GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 26 FEBRUARY 2015
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UNFCCC agreement paves the way for some aviation emission reduction projects to be eligible under CDM
Thu 26 Feb 2015 – Projects that lead to reductions in aviation-related emissions could soon by eligible under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits – each equivalent to one tonne of CO2 – that can be traded and used by industrialised countries to meet a part of their targets under the Kyoto Protocol. At a meeting last week, the Executive Board that supervises the CDM agreed to develop three methodologies initially that would include projects such as solar power for at-gate aircraft, green taxiing and aircraft engine washing. Under the Protocol, projects to reduce emissions from domestic flights and at airports in developing countries are already eligible to be included in the CDM but emissions resulting from international flights, even if they take off, fly over or land in developing countries, have not so far been eligible. ICAO welcomed the move towards adopting the new methodologies.
In order to ensure the environmental integrity of the CDM, methodologies are required to establish a project’s emissions baseline, or expected emissions without the project, and to monitor the actual ongoing emissions once a project is implemented. The difference between the baseline and the actual emissions determines what a project is eligible to earn in the form of credits. Once developed, a new emissions baseline and monitoring methodology could be used by projects in the aviation sector to quantify their emissions reductions and earn saleable credits for those reductions.
“This methodology will add an important tool to the aviation industry’s environmental toolbox,” said CDM Executive Board Chair Lambert Schneider. “We think it’s important to support the sector’s efforts to reduce emissions, and at the same time expand the usefulness of the CDM to address emissions from transport.”
The ICAO Secretariat has been cooperating closely on the issue with counterparts at the UNFCCC, which supports the Board in administering the CDM. “We proposed these methodologies be considered and we are delighted that they are now under active consideration in the CDM regulatory process,” Jane Hupe, ICAO’s Environment Chief, told GreenAir.
She cautioned that the Board had not yet approved the three methodologies in question but, she added: “If they can be successfully developed, ICAO believes they will create a powerful incentive to implement projects that reduce emissions in, and deliver financial and technological support to, developing countries.”
Credits issued by these projects could hold significant appeal to aircraft operators and other entities seeking to neutralise their own emissions, she said.
“Even if today international aviation projects are not eligible for CDM credits, the development of these methodologies is a very good step and they would also be useful for international aviation emissions reduction estimates, for example in respect of State Action Plans.”
Hupe said this was also in line with the ICAO Assembly Resolution passed in 2013 that recognised in the short term, voluntary carbon offsetting schemes constituted a practical way to offset CO2 emissions, and which invited States to encourage their aircraft operators wishing to take early action to use carbon offsetting, particularly through the use of credits generated from internationally recognised schemes such as the CDM.
Responding to the announcement, Michael Gill, IATA Director, Aviation Environment, said: “We welcome the decision by the CDM Executive Board to open up the CDM to projects being implemented in the aviation sector. However, as the new rules specifically apply to ground-based emissions, we wait to see how these projects could be of direct help to aircraft operators in their mitigation efforts. We hope to take part in further discussions to see how these types of projects would fit with a global market-based measure for international aviation. In that regard we strongly support the process currently underway at ICAO.”
The Executive Board also agreed at its meeting to further simplification of the CDM while maintaining environmental integrity. “This is an important work programme to further reduce transaction costs for emission reduction projects,” said Schneider.
The CDM has so far led to registration of over 7,800 projects and programmes in 107 developing countries, hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and 1.5 billion fewer tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the prices paid for CERs have plunged following the global economic slowdown and uncertainty over the future of the CDM, with the incentive to create new projects, and even continuing existing projects, having almost disappeared, admits the UNFCCC.
In the run-up to the crucial climate summit in Paris later this year, the Board has therefore urged countries to renew their commitment to the CDM and use it to encourage emissions reductions and drive climate finance, technology transfer, capacity building, sustainable development and adaptation.
UNFCCC – CDM , UNFCCC – CDM Executive Board , UNFCCC – Development of new methodologies to broaden the applicability of the CDM (pdf) , ICAO – Environmental Protection
Ecofys report recommends the industry develops a common sustainability standard for aviation biofuels
Wed 25 Feb 2015 – The variety of international voluntary certification schemes and the different legislations, notably in the EU and US, in place regarding biofuel sustainability provides the aviation industry with challenging complications for the global adoption of aviation biofuels. Given the importance of a common standard for measuring sustainability, IATA commissioned sustainable energy consultancy Ecofys to generate proposals that the industry could adopt as a first step towards achieving greater harmonisation of differing standards for biofuels applied in jurisdictions across the world. In its report just published, Ecofys recommends encouraging the EU and US authorities to adopt mutual recognition of their RED and RFS2 standards for aviation and the industry should develop a common sustainability standard, or meta-standard.
In its study, Ecofys assessed the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) and its analysis shows a significant number of similarities, although both standards use different methodologies. While not yet used today, any jet biofuel reported within these systems would have to comply with the sustainability criteria of both. Mutual recognition between the two standards is a desirable option, says Ecofys, as it would enable biofuel to be freely traded between the EU and US. It would also provide a strong basis to develop an internationally accepted approach to biofuels sustainability as they are the two major legislative standards in place today.
Ecofys adds the development of a global market-based mechanism (MBM) by ICAO, in which the use of sustainable biofuels in terms of emissions reductions would be taken into account, provides an ideal opportunity for the UN agency to play a role in the EU/US mutual recognition process, which it recommends IATA should encourage.
In addition, a number of international voluntary schemes – such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) – have emerged for the certification of biomass sustainability, driven in large part by the acceptance in the EU RED as a means to demonstrate compliance with mandatory sustainability criteria. However, they differ in the scope and details of the sustainability criteria they cover.
Ecofys says the development of a meta-standard would be a participatory process to define the ambition levels of sustainability for the aviation industry and any voluntary scheme could be benchmarked against this standard. Each airline could then decide on using specific voluntary schemes that comply best with their own ambitions.
The report recommends the meta-standard should be developed in a multi-stakeholder process and have minimum key requirements, such as sustainability principles and/or criteria, that biofuel producers would need to meet in order to be recognised by the aviation industry or governments internationally. A key first step, say the authors, would be to establish a standard owner of the meta-standard, which could be ICAO or IATA, or a new, independent organisation.
As a next step, Ecofys recommends developing a roadmap to implement the options to ensure the use of sustainable biofuels can be incorporated into the global MBM discussions and be ready in time for inclusion from 2016.
“It is increasingly important to align global policy on sustainability standards,” said Matthias Spöttle, Bioenergy Consultant at Ecofys and co-author of the report. “In an ideal situation, airlines would be able to purchase fuel from any location and use it on any flight and know that it complies with the given sustainability criteria.”
In a foreword to the report, IATA’s Director, Aviation Environment, Michael Gill, added: “With the increasing use of sustainable aviation fuels, what is understood to be sustainable must be consistent throughout the world. It is increasingly important that the global policy on sustainability standards be aligned and for sustainable aviation fuels to have common metrics. While it may not be practical to redesign standards significantly in the quest for a global solution, it should be possible to harmonise legislation.
“Furthermore, we believe that this report will make a valuable contribution to the success of the ongoing work taking place on the development of a global MBM for aviation.”
Ecofys report – ‘Assessment of sustainability standards for biojet fuel’ (pdf)
TaxiBot now operational at Frankfurt as Lufthansa and IAI agree to pursue widebody version of green taxiing solution
Tue 24 Feb 2015 – The TaxiBot hybrid-electric towing tractor developed by Lufthansa LEOS and aerospace company IAI that transports aircraft towards the runway without the necessity of using the aircraft’s engines is now in regular operational use at Frankfurt Airport. This follows certification by the European safety agency EASA for use with Boeing 737 aircraft, which is expected to be extended to include the Airbus A320 narrowbody family by mid-year. Trials so far show average savings of between 50 and 100 kilogrammes of fuel per 737 taxi-out, says Lufthansa. Confident of success for the pilot-controlled vehicle, the two partners have now signed a MoU to start certification testing for a widebody version, which is expected to have even greater fuel-saving and environmental benefits.
As the aircraft does not need to start its main engines until the TaxiBot has reached a holding area near to the take-off runway, in Frankfurt’s case Runway 18, significant greenhouse gas emission savings can be realised at busy main airports, and ground noise is also reduced by around 50%
According to Peter Unger, Managing Director of Lufthansa LEOS, the ground services arm of the airline, the potential fuel savings for using TaxiBot to transport all Lufthansa aircraft to the runway at Frankfurt would amount to between 6,000 and 11,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to annual CO2 savings of 19,000-35,000 tonnes. Because of the logistics involved and the fact that taxi-out times are twice as long than for aircraft taxiing in after landing, and so have greater fuel and environmental savings, TaxiBot operations are for now only being used for outbound aircraft at Frankfurt.
The process involves a safety driver in the TaxiBot cabin encasing the nose landing gear into a cradle at the rear of the vehicle while the aircraft is at the stand and then performing a normal pushback. The pilot control mode is then activated which allows the pilot complete command to steer and control the aircraft throughout taxiing to the holding area, during which speeds up to 23 knots can be reached. While the TaxiBot and aircraft are uncoupled, which can take around three minutes, the aircraft’s engines are readied before final taxiing to the runway and joining the queue for take-off.
“The development of the TaxiBot represents a milestone in environmentally friendly aircraft ground operations at airports,” Unger told a media gathering at Frankfurt Airport last week. “The use of the aircraft tractor in real flight operations means that we are now taking the next step towards the long-term goal of environmentally friendly taxiing right up to green aircraft handling.”
Yehoshua Eldar, IAI Executive VP and head of the TaxiBot programme steering committee, said the widebody model would operate with all types, including the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. The certification testing will be carried out using a Lufthansa 747-400 and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Manufacture of TaxiBot vehicles will be undertaken by a third partner in the project, airport ground support equipment manufacturer TLD, which inaugurated a new assembly line last November in Sorigny, France. After-sales support will be handled by TLD, which operates from 33 worldwide sites
As well as at Frankfurt, TaxiBot is claimed to provide similar benefits at other large airports in Europe, although runway layout and a holding area adjacent to the take-off runway to allow for the uncoupling have to be factored in. A simulation study at Paris CDG found TaxiBot operations were compatible with the airport’s infrastructure, did not impact capacity handling and did not induce perturbations in aircraft flows. A TLD executive said other European airports had expressed interest, including London’s Heathrow.
Seeking market opportunities further afield, particularly in Asia and North America, the partners are currently working towards approval from the FAA and the Chinese CAAC.
The TaxiBot faces competition from other green taxiing solutions that are being developed elsewhere, notably onboard electrical systems from a Safran/Honeywell partnership and also WheelTug that propel either the nose wheel or the main landing gear. However, points out Eldar, TaxiBot is the only one to be certified and in operation, does not require aircraft modification and adds no weight to the aircraft.
TaxiBot is part of the ‘E-PORT AN’ electric mobility project running at Frankfurt, involving the airport’s operator Fraport and Lufthansa, as well as state authorities, and has the support of the German transport ministry.
TaxiBot , Lufthansa LEOS , IAI , TLD
ASTM raises FAME limits following cross-contamination concerns over biodiesel traces in jet fuel
Fri 20 Feb 2015 – The increased global use of biodiesel in ground transport has proved a headache for jet fuel suppliers and aero engine manufacturers as the two fuels are often transported in the same multi-product pipeline and distribution systems, so leading to cross-contamination. Biodiesel is made up of a bio-component called FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester), traces of which can adhere to pipe and tank walls as the biodiesel passes through and then released to the following product, which may be jet fuel. At high enough concentrations, FAME can impact the thermal stability and freezing point of jet fuel, which could result in engine operability problems and possible engine flame-out. Up till now, the maximum FAME contamination of jet fuel was set at 5 parts per million (ppm) but after a number of years of research and testing by fuel and engine experts, fuel certification body ASTM has raised the limit to 50 ppm. Biodiesel is not to be confused with green diesel, which is currently undergoing an ASTM process to allow its use as an approved jet fuel.
FAME is produced from vegetable oils, animal fats or waste cooking oils by transesterification, in which a glyceride reacts with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to form a mixture of fatty acids esters and an alcohol.
“Chemically, FAME biodiesel is a quite different molecule compared to those found in jet fuel and, indeed, diesel, and it does impact on fuel properties. FAME also has very variable composition, can have carryover of some process by-products and frankly is not made to ‘aerospace’ standards,” explained Chris Lewis, a former fuels specialist with Rolls-Royce with long experience in the development and certification of aviation biofuels, and now an independent consultant.
The problem of cross-contamination was first addressed as far back as 2008 when jet fuel supplied to Birmingham Airport in the UK was tested and found to contain levels of FAME above the 5ppm level, in fact samples of 20ppm were measured. As a result, a number of tanks at the local supply terminal were quarantined and jet fuel supplies had to be sourced elsewhere.
Given that it is considerably cheaper to supply fuel through pipelines than through trucks, both biodiesel and jet fuel providers have been keen to find common ground, and a testing programme on FAME in jet engines has been ongoing since, involving fuel companies, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and others. The experts studied whether the level of allowable FAME in jet fuel could be increased without compromising safety nor adversely affected aircraft operation.
According to Lewis, the programme, led by the Energy Institute, was “very rigorous” and took a long time to complete but had all the key stakeholders involved.
“The jet fuel specification keeps the aviation industry safe while adapting to the expanded presence of biofuels,” said ASTM member David Abdallah of Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering. “In fact, no discernible negative impact on jet fuel product quality was observed with up to 400 ppm of biodiesel.”
Lewis said the target clearance had been 100 ppm but as a prudent move the industry had gone for 50 ppm but with a possible review up to 100 ppm in two years’ time if there are no problems reported, with an emergency allowance of 100 ppm in place if required.
Currently undergoing the ASTM approvals procedures to have it certified as a jet fuel, green diesel, also known as renewable diesel, has a different chemical structure to biodiesel. “It is actually synthetic hydrocarbons and very pure – it has the same molecules as jet fuel – so it slots in nicely and, at the right levels, does not impact on critical properties,” said Lewis. The currently approved synthetics from ASTM-approved Fischer-Tropsch (FT) and hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) fuels are similar to green diesel, he said.
“However, green diesel has a higher freeze point temperature than the already approved FT/ HEFA products that can be blended into jet because some of the processing needed to lower the freeze point – called isomerisation – has been left out. This does make green diesel more environmentally friendly to produce but because of the freeze point issue you can’t blend it as high as 50% with conventional jet fuel.
“In summary, green diesel is a good product, the right molecules, can be blended to a lower level without degrading jet fuel performance and is more efficient to produce.”
ASTM – FAME announcement
Carbon emissions from global airfreight to rise faster than for other transport modes, predicts ITF
Wed 18 Feb 2015 – The intergovernmental organisation International Transport Forum (ITF) has projected that as international freight transport quadruples in volume by 2050, carbon emissions from airfreight will grow faster than those from road, rail or sea. The ITF estimates CO2 emissions from airfreight will rise from 150 million tonnes in 2010 to 767 million tonnes in 2050, an increase of 411% on a business as usual basis. Shifting trade patterns, with the North Pacific corridor surpassing the North Atlantic as the main trading route, will result in transport distances increasing by 12% across all modes. Overall, CO2 emissions from freight transport will grow by 290% by 2050 and freight will replace passenger traffic as the main source of CO2 emissions from surface transport.
In terms of freight volume, measured in tonne-kilometres, airfreight represented only 0.27% of all freight shifted globally in 2010, but its share is expected to increase to 0.36% by 2050. ITF’s own International Freight Model estimates international trade related freight carried by air amounted to 191 billion tonne-kilometres in 2010, higher than ICAO’s figure of 158 billion tonne-kilometres.
Apart from airfreight, of the total international freight volume, 85% is currently carried by sea, 9% by road and the remainder by rail. Sea will continue to account for the bulk of freight transport in 2050 but its share is likely to decline to around 83% as a result of an increase in road freight.
Trade patterns are expected to shift geographically and due to rapid economic growth, mainly after 2030, Asia and Africa will face substantial increases in trade shares. Rising food demand, especially in these two continents, will prompt a massive increase in food volumes, says ITF. By 2050, China and Africa will receive almost 32% and 19% respectively of the total world food transport when measured in tonne-kilometres. The United States will remain the world’s major food supplier and by 2050, almost 38% of the food transported will originate from the US, followed by Europe (11%) and Brazil (8%).
Over the period 2010 to 2050, CO2 emissions related to international freight transport will grow by a factor of 3.9 in ITF’s baseline scenario. Road freight currently accounts for around 53% of the total and is likely to increase to 56% by 2050. ITF predicts air transport will increase its contribution to CO2 emissions by two percentage points. In contrast, sea freight’s share will fall from 37% to 32%. These changes, says ITF, will be driven by the increasing share of trade by road and air and also longer average haulage distances.
Regionally, or by trade corridor, the largest increases in CO2 emissions in absolute terms will take place in Asia and North Pacific, while in relative terms emissions are projected to grow most in Africa.
“The foreseeable increase in global freight represents an unprecedented challenge for the world’s transport systems,” said ITF Secretary-General José Viegas at the launch of the ITF Transport Outlook 2015, adding: “A quadrupling of freight emissions can seriously undermine climate change mitigation.”
With 54 member countries, the ITF is administratively integrated into the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and acts as a strategic think tank for transport policy.
International Transport Forum , ITF Transport Outlook 2015
Climate talks end with negotiating text that calls for international aviation carbon reduction targets and a levy
Mon 16 Feb 2015 – Negotiators meeting in Geneva last week to agree on the text to take to the all-important international climate summit in Paris later this year have included calls for global emission reduction targets for international aviation and a levy scheme applied to the sector to support climate change adaptation finance. UNFCCC negotiating texts have proved notoriously fickle in the past and the references to international aviation – and its sister sector, shipping – could still be changed or dropped altogether. Whereas ICAO is currently developing a global market-based scheme for aviation to achieve a goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, the UN agency has consistently opposed a climate levy be applied as well to the sector. Meanwhile, ICAO is to outline progress so far on the scheme in a series of conferences, called GLADs, to be held in regions across the world during April.
The paragraphs agreed in Geneva referring to international aviation and shipping carbon reduction targets and a levy appear in separate parts of the 86-page document and so are not related.
The text concerning targets (para 23 bis) states: “In meeting the 2 °C objective, Parties agree on the need for global sectoral emission reduction targets for international aviation and maritime transport and on the need for all Parties to work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop global policy frameworks to achieve these targets.”
The text is contained within square brackets, often a sign that perhaps not all Parties do in fact agree with the wording and therefore could be subject to change or omission. There is also a lack of clarity as to who should set the targets – UNFCCC or ICAO – or what those targets should be.
How States should effectively deal with international aviation and shipping emissions that by their nature predominantly are cross-border in nature or take place over the high seas has been a conundrum that has so far defeated negotiators at both UNFCCC and ICAO. However, a globally binding climate agreement at the Paris COP in December is seen by many as a prerequisite for achieving a successful outcome for ICAO’s market-based scheme under development.
The concept of a global levy to help with climate change adaptation is not new and following the agreement to set up the Green Climate Fund at the 2010 climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, the aviation and shipping sectors were identified as potential contributors. With their rapidly growing emissions and their disproportionate impact on climate change, both sectors have been seen as legitimate sources of revenue to the fund that is aiming to deliver up to $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
A report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 2011 concluded that a global carbon charge of $25 per tonne of CO2 on international transport could raise $12 billion per year by 2020 from international aviation.
However, the Geneva text refers not to the Green Climate Fund but to the separate Adaptation Fund. The paragraph (47.5) “encourages ICAO and IMO to develop a levy scheme to provide financial support for the Adaptation Fund” and both UN agencies “are encouraged to take into consideration the needs of developing countries, particularly the LDCs [Least Developed Countries], SIDS [Small Island Developing States] and countries in Africa heavily reliant on tourism and international transport of traded goods.”
The Adaptation Fund is a long-established UNFCCC fund set up to finance adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. The fund is partly financed by a share of proceeds from the UN’s clean development mechanism (CDM) project activities.
It is unlikely that the UNFCCC Parties could force ICAO to impose a global levy on international aviation, hence the use of the word “encourage”. It is also hard to find many States that support the measure. Even the European Union, which might be seen to be in favour, has not expressed a formal position.
Since the Green Climate Fund levy first reared its head, ICAO has made clear its opposition. ICAO’s last Assembly in 2012 “urged that ICAO and its Member States express a clear concern, through the UNFCCC process, on the use of international aviation as a potential source for the mobilisation of revenue for climate finance to the other sectors, in order to ensure that international aviation would not be targeted as a source of such revenue in a disproportionate manner.”
ICAO argues that to achieve its aspirational carbon reduction goals the aviation sector requires adequate financial resources of its own that would be compromised by the imposition of an additional levy.
An insider with experience of the UNFCCC process told GreenAir that at this stage the text relating to aviation was not particularly significant. “It will only become so if the paragraphs stay the same heading into Paris,” he said.
Simon McNamara, Director General of the European Regions Airline Association, whose members are unhappy with the administrative and financial burdens of complying with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) on what they consider to be an uneven playing field, said ICAO alone must be allowed to develop a global market-based mechanism.
“Work is already well underway in ICAO and a two-stream approach with influence by a non-aviation body is only likely to complicate the situation for ICAO,” he said. “ICAO should be the sole agency tasked with this effort and all Parties should focus on this.”
ICAO has sent out invitations to its Member States and other organisations to participate in two-day conferences being held in Lima, Nairobi, Cairo, Singapore and Madrid during April. As proposed at the last Assembly, the objectives of the Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) are to share information regarding market-based measures (MBMs) and their role in addressing aviation carbon emissions, and to provide an update on progress on the development at ICAO of a global MBM scheme. The GLADs are also intended as an opportunity for States and organisations to provide their own feedback.
UNFCCC Geneva negotiating text (pdf)
New book: Will Sustainability Fly? Aviation Fuel Options in a Low-Carbon World
By Walter J. Palmer
While international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been less than satisfactory, there is a presumption that a significant level of multi-lateral commitment will be realised at some point. International air and marine travel have been left to one side in past talks because the pursuit of agreement proceeds on the basis of commitment by sovereign nations and the effects of these specific commercial activities are, by their nature, difficult to corral and assign to specific national jurisdictions. However, air travel is increasing and, unless something is done, emissions from this segment of our world economy will form a progressively larger percentage of the total, especially as emissions fall in other activities.
This book focuses on fuel. The aim is to provide background in technical and policy terms, from the broadest reliable sources of information available, for the necessary discourse on society’s reaction to the evolving aviation emissions profile. It considers what policy has been, why and how commercial air travel is committed to its current liquid fuel, how that fuel can be made without using fossil-source materials, and the barriers to change. It also advances some elements of policy remedies that make sense in providing an environmentally and economically sound way forward in a context that comprehends a more complete vision of sustainability than ‘renewable fuels’ traditionally have. The goal of Will Sustainability Fly? is to broaden and contextualise the knowledge resource available to academics, policy makers, air industry leaders and stakeholders, and interested members of the public.
The 12-page introduction to the book can be accessed here.
Publisher: Ashgate, UK
Price (website): £58.50 (approx. $90)