GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 26 MARCH 2018
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Imposing eligibility constraints on CORSIA offset credits could have significant impact on UN CDM, finds study
Thu 22 Mar 2018 – The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is likely to be a primary source of carbon credits for airlines seeking to offset the industry’s growth in CO2 emissions post-2020 under ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). However, slow demand for the credits – known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) – from registered CDM projects has led to a prolonged period of low prices, but CORSIA is likely to have a major impact on the market. A 2017 study estimated the potential demand for emission units at around 2.7 billion across the life of the scheme, which is due to run until 2035. A new analysis prepared for the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) finds that up to 3.8 billion new CERs could supply the market at prices below €1 per unit but recommends eligibility restrictions are required to drive up the price of CERs and incentivise new and vulnerable projects that could lead to real emission reductions.
Without eligibility restrictions, the demand from CORSIA is unlikely to either materially impact the current price level for CERs or alter the overall level of greenhouse gas abatement undertaken, says the study led by the NewClimate Institute. Applying constraints and restrictions on eligible CERs would be an effective way for CORSIA to incentivise reductions beyond those that are likely to occur anyway, it suggests, and recommends two courses of action.
One is to exclude CERs from registered project types with what it describes as ‘low vulnerability’, which are largely to blame for the low price of CERs. These projects already receive alternative revenue streams, such as from electricity sales, and do not depend on CER revenues to continue emission reduction activities. For these project types, the marginal costs of supplying further CERs are limited to CDM transaction costs and are likely to continue GHG abatement activities regardless of the price incentives offered by the CDM market.
Without such a restriction, the continued low price of CERs is unlikely to offer many project developers and investors the level of returns they anticipated at the project outset that would fully compensate for their upfront capital expenditures, nor offer further incentives for investment in new projects.
The second course of action is to impose vintage restrictions that limit supply based on the date of project milestones such as the registration date or start date of the project. Restrictions on the date of the project investment decision could incentivise the development of new projects to meet the anticipated additional demand, which might not have gone ahead without CORSIA, says the report. These new projects could be developed either within the CDM or under alternative schemes that are approved for use within CORSIA, it adds.
Restrictions on the registration date may, however, be less effective at incentivising the implementation of new projects. This is because there are a large number of projects within the CDM pipeline that are not yet registered, but which are likely to have been implemented and may still request registration in the future if it were to become financially attractive to do so.
There are nearly 7,800 projects registered under the CDM and the current price of CERs is around €0.25 ($0.30).
The CORSIA eligibility criteria for offsets remains under discussion and analysis at ICAO, which is also considering carbon offset programmes from the voluntary market and the use of allowances from emissions trading schemes.
In its comments submitted to ICAO on the proposed CORSIA SARPs rules (see article), the European Union expressed its preference for only emission units from projects with a start date after 31 December 2016 be eligible under the scheme. Norway, a non-EU State, has gone a step further and called for eligible units be restricted to those originating from programmes and projects that start after 31 December 2019.
Restricting the vintage to after CORSIA formally starts is supported by Brussels-based Carbon Market Watch, which warns of the danger posed to the environmental integrity of the scheme by the use of substandard carbon credits.
Commenting on the DEHSt study, Kelsey Perlman, the NGO’s Policy Officer for Aviation, said: “It repeats what we know about the history of carbon markets, namely there are a lot of bad credits out there. If no restrictions are applied on what kind of offsets can be used – by year and by activity – the aviation offsetting scheme will not reduce emissions anywhere and airlines will pay practically nothing for their climate impact.”
Boeing’s latest 777F ecoDemonstrator flight programme tests 100% biofuel use and turbulence detection
Wed 21 Mar 2018 – Boeing is midway through its latest ecoDemonstrator flight programme that is testing more than 30 technologies aboard a FedEx-owned 777 freighter. Since 2012, the programme has tested more than 55 technologies using four commercial aircraft as flying test beds, with the aim of accelerating new technologies and processes that can reduce emissions and noise, improve airlines’ gate-to-gate efficiency and help meet other environmental goals. The 2018 programme is testing flight deck innovations, propulsion advancements, advanced materials, more efficient flight operations and turbulence detection. Most test flights are also being powered with 100% paraffinic biofuel, the first time this has taken place using a commercial airliner. Boeing says the testing is to gather performance data and demonstrate drop-in fuel properties.
Through the data gathering and operational experience of using unblended biofuel in flight, Boeing says it will be able to evaluate the fuel system, engine and aircraft performance compared to traditional fossil jet fuel. Additionally, it expects to identify potential opportunities for improved or alternate material components and to support industry approval. Under current rules, 50% is the maximum amount of biofuel that can be blended with fossil jet fuel for commercial flight operations.
The programme, which is expected to finish the flight testing phase by the end of April, also includes installing a compact thrust reverser developed by Boeing to save fuel, flight deck improvements that can improve efficient operations in and out of busy airports, and flying prototype airplane parts using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques that reduce material waste.
French aerospace company Safran Electrical & Power is equipping the 777F with a comprehensive electrical channel, encompassing electric power generation and distribution systems, engine and aircraft wiring, and specific electrical loads. It says the flight testing will demonstrate a number of potential benefits such as electrical system efficiency, reduction of energy losses, and weight and operating savings.
In efforts to reduce manufacturing waste or use recycled material in its aircraft, Boeing is testing methods for re-using manufacturing by-products and bringing the material back as high-value materials for new aircraft. For the ecoDemonstrator programme, testing is being carried out on an additive manufactured tail-fin cap with NASA integrated components and a titanium part made with mostly recycled content.
Boeing is also testing a new technology, Synthetic Instrument Landing System, which instead of using the traditional radio beam so that pilots stay centred on approach to the runway, uses satellite information in the form of GPS signals to create the approach line. Satellite information is more accurate and is not affected by weather conditions, says Boeing, allowing aircraft to land in all kinds of weather and could also enable tighter spacing between aircraft on approach.
Another important element of the 2018 programme is the testing of an onboard clear-air turbulence (CAT) detection system developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The LIDAR system can detect CAT that conventional weather radars fail to identify. Although similar technologies have been developed in the past, they have been considered impractical and too heavy for use onboard a commercial aircraft. The JAXA prototype, however, weighs only 83.7kg, equivalent to one passenger with one baggage, and boosts the range of CAT detection to 17.5km. For a cruising aircraft, this allows around 70 seconds for a pilot to turn on the seatbelt sign and warn passengers and crew to prepare for hazardous shaking. JAXA believes the system could potentially reduce turbulence-caused injuries by 60%. Research has shown incidences of CAT will increase with climate change (see article).
IAG implements Honeywell fuel efficiency software across its airlines and reports 2.6% fuel burn improvement
Tue 20 Mar 2018 – International Airlines Group (IAG) is installing fuel efficiency software to help reduce fuel burn and emissions across its airlines – Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL. Honeywell’s GoDirect Fuel Efficiency software will provide flight data on fuel consumption to help analyse aircraft performance and monitor efficiency initiatives. “We have a strong track record in identifying and implementing initiatives to reduce our carbon emissions,” commented Willie Walsh, IAG’s Chief Executive. “This technology will allow our airlines to further optimise their fuel consumption and share best practice across the group.
“We are investing in a modern fleet and developing innovative operating techniques to reduce CO2 output. Producing sustainable fuel is also critical and we continue our work to convert domestic waste into jet fuel, which will help to deliver our carbon emissions target while reducing landfill. We have set ourselves ambitious environmental targets and are determined to lead the industry in tackling climate change.”
The group reports that it improved fuel and carbon efficiency by 2.6% in 2017, so exceeding IATA’s fuel efficiency target for the industry of an average annual improvement of 1.5%.
Honeywell says its new GoDirect Flight Efficiency integrated service allows airlines to make strategic decisions on flight operations and planning by amassing all flight variables into one place, including flight plans, weather, navigation charts, aircraft performance and optimised fuel usage. The service provides up-to-date information for decision-making by airlines and pilots, resulting in more on-time and fewer turbulent flights, and less fuel use, adds the Phoenix-based aerospace company.
“Pilots are able to view shortcut routes during flight and receive recommendations on climb speeds and cruise altitudes to save fuel,” explained Michael Edmonds, President, Services & Connectivity, Honeywell Aerospace.
The company says the suite of tools is suitable for airlines of all sizes and provides “a one-stop shop for operators to make strategic decisions on what to adjust during day-to-day operations.” It claims airlines using the service have experienced fuel savings up to 5%, and have been able to reduce short-haul flights by an average 1.1 nautical miles and long-haul flights by an average of 3.5 nautical miles.
We must address climate change, says climate sceptic Michael O’Leary as Ryanair unveils green policy
Wed 14 Mar 2018 – Well-known for his pronouncements that climate change is a hoax, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary appears to have undergone a change of mind. In a foreword to Ryanair’s new environmental policy document, he said aviation must play its role in addressing climate change and Europe’s largest airline “is committed to leading the way.” The airline supported the 2-degree ambition of the Paris climate agreement, he added, and also IATA’s target of reducing the sector’s net CO2 emissions by 2050 against 2005 levels. He has targeted the airline to achieving an emissions performance 8% better by 2030 than currently and 31% better than the average of the four other biggest European airlines. The low-cost carrier has also pledged to eliminate all non-recyclable plastics within five years and is introducing a carbon offsetting option for passengers.
“As well as being Europe’s favourite airline, with the best customer service, Ryanair is also Europe’s cleanest, greenest airline,” claimed O’Leary, who in the past has denied the existence of man-made climate change. “We are committed to managing the demands and impacts that our business activities place on the environment, and we are publishing this document to highlight our outstanding environmental achievements to date and our ambitious environmental targets for the future.”
He pointed out the fuel burn for a Ryanair aircraft was 0.0191 litres per passenger kilometre, 44% less than the fuel burn of a typical family car, and the airline was committing to achieving an emissions rate of 61.4 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometre by 2030. This represents a 66% reduction against levels in the year 2000. The airline reports that increasing load factors from 83% to 94% had reduced per passenger emissions by 13% in the last four years.
To reduce the noise impact on local communities, new Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft arriving in spring 2019 would further reduce noise by up to 40% per seat. The new aircraft are also expected to reduce fuel burn and emissions by up to 16% per seat.
Winglets on Ryanair aircraft are estimated to reduce fuel burn and emissions by 4% and lightweight seats by an additional 1% per aircraft. Other fuel saving initiatives include single-engine taxiing – 79% of arrival taxiing in 2017 was performed with one engine, a 39% improvement on 2015 performance – and increased use of ground power units instead of the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit.
Ryanair said it did not purchase low-carbon alternative fuels due to their high cost and the lack of consensus on sustainability criteria, but would move to 100% usage “when cost-competitive alternatives meeting globally-agreed sustainability criteria become available.” Using alternative fuels must conform to a number of principles, argues the airline. They should be regulated by one set of global rules that treated all airlines equally, the methods for quantifying life-cycle CO2 savings should also apply uniformly to all airlines and the CO2 savings must be traceable and verifiable.
The airline added it would continue to comply fully with current and future regulations of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) although as a short-haul airline operating almost entirely within the EU, 87% of its emissions were subject to the EU ETS. This, it noted, was a much higher proportion than legacy carriers as a result of the suspension of extra-EU flights from the scheme. Ryanair said it supported the replacement of the EU ETS with ICAO’s CORSIA global offsetting scheme.
Starting this year, the airline said it will add a voluntary option to the booking process that would allow customers to make a donation to offset their carbon emissions, but has not clarified if and how this would be calculated. The funds raised are planned to be distributed annually to environmental charities and NGOs “as selected by our people.”
The five-year plan to eliminate all non-recyclable plastics involves working with suppliers to source alternatives such as bio-degradable cups, wooden cutlery and paper packaging that will be used across the entire Ryanair operation. Other initiatives include maximising solar power usage at all facilities and investing €500,000 ($600,000) in all-LED lighting projects across offices and hangars. “Our new green HQ in Dublin promotes paperless practices, equipment and consumables recycling, cycling to work and a healthy lifestyle,” added Ryanair.
The carrier has committed to reporting on its jet fuel emissions annually as well as progress towards the 2030 target. Accountability for environmental risks and impacts falls to Chief Operations Officer, Peter Bellew.
“We are pleased to launch our Environmental Policy, which cements our commitment to continuously improving the carbon efficiency of our operations,” commented Bellew. “By minimising fuel and energy consumption, reducing noise pollution and relentlessly supporting global emissions targets, we will play our part in addressing climate change. We will lead the way through these initiatives and our progress will be published annually on our website and in our annual report.”
Ryanair – Environmental Policy
LAM Mozambique and Kenya Airways host wildlife trafficking workshops for airline and airport staff
Tue 13 Mar 2018 – Two workshops have been held in Maputo and Nairobi to train airline and airport staff on how they can help detect and stop illegal trafficking in wildlife products, such as ivory and rhino horn. Hosted by LAM Mozambique Airlines and Kenya Airways, the workshops were organised by ROUTES, a public-private partnership supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The partnership brings together government agencies; international conservation, development and law enforcement organisations; and the transportation and logistics industry, including IATA. A report published by ROUTES last year estimated the illegal trade was worth over $20 billion worldwide and identified Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International as an important hub for trafficking. Over the next few months, ROUTES will be holding workshops in other trafficking hotspots Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia and Malaysia.
“Wildlife trafficking is a transportation-intensive activity and smugglers carrying illegal wildlife and wildlife products need to interact with airport and airline staff at multiple points during the journey,” said ROUTES lead Michelle Owens. “Increasing the ability of staff to identify and report suspicious activities linked to wildlife trafficking is crucial for stopping traffickers that abuse the transport sector.”
The workshop in Nairobi involved cabin crew, ground handlers, cargo processors and staff from regional airports participating in the interactive sessions. Airline employees were taught how to recognise common wildlife trafficking techniques and were provided with information on how best to respond to and report wildlife trafficking incidents.
“Airline staff spend more time with passengers, their baggage and cargo shipments than customs officers,” noted Jon Godson, Assistant Director, Aviation Environment at IATA. “They can provide a key source of intelligence for the enforcement agencies.”
The event was attended by Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of Kenya; Robert Godec, US Ambassador to Kenya; Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary, Tourism and Wildlife; and Chris Oburu, Chief Administrative Secretary Transport and Infrastructure Development.
“Wildlife trafficking is one of the most prominent transnational organised crimes in the world, ranking with drug, human and arms trafficking in annual value,” said the US ambassador. “Wildlife traffickers exploit global transportation, threaten human health and security, and are driving some species to extinction.”
In a keynote speech, Mrs Kenyatta said: “One of the greatest challenges that we face in wildlife conservation is the sophistication of systems and intelligence that is in the hands of wildlife syndicates around the world. These have impeded the gains we have made in breaking through this illegal industry. We can no longer consider traditional or conservative solutions, we must look at new ways in this new age of technology and innovation.
“We must accelerate our efforts and increase our investments, because our wildlife heritage and invaluable resource is under threat. We must build better and stronger networks that consider all possibilities and close out the loopholes that have allowed the growth of illegal trade.
“And so I applaud this initiative that stands out as an innovative measure that includes the global transportation systems to help break these illegal chains of unlawful transportation of endangered species.”
As well as IATA, core ROUTES partners include the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), which produced last year’s ‘Flying Under the Radar’ report, Freeland, WWF and wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
Meanwhile, Etihad marked World Wildlife Day on March 3 with a series of activities involving staff, cabin crews and air travellers at various locations, including Abu Dhabi International Airport, on its flights and at its Abu Dhabi headquarters. It also launched an electronic learning course for staff that explains how and why wildlife is smuggled, and how the airline industry can help prevent illegal trade. The aviation group is a signatory to the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Declaration signed at Buckingham Palace in March 2016 (see article).
“Etihad Aviation Group is proud to be a leader in actively promoting the risks the world faces through the loss of many rare and endangered species,” commented Linden Coppell, Head of Sustainability. “The activities we hosted highlighted the dangers of habitat loss, climate change and wildlife crime, such as poaching and illegal trade.”
EU accepts ICAO CORSIA rules package but has concerns over emissions units and sustainable fuels criteria
Wed 7 Mar 2018 – The European Union has signalled its general acceptance of the ICAO CORSIA Package proposals that were sent to ICAO Member States for comment. The Package contains the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) technical rules for the international aviation carbon offsetting scheme that will apply to States and aeroplane operators from 2019. A letter to ICAO signed by Filip Cornelis, Director of Aviation at the European Commission’s transport directorate, says that while the EU “is not completely satisfied” with elements of the package, in the interests of reaching and maintaining ICAO agreement, the EU endorsed the consensus reached by the governing ICAO Council and strongly urged the adoption of the proposed package without further amendment. In its submission, the United States has also expressed support for the CORSIA package, although adding that if there is to be reconsideration of any elements than it has preferred edits of its own.
The letter says the proposed package represented “a delicate compromise” between the various ICAO working groups and bodies, and the EU had shown “significant flexibility so far” in the negotiating process. However, it adds, any attempts to weaken key elements of the proposals “would be strongly opposed.”
The letter is referring to perceived efforts by some countries to water down the sustainability criteria for alternative aviation fuels, widen the eligibility criteria for emissions units and weaken transparency of the scheme, “all of them critical to CORSIA’s environmental effectiveness and uniform application,” it points out.
In the event it was decided to re-open discussions on the SARPs text, the EU letter attached amended text proposals that it said would improve the environmental performance of scheme, which were consistent with the positions already taken by EU States.
These include wording to ensure emissions unit eligibility criteria and sustainability criteria for eligibility of sustainable aviation fuels was mandatory and consistently applied. “Their integrity is to be maintained for an effective functioning of the scheme,” says the attachment. “There should be no discretion or exception in their application in order to guarantee legal certainty and a level playing field between States and aeroplane operators.”
The EU also proposes wording on emissions unit vintages to ensure units can only eligible under CORSIA from projects with a start date after the passing of the ICAO CORSIA Resolution A39-3, namely 31 December 2016. “CORSIA has only an environmental added value compared to a scenario without CORSIA if it leads to the generation of additional emission reductions. Emission reductions that have already been achieved prior to agreement by the ICAO Assembly on the CORSIA Resolution would have already been generated even in the absence of CORSIA,” it argues.
The EU also suggests the CORSIA Central Registry include added reporting data from aeroplane operators and says public access to information on CORSIA functioning is central to its credibility, environmental integrity and a level playing field between operators.
The letter reminds ICAO that work still has to be finalised on a number of key issues – which include registries, eligible emissions units and on further “sustainability criteria themes” – that needed to be adopted before the end of the pilot phase in 2023.
It concludes: “The outcome of these discussions is considered by the European Union as key for the environmental integrity of CORSIA.”
As a non-State, the European Union only has ad-hoc observer status at ICAO. However, the letter is understood to form a coordinated reply from all EU States, although the States may have submitted additional responses of their own. The letter notes that of the 73 countries that have so far volunteered to participate in CORSIA from the start, 44 are States of the European Civil Aviation Convention (ECAC).
A US State Department official told GreenAir that the United States response to the ICAO consultation would not be publicly posted but would be shared with US stakeholders, including airlines and NGOs.
Update Thu 8 Mar 2018:
A copy of the United States’ response to the CORSIA Package consultation seen by GreenAir indicates general support for the proposals and reaffirms its support for the ICAO CORSIA A39-3 resolution. It also makes a point of noting the scheme is to be the exclusive market-based measure for international aviation that would avoid “a patchwork of country- or regionally-based regulatory measures that are inconsistently applied, bureaucratically costly, and economically damaging.”
The US welcomes the high level of commitment by States to participate in CORSIA from the initial pilot phase. “Our support for Resolution A39-3 and CORSIA assumes that such participation is maintained, particularly by countries with significant aviation activity, on a basis that is consistent with the SARPs, as well as that the final CORSIA package is acceptable to, and implementable by, the United States.”
In its comments on the Package, the US recommends that no substantive changes are made and stresses it would oppose any changes to the draft text on a number of key provisions. These include, for example, certain requirements relating to the MRV system on emissions and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and also aspects of the emissions unit criteria and SAF sustainability criteria. It suggests clarity amendments regarding fuels so that only the terms “aviation fuel” and “sustainable aviation fuel” should be used throughout the SARPs.
The submission concludes: “Should any elements of the package be reopened or reconsidered, the United States reserves the opportunity to provide our preferred edits to the text for consideration.”
Sweden’s Braathens Regional Airlines to offer passengers the option to book biofuel flights
Mar 2018 – From April 8, passengers flying with Braathens Regional Airlines will have the option to pay an extra fee of 300 Swedish krona ($36) per flight to enable the carrier to fly on biofuel. After a flight and depending on the number of passengers that paid the supplement, the plane is refuelled with the appropriate amount of biofuel, which is being supplied by Air BP, and is based on a fixed cost equivalent to an average flight time of one hour. “It’s important for us to make it easy to go ‘climate smart’. And enabling biofuel for the flight is just one of our actions to make things smarter for our customers,” said the airline’s CEO, Christian Clemens. “Since 2017, we have offered this biofuel opportunity to businesses only – now it’s possible for everyone. This is an important step towards our goal of becoming fossil-free by the end of 2030.” This month, the airline joined the government’s Fossil Free Sweden initiative. In February 2017, Braathens flew its first biofuel flight that also marked the first time an ATR turboprop had used a biofuel blend on a commercial flight (see article).
World Energy acquires AltAir’s world-first commercial scale renewable jet fuel refinery
Mar 2018 – Boston-based World Energy has acquired Delek US Holdings’ interests in renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel producer AltAir Paramount in California for a reported $72 million. The purchase includes the Paramount refinery, the world’s first to supply renewable jet fuel on a commercial scale for customers such as United Airlines, Air Canada, Qantas and others. It produces in the region of 35 million gallons per year of renewable jet. “Supported by the frameworks of the national renewable fuel standard and California’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard programmes, AltAir converted a struggling petroleum refinery to one of the country’s most important renewable fuel refineries, while preserving and converting approximately 100 jobs to the green economy,” said Bryan Sherbacow, AltAir’s co-founder. “I am proud to have led the development of AltAir, excited to have facilitated this transaction with World Energy and am thrilled to join the company’s executive leadership team to make an even bigger impact in California, North America and beyond.”