GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 22 APRIL 2016
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US environment groups put legal pressure on EPA to act on aircraft emissions rule setting
Wed 20 Apr 2016 – As President Obama gathers with other world leaders on Friday (Apr 22) to sign the climate agreement reached in Paris last December, US environmental groups have criticised the Administration for “foot dragging” over efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the US domestic aircraft fleet and have started a lawsuit. Filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, the suit seeks to compel the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete the rule-making process it started last year. After eight of years of legal action by the groups, in June 2015 the EPA issued a proposed public health endangerment finding and rule-making on aircraft engine CO2 emissions. The EPA has been working with the FAA on the international aircraft CO2 standard that was agreed by ICAO’s environmental committee in February but has recently said it may not publish a proposed rule until 2017.
In 2013, aircraft emissions were the third largest transportation source of greenhouse gas emissions within the United States, accounting for around 11% of mobile source CO2 emissions and 3% of all domestic emissions. US aircraft emissions also represent 29% of all emissions from the air transport sector worldwide. A Center for Biological Diversity report estimates the global air transport sector could generate 43 gigatonnes of emissions through until 2050, consuming more than 4% of the world’s remaining carbon budget.
Within the US domestic transportation industry, aircraft emissions are the single largest source of greenhouse gases not subject to EPA regulation, point out the NGOs in their suit.
Environmental groups first petitioned the EPA to act on reducing aircraft pollutant levels in 2007, and in 2010 won a case that forced the EPA to set standards on GHGs from aircraft. The subsequent announcement by the EPA last year “proposed to find that GHG emissions from certain classes of engines used in aircraft contribute to the air pollution that causes climate change and endangers public health and welfare.”
In addition to the ‘endangerment finding’, it also issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to provide information on the process for setting the ICAO aircraft CO2 standard and invited public input on adopting and implementing the standard domestically. Although ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) agreed on a standard in February, it still requires ratification by ICAO’s governing Council before it becomes binding on all ICAO member states from 2020. In the US, both the EPA and FAA have rulemaking responsibilities of establishing the new CO2 emissions levels and then enforcing those levels through aircraft certification.
The FAA estimates that if the standard is adopted at ICAO, carbon emissions from aircraft worldwide could fall by more than 650 million tonnes between 2020 and 2040. It says the move would also reduce fuel burn by 4% by 2028, compared to 2015 aircraft models.
However, environmental groups are far from happy with the CAEP-proposed standard, believing it to be lacking in stringency. They had expected the EPA to issue its own proposals this spring, which could come up with tougher regulations than those agreed in ICAO, but the agency has recently indicated the earliest date for the publication of a proposed rule is now next year, with 2018 as the earliest possible date for the promulgation of a final rule regulating aircraft emissions. The lawsuit against the EPA argues this is “an unreasonable delay”.
“President Obama will show his commitment to fighting climate change when he signs the Paris Agreement, but the standards he is prepared to accept for carbon pollution from airplanes are embarrassingly low,” said Sarah Burt, Earthjustice’s legal expert on aircraft pollution. “As the largest contributor to aircraft carbon pollution, the US should lead the way to meaningful action on this source of emissions.”
Added Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the Center’s Climate Law Institute: “The EPA has dawdled for almost a decade, even as airplane emissions are on track to spiral out of control. We can’t afford more denial and delay in tackling this high-flying threat to our climate.”
Earthjustice legal suit , EPA – Air pollutant emissions from aviation
NGOs clash over eligibility of REDD+ forestry credits under ICAO’s proposed aviation carbon offsetting scheme
Mon 18 Apr 2016 – The world’s forests currently store more carbon than is in the world’s atmosphere and tropical forests alone absorb almost a fifth of all carbon dioxide released each year from the burning of fossil fuels. However, the destruction of these same tropical forests contributes 10 to 15 per cent of global annual carbon emissions. To address the problem, the UNFCCC launched in 2008 a programme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD, later enhanced to REDD+) in developing countries through which a financial value could be created on the value for the carbon stored in forests and then offered through offset credits as mitigation options. REDD+ credits are now under consideration by ICAO as to whether they should be eligible in the carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation currently under development. Environmental and conservation NGOs are divided though on their suitability.
A group of nine NGOs – which includes Environmental Defense Fund, Global Canopy Programme, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, Sustainable Travel International and Verified Carbon Standard among others – says that unlike mitigation efforts, each REDD+ credit not only avoids one tonne of CO2 from being emitted but can also protect biodiversity, support local communities and ensure that vital ecosystem functions remain intact. REDD+ has been recognised as a valuable mitigation strategy and financial incentive through Article 5 of the recent Paris Agreement, they point out, and therefore should be allowed by ICAO as an eligible activity in its global market-based measure (GMBM) scheme.
“A commitment by ICAO and the aviation industry to offset aviation emissions through the protection of forests would underscore the remarkable impact of the Paris Agreement,” said Peter Seligmann, CEO of Conservation International. “Through this measure, the aviation sector can lead the world in financing the protection of tropical forests, which together provide 30% or more of the solution to climate change while simultaneously providing benefits to local communities.”
Andrew Mitchell, Founder Director of the Global Canopy Programme, said by helping to reduce global deforestation through addressing its carbon emissions, the aviation sector would not only slow climate change but also help meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. By supporting REDD+, the sector would be demonstrating to governments, the private sector and consumers the critical nature of protecting forests and planet, added Geoff Bolan, COO of Sustainable Travel International.
In a briefing paper aimed at ICAO “policy makers”, the NGOs said REDD+ could be depended upon to provide the required volume of offsets to help meet the aviation industry’s 7.8 billion tonne CO2 post-2020 gap, as well as supplying additional benefits in developing countries – including sustainable development, biodiversity conservation and improved human well-being – “and to do so with environmental integrity.”
The early stages of the REDD+ programme have not gone entirely smoothly, with many tales of corruption and fraud. However, the NGOs say the sector has matured considerably with the development and implementation of more robust approaches for the accounting, monitoring, reporting and independent verification of REDD+ activities. Tools and methods have been created to account for and manage non-permanence and leakage to other areas, ensuring that credited forest emission reductions are real and permanent, they report. In addition, methods have also been developed to determine additionality and ensure credible baselines for calculating reductions based on historical deforestation.
Other NGOs are not convinced however of the integrity of REDD+ credits and a statement signed by 89 international civil society organisations has called on ICAO to exclude land-based offset credits such as REDD+ type projects. The group – which includes Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Fern and Transport & Environment – is against the use of carbon offsetting in general as, the NGOs argue, it is “a significant distraction from the real measures that need to be taken to reduce aviation emissions.”
Adds the statement: “Offsetting is widely considered a false solution because it does not lead to emission reductions but merely shifts emissions from one sector to another and, at best, is a zero-sum game.”
The group says offset projects have proved themselves largely incapable of complying with the principles which ICAO has laid out for carbon offset compliance. They argue REDD+ projects are particularly contentious.
“ICAO’s own standards rule forests and land offsets out from the start because they need to be permanent emissions reductions, which is impossible to prove for forests because the removals are reversible,” said Hannah Mowat, Fern’s land and climate campaigner.
“ICAO standards also require offsets to ‘do no harm’. Given the countless stories of social conflict due to people being denied access to their land and restricting their traditional use of forests, airlines must think twice about the likely damage to communities – and hence their reputation.”
The anti-REDDs also add that offset credits from forest conservation, tree plantation or soil carbon sequestration carry an additional risk of becoming null and void when wildfires, storms or natural decay cause an uncontrollable release of stored carbon.
“This is one of the reasons why the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) excludes all offset categories related to forest or agriculture land use except for afforestation, reforestation and biomass energy projects,” says their statement. “Even then, credits from these tree planting offset projects are sold as temporary carbon credits that need to be bought again in a matter of years because credits from tree planting projects cannot be considered to permanently store carbon.”
The group says it is also difficult to avoid double-counting of offset credits where forests are concerned as these are typically already included in national greenhouse gas inventories through countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). However, the pro-REDD NGOs say all REDD+ activities can be tracked in transparent registries and host countries required to account for REDD+ tonnes in their national accounts.
“These requirements would need to be applied to all credits, REDD+ or otherwise, being used by the aviation sector,” they add.
The sector, in the main, supports the inclusion of REDD+ credits in the global MBM scheme. “Our position is that we want to have access to as wide a range of offset opportunities as possible, as long as they meet the quality criteria,” said an industry spokesperson.
Pro-REDD+ NGOs – ‘Linking flight and forests: The essential role of forests in supporting global aviation’s response to climate change’ , Anti-REDD+ NGOs statement , UN REDD Programme
Standards body ASTM approves Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet renewable jet fuel for commercial aviation use
Fri 15 Apr 2016 – Fuel standards body ASTM International has approved for commercial aviation use a new alternative aviation fuel created from an alcohol called isobutanol that in turn is derived from renewable feedstocks such as sugar, corn or forest wastes. ASTM has published a revision of its ASTM D7566 specification for aviation fuel containing synthesised hydrocarbons to include the new fuel, to be known as alcohol to jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK). The annex to the specification is initially limited to ATJ fuels produced from isobutanol and in blends restricted to a maximum level of 30%. Currently, the only producer of isobutanol-derived ATJ-SPK is Colorado-based Gevo, which has been awaiting the ASTM decision in preparation for shipping its fuel to launch customer Alaska Airlines. ATJ-SPK becomes the fifth alternative aviation fuel pathway to be approved by ASTM.
“With this significant milestone achieved, we look forward to making the first test flight with Alaska a reality,” said Gevo CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. “We fundamentally believe that our ATJ is one of the most cost-competitive bio-based jet alternatives in the market place, and we anticipate being able to announce further partnerships across the aviation industry in the near future.
“Jet fuel is one of Gevo’s core market segments and this ASTM revision represents the next step in building a profitable business from this market vertical.”
Alaska Airlines will work with the Federal Aviation Administration to schedule the flight using Gevo’s fuel. The FAA has collaborated with the aviation industry in the approval process, which included development and testing, through its Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) programme. In addition to CLEEN, the FAA says it is working with industry, other government agencies and academia through the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the agency’s Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT), a consortium of research universities.
It estimates the use of ATJ-SPK fuels could reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a life-cycle basis by up to 85% compared to its fossil equivalent.
“I believe the industry will be pleased to see this additional approval,” Steve Csonka, Executive Director of CAAFI, told GreenAir. “We congratulate Gevo on their fortitude and success, and we look forward to pending demonstration activities and subsequent commercial production announcements.”
No other sustainable alternative jet fuel processes were qualified for use in this latest specification update. “The ASTM and aviation communities are typically advancing approval one pathway at a time, although several others are currently at various stages of the review process, having working task forces within ASTM,” reported Csonka.
“It is the ultimate objective of the two communities to permit use of all C2 to C5 alcohols as feedstocks for production of ATJ-SPK once sufficient test data is available for each and the addition has been commercially pursued.”
Previously approved pathways include Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (FT-SPK) and Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Kerosene with Aromatics (FT-SKA), which both use various sources of renewable biomass such as municipal solid waste, agricultural and forest wastes, wood and energy crops. Other approvals include Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (HEFA-SPK) fuels, which use fats, oils and greases, and Synthesized Iso-paraffins (SIP), which convert sugars into jet fuel.
ASTM International – ASTM D7566 ATJ-SPK revision document , Gevo , FAA CLEEN , FAA ASCENT , Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI)
Etihad Airways opts for Honeywell Aviaso fuel efficiency software to help reduce fuel use and emissions
Thu 14 Apr 2016 – Etihad Airways has selected Honeywell Aviaso to provide fuel efficiency software to help the airline uncover opportunities for fuel savings and measure the effectiveness of fuel efficiency initiatives already in place. Implementation of the software system has already begun and Etihad’s partner airlines will also deploy the system during 2016. The software includes more than 100 ready-made analysis reports that allow an airline to understand fuel consumption and to identify potential savings. Honeywell Aviaso claims existing software users have made annual fuel savings and corresponding emissions reductions of more than 2%. Etihad is the first major new customer for the Swiss-based airline IT company since it was acquired by Honeywell Aerospace last September.
“Fuel management services are a critical part of the modern global aviation industry, and we are delighted to work closely with Etihad Airways to help deliver fuel efficiency savings,” said Jason Wissink, Sales Director, Honeywell Aviaso. “The flexibility of the software to integrate with systems already in place at Etihad Airways will enable a fast deployment and the ability to support future fleet growth.”
Added Etihad Airways COO Richard Hill: “We are committed to adopting best practices across the airline’s business, including the latest technology to further develop our fuel-efficient operations. We are delighted to work with Honeywell Aviaso to enhance our already robust flight operational management systems, which are vital for greater performance efficiencies across our fleet.”
The software also provides comprehensive reporting to ensure full compliance with the EU Emissions Trading System legislation, says Honeywell Aviaso.
The company has over 20 airline clients, including Aer Lingus, Air Transat, Cargolux, Lufthansa, Finnair, Jet Airways and Thomas Cook.
Honeywell Aviaso , Etihad Airways
China, India, Russia and South Africa express concern that GMBM proposals do not address differentiation
Thu 14 Apr 2016 – The 2016 round of ICAO’s Global Aviation Dialogues (GLADs) to provide Member States with information and receive feedback on developing a global market-based measure (GMBM) to address carbon emissions from international aviation has concluded in Mexico City. Although the ICAO Secretariat has indicated the five regional events went well, there will be some disappointment that more non-Council States did not attend. Both ICAO and the industry, which has held its own regional outreach events, have targeted States that are not represented on ICAO’s governing body to inform them of the GMBM scheme’s proposals. In an unusual move, China, India, South Africa and the Russian Federation issued a joint statement during the GLADs to express their concern that the current proposal did not adequately reflect the differentiation between developed and developing countries, and questioned the scheme’s carbon-neutral goal.
The number of delegates attending the GLADs was higher than that for the first round in 2015 but the number of States represented, according to reports, was well down, with less than a third of Member States participating. However, those States that did attend were responsible for nearly three-quarters of international aviation traffic.
“The structure and format of the GLADs was designed specifically to inform and engage non-Council States on the design and implementation aspects of the proposed global MBM,” commented ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. “This type of outreach is essential to facilitate well-informed discussion and decision-making by all our 191 Member States, and it is especially relevant given that the world will be so keenly focused on the decisions we adopt at our Assembly this September.”
Discussions appear to have centred around three key elements of the carbon offsetting scheme’s proposals contained in the latest draft Assembly Resolution text, namely the criteria as to which States should be included in the scheme, action to minimise market distortion between airlines and how offsetting responsibilities should be distributed. Feedback was also sought from States on whether key considerations raised by 2015 participants for the scheme’s design – such as administrative simplicity, environmental integrity and cost effectiveness – had been addressed in the proposals. Topics also under discussion included the possible means for differentiation without discrimination among States and the assistance and capacity-building that may be needed to support the GMBM scheme’s effective implementation.
However, the statement by China, India, Russia and China indicates they believe not enough attention has been paid to the differentiation in responsibilities for mitigating international aviation emissions between developed and developing countries, a principle which they say was reaffirmed by the Paris Agreement.
“The resolution to be reached in ICAO shall be in full accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR&RC) and its implementation shall not lead to discrimination against the sustainable development of international aviation of countries, in particular developing countries,” reads the statement. “Differentiation between developed and developing countries should be reflected in each crucial component of the resolution.”
Developed countries should take the lead in the post-2020 period but some had so far shown a reluctance to do so, contend the four countries, and had imposed unilateral action against a global consensus, “which has made the aspirational CNG2020 [carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020] unfounded and non-pragmatic.”
While they would undertake “robust actions” to reduce domestic aviation emissions through technology, operations and infrastructure measures, as well as through the use of sustainable jet fuels, action to address international aviation emissions “should be built on differentiated arrangements, while providing flexibility to developing countries.”
Another joint statement issued last week at the conclusion of a ministerial meeting on climate change held by the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, China and India) in Delhi also expressed concern that the GMBM proposals “may impose inappropriate economic burden on developing countries, where the international aviation market is still maturing.”
The statement urged ICAO “to develop climate change measures in a manner that is consistent with the principles of CBDR&RC and to align the GMBM with the relevant provisions of the Paris Agreement.”
An informal briefing was made yesterday to the ICAO Council and other relevant organisations, including industry representatives, on the GLADs outcome, and followed by a closed second meeting of the 18-State High-level Group set up to take the GMBM proposals forward. Any changes to the current draft proposals will need to be made within the next month, in time for the specially convened High-level Meeting of all Member States taking place May 11-13 to discuss the GMBM.
ICAO GLADs documentation , Joint statement by China, India, South Africa and Russia , Joint statement by BASIC climate ministers
Analysis by the EEA finds around 600 aircraft operators covered by the EU ETS emitted 55 Mt CO2 in 2014
Wed 13 Apr 2016 – The annual analysis by the European Environment Agency on the application of the EU Emissions Trading Directive reports total aviation emissions covered by the EU ETS in 2014 amounted to 54.9 Mt CO2. The total represents just over 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions covered by the EU scheme. Domestic emissions in 2014 of 11 Mt CO2 accounted for 20% of total aviation emissions. In the period 2009-2013, domestic and international aviation emissions remained relatively stable at around 150 Mt CO2 per annum, which means just over one-third of aviation emissions reported in EU GHG inventories are included in the current scope of the EU ETS. The scope is currently restricted to intra-EEA flights until the end of this year. Following recent data released by the European Commission, carbon analysts are forecasting aviation emissions covered by the scheme rose by 3.6% in 2015.
The analysis by the European Environment Agency (EEA) is based on a statutory requirement (Article 21) of the EU ETS Directive that requires EU member states to report on the application of the directive. The EEA report considers whether or not the implementation of the directive is on track and whether there is potential for improvement.
The report finds there were 596 aircraft operators included in the EU ETS in 2014, with 52% classed as commercial operators and 48% as non-commercial. With 161, the UK administered the most number of operators.
Twelve EU countries reported they were aware of 62 operators in total that should have complied with the scheme as they performed flights within the European Economic Area scope (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). However, there are also operators located outside the EEA that are excluded from the EU ETS but were included in the reported numbers. This was the case for at least 10 operators reported by Romania.
More than half the operators included in the EU ETS are classified as small emitters, defined as those whose flights in aggregate emit less than 25,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum or that operate fewer than 243 flights per period for three consecutive four-month periods. A small emitter can take advantage of a simplified procedure to monitor CO2 emissions from its flight activity. Countries reported that the Small Emitters Tool (SET) was used by the large majority to estimate fuel consumption, although 71 small emitters did not.
“Whether or not more needs to be done to reduce the administrative burden on small emitters should be further investigated,” says the EEA report. “The consistency of the data reported on aviation small emitters also needs to improve, especially with regard to the information on the methods used to determine aviation emissions.”
Three countries – Italy, Poland and Sweden – imposed fines on aircraft operators for non-compliance. The largest aircraft operator penalty of €12,129,257 ($13.7m) was imposed by Italy, and believed to be on Ethiopian Airlines. The other two countries did not impose fines of more than €66,000.
Excess emission penalties were imposed on 63 aircraft operators – more than 10% of the total number of operators – in four countries (Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK), although countries were still issuing fines for 2012 in 2015, and so may correspond to several years.
The provisions for infringement penalties vary broadly across EU states, from no penalty to €15 million in the case of Ireland, says the EEA. Prison sentences for infringements are also possible in Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Luxemburg, Norway and Sweden. These can vary from three to 12 months but none were imposed in the reporting period. Although a sanction of last resort, countries can request an operating ban from the Commission for non-compliance.
“Reporting in the aviation sector is developing and is expected to further improve in the coming years,” concludes the report.
EEA – Application of the EU Emissions Trading Directive