GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 21 NOVEMBER 2016
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EU politicians say ICAO carbon offsetting scheme lacks ambition and will push for reforms to Aviation EU ETS
Mon 21 Nov 2016 – The head of the European Parliament delegation to COP22 in Marrakech said action to address growing CO2 emissions by the international aviation and shipping sectors was insufficient and could jeopardise action elsewhere to meet global climate targets. Giovanni La Via, who is chair of the Parliament’s environment committee, said the two sectors could represent up to 40% of all global emissions by 2050 if they were not regulated. The European Commission will soon be publishing its proposals on the future direction of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for aviation from 2017 and MEPs are looking to tighten the rules. Elsewhere at COP22, which finished on Friday, ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu praised Europe’s leadership and contribution in the agreement reached at last month’s Assembly on the global market-based measure.
Although welcoming the agreement, La Via told a press conference the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme “fell short of ambition”. He noted the exemption of extra-EU flights expired at the end of this year and Parliament and the EU Council, which represents member states, would soon be discussing “further steps on this topic”.
The decision, known as ‘Stop the Clock’, was enacted in 2014 to limit the scope of the scheme to flights to and from airports within the European Economic Area (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) pending the outcome of ICAO negotiations on a global market-based measure. The temporary legislation ends on December 31. Without new legislation, the scope automatically ‘snaps back’ to the original scope under which all flights to and from the EEA would be included in the scheme from 2017.
Most believe the clock will be stopped once again, at least until CORSIA is up and running from 2021. However, a number of MEPs that have followed the issue are looking to tighten the EU scheme.
According to online news publication Carbon Pulse, some MEPs from across the political divide want to cut heavily the number of free carbon allowances aircraft operators receive under the EU ETS and transfer them to other industrial sectors. Other suggestions have included reducing the aviation emissions cap, which is currently flatlined up to 2021, to be more in line with reductions expected from the other sectors. The Parliament’s rapporteur on the Aviation EU ETS, Peter Liese, would also like to see all flights to and from third countries that do not sign up for CORSIA’s pilot and voluntary phases, which run from 2021 to 2026, included in the new EU ETS legislation.
Sharing the platform with La Via at the COP press conference, EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said he welcomed the ICAO CORSIA resolution, but noted: “This is an important first step towards more meaningful mitigation action for this sector on its steeply increasing emissions.”
He confirmed the European Commission would shortly be issuing its own proposals on the scope of the Aviation EU ETS. “We need this legislation to go quickly so it can be implemented by early 2018 in time for the 2017 compliance cycle and we look for support from the Parliament and Council for a speedy agreement.”
Asked at another COP press conference for her reaction to MEP comments on CORSIA and the EU ETS, ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu said it was normal for there to be different opinions on the Assembly outcome but Europe’s leadership in the negotiations had been an important contribution. She said CORSIA was concerned with international rather than domestic aviation emissions, which were addressed through the Paris Agreement. “It’s the prerogative of countries to deal with their own national regulations but it is important to keep in mind that aviation is a global system that needs functioning at a global level,” she said.
Referring to the issue of climate finance for developing countries, an important area of discussion at COP22, Dr Liu said ICAO and its member states had at the Assembly made a clear concern to the UNFCCC process over the disproportionate use of international aviation as a potential source of revenue.
In its customary submission to the session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) held during the COP, ICAO said it would “continue to take the lead in the efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation.”
Landing charges incentivising airlines to use the cleanest and quietest new aircraft, says Heathrow
Mon 21 Nov 2016 – The increasing use of the cleaner and quieter Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 aircraft is improving noise performance at Heathrow, says the airport, which has just published its Fly Quiet league table for the third quarter of 2016. Qatar Airways last week became the third carrier to fly the A350 on routes to Heathrow, joining Finnair and Ethiopian Airlines, making a total of six daily flights for the latest Airbus aircraft. Launched last year, the noise footprint of the A350 is claimed to be around 50% smaller than its predecessor models and 21 of airlines serving Heathrow have the aircraft on order. With the number of Boeing 787 aircraft rising by 19%, Heathrow says airlines are increasing the use of their quietest aircraft in response to the airport’s landing charge incentive policy. British Airways’ short-haul fleet continues to top the noise league table.
Without the aid of new aircraft to bolster its position, British Airways’ position as the leading performer is due to noise-reducing enhancements to its fleet of A320 aircraft and operating procedures that take noise over the ground into consideration, says Heathrow.
The airline is currently operating 22 Boing 787s out of Heathrow and has 18 A350-1000 aircraft on order. However, the continuing use of old Boeing 747-400s means its noise ranking of the long-haul fleet is no better than fifteenth. Although charges for landing a 747-400 at Heathrow are well over three times that for a 787, British Airways is expected to keep its 747s until around 2020.
Ranked third behind British Airways short-haul operations and Aer Lingus, Etihad Airways is the top long-haul performer, ahead of Emirates in fourth place, with Qantas Airways moving into the top five. Another airline singled out for praise is Singapore Airlines, which climbed 21 places to nineteenth as a result of a switch to newer aircraft and improved operating performance.
The Fly Quiet league table is published each quarter and compares the top 50 airlines according to the number of flights serving Heathrow across six noise metrics. The metrics cover aircraft noise efficiency, noise certification, arrival operations such as Continuous Descent Approaches, departure track-keeping operations and adherence to night time operational hours.
“The Fly Quiet programme helps airlines improve their noise performance and provides incentives for them to fly their newest, quietest aircraft to Heathrow, helping the airport be a better neighbour,” said Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye.
Heathrow Airport – Fly Quiet Programme
IATA releases airport assessment tool to help in cutting illegal trafficking of wildlife shipments
Thu 17 Nov 2016 – In partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO), IATA has developed and launched an Airport Wildlife Trafficking Assessment Tool to help airports in the fight against the illegal transportation of endangered species. The tool will enable airports to assess their supply-chain security, intelligence and risk management, staff awareness, and reporting processes, alongside air cargo and passenger screening policy and procedures. A pilot initiative is due to start this month at Maputo International Airport in Mozambique, with a global roll-out planned to follow next year. In March, IATA and 26 of its member airlines signed a declaration at Buckingham Palace in London committing to take action in closing vulnerabilities in the global transportation and customs system (see article).
“Actors in the air transport sector can serve as the eyes and ears of enforcement agencies and can be valuable partners in the efforts to eliminate wildlife trafficking from supply chains,” said Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “The Assessment Tool will enable them to identify weak points in procedures and practices, often exploited by traffickers, as well as ways of strengthening them.”
The assessment tool is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has brought together a range of governmental, industry and conservation organisations under the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership. The aim of the initiative is to disrupt wildlife trafficking activities and is a key element in the international response to countering wildlife poaching and associated criminal activities. Funded by USAID, it was established in 2015 with a five-year mandate to assist the transport sector in efforts to reduce trafficking via land, sea and air.
Also in 2015, IATA signed a Memorandum of Understanding at its AGM in Miami with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to cooperate with the UN agency on reducing illegal trade in wildlife and their products, as well as on ensuring the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife. IATA members followed this up at this year’s AGM in Dublin by endorsing a resolution denouncing the illegal wildlife trade and called for preventative action by airlines, airports and freight forwarders. The resolution also called on IATA members to sign the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration. The United for Wildlife campaign is led by The Duke of Cambridge.
“The illegal trafficking of wildlife products, including many iconic and endangered species, is an issue which the aviation industry takes very seriously. It will take a team effort to combat this deplorable trade,” said IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac. “We are working in close partnership with USAID Routes, WCO, CITES and other organisations to make the world a much more difficult place for wildlife traffickers. Our common goal is to preserve our precious wildlife inheritance for future generations to enjoy.”
IATA believes new technology such as e-documentation, online check-in and automated baggage drops could also play a role.
“These technologies can help government authorities to build accurate risk assessments of travellers and cargo shipments. Whether it is combatting terrorism, stopping the illegal drug trade or putting an end to wildlife trafficking, governments must share information among themselves and with industry. We share a common goal and we must work together to achieve it,” said de Juniac.
The launch of the assessment tool was made during a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, of government ministers from around the world to discuss ways to eradicate wildlife trafficking. The UK government, which supported the conference, announced it would work with Vietnamese border force authorities in helping airports and national airlines stop smugglers trafficking illegal goods out of the country.
IATA – Combatting Illegal Trade in Wildlife , Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade
Alaska Airlines makes first commercial flight using renewable jet fuel sourced from forestry waste
Tue 15 Nov 2016 – The first-ever commercial flight to be powered by a blend of renewable jet fuel made from forest residuals was undertaken yesterday from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Washington DC. The Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 used a 20% blend of ASTM-approved fuel produced by alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) company Gevo, whose technology was used to convert cellulosic sugars derived from wood waste into renewable isobutanol before further conversion into jet fuel. The forest residuals – the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests – was sourced from the Pacific Northwest. The alternative jet fuel flight was made possible by the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) initiative and supported by the US Department of Agriculture.
NARA is a five-year project that is nearing completion and funded by a $39.6 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) “to support research on biofuels and biochemical, foster regional supply chain coalitions, empower rural economic development and educate the public on the benefits of bioenergy”. It is comprised of 32 member organisations from industry, academia and government laboratories. In addition to producing 1,080 gallons of the renewable fuel for the Alaska Airlines flight from residual feedstock sourced from tribal lands and private forestry operations, other key tasks of the project included evaluating the economic, environmental, and societal benefits and impacts associated with harvesting unused forest residuals for biofuel production.
“This flight is a tribute to all of our NARA partners, and especially to NIFA who supported our mission to facilitate the revolutionary development of biojet and bioproduct industries in the Pacific Northwest using forest residuals that would otherwise become waste products,” said Ralph Cavalieri, NARA Executive Director.
“We are proud of every one of the partners and stakeholders – from forest managers to Gevo and Alaska Airlines – who have laid the foundations for a renewable fuel economy that will keep skies clear and healthy with the potential to bolster economically challenged timber-based rural communities in our regions.”
Alaska and Gevo have already partnered on commercial biofuel flights from Seattle to San Francisco and Washington DC in June this year that used a 20% ATJ blend derived from sustainable non-edible field corn grown in South Dakota (see article).
Alaska Airlines SVP Communications and External Relations, Joe Sprague, said the biofuel used on yesterday’s flight was “especially exciting since it is uniquely sourced from forest residuals in the Pacific Northwest.”
While it had only a minimal impact on its greenhouse gas emissions, the airline said if it were able to replace 20% of its entire fuel supply at Seattle-Tacoma, it would reduce CO2 emissions by about 142,000 tonnes per year.
“We are pleased that we had the opportunity to prove, through the NARA project, that cellulosic sugars from wood can be used to successfully make commercial jet fuel,” said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber.
Three members of the House of Representatives were on the flight, including Congresswoman Suzan DelBene. “This flight demonstrates that Washington state’s innovation economy is once again at the forefront of collaborative, transformative research by using material that would otherwise be discarded to create a new biofuel,” she said. “We have a tremendous opportunity in our region to build a new green economy and find innovative solutions to address climate change for our health and future generations, as this project highlights.”
Added US Senator for Washington, Maria Cantwell: “The flight comes after years of investments to help the aviation biofuels industry take off. By creating these sustainable biofuels, we will revitalise our rural agriculture communities, foster economic growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cur our dependence on foreign oil while growing our competitiveness in global markets.”
Carbon agreement shows ICAO is playing its part in supporting global climate ambitions, Aliu tells COP22
Thu 10 Nov 2016 – ICAO is determined to continue to lead on all matters concerning international civil aviation and climate change, asserted ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu in a presentation to a plenary session of the UNFCCC’s COP22 meeting in Marrakech. Following the agreement last month by its Member States to adopt the CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme, ICAO is promoting the success during the two-week climate talks, nearly a year after the previous COP reached its own Paris Agreement. During the first few days of COP22, which started on Monday, Aliu has provided inputs from ICAO to the UNFCCC’s SBSTA body, taken part in ICAO side events and bilateral meetings, and participated in a press briefing alongside UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. He told journalists ICAO States and industry faced “a lot of hard work” to ensure the scheme was ready to start in 2021 but ICAO was playing its part in supporting wider global climate ambitions and a long-term goal for the sector was under consideration.
Aliu told COP delegates CORSIA was the first global market-based measure to address CO2 emissions from an industry sector and States representing more than 86.5% of international air traffic had already volunteered to participate in the scheme from the earliest pilot phase. He said the consensus that had been achieved at the recent ICAO Assembly accommodated Member States’ different levels of socio-economic development and volumes of traffic.
The scheme would also complement ICAO’s ‘basket of measures’ for environmental protection, he added, which included a pursuit towards more innovative aircraft technologies, streamlined operational procedures and wider use of sustainable alternative fuels. International aviation was surpassing its aspirational goal for a recurring 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement, he told the plenary.
During his press briefing, Aliu said work on CORSIA was currently focused on developing a MRV system, determining the criteria for the emissions unit to be applied and establishing a registry.
“We have to get the rule-making completed within the next few years and our Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) developed. We also have provide guidance and support to our Member States through technical assistance and capacity building. We have in place our No Country Left Behind strategy, which although applying mainly to safety and security provisions, has also been expanded to include climate change and environmental issues.
“This is key for us. By 2027, with the exception of a few exemptions, all Member States will have to participate in CORSIA and this includes many developing countries. Even right now, a number of developing countries have said they will join the initial voluntary phases. A lot of support and training will be required to build this system between now and 2018. We are talking about this with our Member States, stakeholders, the World Bank and the UNFCCC to help us in this process.
“Our SARPs are mandatory and have to be applied equally to all countries, whether developed or developing.”
Glimpsing into the future and in the light of the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals, Aliu said: “Starting in 2022, we will be reviewing how CORSIA works and this will give us the opportunity to perhaps enhance our ambition. We are also working on the possibility of a long-term goal and once we have achieved a consensus, we will announce it to the global community.”
Espinosa described the CORSIA agreement as ambitious and an enormous success. “We welcome it and celebrate it,” she said.
“The actions being taken by the industry and ICAO of ever-increasing fuel efficiency and carbon-neutral growth starting in 2020 are critical. A principle of the Paris Agreement is that pledges to act must never go down, only up. We know the INDC pledges by countries do not get us to the Paris temperature goals but this principle of ever-rising ambition gives us the hope and expectation that it will happen. In ICAO’s case, we know the new MBM may not get aviation to its goal but ICAO’s roadmap leads us to expect more to come.
“We in the UNFCCC Secretariat are looking forward to partnering with ICAO to help ensure rapid implementation of CORSIA and obtaining good results.”
UNFCCC COP22 , Press briefing by Dr Benard Aliu and Patricia Espinosa
Oil giant BP makes significant entry into sustainable aviation fuel production with investment in Fulcrum
Tue 8 Nov 2016 – Oil giant BP has announced a major move into sustainable aviation biofuels with a $30 million equity investment by its BP Ventures arm in US municipal solid waste (MSW) to jet fuel producer Fulcrum BioEnergy. Air BP has also agreed terms with Fulcrum on a 10-year offtake agreement in which the aviation division of BP will purchase 50 million gallons annually of low-carbon, drop-in jet fuel. One of the world’s largest suppliers of aviation fuel products and services, Air BP will also have the opportunity to provide fuel supply chain services for the blending, certification and delivery of Fulcrum’s jet fuel to commercial and military aviation customers. As a preferred supply chain partner, Air BP says it will distribute and supply the fuel into aircraft at key hubs across North America. With its first plant currently under construction in Nevada, Fulcrum has already signed similar equity investment and offtake agreements with Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines.
“Entering into this strategic relationship with a global oil and gas company enhances the value of Fulcrum’s waste to fuel platform,” said Fulcrum CEO James Macias. “This allows us to accelerate development of our second and third plants. With BP’s expertise in refining and fuel services, their partnership provides value beyond the investment, fuel offtake and logistic services.”
The Sierra BioFuels Plant 20 miles east of Reno, Nevada, has been designed to produce more than 10 million gallons of renewable Fischer-Tropsch syncrude from around 200,000 tons of prepared MSW feedstock that would otherwise be landfilled. The syncrude can then be upgraded and produced into a low-carbon jet fuel that Fulcrum claims will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% on a lifecycle basis compared to fossil jet fuel. The California-based company says the fuel will also be cost competitive with conventional jet kerosene.
It has secured long-term access to large volumes of MSW feedstock having entered into 20-year agreements with waste service partners for the delivery of all the MSW required for Sierra. A feedstock processing facility has been constructed and is now in start-up operations. It deploys a waste processing system that has been designed to extract high-value recyclable products and inorganic matter not suitable for processing from the raw MSW prior to preparing it for processing. Fulcrum is expecting the plant to begin commercial operations in early 2019.
With the investment and offtake agreements of BP and its other partners, Fulcrum says it is now accelerating the development of additional, larger-scale projects across North America that will have the capacity to produce more than 300 million gallons annually of renewable transportation fuels, with growth potential around the world.
“BP is committed to supporting a transition to a lower carbon economy,” said Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of BP’s downstream segment, which focuses on the refining and marketing of fuels. “With support from two of Air BP’s strategic customers, Cathay Pacific and United, Fulcrum is well advanced in its goal to produce and supply scalable biojet, and BP is excited by the opportunities that this partnership offers.”
Added Air BP CEO Jon Platt: “We have a deep understanding of our customers’ challenges to achieve their lower carbon goals. This agreement gives Air BP guaranteed access to product which will help meet these challenges. Securing this supply helps secure the future competitiveness of Air BP, and our place as leader in the industry.”
It is understood the early investors in Fulcrum will secure the initial production volumes of the renewable jet fuel. “However, given Fulcrum’s aggressive build-out plan, I’m confident that all investor volume demands will be met, with room for more,” said Jeff Ovens, Biofuel Manager at Cathay Pacific.
His airline was the first to see potential in Fulcrum’s ability and technology to produce cost-competitive, sustainable fuels. Cathay made an equity investment – the exact details were not revealed – in Fulcrum in August 2014 and entered into an offtake agreement to purchase 375 million gallons of biojet fuel over 10 years (see article). United Airlines followed a year later with an equity stake valued at $30 million and an offtake purchase of at least 90 million gallons a year for a minimum of 10 years. United and Fulcrum also agreed to jointly develop up to five projects located near the airline’s hubs that would be expected to produce up to 180 million gallons per year (see article).
“This investment and collaborative partnership with BP is a significant advancement for Fulcrum and a testament to the technology and project plans they have in place,” said Ovens. ”As an existing Fulcrum investor and future consumer of their waste derived fuel, Cathay Pacific is encouraged to see BP, a recognised company with the technical and logistical expertise to enhance success, being part of the team. We look forward to what lies ahead.”
Ovens notes an increasing interest from the oil majors in sustainable alternative aviation fuels. “I think the pull from leading airlines is too powerful to ignore so it was only a matter of time before they looked at biojet with greater interest, the recent global CORSIA carbon agreement at ICAO being a factor no doubt. Other majors have expressed interest in discussing bio initiatives so we are gaining momentum from all angles.”
Airlines and fuel producers are meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week at the IATA Alternative Fuels Symposium, where Air BP and Fulcrum are two of the sponsors.