GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 25 JULY 2017
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New UK aviation strategy must address the sector’s environmental impact, pledges government
Mon 24 July 2017 – The UK government has opened an eighteen-month consultation into the long-term future of aviation in the UK and has pledged that any new strategy must address the impact of the sector on local communities and the environment. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said a vision was required that looked beyond a new runway at Heathrow, and a thriving sector would be central to the UK’s future prosperity in a post-Brexit world. In the wide-ranging consultation into the technological, security, environmental and passenger service challenges ahead, the government is also looking for views on possible new forms of compensation for noise or designing targets for noise reduction. Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport has announced 700 local homes most affected by aircraft noise will be offered bespoke noise insulation free of charge.
“Our vision puts the passenger at the heart of what we do, but also recognises the need to address the impacts of aviation on communities and the environment,” said Grayling at the launch last week of the consultation, which will be followed by the publication of the final aviation strategy at the end of 2018.
It will consider six themes over the period, including passenger and customer services; safety and security; global connectivity; competitive markets; innovation, technology and skills; and supporting growth while tackling environmental impacts. The latter, says the government, will look at how to achieve the right balance between more flights and ensuring action is taken to tackle carbon emissions, noise and air quality.
In his foreword to the consultation document, Grayling said the UK had worked with ICAO “to secure an agreement across 190 countries to tackle aviation’s CO2 emissions.”
He added: “Then last year we selected a new Northwest runway at Heathrow as our preferred scheme for delivering much-needed new runway capacity in the South East, and have been consulting on proposals to modernise the way we manage our airspace. This has all been done while listening closely to what people have said and we will continue to do so.”
However, UK campaign group the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) responded that choosing to go ahead with approving Heathrow expansion before the strategy had been developed was “putting the cart before the horse”.
Said AEF Director Tim Johnson: “Expansion presents huge environmental challenges, and would mean lower passenger growth at regional airports as more demand gets concentrated in the South East. Why is the government only just starting to consider a national strategy for the UK’s airports, and for tackling the sector’s impact on climate change and the local environment?”
AEF has launched a campaign that calls on MPs to reject any vote on airport expansion – expected next year – until the government had published plans to tackle environmental challenges.
“How can MPs take a view on whether or not to support the government’s plan for a new runway before there’s any plan in place to ensure that it won’t compromise our ability to get to grips with London’s air quality problem, or to deliver on legal climate change targets?” questioned Johnson.
Also responding to consultation launch, Tim Alderslade, CEO of the Airlines UK trade association, said: “The pressing issues of delivering an expanded Heathrow whilst keeping the airport honest on cost and affordability, working with industry and community groups on modernising UK airspace, and protecting existing EU and international market access and our continued membership of the aviation safety agency EASA during the upcoming Brexit negotiations, must remain front and centre in the government’s thinking.”
He also called for an outcome that resulted in a substantial reduction or abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD), “the highest tax on air travel in the world,” he said.
Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, agreed the new strategy was an opportunity to address APD, which she claimed was a barrier to better connectivity. The UK trade body also said enabling aviation to become more sustainable to meet ever-increasing demand for air travel should be a priority for the government.
“While industry is moving ahead to reduce the environmental impact of aviation in areas within its control, there are areas where government support is needed, such as on sustainable aviation fuels and support for low-carbon specialist vehicles on airports,” it commented.
Welcoming the initial call for evidence in the consultation process, UK cross-industry group Sustainable Aviation said it fully understood growth in the sector needed to be delivered with the minimum impact of aircraft disturbance and emissions.
“Delivering environmentally sustainable aviation growth in the UK, with the significant economic benefits that it will bring, is a challenge that our industry is ready to meet,” said Ian Jopson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation. “The government’s vision for our aviation industry brings welcome support for the aviation industry about our future growth.
“Aviation has already made good progress in decoupling growth of aviation from increases in CO2 emissions, noise and the impact on air quality. In the last 10 years, 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved from UK airline flights – not least thanks to a record investment in 470 new, cleaner and quieter aircraft by UK airlines since 2005.”
Meanwhile, following a pilot scheme in 2014 in which 474 homes around Heathrow were fitted with soundproofing insulation, the airport has re-opened the Quieter Homes Scheme and invited a further 708 residents to join. The selection has been based on an assessment by an independent noise appraisal expert, said Heathrow. As well as 100% of the costs, residents will be offered a wider range of products with a choice of suppliers, although the work could take up to four years to complete.
Call for evidence: ‘Beyond the horizon – The future of UK aviation’
Report identifies mechanisms to fund uptake and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels at Seattle-Tacoma
Fri 21 July 2017 – Although the premium has come down considerably since their introduction in 2008, the current cost of sustainable aviation fuels is still around three times higher than conventional fossil-based jet fuels and has been an important factor in their slow take-up and large-scale production. Airports such as Seattle-Tacoma International, however, are keen to supply their airline customers with a reliable and regular supply of sustainable advanced fuels as they could provide important environmental and economic benefits far into the future. Airports are at the supply-chain intersection of airlines, fuel suppliers, governments and communities, and can leverage their position in supporting scale-up. To bridge the price premium gap, the Carbon War Room and SkyNRG have worked with the Port of Seattle to produce a report to assess and recommend potential long-term funding mechanisms that could supply all airlines at the airport.
The Port believes catalysing large-scale uptake of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) can contribute to its Century Agenda Goals to reduce carbon emissions and also the development of clean energy jobs in the state of Washington. Blending just 1 per cent of SAF into the Sea-Tac jet fuel supply would reduce CO2 emissions by around 23,300 to 31,000 tonnes annually on a life-cycle basis. Operating on low-profit margins and with fuel as their largest expense, the airlines themselves are faced with a limited ability to absorb the SAF price premium so advancing SAF usage and creating a regional supply chain requires an innovative approach.
Another challenge in the United States is the constraint imposed by state and federal regulations on the use of airport funds. Public dollars cannot cover a commodity used by a for-profit private firm. However, says the report, SAF produces direct air quality benefits, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and supports regional economic development – characteristics it refers to as ‘co-benefits’. While a US airport cannot pay for aircraft fuel, it could pay directly for SAF co-benefits.
The study assessed and ranked 14 co-benefit funding mechanisms based on their revenue potential and feasibility: legal considerations, ease of implementation, airline factors and other stakeholder impacts. Of the four recommended mechanisms, two would require FAA approval as they are not currently considered an acceptable use of airport revenue. One of those would use general non-aeronautical revenue such as parking or landside fees (raising $1 million to $4 million per year) and the other would implement a fund via the airline operating agreement that is not subject to revenue sharing, or create a new fee ($380,000 to $2.3 million per year).
The other two mechanisms would involve corporations contributing to offset their flight emissions ($1 million to $2.5 million per year) and through the Port Taxing Authority using variable funds, dependent on Port Commission priorities, that support air quality benefits, similar to the Port’s Clean Truck Program.
The report concludes that infrastructure investment could jump-start regional SAF production and the most promising approach is indirect via the procurement of SAF co-benefits. A longer-term contract from Sea-Tac to procure SAF co-benefits is favourable, it says, over one from airlines, which are subject to greater market risks and exposure. The Port should continue to explore and develop the most viable co-benefit funding mechanisms, it recommends, and actively promote policy and regulatory support at the state and regional levels along with advancing the airport leadership model with national and international policymakers.
“We congratulate Sea-Tac on its leadership in showing that airport authorities are critical to the success of the aviation biofuel industry,” said Adam Klauber, Director of Carbon War Room’s Sustainable Aviation programme. “We’ve proven that there are viable funding mechanisms for the widespread uptake of sustainable aviation fuel at Sea-Tac, and we hope that the study provides tools and ideas for other ambitious airports to consider in their sustainability initiatives.”
CWR was founded by Richard Branson in 2009 to accelerate the adoption of business solutions to “transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure low-carbon future”, and now operates as part of Rocky Mountain Institute.
Added Theye Veen, CFO of global aviation biofuel supplier SkyNRG: “Until we reach fossil-price parity, we need co-funding mechanisms to close the price gap between conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation biofuels. Sea-Tac demonstrates that airports can play a key role in helping to find the right partners to cover the premium and accelerate the transition to secure a sustainable future for the aviation industry.”
In other news, the European Climate Foundation has been added to SkyNRG’s Sustainability Board, which also consists of representatives from WWF International, University of Groningen and Solidaridad Network. The ECF is a philanthropic initiative “to help Europe foster the development of a low-carbon society and play an even stronger international leadership role to mitigate climate change.”
Report: ‘Innovative funding options for sustainable aviation fuel at US airports’
Second generation transport biofuels can play a significant role in meeting UK carbon reduction targets, says report
Thu 20 July 2017 – A viable second generation liquid biofuel industry and market has a significant role in helping to meet UK long-term carbon reduction goals, particularly in sectors like aviation where alternative low-carbon options are not available. So concludes a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering commissioned by the UK’s transport and energy government departments, DfT and BEIS. Aviation – along with shipping and heavy goods vehicles – should be considered a priority for the development and use of biofuels, it recommends. While there has been growth in the contribution of biofuels to road transport in the UK under the government’s Renewable Fuels Transport Obligation (RTFO), although production has stagnated over the past eight years, little progress has been made in aviation and even less in shipping. An immediate priority, says the Academy, is for government to incentivise the development of second generation biofuels such as those derived from wastes and agricultural, forest and sawmill residues.
“Second generation biofuels offer real prospects for the UK to make progress in reducing emissions from transport, particularly in sectors like aviation where liquid fuels are really the only option for the foreseeable future,” said Professor Adisa Azapagic, Chair of the Academy’s working group on biofuels. “Our report shows that with the right safeguards and monitoring, biofuels from waste in particular are well worth pursuing from a sustainability point of view and also provide business opportunities for development.”
While the report is enthusiastic in its support, subject to strict sustainability criteria, for second generation, also called advanced, biofuels, it acknowledges the controversial nature of first generation biofuels has led to lukewarm government support for biofuels in general.
“Gauging the sustainability of liquid biofuels is a complex undertaking. However, complexity is no excuse for inaction as liquid biofuels will be needed if the UK’s ambitious decarbonisation targets are to be met,” it says. “The Academy’s work on future energy systems shows that all possible low-carbon technologies and fuels will be needed to reach 80% carbon reduction by 2050, as legislated in the Climate Change Act.”
Moves should be made in the short term to transition from first generation biofuels – those derived from food or animal feed crops – by setting a cap on their supply to reduce the risk of indirect land-use change, and disincentivise feedstocks that have the potential to drive unsustainable land-use change, primarily deforestation and peat land drainage.
Instead, second generation biofuels, including in the future dedicated energy crops, should be incentivised under the RTFO, including a double-counting mechanism by which the use of such fuels receives double credits by volume towards RTFO and the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive targets. Incentives to use marginal land which is unsuitable for food production should also be employed where possible, particularly if soil-carbon stocks can be restored through use.
The Academy also suggests the government should consider different incentive bands for second generation biofuels that are in an earlier stage of development and require a greater incentive.
The report also recommends improvements should be made to the life-cycle assessment of biofuels, more robust auditing of sustainability, development of a risk-based approach to biofuels and strengthening sustainability governance across the different sectors that biofuels are a part of.
Lastly, it suggests the government should take a more active role in engaging with the public on this issue. “Key areas of debate that need to be drawn out include food security, the relationship between investment in agriculture and investment in biofuels, as well as the need to develop biofuels for key transport sectors – road freight, shipping and aviation – that lack other low-carbon options,” concludes the ‘Sustainability of liquid biofuels’ report.
Introduced in 2008, the RTFO places an obligation on suppliers of more than 450,000 litres of fuel per year to ensure a certain percentage of the fuel supplied is renewable and operates as a certificate trading scheme. The current blending percentage is 4.75% and the Academy recommends the level should be increased. In a two-month consultation that started in November 2016, the UK government proposed raising the RTFO in equal steps to 9.75% (by volume) in 2020. To encourage the use of low-carbon fuels in aviation, the government also proposed to reward such fuels under the RTFO, which previously was restricted to road transport. There would not be an obligation to supply a certain level of fuel but suppliers would be able to claim certificates (RTFCs) for eligible fuel.
Future airline and airport disruption likely as a warming climate makes it harder for aircraft to take off
Tue 18 July 2017 – Rising temperatures as a result of global climate change will make it harder over the coming decades for aircraft to take off at certain airports, finds a Columbia University study published in the journal Climatic Change. Since 1980, average global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree C and this may already be having an effect. Last month, American Airlines cancelled over 40 flights out of Phoenix when daytime temperatures reached nearly 120ᵒ F (49ᵒ C) as smaller regional aircraft are only tested up to 118ᵒ F. As air warms, it spreads out and its density declines, and in thinner air, wings generate less lift as a plane races along a runway, explain the researchers. A packed plane may therefore be unable to take off safely so weight must either be dumped or the flight delayed or cancelled.
Average temperatures worldwide are expected to go up by as much as another 3 degrees C by 2100 and heatwaves, which can produce the most problems, will probably become more prevalent with annual maximum temperatures at airports projected to rise by between 4 and 8 degrees C, says the study.
“This points to the unexplored risks of changing climate on aviation,” said co-author Radley Horton, a climatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “As the world gets more connected and aviation grows, there may be substantial potential for cascading effects, economic and otherwise.”
Building on an earlier paper in 2015, the researchers looked at the effects of projected increases in global temperatures at 19 airports worldwide and used five common passenger aircraft models. Some aircraft with lower temperature tolerances will fare worse than others, they found, and certain airports – those with shorter runways, in hotter parts of the world or at higher elevations – are likely to suffer disrupted operations.
Depending on the level of global action taken to reduce emissions and limit the temperature increase, by the middle to late century aircraft fuel capacities and payload weights will have to be reduced by between 0.5 and 4 per cent, predict the researchers. Yet even a small change in the total aircraft fuel and payload weight represents a large decrease in capacity when aggregated across an airline’s fleet, they say. For example, a 0.5% decrease from maximum take-off weight (MTOW) for a Boeing 737-800 equates to about 722 lb (327.5kg), or three passengers. A 4% weight reduction would mean 12 or 13 fewer passengers on an average 160-seat aircraft.
While the projected change in weight restriction is relatively consistent across aircraft, the total impact of restriction varies, with the larger Boeing 777-300 and 787-8 potentially experiencing the greatest impacts from restriction. For an aircraft departing near MTOW, by mid- to late-century, total fuel and payload capacity may be reduced by 3-5%, with 30-40% of flights experiencing some restriction.
The smaller Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800 are less impacted, so when departing near MTOW, approximately 5-10% of flights may experience some restriction, on average sacrificing 0.5% of their fuel and payload capacity. This, says the study, is due in part to aircraft design characteristics as well as most of the world’s commercial airports have far longer runways than are required, even at high temperatures. The A380 is also less likely to experience weight restrictions except at extremely high temperatures due to its exclusive operation at large airports.
Airports will face varying impacts with, for example, New York LaGuardia vulnerable due to its short runways and Dubai because of its already high temperatures despite long runways. Those in temperate regions – such as London Heathrow and Paris CDG – will be less affected.
For an industry operating on thin margins, losing passengers or cargo due to weight restrictions could be significant and the major logistical and economic effects of delays or cancellations can instantly ripple from one airport hub to another, pointed out Horton.
Some effects could be mitigated with new engine or body designs, or lengthened runways, he said, but modifications would come at a cost as aircraft are already highly engineered for efficiency and expanded runways are often not an option in built-up cities due to the expense and political opposition.
“Our results suggest that weight restriction may impose a non-trivial cost on airlines and impact aviation operations around the world,” said lead author of the study Ethan Coffel. “The sooner climate can be incorporated into mid- and long-range plans, the more effective adaptation efforts can be.”
While there has been considerable research on the impact of aviation on climate change, until relatively recently little has been done on the effects of climate change on the sector itself and presents fertile ground for future research, said the authors.
With weather a leading cause of disruption to flight operations, studies have now been published over the past few years that have looked at the effects of a changing climate on transatlantic air traffic routes as a result of a strengthening jet stream (see article), the probability of more clear air turbulence events affecting aircraft and passengers (see article), the impact on airports of extreme precipitation events and rising sea levels threatening low-lying coastal airports (see article).
ENVI MEPs back continuation of EU ETS ‘stop the clock’ until 2020 pending ICAO CORSIA outcome
Thu 13 July 2017 – Members of the European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) have unanimously backed a proposal for continuing with the exclusion of CO2 emissions from intercontinental flights from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), but only until 2020. The ‘stop the clock’ derogation, which limits the scope of the trading scheme to intra-EEA (European Economic Area) flights, automatically ended in December 2016 and requires new legislation to extend it. The issue will come before a full plenary in September, followed by trilogue talks with the Council. The derogation was agreed to allow negotiations to continue at ICAO on the global CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme to start in 2021 but ENVI MEPs want to see the final details before agreeing to yet a further extension. They also proposed the rules be tightened on aviation’s participation in the EU ETS from 2021 to bring it into line with other industrial sectors.
The Committee voted 57 in favour and three against with six abstentions to back the continuation of ‘stop the clock’, along with proposals for the post-2020 phase of the EU ETS. The transport and industry Parliament committees (TRAN and ITRE) also support the Commission’s proposal to extend the derogation but have not made the time limit stipulation.
“It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme,” said the ENVI rapporteur on the file, UK MEP Julie Girling. “However, unlike the European Commission, I believe this exemption must be time limited so that we can be sure that CORSIA will deliver its objectives.”
In her submission to ENVI, Girling called for the derogation to expire in advance of CORSIA becoming operational in January 2021, and on the Commission to publish an implementation report by the beginning of 2019 that would assess key elements of CORSIA, to be followed in June 2019 with proposals for future EU ETS legislation. That report, she said, should examine CORSIA’s overall ambition in relation to the EU’s climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“In particular, to assess its effectiveness, the report should also inspect the level of third country participation, penalties for non-compliance, processes for public input, standards for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), rules on the use of biofuels, and should evaluate offsetting provisions against objective criteria,” she recommended. “Through addressing these points, the implementation report will enable the Commission and the co-legislators to ensure the environmental standards of the EU ETS are maintained.”
Other proposals supported by ENVI in respect of revisions to Phase 4 (2021-2030) of the EU ETS call for the aviation sector to receive 10% fewer allowances than its 2014-2016 average, to increase the number of auctioned allowances from 15% to 50%, and for revenues generated by these allowances to be earmarked as climate finance. Girling believes auction revenues should also be used to help finance R&D and commercialisation of new climate technologies.
There are also plans to reduce the cap on aviation emissions by 2.2% annually in line with other sectors from 2021 through the linear reduction factor, a move supported by EU Member States at a meeting of the Council last month (see article).
“In the steel sector many people fear for their jobs. The reduction targets for this sector are significantly higher than those for aviation,” said German MEP, former rapporteur on the file and now environmental policy spokesperson for the centre-right EPP group in the Parliament, Peter Liese. “Aligning the reduction targets … is more than fair.
“The ENVI resolution at least brings the level of ambition for intra-European aviation more in line with the level of ambition of the remaining industry sectors. This is especially important due to the competition between the aviation sector and railways. The railway sector is paying immense amounts under the ETS since it fuels on electricity. They have 100% auctioning. With 50%, the aviation sector still has a significant advantage, but the distortion of competition is at least reduced.”
Liese backed the ENVI vote to continue limiting the scope of the EU ETS to intra-EEA flights until the end of 2020 to allow ICAO to develop a worldwide system. “We want to find a solution that can be applied worldwide and ICAO has taken important steps regarding this matter during the last year,” he said. “However, until now there are too many unresolved issues to fully exempt the aviation sector from the EU ETS.”
Seb Dance, spokesperson for the S&D group on aviation emissions, added: “The carbon reduction scheme put forward by ICAO in principle deserves our full support, especially following US President Trump’s outrageous and short-sighted announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Yet we can’t give a carte blanche to ICAO before the real work has even started. The Socialists and Democrats call for full transparency of information and public deliberations on the scheme to allow all actors involved to judge its effectiveness.”
He said the committee had sent a strong signal to ICAO that if the scheme “did not yield good results, we are willing to put flights leaving the EU again under the EU’s emissions trading scheme by the end of 2020.”
The ENVI vote drew an angry response from industry association Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE), formerly the International Air Carrier Association, which accused the MEPs of isolating and penalising European airlines. While EU States and the Commission had warmly welcomed the CORSIA agreement, it said, “the ENVI committee seems to have gone in a different direction.”
AIRE said CORSIA represented an historical opportunity to address aviation CO2 emissions at a global level and required Europe to implement it as a replacement to the EU ETS. It hoped the Parliament would “correct the approach” of ENVI at its September plenary.
“The ENVI vote is a very unfortunate and risky backwards step,” added AIRE Director General, Sylviane Lust. “Instead of promoting a global resolution to a global problem, it has chosen to tighten and prolong a regional scheme, creating a precedent for a patchwork of systems and potentially discriminating against European airlines.”
Against this, the ENVI decision was welcomed by Brussels-based Transport & Environment. “With a continuing lack of detail on how the UN aviation scheme will operate, and serious doubts about the effectiveness of offsetting, MEPs’ scepticism is well justified,” said T&E Aviation Manager, Andrew Murphy. “Their vote means that, whether by global or regional action, aviation must make a fair contribution to global climate efforts.”
If the share of auctioning was increased from 15% to 100% in Phase 4 an average €1 billion ($1.1bn) could be raised each year from the sector over the 2021-2030 period, estimates T&E. The campaign group has come up with an online tool that calculates how much additional revenue EU Member States could earn from a reformed Aviation EU ETS, and compares it to revenues if they ended fuel tax exemption.
“The EU ETS can function as an effective carbon pricing mechanism, raising much-needed revenue from a sector that is well able to pay. MEPs and Member States should grasp this opportunity,” said T&E.
Meanwhile, developing nation Jamaica has become the 71st country to signal its intention of joining CORSIA from the outset.
Yesterday, ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu told the 6th World Civil Aviation Chief Executives Forum in Singapore: “Our planet and its environment must be a clear priority for every leader, no matter their company, country or mandate, and the simplest way to ensure we are on the right side of this issue is to be taking concrete actions today.”
ENVI statement: MEPs back ETS exemption for international flights , ENVI – Agenda (item 15) documents inc. Julie Girling report, opinions from ITRE & TRAN committees and Commission proposal
Lufthansa Group stalls on annual fuel efficiency improvement for the second year
Tue 11 July 2017 – For the second year running, Europe’s largest airline group, Lufthansa, failed to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet, citing a decline in the passenger load factor by 1.4% and the negative effects of “geopolitical developments” and changing passenger reservation patterns caused by strikes. The group also says new, more fuel-efficient aircraft did not arrive early enough in the reporting year to make a contribution to lowering fuel consumption. Overall fuel efficiency in the group averaged 3.85 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres (l/100pkm) in 2016 compared to 3.84 l/100pkm in 2015 and 2014, with absolute fuel consumption rising 1.2% in 2016, from nearly 28.2 million tonnes of CO2 to just over 28.5 million tonnes. SWISS, which flies predominantly long- and medium-haul routes, was the best performer in the Group with a specific fuel consumption of 3.44 l/100pkm.
“Fuel efficiency is of central importance for the Lufthansa Group, in particular as fuel expenditure is a significant cost item for the company,” says Europe’s largest airline group in its 2017 annual sustainability report, Balance. “But the Group is motivated not only by economic, but also by ecological considerations to use the required kerosene as efficiently as possible.
“Fuel efficiency also ensures that air transport can meet future challenges. Aviation is and will remain a growth industry. As transport volumes rise strongly, absolute fuel consumption and thus emissions also increase – despite continuous efficiency gains.”
The Lufthansa Group has an objective of improving its fuel efficiency by 25% from 2006 to 2020 but with just four years to go it is only half way to achieving the target. However, the Group expects significant gains over the years ahead as new fuel efficient types of aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo, A350-900 and the Bombardier C-Series join the 600-strong fleet. In 2016, the Group introduced a new aircraft into the fleet almost every week on average and in December, Lufthansa received the first of 25 ordered A350-900 aircraft and now has three of the type.
The Group says it will take delivery of 205 new aircraft by 2025 that will also include the long-haul eco-efficient Boeing 777-9, which is due to enter service in three years’ time.
During 2016, a total of 183 fuel efficiency projects were implemented, leading to CO2 reductions of 620,000 tonnes on an annual basis. The Group’s Flight Operations Efficiency & Innovation department is responsible for managing the projects and has the task of identifying, developing and implementing approaches, concepts and processes in flight operations that are aimed at improving fuel efficiency continuously and over the long term. The emphasis during the 2016 reporting year was placed on projects concerning engine modifications and projects involving flight planning and management.
As part of the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) programme, the Group participated in three demonstration projects that included more direct routings under scheduled flight conditions on 68 flights; an ATC project involving SWISS, Skyguide and Zurich Airport; and test flight evaluations of augmented approaches at Frankfurt and Bremen.
The Group concluded the introduction of lightweight trolleys in 2016, with around 30,000 service trolleys having been replaced since 2011 with new models weighing 35% less than their predecessors. Lufthansa Cargo is replacing all standard containers with lightweight variants by 2020 and by the end of 2016, around 70% had been switched.
In December, the maiden flight took place of a Lufthansa ‘sharkskin’ plane that marked the start of a two-year test phase of an air resistant, microstructured surface being developed by Lufthansa Technik and others that could conserve up to 1.5% of fuel.
Lufthansa Group continues to be actively involved in the development of sustainable alternative fuels and in 2016 refuelled its aircraft at Oslo Airport with a fuel blend that contained 5% biokerosene, as part of a one-year project involving Air BP, Avinor and SkyNRG. Around 5,000 flights operated by the Group’s airlines, which included Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings and Brussels Airlines, flew on the blend.
The focus for 2017 will be on the certification of an environmental management system for Lufthansa at its Munich hub and work on the group’s Environmental Strategy 2030 that is due to be introduced during the year.
“In this context, we are also analysing if it would make sense to implement further central control parameters at the Group level and to interlink environmental care even more strongly with the Group’s strategy,” writes Dr Karlheinz Haag, VP Group Environmental Issues, in the sustainability report.
“We’re also working on implementing new efficient software aimed at further improving the capture, analysis and reporting of our environmental data. This application will also serve as a technical basis to expand the capture of environmental data step by step.”
The report reiterates the Group’s long-standing opposition to the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which it argues unilaterally burdens European airlines in contrast to airlines outside Europe. Although a compromise, the global ICAO CORSIA offsetting scheme is the best solution and should in the future be the sole market-based instrument to regulate CO2 emissions from international flights, it believes.
“This also includes flights within the EU, which will be included in the EU ETS until 2020, according to the European Commission,” states Haag. “We expect that the EU system will be replaced by CORSIA with worldwide validity after this date.”
COMMENTARY: Beyond CORSIA: Towards a robust strategy for mitigation of international air transport emissions
Mon 24 July 2017 – Last October, ICAO’s Assembly adopted a framework for the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), a market-based measure to add to the ‘basket’ of technical and operational emissions mitigation measures already in hand. CORSIA is being designed as the primary tool towards an aspirational goal of carbon-neutral growth (CNG) of international aviation worldwide from 2020, with full effectiveness between 2027 and 2035. Even with full implementation, however, ICAO’s basket of measures will not actually produce a reduction in global aviation emissions, which will continue to grow. For more ambitious countries, Chris Lyle proposes a more stringent but complementary approach, using the CORSIA database and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) procedures directly within the compass of the Paris Agreement.
Due to the length of this article, please read it in full here.
A PDF version of this article can also be downloaded here
COMMENTARY: Now is the time to upgrade Europe’s aviation pollution rules
Wed 12 July 2017 – Yesterday, the European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) voted on how the aviation sector should be treated under the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), in response to a decision by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to set up a global offsetting mechanism. The ongoing revision of Europe’s carbon market rules for aviation is a critical opportunity to ensure that one of the biggest global polluters starts to contribute its fair share to EU climate action. While the term ‘sustainable aviation’ seems to be spreading, the reality is that the sector’s emissions are growing unsustainably and will continue to do so. Even if the global aviation deal is fully implemented and enforced, it will not curb the industry’s rising emissions, writes Kelsey Perlman.
So what can be done in Europe now to address aviation’s climate impact?
Transport has become Europe’s biggest pollution problem, and the need to decarbonise the sector is a growing challenge. However, different modes of transport are subject to very different climate ambitions. Electric trains are covered by the EU’s carbon market, and road transport must cut its emissions under a law known as the Effort Sharing Regulation that regulates sectors which are not part of the emissions trading scheme.
Flights within the EU are also included in the EU ETS, but – unlike other sectors – aviation is not expected to annually reduce its emissions. Add the fact that the industry is exempt from fuel taxes, VAT or legally-binding fuel efficiency requirements, and it becomes clear aviation enjoys very special treatment.
It doesn’t come as a surprise then that while greenhouse gas emissions from all other sectors in the EU carbon market fell in 2016, those from aviation grew by 8%. This is a worrying trend that risks putting the goals of the Paris climate agreement out of reach.
Starting from the next phase of the EU ETS in 2021, the European Commission has proposed to apply an annually declining cap also for aviation emissions under the EU ETS – a proposal supported by ENVI. While this will not alone solve aviation’s climate problem, it is a step in the right direction.
A higher price on carbon
With no quick solutions in sight, the sector needs to pay a real price for its pollution. A high enough carbon price would incentivise more efficiency and level the playing field for other, less polluting means of transport, such as railways, thus reducing overall emissions.
Under the EU’s carbon market, the airlines currently get 85% of their pollution permits for free, and pay around €5 ($6) per tonne of CO2 emitted for the rest. It is a far cry from an effective price on pollution – at least $40 by 2020 according to the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition’s High Level Commission on Carbon Prices. A parallel revision of the EU’s carbon market rules must reduce the massive surplus on the market in order to bring the prices up to more adequate levels.
In a welcome move, the ENVI lawmakers recommend that airlines should buy 50% of their allowances, as opposed to the current 15%.
The Parliament is expected to adopt its final position at a plenary session in September, with talks to find a final compromise following shortly afterwards involving the Parliament, EU Member States and the Commission.
Despite the low carbon price under the EU ETS, the airline industry wishes to see the EU scheme replaced by the global offsetting measure, fittingly referred to by airlines as their “licence to grow”.
Entering into force in 2021, with a voluntary phase until 2027, ICAO’s global scheme, known as CORSIA, wants airlines to purchase offset credits for their future growth. There are serious doubts about many of these credits, as they might not lead to real emissions reductions, and could even risk human rights violations in the offset project host countries. The average price of offsets is currently an unimpressive 21 cents – 200 times less than the social cost of carbon pollution.
In response to sluggish progress on effective international action, national carbon pricing initiatives for the aviation sector have been popping up recently to ensure airlines pay for their pollution. The UK, Norway and Germany are currently enforcing environmental taxes, with Sweden in the process of introducing a carbon tax for aviation as well. These initiatives put aviation on a path to address its climate impact, but are heavily opposed by the industry, which demands continued exemptions from such efforts to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Letting aviation industry continue to increase its emissions while others have to reduce them is not only unfair, it is driving dangerous climate change that we have committed to fight under the Paris Agreement.
Europe now has the opportunity to improve aviation pollution rules by asking airlines to pay for and reduce their emissions like everyone else. This is a test of our decision makers’ resolve to stand up for the accord reached in Paris and a safer future.
Kelsey Perlman is the aviation policy officer at Carbon Market Watch, a pressure group advocating for fair and effective climate protection.