GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 20 NOVEMBER 2015
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A lack of emission reduction targets for aviation risks undermining global efforts on 2⁰C warming objective
Fri 20 Nov 2015 – A lack of adequate sectoral targets and appropriate action to reduce emissions from international aviation and shipping risks undermining efforts elsewhere to achieve the internationally agreed goal of keeping global warming below the 2⁰C threshold, finds a study prepared for the European Parliament. International aviation’s current 1.3% share of global CO2 emissions may rise to a substantial 22% by 2050 if the sector does not step up its ambition and continues to fall behind other sectors working to combat climate change, it warns. While full decarbonisation of aviation within the next 30 years is unrealistic, argues the study, stabilising emissions at 2020 levels, as proposed by ICAO Member States, “is clearly not enough.” It is important to establish targets for both aviation and shipping that clearly indicate emissions cannot grow unlimited and unregulated, it advises EU lawmakers.
The strong growth in air transport demand has led to an average annual growth of 2.9% in CO2 emissions, despite considerable efficiency improvements, and are expected to rise even more strongly in the future, perhaps by as much as 4.4% per year. If unchecked, international aviation and shipping together will in 2050 emit as much as the European Union today, notes the policy study, which was provided for the European Parliament’s environment committee and carried out by Germany’s Oeko-Institut.
ICAO has set an annual fuel efficiency improvement target of 2% and an aspirational goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, although has yet to agree on how to ensure the latter is achieved.
The study looks at a number of potential mitigation targets for consideration by policymakers, ranging from emissions stabilisation at 2020 levels – carbon-neutral growth (CNG) – to full decarbonisation of the aviation sector by 2050 using a global carbon budget approach. The first is considered inadequate as it does not lead to the absolute reductions that are required, while the second is considered probably too ambitious.
In 2020, CO2 emissions from international aviation (therefore excluding domestic aviation and roughly 62% of total global aviation emissions) are projected by ICAO to reach 752 Mt under a mid-range scenario, about 79% above the 2005 level of 419 Mt. To stay below 2⁰C, the study therefore recommends the target for aviation for 2030 should not be higher than 39% above 2005 emission levels. By 2050, those emissions should be between 41% and 96% lower than the 2005 level. The higher reduction is based on full decarbonisation, whereas the lower may just be in line with the 2⁰C trajectory. If aviation’s non-CO2 impacts were to be taken into account when consistent data becomes available, these targets would need to be even more stringent, it adds.
In addition to a short-term (up to 2020) goal of a 1.5% improvement in average annual fuel efficiency and then carbon-neutral growth from 2020, the aviation industry itself has set a target to reduce aviation net emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. This, says the study, may therefore be compatible with the global long-term climate goal if non-CO2 effects are not taken into account. However, it is dependent on when CNG is turned into a declining trajectory, which the study’s authors have assumed in their analysis will start in 2030. The more the decline from CNG is postponed, the higher the aggregated emissions and the stronger the deviation from a trajectory compatible with the global long-term goal, they say.
A consideration posed by the study’s authors for policymakers when setting appropriate targets for the aviation and shipping sectors is how to compare them with other industrial sectors and efforts elsewhere. Those sectors – for example electricity generation, steel or cement production – may be equally important to the global economy but will likely be covered by the post-Paris global mitigation targets. The study argues that international aviation and shipping (domestic emissions should be included in national targets) need to be covered by similar requirements.
It points out that aviation alone would rank 21st as a country in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), about the same as Switzerland and larger than some members of the G20. In global emissions terms, aviation would rank seventh if treated as a country, again higher than many developed nations. Considering it as a separate country and resembling an industrialised rather than a developing country, the authors have also provided a potential mitigation target based on the EU’s own emissions reduction ambitions for 2050.
The study concludes that it is unlikely that targets which are compatible with the below 2⁰C objective can be achieved only with technological and operational improvements, and may require both encouraging behavioural change that leads to reduced demand for air transport and the offsetting of climate impacts by financing emission reductions in other sectors.
The draft negotiating text for the upcoming Paris COP21 climate conference that was released earlier in the year called for the need for global sectoral emission reduction targets for international aviation and shipping, but was removed in a later slimmed-down version. At the insistence of the EU and some least developed countries, text was recently reinserted that calls on Parties to pursue limitations or reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through ICAO and IMO from the two sectors but has no reference to targets (see article).
A synthesis report published by the UNFCCC on October 30 that provides estimates of the aggregate GHG emission levels in 2025 and 2030 resulting from the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) submitted so far by countries in advance of COP21, acknowledges emissions from international aviation and maritime transport are not included in INDCs. However, the report has assumed the ICAO post-2020 CNG target will come into effect and has based its global aggregate emissions estimates on a plateauing of international aviation emissions from 2020 of 750 Mt (page 25, paragraph 107).
European Parliament – ‘Emission reduction targets for international aviation and shipping’ study
IATA’s first alternative aviation fuel conference focuses on bringing together airlines and fuel suppliers
Fri 20 Nov 2015 – In conjunction with its annual Aviation Fuel Forum, IATA recently held the 1st Alternative Fuel Symposium in Cancún, Mexico. Around 80 participants from the aviation and the alternative fuel sector, as well as from traditional oil companies, came together for this first-of-its-kind event, reports IATA’s Thomas Roetger. In contrast to the already numerous conferences covering aviation biofuels, he writes, the symposium had a clear focus on directly bringing together airline customers and alternative fuel suppliers with each other and also with business facilitators helping to remove the remaining barriers to alternative jet fuel deployment. Over 20 international leaders and experts in the field of alternative aviation fuels presented and discussed views and shared case studies.
Aline Pillan from the French Civil Aviation Authority stressed the importance of sustainable fuels for meeting aviation’s carbon reduction targets in the light of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, starting at the end of this month, and the ICAO Assembly in 2016. Steve Csonka from the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative (CAAFI) highlighted the variety of alternative jet fuel production pathways, which can improve the chances of finding economically viable feedstock options for each world region. Currently there are 16 new pathways in the certification process adding to the three that are already certified for commercial flight use, he said.
A wide scope of fuel options were presented at the symposium, ranging from Fulcrum’s municipal waste-based fuel, which will start to be supplied to United Airlines and Cathay Pacific in the next years in quantities of over 100 million gallons per year, to a new process developed by Joule Unlimited based on sunlight-absorbing bacteria, which could make use of the large unused areas of desert regions.
Biofuel delivery to Los Angeles International Airport as a result of the long-term offtake agreement between United Airlines and AltAir is in its final preparation phase and planned to start before the end of 2015, delegates were told. The prospect of commercial success, along with a strong positive impact of biofuel production on social sustainability and rural development, is likely to be achieved through South African Airways’ Solaris project, whose objective is jet fuel production from energy tobacco plants. This project, said a representative, fitted perfectly into South Africa’s development goals by creating new livelihoods for smallholder farmers.
It was stressed by speakers that alternative jet fuel deployment is a highly interdisciplinary business that strongly relies on multi-stakeholder partnerships at national and global level beyond just suppliers and customers. Both the big aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, are now engaged with many airlines and governments across the world to support building up local supply chains. The EU-funded ITAKA project is investigating the challenges of production, logistics and sustainability, and aims to build up and test an airport biofuel supply chain.
To bridge the ‘valley of death’ that alternative jet fuels – like many young technologies – are facing, unconventional ideas are necessary. One novel concept covered at the symposium was SkyNRG’s Fly Green Fund, which allows environmentally conscious corporate air travel customers to invest in sustainable fuels and so help overcome the prohibitive price gap with fossil fuel. Similarly, the Carbon War Room, founded by Sir Richard Branson, promoted a more active role of airports as supply centres for biofuels.
The symposium spotlighted the high level of dedication of the aviation alternative fuel community in overcoming obstacles to make deployment happen. An update on developments and more case studies are expected at the second Alternative Fuel Symposium, which is now intended to be held every year.
Thomas Roetger is IATA’s Assistant Director, Aviation Environment - Technology
NATS to install new radar system at Edinburgh Airport to mitigate impact of new wind farm turbines
Fri 20 Nov 2015 – UK air traffic services provider NATS is to install and operate a new radar system at Edinburgh Airport that will totally mitigate the impact of an upcoming wind farm development located around 20 miles (32km) southwest of the airport. NATS has signed a contract with developer Muirhall Energy to cover the 25-year design life of the Tormywheel Wind Farm, which will feature 15 turbines capable of generating 34MW of renewable energy. Wind turbines can cause radar interference whereby the blades appear as ‘clutter’ on radar screens and can be mistaken for aircraft. This is usually addressed by ‘blanking’ out the area, which while effective is not considered a long-term sustainable solution.
The dual Terma SCANTER 4002 radar system will be delivered into service at Edinburgh in January 2017. The contract follows a number of successful trials at UK airports that demonstrated the capability of the system in safely mitigating the impact of turbines while detecting even small targets beyond 40nm with good low-level coverage, reports NATS. Last month it announced it would be providing a similar system at Chester Hawarden and Liverpool John Lennon airports in respect of the 19-turbine, 50MW Frodsham Wind Farm.
“Reaching agreement with NATS will not only allow our company to deliver the Tormywheel Wind Farm but potentially allow other wind projects in central Scotland to be realised,” said Chris Walker, Muirhall Energy Managing Director.
Added Andy Sage, NATS Information Services Director: “This is an excellent example of how NATS is providing innovative solutions to help the industry progress important developments in time to meet the UK government’s funding deadline, while contributing to 2020 renewable energy targets.”
NATS – Environment , Muirhall Energy , Terma SCANTER 4002 radar system
Legacy carriers with high premium seating fare badly in first fuel efficiency study of transatlantic routes
Tue 17 Nov 2015 – Analysis comparing the fuel efficiency of top 20 airlines on transatlantic routes finds a sizeable gap between the most and least efficient carriers, with low-cost Norwegian comfortably leading the table, which is propped up by major legacy carriers British Airways, SAS and Lufthansa. Seating configuration and the number of first and business class seats, plus the fuel burn of the aircraft operated, are the two most important factors influencing airline fuel efficiency. Together they explain about 80% of the variation in efficiency among the airlines studied by the International Council of Clean Transportation (ICCT). Other drivers of efficiency such as passenger load factors and freight carriage were found to be relatively less important.
ICCT has carried out analysis of the most fuel efficient carriers on domestic routes in the United States for the past four years, and found a gap of 25% between the best and worst performers in 2014. However, it estimates the transatlantic efficiency gap for the same year to be around double that at 51%. The three least efficient airlines were collectively responsible for one-fifth of transatlantic available seat kilometres (ASKs) and burned 44% to 51% more fuel per passenger kilometre than the most efficient, Norwegian.
With a predominant fleet of new, advanced Boeing 787-8 aircraft, Norwegian’s overall average fuel efficiency was 40 passenger-kilometres per litre (pax-km/l), attaining 42 pax-km/l on its most prominent route between Oslo and New York JFK. At 86%, the carrier’s efficiency also benefits from a high load factor and a below average (11%) prevalence of business and first class seats. Although facing opposition from some quarters in the US, Norwegian is seeking to expand its transatlantic services and last week was granted an operating licence by the UK authorities that allows it access to bilateral rights to new destinations in Asia, South America and South Africa.
Other airlines that performed above the industry average of 32 pax-km/l were Airberlin (35 pax-km/l) and Aer Lingus (34 pax-km/l), followed by KLM, Air Canada, Aeroflot, Turkish and Air France, all with a fuel effiency of 33 pax-km/l. KLM was the top-ranked full service legacy carrier due in part to achieving the highest average passenger load factor (88%) compared to its rivals. Although it had a slightly older fleet at 13 years than the average fleet age for all the ranked airlines that included relatively inefficient Boeing 747-400 and MD-11 aircraft, KLM used more efficient Airbus A330s on a high proportion of operations (43% of ASKs).
British Airways’ surprisingly poor performance can be attributed to heavy use of the 747-400 aircraft (48% of ASKs), its 15-year-old fleet and industry-leading use of premium seating (24%, almost double the industry average). The airline’s commitment to the 747-400, suggests the ICCT analysis report, is due to its lower capital costs and a necessity to manage capacity constraints at London Heathrow. BA also operates all-business class Airbus A318 flights between London City and New York JFK.
Although Lufthansa Group as a whole recorded fuel consumption of 3.84 litres of fuel per 100 kms (or about 26 pax-km/l) in 2014, Lufthansa’s transatlantic operations, with an average efficiency of 28 pax-km/l, was 44% higher than that of Norwegian’s. It flew 23% of ASKs on 747-400 aircraft, had an average overall fleet age of nine years and used extensive premium seating on transatlantic flights. In addition, where it operated the superjumbo A380-800 aircraft on its busiest route between Frankfurt and New York JFK, it managed only an average 78% passenger load factor.
The impact of premium seating on fuel efficiency is substantial, says ICCT. First and business class seats accounted for only 14% of ASKs flown on transatlantic routes in 2014 but were responsible for around one-third of total carbon emissions. For British Airways and another poor performer, Swiss, premium seating was responsible for almost one-half of their total emissions from passenger traffic.
ICCT estimates that around 46% of the variation in transatlantic fuel efficiency last year can be explained by differences in seating configuration, compared to 35% for the underlying fuel burn of the aircraft operated, with passenger load factor and freight carriage making up the remainder.
The findings, it concludes, suggest that some airlines at the bottom of the ranking may be underinvesting in fuel efficiency and spending more on fuel than necessary.
“The combination of older, less efficient aircraft with extensive premium seating makes the economic performance of the least efficient carriers vulnerable to fuel price volatility and any future policies to price aviation carbon,” said ICCT Program Director for aviation and co-author of the study, Dan Rutherford.
“It’s surprising to see such large differences in fuel efficiency on long-haul flights over the Atlantic. The airline you fly, and the aircraft they operate, really matters if you’re concerned about the climate. The report reinforces the need for policies to reduce carbon emissions from international aviation, namely carbon pricing and aircraft efficiency standards.”
Looking ahead, he suggests a future update for transatlantic carriers could also help evaluate relative changes in airline fuel efficiency over time and investigate the impact of new aircraft, for example the Boeing 787-9, on efficiency.
ICCT says it would like to expand the methodology it has used to cover additional routes, for example, transpacific. “Eventually, a global assessment of airline fuel efficiency may be appropriate, although data limitations for flights that occur entirely outside the US would need to be considered,” said Rutherford.
ICCT – Transatlantic Airline Fuel Efficiency Ranking 2014
NASA and DLR tests show alternative fuels can cut dangerous soot emissions from jet engines in half
Thu 12 Nov 2015 – Ongoing research by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) indicates that burning blended alternative fuels in jet engines results in a 50% reduction in soot emissions as opposed to traditional jet fuel alone. Soot has both an adverse impact on human health and, as it absorbs heat, has a climatic warming effect when emitted at high altitudes. In their latest collaboration, NASA has supplied several instruments for DLR’s Emissions and Climate Impacts of Alternative Aviation Fuels (ECLIF) experiments. These involve measuring the exhaust from a parked DLR Airbus A320 as it burns eight different types of standard and alternative fuels that contain varying amounts of aromatic compounds and sulphur impurities. NASA says the ECLIF data will help confirm and supplement its own alternative aviation fuel research that it has been carrying out since 2009.
In the ECLIF work, the NASA instruments are placed around 100 feet (30 metres) behind the A320 jet engine exhaust, and the emissions from a total of around nine hours of ground-based operation will now be sampled, data recorded and analysed.
NASA has conducted two programmes, the Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment (AAFEX) in 2009 and 2011, and the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) in 2013 and 2014. AAFEX was similar to DLR’s ECLIF activities in that instruments were used to measure exhaust coming from a combination of fuels being burned by a jet engine attached to NASA’s DC-8 test aircraft.
The first ACCESS programme involved instrumented research aircraft trailing behind the DC-8 in flight, which not only measured the exhaust chemical content from various mixtures of alternative fuels, but also studied the emissions’ effects on the formation of contrails. During ACCESS II in 2014, other aircraft, including DLR’s Falcon jet and a CT-133 from the National Research Council of Canada, participated in the airborne data gathering. The same Falcon was used for DLR’s ECLIF project in three weeks of airborne testing that was completed October 9.
“The ground test data is being used to help interpret the flight data,” said Bruce Anderson of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, which is joined by NASA’s other research facilities in Cleveland and Edwards, California in the alternative fuel studies.
“On the ground, we are able to use a more extensive sensor suite to characterise exhaust composition over a much broader range of thrust settings and for greater lengths of time, which yields much better statistics for delineating differences in emissions between the fuels.”
NASA , German Aerospace Center (DLR)
EU MEPs call on US to support inclusion in Paris agreement of robust measures on aviation emissions
Wed 11 Nov 2015 – Two senior European MEPs, Matthias Groote and Peter Liese, have called on President Obama to change his administration’s approach to aviation and shipping emissions and support wording in the Paris agreement that requires the two sectors to do more in the fight against climate change. Unlike the many countries, large and small, that have submitted specific national pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, UN agencies ICAO and IMO have exempted themselves from the process, they say, despite regulating international CO2 emissions comparable to those of large countries like Germany and the UK. They also criticise the US administration over its silence on the slow progress at ICAO in crafting a global measure to tackle aviation emissions. Liese and Groote played senior roles in the European Parliament’s environment committee in steering EU legislation on aviation’s inclusion into the EU ETS, facing stiff US opposition along the way.
Writing in US political publication The Hill, the two German lawmakers say ICAO “has little to show” 18 years on from being assigned by the Kyoto Protocol the task of limiting or reducing emissions from the sector it regulates.
“It has pledged to create a global scheme that will cap emissions at the wholly inadequate level of 2020, and even that objective will be met through offsets whose environmental integrity many would question,” argue Liese and Groote.
After facing the prospect of a damaging trade dispute with the US over the right of the EU to include international aviation in its emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), the EU had agreed to give ICAO three years to come up with a global solution, but time was now running out and it appeared little progress had been made, they noted. “Yet the Obama administration and US airlines are silent on this.”
The European Parliament recently passed a motion with bi-partisan support that an agreement at the Paris COP had to require both ICAO and IMO to establish ambitious targets and measures for their respective sectors. The two MEPs called on the Obama administration and US carriers to support such a provision.
The US, they suggest, should not fear that special privileges accorded developing countries would conflict with treating all airlines equally, as there were workable proposals in ICAO to address equity issues. The world has moved on and Paris represented a new era where all countries and all sectors recognised the need to act to avoid catastrophic global warming, they said.
Last year, the EU scaled back the scope of the EU ETS so that only emissions from flights between airports in the European Economic Area are included in the scheme. However, this revision automatically finishes at the end of 2016 and what happens afterwards to the scheme is dependent on the outcome at ICAO concerning the global market-based measure now in development. Liese, as the European Parliament’s rapporteur on this dossier, will be tasked with negotiating the next steps with fellow MEPs, the European Commission and EU member states. Groote was formerly Chair of the Parliament’s environment committee.
The Hill article
Penalty stands, rules UK adjudicator as Jet Airways loses second appeal over Aviation EU ETS compliance
Tue 10 Nov 2015 – An appeal by India’s Jet Airways against a civil penalty of 15,000 euros ($16,000) imposed by the UK government for failing to meet the Aviation EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) deadline for the year 2012 has been dismissed by an adjudicator. This follows the failure of an earlier appeal in which the airline had argued that it should not have to comply with the scheme because of instructions it had received from the Indian authorities. Since that ruling in April, Jet Airways has opened an Aircraft Operator Handling Account (AOHA) and surrendered the necessary allowances to cover its intra-EEA emissions not only for 2012 but also for 2013 and 2014, so is now in compliance with EU ETS regulations. However, the adjudicator rejected the airline’s second appeal that it was prevented from complying by the due date because of its government’s instructions.
The EU ETS directive levies a mandatory penalty of €100 per tonne of CO2 emissions for which an aircraft operator fails to surrender the requisite number of allowances by the end of April of the following scheme year. In Jet’s case, it emitted 150 tonnes on flights between airports in Belgium, Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland and the Czech Republic during 2012 in respect of which 150 allowances were required to be surrendered by 30 April 2013, according to the UK Environment Agency, its EU ETS administering authority.
Citing force majeure, Jet argued that directions from the Indian government, in particular concerning a rule contained in the Indian Aircraft Rules 1937, prevented it from compliance by the deadline and was therefore beyond its control. However, David Hart QC, who was appointed by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change to adjudicate in this and the previous appeal, said in his findings that it was “highly unlikely” the Indian government was exercising its powers under the rule when it issued the non-compliance instructions since the rule was concerned with the better regulation of flights.
“I remain therefore of the view that Jet has not demonstrated that it was legally bound under Indian law to follow these directions, however much politically it may have wished to do so,” ruled Hart.
He also contended that Jet did not have to make the intra-EEA flights, which were bound by EU law, and had not taken all due care within the meaning of the force majeure principle. In addition, Hart rejected Jet’s defence of the need to apply fair and equitable justice in this case.
“For all these reasons, I dismiss Jet’s appeal,” concluded his ruling. “The Environment Agency’s civil penalty notice of 12 May 2015 therefore stands.”
The airline has confirmed to GreenAir that it has now paid the fine.
The outcome has implications for other airlines that have still not complied with the EU climate legislation. Air India was fined £12,377 ($19,300) in July by the UK authorities for failure to submit allowances to cover intra-EEA flights in 2012 (see article) and has also missed the 30 April 2015 deadline on the 2013 and 2014 scheme years. It has not opened an AOHA, which records details of emissions by scheme year and the allowances to cover them. No details have been released as to whether or not it has paid the fine.
Under the UK regulation that transposed the Aviation EU ETS directive into national law, the regulator has the power to detain and sell an aircraft of a UK-administered operator that has not paid a civil penalty within the period of six months beginning with the date by which it is due (paragraph 39) and/or request the European Commission to impose an EU operating ban on the operator (paragraph 40).
Two other non-EU flag carrier airlines that report to other EU administering states also remain non-compliant. Similar to Air India, Saudi Arabian Airlines has not opened an AOHA and therefore has neither reported intra-EEA flight emissions nor surrendered allowances for 2012, 2013 or 2014. The carrier was fined, and subsequently paid, €1.4 million ($1.6m) over its 2012 non-compliance, although it has still failed to additionally surrender the necessary allowances as required under the legislation.
Russia’s Aeroflot, which reports to Germany, opened an AOHA but has not recorded emissions or submitted allowances for the three-year period. However, action taken by the DEHSt, the German administering authority, remains unclear as the airline did not appear on a list published in March in which 44 named operators were fined a total of €5,363,400 ($5.9m) for 2012 non-compliance (see article).
As negotiations continue at ICAO on the development of a global market measure that may obviate the need for the Aviation EU ETS after 2020, EU member states have so far been reluctant to confront the flag carriers of influential nations involved in the international process, despite the scheme having been scaled back from its original scope to cover just flights between European airports.
According to Barry Moss, CEO of aviation risk management company Avocet, legal action is likely to be taken by DEHSt against Aeroflot through Germany’s supreme court, but the issue could take years to resolve, “which would probably suit all concerned,” he said.
David Hart QC ruling on Jet Airways’ second appeal