress at an international level.” But overall the intention is to let demand for air travel continue to rise. . Tweet
Published 26.3.2020 (no DfT press release – it just appeared ….)
Consultation till about June – no final date has been given (as we are in the Covid-19 crisis, with no certainty about when life might return to a semblance of normality).
Shapps says in the introduction (“Ministerial Foreward”)
… just some extracts of relevance to aviation below:
“We will lead the development of sustainable biofuels, hybrid and electric aircraft to lessen and remove the impact of aviation on the environment and by 2050, zero emission ships will be commonplace globally.”
“As we move towards a net zero GHG emissions transport system, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the UK is on a journey with the rest of the world. Action is needed beyond the UK, and we are in a unique position to demonstrate real leadership domestically, as well as leading change in sectors that require global solutions, such as international shipping and aviation.”
This is the text in the section on Aviation:
Current position of the sector versus historical emissions
2.45 In 2018, UK domestic aviation (flights that take off and land in the UK) was responsible for 1.5MtCO2e of GHG emissions (53). This is a decrease of 6% since 2017, with domestic aviation contributing less than 1% of UK GHG emissions and lower than the most recent peak in 200554.
2.46 International aviation emissions, at 37MtCO2e in 201855, have more than doubled since 1990. The majority of the increase came in the 1990s and early 2000s, however emissions have also been increasing since 2012. There has been an increase of 1% since 2017 (56 – see link ).
2.47 Aviation, at present, is a relatively small contributor to domestic UK GHG emissions. Its proportional contribution is expected to increase significantly as other sectors decarbonise more quickly.
Current government aims and targets
2.48 In December 2018, the Government published the Aviation 2050 green paper that included a range of measures to achieve its 2050 ambitions at the time, including efficiency improvements in technology, operations and air traffic management, use of sustainable aviation fuels and market-based measures. The consultation closed in June 2019 and work is underway on the Aviation Strategy.
2.49 Airport expansion is a core part of boosting our global connectivity and levelling up across the UK. The Government takes seriously its commitments on the environment and the expansion of any airport must always be within the UK’s environmental obligations.
2.50 Domestic aviation emissions are included in the UK’s carbon budgets with international aviation and shipping emissions accounted for via “headroom” within our existing carbon budgets, meaning that the UK can remain on the right trajectory for net zero global greenhouse gas emissions across the whole economy. These international emissions are treated differently, largely because the inherently international nature of both sectors means that it is difficult to attribute these emissions to individual states. It is widely agreed among states that a sectoral approach (rather than state-by-state) is preferable, which is why the Kyoto Protocol gave UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) responsibility for pursing measures to reduce these emissions.
Current policies in place to deliver those targets
2.51 Given their global nature and the absence of any international agreement on how to assign international aviation emissions to individual states, action at an international level is the Government’s preferred approach for addressing aviation’s international carbon emissions.
2.52 The UK is already a respected and influential member of the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The UK has been instrumental in securing many important environmental agreements including the 2016 Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) agreement – the first worldwide scheme to address CO2 emissions in any single sector – and the CO2 standard.
2.53 ICAO has defined a basket of measures designed to achieve its medium-term goal of carbon neutral growth for the sector from 2020 (CNG2020). This consists of more efficient aircraft technologies as incentivised by the CO2 standard, operational improvements such as more efficient flight procedures, the development and use of sustainable alternative fuels and market-based measures like CORSIA.
2.54 Under CORSIA, qualifying aeroplane operators are required to offset the growth in international aviation CO2 emissions covered by the scheme above average 2019 and 2020 levels. At present, 82 states (including the UK) have volunteered to join CORSIA from the start in 2021, representing over 75% of international aviation activity57. From 2027 to 2035, the scheme will become mandatory, meaning that over the entire lifecycle of the scheme (2021 to 2035), it is estimated that approximately 2.5Gt of CO2 will be offset58. Since 2012, the aviation sector has been part of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). According to the European Commission, this has contributed to reducing Europe’s carbon footprint by more than 17MtCO2e per year59. The UK committed in its 2017 Clean Growth Strategy that its future approach would be at least as ambitious as the EU ETS and provide a smooth transition for relevant sectors
2.55 Figure 12 shows our central projection for GHG emissions from international and domestic aviation to 2050. Between 2018 and 2050 demand is projected to increase by 73%. However, emissions reductions per plane and per passenger km are driven by larger and more efficient planes, and limited uptake of low carbon sustainable aviation fuels. This results in aviation GHG emissions projections remaining broadly flat.
Figure 12: Projection of change in combined domestic and international aviation GHG emissions, passenger distance flown and gCO2/passenger km from current policy compared to 1990f60 Index (1990 = 100). GHG Passenger km GHG per passenger km
Planned future work
2.56 Later this year a consultation on net zero aviation will be published. This consultation represents the growth in government ambition since the green paper, including the 2050 net zero target and further CCC advice on international aviation and shipping, and will propose how the Government plan for aviation to play its part in delivering our net zero ambitions.
2.57 Internationally, we are committed to negotiating in ICAO for a long-term emissions reduction goal for international aviation that is consistent with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, ideally by ICAO’s 41st Assembly in 2022. At the 40th ICAO Assembly in October 2019, ICAO not only reaffirmed its commitment to CORSIA but crucially, prioritised work towards a long-term climate goal for international aviation.
f Historic emissions are final UK GHG statistics 60. Historic passenger kms are DfT estimates based upon CAA airports data. Aviation forecasts are produced using the DfT Aviation model. The model is an updated version of the model used for the Aviation forecasts 2017. Key updates include revised fleet mix and aircraft efficiency assumptions. In addition, a precautionary approach to airport capacity assumptions was adopted such that these represent an upper bound for carbon emissions, but the approach does not pre-judge any future planning applications or the development of policy (including following the outcome of proceedings e.g. on Heathrow expansion).
2.58 As a responsible national government, we need a contingency measure in case international progress does not go far enough or fast enough. That is why in the Government’s response to the latest CCC Progress Report, we made it clear that we would be minded to include international aviation and shipping emissions in our carbon budgets if there is insufficient progress at an international level.
. Britain hopes to:
• Lead international efforts in transport emissions reduction • Recognise aviation and maritime are international by nature and require international solutions • Harness the UK as a global centre of expertise, driving low carbon innovation and global leadership, boosting the UK economy
Within transport, road transport is the largest emitter of GHG. Cars contributed 55% of domestic transport emissions (68MtCO2e) in 2018; as figure 3 shows, absolute emissions from a number of transport sectors have decreased since 1990, but there have been noticeable increases in emissions from vans and international aviation. (b)
(The image below just has the international aviation and shipping part of a large graphic)
b International aviation and shipping emissions are accounted for via “headroom” within our existing carbon budgets. This is consistent with the Kyoto Protocol which gives two UN Organisations – the ICAO and IMO – responsibility for pursing measures to reduce these emissions. There is no agreed way of allocating emissions to different countries, so our international emissions estimate are based on bunker fuels sales for international flights and journeys.
International Energy Agency (IEA) head Fatih Birol is calling on heads of state and international financial institutions to make Coronavirus recovery plans sustainable. He says political and financial leaders have “a historic opportunity” to usher in a new era for global climate action with economic stimulus packages. These stimulus packages are a critical opportunity for governments to “shape policies” in line with climate action. This is a great opportunity to focus, instead of on fossil fuels, on clean energy technologies and accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels. Currently huge sums are spent on keeping the price of fossil fuels low. Instead, now is a unique historic opportunity. This includes the aviation sector, which represents 1% of the global economy but 8% of global oil consumption. When plans to reinvigorate economies get going, they must address climate breakdown; including financial stimuli using low interest rates for low carbon electricity is key – and funding carbon capture and storage technologies. Governments need to increase the production of climate-proof jobs, avoiding jobs in “stranded asset” fossil fuel industries.
Political and financial leaders have “a historic opportunity” to usher in a new era for global climate action with economic stimulus packages to confront the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.
In an interview with Climate Home News on Tuesday, Fatih Birol said stimulus packages to prop up economic recovery marked a critical moment for governments to “shape policies” in line with climate action.
“I am talking with several governments and international financial institutions leaders because they are all busy designing stimulus programmes for the economy – the plans they will put together will be extremely important,” he said.
“This is the reason I am telling them that we can use the current situation to step up our ambition to tackle climate change.”
Birol said he had urged political and global financial leaders to design “sustainable stimulus packages” that focus on investing in clean energy technologies and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.
“This is a historic opportunity for the world to, on one hand, create packages to recover the economy, but on the other hand, to reduce dirty investments and accelerate the energy transition,” he said.
The health crisis has hammered the economy in the week since the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic. Stock markets have seen some of their toughest days of trading, sparking fears of a global economic recession.
“The global economy is going through very difficult times and the energy sector is disproportionately affected,” said Birol. “Aviation represents 1% of the global economy but it’s 8% of global oil consumption.”
“I understand that when I talk to governments, they are very much preoccupied with the current economic turmoil but we should keep the eye on the ball that is addressing climate change,” he said.
Birol was speaking before reports in US media that President Donald Trump would be seeking an $850 billion stimulus package, including $50 billion for airlines.
Last year, a report by UN Environment found the world needed to cut emissions by 7.6% per year until 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century – the tougher temperature goal countries committed to under the Paris Agreement.
In most recent years, global emissions have increased but they stagnated in 2019, according to an IEA analysis.
Birol insisted 2019 could mark a definite peak in emissions, but only if governments seized interventions to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus as the moment to gear the economy towards a green transition.
“It may well be the case that we will see 2020 emissions decline. In my view, this is not a reason to celebrate because emissions reduction should be the result of right energy policies,” he said.
In a statement last week, Birol wrote that such policies could include large-scale investments in clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies.
The massive investment plan outlined by Birol echoed proposals such as the EU Commission’s “green deal for Europe” aimed at accelerating the shift of capital towards the green economy while creating climate-proof jobs.
The IEA estimates annual fossil fuel consumption subsidies are worth $400 billion worldwide, 40% of which are used to make oil products cheaper.
Birol expressed optimism governments could bend the emissions growth curve this year because of a number of favourable factors.
An IEA analysis found that 70% of global energy investments is driven by governments directly or indirectly as a response to policy. Meanwhile, the low cost of clean energy strengthens the economic case for the clean energy transition to drive stimulus packages.
“This is a huge opportunity we cannot miss,” he said. “Here the issue is not only the level of money [dedicated to stimulate the economy] but the direction of the money,” he said.
The coronavirus outbreak has sent the aviation industry reeling from one of its biggest economic shocks in recent years.
But the virus is also putting the finger on one of the industry’s most difficult challenges: curbing the sector’s increasing greenhouse gas emissions from a baseline of 2019 and 2020.
As part of goals to limit emissions, members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao), the UN body responsible for aviation, have agreed an “aspirational goal” to make all growth in international flights after 2020 carbon neutral.
Under the plan, countries have agreed to use a market-based offset mechanism known as Corsia to mitigate emissions from flying. Offsets are the primary tool to curb the sector’s emissions with alternative fuels and energy efficiency technologies not developed at scale.
The resolution to establish Corsia adopted in 2016 states that the sector’s growth should be offset compared with a baseline of average total emissions for 2019 and 2020.
But with thousands of flights grounded because of the coronavirus, emissions from aviation are anticipated to fall this year, reducing average emissions over the two years.
If traffic rebounds in coming years, growth from the baseline will be bigger than previously expected, forcing airlines to do more to offset emissions than they would if flights in 2020 were unaffected by coronavirus.
Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it anticipated revenue losses for passenger business of between $63 billion and $113 billion. Airline share prices have also been hit hard by the outbreak, now considered a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
“Emissions can rebound next year from the coronavirus situation,” Annie Petsonk, aviation expert at Environmental Defense Fund, told Climate Home News, adding “airlines could have more to offset” emissions growth.
On the other hand, “the coronavirus paired with concerns about climate change could mean that people will act more carefully about getting to places in the future,” she said.
Separately, Petsonk wrote in a statement that Icao was likely to come under pressure to “change the fundamentals of Corsia” to ease the financial hardship for airlines.
That could include calls to revise the 2019-20 baseline. “This would be a dangerous mistake because it might trigger a reconvening of the 190+ member countries of Icao’s Assembly to renegotiate the hard-fought 2016 resolution,” she wrote.
From January 2021, only flights between countries which have volunteered to participate in the Corsia system will have to compensate for the growth in their emissions. From 2027, offsetting obligations will become mandatory for all international flights.
On Friday, Icao’s council – a body of 36 countries, including the world’s largest air travel manufacturing and infrastructure nations – is due to start discussing which of 14 carbon offset schemes airlines will be allowed to use during the first three-year voluntary stage. The meeting is due to last until 20 March.
The decision is key to the integrity of the Corsia scheme in delivering real emissions reductions since it will impact the quality and quantity of offsets that airlines will be able to buy to cancel out the growth of their emissions.
The inclusion of credits from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a carbon market set up under the Kyoto Protocol, is a concern for observers and campaigners, who fear this could flood the market with billions of cheap credits that have not actually achieved emissions cuts.
A 2016 EU-commissioned report found that just 2% of CDM projects were highly likely to ensure “additional” emissions reductions.
Icao’s Technical Advisory Body (TAB) made a set of recommendations to the council, which have not been made public. Climate Home News understands that at least six of the 14 schemes that applied have been judged eligible to be used under Corsia.
Campaigners have called on Icao to publish the TAB recommendations, warning against the risk of a back room deal and the politicisation of the decision.
In a letter, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation warned the council its decisions and “the transparency with which you make these, puts the credibility of aviation’s climate efforts in the global spotlight”.
The start date to accept offset projects could have a key impact on the scheme’s integrity.
A study by Ecosystem Marketplace found that starting the crediting period in 2013, would allow for a billion tonnes of carbon credits from the CDM to become available under Corsia.
That is the equivalent of six to ten times airlines’ foreseeable demand, according to Ecosystem Marketplace.
Another option, reportedly being considered by Icao, is to include offsets that were based on emission reduction activities that have taken place between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2020.
“A lot of people began developing projects in 2016 explicitly because Corsia was announced that year,” said Steve Zwick of Ecosystem Marketplace.
An analysis by Carbon Market Watch found that credits currently available on the voluntary markets, which exclude credits from the CDM for instance, are enough to cover Corsia’s demand well into 2025.
“This would leave five years for new projects to start and generate credits for the rest of Corsia,” Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch said, insisting eligibility should been defined by the quality over quantity of credits.
In its letter, the ICSA has called on Icao’s council members to exclude any offsets from projects which were started before 2020.
ICSA also called on the council to ensure emissions reductions are not double counted by both the airline buying the credits and the host country benefiting from the project.
There is still no international agreement on avoiding double counting emissions reduction after countries failed to agree on the issue at the last UN climate talks in Madrid in December.
Though it has not had much publicity outside east Kent, the application to turn Manston (which has been closed as an airport since May 2014) into a freight airport could be an important case. It was the first airport to have to take its plans through the DCO (Development Consent Order) process, dependant on the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). Manston is a crazy place to have a freight airport, being at the north eastern tip of Kent, miles from anywhere. It always failed as an airport in the past, largely due to its location. The Heathrow runway has been blocked by the Court of Appeal, which ruled (27th March) the ANPS is illegal, as it did not take carbon emissions into account properly. That has implications for Manston’s plans. Already before the Court judgment, the Manston DCO had been delayed from 18th January, to 18th May. The initial DCO application had nothing on carbon emissions. Something was finally added, because of pressure from local campaigners. Now lawyers say the decision about Manston’s DCO could have implications for other airport DCOs in future including Gatwick and Luton, as well as Heathrow. . Tweet
HIDING IN PLANE SIGHT – MANSTON: THE AIRPORT EXPANSION STORY NO-ONE IS TALKING ABOUT … AND WHY, PERHAPS, THEY SHOULD
By Emma Montlake (Environmental Law Foundation, ELF)
While Heathrow Airport Ltd ponders its next move in light of the historic judgment of 27 February 2020, the first big test of the Government’s resolve as regards airport expansion in light of the Paris Agreement – and NetZero – is already deep into its final stages. A decision is due on the UK’s first ever airport Development Consent Order (DCO) on 18 May 2020.
This follows an announcement earlier this year – with very little fanfare – from the Department for Transport of a delay in the Development Consent Order (DCO) decision on Manston Airport, with plans to turn the current lorry park and former airfield into a new dedicated air cargo hub.
As this is the UK’s first ever airport DCO – the process which the Planning Act 2008 sets out for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) – decisions made for the Manston DCO could have implications for other airport NSIPs to follow, including Gatwick, Luton and – yes – Heathrow.
Response from the media and even airport expansion and environmental campaigners has been muted. In a list of 21 airport expansion schemes around the UK highlighted by Extinction Rebellion’s call-to-action on Twitter, posted 48 hours after the DfT announcement, the plans to develop Manston were completely ignored and not included in the list. Nor was it featured in Carbon Brief’s recent study of UK airports currently seeking to expand.
This is as surprising as it is concerning – and not just for the locals who have fought an extraordinary campaign against the developer’s proposals. Buried at number 22 of the 30 issues where the Secretary of State is seeking further clarification before deciding on the Manston DCO, there’s the small matter of climate change. Specifically, whether the carbon emissions contribution from the airport development – proposed somewhat fancifully as “Nationally Significant” – might impact on the UK’s commitment to meet Net Zero emissions by 2050.
Crucially, when the High Court initially found in favour of the Government against campaigners who launched a judicial review of the Airports National Policy Statement and Heathrow’s third runway on climate change grounds, paragraph 648 of the May 2019 judgment ruled that “at the DCO stage this issue will be re-visited on the basis of the then up-to-date scientific position”. The February 2020 Court of Appeal judgment does not change this – in fact, it asserts at para 275 that “it is incumbent on the Government to approach the decision-making in accordance with the law at each stage”, (our emphasis), “not only in the current review of the ANPS or at a future development consent stage”.
Whilst there is much to celebrate in the Court of Appeal judgment of 27 February, the conclusion of the Lords Justice was very clear at para 285 that “we have not decided, and could not decide, that there could be no third runway at Heathrow”.
In essence, the recent judgment has removed – pending review – policy support for Heathrow, but DCO applications will still continue. In this respect, the DCO examination process remains our last line of defence, (judicial reviews on the Secretary of State’s DCO decisions notwithstanding).
As the UK’s first ever proposed airport development to go through the DCO examination process, Manston is the first time the government’s resolve will have been tested post-Heathrow judgment and on the “up-to-date scientific position” of the NetZero report, published a little over mid-way through the six month examination. Which makes the lack of attention from environmental groups and media alike all the more surprising, especially given the latest ruling and impact this may have on airport expansion schemes across the UK – including any prospective Heathrow DCO application.
Bizarrely, when the UK Planning Inspectorate set out the list of Principal Issues to be examined in the Manston DCO during the Preliminary Hearing in January last year, climate change did not even make the list, with the Examining Authority claiming it would instead “conduct all aspects of the Examination with these objectives in mind”. Only the intervention of local campaigners during that hearing ensured climate change was added as a Principal Issue in its own right, with the necessary weight and focus that this entails.
The Manston DCO applicant, Riveroak Strategic Partners, (RSP), was represented in the latter stages of the DCO hearings by the same QC who represented Heathrow Airports Ltd during its two most recent judicial review hearings. And that set alarm bells ringing in our heads that, perhaps, there may be a bigger game at stake here, especially with the approach the Applicant took on the climate change issue during those DCO hearings.
Seeking, perhaps, to avoid any further discussion or investigation of the issue, the argument was put forward that “Government explained during those [Heathrow] judicial reviews its decision and those grounds of challenge to the Airports National Policy Statement failed,” adding that “it’s not the function of this examination … to re-examine Government policy”.
Essentially, the Applicant appeared to be arguing that the climate change issue as it relates to aviation emissions had already been set down by Government, decided in the original Heathrow judgment of May 2019 and needed no further examination during the DCO hearings. Needless to say, the exact opposite approach was taken during the recent Heathrow Court of Appeal case, with the February 2020 judgment reporting at para 275 the Heathrow argument that:
“… it is unnecessary and inappropriate to grant a remedy in these proceedings because policy in the ANPS requires the applicant for development consent to provide evidence of the carbon impact of the project “such that it can be assessed against the Government’s carbon obligations” .
So how was the carbon impact and assessed against the Government’s carbon obligations during the first airport DCO? In the entire examination, only four written questions were asked by the Examining Authority specifically on the Principal Issue of climate change. Every single one of them was related to the proposed development’s approach to climate change adaptation. In other words, how the developers proposed mitigating against the impact of climate change on the airport rather than the other way around. A further written question was asked under the General and Cross Topic heading, specifically relating to energy consumption and dependency on road surface access. At no point were any questions asked relating to aviation emissions during the Examination – until the Secretary of State’s most recent question in January this year.
The lack of attention on Manston is perhaps hardly surprising from Government. On the one hand, there’s the fact that the DfT has spent millions converting the Manston site into a lorry park for Operation Brock/Stack and may not want to draw attention to the idea of now turning it back into an airport. On the other, the DfT’s often preferred airport consultants, York Aviation, submitted reams of evidence during the DCO process questioning the credibility of the applicant, the strength of their need case and the viability of their proposals. In response to the Secretary of State for Transport’s recent call for Comments and Further Information in its follow-up Consultation, York Aviation again confirmed its reports from 2013 and 2015 “do not, as was made clear in our subsequent reports, support the case for a new dedicated freight airport in Kent”.
Coming so soon after FlyBe, this has all the hallmarks of, at best, another regional airport bail-out waiting to happen and, at worst, Grant Shapps’ very own Seabourne Freight fiasco in the sky, (Skyborne Freight?).
But as the DfT comes under criticism in yet another legal challenge for a culture that has been “highly resistant to openness and transparency”, it must be said that this is not the issue here. The DCO process, for all its flaws, is predicated on these principles, with every single one of the record-breaking 1,997 documents submitted and 648 pages of questions asked made publicly available on the UK Planning Inspectorate website, along with high quality recordings of every single hearing.
Yet openness and transparency are meaningless where there is an almost total lack of external scrutiny. So far, this has been the case here from anyone other than the 2,000+ local individuals and organisations who fed into the DCO process. That’s ten times higher than the national average for any DCO – and the second highest ever – but the weighty voices of the larger national campaign groups and NGOs are not amongst them, save for the local branch of the CPRE.
Tempting though it may be to write this off as yet more evidence that the Applicant’s vision for Manston isn’t nearly as “nationally significant” as they claim it to be, there is a real danger lurking.
If the Manston DCO is refused – as it most surely must be – it will be because the Applicant has failed to present a credible case. Amongst the many issues – besides the climate change/NetZero question – the Applicant provided no credible evidence of financial backing or previous airport development or operational experience, the airport site has poor surface access and previous attempts to operate commercial services – including freight – from previous incarnations of Manston Airport ended in repeated failure and closure of the site in 2014. Since then, numerous industry experts have repeatedly made clear that there is no need for a new dedicated freight airport in this corner of Kent.
This being the case, if a DCO application this wanting is granted, it will be because we just weren’t paying enough attention and let this one slip through.
This could set a dangerous precedent for all the other airport DCOs to follow – including Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton – and the environmental groups who seek to set limits on exponential airport expansion.
Having made contact with the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), the significant issues around the proposed development and reopening of Manston Airport – and their potential impact on other airport DCOs to follow – are now being brought further into light through the very much-welcome and vital support of the organisation. With the DCO decision deadline extended until 18 May, following the Secretary of State for Transport’s recent call for Comments and Further Information on a range of matters – including climate change – the ELF sought and submitted a legal opinion on this issue on behalf of local campaigners, which has now been included within their own submissions. (See ELF submission here, from page 4-20).
The importance of this is made clear at paragraph 42 of the ELF submission, which notes:
“…this is the first DCO process for an airport expansion, and will be likely to be followed by others. As such, this approach to the assessment of climate change will provide an invokable precedent” (emphasis added).
While the cost of the Manston DCO will be all too visible, breathable, smellable and audible in the historic town of Ramsgate – with 40,000 residents sitting directly under the flight path just over a mile from the runway and with overflying planes at a maximum altitude of 700 feet – the wider threat of rampant airport expansion, new airports and the environmental impact on us all is hiding in plane sight.
Delay till May for Shapps to decide whether to allow Manston Development Consent Order (“DCO”)
January 19, 2020
The decision by the DfT on whether to re-open Manston as an airport again for air cargo has been delayed for four months. It had been expected on 18th January. The airport has been closed since 2014. RiverOak Strategic Partners, the consortium behind the scheme, had applied for the airport to be considered as a nationally significant infrastructure project. Having had 3 months to digest the Planning Inspectorates’ report, the DfT now want more information from RiverOak by 31 January. The Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps has set a new deadline of 18 May 2020 for the decision to be made. The Aviation Strategy is expected before summer recess, with the DfT consultation on climate imminent, so the DfT are giving themselves until May to avoid shooting themselves in the foot on carbon, as they did with Flybe. RiverOak are trying to argue that Manston could be successful on cargo, as “the air freight market is ripe for an alternative to the overcrowded London airports system”. Some people in the area are hoping Manston could provide jobs; others are deeply concerned about the noise from old freighter aircraft during the night, flying over residential areas (the approach path is right over Ramsgate).
Manston airport decision before long, after Planning Inspectorate sends recommendation to Grant Shapps
October 22, 2019
Government planners, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) , have made their decision on whether a bid to reopen Manston Airport as a cargo hub should be backed. The recommendations have been sent to Transport Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps, who has 3 months to decide whether to grant planning permission to site owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) in the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO). The decision is made the SoS because the airport re-opening is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) which is not decided by a local authority. It the SoS approves the plans, the owners RSP will probably use the airport primarily for air cargo. In July Stone Hill, the site’s previous owners, agreed to sell the land to RSP for £16.5m, instead of their plan to build up to 3,700 homes on it. The tonnage of air freight has risen by only 11% in the UK in the past 10 years, with most going through Heathrow. But RSP says “there has been continuing growth in the air freight cargo market, driven chiefly by the increase in e-commerce and … e-fulfillment…” Manston re-opening will be strenuously opposed by local people, largely to noise over Ramsgate, from old, noisy freighters, often at night.
Manston airport has another possible chance to take cargo planes in future
August 17, 2018
Manston, once named as Kent International, was shut down four years ago. Plans to turn it into a cargo airport will be subjected to a public inquiry. An application to upgrade the airfield and reopen it primarily as a cargo airport was accepted by the government’s Planning Inspectorate. Its ambitions to be a cargo airport come from the days when it was touted as a viable alternative to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted when, for a time, it traded under the name Kent International Airport. It was used by old, noisy and often clapped-out planes, that caused serious noise nuisance to residents of Ramsgate, where houses are situated on the approach path, almost up to the airport – and planes flew at night. The plans put forward by Riveroak Strategic Partners, Manston’s proposed operator, must first be subjected to a public inquiry in which local people can express their views. Cargo could perhaps be transferred onto the road system, from the airport. But its location, so far out to the north east of Kent, is far from ideal for any sort of airport. In 2012, Flybe and KLM launched services from Manston in the mistaken belief that it could be a passenger airport.
A new report has been produced by the government-funded research group, called Catapult Energy Systems, whose computer models are used by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises government. The report called “Innovating to Net Zero” looked at various scenarios for the UK to cut its carbon emissions by 2050. It considers that the UK cannot go climate neutral much before 2050 unless people stop flying and eating red meat almost completely. It also warns that the British public do not look ready to take such steps and substantially change their lifestyle. For the world to have a realistic chance of avoiding an average global temperature rise of over 2 degrees C, carbon cuts internationally will have to be made well before 2050. The report says it might be possible for the UK to get to net zero by 2050, but only if ministers act much more quickly. And as well as cutting flying, the UK will only manage to continue with our current lifestyles, if there is a lot of progress on carbon capture and storage with bioenergy crops; hydrogen for a wide variety of uses if there is spare renewably generated electricity; and advanced nuclear power. Even if flying was almost eliminated, the UK is unlikely to reach net zero before 2045.
Climate change: UK ‘can’t go climate neutral before 2050’
By Roger Harrabin (BBC environment analyst)
10th March 2020
The UK cannot go climate neutral much before 2050 unless people stop flying and eating red meat almost completely, a report says.
But it warns that the British public do not look ready to take such steps and substantially change their lifestyle.
The report challenges the views of campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
It believes the UK target of climate neutrality by 2050 will result in harm to the climate.
The claim comes from the government-funded research group Energy Systems Catapult, whose computer models are used by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises government.
Its report says: “A number of groups have called for net zero to be accelerated to 2025, 2030 or 2040.
“Achieving net zero significantly earlier than 2050 in our modelling exceeds even our most speculative measures, with rates of change for power, heat and road transport that push against the bounds of plausibility.”
Glimmer of good news
But the authors offer some optimism too. They calculate that the UK can cut emissions fast enough to be climate neutral by 2050 – but only if ministers act much more quickly.
They say the government urgently needs to invest in three key technologies: carbon capture and storage with bioenergy crops; hydrogen for a wide variety of uses; and advanced nuclear power.
The report modelled options for society to 2050. It concluded that if decisions are made early, the cost of climate neutrality can be held down to 1-2% of national wealth – GDP.
Scenarios rely on some technologies still in their infancy, which will be controversial. For instance, it draws heavily on burning energy crops, capturing the carbon emissions and burying them underground.
It says hydrogen use will need to grow to supply industry, heat and heavy transport.
Electricity generation will need to double with heavy reliance on solar power and offshore wind.
Controversially, it calls for small, modular nuclear reactors to support three-quarters of heating in cities through district heating systems. Modular reactors are much smaller than conventional reactors, and brought to a site in a kit of parts to be assembled.
It warns that livestock production for dairy and meat may need to be cut by 50% rather than the 20% currently envisaged by the Committee on Climate Change. And people will need to eat less meat and dairy by the same amount.
The report’s author, Scott Milne, said: “Whichever pathway the UK takes, innovation, investment and inducements across low-carbon technology, land use and lifestyle are essential to achieve net zero.
“And there are massive economic opportunities for the UK to lead the world in these areas.”
However, the report warns that the public do not appear ready for substantial lifestyle changes. It warns, for instance, that if people’s homes are better insulated, they may choose to spend the same amount on heating to deliver a warmer home.
It says: “Early evidence suggests a general willingness to adopt new technologies (such as new heating or mobility) as long as these can deliver the same experiences as before.
“Conversely, approaching the subject of dietary change or aviation often elicits a more resistant and emotional response.”
Some experts will be critical of the report’s expectation that new technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be rapidly adopted.
A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion told BBC News: “The global response to coronavirus shows we can radically address crises if we put our minds to it. Meanwhile, the net zero date has not been put to the people of the UK.
“The science tells us that net zero by 2050 means a hell of a lot worse than giving up flying and red meat – people are dying now around the world as you read this due to governmental inaction.”
The report was not welcomed by the National Beef Association.
Its spokesman Neil Shand told BBC News that scientific studies typically underestimate the role of livestock in capturing carbon in the soil.
He said: “It does seem rather unfortunate that the report links beef production and aviation in this way.
“The timing is more than a little ironic; the shops are full of people panic-buying and it seems clear that the nation’s food sector relies very heavily on imports, and the associated transport that brings them into the UK.
“Food produced on their own doorstep, using a system where animal and non-animal foods are symbiotic requires very little air travel, and makes excellent use of the resources our beautiful country provides. Foreign travel does not have the same necessity.”
In addition, a report from a group of environmentally-minded business leaders has called on the government to show increased ambition and delivery of carbon-cutting policies to get the UK on track to meet climate goals.
It said there was an urgent need especially for policies to bring low-carbon heating to people’s homes.
A new report by Energy Systems Catapult has found Net Zero by 2050 is possible if the UK supports innovation and scale-up across three essential areas – Low Carbon Technology, Land Use and Lifestyle.
The Innovating to Net Zero report modelled 100s of potential pathways to 2050 – ramping up or down different technologies and behaviour changes – to understand the combinations, interactions and trade-offs of competing decarbonisation approaches.
Meeting the UK’s Net Zero target will require unprecedented innovation across the economy. Innovation not just in new technologies, but in new ways of deploying existing technologies, new business models, new consumer offerings, and, crucially, new policy, regulation and market design.
The Challenge and Opportunity
In 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change published evidence on what would be required for a 1.5°C limit and the implications of not doing so.
In June 2019, the UK Government amended the Climate Change Act from 80% to 100% GHG emissions reduction – or Net Zero – by 2050. ‘Net’ means balancing any residual emissions with an equal quantity of carbon removals from the atmosphere, as long as this takes place in the UK.
In March 2020, Energy Systems Catapult released an update of its internationally peer-reviewed Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME) to take account of Net Zero targets.
The new ESME report Innovating to Net Zero has found that meeting the UK’s Net Zero target will require unprecedented innovation across the economy. Innovation not just in new technologies, but in new ways of deploying existing technologies, new business models, new consumer offerings, and, crucially, new policy, regulation and market design.
While the challenge is daunting, the commercial opportunity for those companies able to deliver the innovations needed is huge. This analysis will help identify those opportunities, and what may be needed to unlock them. While our assumptions should be challenged, our goal is to show ‘what you have to believe’ in order to deliver Net Zero.
The internationally peer-reviewed Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME) is the UK’s leading techno-economic whole system model – it has been used by the Committee on Climate Change, industry, academia and the UK Government. EMSE is independent of sector interests and identifies cost-optimised decarbonisation pathways.
ESME is a whole-system optimisation model and finds the least-cost combination of energy resources and technologies that satisfy UK energy service demands along the pathway to 2050. Constraints include emissions targets, resource availability and technology deployment rates, as well as operational factors that ensure adequate system capacity and flexibility.
Importantly, ESME includes a multi-regional UK representation and can assess the infrastructure needed to join up resources, technologies and demands across the country, such as transmission and distribution of electricity and gas, and pipelines and storage for CO2.
The previous options in ESME were sufficient for exploring 80% pathways. For Net Zero, new technology and behaviour change options have been added for different scenarios:
Ships fuelled by hydrogen/ammonia
Decarbonisation of industry via electrification or hydrogen have been extended
Off-road mobile machinery to transition away from fossil fuels
Carbon, capture and storage with 99% capture rates (up from 95%)
Direct air carbon capture and storage
More UK biomass and forestry
Larger reductions in livestock farming.
Slower aviation demand growth.
Net Zero narrows the set of viable pathways for the future energy system. Where an 80% target allowed considerable variation in relative effort across the economy, with some fossil fuels still permissible in most sectors, Net Zero leaves little slack. Innovating to Net Zero has found:
Success depends on innovation across the whole system: in technology, land use change and behaviour.
Net Zero before 2050 is not possiblewithout highly speculative changes to lifestyle, land use and low carbon technologies. Even if demand for aviation and livestock products were eliminated by 2050, and technology deployment raised to even more ambitious rates, Net Zero could only be brought forward to 2045.
CCS and bioenergy are both essential to delivering Net Zero. While an 80% target was still possible without CCS and scaling up biomass but with a much higher system cost. Failure to deploy either option means foregoing the negative emissions essential to offsetting continued demand for aviation and livestock products. Under Net Zero, CCS is also vital for mitigating industrial emissions and hydrogen production.
Land use must be optimised to balance carbon sequestration with other priorities. New forestry can provide a net carbon sink for decades during growth and bring wider environmental benefits. Biomass crops, when regularly harvested for energy (coupled with CCS), offer more intensive and indefinite sequestration.
Hydrogen may need to grow from virtually zeroto levels equivalent to today’s electricity generation to supply industry, heat and heavy transport.
Electricity generation will need to double to supply huge increases in heating and transport (perhaps treble if hydrogen uses electrolysis). Offshore/onshore wind and solar will need to grow significantly under any scenario. Advanced nuclear technologies and small modular nuclear – 7GW or around 20 odd reactors at 300MW each – supporting ¾ of all District Heat in cities – more than a 10-fold rise.
Net Zero cost can be limited to 1-2% of GDP with stable, credible policies enacted this Parliament to help reduce the cost of capital for the private sector.
Policy and Regulatory reform
Robust and enduring policies and regulation will be essential to building the necessary confidence with innovators to invest in low carbon products and services.
Economic incentives to go low carbon – balanced, economywide framework of market, pricing and regulatory interventions – such as new carbon standards for buildings to promote adoption of low or zero carbon heating and potentially road transport, and new incentives for climate friendly land use choices.
Local Area Energy Planning – rolled out to identify the unique low carbon solutions, infrastructure and investment needs in different local areas to shape decision making
CCS and hydrogen production – direct support for innovation and early deployment in industrial clusters, including funding mechanisms for CO2 transport & storage infrastructure.
Reform of power markets – to improve efficiency and unlock flexibility and distributed low carbon technologies, including to match user needs and local system circumstances.
Open energy data and digitalisation governance framework in line with recommendations of the Energy Data Taskforce to enable tailored consumer-focused innovation, business models, market designs and consumer protections.
Development of tradable instruments such as carbon credits, and associated market arrangements, to enable capital to flow to sectors where emissions reductions are being delivered most efficiently, so for markets to reveal least-cost combinations. https://es.catapult.org.uk/reports/innovating-to-net-zero/
Net Zero requires society-wide adoption of low carbon heating and transport technologies. It may also mean limiting growth in aviation demand and changing diets.
Our early public engagement suggests a general willingness to adopt new technologies (such as new heating or mobility) as long as these can deliver the same experiences as before. However, approaching the subject of dietary change or aviation often elicits a more resistant and emotional response.
Even if demand for aviation and livestock products were eliminated by 2050, and technology deployment raised to even more ambitious rates, Net Zero could only be brought forward to 2045.
Slower aviation demand growth. Normally assumes an increase in passenger demand of 60% vs 2005 levels. Speculative holds this to only 20% growth.
Aviation and shipping The number of international flights continues to increase, with the average distance flown by people in the UK reaching an average of nearly 7,500km per year by 2050. New engine and aircraft designs increase efficiencies through to 2050, improving the fuel consumption of aircraft. However, without new, low-carbon propulsion technologies, aviation is unable to move away from fossil fuels.
Patchwork deep dive
Aviation and shipping By 2050, the average distance travelled is 5,000km per person per year – equivalent to two short trips to Europe each year. These short haul journeys to the continent might one day be suitable for some form of low-carbon aircraft but this does not happen before 2050. So, to maintain an industry in a world where people are concerned with their individual carbon footprints, flight operators ensure that their aircraft are the most efficient on the market, retiring older planes when better ones become available.
We anticipate continued emissions from aviation, livestock, and parts of industry, meaning the system requires negative emissions if the target is to be achieved.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) CCS encompasses a family of technologies with applications in the production of various energy carriers (electricity, hydrogen, bio-methane and liquid bio-fuels), and in industrial processes like steel and cement manufacturing. In combination with biomass, CCS can help to generate negative emissions, alleviating the need to eliminate activities that are hard to treat, like aviation.
To meet Net Zero, a more profound transition is required. Negative emissions can help counter residual emissions from activities like aviation, but wherever possible delivery of final energy by fossil fuels is substituted out. As a result, the share of fossil fuel in the final energy mix falls to 25%
In our central assumptions, aviation demand in 2050 climbs to 60% above 2005 levels, though progress in technology and logistics means overall emissions are relatively unchanged at ~30MtCO2
Aviation therefore relies on breakthrough innovation elsewhere to ensure sufficient quantities of negative emissions to offset this.
In our maximum scenario described on page 45, we even consider the impact of eliminating aviation altogether by 2050.
In short, this MAX pathway involves a rate of change for power, heat and road transport that pushes against the bounds of plausibility. Achieving Net Zero any earlier than 2045 cannot rely on further acceleration of these. Instead, it would have to be through more rapid (non-linear) reductions in aviation and livestock emissions (or more rapid scale up of sequestration measures)
A majority of European citizens would support a ban on short-distance flights to fight climate change, according to a recent survey the European Investment Bank (EIB). Of 28,088 respondents to the survey, 62% favoured a ban. And 72% said they would support a carbon tax on flights. The poll, conducted in September-October 2019, covered the then-28 European Union member states, including Britain. It simply asked about support for a ban on short-distance flights and did not specify the length. Emissions from flights inside the European Economic Area are covered by the EU carbon market, the Emissions Trading System. These CO2 emissions increased in each of 5 years, 2014-2018, according to the latest available EU data. More people are aware of the climate impact of flying, and considering cutting down how much they fly. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said all sectors must contribute to the EU’s target to reduce the bloc’s net emissions to zero by 2050. The EIB said its survey showed Europeans might support action to tackle climate change, even when it impacts their daily lives. . Tweet
Ban short-haul flights for climate? In EU poll 62% say yes
By Kate Abnett
A majority of European citizens would support a ban on short-distance flights to fight climate change, according to a survey the European Investment Bank (EIB) said on Tuesday.
Of 28,088 respondents to the survey, 62% favored a ban and an even greater majority of 72% said they would support a carbon tax on flights. The poll, conducted in September-October 2019, covered the then-28 European Union member states, including Britain.
It simply asked about support for a ban on short-distance flights and did not specify the length.
Emissions from flights inside the European Economic Area are covered by the EU carbon market. These emissions increased every year over the five years to 2018, according to the latest available EU data.
Europe’s aviation sector faces increased scrutiny from customers and regulators over its carbon footprint and it is also battling other headwinds, including a sharp drop in demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said all sectors must contribute to the EU’s target to reduce the bloc’s net emissions to zero by 2050.
Some airlines have started voluntarily offseting emissions using carbon credits, although it is not clear whether the EU would accept these as a contribution to its 2050 goal.
The EIB, which is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and is owned by the bloc’s member states, has ambitious goals on sustainable finance.
The bank said last year it would stop funding unabated fossil fuel energy projects at the end of 2021.
The EIB said its survey showed Europeans support action to tackle climate change, even when it impacts their daily lives, but measures that would cause direct cost increases tended to receive less support.
A large majority of respondents – 91% – were in favor of schools teaching about climate change and recycling, while 85% said they supported a ban on single-use plastic items. The EU will ban single-use plastic items, including straws, cutlery and cotton buds, next year.
The poll found 59% of respondents were in favor of higher prices for carbon-intensive food and goods, such as red meat, food transported over long distances and some clothing.
Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by John Chalmers and Barbara Lewis
EIB climate survey finds big support for banning short-distance flights and penalising car use in city centres
The third part of the survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, found that 82% of Europeans believe that communities and workers most affected by the transition to clean energy should receive financial support. In terms of transportation and climate-conscious consumption, 62% of Europeans favour a ban on short-distance flights, while 59% support a price increase for food and goods that have a large carbon footprint. 91% of Europeans back school programmes that promote climate change and waste sorting.
The purpose of this release of the EIB climate survey is to reveal how Europeans perceive their responsibilities in fighting climate change and to search for policy solutions.
“Climate change is among the main concerns of European citizens. They are prepared to make personal sacrifices to fight global warming and to live in a more sustainable way, but at the same time they expect governments and companies to take action to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental protection. We must all be part of the answer to this challenge,” Vice-President Emma Navarro