GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 7 AUGUST 2015
This is a text-only version. If you would like to see the full version of any article with images, videos, related articles, comments, etc, then click on the headline of the article.
Long-term exposure to aircraft emissions causes around 16,000 premature deaths a year, finds MIT study
Fri 7 Aug 2015 – Fine particulate matter and ozone emissions from civil aircraft are responsible for around 16,000 premature deaths annually across the world, according to a study carried out by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. The team found the greatest impact on air quality and health was caused by emissions in the cruise phase of flights, except in Europe and North America where landing and take-off (LTO) emissions were equally as important in terms of health impact. Assigning a monetary value, it was calculated that premature deaths from long-term exposure to aviation emissions could be costed at around $21 billion a year. The researchers found that air quality costs of aviation were in the same order of magnitude as those from climate and considerably higher than costs from accidents and noise.
The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, follows an earlier assessment carried out by lead author Prof Steven Barrett and a MIT team in 2010 that looked at the incidence of premature deaths worldwide caused by emissions from jet fuel burn at cruise altitude (see article). Other studies have investigated the impact on air quality around a specific airport but this is the first to quantify the health burden accounting for near-airport (within 20km), regional and global-scale effects. Previously, according to Barrett, it was difficult to know which really mattered more – cruise emissions or airport vicinity emissions.
Aircraft emit fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that can increase rates of lung cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as ozone (O3), which is also linked to respiratory disease. Of these two pollutants, the vast majority of the 16,000 premature deaths (87%) could be linked to fine particulates.
In North America, LTO emissions contributed to 43% of deaths compared to those from cruise emissions, while in Europe the figure was 49% and in Asia just 9%, the difference due to population exposure to aircraft-attributable air pollution. Globally, premature deaths from LTO emissions amount to 25% of the 16,000 total.
Results from the study showed that 23% of airports have near-field population exposure to aircraft-attributable PM2.5 higher than the global average exposure, of which 17% are located in North America, 33% and 34% are located in Europe and Asia respectively, and the remaining 16% are located in other regions.
A global total of around 5,000 people who live within 20km of airports are estimated to die prematurely each year due to aviation emissions, with 38% of airport vicinity deaths in Europe, says the study. “Our results suggest, in contrast with previous analyses, that primary PM2.5 emissions from aviation are a significant contributor to health risk when airport vicinity exposure is captured,” say the researchers.
To monetise the premature deaths due to aviation emissions, the researchers determined country-specific values of statistical life. For the US, they were based on estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, while assessments for other countries were based on national income per capita. The study shows the monetised health costs from pollution caused by aviation emissions are in the same order as aviation’s climate costs and exceed aviation’s fatal accident costs and noise costs by an order of magnitude, so roughly ten times as much.
This suggests, it states, the environmental benefits of fuel burn reduction are as much in air quality as they are in climate. Furthermore, add the researchers, this implies that when assessing the environmental impacts of aviation biofuels that result in reductions of emissions, the air quality impacts on health may be in the same order as climate impacts, since it would be expected that paraffinic biofuels would be expected to eliminate SOx emissions and reduce climate forcing black carbon (soot) emissions.
According to a study published in 2013, it is estimated around 2.1 million deaths are caused each year by human-caused increases in fine particulate matter and around 470,000 people die because of increases in ozone.
Another study has shown pollution from shipping leads to 60,000 deaths a year in the United States alone and costs up to $330 billion per year in health costs from lung and heart diseases. In Europe, academic studies put the figure at 50,000 premature deaths from international shipping emissions, with the sector likely to be the biggest single emitter of air pollution by 2020, even surpassing the emissions from all land-based sources together, says environmental NGO Transport & Environment.
“It is important to keep in mind that today aviation contributes a very small fraction to air pollution-related health risk,” Barrett told environmentalresearchweb. “However, other sectors are rapidly reducing their air pollution-relevant emissions, while aviation is forecast to double or triple by mid-century, with greater challenges in finding new ways to reduce emissions.”
Major European Airbus operators take steps to avoid A320 whistle noise nuisance
Wed 5 Aug 2015 – Lufthansa has now retrofitted the 100th aircraft belonging to its Airbus 320 family fleet with a noise-reducing component called a vortex generator. Peculiar to this aircraft type, a distinctive high-pitched noise – similar to the sound created when blowing over the mouth of a bottle – is created when air passes over circular pressure equalisation vents for the fuel tanks located under each wing, just before landing gear and flaps are deployed for landing. Complaints have been made across the world by residents surrounding airports – the noise can emanate up to some considerable distance from touch-down. After a number of years of research by Lufthansa and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), a simple 5cm piece of sheet metal mounted upstream of the vents has shown to solve the problem. Other airlines are now carrying out programmes to retrofit their narrow-body Airbus aircraft with the component, including Air France, British Airways and easyJet.
Late last year, Lufthansa became the first airline to start retrofitting vortex generators, which generate an air vortex over the vents to effectively prevent the annoying tones. According to measurements taken by the airline and DLR, the component can also reduce the overall noise level of the aircraft when landing by up to four decibels at distances of between 10 and 17 kilometres away from the airport. In total, Lufthansa is equipping 157 of its A320 family fleet with vortex generators, which are being manufactured by UK aerospace engineering company Supercraft. The first new A320 aircraft with the component pre-installed entered service with the airline in February 2014.
British Airways says it is fitting the modification on up to 130 of its aircraft in a programme that is expected to start this October after the busy summer season. “We are still finalising the exact modification programme for each aircraft,” said a spokesman for the airline.
EasyJet, one of Europe’s biggest operators of the model with over 230 A319/A320 aircraft, has committed to retrofit 197 aircraft not already equipped with vortex generators by March 2018.
“We plan to frontload the programme so the benefit will be felt more quickly by residents near our airports,” an easyJet spokesman told GreenAir. “Accordingly, we expect to have retrofitted 100 aircraft by June 2016. This will be in addition to the 41 new aircraft, pre-fitted with vortex generators, which will also be in the fleet by that date.
“We believe this plan addresses the concerns on this noise issue and provides reassurance that easyJet is committed to reduce the impact of our aircraft. Over the next few years, easyJet will take delivery of over 150 new aircraft, 100 of which will be new-generation A320neo aircraft, which will have lower noise levels than today’s aircraft.”
Airbus itself stated it could not comment on customer decisions as to whether or not they should retrofit their aircraft with the component, which it describes as an air flow deflector. “As for any option, it is up to our customers to communicate their preference,” said the manufacturer. “As part of our incremental innovation strategy, Airbus has developed the air flow deflector for the A320 family, which can significantly reduce the specific noise at distances between 15 and 40 kilometres from the runway.”
As of 31 May 2015, a total of 6,581 Airbus A320 family aircraft have been delivered, of which 6,315 are in service worldwide. In addition, another 5,123 airliners are on firm order.
Fly Green Fund launched to help kick-start sustainable jet fuel market in Nordic region
Tue 4 Aug 2015 – In efforts to kick-start a local sustainable jet fuel market, aviation and biofuel interests in the Nordic countries have launched the Fly Green Fund, which will enable organisations and individuals when taking flights to financially contribute towards the development of aviation biofuel supplies in the region. The fund’s founders are Amsterdam-based sustainable aviation biofuel supplier SkyNRG, Karlstad Airport in Sweden, where the region’s first ‘bioport’ is expected to be established, and the Nordic Initiative on Sustainable Aviation (NISA). Launch partners include Swedavia, SAS, Braathens, KLM and EFS European Flight Service, a leading Scandinavian business aviation company. The fund was announced during a political week held annually in Sweden called Almedalen.
The Fly Green Fund is similar in concept to the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme launched by the airline and SkyNRG in 2012 with seven clients that included Accenture, Nike, Philips and Schiphol Group (see article). Those corporations were expected to contribute over €1 million ($1.1m) to the programme annually that would help KLM purchase and use sustainable biofuels on regular flights. The programme has since been extended to 14 organisations, and allows each to more directly compensate for their business air travel emissions on KLM by contributing to the cost of the sustainable fuel for a portion of their total flight volume or on specific flights.
The main difference with the KLM corporate programme, explained SkyNRG Sales and Marketing Manager Merel Laroy, is the Fly Green Fund is not limited to one airline. “So, for example, SAS, KLM and Braathens are working together on this initiative and other airlines are welcome to join,” she said.
She added that not all the funds would be invested in direct biofuel to fly on, with part of the corporates’ contributions going to the development of biofuel supply chains in the Nordic region, such as the Fiber Jet project. This initiative, which started last year, is studying the production of sustainable jet fuel using available feedstocks from local forestry sources in Sweden. Supported by Climate KIC, partners in the project include The Paper Province, SP Processum and research institutes at Imperial College London and Utrecht University.
During Almedalen week, SAS and Braathens operated sustainable jet fuel flights from Stockholm and Karlstad to the event’s location in Visby with the support of airport operator Swedavia, and arranged by Air BP and SkyNRG. Travelling visitors, which included politicians, business leaders and NGOs, were given the opportunity to buy their own personal ‘biofuel ticket’ that was, in effect, a donation towards the cost of the biofuel used on the flights. Laroy said the concept might be further developed with the aim of offering the proposition on other biofuel flights in the region.
Commented SkyNRG CEO Maarten van Dijk: “Together with our partners, we have worked hard to get this far and we now have the basis and momentum to quickly move forward. We are proud to work with, and have the support of, organisations and individuals that are just as committed as we are to make sustainable jet fuel a reality in Sweden.”
United Airlines signs up first corporate customer for its carbon offset programme
Fri 31 Jul 2015 – Wyndham Worldwide has become the launch partner for United Airlines’ Eco-Skies CarbonChoice corporate carbon offset programme. This will enable the international hospitality company to track and offset the emissions stemming from its business travel and freight shipments on United at the enterprise level. Participating customers in the programme receive customised carbon emissions reports and can purchase independently verified offsets, effectively allowing them to travel and ship carbon neutral, says United. Through United’s partnership with Sustainable Travel International, the offsets enable participants to support projects designed to reduce greenhouse gases as well as provide social and economic benefits to communities where those projects are located.
“As the only US airline to offer a corporate carbon offset programme, CarbonChoice represents another way for us to broaden and partner with our customers on environmental initiatives outside of our normal business relationship,” said United’s Managing Director of Environmental Affairs, Angela Foster-Rice.
The programme uses actual flight level data that recognises aircraft type, routes, fuel consumption, payload and customer-specific business travel and cargo shipments on United.
Wyndham has been named to both the Dow Jones North America and World Sustainability Indices, the world’s largest global environmental disclosure system. It is also rated among the 2015 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Magazine, Corporate Responsibility magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens and DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity.
The carbon offsets to be purchased by Wyndham will be invested in the GreenTrees’ Advanced Carbon Restored Ecosystem project along the Mississippi River Valley. To date, over 36 million trees have been planted on nearly 100,000 acres along the Mississippi Alluvial.
The CarbonChoice programme also includes forest conservation projects in Peru and California, and a wind power project in Texas.
United Airlines – CarbonChoice programme
United Airlines – Eco-Skies
Wyndham Worldwide – Environment & Sustainability
Sustainable Travel International
Lufthansa Group records good progress in fuel efficiency performance towards 2020 environmental goal
Fri 31 Jul 2015 – Absolute carbon emissions from airlines within the Lufthansa Group rose by 0.7% to 27.8 million tonnes in 2014 as a result of increased operations but overall fuel efficiency in passenger transportation continued to improve, reaching a record 3.84 litres per 100 passenger kilometres (l/100 pkm). Specific fuel consumption has been steadily falling on an annual basis and the achievement in 2014 was a 1.6% improvement on the previous year, and therefore ahead of the industry-wide 1.5% short-term annual efficiency target. With jet fuel being its largest individual cost item, the Group last year set up a fuel efficiency unit as part of the new Operations Efficiency & Strategy department that aims to achieve even greater gains. With 272 aircraft expected to join the fleet over the next 10 years, the Group expects new models such as the Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-9X to bring specific fuel consumption down to the 3 litre mark.
The latest sustainability report from the Lufthansa Group – which also includes Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Germanwings – shows the wide variation in fuel efficiency between short-haul and long-haul operations. Specific fuel consumption performance across the Group’s passenger transportation on long-haul routes, which made up 59% of traffic in 2014, was 3.45 l/100 pkm compared to 3.99 on medium-haul routes (26%) and 6.32 on short-haul routes (15%). This enabled Swiss to have a better overall fuel efficiency performance (3.48 l/100 pkm) than Lufthansa (3.91 l/100 pkm) because of its lower number of short-haul routes. Austrian Airlines had the Group’s best performance of 2.92 l/100 pkm for its long-haul operations but its short-haul operations were less efficient than Lufthansa’s.
Specific fuel consumption from freight transportation has not quite matched the impressive gains made in the passenger sector, improving from 0.278 in 2013 to 0.276 litres per tonne kilometres in 2014, with CO2 emissions remaining the same for both years at 0.70kgs per tonne kilometre. However, Lufthansa Cargo achieved a 5.2% improvement in fuel efficiency in 2014 compared to 2013 with a fuel consumption of 0.183 litres per tonne kilometre. Five new fuel-efficient Boeing 777F freighters have joined the Lufthansa Cargo fleet.
The Group established a strategic environmental programme in 2008 with the target of achieving a 25% reduction in specific CO2 emissions of the passenger fleet by 2020 in comparison with 2006, and by 2014 had increased fuel efficiency by 12.3% since the base year. Coordinating company-wide climate and environmental goals, strategies and measures is the responsibility of the Environmental Issues department. In addition, all larger subsidiaries have environmental departments and commissioners or coordinators. Meetings take place twice a year at the Group’s Environmental Forum.
The Fuel Efficiency department ensures a continuous exchange of ideas between the Group’s airlines as well as with partners across the Star Alliance. Fuel experts meet every two months in the Fuel Efficiency Group to share knowledge and receive new information and updates on measures and goals. So far, more than 1,300 ideas and projects have been developed in areas such as flight operations, network planning, ground processes, aerodynamics, flight weight reduction and technical optimisation of performance. In 2014, the Group implemented 145 related projects, bringing the total number of projects in implementation to 266. Their progress is monitored by the ProFuel database.
Fuel efficiency measures are expected to contribute savings of €148 million ($161m) to the Group’s 2015 results, with Lufthansa itself contributing €93 million ($101m) to the effort.
“The worldwide need for mobility increases year after year – in 2014 alone, passenger numbers rose by 5.9%. Sustainability, climate protection and environmental responsibility are becoming ever more important because of this growth,” says Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr in the sustainability report. “As the world’s largest aviation group, we are an essential part of this development. With innovative products, we want to set new standards and to make our contribution towards an environmentally compatible type of air transport in the future.”
Lufthansa Group Sustainability Report 2015 ‘Balance’
COMMENTARY: Fast-growing airlines from developing countries should not have to shoulder an unfair share of the GMBM burden, says China
Mon 20 July 2015 – At the 38th Assembly of ICAO, unilateral measures to address the matter of climate change and international aviation emissions were denounced. Instead, it was decided to establish a multilateral framework to tackle this issue, namely to establish a Global Market Based Measure (GMBM) from 2016 and to implement it from 2020 to reach a goal of Carbon Neutral Growth (CNG2020), writes Huang Yue.
Two working mechanisms were subsequently set up under ICAO to fulfil the given mission. One is the so-called Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) of the ICAO Council, consisting of 19 Member States, which is mainly responsible for evaluating different options of a GMBM. The EAG has held 11 meetings so far since its establishment at the beginning of 2014. Another group known as the Global Market Based Measure Technical Task Force (GMTF), under ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), is focusing on developing the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system and emission unit criteria for the GMBM, and is more technically oriented compared to the EAG.
In order to reach the CNG2020 goal, the baseline for determining quantities to be offset is computed by using an average of three years of emissions from 2018 to 2020 in order to account for any exceptional variation that may be caused by individual operators in a specific year. The purpose is to set a cap for the growth of international civil aviation. Several options of the GMBM have been put on the agenda for the EAG to consider.
At the outset, the ICAO Secretariat came up with a ‘Strawman’ proposal that put forward for consideration a carbon offsetting mechanism that is based on a calculation of 50% individual airline growth and 50% collective industry growth after 2020 to determine each participant’s offsetting obligation. Under this method, those airlines with a fast growth rate would shoulder the overwhelming majority of emission reduction responsibilities, compared to those matured airlines with less or no growth demand.
Aware of the possible detrimental consequences that might be brought about by the Strawman to fast-growing carriers, particularly to those in the developing countries, China and five other States (India, Russia, Egypt, Libya and Saudi Arabia) have jointly submitted a working paper to the EAG. Its intention is to revise the basic calculation proposed by the Strawman. The core part of China’s proposal is to determine each operator’s offsetting amount after 2020 based on the proportion of its own accumulative emissions in a certain period to the global accumulative emissions in the same period. The proposed period for accumulation is 1992-2020, the start being the year when 190 States concluded the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under the Accumulative Emission Proportion (AEP) approach, those who emitted more in the past will shoulder more offsetting responsibilities, and provide fast growers with more space to develop in the future.
This method takes into account differing guiding principles set out in ICAO’s A38-18 Resolution, including the principle of CBDR, the principle of equal and fair opportunity and, above all, would ensure administrative simplicity and minimise market distortion. As our jointly submitted working paper argues, it builds a bridge and provides a solution that could address each Member State’s different concerns across what has previously been perceived as a divide.
A third option, the Route Based approach has been proposed by Brazil and Argentina, which has the underlying rationale of guaranteeing the same treatment of all airlines operating on the same route, while offering a phase-in period or setting different co-efficient factors for certain routes (i.e. routes between developed and developing countries) so as to reflect a ‘differentiation’ principle.
All three options are currently under survey and study, particularly but not exclusively focusing on their administrative simplicity and social and economic impact on different types of airlines. Preliminary results have shown that under the Strawman approach, the fast and mid growth airlines will shoulder more offsetting responsibilities than the legacy carriers. Meanwhile, the AEP approach burdens those legacy carriers with heavier offsetting responsibilities, thus providing those carriers with growth demand greater opportunity to develop after 2020. With regard to the Route Based approach, formulating the categorisation of the routes as well as the distribution method are still under analysis.
According to its terms of reference, the major mission of the GMTF is to:
- Recommend requirements and procedures for monitoring, reporting and verification of global CO2 emissions from international civil aviation; and
- Assess and then recommend eligibility criteria for emission units and/or eligibility criteria for carbon credit programmes and MBMs whose emission units could be eligible for compliance use under a global MBM.
Alternative aviation fuels remains one of the most topical subjects under discussion in the MRV group. In particular, the whole life-cycle monitoring of biofuels has been scrutinised, with some experts questioning the monitoring boundary of biofuels and how the ownership rights of the emission reductions generated by biofuels at different stages should be clarified. They also claim this is crucial to avoid double claiming.
Compared to MRV, the discussion of emission unit criteria has witnessed more debate, especially in the sense of how to address the environmental integrity of carbon credits on the market in a fit and proper way. The preliminary proposed criteria recommends that carbon units must represent additionality, the programmes that would generate the units should have a realistic and credible baseline, and these units must be quantified, monitored, reported and verified.
Age of offsets has also been proposed as one of the criteria to guarantee environmental integrity. Some advocate that for offset credits, only those generated after 2020 can be purchased by the industry to meet the CNG2020 goal. Others insist that as long as the carbon credits represent permanent and real reduction, this should not be applied as one of the restrictions.
A current report of ICAO shows that under the assumption of a carbon price of $45 per tonne during the whole compliance period of the GMBM from 2020 to 2035, the cost of the scheme to the aviation industry is likely to amount to $23.9 billion. However, aviation is an industry with poor margins and, according to airline statistics, in the year of 2010, which was a most financially successful year for the industry, the global profit was merely $17.3 billion. The enforcement of the GMBM would therefore bring about a huge economic burden for the aviation industry. This should be fully considered and evaluated during the GMBM design process.
Regarding the enforcement mechanism, no format has the absolute compulsory legal binding force within the realm of ICAO. For instance, a reservation can be made to a multilateral convention or the ICAO resolution. As to ICAO standard and recommend practices (SARPs), a State can file and submit its differentiation if there are any, pursuant to Article 38 of Chicago Convention. Hence, it should be noted that the political will of States plays a key role in GMBM implementation and a lack of it is highly unlikely to lead to a successful agreement.
The submission of the AEP approach demonstrates China’s constructive role and its strong desire to safeguard the interests of the fast-growing airlines from developing countries. We believe they should not be unfairly penalised because of their growth demand after 2020. We constantly emphasise that ‘differentiation’ should be incorporated into the GMBM in order to protect their right to develop after this date.
China has participated in the process of establishing the GMBM since the very beginning and has appreciated the contribution of the ICAO Secretariat and other stakeholders. During the months ahead, we will expect more intensive negotiations and further research into different GMBM options. China looks forward to working closely with others in jointly developing a GMBM that is in compliance with the principles listed in the Annex to ICAO’s A38-18 Resolution.
The author, Huang Yue, is Assistant Researcher at the China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology, part of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), and she is a member of China’s delegation in the ICAO GMBM process.