GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 22 MARCH 2019
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Growing support among EU environment ministers for applying further carbon pricing on aviation emissions
Wed 20 Mar 2019 – A recent proposal by the Netherlands finance ministry for an EU-wide aviation tax to deal with the sector’s growing emissions has received backing from a Belgian environment minister at a meeting of the Council of European Environment Ministers. The call was supported by France, Sweden and Luxembourg. The Belgian minister, Jean-Luc Crucke, asked for the issue to be fully debated at the next Council meeting in June. He said a carbon pricing system should be applied to aviation that was in fair competition with other forms of transport, such as rail. The Netherlands is planning an international conference with EU States, also in June, to discuss carbon pricing and aviation, and how States can work together. The UK government said last week it will look at whether travel providers such as airlines should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.
In a statement to the Environment Council, Crucke said aviation emissions in the EU had increased in the region of 21% over the last three years. “Belgium believes further efforts are necessary to tackle this increase in emissions from the aviation sector and to stop other economic sectors in Europe having to compensate for this increase. A key element should be fair pricing for air transport.”
He said no carbon pricing or taxation was applied to jet kerosene and although rail transport emitted considerably less emissions, it was taxed more and as a result it was often more expensive to take the train rather than the plane.
“The EU has to play a leading role in the discussion and this has to be done as soon as possible,” he said.
Crucke called for a European pricing system that was fair and coordinated, took into account the externalities of air transport, applied the ‘polluter pays’ principle and established fair competition with other forms of transport. “A European pricing system could encourage airlines and the aviation industry to take the necessary measures to ensure the transition towards a climate-neutral economy,” he told EU environment ministers.
Brune Poirson, Secretary of State at France’s ecological ministry, noted civil aviation was already decarbonising through the EU ETS and shortly through ICAO’s CORSIA mechanism.
“Nonetheless, France fully shares the diagnosis provided by the Netherlands and Belgium,” she said. “We need to go further so that aviation fits into the framework of the Paris Agreement.
“We ask fellow citizens to make efforts in their everyday lives to cut vehicle emissions, for example, while not acting on an important sector like aviation. Consistency is the key word here if we are to have public acceptance of environmental policy. France fully supports thinking about this at the European level.
“All appropriate avenues – such as taxing kerosene and applying VAT – should be investigated, without having any particular instrument from the outset. We also need to think about how these instruments would fit together and the June conference might be an opportunity to do that.”
She added the issue should be part of the working programme for the next five-year term of the European Commission, which will start later this year, and be incorporated into the overall legislative framework.
Sweden’s Minister for the Environment and Climate, Isabelle Lövin, said her country was extremely committed to reducing emissions from aviation. “We recently implemented a tax on air travel and we will be introducing additional measures that may not be directly related to carbon pricing or taxing aviation but we will be investigating taking further action at the national level,” she reported. “However, it will be extremely useful to have an enabling order at the EU and international level, which is crucial to having a level playing field and acceptance for any measures we need to take to reduce emissions from aviation, so we support the issue.”
Luxembourg’s environment minister, Carole Dieschbourg, said with the ratification of the Paris Agreement it was now time for urgent action to implement it in every sector, including aviation.
“The ‘polluter pays’ principle is one we’ve always espoused when it comes to environmental policy,” she said. “Charging so that external costs are factored in is an important step on the way to a carbon-neutral Europe. We would like to discuss every option and explore the analysis of the impacts on business and the environment, which would allow us to improve the consistency between different sector policies.”
Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, said the Netherlands had a strong preference for an EU approach with respect to aviation taxation since divergent national approaches could fragment the EU’s single market, increase tax uncertainty and destabilise a level playing field.
“We only have one planet, and if we do not reduce emissions from aviation then we will have to reduce elsewhere, so we need to be credible and consistent, and work on aviation. It should better reflect environmental and social costs in the ticket pricing.”
She said the Netherlands would be sending out invitations shortly to its high-level conference on June 20-21, in which the focus would be on carbon pricing and aviation taxation.
Closing the debate, the European Commissioner for the environment, Karmenu Vella, said between 1990 and 2016 there had been a near-doubling (+95%) of CO2 emissions from flights departing the EU28 and EFTA countries. He said there was a need to integrate the negative societal costs relating to GHG emissions, air pollution and noise into transport tax systems.
“These external costs are currently not sufficiently factored into the pricing mechanisms and consequently the cost of these external effects is carried by society as a whole,” he said. “Smart taxation will create incentives for using the most climate-friendly modes and support behavioural changes.”
He said there were several existing policy tools for dealing with aviation and the Commission would look at the issue when preparing for the next review of the EU ETS directive. Another potential instrument, he suggested, could be the energy taxation directive, which aims to enhance a level playing field in the single market among energy consumers and suppliers. The Commission is currently reviewing the directive and Vella said it would assess the tax treatment of the aviation sector.
“Following the results of the evaluation and taking into account the global policy context, the Commission will assess the need to make new legislative proposals to better take into account the environmental challenges and align taxation of energy accordingly,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his Spring Statement last week, the UK’s Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced the government’s intention to give the public the option to travel ‘zero carbon’. It will launch a ‘call for evidence’ to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. The consultation will also look into whether airlines and travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.
The UK government is currently defending a series of legal challenges in the High Court brought by local authorities, the Mayor of London and environmental campaigners against its decision to approve a new runway and expansion at Heathrow Airport. A challenge by Friends of the Earth argues the decision is unlawful “fundamentally because it failed to have regard to the desirability of mitigating climate change in the context of the UN’s Paris Agreement and the non-CO2 contribution of aviation to global warming.”
Environment Council session (video stream of aviation emissions debate starts at 2:20:00)
Boeing launches sustainable aviation fuel delivery flight option with Alaska as first customer
Tue 19 Mar 2019 – Boeing is to offer customer airlines and operators the option of having delivery flights of their new aircraft powered by blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The option will be available for customers accepting new aircraft from Boeing’s delivery centres in Seattle and Everett, and it is working to extend the option at its centre in South Carolina. The manufacturer also plans to use SAF for certain flight tests at its Boeing Field facility. The fuel will be supplied by World Energy from its Paramount refinery in California. The first participant in the programme is Alaska Airlines when it takes delivery of three Boeing 737 MAX airplanes intended for this year. Meanwhile, Airbus, which first introduced the delivery flight SAF option in 2016, has added China Southern Airlines to its programme with the delivery of an A320neo to the carrier’s Guangzhou base.
The Paramount facility is the world’s first facility designed to commercially produce renewable jet fuel and the biofuel produced for Boeing will be made from agriculture waste. It will be shipped to Boeing’s delivery centres in Washington state by EPIC Fuels, which has supported Boeing’s evaluation of biofuels on its ecoDemonstrator flight-test programme.
“Companies such as Boeing understand their obligation to the communities they serve and have taken meaningful action to transition to cleaner energy and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Bryan Sherbacow, World Energy’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Our job is to manage the low-carbon fuel supply chain to provide the product these leaders need to efficiently operate and drive positive change.”
Following its pioneering support of the first commercial aviation test flight to use biofuels by Virgin Atlantic in 2008, Boeing conducted extensive research, testing and review alongside other aircraft and engine manufacturers and stakeholders, leading to approval of the first biofuel blends for commercial use in 2011. It has also worked around the world to set up projects using feedstocks such as forestry and agriculture waste, Brazilian sugarcane and plants irrigated by coastal seawater in the United Arab Emirates.
“This is another step in our decade-long journey to encourage the adoption of sustainable fuels and help commercial aviation earn its licence to keep growing,” commented Sheila Remes, VP Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, on the delivery option programme. “We have great customers such as Alaska Airlines that have made good progress in adopting the use of biofuels. We hope this new option will make it easier for them and others to demonstrate our industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
Responded Diana Birkett Rakow, VP External Relations at Alaska Airlines: “We congratulate our partners at Boeing for operationalising a drop-in sustainable aviation jet fuel option. We’re excited to not only take advantage of the first biofuel delivery, but to continue working together to advance and scale mainstream adoption of sustainable fuel and other practices to enhance the aviation industry’s ability to do good.”
The Airbus delivery flight option was developed in association with Air Total, which has installed a biofuel station adjacent to the Airbus delivery centre in Toulouse. More than 30 aircraft have so far been delivered since the facility was inaugurated in May 2016. The first was an Airbus A350 delivery to Cathay Pacific, which used a 10% blend of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris from Brazilian sugar cane (see article). The Hong Kong-based carrier entered into a two-year agreement with Airbus on deliveries of new A350s.
In September 2018, Airbus introduced the biofuel option on delivery flights from its A320 family production facility in Mobile, Alabama, with JetBlue the first carrier to take advantage (see article). Airbus says it is working towards also offering the option from its facilities in Hamburg, Germany, and Tianjin, China.
“We are excited to welcome China Southern Airlines to our sustainable fuel programme,” said Simone Rauer, Head of Aviation Operations for Environmental Affairs at Airbus. “We are moving towards the regular use of new and sustainable energy sources in our industry, helping to meet the commitments of the international civil aviation community.”
Added Wu Rongxin, SVP Strategic Planning & Investment Division of China Southern: “We are proud to have taken delivery of our first aircraft to be partially powered by sustainable biofuel. This reflects our clear commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment and to be among those airlines leading the way to using alternative fuel sources.”
Agreement on sustainability criteria and advisory body for CORSIA carbon credits welcomed, although with reservations from NGOs
Fri 15 Mar 2019 – Although still to be confirmed, the ICAO Council is understood to have appointed 19 members to the Technical Advisory Body (TAB) that will evaluate and make recommendations to the Council on eligible programmes and units for the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. The setting up of the TAB and its terms of reference were agreed at the Council’s 216th Session last week, which also approved the emissions unit criteria (EUC) that aim to ensure only credible emissions units, or carbon credits, can be used by airlines to offset their emissions. The Council agreement on the EUC and the TAB has been welcomed by the aviation industry and the carbon markets as a “significant milestone” and “big step forward” in the development of CORSIA. While adding their welcome to the Council decisions, NGOs said the criteria still left the door open to dubious credits and expressed concerns over transparency.
The aviation industry said the Council had taken another key step towards CORSIA deployment and great progress had been made in the underlying technical work to determine which emissions units should be eligible for the scheme.
“It is important for the industry that strong sustainability standards are applied for the types of eligibility offsets. This will ensure that CORSIA is an effective climate measure which has always been a key priority for the industry,” said Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-sector Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
“The decision by the ICAO Council on the sustainability criteria is fundamental in providing certainty to carbon markets as they develop projects ready to be supported by airlines ahead of the pilot phase of CORSIA in 2021.”
Dirk Forrister, CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), agreed CORSIA had taken a big step forward but said more work was needed to bring the scheme into commercial operation. “We stand ready to provide further input into ICAO’s stakeholder engagement process and to ensure that it benefits from the experience and expertise of carbon market professionals as CORSIA kicks into gear.”
Added Robert Stevens, head of IETA’s Aviation Task Force: “Generating emissions reductions often takes years – from the start of construction of a project through to the first issuance of carbon credits – so it’s important the TAB starts work as soon as possible.”
IETA welcomed inclusion in the criteria of provisions preventing the double counting of emissions reductions. “This is essential to build market confidence,” said Eva Weightman, IETA’s Aviation Policy Director. “Investors need to know they have clear title to reduction units, and that there can be no competing claims.”
In a paper published by IATA during the last UNFCCC COP meeting in December, the airline industry too has supported the approach taken by ICAO to address double-counting, in which an emission reduction is counted by both the airline and the country where the reduction took place.
US-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) welcomed the ban on double-counting but warned it can only be avoided with robust guidelines “that include the necessary level of engagement and transparent accounting by the country in which the emission reductions underlying the offset takes place.”
Added Annie Petsonk, International Counsel at EDF: “It’s not in anyone’s interest to allow into CORSIA offsets that are double counted or lack climate benefit. The emission reductions used by airlines need to represent real climate action.”
While the Council pledge to issue an open invitation to carbon reduction programmes to apply for eligibility, publish programmes on the ICAO website and invite public comment on them were positive steps, EDF said there were still doubts on whether CORSIA would operate with integrity. The membership of TAB was still undisclosed to date, as were its conflict of interest procedures and operational guidelines, it pointed out.
“Most worrying is the possibility that the board’s recommendations would remain confidential – a near total departure from normal UN practice,” said the NGO.
Baroness Bryony Worthington, Executive Director of EDF Europe, said: “Given the massive lack of transparency around ICAO generally and the board in particular, there is as of yet, no guarantee CORSIA overall will result in genuine carbon offsets and thereby make a meaningful contribution towards climate protection.”
In addition, pointed out EDF, the criteria do not include a restriction on dubious credits generated pre-2020, before the start date of CORSIA, or left over from the Kyoto Protocol. European countries have called for a vintage restriction on credits but this is expected to be left to the TAB to make recommendations, perhaps based on specific projects or programmes, and the Council to take a decision at a later stage.
“If detailed rules restricting old vintages and requiring host party engagement and holistic accounting aren’t clearly laid out in public guidelines and adhered to, then an in-principle ban isn’t good enough,” said Petsonk. “The Council must ensure ICAO implements a CORSIA that works.”
Brussels-based Carbon Market Watch (CMW) said CORSIA needed not only robust credit quality criteria but also a vintage restriction of 2020 based on project start date.
Commented Policy Officer Gilles Dufrasne: “It’s a welcome step to have rules in place to ensure that credits purchased by airlines are environmentally and socially sustainable. However, unless the Council agrees on a cut-off date for what projects are allowed in, there is a risk that worthless, old credits flood the market, meaning that the scheme could have zero positive impact on climate.”
The NGO has just released an assessment of credit providers against one of the Council’s agreed CORSIA eligibility criteria, the Program Design Elements, a primary role of the TAB when operational. The programmes analysed are the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Verra, Gold Standard, Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Climate Action Reserve and Plan Vivo.
The findings conclude that all programmes will need to adopt new protocols in order to be eligible to provide credits under CORSIA. “This is particularly true for criteria relating to safeguards, sustainable development and double-counting, which several programmes do not currently meet,” states CMW. “Some programmes, such as the CDM, meet the criteria on paper even though we know that in practice they are of very poor quality. This underlines the need for the TAB to carry out more detailed assessment of methodologies and projects.”
On avoiding double-counting, it says governments will be required to reach an agreement on the international carbon market rules, which they have so far failed to achieve. “While the main responsibility falls on countries, programmes will have to have procedures in place to verify that emission reductions have not been claimed somewhere else and, if necessary, to invalidate issued credits,” adds CMW.
It calls on ICAO to ensure the TAB works in a transparent manner, including by opening up its meetings to outside observers and making documentation about its work publicly available.
“As things stand, nothing is eligible under CORSIA, so countries need to get their act together and agree on accounting rules, and programmes need to plug the remaining holes in their protocols,” said Dufrasne. “The TAB’s task of assessing programme eligibility will be key to ensuring the effectiveness of this carbon market.”
FAA launches voluntary MRV Program for US aircraft operators participating in CORSIA
Tue 12 Mar 2019 – The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched the CORSIA MRV Program for US airplane operators with international flights participating in the ICAO carbon offsetting scheme. According to ICAO, it is mandatory for all operators, regardless of the country they are based in, to report verified CO2 emissions above a certain threshold from 1 January 2019. However, the FAA says the Program is completely voluntary and participants may request to be removed from it at any time although, it adds, it will only be effective if a critical mass of operators volunteer to participate. The reported emissions for 2019/2020 will be submitted by the FAA to ICAO to enable the setting of CORSIA’s global 2020 baseline and the agency says that in the event it does not receive data from an operator it will include an estimate in the aggregate data. In the notice, the FAA reiterates continued US support for CORSIA is conditional on a number of external factors.
“The United States supported the decision to adopt the CORSIA SARPs based on the understanding that CORSIA is the exclusive market-based measure applying to international aviation, and that CORSIA will ensure fair and reciprocal competition by avoiding a patchwork of country- or regionally-based regulatory measures that are inconsistently applied, bureaucratically costly, and economically damaging,” says the Notice in a thinly disguised reference to Europe’s emissions trading system.
And in response to fast-growing aviation countries that have yet to commit to joining the initial voluntary phases of CORSIA starting in 2021, it adds: “Furthermore, continued US support for CORSIA assumes a high level of participation by other countries, particularly by countries with significant aviation activity, as well as a final CORSIA package that is acceptable to, and implementable by, the United States.”
The Program enables the United States to establish uniformity with the CORSIA standards and recommended practices (SARPs) adopted by ICAO in June 2018, says the FAA. The SARPs apply to all operators that produce annual CO2 emissions greater than 10,000 tonnes from the use of an airplane with a maximum certificated take-off mass greater than 5,700kg conducting international flights, with the exception of humanitarian, medical and firefighting flights.
The decision by the FAA to make its MRV Program voluntary instead of mandatory is due to the lack of adequate time to undertake rulemaking to have the programme in place for the 2019/2020 period, the agency told GreenAir.
The FAA defines a “critical mass” of participation in its Program as operators representing 90% of total international fuel consumption in 2017, as derived from the US DoT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Once the critical mass of voluntary operators has been achieved, the FAA will notify all participants. If the number of participants subsequently falls below critical mass, the FAA says it will inform participants directly or through a public notice.
However, an FAA spokesman said: “The FAA anticipates a high level of participation by US aircraft operators based on public statements and information received to date. In addition, as described in the Program notice, the FAA will post a listing of participants on the Program website, including the status of each participant’s submissions, which will provide transparency on the level of compliance by US operators.”
Although the FAA may report aggregate operator emissions data, it says it will not report individual operator data to ICAO for the reporting years 2019 and 2020. It also makes clear that if the Program is extended to cover reporting for 2021 and beyond, much of the operator information and aggregate data to be transmitted to ICAO will eventually be made publicly available through the CORSIA Central Registry.
“Participants should understand that the fact of their participation in the Program will not be confidential,” it adds. “The FAA intends to make a listing of Program Participants available to the public and ICAO, as appropriate.”
The FAA says it anticipates that if appropriate it will conduct rulemaking or take other action to implement the offsetting and other mandatory provisions of CORSIA.
Meanwhile, on the same day the FAA launched its CORSIA MRV Program, the European Commission published its delegated regulation on implementing ICAO CORSIA SARPs for aviation emissions monitoring, reporting and verification. The Commission says it is among the first jurisdictions to adopt legally binding legislative provisions for the purposes of implementing CORSIA.
The delegated act has already undergone stakeholder consultations prior to adoption and will now be subject to scrutiny from the European Parliament and the Council of EU member states for a period of two months. A Commission official said he did not anticipate further changes to the regulation.
Ryanair to donate 1 million euros from its carbon offset programme to four climate and conservation projects
Mon 11 Mar 2019 – Following a decision by Europe’s biggest low-cost airline Ryanair to launch a voluntary carbon offsetting option for customers in 2018, the airline has announced its first international environmental partnerships. Over €1 million ($1.1m) raised from passengers and the airline will be donated to projects in Uganda, Portugal and Ireland. These include a partnership with First Climate to support and disseminate energy-efficient cookstoves in Uganda, and an Irish group dedicated to the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises. The other two projects involve tree replanting in an area of Portugal devastated by wildfires in 2018 and preserving and restoring native woodland in Ireland. Not previously noted for a commitment to environmentalism, Ryanair last year set emissions reduction targets and said it supported long-term industry climate goals.
“We are delighted to announce our first ever environmental partners, supporting four great projects across Europe and Africa,” said Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs. “At Ryanair, we are committed to minimising our own environmental impact. With this latest initiative we continue to lead the way, and we encourage our customers to support these exciting partnerships by making carbon offset donations when booking flights on our website.”
First Climate CEO Jochen Gassner said that without the voluntary commitment of the private sector, the aim of the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2 degrees C was unattainable. “We therefore highly welcome Ryanair’s and their passengers’ commitment to climate change mitigation and are very grateful for the support of our climate protection project in Uganda.
“By distributing energy-efficient cookstoves, the project enables families to reduce their fuel, wood and charcoal consumption and helps fight the causes of deforestation. It is certified by the highly regarded Gold Standard, evidencing the exceptional benefits of this emissions reduction project and its contribution towards sustainable development on the ground.”
The cookstoves are produced and distributed locally to generate local employment, and they enable users to reduce their fuel consumption by 35-50%, says First Climate. Because of their increased combustion efficiency, using the cookstoves also produces notably less pollution, so posing less risk to health as well as climate. The project area has been gradually extended from metropolitan Kampala to other parts of the country and more than 450,000 households have already benefitted from the cookstoves.
Last August, wildfires devastated the Monchique area situated in the tourist destination of the Algarve in southern Portugal. Renature Monchique is helping restore important forest habitat.
“We welcome the support of Ryanair and its passengers as we restore vital habitats, not only the species that flourish here but also the woodlands, forests and river bank vegetation that make up this culturally important place,” said Marlene Marques, President of GEOTA, a Portuguese environmental protection group, on behalf of Renature Monchique.
“In so doing, Ryanair is also supporting the local council to meet their requirements under the UN Sustainable Development Goals by preventing further land degradation and supporting the climate change mitigation efforts of carbon sequestration by planting trees.”
Irish NGO The Native Woodland Trust aims to preserve the country’s remaining ancient woodlands and recreating woodlands using only native seed.
“We rely heavily on corporate sponsorship and public donations for the vast bulk of our income – over 95% in some years,” said the Trust’s Chairman, Jim Lawlor. “In return, we protect seven woodland reserves across Ireland, with more becoming available in the near future. These reserves provide amenities to local communities, as well as protecting rare and endangered wildlife.
“We are extremely grateful to Ryanair and its customers for enabling us to carry out this unique project, which will protect our threatened wildlife and offset carbon emissions into the bargain.”
The funding from Ryanair to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) will help support the Whale Track Ireland project that is to determine what large baleen whales are doing in Irish waters. It will enable IWDG to survey waters not currently covered by its network of citizen scientists and to carry out dedicated fieldwork to photograph, biopsy and use drones to measure the body condition of both humpback and fin whales.
“The IWDG is committed to protecting these species and their habitats and in order to achieve this, we need to gain a better understanding of how they use Irish waters,” said IWDG CEO Dr Simon Berrow. “With Ryanair support, we will strive to ensure Irish waters remain a sanctuary for whales and in so doing we will help create healthier ecosystems for both marine species and coastal communities.”
Ryanair published its first environmental policy statement last year, saying it was committed to minimising its environmental and climate impact (see article). It set a goal of achieving an emissions rate of 61.4 grams of CO2 per passenger km by 2030, 9% lower than its current rate and, it claimed, 31% lower than the average of the four other biggest European airlines. It also committed to IATA’s long-term target of a 50% net reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 against 2005 levels.
As well as introducing the voluntary mechanism to allow customers to offset the carbon cost of their journeys, Ryanair said it would work to remove all non-recyclable plastics from its operations over the next five years.
“We are already Europe’s greenest airline, operating the youngest fleet – average age of six years – with the highest load factors,” said Jacobs.
Proposal for Sweden to follow Norway’s lead and mandate use of sustainable aviation fuels from 2021
Thu 7 Mar 2019 – A report commissioned by the Swedish government to investigate how GHG emissions can be reduced from aviation has proposed a mandate requiring fuel companies from 2021 to provide airlines refuelling at the country’s airports with a proportion of sustainable aviation fuel. An initial requirement would be for 1% of sustainable aviation fuel be blended with jet kerosene, rising to 5% in 2025 and 30% in 2030. The mandated use of SAF would reduce overall aviation GHG emissions by 0.8% in 2021 and up to 27% by 2030, estimates the report carried out by former Green Party leader Maria Wetterstrand. Norway has recently announced a 0.5% blending mandate in 2020. Finland-based SAF producer Neste, which welcomes the moves, said the market should be able to satisfy the volume demand for both countries.
Neste estimates the 1% Swedish mandate would require around 11,000 tonnes of SAF, rising to 340,000 tonnes in 2030. The company has started producing first commercial-scale volumes of its MY Renewable Jet Fuel made out of waste and residues and recently announced it is to build additional capacity that will enable production up to 1 million tonnes annually by 2022.
The company’s CEO Peter Vanacker congratulated the Wetterstrand proposal. “We need forerunners and courageous countries to lead the way in the sustainable growth of aviation,” he commented. “The announcement sets a clear and bold target, and shows the direction aviation must take in order to reach its emission reduction target. It also creates the necessary predictability in demand for Neste and other renewable jet fuel producers to invest in increasing production.”
Wetterstrand told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that although some people would say her proposal was too weak, because of the limited availability of biofuels it would take time to boost volumes. “We don’t want to set demands we cannot live up to,” she said.
The English-language online publication The Local says Wetterstrand estimates the initial 1% mandate would increase the cost of a flight to Europe by 18 Swedish kronor ($1.90) to cover the extra cost of the SAF if passed on to the passenger and by about 250 kronor ($26) on a long-haul flight in 2030. She said it was important to work with the industry so that airlines did not opt to refuel their planes in other countries.
“If planes choose to tank up on a load of extra fuel to avoid refuelling in Sweden, that would increase emissions because the planes would be heavier, so that would be extremely negative from a climate standpoint,” she said.
Swedish airport operator Swedavia has also offered its support to the Wetterstrand proposal, which it says is a better choice than a passenger tax.
“Effective, long-term policy instruments are needed to reduce the negative climate impact of aviation. Introducing a reduction quota scheme as an alternative to the national aviation tax is thus a step in the right direction since it both reduces emissions and contributes to Swedish, large-scale production of biofuel,” said Swedavia CEO Jonas Abrahamsson. “If Sweden takes the global lead regarding biofuel production, we can create a brand-new industry and many new jobs in Sweden. So it is really positive that the report also highlights this perspective.”
The airport operator has its own target for 5% of jet fuel used at all its 10 Swedish airports to be fossil-free by 2025. Since 2016, it has started purchasing jet biofuel equivalent to the amount of fuel used for the company’s business air travel, around 450 tonnes of fuel annually.
In December, Swedavia refuelled aircraft at five of its airports for a few days with a portion of blended jet fuel derived from used cooking oil.
The Swedish aviation industry has set a goal for domestic air travel to be fossil-free by 2030 and for all air travel in the country to be fossil-free by 2045.
ICAO Council approves criteria for CORSIA emissions units and structure for new body overseeing eligibility
Wed 6 Mar 2019 – The ICAO Council has approved – unanimously, according to one source – the Emissions Units Criteria (EUC) that will underpin the environmental integrity of carbon offset credits to be used by airlines under the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. Agreement was also reached by the Council at its 216th Session for the operationalisation of the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), a group of experts nominated by States that will recommend to the Council eligible units against the criteria. Emissions unit programmes that wish to be considered for eligibility in CORSIA will be invited to apply for consideration by the TAB and applications will be made available for public comment. As yet, it is unclear whether Council members agreed on whether a vintage date should be applied to offset projects or on the composition of the TAB membership.
The formation of the TAB and adoption of the EUC was tasked to the Council in the CORSIA resolution (A39-3, para 20) passed at ICAO’s last Assembly in 2016. The proposed EUC was drafted over a year ago and a Programme Testing Group (PTG) set up within ICAO’s environmental technical committee (CAEP) has carried out informal testing of seven emissions unit programmes against the EUC.
Emissions unit programmes administer and facilitate the use of ‘rule-sets’, which define how third parties must design and implement mitigation activities to earn emissions units. The EUC now approved by the Council include carbon offset credit integrity criteria that would be expected to be found in a programme’s rule-set (see below). The EUC also include programme design elements – procedures and systems that programmes should have in place for governing their rule-sets (see below). The PTG is understood to have found the EUC meet the purpose of identifying programmes with robust environmental integrity and recommended the Council use its work as a starting point for the TAB’s work.
CAEP has also provided input and advice to the Council on additional rules of procedure for the TAB. The Council has now further approved the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the new body, including its mandate, tasks and working methods. Based on the TOR, says ICAO, the TAB will initiate work by defining its work programme and timeline.
All States have been invited to nominate experts to the TAB, which is expected to comprise 14 to 16 members, although could be more, and take into account geographical representation. Nominees are required to submit personal declarations regarding conflicts of interest and commit to the work of the TAB for at least one full compliance cycle (three years) of CORSIA.
According to ICAO, an open invitation will be issued on its CORSIA website to emissions unit programmes that wish to apply to be considered by the TAB for eligibility in CORSIA. Submitted applications will be published on the website and the public will be invited to submit comments on the submissions for consideration by the TAB, promises ICAO.
“These decisions related to the TAB are critical to the Council’s adoption of eligible units for CORSIA, representing another milestone in fulfilling the related requests by the 2016 Assembly,” commented Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.
CORSIA Emissions Unit Eligibility Criteria
Criteria for emissions unit integrity:
- Are additional
- Are based on a realistic and credible baseline
- Are quantified, monitored, reported and verified
- Have a clear and transparent chain of custody
- Represent permanent emissions reductions
- Assess and mitigate against potential increase in emissions elsewhere
- Are only counted once towards a mitigation obligation
- Do no net harm
Criteria for emissions unit programme design elements:
- Clear methodologies and protocols and their development process
- Scope considerations
- Offset credit issuance and retirement procedures
- Identification and tracking
- Legal nature and transfer of units
- Programme governance
- Transparency and public participation provisions
- Safeguards system
- Sustainable development criteria
- Avoidance of double counting, issuance and claiming
Update: The full version of the emissions unit eligibility criteria has now been posted on the ICAO CORSIA website here
Environmental NGOs call on ICAO’s governing Council to adopt CORSIA draft emission credits criteria with no changes
Tue 5 Mar 2019 – NGOs have joined the call for ICAO’s governing Council to adopt unchanged draft proposals for the Emissions Unit Criteria (EUC) that are essential to the environmental integrity of the global CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. The Council’s 216th Session concludes this week and representatives on the 36-State Council are due to discuss the criteria and to establish a Technical Advisory Body (TAB) that will make recommendations to the Council on eligible emission units for use under the scheme. European representatives on the Council have already urged their colleagues to approve a robust set of criteria during the session. In an open letter, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) calls on Council members to approve the draft EUC with no changes, ensure CORSIA emissions are not double-counted and to make TAB membership publicly available and its processes transparent.
ICSA, which is made up of six NGOs, is the only environmental civil society group accredited as an observer at ICAO. Its letter says CORSIA is at a critical juncture and the Council’s decisions on the EUC could help international aviation achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and create a global market that drives investment in low-carbon economic development.
“But if you choose to create a CORSIA that invites bad quality, double-counted emissions credits and secret backroom deals on programme eligibility, you will destroy CORSIA’s potential effectiveness, compromise the credibility of ICAO and the world’s airlines, and make global climate change worse,” warns the letter. “For CORSIA and ICAO, the stakes could not be higher.”
ICSA is urging the Council to approve the draft EUC with no changes. This is the position of Europe, the United States and other Western countries, although China has expressed concerns with terms like “social risks” and “social safeguards”.
ICSA points out the EUC are the product of three years of technical discussions in ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), the subject of discussion in many regional dialogues and have been circulated to Member States on several occasions.
Any weakening or changing of the EUC – particularly with regard to the crucial double-counting criterion – could cripple CORSIA’s integrity, it argues, adding: “Approving the EUC with no changes will send an important signal to stakeholders around the world that ICAO is serious about addressing international aviation’s environmental impact.”
Avoiding double-claiming, which occurs if an emissions reduction is counted towards the climate mitigation effort of both an airline and the host country of the emissions reduction activity, is fundamental to CORSIA’s environmental credibility, says ICSA.
“If aeroplane operators use double-claimed units to meet their CORSIA obligations, global emissions will go up, not down. ICAO and airlines will face harsh criticisms if units are double-counted in any way.”
Rules on double-counting were not agreed at the UNFCCC’s COP in Poland last December so as yet there are no international provisions in place with which airlines or emissions unit programmes can comply. “While ICAO can look to UNFCCC for signals on this issue, in the absence of clear rules issued by the UNFCCC COP, the Council should either require the TAB to adhere to the EUC provisions on avoiding double-counting, or ask CAEP to address the issue during the next CAEP/12 [three-year] cycle,” suggests ICSA.
A European call that a vintage restriction is adopted on the eligibility of units is supported by ICSA, which fears there will be a significant quantity of accumulated credits available to meet CORSIA demand that are of low environmental quality. It recommends that eligible units should be limited to those issued from projects with a start date of 2020 or later.
“Failure to agree on a vintage restriction based on projects start date would have serious implications on the mechanism’s climate impact and could potentially lead to an increase in overall emissions.”
The Council is due to discuss the procedures under which the TAB should operate but ICSA says these should be rejected unless the membership is made public in advance of the TAB’s work, its processes are made more transparent and its recommendations are published well in advance of Council decisions on programme eligibility.
With many millions of dollars at stake in airline purchases of carbon credits over the lifetime of CORSIA, the TAB must be open to public scrutiny to ensure stringent conflict-of-interest requirements for TAB membership are maintained, says ICSA. It calls for TAB meetings to be open to observation by representatives from Member States and observers who are not TAB members, recommendations on programme eligibility to be made public and Council decisions to follow or reject those recommendations to be explained clearly and publicly.
“Approving the EUC in their current form, ensuring that the EUC’s provisions on avoiding double-counting are respected and establishing a transparent, free of conflicts-of-interest TAB are crucial steps to make CORSIA a reality,” concludes the ICSA letter. “The Council must be aware that ICAO will experience substantial backlash if CORSIA fails to deliver on its promises. While airlines are eager to know as soon as possible which emission units will be eligible, the risks to CORSIA are enormous. The Council should not rush but should get it right.”