GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 17 AUGUST 2018
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Norwegian government closes consultation on a one per cent mandate proposal for aviation biofuels
Fri 17 Aug 2018 – A consultation by Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment on a proposal to introduce a mandate requiring all commercial jet fuel sold in the country to contain 1% of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from 1 January 2019 closed yesterday. The intention is to bring the mandate into line with road transport requirements for fuel suppliers, with the SAF percentage expected to increase to 30% by 2030. Theye Veen, CFO of aviation biofuel supplier SkyNRG, which has established a major presence in the Nordic region, called the proposal a brave move that was achievable under the right conditions. Meanwhile, Red Rock Biofuels has broken ground on its new $320 million Lakeview biorefinery in the US that is slated to produce 15 million gallons of renewable jet fuel annually when fully operational.
The Norwegian consultation, which has been seeking input on market conditions and estimates on possible volumes of aviation biofuels that may be available from 2019, has received responses from a variety of interests including SAS Oil Norway, Neste Oil, Widerøe and Aviation Fueling Services Norway, as well as SkyNRG. To incentivise the development and use of advanced biofuels, the government proposes to apply a multiplier of two towards the sales requirement.
“This is a very important step towards a structural market for SAF,” said Veen, who is also a board member of the Nordic sustainable aviation fuel Fly Green Fund. “If done the right way, it can serve as a showcase for other progressive governments that have SAF ambitions. Although ambitious and progressive, it is important to realise there will be different challenges along every step of the way. As the first commercial SAF volumes were only delivered in 2011, and all SAF uptake has so far been voluntary, it cannot be implied the required Norwegian volumes can be easily produced and supplied. But it can be done, and can be done sustainably.
“To ensure the mandate is met with truly sustainable fuels, the Norwegian government will have to take a strong position. There’s currently no information available on how the mandate will be enforced and whether penalties will apply when targets are not met. This will be an important factor if the mandate is to be successful.
“If the boundary conditions are clear and the economic incentive is there, the industry will find a way to comply. Especially in these first years, the various market players will need to work hard and work together to ensure the actual volumes are delivered. In parallel, the investment in new SAF production capacity needs to be made to ensure the higher volume targets can be met as well. A clear and reliable market signal, such as through a mandate, is essential for this.
“Showing continuous progress and effort will be key to providing comfort to all stakeholders that a mandate has been the right decision and that pushing up volume targets is realistic. Confidence is everything.”
State-owned airport operator Avinor has been involved with the Norwegian government and civil aviation authority in investigating the feasibility of the mandate. In 2013, a report commissioned by Avinor and the national aviation industry concluded cost-competitive, large-scale local production of SAF from woody biomass was viable. The following year, Avinor pledged up to $16.5 million in investment towards supporting national SAF production. In 2016, Oslo Airport started offering a regular supply of jet biofuel through its existing fuel farm and hydrant dispenser system to all airlines serving the airport.
Also in 2016, KLM Cityhopper started a series of 80 flights on its Oslo to Amsterdam route using SAF provided by the European ITAKA consortium. The fuel was derived from RSB-certified camelina oil supplied by SkyNRG and Air BP, and produced by Finland’s Neste.
Meanwhile in Oregon, after seven years of planning, Red Rock Biofuels has broken ground on its Lakeview facility that will take woody biomass and convert it into renewable jet fuel, and is said by the company to be the first of its kind in the world. Red Rock has long-term offtake agreements in place with FedEx and Southwest Airlines.
Sweden’s Visby Airport announces its operations are now fossil-free
Thu 16 Aug 2018 – Swedish airport operator Swedavia has claimed its operations at Visby Airport have become entirely fossil-free. Swedavia is aiming to have all 10 of its airports fossil-free by 2020 at the latest, with Visby achieving the objective two years ahead of the deadline. Carbon emissions have decreased from around 300 tonnes to zero in the space of 10 years as a result of effiency measures replacing all fossil fuel-powered vehicles – from fire trucks to snow removal equipment. Energy consumption has also fallen steadily over the period and the airport’s energy is provided by renewable electricity. Sweden is targeting its entire domestic air transport sector to be fossil-free by 2030 and to include international air transport by 2045 as a result of large-scale use of aviation biofuels.
“There is a great transformation under way in the transport sector right now, with reduced fossil carbon dioxide emissions being the top priority,” said Gunnar Jonasson, Airport Director at Visby Airport, Sweden’s twelfth largest airport. “Our airport is a large enterprise that uses many vehicles and equipment, as well as a lot of energy to enable air transport to and from the island of Gotland.”
Swedavia’s vehicle fleet accounts for more than 95% of fossil CO2 emissions produced by the company so vehicles are being replaced with electric alternatives where possible or otherwise powered by biogas or biodiesel. A new airside refuelling station for biogas has recently been opened at Stockholm Arlanda.
For about a decade, Swedavia has been a climate-neutral company, offsetting those emissions it cannot do as a result of current measures through certificates purchased from UN CDM climate projects.
Last year, Swedavia announced it was becoming the first company in the world to purchase aviation biofuel corresponding to the amount used for business trips taken by its employees. It bought 450 tonnes of biofuel via the Fly Green Fund at a cost of SEK 7.5 million ($820,000) for official business travel in 2016. The fuel was produced by AltAir and delivered by SkyNRG in partnership with AirBP, and was used on a SAS flight from Arlanda to Copenhagen. The Fly Green Fund is a Nordic region initiative founded in 2015 by SkyNRG, NISA (Nordic Initiative for Sustainable Aviation) and Karlstad Airport that enables organisations and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint by flying on sustainable aviation fuel. Funding partners include Swedavia, KLM, SAS and European Flight Service.
“We at Swedavia want to lead the way and help increase the demand for aviation biofuel,” said Swedavia CEO Jonas Abrahamsson last year. “We pay the added cost for the more expensive biofuel, which is something that other companies, organisations and individuals also have an opportunity to do now. When demand rises, market players will dare to invest in this alternative to today’s fuel.”
In April this year, the Swedish air transport industry presented government ministers with a road map to show how the sector can contribute to the government’s goal of fossil-free travel by 2045. The industry has identified a large-scale switch to biofuel as one of the most important solutions, together with efficiency improvements and the development of new technology, such as hybrid-electric aircraft.
Wildlife traffickers highly dependent on a vulnerable air transport sector, finds report
Wed 15 Aug 2018 – Wildlife traffickers are highly dependent on commercial air transport to move their contraband quickly, where they continue to exploit vulnerabilities in the system, and instances of trafficking have been recorded in 136 countries around the world. A new analysis by ROUTES Partnership finds wildlife seizures in air transport more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2017, with seizure numbers in 2017 increasing by 40% over the previous year. Traffickers have become adept at exploiting lagging technology, corruption, capacity problems and other issues within airports, and often target specific airports or flight routes. The 200-page ‘In Plane Sight’ report is considered the most comprehensive assessment of its kind to date and reveals the current movement, trends and methods of wildlife traffickers in the global air transport sector. It also comes up with more than a dozen recommendations based on seizure data for preventing wildlife trafficking through the sector.
Impacting more than 7,000 species of animals and plants, the illegal wildlife trade is worth in the region of $20 billion annually and is the fourth largest black market in the world behind drugs, human and arms trafficking.
Whilst rhino horn seizures nearly tripled in 2017 compared to the previous year, it was the lowest year for large-scale ivory seizures since 2014, due in part to an agreement between the United States and China for a near-total ban on the commercial trade of ivory. China was by far the most common destination for all seized wildlife products between 2009 and 2017.
According to the report, routes of wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn and pangolin tend to flow from Africa to Asia, often transiting first through the Middle East and Europe. Traffickers carrying live animals, such as birds and reptiles, generally rely on direct flights worldwide with different hotspots in every region.
The seizure data indicates wildlife traffickers moving ivory, rhino horn, reptiles, birds, pangolins, marine products and mammals by air tend to rely on large hub airports all over the world, and collectively account for 81% of all trafficked wildlife, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Traffickers choose certain airports for their location, size, connecting flight routes, customs screening procedures and perceived ability to identify contraband. Large international hubs with lax screening but many connecting flights are at the highest risk, with those in the process of expansion being the most vulnerable.
Traffickers also benefit from current customs and enforcement screening procedures and priorities. For example, explain the report’s authors, screening on departure and in transit is primarily done for security purposes, and is not focused on identifying trafficking. Screening on arrival is designed to uncover trafficking but is conducted by customs agencies primarily focused on revenue and agricultural disease protection, and seizing wildlife is not a top priority.
As a first step, they suggest, airport authorities should be aware of wildlife trafficking and take steps to prioritise the identification of such instances within their airports. These authorities should look at past instances of seizures for guidance as these tend to reveal that traffickers try to avoid airports with good enforcement records and high seizure numbers or with a well-known history of wildlife trafficking activity. Instead, they may try to fly through airports rarely affected by wildlife trafficking, or with a history of corruption, or a reputation for paying little attention to passengers and shipments in transit. With this knowledge in hand, customs and enforcement officials can anticipate and prepare for shifts in trafficking activity, as well as coordinate with other officials along high-risk flight routes.
The report recommends the air transport industry should continue to build awareness among personnel and passengers, train staff, strengthen corporate policies and seizure protocols, and share seizure information.
Mapping, measuring and understanding trafficking activity is inherently challenging, point out the authors, and information pulled from seizure data only reflects the least successful trafficking attempts. In addition, wildlife trafficking analyses are further plagued by a system-wide lack of consistent, accurate, adequately detailed and publicly available seizure information. For example, the European Union holds a database called the EU Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (EU-TWIX), but is only available to enforcement officials working on wildlife crime within the EU. A similar database (AFRICA-TWIX) contains seizures reported by Central African countries but again it is only available to enforcement officials in those countries.
On a positive note, C4ADS – the compilers of the ‘In Plane Sight’ report – have managed to access to a number of databases of detailed seizure information from a US agency and the World Customs Organization since its last report, ‘Flying Under the Radar’, in 2017.
“Wildlife seizure data is vital for identifying, understanding and combatting wildlife trafficking in airports around the world,” said author Mary Utermohlen from C4ADS. “Still, it’s important to recognise that seizure data of any kind only provides a partial window into the true nature of trafficking activity. What seizures can’t show are the patterns and routes associated with trafficking activity that is not detected, seized or reported by enforcement authorities.”
Commenting on the report, Jon Godson, Assistant Director of Environment at IATA, said: “Many airlines recognise the need to combat wildlife trafficking and are stepping up as leaders in this global effort. Airline staff spend more time with passengers and baggage than customs authorities and can provide a key source of intelligence for enforcement agencies.”
Added Juliana Scavuzzi, Senior Manager of Environment at Airports Council International (ACI) World: “Traffickers are increasingly abusing transport systems to move their products quickly and securely. During the journey from source to market, airports may be used in the transit. This provides airports with an important opportunity to play their role in preventing wildlife trafficking. ACI is committed to developing a framework to fight wildlife trafficking and support our members with their efforts.”
The ‘In Plane Sight’ report was produced by C4ADS (Center for Advanced Defense Studies) as part of the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership, a collaboration of US government agencies, IATA and NGOs WWF, Freeland and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
“Wildlife trafficking has global implications for the environment, people and communities, and national security. Seizure data like this is vital to helping regulators, enforcement and industry take action,” said TRAFFIC’s Michelle Owen, the ROUTES Partnership Lead. “Criminals involved in wildlife trafficking are often directly connected to other illegal networks, including narcotics and human trafficking. By addressing wildlife trafficking, airports and airlines not only help protect endangered species, they also strengthen their operations and supply chains.”
Legal challenges against Heathrow expansion filed in High Court over environmental and climate concerns
Tue 14 Aug 2018 – Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities have issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the UK’s Transport Secretary over the expansion of Heathrow Airport. The five councils claim the government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which sets out support for the project to add a third runway, fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and surface access, and was a flawed consultation process. The challenge is also supported by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace. Lawyers acting for another environmental campaign group, Friends of the Earth (FoE), have also started formal legal action at the High Court on the basis that allowing the building of a new runway is unlawful as it fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations.
“The government’s airports strategy completely ignores its obligations to tackle climate change – this is short-sighted, incredibly reckless and we believe it is unlawful,” said FoE Director of Campaigns Liz Hutchins. “Allowing the aviation industry to pump more pollution into the atmosphere will make it far harder to prevent catastrophic climate change, and leaves future generations to suffer the consequences.”
Lawyers Leigh Day, which filed papers on behalf of Friends of the Earth with the High Court last week, argue the government’s NPS:
- Does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008;
- Does not factor in the Paris Agreement’s global warming limits;
- Fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a third runway; and
- Does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations of a third runway, who will be stranded with the climate-damaging infrastructure.
“Our client believes that the expansion of Heathrow Airport will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in GHGs that will be necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for the environment and future generations,” commented Rowan Smith from Leigh Day’s public law team. “In no sensible terms can this be described as sustainable development, when the additional costs of carbon offsetting and the global warming potential of non-CO2 emissions from aviation do not feature in the government’s plans.
“The government has a legal duty to take into account climate change policy and the Paris Agreement it has committed to with the global community. The NPS does not adequately consider those factors and we therefore will argue that it is unlawful.”
FoE said it expected a decision in the autumn on whether there will be a full hearing.
Hillingdon Council is one of the local authorities likely to be impacted by air traffic from the proposed new northwest runway.
“The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable,” said its Leader, Councillor Ray Puddifoot. “This council is not prepared to stand back and allow this to happen without submitting the many flaws in this project to the rigorous scrutiny of the High Court and beyond, if necessary.
“I have confidence in the judicial process and am hopeful that, as with the previous judicial review challenge which was heard back in 2010, the court will expose the many failings of this ill-thought-through project.”
A third legal challenge has been made in papers filed at the High Court by the independent Heathrow Hub, which unsuccessfully proposed expanding Heathrow capacity by extending the existing northern runway to make two runways. It too states the government process was flawed. As a result, it argues the Transport Secretary “has selected the most expensive, complex, disruptive expansion plan which, among other things, is believed will cause a substantial rise in fees for passengers and airlines.”
In June, the government won support for the building of a new Heathrow runway when MPs voted 415-119 in favour of the plan. It is expected to lay out how air traffic growth at Heathrow can be achieved within environmental constraints in its Aviation Strategy to be published in early 2019.
The proposed third runway would allow an increase from the current 480,000 take-offs and landings each year to around 740,000, with passenger capacity rising from around 78 million last year to 130 million. Depending on the outcome of the judicial review process and final planning consent, construction of the runway could begin in 2021 and be operational by 2026. According to Heathrow Airport, expansion would provide up to £187 billion ($238bn) in economic growth benefits to the UK, create up to 180,000 jobs across the UK and add new routes.
Airspace efficiency improvements by NATS and FABEC states result in lower fuel burn and emissions for airlines
Mon 13 Aug 2018 – UK air traffic services company NATS reports more than 200,000 tonnes of aircraft CO2 emissions were saved last year as a result of improvements from more fuel efficient ways of using UK airspace. NATS calculates the reduction has saved airlines more than £30 million ($38m) in annual fuel costs over the year and resulted in an overall cut of 6.4% in CO2 per flight since 2008. Progress has been achieved by using more direct routes and improved vertical profiles, the use of continuous instead of stepped climbs and descents, and the introduction of new air traffic management technologies. Meanwhile, almost 13,000 tonnes of airline CO2 emissions have been saved as a result of seasonal arrangements between six European air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in charge of the FABEC airspace.
In the UK, NATS has introduced over 30 procedural changes in the past year in an effort to find better and more efficient routes for airlines in the upper airspace. In addition, upgrades to the GAATS+ system that controllers at NATS’ Prestwick control centre use to manage transatlantic traffic enabled 147,160 tonnes of CO2 savings by allowing aircraft to fly more efficient routes.
The company says priority has been given to handing more environmental data to operational staff. Last year, it began sharing data with individual teams of controllers, using ‘nudge theory’ principles to allow them to compare performance and share ideas for improvements.
“It’s now been a decade since our environmental programme was launched and driven by the passion and enthusiasm of our employees, we have achieved some ambitious improvements in how our airspace is managed. These are delivering big benefits both to our airline customers and the wider environment,” said Ian Jopson, NATS’ Head of Environment and Community Affairs.
“As our airspace gets busier, we will continue to work with our airport partners and local communities to help address issues around noise, and to deliver the major airspace modernisation programme the UK needs to meet our future capacity and sustainability aspirations.”
The airspace of the six FABEC (Functional Airspace Block Europe Central) countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland – is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. However, the intensity of air traffic varies throughout the year and there is normally a smaller volume of traffic during the winter months.
This has enabled individual FABEC air traffic control centres the opportunity to use improved flight profiles with their neighbouring units during this period and bring about reductions in fuel burn and CO2 emissions. Overall, the ANSPs have improved over 111 flight profiles and identified another 42 for possible implementation.
FABEC says flexible airspace management has increased considerably in its airspace, with daily improved international cooperation.
Finnair study finds travelling public would pay extra to reduce environmental impact of flights
Mon 13 Aug 2018 – According to a consumer research study by Finnair, almost all Finns – 94%– want to reduce the emissions from their air travel and three-quarters are willing to pay extra as part of the ticket price, but want the charge to be used directly for environmental purposes. Respondents supported the use of biofuels (55%) and carbon capture (28%) from forests and other biomass as the best alternatives for reducing the environmental impacts of flying. Only 11%, however, were in favour of a tax on flights, with 73% responding such a tax should not be introduced if the proceeds could not be directly attributed to environmental efforts. The study also showed the majority of Finns were unaware of international market mechanisms to address aviation emissions.
A majority of the respondents (60%) to the survey – which was conducted earlier this summer by Innolink Research and Spring Advisor, and involved interviewing around 1,200 Finns – did not know aviation was part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme or the global CORSIA emissions scheme.
Of the 76% of respondents who were willing to pay more for a flight ticket or alternatively pay an additional charge towards reducing the environmental impacts of their journey, there was a wide variation in what was considered the appropriate amount to pay. The majority were ready to pay around five to 20 euros ($6-23) extra for a one-way flight within Europe, with almost 20% willing to pay more than that.
“The study – as well as direct feedback from our customers – shows that environmental awareness has clearly increased,” said Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo. “It was great to see that so many customers are ready to invest in more responsible air travel and developing this responsibility is a common objective for us all.”
Finnair does not currently operate a passenger carbon offset scheme, believing in the ‘polluter pays’ principle and that it is up to the airline to take steps to reduce its emissions. However, Finnair says it is in discussions with potential partners following the results of the survey and from early 2019, customers will be able to purchase biofuel to be included and blended on a later flight, or support a carbon capture project with a sum of their choice.
“It is very important for us that the alternatives we offer will actually help to reduce the carbon load,” said Vauramo, who is due to leave the company shortly. “Investment in new fuel-efficient aircraft is our most important and impactful environmental action, but we also work with the environment in mind in our daily flight operations, and we participate in international initiatives to reduce emissions.”
According to its 2017 annual report, Finnair’s jet fuel consumption and CO2 emissions increased by 47,000 tonnes, or 5.4%, last year compared to the previous year as a result of traffic growth. However, fuel efficiency improved by 6.7% and CO2 emissions from flight operations fell from 26.53 in 2016 to 24.76 kg/100 revenue tonne kilometres in 2017. This was largely due to the continued replacement of Airbus A340 widebody aircraft with A350 XWB aircraft, which are meant to be an average 25% more fuel efficient.
“Fly with airlines that have a modern fleet, fly the shortest route, pack light and combine air travel with other traffic modes,” advised Vauramo. “In the future, our customers will also be able to support carbon footprint reducing projects easily through Finnair.”
Finnair – Corporate Responsibility