GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 11 SEPTEMBER 2017
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Carbon offsetting can play an important role in achieving airlines’ climate goals, says study, but finds low level of understanding
Fri 8 Sept 2017 – With the growth in air travel demand forecast to outstrip fuel efficiency improvements, the aviation industry’s CO2 emissions goals can only be achieved through the purchase of carbon offsets. However, says a new study, there is considerable misunderstanding about offsetting and the difference between scientific and policy perspectives. Through their customer carbon offsetting schemes, airlines have already built partnerships with offset providers but it is important they correctly communicate the climate change benefits, say researchers from Griffith University in Australia. A total of 139 airlines were analysed in a study to investigate what information they provided on their role in carbon offsetting and whether the option was offered to their customers, with 44 airlines found to be actively involved. The researchers provide a number of best-practice principles to help airlines improve the reporting of their offsetting schemes.
“The key message of our paper is really to understand that carbon offsets play an important role in addressing climate change, but not in the sense that they make emissions ‘go away’ in some miraculous manner, but that they help slow down the flow of emissions into our atmosphere,” said Professor Susanne Becken of the Griffith Institute for Tourism, who co-authored the paper with Professor Brendan Mackey of the Griffith Climate Change Response Program.
“We argue that there is a lot of confusion about what offsets can achieve and the use of language is often inaccurate or scientifically wrong. Given the airline industry is going to engage even more with offsetting through ICAO’s global CORSIA scheme, it is essential we clearly understand offsets and how to use them.”
The key, they say, to assessing the aviation sector’s carbon offsetting schemes is to appreciate the difference between science and policy. From a scientific perspective, the benefits and limitations of such schemes can only be understood in the context of the global carbon cycle and the major stocks, flows and natural processes that regulate, among other things, the atmospheric concentration of CO2.
For example, forest protection and restoration do not offset fossil fuel emissions in the physical understanding of the word. The influence on the global climate system of additional atmospheric CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels is not neutralised by offsets in the land sector. However, both forest protection and restoration are important components of a comprehensive approach to greenhouse gas mitigation along with the deep cuts needed in fossil fuel emissions.
“Indeed, emissions from both sources must reduce to zero by the end of this century to meet the Paris Agreement global warming target,” says the paper, which is published in the Journal of Air Transport Management.
Climate change policy, on the other hand, reflects negotiated outcomes between national governments that are parties to the UNFCCC. As a consequence, the idea of carbon offsets has developed a meaning and usage that is not necessarily consistent with the scientific understanding of the word, argues the paper.
Carbon offset projects can be broadly classified into three categories: those that are energy related so that CO2 emissions are reduced or avoided from fossil fuel use; those that relate to forest management (forest protection and reforestation); and waste projects that reduce greenhouse gases other than CO2.
Purchasing an offset generated from an energy project results in the avoidance of an additional one tonne of fossil fuel CO2 that would otherwise have occurred. This achieves a relative reduction of one tonne of CO2 compared with the alternative of not buying the offset. So if the flight produced one tonne of CO2 the offset results in one instead of two tonnes of fossil fuel emissions. Offsetting therefore leads to a relative reduction of the carbon flow into the atmosphere, compared with the status quo scenario of two parties emitting one tonne each.
When purchasing an offset generated from a forest protection project, the credit is generated through changes in forest management that prevent deforestation and degradation and thereby avoid future biomass carbon emissions. As with the energy-related example, the forest protection carbon credit results in one not two additional tonnes of CO2 flow into the atmosphere. However, in this case the avoided emission of one tonne is biomass CO2 rather than fossil fuel CO2. Again, in absolute terms and from the perspective of atmospheric carbon stock, emissions in the atmosphere have increased by one tonne of fossil fuel CO2.
When purchasing an offset from a reforestation project, the credit has been generated by making use of previously deforested land that can serve as a sink to regrow biomass carbon stock. In this case, the one tonne of CO2 has been sequestered from the atmosphere and the offset has served to ‘repay the carbon debt’ from when the land was previously cleared and is therefore restoring a depleted biomass carbon stock. The end result is the same as in the other two project types that in absolute terms, emissions in the atmosphere relative to pre-industrial levels have still increased by one tonne of fossil fuel CO2.
These examples show that the science of what carbon offsetting means for atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is not straightforward and different to the commonly held view that it ‘neutralises’ aviation emissions, say the researchers. Therefore, in all three cases the offsets result in there being one less tonne in the atmosphere and so a relative reduction of CO2 flow has been achieved but not an absolute one in terms of atmospheric stock. However, they add, offsetting aviation sector emissions through purchasing carbon credits, while not neutralising them in terms of concentrations in the atmosphere, can make a significant contribution to mitigation efforts by slowing the rate at which anthropogenic CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere and helping repay the carbon debt.
Until CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) gets underway in 2021, carbon offsetting in aviation has focused on airline voluntary schemes for air travellers. However, the practice is still at a very low level, possibly in the order of several per cent of travellers, with previous research showing widespread scepticism and uncertainty about carbon offset schemes. This is not surprising given the complexity around carbon offsetting, suggests the paper, and airlines play a key role in communicating and facilitating offsetting.
To find out to what extent this is currently the case, the researchers looked through 139 major airline websites and company reports and found 44 (or 31.7%) actively involved in carbon offsetting activities, with five others stating they did not support offsetting at all. Of the 44 airlines, 34 provide an offsetting option to their customers on their website, but only four feature a link to carbon offsetting on their home page (Iberia, KLM, Scandinavian Airlines and Thai Airways). The study found that additional information was relatively limited, with just 18 airlines giving detail on the certification of their carbon offsets. Similarly, airlines’ reporting of methods used to calculate emissions was found to be neither comprehensive nor consistent, with 11 not disclosing any information on their methods.
Ten airlines reveal how much carbon has been offset through their schemes but since the uptake by travellers is comparatively small, very few demonstrate adequate disclosure on the total amounts of carbon offsets in a given timeframe. On the other hand, most of the 44 airlines offer some information on the projects they support financially through offsetting purchases by customers, although the extent of detail and transparency varies.
Airlines are taken to task in the study over the lack of clarity or scientific accuracy when communicating what carbon offsetting achieves, noting one North American airline implying that purchasing carbon offsets results in reduced CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. “Very few airlines correctly stated that the offset results in avoided emissions elsewhere, and still have a climate impact in that fossil fuel carbon is released into the atmosphere – just less of it,” it says.
Becken and Mackey propose five principles as best practice for airline customer carbon offset schemes:
- The terminology and wording used by the sector to describe their schemes accurately portray the scientific realities and the mitigation benefits being achieved;
- Customers have the information needed to understand what carbon offsets achieve in relation to the emissions from their flights;
- Understand that the most credible aviation carbon offset programmes are those designed to genuinely help avoid emissions through funding renewable energy projects and forest protection and restoration activities, and have important co-benefits;
- The projects supported are selected carefully, reported on regularly and communicated transparently; and
- Carbon credits are third-party audited and information on the quality of the credit – including assurance that double counting does not occur – is disclosed.
As the Paris Agreement comes to be implemented, it will have profound implications for the operation of the voluntary carbon market under which the aviation sector funds project-based offset activities and how aviation offsets are related to national mitigation commitments and associated national greenhouse gas accounts. All industrial sectors, including aviation, will also come under careful attention on how the mitigation burden of limiting global warming will be shared.
“While the social licence under which the aviation sector clearly operates is unlikely to be revoked, its emissions, especially the international component, will come under increasing scrutiny,” say the authors. As it does not reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2, carbon offsetting should be seen as a second or even third best option behind technological advances or demand reduction efforts to make the necessary deep cuts in aviation emissions over the long term, they argue.
“However, when pursued, the principles suggested here should be adhered to so to provide a credible basis on which airlines can develop their brand-specific approach to carbon offsets,” they conclude. “In addition, adoption of these principles as part of a sector-wide framework will facilitate the aviation industry’s reporting of credible aggregate mitigation statistics, enhancing its role as a Non-State Actor.”
A PDF of the paper is available by email from co-author Professor Susanne Becken.
‘What role for carbon offsetting aviation greenhouse gas emissions in a deep-cut carbon world?’
(scroll down page for paper)
Airbus nears flight testing of breakthrough aircraft laminar wing technology that promises substantial fuel burn reduction
Mon 4 Sept 2017 – Flight testing is about to start later this month by Airbus on laminar wing technology that could reduce drag by 8% and decrease fuel burn and carbon emissions by up to 5% if used on future generation short-range commercial aircraft. Laminar flow – the uninterrupted flow of air over an aircraft’s wing to greatly improve the aerodynamics – is considered by many aircraft designers to be aviation’s holy grail because of the potential rewards involved. As part of the EU’s Clean Sky programme, Airbus and 21 partners have been working since 2008 on the BLADE (Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe] project, which has now reached the critical flight testing phase of an Airbus A340 testbed aircraft fitted with new outer wing sections. Airbus claims BLADE is the largest flight test demonstrator ever launched in Europe, if not the world.
The fuel burn of commercial aircraft has improved by around 70% on a per seat/km basis over the last 50 years but progress has become increasingly flatter and more difficult, says Axel Flaig, Head of Research and Technology at Airbus. Achievements so far have come, for example, from new engines, new materials to make aircraft lighter and new design tools to aid more efficient design.
“The next big step in aerodynamics is to work on the friction drag of aircraft wings,” Flaig told journalists at a press briefing held in a temporary Airbus facility in Tarbes, south-west France, where the testing is to take place. “The theory has been known for many years but the practical application has not been achieved so far because to make it happen you need very low tolerances in the design profile and to make the wing very robust against contamination, as this type of laminar bond layer is very sensitive to small disturbances. To make an industrial solution that can work in daily operations is now becoming more feasible and we have made strong progress over the past few years under this programme.”
The two outer wing sections of the A340 have been cut and replaced with two differently designed natural laminar flow wings manufactured by GKN and Saab. Cameras are mounted in wingtip pods and on top of the vertical tail plane to monitor the transition in flight between laminar and turbulent flow.
Up to 150 hours of flight testing is expected in total until completion later in 2018 and initially will assess aircraft handling qualities, open flight envelope and provide first results on the laminar wing performance. Next year, the intention is to extensively test and characterise laminarity robustness in representative operational conditions, says Airbus.
A potential downside for airline operators, and why the technology might make more sense for short-range aircraft, is that to extract the maximum laminarity benefit, aircraft would have to fly at an optimum speed of Mach 0.75, slightly slower than the usual Mach 0.78 for an A320.
BLADE is part of the Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft programme within Clean Sky, an EU public-private sector research undertaking first launched in 2008 (Clean Sky 1) and aimed at developing technology to reduce aircraft CO2 and NOx emissions and noise levels. The 10-year Clean Sky 2 undertaking started in 2014 with objectives to come up with new environmentally-friendly technologies for next-generation aviation, to speed up development of technology demonstrators, underpin European international aviation competitiveness and create new market opportunities and jobs. It has a total budget of €4.2 billion ($5bn), with Airbus contributing €330 million ($400m).
Airbus and Clean Sky
UK government recommits to providing funding support for development of advanced aviation biofuels
Mon 28 Aug 2017 – The UK government has recommitted to providing up to £22 million ($28m) towards funding for projects to develop advanced low carbon, waste-based advanced fuels for planes and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The fund, which must be matched by industry, is expected to help deliver up to five new plants in the UK by 2021 that will produce advanced fuels to be used in aircraft and lorries where it is not yet viable to switch to electric power. The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT), in association with engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo, first launched the ‘Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition’ (F4C) in April to invite applications for the funding but stalled due to the UK general election in May. The DfT reports it has received interest from over 70 groups in bidding for the funding. The UK aviation industry has welcomed the announcement, although it sees the bigger prize as the inclusion of advanced aviation biofuels in the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), on which the government is consulting.
The competition is part of the government’s Modern Industrial Strategy, which sets out to support evolving industries with the potential to boost the economy, explains the DfT, and says low carbon fuels made from waste materials could be worth £600 million ($770m) a year to the British economy by 2030, and could also support up to 9,800 new jobs. The DfT also considers planes and lorries powered by waste fuels could use up to 90% less carbon than traditional fossil fuels.
“We are committed to cutting carbon emissions and promoting new environmentally-friendly fuels that will help us meet that goal,” said Transport Minister Jesse Norman. “We are making funding available to innovative businesses which will lead the way in developing alternative fuels that are efficient, sustainable and clean.
“We want every new car and van in the UK to be zero emission by 2040, but we know lorries and aeroplanes will rely on more traditional fuels for years to come so we must promote environmentally-friendly alternatives.”
Responding to the announcement, UK cross-sector coalition group Sustainable Aviation (SA) welcomed the funding support and said its road map published in 2014 indicated the use of sustainable jet fuels in the UK could contribute to a reduction in aviation CO2 emissions of up to 24% by 2050, as well as significantly reduce particulate emissions. SA added that independent research conducted on its behalf showed domestic production of such fuels could provide between five and 12 sustainable fuel plants in the UK, worth up to £265 million ($340m) a year by 2030 and support up to 4,400 jobs.
In the DfT’s guidance notes for the F4C funding competition when first launched, the funding was to be awarded in two stages. Up to £2 million would be awarded in the Project Development Stage in 2017-18 to support the development of proposals and then up to £20 million in capital grant funding over three years (2018-21) for major demonstration projects “providing transformative and innovative solutions”.
The key objectives, it said, were to increase production of advanced low carbon fuels capable of tackling emissions from the hard-to-decarbonise aviation and HGV sectors “in pursuit of long-term decarbonisation targets” and to stimulate investment and create jobs through “the development of a prosperous domestic industry”.
To be eligible for the funding, fuels under development must be drop-in and the technology must already be at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5, or pilot plant stage, and must successfully attain at least TRL 6 (small demonstration scale) by the end of the project. The technology must not already be at the already-commercialised TRL 8 or 9 stage.
Today’s DfT announcement specifically mentions alternative fuels made from rubbish that gets sent to landfill, termed municipal solid waste (MSW), but the earlier guidance material specifies feedstocks used must be wastes or residues and lists a number of technology conversion routes that are likely to meet the fuel and TRL eligibility criteria. These include gasification, pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction; waste/residue-derived sugars to hydrocarbons; waste/residue-derived alcohols; and renewable fuels of non-biological origin using catalysis of renewable hydrogen and a waste CO2 source to produce a non-oxygenated fuel.
Fuels produced from first generation feedstocks, such as those from crops, or from animal fats or used cooking oil are not eligible.
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are keen to see a UK industry develop in the production of advanced aviation fuels. Since the demise of its partnership with US biofuel company Solena Fuels in 2015 (see article), BA has so far not announced its future intentions, although it remains keen to pursue the MSW-to-jet fuel route it was developing with Solena, a technology already approved for commercial aviation use by certification body ASTM. Virgin Atlantic is backing LanzaTech, which is developing technology to produce jet fuel from industrial waste gases, although the process has yet to be approved by ASTM.
“The industry is still working with the government to ensure as many innovative schemes as possible are supported to make sustainable aviation fuel,” Dr Andy Jefferson, Sustainable Aviation’s Programme Director, told GreenAir. “This includes both waste that would otherwise go to landfill or waste gas products from industrial processes.”
The aviation industry, meanwhile, is awaiting the outcome of a government consultation launched late last year that proposes to include aviation in the RTFO, a scheme designed to ensure a proportion of renewable fuels is used in transport but which is currently restricted to road vehicles (see article). Tradable certificates (RTFCs) are awarded to suppliers of sustainable biofuel, which provide a valuable incentive to producers, although the government says it is not proposing the same mandate that applies to road transport. Under the proposal, renewable aviation fuels would be eligible in line with liquid road fuels, therefore 1 RTFC per litre, with double rewards for biofuels made from wastes and residues, subject to sustainability criteria.
“We are hopeful of a further announcement from the government regarding aviation’s inclusion in the RTFO, to ensure the opportunities from sustainable aviation fuels are fully realised,” said Sustainable Aviation.
A 30% share of sustainable aviation fuel at Norway’s airports by 2030 is achievable with public funding help, finds report
Fri 25 Aug 2017 – Around 30% of all jet fuel, or 400 million litres, supplied at Norwegian airports could be sustainable by 2030, finds a new report produced on behalf of the country’s aviation sector. However, because of the high price premium of jet biofuel compared with its fossil equivalent, this would only be possible with the help of policy intervention and public funding. A domestic aviation biofuel market could be created either by implementing a blending requirement or through a fund to raise the necessary finance for production, which would be based on feedstocks from Norwegian forestry residues and pulpwood. The report suggests two potential funding models. Meanwhile, following the introduction of commercial jet biofuel supplies at Oslo Airport in January 2016, a first batch of biojet has been delivered to Bergen Airport in Norway by Air BP.
The new report by Rambøll for the Norwegian aviation sector and airport operator Avinor updates a previous study it carried out in 2013 (see article). This time, Rambøll focused on sustainable feedstock supply in Norway and new certified biofuel production technologies, along with proposing policy instruments that would be needed to implement commercial supplies of jet biofuel at Norwegian airports.
With its abundant forestry resources, the study says two obvious feedstock value chains can be used for jet biofuel production: forest residues, including twigs and treetops, and other waste fractions from the forestry industry that are not currently exploited, and pulpwood that was once used by the paper industry and is now exported. The sustainable forest feedstock potential amounts to 13 TWh if logging is kept at present levels and by utilising pulpwood currently exported or unused. If logging increased to the maximum sustainable volume, the resource potential increases to 22 TWh. This amounts to between 600 and 1,000 million litres of biofuel production per year, of which half could be dedicated to sustainable aviation biofuel, estimates Rambøll.
However, it says, there are no current technologies available for producing such fuels from forest feedstock on a commercial scale and in order to reach the 400 million litre target by 2030, imports will probably be necessary.
The other major challenge is the cost of producing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Rambøll estimates the cost of aviation biofuel production is 7-25 NOK ($0.90-3.20) per litre, depending on the feedstock used, the production technology and other factors, compared to conventional fossil aviation fuel at 4-5 NOK ($0.50-0.64) per litre and sold at around 6 NOK/litre. The lower end of the production cost of SAF is achieved only through HEFA-derived fuels, which utilise oil crops and animal fats as feedstock, which are not considered relevant for Norwegian production.
Technologies for producing aviation biofuels from forestry feedstock, such as Fischer-Tropsch and alcohol-to-jet, are yet to be commercial due to the higher costs. The report finds though that possible cost reductions can be achieved by implementing selected measures over the time period to 2030 and other bi-products can be derived from the production process. However, it adds, production of SAF based on forest feedstock in general requires considerably higher crude oil prices than at the present in order to be profitable. In order to increase production, long-term policies are therefore necessary to reduce the risk arising from low prices of crude, it argues.
Two alternative solutions are put forward in the report to achieve this: implementing a blending requirement or through a fund. The former would create a market but also add an extensive extra cost to airlines, and a requirement only taking effect in Norway could induce those airlines to refuel in other countries.
A fund, on the other hand, could be created by uniting the current Norwegian carbon tax on fuel used on domestic flights (1.1 NOK/litre, equating to 430 NOK/kg) with air passenger tax and use it to buy SAF, thus contributing to increased production. The fund could be distributed in different ways, suggests Rambøll, for example to cover the SAF price premium or to purchase the fuel on behalf of airlines wishing to use it and subscribing to the fund. A long-term contract between a supplier and the fund, providing a specified fuel volume at a set price would remove the supplier’s market risk, it says. The funding should be phased out over time and deliveries would eventually be based solely on commercial terms.
Commenting on the report, Torbjørn Lothe, Director General of the Federation of Norwegian Aviation Industry, said: “Authorities and politicians will have to facilitate large-scale investment in the commercial production of biofuel in Norway with financial incentives that work. The environmental charges currently paid by the airlines would have to be used for activities that benefit the climate. This would allow us to create a commercial market as quickly as possible for the production of aviation biofuel, which would go to those sectors of the aviation industry that currently have no other technological alternatives.
“The fund system could help the Norwegian aviation industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. It would also have a knock-on effect in terms of emissions trading allowances and would achieve reductions in other sectors.
“We have outlined the options and now it is up to the authorities and politicians to turn the aviation industry’s green initiative into reality.”
Dag Falk-Petersen, CEO of Avinor, welcomed the report’s findings and added large-scale production of sustainable fuels would also create new businesses and jobs in the country.
Small quantities of SAF have been made available to airlines at Avinor-operated Oslo Airport by Air BP since January 2016 (see article) and this month a first batch of around 100-150 tonnes was delivered to Bergen Airport that was produced by AltAir in the United States from a feedstock of used cooking oil. The fuel was blended by Air BP in Sweden.
“That is not a huge volume but it is important for us – as we did in Oslo – to sort out all the initial logistics and administrative issues,” said Avinor’s Olav Mosvold Larsen. “The aim is to expand if and when more sustainable fuel becomes available in the market at an acceptable price. The future ambition is to source locally-produced jet biofuels from Norway.”
Aslak Sverdrup, Director of Bergen Airport, said: “With the aviation industry’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment, we are very pleased to collaborate with Air BP on the introduction of biojet at Bergen. As with Oslo, we hope to inspire other airports to follow suit so we can all work towards the desired lower carbon future.”
Together with Oslo and Halmstad Airport in Sweden, Bergen is Air BP’s third airport in Scandinavia where it is making commercial supplies of jet biofuel available. Last November, the company announced an investment of $30 million in US waste-to-biojet producer Fulcrum BioEnergy (see article).
Rambøll Report – ‘Sustainable Aviation Biofuel Status 2017’
European airports continue drive towards using renewable energy to supply terminal power and reduce emissions
Wed 23 Aug 2017 – Airport operator Royal Schiphol Group has entered into an agreement with Dutch energy company Eneco that will see Amsterdam Schiphol, Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven and Lelystad airports supplied with sustainable power from next year. Eneco will provide the airport group with 200 GWh of green energy every year for 15 years from power generated by new Dutch wind farms that will supply electricity for terminals, administration buildings and runway lighting. Meanwhile, Finavia is installing solar panels at Helsinki Airport that will supply nearly 10% of all electricity requirements for new terminal extensions and is also increasing the use of renewable energy at other airports in Finland through the use of bioenergy and geothermal heat. Helsinki recently became Europe’s 28th airport to be certified as carbon neutral.
Eneco’s first new wind farm at Vianen is due to become operational from January 2018, with more newly-built wind farms following so that from January 2020 all power for the five Dutch airports will come from wind. Until all the wind farms have been constructed, the power will come from existing sustainable energy sources in the country but Schiphol is keen to move away from drawing power from this network. The power to be supplied to the airports is comparable with the consumption of 60,000 households, the size of a city such as Delft, says Schiphol Group.
“For our new energy contract, we wanted nothing but sustainable power generated in the Netherlands,” explained Jos Nijhuis, CEO of Royal Schiphol Group. “After all, one thing is certain: aviation can and must be made more sustainable. We feel that the most important elements of this collaboration with Eneco are that all Schiphol Group airports are involved and that additional sustainable energy sources will be developed in the Netherlands. This will allow our airports to increase their sustainability and offer economic benefits.”
Eneco Group CEO Jeroen de Haas said Schiphol Group was setting an example for the business sector in choosing new, sustainable forms of energy, which also helped his company to invest in wind farms and other sustainable energy sources.
Meanwhile, Finavia’s Sustainable Development Director Mikko Viinikainen claimed the solar power plant under construction at Helsinki was the largest of its kind at any airport in the Nordic region. With the solar panels in the process of being installed, the plant is expected to be operational shortly and will have a capacity of more than 500 kWp. The airport operator said it was determined to reduce emissions at its other 21 airports, where it would be relying more on other forms of renewable energy, and would be ensuring that companies operating at its airports are committed to using renewables and reducing emissions.
In July, Finavia started using renewable diesel fuel in vehicles operating at Helsinki, with buses travelling between the terminal and aircraft fuelled by biodiesel produced entirely from waste and residue.
As well as these initiatives, Finavia’s 2020 climate programme includes the use of wind power, use of pellet fuels and geothermal energy as heat sources, purchase of eco-friendly vehicles, a substantial increase in LED lighting and eco-friendly terminal construction work.
Finavia’s airport operations produced 32,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2016 and the company says it has reduced emissions by an average of 3% per passenger per year over the past 10 years.
The award by airports trade body ACI at the highest level – carbon neutrality – of its Airport Carbon Accreditation programme was an important milestone in Finavia’s accelerated climate programme, said Viinikainen.
“It is increasingly important that companies set an example in reducing emissions,” he added. “Finavia is committed to working hard to ensure that our airports will not increase their emissions in 2020. In addition to minimising our own emissions, this also means that we are committed to reducing emissions in countries struggling with environmental problems, such as in India, through offset mechanisms.”
Further afield, Raleigh-Durham International Airport in the United States is planning to replace four of its diesel-powered transit buses with Proterra Catalyst E2 zero emissions battery-electric versions. The use of the buses is expected to save 16.9 million pounds (7,600 tonnes) of greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of the vehicles. The purchase is being partly funded by a $1.6 million zero-emissions grant from the FAA.
Big shift from air to rail travel between Central Scotland and London over past decade leads to significant carbon savings
Tue 22 Aug 2017 – As a result of a rise in growth of rail’s market share for trips between Central Scotland and London between 2005 and 2015 at the expense of air travel, 681,064 tonnes of carbon emissions were saved over the period, finds a study by sustainable transport campaign group Transform Scotland. Over the decade, the market share for rail journeys on routes between London and Scotland’s two biggest cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, grew from 20% to 33%. As a result of a £9 billion ($11.5bn) investment in infrastructure, new trains and increased frequency, growth has been particularly strong on the West Coast route linking Glasgow and London, where 332,208 tonnes of emissions were saved as a result of people switching from air to rail. The report recommends further rail investment and more government leadership in setting targets and use of the tax system to encourage further modal shift.
Despite encouraging progress in its overall climate target to reduce long-term CO2 emissions, the Scottish transport sector has proved resistant to the challenge, says the report. With emissions having barely fallen since 1990, it has recently overtaken other sectors to become the country’s largest source of emissions. Despite the number of people travelling between Central Scotland and London roughly doubling over the past two decades, this is one area of progress to come from the shift from air to train, says Transform Scotland.
The 681,064 tonnes of CO2 savings between 2005 and 2015 as a result of the shift is equivalent to removing all road traffic on the busy Glasgow-Edinburgh motorway for two years, it estimates.
The report claims rail travel is around five times greener than air, with the average annual electricity use of one household equivalent to nine flights or 49 rail journeys on the Central Scotland to London route – a distance of roughly 400 miles (640km). The calculation is based on CO2 emissions per passenger of 177kg by plane, compared with 34kg by high-speed train. New Azuma trains to be introduced on the Edinburgh-London East Coast route in 2018 are expected to bring this down to 28kg.
The rail operator on this route, Virgin East Coast, plans to increase its market share from 34% to 50% by 2023. Assuming a continued annual growth of 2% in the rail and travel market achieved from 2005 to 2015, the study estimates a further saving of 325,713 tonnes of CO2. If similar market share ambition was deployed on the Glasgow-London route, operated by Virgin West Coast, then overall emission savings between Central Scotland and London during the 2016-2023 period would total 586,942 tonnes.
“For Scotland to meet its challenging climate targets, it is imperative that further action be taken to ensure that rail can grow to at least a 50% market share of the Scotland-London travel market over the next decade,” said Transform Scotland’s Director, Colin Howden. “In order to continue this positive trend in a switch to rail, we need to see increased investment in the rail network, government taking the lead and encouraging public bodies to use the train rather than flying to London, and a fairer taxation system for Anglo-Scottish travel.”
In June, members of the Scottish parliament voted overwhelmingly to replace the UK’s controversial Air Passenger Duty with a new devolved Air Departure Tax from April 2018. The Scottish government wants to cut the new tax by 50%, before eventually scrapping it completely, which it argues would boost the economy by increasing the number of flights to and from the country and so enhance business connectivity and tourism, reported the BBC.
However, the report recommends the tax system should be used to encourage modal shift from air to rail rather than incentivising air travel by reducing the departure tax rates on domestic routes.
“The Scottish government has set some of the toughest climate change targets for the people of Scotland. I am therefore delighted to hear of the increase in the use of our railway, as it is a fundamental part of achieving our greener transport aspirations,” commented Scotland’s transport minister Humza Yousaf, who welcomed the report.
The report was supported in its preparation by Virgin Trains. Virgin Atlantic subsidiary Little Red launched air routes between London Heathrow and Scottish airports, including Edinburgh, in 2012 but ceased operations in 2015 following low passenger numbers. Having taken over BMI, its only other competitor, in 2012 British Airways now holds the monopoly on flights from Heathrow to Glasgow and Edinburgh, although low-cost airlines easyJet and Ryanair serve the two Scottish destinations from other London airports.