Tom Tugendhat letter to Aviation Minister – on need for proper scrutiny of Gatwick future main runway growth

The expansion that Gatwick might perhaps eventually be allowed, by using its emergency runway as a full runway, would require proper scrutiny through the planning Development Control process (DCO). The airport might be able to handle up to an extra 50,000 annual flights by doing that.  However, more expansion and more extra annual flights could be added, by making more use of the single main runway.  That might add another 60,000 annual flights (about 16 million annual passengers).  But because there would be no physical building work required (no extra runway length or extra terminal) there would be no planning permission needed, and no chance for public scrutiny of the impacts of the gradual expansion. Now Tom Tugendhat (MP for Tonbridge & Malling) has written to Robert Courts, the Aviation Minister, to ask for a meeting to discuss this anomaly. He says the main runway growth would be “more than the aggregate growth at the 5 UK airports that are currently seeking expansion.  In each of those cases the proposed growth has been robustly scrutinised and communities have been able to have their say. The government cannot simply ignore the greater impacts at Gatwick because it has different planning position.”
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Letter copied below

Letter to

Robert Courts MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR

28th July 2021

Dear Robert,

You will be aware of the extensive correspondence you have had with Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) regarding the proposed main runway growth at Gatwick. I have been copied into much of it and have seen responses on the Department to GACC.

Two things clear from that correspondence. First that government policy requires any significant growth at an airport to be robustly scrutinised so that its benefits and its adverse impacts can be assessed, and an informed decision made. That is clearly right and I welcome it.

Secondly, that there has been no such scrutiny in relation to Gatwick’s proposed main runway growth, of some 16 million passengers per annum. Furthermore the government appears to have no current plans to ensure the scrutiny its policy requires will happen. That cannot be right.

I understand of course that Gatwick’s planning position is different from other major airports, and therefore that no automatic planning enquiry is triggered by its main growth plans.  However, that does not excuse the government from ensuring its policy is delivered.

I also understand that Gatwick’s separate standby runway growth plans will be reviewed through a Development Consent Order process, and I welcome that.  However, unless its scope is changed, the standby runway DCO process cannot refuse consent for main runway growth. It therefore will not achieve the scrutiny of main runway growth that is required.

Those circumstances mean that some imagination will be needed to find a different way of achieving the government’s policy in Gatwick’s unique circumstances and I’d be grateful if we could meet as soon as possible to explore how that could be done.

This is an important issue in Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling and, I understand, for many communities near the airport and under flight paths.  16 million passengers of growth will have very significant noise, climate, congestion and other impacts. It is more than the aggregate growth at the five UK airports* that are currently seeking expansion.  In each of those cases the proposed growth has been robustly scrutinised and communities have been able to have their say. The government cannot simply ignore the greater impacts at Gatwick because it has different planning position.

I look forward to meeting to discuss these important issues.

 

Tom Tugendhat

MP for Tonbridge and Malling

tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk

www.tomtugendhat.org.uk

  • * the 5 airports currently trying to expand are Bristol, Southampton, Leeds Bradford, Stansted and Manston.

See earlier:

CAGNE and GACC join call to suspend expansion of Gatwick  – and an airport expansion moratorium

10th May 2021

Both Gatwick groups have joined 14 other UK community groups from eight airports in calling for all airport expansion to be halted, because of the Government’s move to include international aviation in carbon budgets, from 2033, and legislation. The campaigners’ letter to the Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps) and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Robert Jenrick) to ‘suspend the determination of all applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until noise and climate policies were in place, against which such applications could be judged.’  There is due to be a consultation on UK aviation carbon emissions in the next month or so. It is irresponsible act for Government to allow any airport expansion plans before this, prejudging the outcome of its net zero aviation and low carbon transport consultation.  Peter Barclay, chairman of GACC, added: “Airport expansion is completely inconsistent with the Government’s new approach to aviation emissions and the formal advice from the Committee on Climate Change.”   See full article at

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

The letter

https://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/2021/05/Airport-expansion-moratorium-letter-May-2021.pdf

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CAA says Gatwick proposal for a 2nd runway would not need airspace change, for the 50,000 extra flights on a 2nd runway

Gatwick airport has said will push ahead with plans for a 2nd runway after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled that the plan for another runway will not require changes to the airspace around Gatwick. That had potentially threatened to pose a significant barrier.  The CAA (paid for by the airlines) that is the regulator for the airlines, said that there would be no change to the design of flight paths in or out of Gatwick as a direct result of the new runway, adding: “The environmental impact relating to this proposal is assessed as nil.” (sic) [Presumably they are ignoring the carbon emissions which will not, of course, be nil].  Gatwick wants to have an extra 50,000 annual flights (up from around 285,000 now) by using its existing emergency runway as a full runway, part of the time. The airspace consent by the CAA effectively allows Gatwick to push ahead with a DCO (Development Consent Order), which is needed for the development, Currently the airport has been hit very hard by the Covid pandemic, with flights down by over 98% compared to last year, airlines facing almost no air travel demand, saying they may leave Gatwick, for Heathrow.

Click here to view full story…

Gatwick’s Big Enough Campaign writes to local authorities to ask that all Gatwick expansion plans should be properly scrutinised

The newly formed coalition of community groups, opposing the expansion of Gatwick airport and the noise made by its flights, has written to all the Leaders and CEOs of all Gatwick’s Host and Neighbouring local authorities. The letter proposes actions that Councils could take to ensure that all Gatwick’s proposed growth is properly scrutinised, as is the case at every other major UK airport. In particular it urges Councils to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to direct that Gatwick’s main runway development should be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) requiring development consent (a DCO) using his powers under section 35 of the Planning Act 2008. This would ensure that there was proper scrutiny of all proposed growth, of more flights on the existing runway – as well as more flights by using the current emergency runway as a full runway.  As things stand at present, the approximately 60% increase in flights that Gatwick plans would not require any particular planning scrutiny, while the use of the emergency runway (about 40% of the growth) would.  This is an anomaly. The groups are also keen to discuss the issues with the affected councils.

Click here to view full story…

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High Court refuses application for JR of government programme to build more roads

Campaigners have lost a legal challenge to the government’s £27bn roadbuilding programme after the high court judge, Mr Justice Holgate, dismissed their application for a judicial review. Lawyers for Transport Action Network (TAN) argued that the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, had drawn up the roads investment strategy for England, known as RIS2, without taking into account the UK’s climate commitments or assessing the additional carbon emissions and climate impact of another 4,000 miles of road. Bizarrely, the judge considered the road building plans were not irrational, in bad faith or manifestly absurd. He accepted the assurances of the DfT that the road building policy was consistent with the UK’s net zero target for 2050. And that a lot was being done to decarbonise road transport, but he added:  “Whether they are enough is not a matter for the court.” The campaigners, TAN, are appealing against the judgement.  The case could be an important precedent, relevant to aviation.  Prof Jillian Anable of Leeds University’s institute for transport studies said the DfT’s road building plans, and disregard for the the climate implications, “can only be interpreted as either blatant dishonesty or failure to understand the science.”

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Activists lose legal bid to stop £27bn roads plan for England

Climate campaigners appeal against judgment saying ministers are being ‘let off the hook’

By @GwynTopham  (Transport, at the Guardian)

Campaigners have lost a legal challenge to the government’s £27bn roadbuilding programme after the high court dismissed their application for a judicial review.

Lawyers for Transport Action Network (TAN) argued that the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, had drawn up the roads investment strategy for England, known as RIS2, without taking into account the UK’s environmental commitments or assessing the additional carbon emissions and climate impact of another 4,000 miles of road.

However, the judge, Mr Justice Holgate, said Shapps had received a “briefing, albeit laconic” from officials saying the policy was consistent with net zero targets, based on a comprehensive programme of analysis, and that Shapps did not need to know the actual numbers.

He said claimants had “a heavy evidential onus to establish that a decision was irrational, absent bad faith or manifest absurdity” and noted that the government was “taking a range of steps to tackle the need for urgency in addressing carbon production in the transport sector”, adding: “Whether they are enough is not a matter for the court.”

TAN argued Shapps was legally required to consider the effect on the environment and there was a clear inconsistency in increasing traffic during the worsening climate emergency.

The campaigners’ lawyers have appealed against the judgment and are crowdfunding for further legal costs.

A separate legal challenge to the national policy statement that underpins roadbuilding remains live, despite indications from government sources that it would settle the case after agreeing it needed to be reviewed when it published its transport decarbonisation plan. However, Shapps has since said the Department for Transport will not complete the review before 2023 and the policy will remain effective to support roadbuilding until then.

TAN said it was shocked by the ruling. Its director, Chris Todd, said: “In a month of unprecedented fires and floods, the effect of this judgment is to prioritise the ‘stability and certainty’ of the roads over that of our climate. This will surely send shivers down the spine of anyone hoping for urgent action … As the quickening pace of global heating threatens the rule of law, we need legislation upheld rather than ministers let off the hook.”

Prof Jillian Anable of Leeds University’s institute for transport studies, who acted as an expert witness for TAN, said the government’s “decision to continue to increase the pace of roadbuilding in a decade when the vast majority of vehicles on the road will still be petrol and diesel, and all modelling shows that we need to cut traffic in order to work within that carbon budget, can only be interpreted as either blatant dishonesty or failure to understand the science.”

 

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See earlier:

Legality of £27bn roads building programme in question due to climate targets

The legality of the government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) is to be determined by the High Court.  Campaigners from Transport Action Network (TAN) say transport secretary Grant Shapps broke the law when approving the £27.4bn road strategy, by failing to consider its effects on the environment.  The RIS2 is for road upgrades between 2020 and 2025 and includes the Lower Thames Crossing and the Stonehenge Tunnel. The challenge by TAN says there was a failure to take into account the UK’s net zero carbon emissions target as well as the Paris Climate Agreement. Also that the government “failed to carry out Strategic Environmental Assessment of RIS2”.  The TAN claim uses the precedent of the legal challenge of the Airports National Policy Statement. The DfT is arguing that the road building should go ahead, using the precedent of the failure of the challenge by Chris Packham against HS2.  TAN say: “If we are serious about tackling the climate emergency, improving quality of life after the pandemic and delivering a less congested future, we need to reduce traffic.”  If TAN succeeds, blocking road building, it could set an important precedent, not only for the UK, but globally, (airports, not only roads) in the run up to COP26 in November. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2021/06/legality-of-27bn-roads-building-programme-in-question-due-to-climate-targets/


See earlier, in 2020:

DfT ‘refuses to back down’ over £27bn roads legal challenge over carbon emissions

In April the Transport Action Network (TAN) revealed its intentions to launch a legal application to the High Court, as the DfT ignored environmental legislation in approving the five-year funding plan.  Now the DfT have given TAN’s lawyers its official response. It has “refused to back down”.  The legal challenge by TAN was made, as a result of the judgement by the Appeal Court in February, on the Heathrow case. It ruled that the Airports National Policy Statement  (ANPS) was illegal, as proper consideration had not been given to carbon emissions and the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. The DfT letter claims, rather improbably, that decarbonisation will be addressed ‘at a society-wide level’ and its largest ever roads plan in fact ‘is a fully-integrated part of this wider effort to reach net zero emissions’. The legal challenge, by the same lawyers who won the Heathrow case, will proceed with the case on road building. As the courts found the ANPS was illegal, any other NPS will have to take carbon properly into account. Heathrow is appealing to the Supreme court on the February ruling, with a hearing on the 9th and 10th October. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/05/dft-refuses-to-back-down-over-27bn-roads-challenge-over-carbon-emissions/

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The future of Eurostar: How can we save our green link to Europe?

The Eurostar is one of the best ways that people in Britain can get to Europe, (as well as the ferry) avoiding flying.  But it has really struggled during the pandemic. Eurostar had to refinance twice;  March 2021 it borrowed £400 million and received a cash injection of £170 million from its owners; and again in May 2021 another £250 million. The company had to reduce from 20 trains to Paris per day to 1 train a day for most of lockdown. Since getting the new finance deal in place in May it increased to 3 trains per day and hoped to have a good summer to try and recoup some of its losses. It is uncertain if it will increase to more than three trains per day, and talks are taking place between the company and the recognised trade unions regarding what happens when furlough ends on 30 September.  It does not look good, in the run up to the COP26 talks in November, for the UK not to be helping this lower form of transport to and from Europe. The 3 rails unions, TSSA, RMT and Aslef are adamant that Eurostar must be given necessary assistance. Zoom meeting open to the public on 4th August.
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The future of Eurostar: How can we save our green link to Europe?

By Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA union)

26.7.2021

It’ll come as a surprise to no one that Covid is still causing problems for holiday-makers. The myriad of issues – whether it is the constant flicker from green to amber and back again for the countries considered safe to travel to without isolating; the so-called ‘pingdemic’ which is not a problem of the Covid track and trace app, more a problem of the high number of cases; or just the uncertainty around booking due to holiday cancellations.

All this has meant the summer recovery has been elusive.

Eurostar has had to refinance twice now, in March 2021 it borrowed £400mil and received a cash injection of £170million from its owners; and again in May 2021 to the tune of £250m. The company was one of the first to stop running its services and has had to reduce from 20 trains to Paris a day to 1 train a day for most of lockdown. Since getting the new finance deal in place in May it ramped up to 3 trains a day and hoped to have a good summer to try and recoup some of its losses. 

We always thought this was a bit ambitious, but we heard that Eurostar has now frozen its plans to ramp up the services beyond the 3 trains a day and talks are taking place between the company and the recognised trade unions regarding what happens when furlough ends on 30 September.

Despite 70% of Eurostar staff being based in Britain, so far the Tory government have been hiding behind the French state ownership and refusing to commit any support to the company or the staff. 

We know that the government have bailed out airlines as a result of Covid, but have been shy about helping the only green link to the European mainland, a service which takes 60,000 planes out of the sky and saves 580,000 tonnes of CO2 per year polluting the atmosphere. And all this in the run-up to the climate negotiations taking place under Britain’s Presidency of the COP26 held in Glasgow in November. 

Johnson has been espousing his green credentials to the world but is prepared to let Eurostar fail, the consequences of which could be catastrophic to our emissions targets and green economy.

We can’t stand by and allow this to happen. All three of the rail unions have united together under the same banner to call for Shapps, the Transport Secretary to take charge of the situation and give our Eurostar workers some reassurance that their jobs and skills are valued. We are linking up with Friends of the Earth to make the case plainly – support Eurostar now or suffer the climate consequences.

Manuel Cortes is the General Secretary of TSSA union, he will be speaking alongside Mick Lynch (RMT GS) and Mick Whelan (Aslef GS) as well as Eurostar staff rep Sonja Van Wingerden and Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Jenny Bates. 

To attend the online meeting on Wednesday 4 August, 18:30 register here https://bit.ly/Eurostar4August

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The future of Eurostar: How can we save our green link to Europe?

18:30PM – 20:00PM, 4 August 2021

Online with Zoom Get Directions

https://www.tssa.org.uk/en/Your-union/education/going-beyond/skills-reps-cop/index.cfm

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See earlier:

Eurostar says it’s been saved by French railways and other investors

The company will start ramping up daily trains between London and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam later this month.

BY JOSHUA POSANER  (Politico EU)
May 18, 2021

Cross-Channel railway Eurostar says it is no longer at risk of collapse after its shareholders, including its French majority owner SNCF, agreed to back a refinancing deal with banks worth £250 million.

“This refinancing package secures Eurostar’s future as restrictions ease and travel begins to gradually resume,” said Eurostar in an emailed statement today.

In January, the company warned it was running out of cash due to the pandemic’s impact on travel and tourism. Eurostar had called for state support to get it through the crisis but authorities in the U.K. had been cautious about committing to any kind of bailout.

Instead, France’s state railways SNCF and other investors, including funds overseen by Belgium’s state train operator SNCB, have stepped in to pump £50 million in new equity into the company along with £150 million in shareholder guaranteed loans. Banks have agreed to restructure a further £50 million in loans, the company said.

Eurostar said it will start ramping up daily trains between London and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam later this month. From May 27, Eurostar will start running two daily return services between the British and French capitals, with up to three per day from the end of June.

The company does not give a timeline for expanding its single daily return journey between London and Brussels.

Eurostar also said it’s also pushing ahead with its planned merger with Thalys, an international railway running links between Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The merger plan is dubbed Green Speed and was first announced in 2019.

https://www.politico.eu/article/eurostar-finances-saved-french-railways/

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Heathrow losses now £2.9bn and consolidated net debt £15.2 bn

Heathrow has announced that its cumulative losses from the Covid-19 pandemic have hit £2.9 billion. In its results for the first half of 2021,  Heathrow’s revenue dropped from £712 million in the first six months of 2020 to £348 million in the first half of 2021, which is 51.1% less than in the first half of 2020, and 76.2% less than the first half of 2019. Its pre-tax loss widened 18% to a little over £1 billion.  It had 3.85m passengers, which is 75.1% less than the same period in 2020, and 90.1% less than the first half of 2019.  Heathrow (it has a complex structure of numerous companies and levels) had  consolidated net debt of £15.2 billion — not much less than the airport’s £16.9 billion regulated asset base (RAB), or the CAA’s proxy for its value.  Heathrow had been allowed, by the CAA, to increase its RAB by £300 million, to £16.9 billion.  Its chief executive John Holland-Kaye is using the half-year figures to warn about a covenant waiver on its various loans.  The group of Heathrow companies has £4.8 billion of liquidity, (ie. ability to borrow) with average cost of debt just 1.64%. 

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Heathrow’s results for the half year to 30th June 2021

https://www.heathrow.com/content/dam/heathrow/web/common/documents/company/investor/reports-and-presentations/financial-results/2021/Heathrow-(SP)-Limited-2021H1_final.pdf

 


Heathrow Airport’s pandemic losses hit £2.9bn

26 July 2021 (ITV)

Heathrow has announced that its cumulative losses from the Covid-19 pandemic have hit £2.9 billion.
Fewer than four million passengers travelled through the west London airport in the first half of the year.  It took just 18 days to reach that total in 2019.

 

The airport warned that its passenger numbers could be lower this year than in 2020.

Some 22.1 million passengers used the airport in 2020, with more than half of those travelling in January and February, before the virus crisis led to a collapse in demand.

Heathrow described recent changes to the quarantine and testing requirements for people arriving in the UK as “encouraging”, but warned that the rules are “holding back the UK’s economic recovery”

….   stuff about Covid, quarantine etc …

Heathrow’s revenue dropped from £712 million in the first six months of 2020 to £348 million in the opening half of this year.

Meanwhile, pre-tax loss widened 18% to a little over £1 billion.

https://www.itv.com/news/london/2021-07-26/heathrow-airports-pandemic-losses-hit-29bn

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Alastair Osborne writing in The Times, business commentary;

27.7.2021

[Heathrow’s billionaire owners] span the Chinese government and sovereign wealth funds from Singapore and Qatar: a crew happy to take out £3.8 billion of dividends in the good times.

And, even if the airport has racked up £2.9 billion of losses since corona struck, it’s not as if investors have been hard hit. The nearest thing to a cash call is £750 million raised last year via ADI Finance 2: one of the holding companies in Heathrow’s eight-tier, tax-friendly corporate structure. Indeed, the owners have spent the pandemic badgering the Civil Aviation Authority to jack up landing fees to recoup £2.6 billion lost to Covid: a campaign so far yielding an undeserved £300 million. [Its RAB].  Even that’s proved the cue for more bleating, with Heathrow calling the sum “disappointing” and taking the fight to the next regulatory review.

Instead, Heathrow’s mainly continued with its preferred form of finance: the debt that in happier times enabled the owners to juice up returns. It’s topped up with £1.4 billion since the start of this year, raising consolidated net debt to £15.2 billion — not far shy of the airport’s £16.9 billion regulated asset base, or the CAA’s proxy for its value. And, even if chief executive John Holland-Kaye is now using the half-year figures to warn about a covenant waiver, the group has £4.8 billion of liquidity, with average cost of debt just 1.64 per cent.

Lenders clearly think the airport has a future, despite the first half 75 per cent drop in traffic to 3.9 million passengers. And so does Holland-Kaye, who’s not given up on a third runway: a landing strip he somehow equates with a “cleaner, greener and more resilient economy”. So, given all that, he’s got no case to demand taxpayer “financial support . . . as long as restrictions remain on travel”. They’ll be around in some form until the world has a grip on Covid. He can’t just have the upside of running Britain’s biggest airport.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/heathrow-needs-its-americans-back-m6pgmm90f


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See earlier:

Heathrow at risk of defaulting on its £15bn debt as UK-US flights not returning soon

Heathrow has now made a loss of at least £3 billion, due to the pandemic.  It is now at risk of defaulting on its huge £15bn debt, after talks stalled over the return of flights between Britain and America.  Heathrow had been depending on lucrative trans-Atlantic flights resuming by the start of July.  At the end of June, Heathrow warned its bondholders that if its profits are £66m or more lower than expected by December 2021, then it will breach the strict rules governing its complex portfolio of loans.  It does not look likely that flights to the US will return to anything approaching 2019 levels for a long time.  Up to 2019, North America was Heathrow’s single biggest market making up almost 19m of its 81m passengers in 2019. Heathrow is believed to have the support of its lenders despite the prospect of a potential breach of its banking covenants, the rules that govern loans. Shareholders, which include Spain’s Ferrovial and the state of Qatar, injected £600m into the business when it faced the prospect of a similar breach last year. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2021/07/heathrow-at-risk-of-defaulting-on-its-15bn-debt-as-uk-us-flights-not-returning-soon/

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CAA rules that Heathrow can only raise £300m out of £2.6bn through higher charges, plus another £500 m

Heathrow’s bid to increase airport charges to recover £2.6 billion lost during the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected by the aviation regulator, the CAA – which said its expenditure had been “disproportionate and not in the interests of consumers”. The CAA is allowing Heathrow to initially raise only an additional £300 million through higher charges, out of the £2.6 billion it asked for. “The CAA has agreed to a limited, early adjustment to HAL’s RAB of £300m and will consider this issue further as part of the next price control (H7)” which starts on 1st January 2022. The CAA has agreed to allow Heathrow to raise charges to recover the £500 million “it incurred efficiently” on its plans for a 3rd runway, between 2017 and 1st March 2020. Heathrow said it faces loses of around £3 billion due to the Covid pandemic.  IAG, which owns British Airways, the largest airline at Heathrow, said it is “extremely disappointed” with the CAA decision, which means more expensive tickets for its consumers from 2022. Heathrow wants concessions by the CAA, though its shareholders have earned nearly £4 billion in dividends in recent years.

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Heathrow makes £2bn loss in 2020 due to the pandemic – warning on continuing to be a “going concern”

Heathrow lost £2 billion in 2020 because of the fall in passenger numbers due to the Covid pandemic. The numbers are lower than for perhaps 50 years, and the airport is issuing a warning about its future.  Its pre-tax loss was £2.01bn for its full-year compared to a £546m profit in 2019.  Revenues fell 62% £1.18bn, with passenger were at 22.1 million, 73% less than in 2019.  This led the airport to issue a warning, that the “existence of a material uncertainty… could cast significant doubt upon the group and the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. Nobody knows how much air travel will happen this year.  Heathrow desperately wants relief on all its business rates, an extended furlough scheme for its staff, and a revival of VAT-free airport shopping for tourists to the UK. John Holland-Kaye makes his usual statements about how vital Heathrow is to Britain … Since the start of the pandemic, the airport has cut operating costs by nearly £400m, reduced capital expenditure by £700m and raised £2.5bn in funding. And it says it ended 2020 with £3.9bn of liquidity, which it says is enough to last until April 2033 even if there is no recovery in passenger numbers. Which begs the question of why it needs more government support now.

Click here to view full story…

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Taxpayers face near £900m bill for Heathrow western rail link, if airport won’t pay

It was announced in September 2020 that the Great Western rail link between Reading and Heathrow would be delayed by up to two years. It was first proposed in 2012. A DCO application to construct the new line is not expected for some time. Heathrow was set to pay for much of the cost, as the link would benefit its passengers. But in April Heathrow withdrew its funding, because of the crisis in its finances due to the pandemic.  Other funding from the private sector will be “much smaller” than previously envisaged.  So it looks as if taxpayers may have to fund most of a £900m bill. The rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, told a parliamentary committee last week that he would recommend that taxpayers pay instead, as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review this autumn.  Network Rail said that the Department for Transport had asked it to delay beginning the project by a year until the winter of 2022.  It said it would not progress until there was a satisfactory financial arrangement, “including an appropriate financial contribution from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL); this requires endorsement by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the relevant regulator.”
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Taxpayers face near £900m bill for Heathrow rail link

The airport was set to bankroll the majority of the transport link to the West Country before withdrawing funding pledge in pandemic

By Oliver Gill, CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (Telegraph)

25 July 2021

Taxpayers may have to fund most of a £900m bill to build a train line linking Heathrow to the West Country after funding from the airport and other private investors fell through.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the rail minister, said he would ask the Treasury to pay for building a line between Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the express line that links London Paddington with Reading and the west of England and Wales.

The Western Rail approach to Heathrow has been nine years in the making, having first been proposed by Theresa Villiers, then transport minister, in 2012.

Under Chris Grayling, the former Transport Secretary, it was included in a series of rail building projects that would be funded by private capital. The state owns Britain’s tracks and other rail infrastructure through government-owned Network Rail.

Hopes of it being built appeared to have been dashed in April when Heathrow withdrew its funding as a result of its finances being squeezed by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mr Heaton-Harris told a parliamentary committee last week that he would recommend that taxpayers stump up the funds instead as part of Rishi Sunak’s spending review this autumn.

He conceded that the funding from the private sector will be “much smaller” than previously envisaged.

“Whatever it is, I will be making, in the spending review, a bid from our department for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow.

“Obviously, the bigger the private sector contribution, the better the business case and the more favourably that will be seen by my Treasury colleagues.

“But my commitment to you and Heathrow still stands. It will be included in my department’s spending review bid.”

Network Rail said that the Department for Transport had asked it to delay beginning the project by a year until the winter of 2022.

A spokesman for the organisation added: “The scheme is subject to a satisfactory business case and agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry, so can only progress to [planning] submission when funding has been agreed, including an appropriate financial contribution from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL); this requires endorsement by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the relevant regulator

“The Government has been working closely with HAL, but the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the aviation and rail industries. This in turn has affected Heathrow Airport’s ability to commit to a financial contribution to the scheme at this time.

A map of the proposed rail link between Heathrow Terminal 5 and the west country

A map of the proposed rail link between Heathrow Terminal 5 and the west country
“The Government will continue to work closely with HAL to agree funding arrangements that offer value for money for the taxpayer and for the users of the airport.”

A spokesperson for Heathrow said in April: “Heathrow remains committed to the Western Rail Link, a project which will facilitate sustainable travel and regional connectivity.

“We’ve proposed a way for the scheme to progress in line with the revised timings announced in December 2020 and we continue to engage with the Government and the regulator to find a solution that will unlock the project’s much needed benefits in a post-Covid world.

“The CAA and the DfT now need to work with us to agree terms that will enable this project, which has the widespread support of businesses and MPs, to move forward, despite the airport’s current challenges.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/25/taxpayers-face-near-900m-bill-heathrow-rail-link/

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See earlier:

 

Western Rail Link to Heathrow mothballed – won’t be revived until airport’s finances improve

Network Rail has now confirmed that staff working on the Western Rail Link to Heathrow  have been moved on to other projects, as there isn’t enough money to keep building it. The proposed link goes from the Great Western Main Line at Langley to Terminal 5.  Plans to build a £900M western rail link have been brought to a “controlled pause”, or mothballed, by Network Rail due to the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry and Heathrow’s finances. Heathrow is currently unable to commit any funding to the project due to its precarious financial position, with a £2 billion loss announced in February.  The indefinite delay to the rail link was disclosed in the minutes of the Network Rail board meeting on 20 and 21 January 2021, published in March. It is possible that the scheme could be resumed  at some future.  The DfT would periodically update its business case for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow, in the light of significant changes to both the aviation and rail sectors as a result of Covid. The delay will continue, if Heathrow does not get passengers – and earnings – back. The scheme will be pushed further down the priority list.   

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2021/04/western-rail-link-to-heathrow-mothballed-wont-be-revived-until-airports-finances-improve/

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Reading to Heathrow train line delayed by two years – at least

The Great Western rail link between Reading to Heathrow will be delayed by up to two years. A DCO application to construct the new line was expected this year but has now been delayed until winter 2021/2022 – at the earliest.  A spokesman for Network Rail said the Reading to Heathrow line has been delayed due to the court of appeal’s ruling against plans to expand Heathrow and the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry. The Supreme Court will hear Heathrow’s appeal against the Appeal Court decision, on 7th and 8th October. If Heathrow was to win the case (a massive IF) then the rail link – to speed passengers getting to the airport – a new tunnel would be created connecting Reading to Heathrow in around 20-30 minutes, with passengers from Reading currently having to use the 50-minute Rail Air bus or go into London to get to the airport.  Reading Station and Heathrow Airport both already have terminus platforms built for the line in anticipation of the scheme. The Department for Transport (DfT) is looking to fund the project with help from Heathrow Airport on the basis of expansion, apparently. (Though Heathrow is struggling financially to survive now …) 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/09/reading-to-heathrow-train-line-delayed-by-up-to-two-years-at-least/

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See much earlier:

NetworkRail plans for improved rail link to Heathrow T5 from the west, by tunnel, go on show

NetworkRail has put plans for consultation, for a new rail tunnel, connecting the main line into London from the west with Heathrow Terminal 5.  The proposed link, subject to planning permission, includes a 3.1 mile (5km) tunnel from the Great Western Main Line at Langley to T5.  This could cut journey times between Reading and Heathrow and reduce road congestion, if passengers travelled by train instead of by car.  A series of public consultation events is to be held in Iver and Slough.  The rail plan was given the go-ahead by the government in 2012. There would need to be a new junction created between Langley and Iver stations. There are claims that the rail link would mean a quarter of people in the UK “within one interchange”  of Heathrow. The tunnel only travels under 2 houses so is not expected to cause too much disruption locally. The tunnel would go ahead regardless of whether there is a new runway, or not.  It is expected the tunnelling would take a year.  It has the potential to make journeys from the west faster and easier.  The timetable is for informal consultation now;  formal public  consultation in summer 2015; submission of application in early 2016; work starts spring / summer 2017; work completed and trains running by the end of 2021. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/02/networkrail-plans-for-improved-rail-link-to-heathrow-t5-from-the-west-by-tunnel-go-on-show/

 

 

Read more »

SAF competing for fuel feedstocks will have negative impacts on many other sectors

The aviation industry, and its enthusiastic backers like the UK government, are keen to claim the problem of the sector’s vast carbon emissions can be solved, fairly soon, by SAF (“sustainable aviation fuels”). They agree these should not come directly from agricultural crops, competing with human food and animal fodder for land. They will instead come (as well as fuels produced using electricity) from agricultural, forestry and domestic wastes. These would be the feedstocks.  But there are significant problems, so far apparently overlooked by governments etc, about competing uses for those feedstocks. There are already markets for used cooking oil, and it can all be used for animal food, or in other industries. Taking crop wastes off the land not only means lower organic matter returned to the soil, reducing its structure and fertility, but also its removal for other uses – such as for animal bedding. There are competing uses for forestry waste, such as the paper and pulp industry.  Feedstocks could be used to make diesel for road vehicles, or burned to produce electricity. So if aviation wants these feedstocks, there will be competition and higher prices for other sectors. These problems should not be ignored in the mindlessly optimistic rush for the illusion of “jet zero”.
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ICCT WORKING PAPER 2021-13 |

ESTIMATING SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL FEEDSTOCK AVAILABILITY

Authors: Jane O’Malley, Nikita Pavlenko, Stephanie Searle   (ICCT_

March 2021

INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON CLEAN TRANSPORTATION

Summary

If the European Union aviation industry is to meet its long-term goal of decarbonization
without curbing traffic growth or relying on out-of-sector carbon offsets, switching
to sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) is one of the few methods of achieving in-sector
greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

Though previous, transport-wide EU fuel policies have done little to stimulate the development of the SAF industry, the recently proposed ReFuel EU initiative could set a clear policy signal for the introduction and expansion of an advanced-only SAF industry producing ultra-low carbon fuels.

However, it is critical that policymakers set realistic SAF deployment goals that match the amount of fuel that could be made from available feedstock.

This study evaluates the EU resource base to support SAF production from 2025 to 2035, focusing only on the potential volumes available from sustainably available feedstocks.

Without taking into account the political or economic barriers to SAF production, we
estimate that there is a sufficient resource base to support approximately 3.4 million
tonnes (Mt) of advanced SAF production annually, or 5.5% of projected EU jet fuel
demand in 2030.

The estimated production potential takes into account feedstock availability, sustainable harvesting limits, existing other uses of those materials, and SAF conversion yields.

This assessment does not factor in the economic incentives necessary
to drive that level of market demand or to mobilize investment in new biorefineries.-
The commercialization of SAF depends on many factors beyond the resource base for
SAF production. Currently, even with some incentives and targeted support in place,
SAF production covers less than 0.05% of global jet fuel demand.

While producing SAF from waste oils is the most technically mature SAF conversion pathway, waste oils are highly resource-constrained and are already largely consumed by the road sector.

High near-term targets for SAF blending may only incentivize the diversion of waste oils from
existing uses in the road sector, approaching approximately 2% of 2030 jet fuel demand
from waste oil alone.

Moving beyond 2% of SAF deployment will require targeted support for more conversion pathways with more challenging economics and uncertain production timelines.

To achieve long-term success for the advanced SAF industry, the ReFuel EU initiative must first lay the groundwork for these pathways through targeted incentives for individual projects before laying out a sector-wide blending target.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Dan Rutherford of the ICCT, Karlijn Arts of SkyNRG, and Laura Buffet of Transport & Environment for helpful reviews.

© 2021 INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON CLEAN TRANSPORTATION
www.theicct.org
communications@theicct.org
twitter @theicct

 

This also says:

As with food-based biofuels, interactions with existing markets for some SAF feedstocks may lead to indirect emissions that change our understanding of their GHG savings. Feedstocks are rarely pure wastes that are disposed of in the absence of biofuel demand. In most cases, they contain market and ecological value. For example, residues from crops such as wheat are already productively used for livestock fodder and bedding, as well as in other uses such as mushroom production and horticulture (Searle & Malins, 2016). If all wheat straw were instead diverted to biofuels production, the other uses would lack raw materials and require an increase in production of substitutable materials. Understanding a feedstock’s displacement effects is critical for ensuring GHG savings as well as determining quantities that can be diverted to biofuels production without reducing its availability for use in other applications.

and

We estimate feedstock availability in 2030 based on previous ICCT analyses assessing physical production of feedstocks and taking into account limits on maximum collection rates including harvesting capability, in situ ecological value, and usage as raw materials in other markets. We also note that diverting available feedstock toward fuel for the aviation sector would reduce its availability for competing uses in other transportation applications such as on-road diesel fuel. While waste fats are easier to process into “drop-in” fuels — or direct substitutes — lignocellulosic feedstocks are more abundant and could theoretically provide greater quantities of SAF. Previous research on lignocellulosic waste and residue availability in the European Union by Searle and Malins (2016) groups sustainable feedstocks into three categories: agricultural residues, forestry residues, and municipal and industrial waste. We supplement those findings by evaluating the potential from three additional potential SAF feedstocks including cover crops, industrial flue gases, and electrofuels produced using renewable electricity, CO2, and water.

And much more. See the whole paper at

https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/Sustainable-aviation-fuel-feedstock-eu-mar2021.pdf

 

March 2021

ICCT WORKING PAPER 2021-13 | ESTIMATING SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL FEEDSTOCK AVAILABILITY

https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/Sustainable-aviation-fuel-feedstock-eu-mar2021.pdf

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Is growth of sustainable aviation fuel in the market set to soar?

Fast Markets

16.7.2021

A focus on biofuels
Governments are acknowledging the increasingly obvious gap around aviation in the response to transportation decarbonization. They have stepped up plans to promote the use of biofuels across the sector. Many consider increasingly stringent mandates and are poised to demand sustainable fuels play a greater part in the landscape.

But a lot is asked of any aviation fuel. Average engines on the newest fleets of airlines will deliver up to 90,000 lbs of thrust per engine. They must operate reliably in the harsh, cold environment at 40,000 feet.

The sector has had some successes, with sustainable fuels used in a limited number of passenger and freight routes recently. But, to drive economies of scale, the hunt is now on to unlock production on an industrial scale.

And that’s the key to allowing advanced biofuels to play in this space.

The path ahead
Clear mandates set out a flight path for the fuel’s adoption and use. Increasingly, the sector is leading the decarbonization debate. This is while innovators turn to new technologies or reliable older chemical processes to boost production and scale up promising demonstration concepts.

That is pulling in an ever-wider slate of feedstock, from algae to household waste, from corn through to forestry. Aviation’s thirst is set to bring fresh disruption to existing commodities. It will challenge the use of used cooking oils in biodiesel production, adding another dimension to the pulp and paper industry or even disrupting the role of corn within ethanol and animal feed use.

The ambition is large, and it needs to be. Even against the backdrop of pandemic, the United States alone burned nearly 10.3 billion gallons (350 million tonnes) of jet fuel in 2020. It is already showing signs of powering back toward pre-pandemic levels of up to 18 billion gallons in 2021.

At a basic 5% flat blend mandate, that will generate demand for 17.5 million tonnes of jet fuel on Covid-based data versus current production levels that amount to around 100,000 tonnes equating to around 0.05% of total European Union jet fuel consumption.

The EU is looking to deliver a mandate of 63% sustainable fuel by 2050.

https://www.fastmarkets.com/article/3998518/is-growth-of-sustainable-aviation-fuel-in-the-market-set-to-soar

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See earlier:

Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “sustainable aviation fuels” (spoiler…crazy over-optimism)

The DfT’s consultation on reducing aviation carbon emissions, “Jet Zero” places a lot of faith in finding novel, low carbon fuels, so people can continue to fly as much as they want. These are called “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” (SAF). The consultation says SAF “could play a key role in decarbonising aviation, whilst also representing an industrial leadership opportunity for the UK.” The economic opportunity aspect, and producing jobs, is key for the DfT.  They say “Many experts view SAF as the only alternative for long-haul flights up to 2050, which are the flights with the biggest climate impact.” The DfT is hoping SAF could “result in over 70% CO2 emissions saving on a lifecycle basis and could deliver net zero emissions with the addition of greenhouse gas removal technologies.” SAF would either be biogenic, non-biogenic (from wastes) or made using zero-carbon electricity.  There are huge problems, glossed over by the consultation. A key problem is that “there is currently no comprehensive global regulatory standard for SAF sustainability. The UK is therefore active at ICAO in negotiating for a full set of sustainability criteria for SAF.” The DfT “will shortly consult on a UK SAF mandate setting out our level of ambition for future SAF uptake.”

Click here to view full story…

 

Read more »

Chris Stark (CCC) on how aviation needs to cut its emissions, only using CCS – which it must pay for – as a last resort

The Head of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Chris Stark, has given evidence to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on the aspirations of the aviation sector to get to “net zero” by 2050, and the government’s “jet zero” plan. He said aviation, unlike other transport sectors, was unlikely to meet targets for net zero by 2050.  The sector should pay for costly engineered carbon removal technologies (CCS) rather than rely on using the planting of trees to claim they are reducing CO2 emissions.  And these offsets and removal technologies should only be used as a last resort, after direct cuts of carbon and emissions by the industry itself. He said carbon removal technologies are not a “free pass” for the industry. Removals are expensive, and the sector should pay for them themselves – which would put up ticket prices. It was regrettable that the DfT’s transport decarbonisation plan had not mentioned the necessity of reducing air travel demand. There is a danger that the tech does not deliver. The plans need to be assessed every 5 years, and though that is a difficult choice for government, demand management may have to be considered in future.
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Airlines need to do more than plant trees to hit net zero, MPs told

Climate Change Committee head says firms must invest in ‘scaleable’ offsets such as carbon capture

By Sandra Laville (The Guardian)
Thu 22 Jul 2021

Chris Start was a witness, presenting evidence to the inquiry by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, on net zero plans for aviation and shipping, on 21st July. The session can be seen here 

https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/6cdbb7bc-6b41-4f80-8846-0d6558f805f1

Chris is speaking, relevant to aviation, from around 14.55 to 15.29 – well worth watching.

The aviation industry must pay for costly carbon removal technologies [CCS – carbon capture and storage] rather than rely on using the planting of trees to claim they are reducing emissions, the head of the Climate Change Committee has said.

Chris Stark said aviation, unlike other transport sectors, was unlikely to meet targets for net zero by 2050. He said instead the industry had to use “scaleable” offsets that matched ongoing emissions into future decades, but that these should be used as a last resort after directly cutting emissions.

“We are not just talking about planting trees … I would prefer to see engineered removals matched with those residual aviation emissions,” Stark told MPs on the environmental audit committee.

The processes Stark wanted to see aviation engaging in included investing in growing bioenergy crops to create alternatives to fossil fuel and techniques to capture and store carbon. He said carbon capture was a very expensive process but resulted in genuine negative emissions.

“It is something the aviation sector itself should pay for and therefore will increase the cost of aviation if those offsets have to be managed and paid for,” said Stark. “These are not free passes for getting to net zero … We think that aviation should incur these costs directly and indeed that their commercial interests in those negative emissions will grow if there is a way to bring down the costs of those key technologies overall.”

The government’s “jet zero” policy claims it will deliver net zero aviation within a generation. But Stark said it was heavily reliant on technology to deliver this and the Climate Change Committee believed that the sector would not reach net zero by mid-century. Instead it needed to pay for genuine processes to mop up emissions.

He said the reliance on technology and the lack of any focus on reducing demand for aviation was something that would please the industry. “But obviously a big risk is that the technology doesn’t deliver. It is notable that demand management doesn’t get a look in.”

The jet zero plan, which is out for consultation, is being driven by a council made up of government ministers and leading figures from the aviation industry. The government claims it can cut emissions to zero without affecting the scale of passenger travel.

The consultation document says: “It is a strategy that will deliver the requirement to decarbonise aviation, and the benefits of doing so, whilst allowing the sector to thrive, and hard-working families to continue to enjoy their annual holiday abroad; we want Britons to continue to have access to affordable flights, allowing them to enjoy holidays, visit friends and family overseas and to travel for business.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/22/airlines-need-to-do-more-than-plant-trees-to-hit-net-zero-mps-told


EAC call for evidence

Net zero aviation and shipping

https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/542/


Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “sustainable aviation fuels” (spoiler…crazy over-optimism)

The DfT’s consultation on reducing aviation carbon emissions, “Jet Zero” places a lot of faith in finding novel, low carbon fuels, so people can continue to fly as much as they want. These are called “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” (SAF). The consultation says SAF “could play a key role in decarbonising aviation, whilst also representing an industrial leadership opportunity for the UK.” The economic opportunity aspect, and producing jobs, is key for the DfT.  They say “Many experts view SAF as the only alternative for long-haul flights up to 2050, which are the flights with the biggest climate impact.” The DfT is hoping SAF could “result in over 70% CO2 emissions saving on a lifecycle basis and could deliver net zero emissions with the addition of greenhouse gas removal technologies.” SAF would either be biogenic, non-biogenic (from wastes) or made using zero-carbon electricity.  There are huge problems, glossed over by the consultation. A key problem is that “there is currently no comprehensive global regulatory standard for SAF sustainability. The UK is therefore active at ICAO in negotiating for a full set of sustainability criteria for SAF.” The DfT “will shortly consult on a UK SAF mandate setting out our level of ambition for future SAF uptake.”

Click here to view full story…

Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “Influencing Consumers” – keep flying, depend on techno-optimism

The DfT has launched its consultation, called “Jet Zero” on how the UK might decarbonise flights, by 2050. One really effective way to do that would be to reduce the demand for air travel, which is what the Climate Change Committee  (CCC) recommended. The CCC said (24th June) “Lack of ambition for aviation demand management would result in higher emissions of 6.4 MtCO2e/year in 2030 relative to the CCC pathway for aviation emissions.” But the Jet Zero consultation just says “We want to preserve the ability for people to fly whilst supporting consumers to make sustainable travel choices.” And “This Government is committed to tackling the CO2 emissions from flights, whilst preserving the ability for people to fly.” And “we currently believe the sector can achieve Jet Zero without the Government needing to intervene directly to limit aviation growth” and cut aviation CO2 by as much as the CCC says is needed, but by other means – SAF, hydrogen, electric planes etc. It then says it will “seek to address residual carbon emissions through robust, verifiable offsets and additional greenhouse gas removals.” And it acknowledges that these are all “currently at a relatively early stage of development and [their deployment] requires collaboration and commitment across all parts of the sector if it is to succeed.” It also considers carbon information for flights, but only so people can still fly, but choose different airline options.

Click here to view full story…

DfT Decarbonising Transport plan – various consultations to come on aviation carbon

The DfT has produced its transport decarbonisation plan. There is a lot of aspiration for aviation, depending on future increased use of “sustainable aviation fuels”, hydrogen and electric planes – as well as carbon capture and storage. ie. dependence on technologies that do not yet exist on any scale, and which would take years/decades to develop. The aspirations for aviation are for “net zero” (ie. allowing offsets) for the sector by 2050, and net zero for domestic aviation by 2040. [Also plans for zero carbon airports, but they contribute only a tiny amount of total aviation carbon].  So lots of hopes. Nothing specific.  And absolutely no mention of the need to reduce demand for air travel, as their climate advisors, the Climate Change Committee, had recommended. The DfT consultation on the Jet Zero strategy – for aviation net zero by 2050 – has now been published, and runs till the 8th September. Also there will be consultations on making domestic aviation net zero; airport carbon; and on a UK sustainable aviation fuels mandate.  The DfT is supporting the development of new aircraft technology through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and hopes to further develop the UK ETS.

Click here to view full story…

Government is keen to tell people they can continue to fly, with a clear conscience – and the aviation sector can continue with “business as usual” for the time being.

Click here to view full story…

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Read more »

Stansted Airport Watch submits response to CMA consultation on greenwash; examples from Stansted and Ryanair

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which regulates business behaviour, has finally stepped in to try to end ‘greenwashing’ and has asked for evidence. Greenwashing is where businesses make dubious claims in an attempt to boost their environmental credentials, and thus sell more product. The CMA consultation ended on 16th July. Greenwashing is all too common in the aviation industry and Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) submitted detailed evidence to the CMA relating to both Stansted Airport and Ryanair. Some of the examples of dubious claims by the airport are that it claims to be “carbon neutral”, but this conveniently ignores the carbon emissions from the aircraft (hugely higher than emissions by the airport itself). It also relies of “offsetting”, so making payments to some carbon reduction activity elsewhere, while itself continuing to emit. Ryanair has made a number of claims about being “green”, such as claims to be Europe’s “cleanest, greenest airline” but this has been ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority, for being misleading (February 2020).
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Give Greenwash the Red Card

19th July 2021

Stansted Airport Watch press release

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which regulates business behaviour, has finally stepped in to try to end ‘greenwashing’ and has asked for evidence. Greenwashing is where businesses make dubious claims in an attempt to boost their environmental credentials.

Greenwashing is all too common in the aviation industry and, last week, Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) submitted detailed evidence to the CMA relating to both Stansted Airport and Ryanair.

Stansted Airport:

Stansted Airport is the largest single source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the East of England and yet it constantly boasts that it has achieved ‘carbon neutral’ status. How can that be?

The answer lies in three clever tricks of the PR trade:

The ‘carbon neutral’ claim only applies to the airport buildings and airside vehicles but these two elements account for just 1% of the airport’s emissions. The other 99% is ignored – i.e. the aircraft emissions (about 90%) and the emissions from the road traffic taking passengers and freight to and from the airport (about 9%).

Even that 1% is not truly carbon neutral. The airport relies on “offsetting” to magic away CO2 emissions. An example of offsetting would be to make a donation to help protect a peat bog on the Yorkshire Moors. However, this does not stop the airport CO2 going into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

In trumpeting its “prestigious” award for achieving ‘carbon neutral’ status, Stansted Airport conveniently failed to mention of the fact that the award was given by ACI, the airports’ trade association, part financed by Stansted Airport. It’s a case of airports marking their own homework.

Ryanair:

Ryanair is also adept at greenwashing. It claims to be Europe’s “cleanest, greenest airline” but, according to the European Commission, in 2019 Ryanair was responsible for emissions of 10.5 million tonnes of CO2, more than any other airline in Europe. In fact, Ryanair was the only airline listed on the Commission’s league table of Europe’s top ten polluters (it was ranked 7th).

In 2020 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated Ryanair’s claims to be “Europe’s Lowest Emissions Airline” and to have “low CO2 emissions” and concluded that the claims were misleading. The advertising campaign which made these claims was banned and Ryanair was told by the ASA to ensure that when making environmental claims, it had adequate evidence to substantiate them, and also to ensure that the basis of those claims was made clear.

Stansted Airport Watch Chairman, Brian Ross, commented: “The aviation industry knows full well that its CO2 emissions are a major contributor to climate change but it uses clever PR – greenwashing – to create the impression that aviation is environmentally friendly. It’s like the claims made many years ago that smoking is healthy. Eventually the truth comes out.”

ENDS


NOTES

SAW’s submission to the Competition and Markets Authority is available on request from the Campaign Office (see below).

FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT

Brian Ross, Chairman: 01279 814961; (M) 07850 937143 brian.ross@lineone.net
SAW Campaign Office: 01279 870558; info@stanstedairportwatch.com

https://stanstedairportwatch.com/press-releases/give-greenwash-the-red-card/

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‘Green’ claims: CMA sets out the dos and don’ts for businesses

The CMA has set out its views on the types of misleading environmental claims made about products that could break the law.

Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it was investigating the impact of green marketing on consumers, in line with its annual plan commitment. As part of this, the CMA recently led on an analysis of websites – alongside other global authorities – which found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading.

The CMA is now seeking views on draft guidance for businesses about ‘green’ claims. This is based on a careful review of how these claims are being made and how people respond to them. It explains the best way for businesses to communicate their green credentials, while reducing the risk of misleading customers.

This direction comes at a time when more than half of UK consumers take environmental considerations into account when buying products.

In particular, the proposed guidance sets out 6 principles that environmental claims should follow.

They:

  • must be truthful and accurate: Businesses must live up to the claims they make about their products, services, brands and activities
  • must be clear and unambiguous: The meaning that a consumer is likely to take from a product’s messaging and the credentials of that product should match
  • must not omit or hide important information: Claims must not prevent someone from making an informed choice because of the information they leave out
  • must only make fair and meaningful comparisons: Any products compared should meet the same needs or be intended for the same purpose
  • must consider the full life cycle of the product: When making claims, businesses must consider the total impact of a product or service. Claims can be misleading where they don’t reflect the overall impact or where they focus on one aspect of it but not another
  • must be substantiated: Businesses should be able to back up their claims with robust, credible and up to date evidence

……

 

The CMA is inviting views on its guidance and is particularly keen to hear from anyone who buys or sells products which claim to be eco-friendly, including whether any further information is needed to help companies comply with the law.

The consultation will run until 16 July 2021, with the aim of publishing the final guidance by the end of September 2021. More information can be found on the CMA’s Misleading environmental claims web page.

Notes to editors.

  1. The key piece of consumer protection legislation relevant to the CMA’s guidance is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). The CPRs contain a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices and specific prohibitions against misleading actions or misleading omissions.
  2. The statistic that “half of UK consumers take environmental considerations into account when buying products” is taken from a 2014 European Commission Market Study.
  3. Related figures and statistics on this topic can be found in the CMA’s ‘Making environmental claims: a literature review’.

… and it continues ….

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-claims-cma-sets-out-the-dos-and-don-ts-for-businesses

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See earlier:

ASA rule against Ryanair ad (greenwash) claim to have the lowest airline CO2 emissions

Ryanair has been accused of greenwashing after the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned an ad campaign, that tried to make out  the airline has the lowest CO2 emissions of any major airline in Europe. It has been ordered to withdraw the misleading claims about its “green” credentials. Ryanair is in fact one of the top 10 carbon emitters in the EU, due to the number of flights.  Ryanair probably has lower CO2 per passenger kilometre than many other airlines, as it has newer planes, and crams its planes full. But its rapid growth has meant its CO2 increased by 50% between 2013 and 2019. The ASA pointed out failings in the way Ryanair compared itself to other airlines, to make its carbon claims; it did not include all airlines or seating density; it did not substantiate its claims.  The growth of Ryanair, and of air travel in general, in Europe has been due to the sector paying no jet fuel tax, making flying artificially cheap. The CO2 emissions of all flights departing from EU airports have grown from being 1.4% of total EU emissions in 1990 to 3.7% today. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/02/asa-rule-against-ryanair-ad-greenwash-claim-to-have-the-lowest-airline-co2-emissions/

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Complaint submitted to Advertising Standards Authority about misleading Ryanair emissions advert

A complaint has been made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an advert Ryanair has placed in newspapers saying it is “Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline” on the grounds that it is systematically misleading about the airline’s carbon emissions. While that may be true in terms of carbon emissions per seat kilometre flown, it is certainly NOT true for the airline as a whole. Ryanair is in fact now the 10th largest carbon emitter in Europe, on an assessment of power stations, manufacturing plants and airlines. Its emissions were around 10 million tonnes CO2 in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017.  The complainant says the “unqualified statements” in the advert combine to make the advert “comprehensively misleading as to the impact of both past and future expansion of low-cost air travel on carbon emissions, an expansion which was, and is still, being led by Ryanair.”

The Ryanair advert:

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/09/complaint-submitted-to-advertising-standards-authority-about-misleading-ryanair-emissions-advert/

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Advertising Standards Authority finds Heathrow advert about increased trade breaches their code and is ‘misleading’

In October 2014 about 13 people send in official complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, on claims being made by Heathrow in its adverts. The ASA looked at 7 different complaints, and considered that 6 passed their standards. However, on the claim by Heathrow in its ads headed:”Expand Heathrow and its’s the economy that takes off” the statement “Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights” was found to breach the ASA code. The ASA say the claim was not adequately substantiated and that the ad therefore breached the Code, both by being misleading and by not having proper substantiation. The ASA say the advert “must not appear again in its current form.” They have told Heathrow “to ensure that they held robust substantiation for absolute claims made in their future advertising.”  The ASA ruling also says the claim was presented as objective facts rather than an educated assumption and that Heathrow’s own report “One Hub or None”itself cautioned that direct flights would not automatically lead to more trade and that multiple factors could influence the amount of bilateral trade. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/02/advertising-standards-authority-finds-heathrow-advert-about-increased-trade-breaches-their-code-and-is-misleading/


Does Heathrow advert implying a small girl needs a 3rd runway, for her future, meet Advertising Standards?

ASA took a long time to consider this one, but finally did not decide against it.

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Start of Inquiry into refusal by North Somerset Council of Bristol Airport plans to expand by 2mppa

The public inquiry into Bristol Airport’s expansion proposal began on 20th July with the airport hoping to overturn North Somerset Council’s decision to refuse the expansion plans in February 2020. The inquiry is overseen by the Planning Inspectorate, and is scheduled to run until mid-October with three independent inspectors appointed to consider the airport’s appeal. The airport wants to be allowed to have an extra 2 million annual passengers, from 10 million to 12 million. In its recently-published Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP), the DfT committed itself to achieving net zero within the aviation sector by 2050. Allowing airport expansion scheme is not going to help with that – quite the reverse. The worry is that, though the various expansion schemes for Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Leeds Bradford and Southampton – taken separately – look relatively small, collectively (and including Heathrow) the increase in carbon would be huge. The recent TDP does not follow the recommendation from its official advisors, the CCC, that any airport expansion should be offset by reducing flights elsewhere.
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Bristol Airport: Inquiry into expansion refusal begins

20.7.2021 (BBC)
Weston Town Hall protest - Bristol Airport appeal (Tuesday 20 July)
A protest was held outside the appeal hearing venue at Weston Town Hall
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A council has defended its decision to reject expansion proposals of an airport despite the threat of a costly planning appeal.

North Somerset Council voted overwhelmingly to reject Bristol Airport’s plans in February 2020.

The hearing began earlier after Bristol Airport challenged the decision.

Council leader Don Davies (Independent) said: “This unfortunately is used by big business the world over to try and cow members to do things for profit.”

Heat dome

“This airport is not owned locally, it’s owned by a Canadian pension scheme and what is the motivation for the appeal?

“They barely got eight million passengers per annum previous to the planning application.

“They have permission for up to 10 million passengers so there was a 12% window of expansion there already.

“It is ironic that a country like Canada was wrecked … by the heat dome – but they can’t see the impact of the expansion on the environment here in north Somerset,” Mr Davies added.

The expansion will mean capacity will rise to 12 million passengers per year which the airport says will create new jobs and support the local economy.

Critics protesting outside the hearing venue in Weston said more flights would increase global warming.

Witnesses will range from Bristol Airport executives, industry experts, environmental campaigners and parish councillors.

If the decision is overturned, there will be more flights and extra car parking spaces to grow the business.

The hearing which began at 10:00 BST saw a representative for the airport put forward its case.

Counsel for Bristol Airport, Michael Humphries QC said: “The government has made clear the importance it attaches to airports and their expansion.

“The merits of government policy are not a matter of debate for this local planning inquiry.

“The expansion of the airport does not cut across climate change ambitions that we all share.  It is consistent with and complements them.”  (sic)

Carbon footprint

Ahead of the hearing, the airport’s procurement manager Susannah Caws said: “Would you stop going on holiday?

“Would you stop flying? If I asked whether they would ever stop flying because of the carbon footprint I’m not sure anybody would.

“All we can do is do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint where possible.

“People will always fly and it’s how we mitigate that where possible.”

She said mitigation would include ensuring all of its vehicles were electric and that its electricity came from renewable sources.
The Parish Councils Airport Association represents 30 parish councils in the area, all of which oppose the plans.

Chairwoman Hilary Burn said: “I commend anybody who moves forward in an environmentally-friendly way.

“Let’s not forget the elephant in the room – the new modernised flights, which are coming, which are electric, don’t come until 2035.

“We know we have a biodiversity crisis and a climate crisis and we know that we have to act for 2030.

“We have to do our utmost to reduce carbon.”

CEO of Bristol Airport, Dave Lees said: “Bristol Airport is important to the region and its recovery and that includes a greener future.

“We want to improve connectivity – that’s what businesses are telling us.

“We want to avoid people having to travel up to London – it’s new and existing demand from people in our region.”

The appeal is expected to last at least two months and will be streamed on North Somerset Council’s YouTube channel.

Bristol Airport protest outside the appeal hearing venue on Tuesday 20 July 2021

Last year 18 North Somerset councillors voting against the plan, and seven voting for it. https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/bristol-airport-waiting-on-feedback-after-expansion-is-rejected-25-02-2020/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-57898791

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See earlier:

Bristol Airport expansion (for 2 mppa more) public inquiry to will start on July 20th, for 10 weeks

The expansion plans would see passenger numbers grow from 10 million to 12 million a year.  The public inquiry into the expansion plans is due to start on July 20 and last 10 weeks. The airport appealed against a decision by North Somerset Council last year to reject its expansion plans. Bristol City Council has also opposed the expansion with North Somerset Council saying it will ‘robustly defend’ the appeal. The inquiry will be held in person and online, via Teams, though requests had been made for it to be online only, due to Covid. Campaigners say any expansion of the airport would lead to higher carbon emissions, congested roads and more plane noise. A number of campaign groups including the Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) , the Parish Councils Airport Association and Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) are all set to give evidence at the inquiry. The Planning Inspectorate team will be led by Philip Ware.

Click here to view full story…

New NEF report shows the climate impact of regional airport plans has been considerably underestimated

See original image in the Guardian article here

For UK to properly take account of the overall climate impact of UK aviation – it needs to consider the emissions from departing AND arriving flights (it currently ignores arriving flights). And also the non-CO2 impacts on climate. Maximum impact is multiplier of x3 (shown here). The multiplier could be x2.

A report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) says the climate impact of expansion plans at regional airports in England has been dramatically underestimated and would threaten the UK’s legally binding climate commitments.  NEF calculated that proposals to expand 4 airports (Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Stansted) will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions up to 8 times higher than the airports previously claimed. This means the alleged economic benefits claimed, from more aviation, were overestimated, as they ignore around £13.4bn worth of climate damage the extra flights could cause. Alex Chapman, the author of the report, said the findings raised concerns about the level of scrutiny the airport expansion proposals had received from government. Alex said: “The secretary of state should step in and conduct an independent review of all four of these proposals and their compatibility with the UK’s climate targets.”  The airports all use unproven and undeveloped technologies to achieve future fuel-efficiency savings. Most airports only took account of CO2 of outbound flights, not of inbound flights, and ignored the non-CO2 impacts of flights.

Click here to view full story…

Bristol Airport withdraws application to be allowed many more night flights

Bristol Airport is pushing on with its expansion plans, despite withdrawing the application to the DfT to join the UK’s list of “coordinated airports”. The application, which would allow Bristol Airport to operate night flights all year round, has been withdrawn due to the pandemic-driven drop in passenger numbers.  It would have given the airport complete freedom to schedule night flights across the year, with the declared intention to increase summer (summer is 7 months) night flights.  Flights are currently allowed to operate between 11pm to 7am in the summer season. Allowing more flights at night would improve airline profits and “efficiency” (allegedly).  And airport spokesperson said the application for coordinated status is separate from the airport’s expansion plans, and the airport will resubmit the coordinated status application when/if passenger numbers return to high levels – such as numbers in 2019. There is currently an appeal by the airport, against their rejection by North Somerset council last year.  There are now 7 airports that have coordinated status, (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City, Luton, Birmingham and Manchester) and this is normally for congested airports. The airport currently has a cap of 10 million annual passengers.

Click here to view full story…

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Environmental Audit Cttee (EAC) call for evidence on “net zero aviation” and shipping

The (really excellent) Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has started a call for evidence for its inquiry on how to achieve “net zero” aviation and shipping.  It closes on 3 September and “Respondents need not answer all the questions and evidence need not be limited to these questions.” Aviation now makes up (2019) 7% of UK carbon emissions, and shipping 3%. The Government’s recently published “Transport Decarbonisation Strategy” has pledged that new technology will allow domestic flights to be emissions-free by 2040, and international aviation to be zero carbon by 2050. The EAC asks a lot of vital questions about this, such as that the industry’s plans need rely on carbon removal, the technologies for which are not yet developed at scale.  They point out that reducing demand for air travel represents the most cost-effective method available for maintaining current emission levels (though the government is unwilling to introduce measures to restrict air travel demand. The EAC is asking for comment on future production/availability of low carbon fuels, and the most equitable way to reduce aircraft passenger numbers (e.g. taxation, frequent flyer levies, restrictions on airport capacity etc).
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Call for Evidence by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)

Net zero aviation and shipping

https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/542/

The Environmental Audit Committee is launching an inquiry into net zero aviation and shipping.

Aviation and shipping pose major challenges to reducing emissions, due to their reliance on fossil fuels and since international emissions were not included in the Paris climate change agreement, requiring countries to take action. Together they account for 10% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and on current trends, aviation will be the largest emitting sector by 2050.[1]

Following the Climate Change Committee’s advice, the Government has confirmed that the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget (covering the years 2033 to 2037) will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions for the first time.[2] The Government has said it aims to introduce the necessary legislation to include these emissions within the next year.[3]

Aviation

The UK Government, international bodies and the aviation industry have proposed a number of initiatives to mitigate emissions from aviation, including:

  • Market-based measures such as the United Nations CORSIA program, EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the UK ETS;
  • Measures to improve the fuel efficiency of conventional aviation such as through changes to aircraft, air traffic management, airspace modernisation and ground operations at airports; and
  • Measures to promote the development and use of low carbon technologies such as zero carbon fuels (electricity and hydrogen), alternative hydrocarbon fuels (biofuels) and aircraft designs (wing, airframe and engine designs).[4]

The Government’s recently published Transport Decarbonisation Strategy has pledged that new technology will allow domestic flights to be emissions-free by 2040, and international aviation to be zero carbon by 2050.

The UK has a large and mature aviation sector comprising aircraft manufacturers, fuel producers and air service providers, and is well-placed to take a technological lead. According to the industry, without Government support, low carbon technologies are unlikely to develop fast enough to play a significant role in mitigating emissions before 2050.[5]

The industry’s plans to meet net zero by 2050, rely on aviation funding carbon removal, the technologies for which are not yet developed at scale.[6]

The Jet Zero Council (a partnership between industry and Government) has been established with the aim of delivering zero-emission transatlantic flight within a generation.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has developed a global offsetting mechanism, called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) which aims to stabilise net CO emissions starting in 2021, but it has been criticised for not requiring emission reductions.[7]

Reducing demand for air travel represents the most cost-effective method available for maintaining current emission levels.[8] 96% of the UK’s aviation emissions come from international, mainly long-haul, flights,[9] while around 15% of the UK’s population generate over 70% of the UK’s international air travel.[10] Targeted efforts towards those that fly frequently to adopt new behaviour could result in significant emissions reductions.

Shipping

Most people do not realise they have any connection with shipping, unless they take a cruise, but huge quantities of consumer goods and food comes into the UK by sea. International shipping transports more than 80% cent of global trade,[11] and it is expected that global demand for shipping will increase in the next few decades.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has responsibility for international shipping emissions, CO₂ emissions from shipping are projected to increase by up to 50% above 2018 levels by 2050 if no actions are taken.[12]

Heavy fuel oil dominates the fuel consumed by international shipping (79%), this has started to decrease but has increased the share of marine diesel oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The increased use of LNG in the last six years has increased methane emissions by 150%,[13] while the EU’s green fuel law for shipping is expected to allow LNG to power EU ships at the union’s ports until around 2040, which could undermine efforts to adopt low carbon fuels.[14]

The IMO has set a sector-wide goal to reduce absolute emissions 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels. Yet its current regulations—design and technical measures and operational measures—will not be sufficient to drive the levels of improvement required.[15] To meet its ambitions will also require new technology and innovation (such as wind assisted vessels), zero carbon fuels such as ammonia (made from low carbon hydrogen) and the development of the maritime infrastructure.[16]

The Committee is inviting written submissions on:

  • What contribution can operational efficiencies make to reduce emissions from aircraft / shipping vessels and over what timescale could these have an effect on emissions?
  • How close are zero carbon fuels to commercialisation for aviation / shipping? How effective will the Jet Zero Council be in catalysing zero emissions technologies? What role should transitional fuels such as alternative hydrocarbon fuels play?
  • What new technologies are there to reduce emissions from aircraft / shipping vessels and how close to commercialisation are they?
  • How should the Government’s net zero aviation strategy support UK industry in the development and uptake of technologies, fuels and infrastructure to deliver net zero shipping and aviation?
  • What is the most equitable way to reduce aircraft passenger numbers (e.g. reforming air passenger duty and taxes, frequent flyer levies, bans on domestic flights where trains are available, restrictions on airport capacity)? Are there any policy mechanisms that could reduce our reliance on shipping?
  • What further action is needed by the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization to drive emissions reductions? What can the UK Government do to drive international action on emissions?
  • How effective will the global offsetting scheme for international airlines (ICAO’s CORSIA) and the UK and EU ETS be at stimulating technology improvement and/ or behaviour change to reduce emissions from aviation / shipping?
  • How should the UK define its ownership of international aviation and shipping emissions (i.e. arrivals, departures or both) in order to include them in legislative targets?

 

Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by 3 September. Respondents need not answer all the questions and evidence need not be limited to these questions. Submissions should be not more than 3,000 words but shorter submissions are welcomed and encouraged.

We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.

 

[1] Aviation is responsible for 7% and shipping 3% of national CO emissions. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. 2020. Climate Change and Aviation; ECIU. 2018. Exploring net zero: Aviation and Shipping

[2] HM Government. UK enshrines new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035, 20 April 2021; Measuring emissions from aviation and shipping is complicated by the ownership of emissions, with most journeys being international, travelling between two or more countries and operated in some cases by companies belonging to third party nation

[3] Sixth Carbon Budget Debate – Hansard, 21 June 2021

[4] House of Commons Library. 2021. Aviation, decarbonisation and climate change

[5] Sustainable Aviation. 2021. UK aviation industry strengthens commitment to achieving net zero and launches first interim decarbonisation targets; Sustainable Aviation. 2020. Sustainable fuels UK Road-Map, February 2020

[6] Either through nature based solutions or through negative emissions technologies.

[7] Carbon Brief. 2019. Corsia: The UN’s plan to ‘offset’ growth in aviation emissions

[8] Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. 2020. Climate Change and Aviation

[9] Climate Change Committee. 2019. Net Zero Technical Report

[10] Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. 2020. Climate Change and Aviation

[11] International Maritime Organization. 2021. Website

[12] International Maritime Organization. 2020. Fourth IMO GHG Study.

[13] International Maritime Organization. 2020. Fourth IMO GHG Study.

[14] The Guardian. Draft EU policy to cut shipping emissions condemned as ‘disaster’, 23 June 2021

[15] IMO. Action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping

[16] IMO. Action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping; ECIU. 2018. Exploring net zero: Aviation and Shipping. 

https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/542/

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See earlier:

Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “sustainable aviation fuels” (spoiler…crazy over-optimism)

The DfT’s consultation on reducing aviation carbon emissions, “Jet Zero” places a lot of faith in finding novel, low carbon fuels, so people can continue to fly as much as they want. These are called “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” (SAF). The consultation says SAF “could play a key role in decarbonising aviation, whilst also representing an industrial leadership opportunity for the UK.” The economic opportunity aspect, and producing jobs, is key for the DfT.  They say “Many experts view SAF as the only alternative for long-haul flights up to 2050, which are the flights with the biggest climate impact.” The DfT is hoping SAF could “result in over 70% CO2 emissions saving on a lifecycle basis and could deliver net zero emissions with the addition of greenhouse gas removal technologies.” SAF would either be biogenic, non-biogenic (from wastes) or made using zero-carbon electricity.  There are huge problems, glossed over by the consultation. A key problem is that “there is currently no comprehensive global regulatory standard for SAF sustainability. The UK is therefore active at ICAO in negotiating for a full set of sustainability criteria for SAF.” The DfT “will shortly consult on a UK SAF mandate setting out our level of ambition for future SAF uptake.”

Click here to view full story…

Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “Influencing Consumers” – keep flying, depend on techno-optimism

The DfT has launched its consultation, called “Jet Zero” on how the UK might decarbonise flights, by 2050. One really effective way to do that would be to reduce the demand for air travel, which is what the Climate Change Committee  (CCC) recommended. The CCC said (24th June) “Lack of ambition for aviation demand management would result in higher emissions of 6.4 MtCO2e/year in 2030 relative to the CCC pathway for aviation emissions.” But the Jet Zero consultation just says “We want to preserve the ability for people to fly whilst supporting consumers to make sustainable travel choices.” And “This Government is committed to tackling the CO2 emissions from flights, whilst preserving the ability for people to fly.” And “we currently believe the sector can achieve Jet Zero without the Government needing to intervene directly to limit aviation growth” and cut aviation CO2 by as much as the CCC says is needed, but by other means – SAF, hydrogen, electric planes etc. It then says it will “seek to address residual carbon emissions through robust, verifiable offsets and additional greenhouse gas removals.” And it acknowledges that these are all “currently at a relatively early stage of development and [their deployment] requires collaboration and commitment across all parts of the sector if it is to succeed.” It also considers carbon information for flights, but only so people can still fly, but choose different airline options.

Click here to view full story…

 

 

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