GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 19 OCTOBER 2015
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Radical thinking and technology breakthroughs needed to meet aviation’s long-term carbon reduction goal
Sun 18 Oct 2015 – The commercialisation and uptake of sustainable aviation biofuels might take longer than was previously hoped but patience and a long-term view was urged by industry experts at the recent Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva. ATAG Executive Director Michael Gill said around 20 airlines, which together had so far carried out over 2,000 biofuel flights, had shown leadership by committing to the development of an important energy supply and were leading the way for airlines. Representatives from United Airlines and Cathay Pacific said they had been motivated to separately invest in a US biofuel company by the need to accelerate progress in growing an aviation biofuels industry and to provide support for those companies seeking initial capital for projects. Another session at the conference heard that achieving the industry’s long-term carbon reduction goal would require both continuous incremental efficiency gains and radical breakthroughs in technologies.
Gill said all airlines should take note of the long-term perspective that those airlines pioneering sustainable alternative fuels were taking. “We are currently in a temporary period of low fuel prices, but the cost of oil is extremely volatile and will increase at some point in the future,” he told industry delegates. “We have an opportunity now to secure our energy future and that is why I urge you all to take a long-term view, looking out to 15 or 20 years’ time.”
Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of advanced biofuel company LanzaTech, said the long road towards commercial-scale aviation biofuels was a combination of the number of steps required in the technology development process, which included a rigorous ASTM certification programme requiring large quantities of fuel for testing purposes, and the considerable amount of finance needed to build the first commercial facility.
“Once you have successfully passed through this ‘valley of death’, the second facility becomes easier,” she said. “The good news is that tremendous progress has been made and the aviation industry has shown its commitment to buying large volumes of fuels that don’t yet exist. There is a level of knowledge and collaboration that I haven’t seen in another industry.”
Mark Watson, Head of Sustainable Development for the Swire Group, parent company of Cathay Pacific, said the airline’s initial move into sustainable biofuels was driven by the challenge of the carbon-neutral growth from 2020 goal and, as a predominantly long-haul carrier, to mitigate the substantial and volatile cost of conventional jet fuel.
“We started this whole endeavour back in 2008 and hired a specialist in our fuel team as our biofuels lead, but we soon found how hard it was going to be,” he said. “Around 2010, there was something of a ‘gold rush’ around crops such as camelina and jatropha, along with a pressure on airlines to invest in projects. However, as we started to understand the challenges, for example on sustainability, we realised there were huge risks in this whole area. One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding the right partner and the right project.”
In August 2014, Cathay Pacific eventually made a strategic move to go further than just enter an offtake agreement and instead took an equity investment in US municipal solid waste (MSW) to renewable biofuels company Fulcrum Energy, which has secured federal government loan guarantees towards the construction of its first commercial-scale facility near Reno, Nevada.
Watson said the airline had been impressed with the aviation biofuels infrastructure already in place in the United States in terms of the support and appetite from government and by groups such as Airlines for America (A4A) and the Commercial Alternative Aviation Fuels Initiative (CAAFI). Another factor in the decision had been the investment by Oneworld partner British Airways in the Solena MSW project in London. As part of a bigger group with other industrial interests that included marine and ground transportation, he said the investment in Fulcrum could be seen in a wider context than purely an airline decision.
He added the comparatively low cost of conventional jet fuel at present had no influence on biofuel investment decisions. “Our company takes a long-term view so the price of oil doesn’t come into the equation,” he said. “It’s about being future-proofed as a business and making sure we play our part in the carbon-neutral growth of the airline sector.”
Angela Foster-Rice, Managing Director Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at United Airlines, which followed Cathay as an investor in Fulcrum in June this year, said biofuel companies were struggling to raise initial capital. “It’s very hard for them and unless airlines can demonstrate to investors that there truly is an interest, it’s going to be difficult to get this industry up and running,” she said.
It had not been an easy decision for United to invest “millions of dollars” in a biofuels company but it had been helpful to have Cathay Pacific already on board.
“For a company to vertically integrate into the supply chain, particularly when it’s not your core competency, takes a lot of discussion and leadership,” she said. “You need to be committed and you need to start now.”
Olav Mosvold Larsen of Norwegian airport operator Avinor said there was a huge role for airports in the development of aviation biofuels.
“There are a few airlines that have done a lot to speed up the process and there are many others that are not doing much, maybe because they are not big enough or don’t have interested management,” he said. “We looked at what part we could play and saw there was an important role in the fuel value chain as we have good relations with the fuel suppliers, authorities and industry. We can connect the dots.”
As well as within, he said, there needed to be strong collaboration with those outside the aviation industry, such as with the fuel producers, government, NGOs and the biomass suppliers. “Without them, it will be much harder to reach the goals.”
The panellists agreed that each region would have to tap into local sources of biomass, whether it be sugarcane in Brazil, woody waste in Scandinavia and parts of the United States, used cooking oil in Asia, industrial waste gases in China or MSW in large cities. “Without every solution we will not get to scale,” said LanzaTech’s Holmgren.
Boeing’s Managing Director Environmental Strategy, Julie Felgar, said the aviation industry’s first priority had to be safety and to ensure biofuels were certified to rigorous standards but agreed with Larsen that it was also important “to start a conversation” with multiple stakeholders outside the aviation sector.
“Aviation biofuels is a brand new industry and I would caution people to be patient,” she added. “There are a lot of smart people working on this – it’s coming.”
To achieve the sector’s long-term goal of a 50% reduction in aviation emissions by 2050 compared with 2005, paradigm shifts will be required for an industry used to 20-25-year commercial aircraft lifespans if new technologies are going to be adopted quickly enough over the next 35 years, said panellists in a technology session.
“The technologies that are being developed at the moment are already contributing to very significant changes in fuel efficiency. Just replacing the current engine version of the Airbus A320, for example, with the neo version will gain a 20% fuel improvement – this is a big step,” said Sébastien Remy, Airbus Head of Innovations. “But if you want to meet the long-term goal then we will need both incremental continuous improvements and disruptive changes.”
In addition to advances in aircraft technology there would also be a requirement for radical changes in the air traffic management infrastructure, argued John-Paul Clarke, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. There were already things that could be done that would have significant benefits, he suggested, like closer spacing between aircraft.
Capt. David Morgan, Chief Flight Operations & Safety Officer for Air New Zealand, had doubts on whether the long-term target could be met.
“The short-term goals probably can be achieved through using existing technologies, and there are other disruptive technologies that will come, but I don’t believe that these will be brought to market in time to deliver the 2050 goal,” he said. “The reasons for this are the natural conservatism that exists in the industry, the huge capital infrastructure costs and the legacy thinking of the ATC community and those governments that are responsible for them.
“We have to remain constructively dissatisfied with the thinking at the moment and challenge and provoke the outcomes we need.”
Global Sustainable Aviation Summit 2015
Australia’s rugby union team tackle their flying carbon footprint through the Qantas offset programme
Fri 16 Oct 2015 – Australian Rugby Union (ARU), whose team is currently competing at the Rugby World Cup tournament in England, is to offset its travel carbon footprint through the Qantas Fly Carbon Neutral programme. As well as the national team, the Qantas Wallabies – as they are known under their sponsorship agreement with the airline – includes the Sevens and junior representative teams, and together they fly several million kilometres each year, says ARU. The offset programme, which Qantas claims is the largest of its kind in the world, supports projects that include the conservation of 7,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest, wildlife protection and the empowerment of rainforest communities in Papua New Guinea.
“We are delighted to combine with our long-standing partner Qantas to become the first national sporting organisation in Australia to offset our entire carbon footprint,” said Rob Clarke, ARU General Manager Professional Rugby, Marketing & Operations.
“Through our involvement in the Qantas Fly Carbon Neutral programme we will be offsetting our extensive travel by supporting important environmental projects both here in Australia and overseas. Beyond that we are also looking to minimise the environmental impact of our work on the ground, in the day-to-day running of the business.”
Qantas Head of Environment Alan Milne said: “Australians have a special place in their heart for sport, and by offsetting the Qantas Wallabies’ carbon footprint we hope to create a connection between our passion for sport and our passion for the environment.”
Qantas Fly Carbon Neutral
Aviation industry climate action report spotlights global projects undertaken to reduce carbon emissions
Thu 15 Oct 2015 – The industry coalition Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) has published a report to promote the sector’s sustainable development through case studies involving 100 carbon-reducing initiatives by over 400 organisations in 65 countries. Although it looks at the large step-change technological advances in new aircraft entering the global fleet, the ‘Aviation Climate Solutions’ report highlights smaller energy efficiency projects that ATAG Executive Director Michael Gill calls the marginal gains industry needs to make if it is to achieve its climate targets. Gill revealed at the report’s launch that the near-term goal of an average 1.5% annual efficiency improvement from 2009 to 2020 was currently tracking at 2.9%. However, he expected this to “normalise” over the next few years.
Areas of climate action covered in the report, which was launched during the industry’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, include the development of alternative fuels; operational efficiencies such as using lighter equipment on board and smarter ways of taking-off, flying and landing; the development of new technology; and systematic changes in airspace and navigation.
“Some actions are big, such as bringing a new aircraft to service, and some are smaller, but significant in their own way,” commented Gill. “This is a reflection of the aviation industry as a whole. It is also a reflection of what will be needed to tackle the climate challenge on a broader level. All parts of the economy and all parts of society have a role to play, with both small actions and large shifts in thinking.”
He told the Summit that it would be hard to maintain current efficiency levels and “very challenging” to reach the industry’s long-term goal of reducing net aviation emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels, and warned against potential marginal losses.
“We have to keep our performance as tight as it can be,” he said. “We have to empower our teams to identify opportunities for efficiency. We can’t let fluctuations in fuel prices delay long-term efficiency projects – and I am encouraged to see airline bosses generally viewing it this way.
“We have published this report for two reasons. The first is to demonstrate the sheer volume of action taking place worldwide. It should also be seen as a handbook – a ‘how-to’ guide for colleagues around the world who want to improve their efficiency and help in our global efforts to secure our sector’s licence to grow. We urge all airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and partners to look through the report, identify opportunities and get working on cutting fuel use and emissions.”
In a foreword to the report, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said the ICAO and industry goal of carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020 was “a promising start and a contribution to climate science, which requires the world to reach carbon neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of this century. To achieve this in aviation, every measure from operational improvements to technological developments to market-based measures and alternative fuels are needed.”
ATAG – ‘Aviation Climate Solutions’
ATAG – Michael Gill speech at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit
Industry pledges to do more to address the concerns of local communities impacted by aviation noise
Mon 12 Oct 2015 – The air transport industry must do more to address the concerns of local communities about aviation noise and work together to find solutions if it is to maintain the support of governments and the general public as part of its licence to operate, says Angela Gittens, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI). The trade association for the world’s airports has joined with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) to publish a best-practice guide that examines the challenges as well as the methods airport operators and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) can use to manage and reduce aviation noise. A session on community engagement at the recent Global Sustainable Aviation Summit focused on why the issue continues to fester with local residents despite industry efforts and quieter aircraft.
The 60-page guide, ‘Managing the Impacts of Aviation Noise’, which is to be rolled out to airports and air traffic management organisations across the world, sets out to provide key principles and recommended actions for better community interactions, including effective communication, transparency and education.
It reviews four current approaches for managing noise: reducing noise at the source, land use planning, noise-reducing operational procedures and operating restrictions. Operational procedures can include techniques such as tailored arrivals, continuous descent operations, arrival or departure path alternation and managing thrust.
“The aviation industry has achieved substantial and measurable reductions in noise over the last 50 years through a mixture of airframe and engine technology and operational efforts,” said CANSO Director General Jeff Poole. “But the problem still exists and we must make every effort to mitigate the impact of aviation noise for people on the ground, especially those living around airports. Key to our success in reducing noise is partnership and joint action among airports, airlines and air traffic management, and engaging with local communities, to deliver measurable results.”
The guide also includes 11 case studies that highlight actual experience in dealing with airport noise issues, along with solutions and examples of stakeholder collaboration.
“These real-world examples bring to life the challenges being faced around the world as growth in air travel,” said Mairi Barton, Executive General Manager Corporate and Industry Affairs for Airservices Australia, which has a lead role in managing aircraft noise in the country.
Four of the case studies come from Australia. “While these highlight the innovative approach we’ve taken in reducing the impacts of aircraft noise, we also recognise that it is only by working together in collaboration with regulators, industry and communities, and by working across country boundaries, that we can truly address this global challenge,” she said.
Chairing the community engagement session at the Geneva industry conference, Jonathon Counsell, Head of Sustainability at the International Airlines Group, said there were a number of challenges in dealing with local communities over aircraft noise, including:
- The disjoint in areas of impact, where it is not necessarily those residents living closest to airports who are the most annoyed;
- The trust deficit in which promises may have been made by airports but not kept;
- Gaps in channels of communication between airport and residents;
- The technical nature of the subject whereby residents were “blinded with science” over contours, noise metrics, etc; and
- Misinterpretation of government policy, the ICAO ‘balanced approach’ to noise and airport operating restrictions.
Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), the UK-based NGO that comprises over 100 community and environmental groups, said there was often a sense of injustice felt by residents over noise and expansion issues and people were more annoyed and less tolerant than they used to be. Groups were now becoming well-resourced, more effective and more sophisticated in challenging airports, often using social media as a communication tool, he said.
“There may be a clear industry rationale in making improvements to air capacity and technology performance, for example with airspace trials, but many on the outside don’t see beyond a suspicion that it is all about having more aircraft pass over their heads in the future. This is not a good basis for trust and conversation,” he said.
“There is no magic answer that applies to every airport in the world and it is clear that you need flexibilities for airports and communities to find solutions that work best for them. Some procedures that are followed in airspace trials and objectives set for airspace change proposals don’t always serve the best interests of airports and communities well. Regulators also need to be more flexible and open. People want to know how long airspace trials are going to last, which isn’t always clear. In the UK, we have gone into some trials without much consultation and the scale of the opposition, because people thought they were imposed on them, has led to trials being scrapped. I understand that although you generally don’t want to pre-warn the public in order to genuinely test reaction, you are still better involving them at an early stage to explain the justification for the trials.
“Above all else, communities want respite so, for example, if you are going to have concentrated PBN flight tracks you have to offer them this.”
Paul Hooper, Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability at Manchester Metropolitan University, said there was a lot of evidence to show that just decreasing aircraft noise levels is not going to solve the problem. “What we are finding through detailed interviews and surveys is that overall, the trend is to quieter aircraft but more annoyed people. Industry must engage with that fact and there needs to be a degree of honesty in the conversation.”
He said using aggregated noise metrics such as contours when talking to communities allows for mistrust to open up as the public, which are unlikely to understand them, will feel they are possibly being deceived. “What they want to know, in simple terms, is how many events, when and how noisy. If you can find some common language, you can have a dialogue. You can then have discussions around the benefits as well as the negative impacts of the aviation industry and negotiate on its licence to grow.”
Mike Rikard-Bell of airport noise management company Brüel and Kjær said the thinking over decades was that by reducing noise exposure through improvements in technology then you would see a plummeting in community annoyance. “Of course, that has proved to be untrue and is not what we’re seeing around the world. In fact, what has happened is a partial decorrelation of the two. We are seeing very different dynamics now and if we don’t change the paradigm, we will choke the industry.”
Australia’s Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, Ron Brent, said any conversation with communities had to be on the basis of understanding, and information was key. “Firstly, it is important to understand that the perception of noise is the reality, that is to say there is no measure that says x number of decibels causes x amount of annoyance on people. Reactions can be different.
“Secondly, it is the perceptions that define the understanding of noise but more importantly it is the understanding of noise that shapes perceptions, so that if you hear noise that you believe to be gratuitous then that is going to be a problem to you. On the other hand if you have to listen to noise that you understand to be inevitable, you may not like it, but you are much more likely to accept it.”
And the way to shape better understanding, he suggested, is by providing comprehensible information that is tailored to its audience and backed by good data and analysis.
He said there was an unexplained anomaly peculiar to the aviation sector whereby one person complaining, say, 10 times was logged as 10 separate complaints, so distorting the picture. “It’s a totally meaningless way of looking at the data as it buries any useful way of looking at complaints,” he said. “I pressed hard with Airservices Australia to change the way they count and manage complaints. Reporting should be based on the number of complainants, not the number of complaints.”
He said complainants should be engaged on a rational basis, which involved listening, acknowledging and accepting, being honest, learning to say ‘no’ properly and informing in comprehensible terms. What did not help, he added, was to inform complainants aircraft have been getting quieter over a period of 40 years, which was irrelevant to a complainant who may have moved to the area five years previously, telling the complainant he was wrong or getting involved in detail over decibel measurements.
“What we are dealing with is people and we should see the issue as what the problem people have with aircraft noise. That is very different from trying to define in decibel or contour terms how loud the noise is. Not that we should discount these measurements as they are a very useful tool, but they are useless when engaging with the public.”
‘Managing the Impacts of Aviation Noise’ ACI/CANSO guide (pdf)
Global Sustainable Aviation Summit
New Paris draft agreement removes text on international aviation CO2 reduction targets and climate finance
Thu 8 Oct 2015 – References to international aviation and shipping have been left out of the newly slimmed-down draft agreement for negotiation at the UNFCCC COP21 climate talks in Paris that start at the end of next month. The previous 83-page draft, now down to just 20 pages, had text calling for global CO2 emission reduction targets be set for the two sectors as well as a levy scheme to be applied to each that would provide funding towards climate adaptation for poorer nations. The omission will be welcomed by sister UN agency ICAO, which has long warned that a levy on top of the global carbon offsetting measure to cap the net growth of international aviation emissions that is expected to start from 2020 could drain financial resources from the sector. NGOs, on the other hand, have called the exclusion irresponsible as it leaves the two high-growth emitting sectors free from fuel taxes and climate targets.
ICAO Member States were urged through the A38-18 climate resolution passed at their last Assembly in 2013 “to express a clear concern on the use of international aviation as a potential source of climate finance for other sectors in a disproportionate manner.”
Just last week, speaking at the aviation industry’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, ICAO President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu reiterated the Organization’s emissions reduction goals required adequate finance.
“In this regard, both ICAO and industry have been strongly united in our position on any proposed use of international aviation as a potential source for mobilisation of general revenues to finance climate programmes in other sectors,” he said. “Reliable air services are too fundamental to local and regional development priorities, and States must consistently be made aware of the negative impacts which aviation taxes and fees can have on their longer-term, broad-based and sustainable economic prosperity.”
Echoing Dr Aliu’s call, Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-sector coalition Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), warned at the conference that using aviation as a source of climate finance would cause concern for those countries heavily reliant on air transport for their connectivity and economy, particularly developing and small island states, which would be hit hard by rising costs of flying.
“Such a blunt instrument will not have any measurable environmental benefit,” he told delegates. “Therefore, we will continue to insist that a global market-based measure (MBM) developed through ICAO is a way to not only ensure fair distribution of responsibility, but also environmental integrity and financing to climate projects all over the world.”
However, Brussels-based campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) contends it was the least developed countries that had proposed aviation and shipping should contribute to climate finance, backed by the IMF and World Bank.
With international emissions from both sectors not covered by national targets in the Paris agreement, exempting them from targeted CO2 emission reductions – currently forecast to grow by up to 250% by 2050 – also makes attempts to limit global warming to 2⁰C “all but impossible,” argues T&E.
“International aviation and shipping have climate impacts equal to Germany and South Korea respectively, yet they are tax-free on their fuel and now set to be target-free on their emissions,” said T&E Aviation Manager, Bill Hemmings. “It’s a betrayal of future generations and a sad reflection on the way the UN has become beholden to special interests. Paris needs to think again and quickly.”
The revised draft will be scrutinised once more when the UNFCCC resumes pre-COP21 talks on October 19.
During the Geneva conference, ATAG’s Gill said it was vital for the industry’s carbon-neutral growth goal and the ICAO MBM – which would require access to approved emission credits – that the Paris agreement both continued with and strengthened international carbon market systems.
“It is a necessary tool in the future climate regime and is absolutely imperative for aviation’s plans to be realised,” he said. “The linkages between systems and an ability to track credits across national borders is good not only for use in an aviation context, but is important for climate responses throughout the private and public sectors.”
According to Carbon Pulse, mention of carbon markets has largely been left out of the new draft core agreement and leaving the issue to be dealt with at a later date, before the agreement enters into force in 2020. The online publication says that of the nearly 150 climate pledges submitted so far – termed Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – at least 70 countries have said they intend to use or explore the use of market-based mechanisms to help meet targets or raise funds for mitigation activities for the post-2020 period, with many more sellers than buyers.
“Such plans may face years of uncertainty if there is no language or provisions for international carbon trading in the Paris agreement, but with the growing number of national and sub-national governments turning to CO2 markets, observers are confident emissions trading will remain a key approach to reducing GHG emissions,” it comments.
UNFCCC – COP21 Draft Agreement
ICAO – Dr Aliu’s speech at Global Sustainable Aviation Summit
ATAG – Michael Gill’s speech at Global Sustainable Aviation Summit
Transport & Environment
Positive outcome at Paris COP will be crucial in progress of aviation global carbon measure, says ICAO chief
Fri 2 Oct 2015 – A successful outcome from the upcoming UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris will be crucial in encouraging ICAO Member States to make further progress on reducing emissions from international aviation, said Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of ICAO’s governing Council, at an aviation industry conference. The Environment Advisory Group (EAG), comprising 17 Council representatives, is currently overseeing the development of a global market-based measure (MBM) to limit the sector’s growth of net emissions from the sector from 2020 but headway is slow on political aspects of the scheme. With a decision required by countries at the ICAO Assembly in a year’s time on implementation, industry leaders at the conference warned against allowing timelines to slip and a loss in momentum. Environmental NGOs also called on ICAO States to stand by their commitment to deliver the scheme.
“ICAO, governments, civil society and the industry have been working in concerted partnership to deliver a practical proposal next year, and aviation must remain fully unified in these efforts to achieve this progress. To meet the 2020 carbon-neutral goal we must be united and committed to find a practical, robust and environmentally sound agreement on the global MBM by 2016. Your resolve is crucial in this regard,” Dr Aliu told delegates at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, organised by the cross-sector Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
He said the steady growth of air transport had brought very positive social and economic benefits but, he added, “In an era of climate change and, increasingly, climate action, the growth of any industry sector brings with it a number of critical concerns, and certainly the need for strong and practical commitments.
“We now find ourselves on a shared journey towards achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020. This is a clear and common objective for ICAO and ATAG. I strongly believe that this will be possible only by continuing to work together, in line with our historic tradition in global civil aviation, and by actively forging and refining our partnerships.”
While confirming the industry’s support for the ICAO process and leadership, ATAG Executive Director Michael Gill said a failure by the next Assembly to endorse the implementation of a global offsetting scheme in pursuit of the carbon-neutral growth goal “will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.” He added: “We are within touching distance of an historic agreement and we have to finish the course.”
Although a progressive outcome in Paris could help deliver a meaningful result at the 2016 Assembly, Gill said there was a distinct timeframe from the broader climate negotiations being undertaken at the UNFCCC and, with less than a year now left, ICAO negotiations should not wait until the Paris conclusion in December.
During a panel session at the Geneva conference, Spain’s representative on the ICAO Council and also an EAG member, Victor Manuel Aguado, said although there was great momentum at ICAO to address international aviation emissions, there were also major challenges and red lines by some States. One of the biggest challenges, he said, was the pressure of the clock.
“The window of opportunity will be between January and April/May next year,” he said. “A recommendation will have to be made to the Council by June at the latest. This means having a basic agreement in place by April so that we can listen to the views and concerns of the States before the June Council meeting.” It is understood ICAO will likely convene, unusually for the Organization, an Extraordinary High-Level Meeting of government ministers from all States in May to discuss the issue.
Gill said industry fuel efficiency from its operations had doubled in the last 25 years and a plan was in place to deal with further improvements over the next 35 years up to 2050. “But there is only so much the industry can do by ourselves,” he said. “We are a heavily regulated sector and to fully realise the potential for efficiency measures we will need governments to step up and commit too.”
Signed by a group of 28 CEOs and association leaders, the industry has taken to sending an open letter to governments that commits to climate action by the sector and calls for a joint approach in delivering carbon emissions reductions. In particular, the group urges government action on the global MBM and to back industry and civil society efforts to deliver the scheme. As well as IATA, associations endorsing the letter include Airlines for America (A4A), the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO), the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), the Latin America and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) and the four European airline bodies – the Association of European Airlines (AEA), European Regions Airline Association (ERAA), International Air Carrier Association (IACA) and the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) – plus airport industry trade association ACI and CANSO, which represents the air navigation service providers sector.
The letter has been sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the head of the UNFCCC and the French Government delegation leading the COP21 talks, and will be sent to governments around the world over the next few weeks.
“We have only 12 months to go before ICAO makes its decision on the MBM. In the hands of 190 states will be the power to make aviation’s carbon-neutral growth goal a reality. It is no exaggeration to say that the eyes of the world will be on them,” said IATA Director General Tony Tyler at the conference. “To support a successful outcome we have sent a clear and unequivocal message in the open letter to governments. And, as airlines – indeed as an industry – it is important that we stay united and true to our vision and commitments.”
Adding its voice to the call for action by governments to ensure an MBM agreement is reached at ICAO’s 2016 Assembly, environmental NGOs have jointly published a ‘litmus test’ of key elements they want to be covered by the scheme to ensure its environmental integrity and effectively cap international aviation emissions at 2020 levels. To solve the differentiation question, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) proposes a route-based, phased-in approach in which regional routes with the heaviest emissions bear the greater initial responsibility. The obligations of small, fast-growing routes would increase over time in line with growing contributions of emissions to the overall total. To ensure integrity of the emissions cap, argues the group, if and where exemptions are made then compensation would have to be maintained elsewhere in the MBM policy.
Differentiation – the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) principle established by the Kyoto Protocol – remains the greatest barrier to an ICAO agreement because of the difficulties in reconciling it to the underlying ICAO principle of non-discrimination and equal treatment of airlines regardless of their country of origin. India, China and others believe CBDR is the overriding principle and while not necessarily opposed to the route-based approach, favour a system that apportions responsibilities based on historical accumulative levels of aviation emissions (see article).
Europe and some Latin American countries largely back the route-based approach, while the United States – which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and therefore does not recognise the CBDR principle – has yet to declare its hand.
A successful outcome from the Paris COP talks, in which the current binary distinction between the developed and developing world in their respective responsibilities for tackling climate change would be removed, might unblock differences amongst ICAO States, say some observers. However, others such as Spain’s Aguado believe the UNFCCC and ICAO tracks are running in parallel and not together, and success in Paris did not guarantee it would follow to Montreal.
Carl Burleson of the Federal Aviation Administration and a member of the US negotiating team said although great progress was being made on ICAO’s ‘basket of measures’ and the aircraft CO2 standard that is expected to be adopted by the Assembly in 2016, the MBM issue “was certainly a challenge”. He said discussions had been “full and frank” yet encouraging.
“Given the three-year timeline we have been given to come up with a global measure for an industry, it’s unprecedented,” he told the conference. “Even the CO2 standard has taken six years to develop. We have managed to undertake a lot of concentrated, analytical work but there are many hard political issues that have to be addressed.
“It’s not going to be easy over the coming months and won’t be without drama but at the end of the day it’s about finding solutions and I believe we will.”
Laurence Graff, head of the Aviation and Maritime International Carbon Market unit at the European Commission agreed much of the analytical work had already been done and the countries involved in the technical process were working constructively together. “But time is very short and we need to move into the negotiating process, which will require political will around the table,” she said.
Representing NGOs, Annie Petsonk, International Counsel with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said while developments in Paris were important, the ICAO process had its own demands, strengths and opportunities. “A successful conclusion at next year’s Assembly on a global MBM could help the world move efforts forward after Paris as international civil aviation would be the first global sector to adopt such a climate measure,” she said.
The heart of the issue was differentiation without discrimination, she added, but there were solutions and NGOs were committed to working with all participants in the process to achieve a successful result.
ICSA members – which include EDF, ICCT, T&E, WWF and AEF – also call in their ‘litmus test’ for a mechanism that would review the MBM scheme periodically and ratchet up the stringency levels and strengthen the cap in line with climate science forecasts and help the industry work towards its long-term goal of reducing net emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels.
ATAG’s Michael Gill described the NGO’s ‘checklist’ as “a thoughtful addition” to the MBM debate. “However,” he added, “in this endeavour you have a proactive and willing industry actually pushing for many of the same things you are. You have a committed UN Secretariat and you have governments that need some encouragement, but are also highly engaged. We are in the final stages of a truly historic agreement that could pave the way for the first global sectoral market-based measure. Care must be taken to ensure that the end result is a pragmatic and workable response to this global challenge.”
Concluding the conference, IATA Director General Tony Tyler said that with only 12 months remaining, the eyes of the world would be on States as they made their decision. “The stakes are high,” he said. “If an agreement on an MBM is reached, then aviation will have taken its claim to be at the forefront of the practical fight against man-made climate change one step further. It’s the right thing to do and will grant us a licence to continue the important work of connecting our planet.
“I hope and believe that a workable market-based measure will be put in place. But it will not be easy. There is hard work ahead, the industry will need to stand united as the details are worked out. Failure to remain united could lead to an untenable patchwork of regulation, taxes, charges and onerous measures yet to be conceived. It is in our common interest to remain united. “
ATAG – Speeches, announcements and blog posts from the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit
A4A’s Nancy Young appointed by UN Secretary-General to his high-level sustainable transport advisory group
Wed 14 Oct 2015 – Nancy Young, VP Environmental Affairs for US airline trade association Airlines for America (A4A) has been appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to his High-Level Advisory Group for Sustainable Transport. The Group, which represents all sectors and modes of transport, was established in 2014 with a three-year mandate tasked with making actionable policy recommendations on sustainable transport at all levels, while promoting the further integration of sustainable transport into development strategies and policies, including in climate action. Its aim is to promote sustainable transport that is in line with inclusive and equitable growth, social development, protection of the global environment and ecosystems, and addressing climate change.
A recent assessment by the Group found that sustainable transport will be central to the implementation of many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals just adopted by the United Nations.
Young has long experience in the environmental, sustainability and aviation fields and in relevant working groups under the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In addition to leading A4A’s environmental programmes, Young is an active participant in the Air Transport Action Group, serves as the environmental co-lead of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative and is a member of the Advisory Board to the Aviation Sustainability Center.
“I am honoured to serve on this distinguished group, as I share with the Secretary-General the firm view that sustainable transport and sustainable development go hand in hand,” said Young. “The world’s airlines are a case in point, as we connect the world and power economic growth, employment, trade links and tourism, all the while maintaining a tremendous environmental track record and a commitment to further progress. I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues, under the leadership of the Secretary-General, to expand the policy and action platform to further catalyse sustainable transport growth and development.”
IAG appoints Counsell to head up sustainability programme across airline group
Wed 14 Oct 2015 – To further develop and enhance the Group’s environmental sustainability performance, International Airlines Group (IAG) has appointed Jonathon Counsell, former Head of Environment at British Airways, as Group Head of Sustainability. He will be responsible for the strategy and direction of the environment and sustainability programme across the Group, which includes Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. Counsell’s focus will be on improving the carbon and noise performance of the four airlines. Dean Plumb will head the Environment function at British Airways. In September, Counsell was also appointed as the Vice-Chair of IATA’s Environment Committee.