GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 18 MARCH 2016
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ICAO releases draft resolution text on a global market measure to address international aviation emissions
Fri 18 Mar 2016 – Ahead of the second round of ICAO’s Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs), which start on Sunday (March 20) in Cairo, a draft resolution text has been released on a global market-based measure (GMBM) scheme to achieve carbon-neutral growth in international aviation carbon emissions from 2020 (CNG2020). Following a meeting of the ICAO Council last week, the text reflects changes made from an earlier version presented last December. The GLADs will be the first opportunity for ICAO States not on the Council to study the GMBM proposals and provide feedback. The main feature of the scheme, which has been named COSIA (Carbon Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation), is a phased-in implementation under which high income States or those States with an individual share of international aviation Revenue Tonne Kilometres (RTKs) above 1% of the global total are included from the beginning in 2021, with upper middle income states or those with a share of RTKs above 0.5% of the total joining in 2026.
It has been long recognised within ICAO that technology, operations and infrastructure improvement measures are not enough at present to hold back the rapid growth of international aviation CO2 emissions – ICAO does not regulate on domestic emissions – and a “temporary gap-filler” GMBM scheme is required. However, the path to agreeing such a measure by its members has proved elusive, floundering on principles of responsibility and equity. Under the UN climate principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), developed states are required to take the lead in addressing emissions from international aviation, but this has conflicted with the UN civil aviation principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination.
The resolution to be presented to Member States at ICAO’s Assembly starting in late September in its current draft form attempts to resolve this through the phased-in approach that would see those countries with a high aviation activity or those considered the wealthiest (based on gross national income per capita, or GNI) included in the scheme from the start in 2021. This would capture around 80% of all international aviation RTKs in the first phase. The second implementation phase starting in 2026 would extend RTK coverage to around 95% of the global total.
The scheme’s carbon emissions coverage would be further reduced as States classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) or Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) would be completely exempted from the scheme unless they met both the GNI and RTK criteria. To ensure there are no market distortions, emissions from flights by all operators, regardless of country of origin, on routes to and from these countries would be exempted. This would mean, for example, flight emissions from Europe to holiday destinations such as Barbados, Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives would be exempted as these countries are classified as SIDS and do not meet both criteria. On the other hand, flights to Singapore would be included from the start of the scheme because although the State is classified as a SIDS, it also finds itself in both the relevant GNI and RTK categories.
The draft resolution does, however, encourage States not covered by these provisions “to voluntarily determine to participate in the scheme.”
New airline entrants are also exempted from the scheme’s application for a period of three years – in the previous draft it was five years – or until its annual emissions exceed 0.1% (down from 0.5%) of total emissions in 2020, whichever occurs earlier.
A controversial element of the proposed scheme is that offsetting obligations for emissions that have been exempted through the various criteria are not distributed among those operators that are included. This would have the effect of the scheme not meeting the CNG2020 goal, particularly falling short during the first phase.
Another feature that has raised concerns in some quarters is how the offsetting obligation is determined for each operator covered by the scheme. The proposal states “that the amount of CO2 emissions required to be offset by an aircraft operator in a given year from 2021 is calculated every year by multiplying its annual emissions in the given year with the growth rate of the international aviation sector’s total emissions in the given year compared to the 2020 levels.” This means an operator’s annual obligation is set for the whole duration of the scheme (until 2035) based on its share of total emissions in 2020 and the amount of offsets it has to buy is set by the sector’s growth in emissions and is regardless of what measures it has implemented to reduce emissions.
The Strawman GMBM proposal presented by the ICAO Secretariat shortly after the last Assembly in 2013 allowed for a combination of both individual and sectoral calculations for determining the offset obligation. However, the current proposal is seen as being fairer to airlines from fast-growing developing countries.
Although operators would be required to report their emissions data on an annual basis to their State authority, the proposed scheme would operate on a three-year compliance cycle, starting with the first cycle from 2021 to 2023, within which operators would reconcile their offsetting requirements. Given the experience of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), in which allowances must be surrendered annually at the end of April, many aircraft operators tend to leave the purchasing of allowances until near the deadline. Some carbon analysts see the three-year compliance period for the global aviation sector having a distortionary effect on the market if most operators followed the EU example and waited until towards the end of the period and caused a sudden surge in demand for offsets.
The new draft resolution has dealt with a contentious earlier sunset clause under which the scheme would cease to apply if total emissions went below 2020 levels for three consecutive years. This is now covered under the provisions of a periodic three-year review of the scheme, which would consider a suspension if the global aspirational goals had been met by non-MBM measures, and also allows for a review of any extension to the scheme beyond 2035 to be undertaken by the end of 2032.
The December draft allowed for action to be taken by the ICAO Council if the average price of emissions units in a specific year was more than three times higher than the average price in 2021, in order “to avoid an excessive burden on aircraft operators”. The new draft is not as specific and allows for the three-year review to consider the cost impact of the scheme should it be thought to effect the sustainable development of the aviation industry.
The draft resolution concludes with action to be taken in the period after the 2016 Assembly leading up to the implementation of the scheme in 2020 and covers rules and development on MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification), emissions unit criteria, establishment of registries, governance of the scheme and the regulatory framework.
The round of GLADs finishes in Mexico City on April 8 and a briefing on the outcome will be made to the ICAO Council on April 13, which will be followed by the second meeting (April 13-15) of the newly formed 18-State High-level Group (HLG) appointed to agree the main framework of Assembly draft. The results of this meeting are due to be considered by the Council on April 20 with another draft text to be in place for the High-level Meeting (HLM) of all ICAO States convened for May 11-13 in Montreal. The HLM will be preceded by a one-day open forum organised by industry group ATAG that will cover the GMBM details.
Differences still remain to be resolved on key elements of the draft resolution, particularly over the criteria by which States will be included in the GMBM scheme from 2021. China, for example, is known to be unhappy that CBDR concerns have not been sufficiently addressed and developed countries want more emphasis on non-discrimination.
There are divergent views within the Council on the GNI classification and some members want the RTK de minimis raised. Under the present proposal, major emerging countries like China and India would be included from the first implementation phase as although they are not classified by the World Bank as high-income States, their individual share of RTK activity is above the 1.0% threshold. Other large emerging economies such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Indonesia would though be excluded from the first phase as their RTK shares are below the threshold, based on ICAO 2012 RTK data, but would join the second phase in 2026. The Gulf States of Qatar and UAE would be included from the start as they meet the GNI and RTK criteria.
ICAO GLADs 2016 , ICAO GLADs Documentation (including draft Assembly resolution) , ICAO High-level Meeting
Air transport industry signs Buckingham Palace Declaration in fight against illegal wildlife trafficking
Thu 17 Mar 2016 – Airlines and airports have joined other transport sectors in signing an international declaration in committing to take action to shut down the routes exploited by traffickers of the illegal wildlife trade moving their products. As members of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, IATA and ACI leaders were invited along with 30 other signatories to Buckingham Palace to sign the declaration that takes steps to remove the vulnerabilities in transportation and customs through specific commitments to support the fight against the trade, which is valued between $5-20 billion a year. The air transport sector has pledged to raise awareness of the issue among passengers and train staff to recognise and report suspicious packages and behaviour. United for Wildlife is an initiative created by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
“I can think of few other causes that galvanise more interest and support across the global transport and logistics sectors than the challenge of wildlife trafficking,” said IATA Director General Tony Tyler at the signing.
“Today marks a step forward for environmental protection – a commitment we take very seriously. In the 1990s the industry came together to address noise. More recently we joined forces to manage our impact on climate change. We now extend that commitment to playing an active role in reducing illegal trafficking of wildlife. We will collaborate in support of government enforcement authorities to put an end to this evil trade.”
The initial focus of action will be on the trafficking of high-risk protected animals – specifically certain big cats, pangolins and ivory products – on high-risk routes, particularly originating from or transiting through East Africa. New guidance material for airlines has been published and an IATA Environment Committee Wildlife Taskforce has been set up to monitor progress and provide advice on the next steps. Two awareness-raising workshops for airline and airport staff have been held in Nairobi and Bangkok.
At IATA’s annual meeting last year, an agreement was signed with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to cooperate on reducing the illegal trade in wildlife, as well as ensuring the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife (see article). IATA has also joined the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration comes after 12 months of collaboration between the taskforce members, which in addition to IATA and Airports Council International (ACI) also includes the African Airlines Association, Air China Cargo, Emirates, Etihad Airways, International Airlines Group, Kenya Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways and South African Airways. A number of wildlife and conservation organisations are also represented, including WWF-UK.
“This is an important moment for United for Wildlife and for the air and maritime transport industries,” said ACI World Director General Angela Gittens. “After a year of hard work and negotiations, industry leaders have today spoken with one voice to condemn illegal wildlife trafficking.
“For ACI’s part, we pledge to do our utmost to help in the fight to stop the trafficking – a practice which harms not only animals, many of them on the brink of extinction, but also communities through the associated violence and corruption that often goes hand in hand with this activity.”
Among the commitments is action to:
- Secure information sharing systems for the transport industry to receive credible information about high risk routes and methods of transportation;
- Develop a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade from the transport sector to relevant customs and law enforcement authorities; and
- Notify relevant law enforcement authorities of cargoes suspected of containing illegal wildlife and their products and, where able, refuse to accept or ship such cargoes.
“By implementing these commitments, the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction,” commented the Duke of Cambridge. “I thank them for their commitment and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis.”
United for Wildlife , Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry , IATA – Combatting Illegal Trade in Wildlife , IATA – Tony Tyler speech , ACI World
Research facility to grow seafood and plants for sustainable aviation biofuels begins operations in UAE
Thu 17 Mar 2016 – The Abu Dhabi research facility backed by Etihad Airways, Boeing, GE Aviation, Safran and Honeywell UOP that aims to use desert lands irrigated by seawater to produce both seafood and sustainable jet biofuel has begun operations on a 2-hectare site in Masdar City. The aviation industry companies, along with local oil refiners, have come together as the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) to fund the facility, which is operated by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The facility uses coastal seawater to raise fish and shrimp for food, whose nutrient-rich wastewater then fertilises salt-tolerant halophyte plants rich in oils that can then be harvested for aviation biofuel production. If the technology proves viable at this smaller scale, then further expansion will continue with the aim of scaling up to a 200-hectare demonstration site, says SBRC.
The commercial potential of halophyte plants is relatively unexplored, says Masdar, but thrive in arid, desert conditions and do not require fresh water or arable land to grow.
“This breakthrough research places the UAE at the centre of a global movement to advance technology that supports the sustainable production of food and bioenergy,” said Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan. “The commercialisation of aviation fuels – cleaner, superior-performing fuels – is a critical step towards balancing our industry’s dependency on fossil fuels, while also incubating innovation that may have profound global implications to address energy, water and food security.”
The UAE imports around 90% of its food and the Masdar project, said UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, “will not only sustainably produce bioenergy, but also offer a pathway to grow our aquaculture industry, which supports food independence.”
Aquaculture – industrial fish or shellfish farming – is one of the world’s fastest expanding food sectors, according to Masdar, with a current growth rate of about 6% a year. However, aquaculture systems can also pose environmental challenges due to the impact of nutrient-rich effluent flowing into the ocean. The SBRC says it is tackling these concerns and in the last step of the system, wastewater is diverted into a cultivated mangrove forest, further removing nutrients and providing carbon storage, before the naturally filtered and treated effluent is discharged back into the sea.
“Aquaculture systems are here to stay,” said Dr Kevin Fitzsimmons, professor of environmental science at the University of Arizona. “As the planet’s population approaches 9 billion people, we must advance technologies that enable sustainable and manageable food production. The innovative facility in Abu Dhabi is a showcase of how cross-sector cooperation can lead to breakthrough research with the potential to deliver both food and aviation fuel – and do so in a sustainable, scalable way.”
The new facility, added Marc Allen, President of Boeing International, “shows real promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies.”
Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia go in search of opportunities for locally-produced aviation biofuels
Wed 16 Mar 2016 – Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have joined forces to investigate the options for developing locally-produced aviation biofuels and have issued a Request for Information (RFI) to potential interested parties. The trans-Tasman alliance partners say they are looking to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply in the region that delivers environmental, social and economic benefits. With a test flight in December 2008, Air New Zealand became the world’s first airline to use a second-generation sustainable aviation biofuel. The two-hour Boeing 747 flight used a 50/50 blend of jatropha oil sourced from Africa and India in one of its four engines and the airline had ambitions for a major uptake of sustainable aviation fuels that did not materialise. Virgin Australia too has announced sustainable biofuel initiatives in the past, including a Western Australia venture involving biomass sourced from mallee trees.
Air Zealand’s Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer, Captain David Morgan, said the new RFI was a key initiative under its carbon management programme.
“By working in partnership with our alliance partner Virgin Australia, we hope we can stimulate the local market, drive innovation and investment, and potentially uncover a sustainable biofuel supply suitable for our respective operations,” he said.
Robert Wood, Head of Sustainability at Virgin Australia, said the airline remained committed to stimulating the development of a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in the region.
“Aviation biofuel offers a significant opportunity for the aviation industry to reduce emissions while also building long-term fuel security for the sector,” he said. “We are seeing the development of the aviation biofuel industry accelerate internationally but that is not yet the case for our region.
“We are confident that our collaboration with Air New Zealand to procure a large volume of aviation biofuel will de-risk investment in the sector, creating high-tech, high-skilled jobs in the region.”
The closing date for expressions of interest is 30 May 2016, which can be made by email to Air New Zealand’s Bio Fuel Project Manager, Chris Field, or Procurement Manager Jonny Gaze.
Air New Zealand – Sustainability , Virgin Australia – Renewable Jet Fuel
United begins regular use of commercial-scale volumes of AltAir’s renewable jet biofuel on flights from LAX
Wed 16 Mar 2016 – United Airlines has begun using sustainable aviation biofuels on regular commercial flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the first US airline to use commercial-scale volumes beyond demonstration flights and test programmes. The flights will use a blend of 30% renewable jet fuel and 70% conventional jet kerosene supplied by AltAir Paramount using Honeywell UOP’s process technology, which converts non-edible animal fats and oils into renewable fuels. In a collaboration that goes back to 2009, United has agreed to purchase up to 15 million gallons of renewable fuel from AltAir over a three-year period. The ASTM-standard fuel is expected to provide a greater than 60% reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions and AltAir is currently pursuing RSB sustainability certification. Last year, United announced a $30 million equity investment in municipal solid waste to jet fuel developer Fulcrum BioEnergy.
United said it would initially use the AltAir blended fuel for two weeks on LAX-SFO flights while supplies were integrated into regular operations at Los Angeles International. The quantity purchased would be sufficient for around 12,500 flights on the San Francisco route, says the airline, and has an option to acquire more.
“This historic launch of regularly scheduled service utilising advanced biofuels represents a major next step in our ongoing commitment to operate sustainably and responsibly,” said Angela Foster-Rice, United’s Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability.
Parts of a refinery in Paramount, California, were retrofitted by AltAir with Honeywell UOP’s proprietary renewable jet fuel process technology to establish the world’s first dedicated commercial-scale renewable jet fuel production facility. The plant has capacity for producing around 35 million gallons per year of advanced renewable fuels and is also capable of producing renewable green diesel, which, unlike biodiesel, is a drop-in replacement for diesel made from petroleum, says UOP.
“United’s commitment to using renewable fuel in everyday service is a significant milestone in the adoption and use of sustainable fuels,” said Veronica May, VP and GM of Honeywell UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business. “We have developed a versatile portfolio of technologies that can produce renewable diesel and jet fuel, and we’ve seen a range of uses including commercial and military aircraft, bus fleets and ships.”
As part of United’s partnership with Fulcrum, up to five biofuel refineries located near US hub airports are planned, with a total annual production of up to 180 million gallons of sustainable jet fuel, of which the airline would purchase at least 90 million gallons each year for a minimum of 10 years, subject to availability. Fulcrum expects its first plant will begin commercial operation in 2017, with deliveries of jet fuel to United starting the following year.
United Airlines – Alternative Fuels , AltAir Fuels , Honeywell UOP – Green Jet Fuel , Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) , Fulcrum BioEnergy
Concerns over aviation noise and emissions should not stop airport expansion around London, says ITC report
Fri 11 Mar 2016 – A report commissioned by UK think tank Independent Transport Commission (ITC) has found technological and operational improvements, coupled with market-based mechanisms, will mitigate future increases in noise, CO2 and NOx emissions, and overcome sustainability challenges. The analysis by consultants RDC Aviation suggests that over the coming decades a range of solutions will enable forecasts of future growth to be delivered “within acceptable environmental boundaries”, even without step changes in technology. ITC concludes this justifies airport expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick to provide extra capacity and enhanced air transport connectivity. Heathrow, unsurprisingly, welcomed the report while Gatwick said the UK government was right to look again at environmental concerns over air pollution. Campaign group Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said the report had made implausible assumptions on technology developments.
The report examined a wide range of sources relating to noise, CO2 emissions and air pollutants that arise from British aviation operations and finds that rapid improvement in technology and operation measures to mitigate them over the past 30 years is likely to continue.
“Having reviewed these important sustainability issues in-depth, it is clear that the environmental challenges of limiting the carbon emissions, noise and local air quality impacts can be tackled,” said Dr Stephen Hickey, Chair of ITC’s aviation working group and ITC Commissioner. “The findings suggest that noise and local air quality impacts can be managed downwards given the right mix of operational, policy and technological development, while incremental improvements in carbon emission output are being delivered on an annual basis.”
The report says there was a technology implementation gap from the late 1980s until recent times, during which there was almost no completely new airframe development, other than the Boeing 777 in 1995 and then the Airbus A380 in 2005. Consequently, much of today’s aircraft fleet, particularly in the long-haul segment, is operating legacy equipment with airframes and engines designed in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the very recent introduction of new-technology aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 will quickly proliferate the global fleet and deliver quantifiable improvements in noise and emissions reductions, it argues.
The rate of technology uptake is critical to the sustainability of the aviation industry, say the report’s authors. Although there are savings to be made from operating new aircraft, there are benefits to be realised from retaining older and cheaper inefficient models, particularly in times of low fuel prices. They suggest changes to regulations regarding the operating lives of aircraft to encourage new aircraft investment could aid sustainability.
Using its extensive database, coupled with technology cycle forecasts, RDC has provided a forecast of fuel consumption up to 2050. It suggests the rate of fuel burn improvements by technology implementation should be a fairly constant average of around 1.6% per year, meaning that 45% less fuel would be burnt per seat hour by 2050. While this is a substantial rate of consistent improvement, when put in the context of rising demand for aviation, particularly from developing countries, the total fuel burn from global aviation would still be expected to increase at a rate of around 2.5% per year, says the report. This, however, does not take into account other changes and improvements from operational efficiencies and alternative fuels.
RDC analysis claims the average aircraft will burn 15% less fuel, and therefore CO2 emissions, by 2030 and be around 4dB quieter, with the trend continuing well after that date. These improvements could potentially be fast-tracked and increased with the use of policy measures to incentivise fleet renewal, say the authors. They also support the creation of an independent noise authority with powers to research and recommend best practice, monitor performance and fine operators for breaching agreed targets.
Using noise data from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for current aircraft, supplemented by industry predictions for new aircraft types and extrapolating trends for aircraft as-yet unplanned, the report forecasts the current generation of aircraft will reduce the average approach noise by around 5dB by 2035. The technology that will come on line after that could take the reduction as far as 8dB below current levels by 2050, suggests the report.
The report maintains the contribution of NOx and particulate emissions to poor air quality surrounding airports is caused principally by surface transport, and as the issue transcends the aviation industry, it requires separate measures from government to alter land-based travel patterns, such as a modal shift from car use to public transport. In order for any new airport capacity around London to be delivered sustainably, it needs to be developed in the context of the wider transport network and not as a standalone project, says the report.
“Whether the UK government pursues the proposal to expand Gatwick or Heathrow, the ITC research demonstrates that sustainability concerns should not stop the UK realising the great additional benefits that increased connectivity can provide,” said Hickey.
“Building public confidence and trust is essential. By arming an independent regulator with powers to monitor and control sensitive issues such as noise, the government could play its part in delivering improvements for those affected by airport operations once a decision is made.”
Having postponed a decision on expansion pending more analysis of environmental concerns, particularly over air pollution, the government is due to deliver its verdict in the second half of this year. Although the government has indicated a need for extra capacity by 2030, it has not yet taken up the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow and has left open Gatwick as a possible preferred choice, should it decide to proceed at all.
Commenting on the report, a Gatwick Airport spokesperson said road pollution in London had been predicted to fall but instead had got worse and had stopped planned airport expansion in 2009. As Heathrow’s air quality “remains illegal”, he said, “Gatwick expansion is the only solution that balances the economy and the environment.”
ITC’s preferred choice would be to expand Heathrow on the grounds that the UK’s global connectivity would be most significantly enhanced by improving capacity at a primary hub airport. Its report finds that due to the use of larger aircraft, hub operations emit up to 24% fewer carbon emissions than if that same connectivity was provided through point-to-point services, although there was a trade-off in that noise was more widely dispersed under a point-to-point model.
Not surprisingly, Heathrow welcomed the report, in particular its assertion that road vehicles were the principal contributors of air pollution. The airport said data gathered by air quality monitors around Heathrow showed annual breaches of EU limits in two locations beside major road junctions, yet airport-related emissions contributed less than 16% to the total. New public transport infrastructure would treble Heathrow’s rail capacity by 2040 and enable 30 million more passengers to use public transport, it promised.
However, the report came in for criticism from AEF, which said in an analysis posted on its website that it had made implausible assumptions on technology development to cut carbon emissions, failed to acknowledge the scale and nature of the noise problem, and dismissed air pollution concerns.
“Without clearer definitions of what constitutes “acceptable environmental boundaries”, and evidence that these can be achieved, the report’s conclusion that environmental impacts should be no barrier to expansion is unfounded,” said AEF.
Independent Transport Commission (ITC) , ITC report: “The sustainability of UK Aviation: Trends in the mitigation of noise and emissions” (pdf)
European Commission launches consultation on market-based measures to reduce international aviation emissions
Wed 9 Mar 2016 – The European Commission has opened a consultation on international and EU policies to reduce international aviation emissions through the use of market-based measures, in particular focusing on the outcome of efforts at ICAO on a global measure and the implications for the Aviation EU ETS. A temporary EU derogation is in place that reduces the original scope of its emissions trading scheme to allow ICAO to negotiate a global market-based measure (GMBM) at its forthcoming Assembly in the autumn. The derogation ends on December 31 and the EU ETS reverts automatically to full scope coverage of emissions from all flights to and from European airports without the adoption of new legislation. The Commission is looking to put forward proposals soon after the Assembly finishes in October. Meanwhile, the Irish Department of Transport has just concluded a stakeholder consultation on the ICAO GMBM and its counterpart in the UK held a workshop on Monday to inform stakeholders of progress on the GMBM.
The Commission says it is seeking input from stakeholders and experts in the field of aviation or climate change on international and EU policies tackling climate change impacts from international aviation emissions through market-based measures (MBMs). The questions posed in the consultation cover the policy options currently being developed at ICAO and in relation to the future direction of the Aviation EU ETS.
The pre-amble to the consultation notes that CO2 emissions from international aviation are expected to grow by at least 250% from 2005 levels by 2050, whereas the Paris climate agreement reached last December requires a peaking of all global GHG emissions as soon as possible and rapid reductions thereafter. This significant mitigation effort, it says, entails taking firm action on all emission sources, including aviation. Technological and operational measures will not be enough and as marginal abatement costs in the sector are generally high, it adds, MBMs are a relatively low-cost and attractive choice.
The current reduced scope of the Aviation EU ETS, which applies to emissions from all commercial flights between EU/EEA (excluding outermost regions and Switzerland) airports, has seen around 16 million tonnes of CO2 emissions mitigated annually – about the same as the country of Slovenia – with a compliance rate of 99.6% of all emissions covered by the scheme, reports the Commission.
According to Article 28a of the EU ETS Directive, the Commission is required to inform the European Parliament and EU Member States (the Council) of the progress made in the ICAO negotiations, and actions to implement an international agreement on a GMBM from 2020. The provision states the Commission shall “consider, and, if appropriate, include proposals in reaction to, those developments on the appropriate scope for coverage of emissions from activity to and from aerodromes located in countries outside the EEA from 1 January 2017 onwards.”
Damien Meadows, a Commission official with the climate directorate (DG CLIMA), told a recent seminar in London organised by environmental commodities trader Vertis that any new legislation would need to be in place before the requirement for aircraft operators to report their 2017 emissions by the end of March 2018.
The legislative process during 2017 would require, said Meadows, the formal appointment of an MEP as rapporteur in the European Parliament and discussions between political parties on possible amendments, the development of positions by Member States in the Council, agreement of new legislation and a review by the European Court of Justice. After co-decision by the Council, Parliament and Commission, he expected legislation to be adopted during the UK presidency of the EU in the second half of 2017.
Under the current legislation, small non-commercial aircraft operators whose annual emissions are under a 1,000 tonne threshold, such as business jet owners, are exempted. However, that exemption automatically ends in 2020 and the Commission is seeking views in the consultation on what action should take place from 2021.
The Commission is also carrying out an impact assessment (IA) it plans to complete immediately after the ICAO Assembly and will help inform its eventual EU ETS proposals from the outcome. Should Parliament and Council not adopt an amendment by March 2018 and the legislation reverts to full scope coverage of emissions from intercontinental flights arriving and departing from Europe then opposition from third countries would likely result as before, says the IA document.
Questions covered by the consultation, which closes on May 30 and is open to responses from those both inside and outside the EU, include:
- Following the Paris Agreement, what effort is required from international aviation and how should this develop over time?
- Which elements should emerge from the ICAO Assembly to provide for the implementation of a robust GMBM by 2020?
- In what ways could action by countries to achieve their respective climate goals, notably by addressing domestic aviation emissions, complement and interact with a global MBM?
- Which should be the main principles and criteria guiding an EU ETS review following the Assembly?
- Which options should be considered for the EU ETS for the period 2017-2020 and beyond 2020?
- Which elements of the EU ETS could be considered in order to take into account international developments as well as improve its environmental effectiveness?
Meanwhile, the Irish Department of Transport has just closed a short three-week consultation on a draft policy proposal for a GMBM scheme presented by the ICAO President in December.
On Monday, the UK Department for Transport held a workshop for stakeholders on GMBM progress and the main design elements of the proposed scheme, although some changes are believed to have been made since first presented.
Officials said Europe favoured certain proposals put forward by the President such as the applicability of the scheme to operators and not to States; a route-based approach to address differentiation; a three-year review of the scheme; a 100% sectoral share for distribution of obligations; and a commitment to MRV development. However, there are concerns over a cost safeguard mechanism for emissions units; a sunset clause in which the scheme ceases if total emissions go below 2020 levels for three consecutive years; exemption provisions for new aircraft operator entrants; a three-year compliance cycle; and the carbon-neutral growth goal not being met due to exemptions and a phased-in approach.
States will learn more about the GMBM proposals and provide feedback when the 2016 round of ICAO Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) start in Cairo on March 20, followed by similar events in Dakar, Senegal (March 23-24), Legian, Indonesia (March 29-30), Utrecht, the Netherlands (April 4-5) and Mexico City (April 7-8).
European Commission – Consultation on international aviation MBMs , European Commission – Impact Assessment on Aviation EU ETS and ICAO Assembly outcome