GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 21 MAY 2018
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Fulcrum BioEnergy breaks ground on 10.5 million gallon waste to jet fuel Sierra plant
Fri 18 May 2018 – Waste-to-fuels company Fulcrum BioEnergy has broken ground on its Sierra BioFuels Plant in McCarran, Nevada, that is to supply airlines with around 10.5 million gallons of fuel each year when commercial operations start in the first quarter of 2020. Sierra will be the first commercial-scale plant in the United States converting municipal solid waste (MSW) that would otherwise have been sent to landfill into low-carbon renewable transport fuel. Utilising Fulcrum’s proprietary thermochemical process, Sierra will convert around 175,000 tons of household garbage annually. The company is planning similar plants sited near large metropolitan areas where it has already secured long-term supplies of feedstock, fuel logistics and fuel offtake agreements.
“Launching the final construction phase of Sierra is another milestone for Fulcrum, our partners, Northern Nevada and the low-carbon fuels industry,” said CEO Jim Macias at the groundbreaking event. “We’ve spent 10 years developing, designing, testing, improving and demonstrating this new process so that it is now ready for commercial deployment. By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
Compared to traditional petroleum fuel, Fulcrum says its process will reduce GHG emissions by more than 80%. Around 500 jobs will be created during the construction phase with 120 permanent plant staff and other indirect jobs following when operations begin.
The company says the future projects in development will follow the same approach as Sierra with fixed feedstock costs, fuel offtake prices hedged against oil, guaranteed plant performance and a low cost of production that is expected to provide attractive operating margins. Collectively, these future plants are expected to have the capacity to produce more than 300 million gallons of jet fuel annually.
United Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways have each entered into equity investment deals and 10-year offtake agreements with Fulcrum. In August 2014, Cathay negotiated a supply agreement for an initial 375 million gallons of biojet over the period, representing around 2% of the airline’s annual fuel consumption (see article). The following year, United announced it had taken an equity stake in Fulcrum valued at $30 million and both parties agreed to jointly develop up to five projects located near United’s hubs that would be expected to produce up to 180 million gallons a year. In addition, United has the opportunity to purchase at least 90 million gallons of Fulcrum fuel a year for 10 years at a price competitive with conventional jet fuel (see article).
In 2016, BP Ventures said it was taking a $30 million equity investment in Fulcrum and a 10-year offtake agreement to purchase 50 million gallons annually for supply into aircraft at Air BP key hubs in North America (see article).
Air BP enters into airport and business aviation initiatives to offset carbon emissions from flights
Fri 18 May 2018 – Air BP has announced carbon offsetting initiatives with an airport in Spain and a business aviation company in Brazil. To mark the fifth anniversary of Teruel Airport, all carbon emissions related to Jet-A1 and Avgas 100LL aviation fuel supplied by Air BP during May will be offset through BP’s Target Neutral programme that invests in carbon reduction projects around the world. The carbon emissions related to the use of all aviation fuels supplied by Air BP to Brazilian aircraft management company Avantto Aircraft Administration for the next 12 months will be offset through BP Target Neutral. The programme has offset 3.17 million tonnes of CO2e during its 11 years of operation.
Teruel Airport describes itself as an industrial-aeronautical hub and is owned by a consortium formed by the Government of Aragon and Teruel City Council. It considers its strategic European location and favourable economic opportunities attractive to aeronautical and aerospace businesses, while, it says, operating as an environmentally responsible concern.
“Minimising our environmental impact has always been a priority and guided us in the development of multiple initiatives,” said Alejandro Ibrahim, General Manager of the airport. “Because of that, we are leading the Spanish airport industry where carbon offsetting programmes are concerned.”
Founded in 2011, Avantto performs more than 750 take-offs per month and has accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours per year for about 400 users. The initiative with Air BP will be launched on June 1 and initially run for a year, with the possibility of being extended into the future. This is Air BP’s first carbon offsetting offer for business aviation customers in Brazil and the aviation fuel supplier says it complements its carbon neutral into-plane fuelling operations at 250 directly operated locations around the world, including a number of locations in Brazil such as Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Rio de Janeiro Galeao international airports.
“Through our partnership with Air BP, we have taken another step in our sustainability journey,” said Rogério Andrade, Avantto’s CEO. “Now, in addition to benefits such as safety, availability and convenience, our clients will also have the carbon emissions from the aviation fuel used in their flights offset, thereby responding in a practical way to the climate challenges.”
Added Ricardo Paganini, General Manager, Air BP South America: “In addition to finding ways to reduce our own carbon emissions, we work closely with our customers to develop innovative offers that support them in the transition to a lower carbon future. We are proud to launch this initiative in Brazil in collaboration with Avantto, which gives business aviation customers the opportunity to reduce the carbon impact of flying.”
The carbon emission reductions from BP Target Neutral’s global portfolio of projects are independently verified and monitored in line with the ICROA (International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance) best practice code. Projects are assessed on the basis of their contribution to reducing carbon emissions and their potential to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, for example through their potential to help improve livelihoods for the communities they are based in through various educative, economic and social benefits. In 2017, the programme offset 714,000 tCO2e against a target of 700,000 tCO2e, an increase of nearly 73,000 tonnes on 2016.
Two new European projects get off the ground to investigate conversion of forestry residues to jet fuel
Thu 17 May 2018 – To mark the introduction of a new daily flight between Amsterdam and Växjö Småland Airport, KLM has announced it will invest in 120,000 litres of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) per year for use on all flights to and from the destination in southern Sweden. The purchase represents a 5% use of SAF on flights but KLM pledges to make it the airline’s most sustainable route by joining with the airport to buy offsets for the remaining carbon emissions. In addition, KLM and sustainable aviation fuel provider SkyNRG will partner with Växjö airport, the city authority and Sweden’s largest cooperative of forest owners, Södra, to conduct a feasibility study for local SAF production. Meanwhile, following an EU grant of €13.9 million ($16.4m), SkyNRG is also to participate in an industrial consortium that aims to convert softwood residues into gasoline and jet fuel. The project will be led by France’s Global Bioenergies.
The Swedish SAF feasibility study will also assess the financial and commercial availability of an industrial scale production process and secure commitments for long-term supply agreements. SkyNRG points to a very high need for installing production capacity given there is still only one biorefinery in the world – AltAir’s in California – that is producing sustainable jet fuel.
Funds from the offsetting of CO2 from the Amsterdam- Växjö flights will go to the CO2OL Tropical Mix reforestation initiative in Panama, described as a ‘Gold Standard for the Global Goals’ project, which converts degraded meadows into mixed forests by planting a mix of native tree species and some exotic species. In addition, says KLM, the project’s activities create long-term employment thereby providing a sustainable source of income for the local population. The project is supported under KLM’s CO2ZERO voluntary passenger offset programme that has now been running for 10 years.
“KLM is involved intensively in flying as environment friendly as possible, for instance, by investing in sustainable biojet fuel. I am pleased that KLM and Växjö Småland Airport are compensating jointly for the total CO2 emissions of flights to and from Växjö. This makes Växjö – our most sustainable destination – a valuable addition to the KLM network,” said KLM CEO Pieter Elbers.
“It is one more step towards making aviation more sustainable, in which cooperation with local partners is crucial. Support from other companies, governments and other airlines is necessary if we are to make aviation truly sustainable.”
Over 50,000 forest owners are members of the Växjö-headquartered Södra, and own over half of all privately-owned forests in southern Sweden. It is one of the region’s biggest employers – 3,600 people work for the group including in areas such as forestry management and environmental conservation. Södra is also to become KLM’s first non-Dutch partner in its Corporate BioFuel Programme.
“Sweden is a key region for SkyNRG and by investigating the opportunities for sustainable aviation fuel production in the Växjö region, we can contribute to the government’s ambitions for a fossil-free Sweden,” said SkyNRG CFO Theye Veen.
The EU-funded three-year project, called REWOFUEL, will aim to demonstrate technology that can convert poorly valued softwood residues into isobutene derivatives for use in gasoline and jet fuel. The project is being led by Global Bioenergies, which is receiving €5.7 million of the €13.9 million grant under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The total budget for the project, which is being administered by the European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), is €19.7 million, with the 11 consortium participants contributing the €5.8 million balance. Additionally, REWOFUEL will be supported by numerous industrial companies including Air France and Safran. SkyNRG will evaluate the jet fuel application of the value chain.
Global Bioenergies said the project would set the foundations of a first-of-a-kind biorefinery converting residual wood to high performance drop-in renewable gasoline and jet fuel. “With estimated forestry residues of about 145 million tons per year, the EU has the potential to support the deployment of hundreds of such biorefineries,” it added.
New Boeing 737 MAX helps LOT Polish Airlines’ steep climb in Heathrow’s noise league table
Thu 17 May 2018 – When Heathrow Airport first started its Fly Quiet league table in 2013 of the top 50 busiest airlines serving the London hub, LOT Polish Airlines was its poorest performer. Having switched this year to operating new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on its Heathrow services, the carrier has leapt into second place in the latest league table for the period January to March 2018. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), meanwhile, continues to lead the field based on seven noise metrics and, as a result of an extension to the programme, other emission metrics. The airport has also announced the start of a public consultation on a new five-year Noise Action Plan. It is also pushing ahead with plans and investment to improve local air quality at the airport in a switch to electric powered vehicles and ground support equipment. Heathrow now claims to have the highest density of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Europe.
SAS has worked with Heathrow to improve its use of continuous descent approaches to the airport, which help reduce noise as they require less engine thrust and keep the aircraft higher for longer. The airport says SAS has also improved its ability to keep flights within the departure corridors of ‘noise preferential routes’ designated by government, called track keeping, which is one of the metrics of the Fly Quiet and Green league table.
“As the first initiative of its kind in Europe, it was hard to estimate the impact the league table would have when it was first launched. LOT Polish Airlines’ story, however, shows the results that can be achieved by working productively with our airline partners to encourage them to use quieter technology and operating procedures for the benefit of our local neighbours,” commented Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability.
The league table was created as one of the initiatives from Heathrow’s last Noise Action Plan (NAP) and the airport is now developing the draft of the next five-year plan. It will hold a series of consultation events in June to give the public a chance to comment on how the airport should manage aircraft noise in the future.
“We know there is always more we can do to reduce our noise impacts, and we have set some ambitious targets in our new Noise Action Plan,” said Gorman. “We encourage all of our local neighbours to give us their feedback on this plan and help us shape the way we manage noise in the future.”
Since the last NAP in 2013, Heathrow reports the noisiest Chapter 3 aircraft have nearly all been phased out of service at the airport and the operation of Chapter 14 aircraft, the quietest aircraft category, has reached 60.8% of total aircraft movements. Night noise remains an issue for the airport, admit Heathrow executives, and despite the last scheduled departure set at 11pm, 235 flights departed after 11.30pm last year. However, the late running of departures fell by 30% in 2017 compared to 2016.
During the period, 52 new noise monitors with a direct data feed to the WebTrak flight information website have been installed. WebTrak now has new features including a rainfall map layer and the display of Noise Preferential Routes to improve transparency on disruptions and flight performance. A Heathrow Strategic Noise Advisory Group and the Heathrow Community Noise Forum have also been established to bring industry and local stakeholders together to help shape the airport’s noise management strategy.
The airport also points to the trials that have taken place of steeper climb, slightly steeper approaches and the detection of landing gear deployment.
In its new NAP consultation summary document, Heathrow says: “We will also look at our airport charges to airlines to encourage the use of quieter aircraft and the use of penalties for unscheduled night-time flights. In particular we plan a further review of our charges structure to provide more incentives to our airlines to take account of CAA recommendations in this area.”
The airport adds that it intends publishing how well airlines comply with night-flight rules. “We will work with airlines and NATS [Heathrow’s air navigation service provider] to support the Quiet Night Charter, a voluntary Charter to be introduced this year, to reduce noise and the number of flights late into the night. We aim to have year-on-year improvement in reducing noise.”
A year has passed since the airport launched Heathrow 2.0, a strategy to “set the direction for a future era of sustainable aviation.”
In the introduction to a progress report, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “It committed us to ensuring that as Heathrow thrives, so too will our people, our communities, our country and our world. This is only possible if we grow and operate our airport sustainably, now and in the future.
“Heathrow 2.0 is an ambitious plan. We expected to stretch ourselves and in some areas to take a leap of faith. We know that some of the solutions that we’ll need do not exist yet. That’s why we’ve also launched our new Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Airports to support academics and entrepreneurs in finding innovative answers to some of the tough challenges we face.”
One of those challenges is to make Heathrow airside an ultra-low emission zone by 2025. Heathrow’s biggest airline customer, British Airways, is now investing in innovative new Mototok electric push-back tugs. Dnata, a leading ground handler, and DHL are planning moves towards using new electric lorries. Heathrow Airport Ltd has already converted 50 of its own cars and small vehicles to electric or plug-in hybrid. It claims to operate the UK’s second largest corporate electric fleet, and there are over 800 electric vehicles operating at the airport. As the site with the highest density of electric charging infrastructure in Europe, over 80 charging points are available to passengers, airport workers and airside vehicles. Heathrow has committed to a year-on-year increase in charging points through a £5 million ($6.8m) investment.
Last week, Heathrow announced a deal in which a fleet of up to 200 all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles will be available for passenger use from and to the airport from this summer. The service is expected to create the largest chauffeur-driven fleet of electric vehicles in the UK. Heathrow says consumer research showed that 32% of London-based travellers would be fairly or very likely to use electric taxis to access the airport if these were made more available.
“We will not compromise on our commitments to the environment and our local community, and we remain focused on addressing the impact road vehicles have on air quality on the roads around the airport,” commented Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s Executive Director Expansion. “These I-PACEs are the latest in a long line of initiatives we are taking to ensure that we do not force a choice between the economy and the environment, and that we can deliver benefits for both.”
Heathrow is also aiming to become a carbon-neutral airport by 2020 and plans to release a roadmap later in the year that will set out a strategy to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon intensity by 2050.
The Heathrow 2.0 progress report says efforts are being made to improve recycling rates and increase consumption of pre-conditioned air by aircraft on the ground, where targets were missed in 2017.
Some areas had been slower to get going, admits Holland-Kaye in the progress report, but “a year on and we’ve already made big strides.”
In other Heathrow news, Rachel Cerfontyne has been appointed as the Chair of the Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB), a new independent body that aims to help residents have more influence over how the airport operates and grows. The body was set up in response to a recommendation by the Airports Commission. Cerfontyne was previously Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and has 20 years of senior leadership experience across the public and charitable sector.
Expansion of Heathrow and a new third runway is the preferred option of the government for increasing airport capacity in south-east England and an Airports National Policy Statement setting out objectives and requirements is due to come before Parliament by the end of July. MPs will vote on whether to approve outline planning consent. In March, MPs on the cross-party Transport Select Committee recommended the expansion should go ahead but with tougher measures and safeguards to protect communities. The Committee said there should be a more stringent interpretation of air quality laws and noise estimates, plus a half-hour extension on the night flight ban.
Virgin Atlantic makes gains on emissions reductions and fuel efficiency improvements as new aircraft join fleet
Mon 14 May 2018 – Carbon emissions from Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft fleet were reduced by 2.5% in 2017 to just under 4 million tonnes of CO2, the lowest since they peaked at nearly 5.2 million tonnes in 2007, when the airline started its ‘Change is in the Air’ sustainability programme. Fuel efficiency improved by 1.8% compared to the previous year – so exceeding the IATA industry 1.5% goal – to reach 0.711 kg CO2 per revenue tonne kilometre (CO2/RTK). The airline has a target to reduce aircraft CO2/RTK by 30% by 2020 from the 2007 baseline. It attributes the drop in emissions to a small reduction in the flying programme and the ongoing fleet renewal of replacing four-engine aircraft with more fuel efficient twin-engine alternatives.
“At Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, we love being able to bring people together, delivering incredible experiences and supporting globally connected economies. We know this comes with environmental responsibilities,” said Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive, in the introduction to the travel group’s latest 2018 sustainability report.
“Reducing our carbon emissions is not only the right thing to do for the environment, society and generations to come, with aircraft fuel being our largest single cost, it also makes perfect business sense.”
As well as a reduction in CO2 per RTK, CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre fell from 78.9 grams in 2016 to 78.2 in 2017, a 0.9% reduction and marking a 22.4% reduction since 2007. The airline points out that the emissions of an average new car in the UK in 2016 were 120.1 grams of CO2 per kilometre on a single occupancy basis.
Virgin Atlantic’s direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scopes 2 and 3) carbon footprint in 2017 totalled 5.5 million tonnes of CO2e, with a further near 300,000 tonnes from the Virgin Holidays business. Aircraft emissions were responsible for 68.7% of combined company emissions and more than 99% of Scope 1 emissions.
Last year, Virgin Atlantic added another Boeing 787-9 to the fleet, bringing the total to 14, with three more 787-9s and 12 A350-1000s to be phased in over the next four years. Through a combination of aircraft and engine efficiencies and network planning to optimise passenger numbers and cargo loads, each aircraft is around 30% more fuel efficient per trip than the aircraft they are replacing, it says. Other ongoing measures include watching onboard weight, optimising aircraft cleaning and maintenance, and advising pilots on flying more efficiently.
“We also know that the next big opportunity to reduce aircraft carbon emissions will come from breakthroughs in sustainable aviation fuel,” said Kreeger. “We have been working with cleantech company LanzaTech since 2011, actively supporting the scale up of their process to convert industrial waste gases and other plentiful waste streams into low carbon jet fuel.”
The sustainability report notes that in 2017 Virgin Atlantic started preparations for the new ICAO global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which between 2021 and 2035 “will raise billions of dollars for high quality carbon reduction projects around the world.”
Airport and airlines agree plan to replace 10% of jet fuel at Sea-Tac with sustainable alternatives by 2028
Thu 10 May 2018 – A work plan involving the collaboration of 13 US and international airlines has been agreed to provide all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) with access to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). They will work to meet a timetable approved by the Port of Seattle Commission last December that aims for a minimum 10% of sustainable jet fuel to be produced locally from sustainable sources within 10 years, increasing to 50% by 2050. With airlines at Sea-Tac projected to use around 700 million gallons of jet fuel per year, a 10% replacement would save 682,500 metric tons of GHG emissions, says the Port. A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Port and the airlines formalises a commitment to develop a strategic plan to reach the first 2028 goal.
The plan will identify and make recommendations as to how to create and benefit from opportunities, address challenges, and support policies and financial incentives needed to meet the near-term goal, says the MoU. It will also analyse and recommend additional mechanisms that could contribute to carbon and air emission reductions and the environmental impacts from forecasted aviation growth at Sea-Tac, including technology, operations, infrastructure and future aircraft technology.
The MoU requires that by no later than 30 days after its signing, representatives of the airlines, Port staff and other partners to form a committee for the purposes of developing the plan, with a future MoU expected to implement it. The plan must include the steps and key milestones to meet the 2028 goal and other mechanisms to meet the Port’s near-term Century Agenda GHG reduction goals.
The committee is tasked with:
- Identifying the steps necessary to deliver on the 2028 goal;
- Evaluating market barriers and opportunities to produce SAF in the region, and identify strategies to overcome those barriers;
- Considering the wealth of material available from existing science and industry resources, and identify gaps in the research that would be helpful in reaching the goal; and
- Consulting as needed with experts to update the works completed in the Sustainable Aviation Fuels NW (SAFN) report published in 2011.
“Creating a market for SAF in Washington state will require groundbreaking partnerships in aviation, agriculture, finance and public policy,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire. “We appreciate the efforts of airlines at Sea-Tac who support this innovative effort to protect our environment and advance a clean energy economy.”
The 13 airlines taking part include Alaska, Delta, Horizon, Spirit, ANA, Emirates, Icelandair, Lufthansa, Atlas Air, Air Transport International, ABX and Singapore Airlines Cargo.
A draft strategic plan is expected to be presented for Commission approval, or identification of additional work needed, within 12 months of the committee’s formation. Apart from staff resources, no commitment of funding is required by the parties under the MoU.
“We will look back on this important collaboration between the airlines and the Port with pride knowing it was a major step towards the aeronautical industry’s sustainable path to success,” said Fred Felleman, who co-chaired the Commission’s Energy & Sustainability Committee and led the development of the goals.
Added Shane Jones, VP Airport Real Estate and Development for Alaska Airlines: “Even though Alaska already operates the most fuel-efficient fleet in the industry, we are always looking for ways to further reduce our carbon footprint, and this landmark MoU further demonstrates our commitment to the environment and the Seattle community.”
Since 2011, the airline has flown nearly 80 flights using SAF made of used cooking oil, forest residues and non-edible sustainable corn.
In 2016, the Port of Seattle partnered with Boeing and Alaska to investigate the best locations to store and blend SAF into the airport’s fuelling systems. This was followed in 2017 by an investigation by Carbon War Room/Rocky Mountain Institute into the feasibility of using different airport revenue streams at Sea-Tac to bring down the cost of SAF for airlines compared to petroleum jet fuel, as well as support the build-out of fuelling infrastructure.
UK industry network seeks interested parties for potential sustainable aviation fuels collaboration with the USA
Thu 10 May 2018 – UK businesses are being approached to take part in a joint mission to the United States later in the year to seek opportunities for collaboration in the development of sustainable aviation fuels. The mission is being coordinated by the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Special Interest Group (SAF SIG), an initiative of the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) that was set up last year with the support of government and industry to accelerate the domestic production of SAF. Working with the Science and Innovation Network in the US, KTN will facilitate meetings with officials from the ASCENT alternative jet fuels programme and the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI). The mission also incorporates attendance at CAAFI’s biennial general meeting in early December.
Companies interested in participating in the mission are being promised the opportunity to promote their business and explore new markets, as well as discuss collaboration on projects. They are also expected to gain an understanding of aviation fuel specifications and the approval process, industry challenges and sustainability requirements for alternative aviation fuels.
“‘Mission to the USA’ offers UK businesses a unique opportunity to participate in strategic discussions with aviation fuel experts and create new markets in the US,” said Michelle Carter, KTN’s Manager for Aerospace and Aviation, and SAF SIG lead. “We want companies to return to the UK not only with a greater understanding of the challenges, opportunities and processes to producing sustainable aviation fuel, but also having secured business.”
The deadline for expressions of interest is May 31 and SAF SIG says the mission will only progress if there is interest from a minimum of five companies.
For more details of the mission click here.
Alberta trade delegation flies to California on an Air Canada A320 powered by biofuel
Tue 8 May 2018 – A trade delegation led by the Alberta government has flown from Edmonton to San Francisco on an Air Canada Airbus A320-200 flight powered by biofuel. According to the airline, which also partnered with Edmonton International Airport on the initiative, the use of biofuel cut the flight’s carbon emissions by over 10 tonnes, representing an overall 20% reduction in net emissions. Alberta contains nearly all of Canada’s controversial oil sands and much of its conventional oil reserves but is looking to wean the province off its dependence on the fossil fuel economy and attract foreign investment. For Air Canada, the flight follows closely on another recent initiative that saw biofuel being co-mingled with Toronto-Pearson’s conventional jet fuel supply to coincide with Earth Day (see article).
“Air Canada continues to support and advocate for the development of biofuel in Canada to become commercially viable – a big step towards creating more sustainable aviation in Canada and internationally,” said Teresa Ehman, Director, Environmental Affairs at Air Canada. “This is our eighth biofuel-operated flight since 2012.”
Added Tom Ruth, CEO of Edmonton International (EIA): “This biofuel demonstration flight reflects our combined commitment to bring forward low carbon, renewable fuels into the aviation and airport sectors. Air Canada’s leadership in the renewable resource sector strongly aligns with EIA’s commitment to regional economic development and sustainability, while reducing the long-term carbon impact of airport operations.”
The airline, which launched the Edmonton-San Francisco route on May 1 with a daily non-stop flight, used a larger plane for the biofuel flight to accommodate the trade mission delegation to California that included City of Edmonton officials and local commerce.
Deron Bilous, Alberta’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, said the mission aimed to showcase the province’s potential abroad and create new jobs and opportunities at home.
“Using biofuel is an important reminder that, by working with partners like Air Canada and EIA, Alberta will continue to be the energy and environmental leader North America needs for the 21st century.”
Continued Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson: “This commitment and use of cleaner energy shows corporate leadership which is integral to all of us working together to address climate change. I hope it encourages other companies to follow suit so we can continue to accelerate leadership on energy transition and climate change.”
COMMENTARY: ICAO, why can’t you be a bit more like your sister and adopt a long-term absolute goal?
Fri 4 May 2018 – Arguably, the biggest climate news so far in 2018 is the International Maritime Organization (IMO) finally adopting a global climate framework for international shipping. In doing so, it joined its sister agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in establishing a plan to cut emissions in their respective sectors. These two sisters, who weren’t specifically mentioned in the Paris Agreement, were in competition to be the next agency to formulate a strategy. ICAO beat IMO to the punch by adopting its own global climate deal in 2016. Now that both are in place, how do they compare? This analysis by Dan Rutherford of ICCT argues ICAO is clearly the underperforming sister. However, he suggests, if it were to adopt industry’s goal of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 but strengthen it by targeting absolute, rather than net, emissions then this would go a long way to keeping this constructive sibling rivalry alive and well.
Let’s start with IMO’s agreement, which we analysed in detail here. The centrepiece of IMO’s GHG strategy is to halve total CO2 emissions from international shipping from 2008 levels by 2050, followed by complete decarbonisation no later than 2100. The plan implies 60 to 70% cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this century, which will require aggressive investments in low- and zero-carbon technologies. The next step is for IMO to flesh out a set of mandatory short-, mid-, and long-term measures to support this goal, with a particular focus on tightening energy efficiency standards for new vessels and speed management policies for the in-service fleet.
Contrast this to ICAO’s agreement, which was last updated in October 2016. Two goals were included in Assembly Resolutions A39-2 and A39-3: capping net CO2 emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels – carbon neutral growth, in ICAO parlance – plus a 2% annual fleetwide fuel efficiency goal, aspirational from 2020. ICAO developed two mandatory measures to support these goals: the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and a fuel efficiency (CO2) standard for new aircraft. Neither measure is expected rein in aircraft emissions growth in the foreseeable future: CORSIA because the offsetting approach sets near-term carbon prices too low to change airline behaviour, and the CO2 standard because it does not require additional investments in fuel efficiency beyond those already in the works by manufacturers.
So how do the emissions targets in each sisters’ framework compare? We should start by noting a key philosophical difference in the two approaches. ICAO, arguing that aviation faces unique challenges to decarbonise, is prioritising carbon offsets and the development of alternative jet fuels. Both measures aim to compensate for, rather than directly reduce, emissions from the aircraft. For example, by relying on fuel providers to reduce emissions upstream, the current fleet is allowed to continue to operate as-is.
IMO plots a different course, hoping that its 2050 absolute target and vision to completely phase out fossil fuels will drive new investments in the low- and zero-carbon technologies that are ultimately needed to decarbonise shipping. Notably, IMO considered, but ultimately rejected, a near-term cap on shipping emissions that might have favoured offsetting.
International aviation CO2 emissions are expected to grow from about 500 million metric tons (Mt) in 2015 to 1760 Mt (absolute) and 880 Mt (net minus offsets) in 2050, and approximately double again through 2075 assuming extrapolated growth. Shipping emissions will fall by at least 50% by 2050, meaning that aviation is likely to exceed shipping as the largest international source of CO2 beginning in 2035 (absolute emissions) and sometime before 2045 (net). A key source of uncertainty in this analysis is the degree to which offsets might be double counted across the Paris and ICAO climate frameworks, which would undermine their effectiveness in mitigating in-sector emissions. Note that this analysis doesn’t include CO2 emissions from domestic emissions (roughly one third of the aviation total), nor short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon, nitrogen oxides or aviation-induced cloudiness.
Assuming business as usual growth, international aviation will exceed its proportional share (1.42%) of a Paris compatible carbon budget around 2030, with or without offsetting. Aviation would double its share of a B2DS carbon budget (roughly equivalent to IMO’s goal) starting in 2040 in absolute terms, and around 2045 on a net basis counting offsets.
Under its GHG strategy, IMO is laying claim to roughly double its proportional share of a carbon budget consistent with the Paris Agreement – emissions would rise from about 2.3% of global CO2 today to between 3.8 and 5.8% of the total B2DS scenario. Aviation, in contrast, would increase its share of emissions much more, from 1.4% today to between 7% and 14% of the global carbon budget by 2075. To make matters worse, ICAO’s share would continue to grow even after 2075 unless rapid decarbonisation is achieved.
ICAO is clearly the underperforming sister here. How might this be changed? A modest proposal for ICAO is to adopt its own long-term goal at its 40th Assembly next year. Indeed, the aviation industry has already proposed something close to that through its aspirational goal to cut net emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels. However, the term ‘net’ signals a continued reliance upon offsetting to meet that target, rather than true decarbonisation. The risks of relying upon offsetting emissions, especially without adequate safeguards on vintage and quality, are beyond the scope of this work but are described here, here, and here. ICAO could adopt industry’s goal but strengthen it by targeting absolute, rather than net, emissions. That would go a long way to keeping this constructive sibling rivalry alive and well.
Dan Rutherford is Program Director for Marine and Aviation at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). This article also appears, with graphs, as an ICCT blog.
NEW PUBLICATION: Beyond the ICAO’s CORSIA: Towards a More Climatically Effective Strategy for Mitigation of Civil-Aviation Emissions
In a research article published in the journal Climate Law, air transport economist Chris Lyle examines ICAO’s role in addressing international aviation’s growing emissions since referral by the UNFCCC to the UN agency through the Kyoto Protocol. He examines the ‘basket of measures’ developed by ICAO to mitigate emissions through to the adoption of a framework for a market-based measure that aims at carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onward. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is to be the primary emission-mitigation tool for international aviation. However, even with an increased use of alternative fuels and CORSIA implementation, the ‘basket’ will not produce a reduction in global aviation emissions, he argues, and proposes a derivative but more ambitious strategy.
This would include incorporation of international aviation emissions in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of parties to the Paris Agreement and a more direct role for the UNFCCC in determining eligibility of emission units and alternative fuels, with ICAO remaining accountable for monitoring, reporting and verification.
Publication: Climate Law, Volume 8, Issue 1-2
ISSN: 1878-6553, E-ISSN: 1878-6561
To access the article, click here