GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 30 MAY 2019
This is a text-only version. If you would like to see the full version of any article with images, videos, graphs, tables, related articles, etc, then click on the headline of the article.
Fulfilling climate obligations will be hard but we’re up to the challenge, promises aviation industry
Wed 29 May 2019 – Addressing aviation’s impact on climate change and meeting the challenge was a key theme at the Global Sustainable Aviation Forum (GSAF) in Montreal organised by the industry’s Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). While attention remains focused on ICAO’s CORSIA offsetting scheme delivering carbon neutral growth from 2020, the industry’s long-term goal of halving net CO2 emissions by 2050 is coming under greater scrutiny since the UN IPCC’s recent report calling for greater action if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided. While the industry set its long-term target a decade ago, governments at ICAO have yet to follow suit and some aviation representatives have urged the UN agency to take steps at its forthcoming Assembly in late September to move on the issue, although this is unlikely. ICAO’s own Environmental Symposium that took place the same week had a broad content, covering noise, air quality, climate adaptation, sustainable fuels, capacity building and operational issues.
“For a growing industry like air transport, halving emissions is a considerable challenge, particularly when you layer global politics on top of necessary climate action,” said ATAG Executive Director Michael Gill in an opening address to the Forum. “Fulfilling our climate obligations will be hard, but it is not a task which we can avoid. Indeed, we should be inspired by the challenge to engineer new technology aircraft and improve operational elements. We also need to accelerate work now to bring about a genuine energy transition in aviation, away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable energy sources.”
Gill said the industry’s long-term goal was in line with the Paris Agreement’s pledge to keep the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees C but acknowledged more countries were now looking towards net zero emissions targets. He revealed a cross-industry “team of experts” is currently examining its long-term goal and detailing a pathway to achieve it.
“But as we all know, the problem needs real solutions now, not just in 30 years’ time,” he told delegates. “This is why our plan includes the goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, to be pursued through CORSIA. But our plan also requires us to take decisive action in the next couple of years – certainly if we want to bring about a genuine energy transition in aviation.”
He said only a small number of the major oil companies appeared interested in the challenge of developing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production. “I would call on the traditional fuel suppliers to ‘read the tea leaves’ and acknowledge change is coming,” he urged. “We need them to get on board with this transition in a serious way before they are overtaken by companies more willing to innovate.”
He also called on airlines to commit to significant SAF uptake in the coming years. “This is really crucial. Governments must support this with appropriate policy structures,” he said. “To reach a commercialisation tipping point of around 2% of our fuel supply by 2025, it will require some 7 billion litres of SAF per year. Current estimates show that there are commitments for production facilities to meet half that volume already. So let’s raise our ambition levels and lay the foundations for not just our fuel supply out to 2025, but what has to actually become the main source of aviation energy in the coming decades.”
Gill said it was important to ensure CORSIA was robust through the monitoring of emissions and also in the quality of emissions units to be recognised by ICAO.
“It is estimated through CORSIA, airlines will fund at least $40 billion in climate action projects around the world,” he reported. “We want to make sure that our investments really do bring additional and high-quality CO2 reductions.”
He expressed concern that a small number of States, notably the European Union, were looking to adopt a different set of monitoring criteria rules from the agreed ICAO standards. “Global standards help boost ambition globally,” he said. “Whilst there may be concerns about the stringency of CORSIA from some States, the only way to ensure full coverage is to work alongside fellow States to help secure more volunteers [to join CORSIA].”
As governments looked to meet Paris commitments at a national level, he warned them not to take “the easy option” of taxation. “This brings with it little environmental integrity and simply prices lower-income citizens out of the travel market. It may be more complex to set up policy support for SAF, with more stakeholders involved, but it is the right move for both now and in the long term if we are to transition away from fossil fuels. Let us never forget that CO2 is the enemy in our struggle with climate change – not flying, not travel and not connectivity.”
Delivering the keynote address, Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu told delegates: “CORSIA was not arrived at easily – many stakeholders had to be brought to the table, including governments, who rarely agree on everything. As the Chair of IATA at the time, I can speak from direct experience that reaching an industry agreement [on market-based measures] was also no small feat.
“So I am concerned today when I see initiatives and trends that although well-intentioned, threaten the fragile consensus that we so painstakingly built. For example, the EU ETS, despite its laudatory goals, puts the CORSIA framework at risk of straying from its commonly agreed-upon MRV requirements. This attenuates support in other parts of the world as well.
“Even here in Canada, we have our own reservations about the current carbon pricing scheme that is being implemented domestically. In our case, there is no provision to earmark the money to ensure measurable reductions to contribute to decarbonisation. We’re cynical that it just looks like any other tax.”
He said airlines were already incentivised to reduce emissions through societal expectations as responsible companies and also the cost of fuel. For Air Canada, he added, fuel had been the largest operating expense, nearly $4 billion, last year. “As part of our overall corporate transformation, we have made reducing our vulnerability to high fuel prices – including by increasing fuel efficiency through purchasing more capable aircraft – a core part of our strategy.”
Mitzi Gurgel Valente da Costa, Brazil’s representative on ICAO’s governing Council, told the Forum that the groundwork on CORSIA had now been completed. “There are many challenges we still need to face but everything we set out to do since the last Assembly in 2016 is up to date. From now on, we need to implement what CORSIA is all about so we can see the fruits of what we’ve planted in the past three years.”
France’s Council representative Philippe Bertoux agreed work was on track to implement CORSIA and said the unanimous approval of the emissions unit criteria had been a landmark, but considerable work had still to be done. “The Technical Advisory Body will soon start its work, which is very important, and we look forward to receiving their proposals on emissions units at the November and early 2020 sessions of the Council,” he said. “We hope they will be based on technical proposals rather than political discussions.
“There is also more work to be done on sustainable aviation fuels. We have agreed two of the sustainability criteria but there are still 10 others outstanding, which we hope will be advanced as soon as possible.
“The important ACT CORSIA programme has been a great success and has helped some States decide to join the voluntary phase of CORSIA. We now have 80 States participating and we hope before it begins that we will have more.”
The US representative, Thomas Carter, who has been publicly critical of ICAO recently on other issues, told the Forum that the Council had “an enormous job” currently dealing with transparency at ICAO.
“But I will tell you that CORSIA is an extremely important issue. I know this US administration has a muddy track record on this [climate change] but we are committed to doing CORSIA. We also think it is important to be doing emissions standards and sustainable fuels, which we have been doing for over 10 years. The thing I am most worried about is are we going to try to do too much in this arena. We could keep expanding the environment portfolio but we risk diluting work on CORSIA and emissions standards. We don’t have the bandwidth at ICAO to do everything.
Full article at https://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=2601
Heathrow to address air quality concerns with ultra low emissions zone and charges for vehicles using the airport
Wed 29 May 2019 – As part of efforts to reduce the number of vehicles coming to the airport and protect local air quality, Heathrow is introducing the world’s first airport Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2022 for passenger cars and private hire vehicles entering car parks or drop-off zones. The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to those shortly applying in central London. Following the opening of the new proposed third runway and improvements to public transport access to the airport, Heathrow then plans to transition the ULEZ into a vehicle access charge (VAC) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas. Heathrow will consult on the proposals in a statutory consultation on its expansion plans to be launched on June 18.
Although charges are still be set, drivers to the airport with cars with older, more polluting engines that fail to meet ‘Euro 4’ emissions standards in respect of petrol cars and diesel cars that fail to meet ‘Euro 6’ standards could face having to pay between £10-15 ($13-19). As Heathrow already falls within the London Mayor’s Low Emissions Zone, the standards for which are being tightened in 2020, non-compliant freight and servicing vehicles as well as buses serving Heathrow are likely to have to pay a daily charge of between £100 and £300. Taxis will be exempt from ULEZ charges but will be subject to the VAC charge when it comes online with the new runway. Private hire vehicles will be subject to both the ULEZ and VAC charges.
The charges will help fund new measures to improve sustainable transport modes at the airport and public transport access proposed as part of the expansion plans, says Heathrow. It is currently exploring ways of expanding current electric vehicle charging points for London black cabs and other cars at the airport to incentivise clean vehicles, and is also backing plans to treble rail capacity by 2040 through improved transport links.
The airport said its expansion plans include a commitment not to release any additional capacity if that would directly result in a breach of the UK’s legal air quality obligations,
“This is a significant step change in Heathrow’s effort to clean up local ground level air pollution by shifting people into the cleanest modes of transport,” commented Val Shawcross, former London Deputy Mayor for Transport, who has recently been appointed to lead an independent group, the Heathrow Transport Area Forum, to help improve accessibility and public transport around the airport.
“I have never pulled my punches talking to the airport about local air quality and I look forward to continuing to hold Heathrow to account in my new role.”
The statutory 12-week consultation on its expansion plans will be its largest engagement exercise yet, says Heathrow. It will use new technology to show the public its current proposals, including a model of the intended future airport that features virtual reality to demonstrate the effect of noise insulation on properties overflown by aircraft. The airport will be holding events in more locations than previously and in addition to national publicity campaigns, it is leafletting 2.6 million households in the vicinity encouraging participation.
SkyNRG and KLM announce project to build Dutch 35 million gallon sustainable aviation fuel facility
Tue 28 May 2019 – SkyNRG is to lead a project to build a commercial-scale sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facility in the Netherlands, that it says will be the first of its kind in the world. Scheduled to open in 2022, the plant will specialise in producing SAF, bioLPG and naphtha, primarily using waste and residue streams, such as used cooking oil, that will come from regional industries. The facility will run on sustainable hydrogen produced using water and wind energy, says the company. The SAF to be produced at the facility, named DSL-01, claims a CO2 emissions reduction of around 85% compared to its fossil equivalent and has been assessed by the RSB in its planning phase to ensure it complies with RSB’s best-in-class sustainability standard. The plant is expected to produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF annually and KLM has committed to taking 75,000 tonnes a year for a 10-year period.
SkyNRG says the 100,000 tonnes of SAF annual production – around 35 million US gallons – will mean a CO2 emissions reduction by the aviation industry of 270,000 tonnes, as well as contribute to a significant decrease in ultra-fine particles and sulphur emissions. The plant, to be sited at Delfzijl, a seaport on the Dutch north-east coast, will also produce 15,000 tonnes of bioLPG as a result of a purchase agreement and investment in the project by SHV Energy, a global distributor of LPG.
In addition to SkyNRG, KLM and SHV Energy, other partners taking part in various phases of the project will come from the Netherlands and beyond, including EIT Climate-KIC, Royal Schiphol Group, GROElfonds, NV NOM, Groningen Seaports, Nouryon, Gasunie, Arcadis, TechnipFMC, Haldor Topsoe, Desmet Ballestra, Susteen Technologies and MBP Solutions.
“For us and our partners, this project is an important milestone in further upscaling the market for sustainable aviation fuel,” commented Maarten van Dijk, Executive Director of SkyNRG. “We are the first to take a step on this scale and we hope it will serve as an example to the rest of the industry in the transition towards a sustainable future for commercial aviation.”
KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said the 75,000-tonne purchase would reduce the airline’s CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year, equal to the emissions released by 1,000 flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.
“I am proud of our collaboration with SkyNRG and SHV Energy to launch a project that will see the development of the first European production facility for sustainable aviation fuel,” he said. “The advent of aviation has had a major impact on the world, offering a new means of bringing people closer together. This privilege goes hand in hand with huge responsibility towards our planet. KLM takes this very seriously and has therefore invested in sustainability for many years. By joining hands with other parties, we can build a plant that will accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuel.”
SkyNRG Executive Director Theye Veen told GreenAir the remaining 25,000 tonnes would be sold to its other customers. He said pre-engineering of the plant had already taken place and the front-end engineering design (FEED) phase had just started. With all the partners now selected and contracted, he expected construction to start in early 2020. Round A funding amounting to €10 million ($11m) for the FEED phase from investors SkyNRG, KLM, SHV Energy and Schiphol Airport was in place, he confirmed, and Round B finance of €260 million ($290m) for construction is due to be finalised in the coming months.
SkyNRG’s independent sustainability board, which advises on sustainability standards and includes representatives from WWF International, the European Climate Foundation, Solidaridad Network and the University of Groningen, stresses the waste stream-derived fuel will have no negative environmental impacts and there will be no use of food crops such as soya oil and palm oil, or by-products such as PFAD and POME.
A member of the board, WWF’s Jenny Walther-Thoss said: “From the first plans in 2016, this project has been thoroughly discussed with the board. We are comfortable with the steps taken to safeguard its sustainability performance, in particular on the strict feedstock sourcing strategy.”
The sustainability of the supply chain and related products will be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).
“Our standards are globally considered to be the best in class,” said Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB. “Our 12 comprehensive principles include greenhouse gas emissions, human and labour rights, practices to maintain soil health and water use, food security, and rural and social development. None of the other standards use such a broad range of criteria. We are pleased and proud that KLM and SkyNRG are committed to RSB certification of the fuel.”
Responded SkyNRG’s van Dijk: “RSB certification is key to demonstrating our commitment to the highest levels of environmental and social sustainability.”
SkyNRG and Schiphol Airport are also to be involved in a project just announced that will study the production of SAF from CO2, water and electricity. Rotterdam The Hague Airport, part of the Royal Schiphol Group, and a European consortium led by EDL Anlagenbau will focus on the development of a technology that would enable the production of jet kerosene from captured CO2 and solar energy.
To date, kerosene produced from this method has been limited to a laboratory scale of a few litres per day but, eventually, the study is expected to result in the construction of a small installation in the grounds of the airport capable of producing 1,000 litres a day.
According to the partners, the process involves linking together a series of innovative but proven techniques. First, CO2 from outside air is filtered with the Direct Air Capture technology from Climeworks to produce a gas that is then transformed into syngas by electrolysis cells from Sunfire. The syngas is then processed into synthetic oil by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, provided by Ineratec. Finally, EDL converts this synthetic oil into kerosene. As the energy required for the process will come from solar panels at the airport, it is fully sustainable.
SkyNRG will be responsible for the study’s commercialisation strategy and Dutch low-cost airline Transavia has already indicated its commitment to be the first customer for the sustainable fuel if it reaches maturity.
Business aviation showcases commitment to sustainable fuels with multiple SAJF flights to industry show
Mon 27 May 2019 – Following the launch by the business aviation sector a year ago of a commitment towards the adoption of sustainable alternative jet fuel (SAJF), 23 aircraft arriving at the EBACE industry event in Geneva last week were fuelled from sustainable sources. Many of those aircraft arrived from London’s TAG Farnborough Airport, where industry leaders had hosted a demonstration day, called ‘Fuelling the Future’, which was officially designated a part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week. This followed another demonstration day held in January at Van Nuys Airport, California. Other flights arriving in Geneva were similarly fuelled with SAJF at airports in France, Sweden and the United States. The coalition of industry organisations behind the initiative have published a guide to using SAJF for business aircraft operators, who have needed assurance that SAJF is safe and does not impact aircraft performance.
The business aviation sector has committed to play its part in the wider aviation industry’s goals of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to reduce net emissions by half by 2050 from a 2005 baseline, and a wide-scale uptake of SAJF is seen as key to achieving its ambitions.
“It is more evident than ever how unified our industry is in working towards the goal of continually reducing emissions through innovation,” said Ed Bolen, President of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), commenting on the number of aircraft fuelled by SAJF arriving at this year’s European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE). “Business aviation has always led the way in promoting technologies that advance the sustainability of flight, and it is appropriate that we highlight our focus in this area through this record-setting fly-in.”
At a premium of around three times that of conventional Jet A1, the cost of sustainable fuel remains a formidable barrier for uptake, although was decreasing, Athar Husain Khan, Secretary General of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), told the Farnborough gathering, where participating business aircraft took on blended SAJF fuel. He said regulators were needed to step in and help, as was market pressure by operators on their fuel suppliers and fuel producers.
Business aircraft owners and corporate flight departments would be prepared to pay a premium because of the environmental benefits of SAJF but the cost needed to come down, he ventured.
A panel of business aviation and fuel experts told an Innovation Zone session on SAJF at EBACE that production could double over the next five years but that was from a very low base and the transition towards using SAJF by business aircraft operators would likely to be slow although, said one fuel producer, “the supply is there.”
Flight departments were now getting calls from aircraft owners, said Tim Obitts, COO of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), who were conscious of their corporate responsibility and eager to use sustainable fuels whatever the cost.
A concern expressed by some operators is using SAJF in their aircraft. Charles Etter, Head of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at Gulfstream Aerospace assured them: “We’re here to educate that the fuel is safe, meets the same fuel specifications and there’s no performance loss. It’s not like Jet A, it is Jet A.”
EBAA’s Chairman, Juergen Wiese, added: “SAJF is safe, does not impact aircraft performance, benefits airport communities [by reducing particulate matter] and reflects our industry’s determination to continually reduce business aircraft carbon emissions.”
Pete Bunce, President of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said the flights to EBACE were intended to demonstrate to the industry that “SAJF is, quite simply, Jet A in every way: a drop-in fuel that has undergone exhaustive testing and meets all specifications and requirements.”
Speaking at the EBACE media luncheon, Flor Diaz Pulido, Head of Aviation Policy at the European Commission’s DG MOVE, said: “We need something disruptive to help the aviation industry decarbonise faster and in those terms, SAJF can be a game-changer.”
“While the industry had made great strides, we cannot sit on our past success,” she added. “We need to keep improving and in that sense, business aviation is among the leaders of the sector.”
SAJF for the 23 flights to EBACE was supplied by Gevo, World Fuel Services and Neste. Other fuel suppliers involved in the initiative included Air BP and Avfuel Corporation.
“Our industry’s ambitious carbon reduction targets will only be achieved with support from across the entire supply chain. Initiatives like this give operators direct exposure to sustainable aviation fuel, helping us to overcome obstacles to its adoption,” said Irene Lores, Global Sales & Marketing Director for General Aviation at Air BP. “At Air BP, we believe it is important to keep working with multiple suppliers, customers and partners, and using expertise from across BP’s global organisation, to support the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel.”
Looking to the future, NATA President Gary Dempsey said: “The focus now needs to be on making it easier for companies to produce SAJF to meet the demands of business jet owners. We urge our FBO and operator members worldwide to contact fuel suppliers and OEMs to answer any questions they may have regarding SAJF and to encourage its widespread use.”
‘Future of Sustainable Fuel’ business aviation initiative , Business Aviation Guide to the Use of SAJF
SAS and Airbus agree collaboration on 18-month hybrid and electric research project
Thu 23 May 2019 – Airbus and SAS Scandinavian Airlines have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on a hybrid and electric aircraft research project. The initiative aims to build knowledge of the opportunities and challenges regarding the operational and infrastructure requirements involved with a large-scale introduction of hybrid and full electric aircraft in commercial traffic. The scope of the project, which starts next month and will run until the end of 2020, includes five work packages that focus on analysing the impact of ground infrastructure and charging on range, resources, time and availability at airports. Airbus is currently working with Rolls-Royce and Siemens on the E-Fan X hybrid-electric flight demonstrator project that is seen as an important step towards electric flight for commercial aircraft.
The aircraft manufacturer said the new project with SAS would further strengthen its research efforts that included developing hybrid-electric and electric propulsion technologies that promise significant environmental benefits. This includes current testing of innovative hybrid propulsion systems, subsystems and components in order to address log-term efficiency goals for building and operating electric aircraft.
The collaboration with SAS also includes a plan to involve a renewable energy supplier, so far unnamed, “to ensure genuine zero CO2 emissions are assessed,” said an Airbus statement. “This multidisciplinary approach – from energy to infrastructure – aims to address the entire aircraft operations ecosystem in order to better support the aviation industry’s transition to sustainable energy.”
SAS said its goal is to reduce emissions by 25% by 2030, mainly through modernising its fleet and the use of biofuels, but saw electric aircraft as the next step beyond current technology.
“We are proud of our ambitious sustainability work and are pleased that Airbus has chosen SAS to partner with us for this future project,” said SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson.
The MoU was signed by Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus, and Göran Jansson, EVP Strategy & Ventures, SAS.
Air BP and Neste supply SAF for Swedish regional aviation ‘perfect flight’ and business aviation initiative
Tue 21 May 2019 – Following their agreement last month to deliver sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to airline and airport customers in Sweden, Air BP and Neste have taken part in a ‘perfect flight’ initiative with Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA) and regional aircraft manufacturer ATR. Produced by Neste and supplied by Air BP, SAF was used to power an ATR 72-600 aircraft on a commercial one-hour flight between Halmstad City and Stockholm Bromma. The two fuel companies have also announced they are to offer SAF to general and business aviation customers, as well as aircraft manufacturers, at Stockholm Arlanda and Caen Carpiquet airport in France. Sweden has ambitions for all air travel to be fossil-free by 2045 and a recent report recommended the government impose a 1 per cent SAF blending mandate from 2021, rising to 5 per cent in 2025 and 30 per cent in 2030.
The partners involved with the Halmstad to Stockholm Bromma flight said it was the first regional ‘perfect flight’ to have taken place and involved optimising every element in the flight management process. The full flight of 72 passengers, including international media, was followed by a responsible aviation seminar involving representatives from industry and local government.
“We want to continue to fly ‘perfectly’ in the future. To achieve this, it is important that we can access sustainable aviation fuel in sufficient quantities and at the right price. For that, we need political initiatives,” said Anna Soltorp, Head of Sustainability at BRA, at the event. “We intend to continue the development of sustainable flying to make every flight as close to perfect as we possibly can. As a society, we need to take action to combat climate change and drastically reduce emissions, and aviation must play its part in this. Today, we have demonstrated what can be achieved through more efficient flying without compromising connectivity. It is another positive step forward.”
Last month, the airline was reported to have laid off 360 employees – a third of the workforce – due to lower passenger demand, which it blamed partly on publicity around climate change. It said it would switch to using smaller aircraft types.
According to Tom Anderson, ATR SVP Programs and Customer Services, the ATR 72-600 uses 40% less fuel and so 40% fewer CO2 emissions than a regional jet.
Neste said the SAF supplied for the flight produced up to 80% fewer emissions over its life-cycle compared with conventional jet fuel and was produced from non-palm renewable and sustainable raw materials.
The same fuel will be supplied to Stockholm Arlanda and Caen airports, and Air BP says the initiative is aimed at supporting the business aviation sector’s Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel programme.
“Our industry’s ambitious carbon reduction targets will only be achieved with support from across the entire supply chain,” commented Irene Lores, Global Sales and Marketing Director for general aviation at Air BP. “Initiatives like this give operators direct exposure to sustainable aviation fuel. At Air BP, we believe it is important to keep working with multiple suppliers, customers and partners, and using expertise from across the global BP organisation, to support SAF commercialisation.”
The fuel supplier says it has now supplied its BP biojet branded SAF to commercial airline customers at over 10 airport locations since 2014, including Oslo Airport, where it was the first to supply SAF through the existing airport fuelling infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Neste’s MY Renewable Jet Fuel has been presented with an award in respect of reducing black carbon emissions. The Finnish competition was part of a campaign aimed at speeding up emissions reduction, finding new solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing understanding of how black carbon accelerates climate change.
The company said while more detailed research on the impact of renewable aviation fuel on particulate emissions was ongoing, its fuel had good potential to bring about a significant reduction in the amount of black carbon emissions from aviation. NASA research had indicated the reduction could be as high as 70%, it said.
Qantas operates first-ever zero waste flight as it plans to slash single-plastics and waste
Mon 20 May 2019 – Qantas has carried out what it claims to be the first-ever commercial flight to produce no landfill waste. It marks the start of plans by the Australian carrier to cut 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020 and eliminate three-quarters of waste by the end of the following year. All inflight products on the domestic flight from Sydney to Adelaide, which was staffed by cabin crew from the Qantas ‘Green Team’, will be disposed through composting, reuse or recycling. About 1,000 single-use plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or removed altogether from the flight, including individually packaged servings of milk. Customers were encouraged to use digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags where possible, with staff on hand to ensure paper passes and tags were disposed of sustainably.
Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the zero waste flight would typically produce 34 kilos of waste, with the route producing a total of 150 tonnes annually.
“In the process of carrying over 50 million people every year, Qantas and [subsidiary] Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully-laden Boeing 747 jumbo jets,” he said. “We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy but without the amount of waste that comes with it.”
Other alternative products used during the flight include fully-compostable meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch. The Qantas lounges at Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal contributed to the ‘green’ flight by using multiple waste streams.
“This flight is about testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers,” said David.
The waste reduction initiative has been called ‘The Bowerbird Project’, named after an Australian bird that reuses plastic items. The name was nominated by a cabin crew member is a staff competition.
In its efforts to remove 100 million single-use plastic items, Qantas and Jetstar will replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and 4 million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.
Qantas pointed out that airlines are legally required to dispose of some materials permanently, such as quarantined food from international flights, but said it was working with suppliers and governments to reduce the volume of waste.
Carbon emissions from the zero waste flight will be 100% offset, said Qantas, which claims to operate the largest carbon offset scheme in the aviation industry. Customers will shortly be able to earn 10 Qantas Points for every dollar spent offsetting their travel from Australia, which the airline says is the highest standard earn rate of any frequent flyer initiative.
Air New Zealand purchases credits worth over $600,000 on behalf of its voluntary carbon offsetting programme
Wed 8 May 2019 – Air New Zealand has purchased NZD$1 million (S660,000) worth of carbon offsets from native forestry projects on behalf of the airline’s FlyNeutral voluntary carbon offsetting programme. The credits support a range of forestry projects located across the country registered with the New Zealand government’s Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, as well as some international sustainable energy projects. Air New Zealand re-launched its FlyNeutral programme in late 2016 so that offsetting was prioritised in the online customer booking system. According to the airline’s latest sustainability report, customers offset over 130,000 journeys in 2018, up from nearly 40,000 the previous year. Since 2018, corporate and government customers have also been able to offset their emissions under the programme and the airline also offsets emissions on behalf of its employees travelling for work.
“We are delighted to see the programme reach this first milestone with the support of our customers. Climate change is an urgent global issue, and as an airline we know we must play our part in finding solutions. Providing our customers with an easy way to offset the carbon emissions associated with air travel is one way to do this,” commented Lisa Daniell, Head of Sustainability at Air New Zealand.
“As with anything of this magnitude, it’s a step in the right direction. Last year we offset 8,700 tonnes of carbon on behalf of all our employees who travelled for work, and we’d obviously love to see even more travellers, including business travellers, join us in offsetting their emissions in the future.”
The airline works with forest carbon specialists Permanent Forests NZ to source government-compliant native forest restoration projects, which have co-benefits such as improving biodiversity, supporting ecosystems and growing regional economies.
The FlyNeutral programme is helping to create a stronger market for permanent native forestry and building greater understanding about the importance of creating a better New Zealand for future generations, said Permanent Forests NZ Partner Ollie Belton.
“The native forestry projects selected for use within the FlyNeutral portfolio represent premium carbon offsets that in addition to helping reduce climate change impacts, can improve conservation and also enhance community and recreational reserves due to their permanency,” he said. “It has been great to work with Air New Zealand and landowners to be able to profile and support these projects.”
The portfolio has been expanded to supporting projects in destinations served by the airline, including initiatives in rural New Caledonia, Vietnam and China, which have been sourced by ClimateCare and provide both climate and broader community benefits.
As of July last year, larger business and government customers can request a report on the carbon emissions from their Air New Zealand travel and click to offset these. Enviro-Mark Solutions, a provider of environmental certifications, has certified the methodology for use under ISO 14064-1:2006 and also in the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) and carboNZero programmes.
Writing in the airline’s 2018 Sustainability Report, Sir Jonathon Porritt, who chairs Air New Zealand’s Sustainability Advisory Panel, notes the importance of voluntary offset schemes.
“[They enable] each and every one of us to compensate for the damage we do each time we get on a plane,” he said. “Air New Zealand already has one of the most successful voluntary offset schemes in the aviation industry, but I hope my fellow travellers on Air New Zealand flights will not mind me pointing out that at under five per cent of customer journeys, that’s disappointing. Air New Zealand can’t achieve what it aspires to achieve without everyone stepping up here – and in the process, making the world just a little bit less vulnerable to the rapidly worsening impacts of climate change.”
The airline points out that its voluntary carbon offsetting programme goes above and beyond its regulatory obligations for domestic carbon emissions under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.
British Airways and Velocys anticipate starting UK sustainable jet fuel production in 2024
Wed 8 May 2019 – The British Airways project with renewable fuels company Velocys is “well advanced”, say the two partners, and production of waste-to-jet fuel is slated to start in 2024 from a new facility in north-east England. An 80-acre (32ha) brownfield site near Immingham on the Humber estuary, with a direct fuel pipeline to Heathrow, has been secured on a three-year option arrangement pending the final go-ahead for the project. Speaking at a British Airways ‘Future of Aviation Fuels’ event in London, Velocys CEO Henrik Wareborn said he expected a financial close on the project by the end of 2020. The event saw presentations from the three short-listed academic finalists in a competition organised by British Airways as part of its centenary celebrations to stimulate UK research into potential sustainable aviation fuels of the future.
The airline is marking its centenary with a focus on the future for aviation over the next 100 years in fuels, careers and customer experience. In collaboration with Cranfield University, the ‘BA 2119: Future of Fuels’ competition was launched last November and challenged British universities “to develop a new or different pathway to achieve global leadership in the development of sustainable aviation fuels.” The airline posed the question of how to power a long-haul flight for at least five hours and produce zero carbon emissions.
From the 11 universities that entered, the three finalists presented their solutions to an expert panel that judged the entries on a combination of criteria including carbon reduction potential, level of innovation, value to the UK economy and feasibility to implement.
The winner was an entry from a team led by Dr Massimiliano Materazzi from the Chemical Engineering department at University College London (UCL). The team’s solution would convert household waste into jet fuel at plants situated near landfill sites across the country, which could deliver up to 3.5 million tonnes of jet fuel annually by 2050. The UCL team will receive £25,000 ($32,000) and an invitation to present its solution to the International Airlines Group (IAG) board, as well as to next week’s industry Global Sustainable Aviation Forum in Montreal and the IATA Alternative Fuels Symposium in New Orleans in November.
“We were so excited just to make it through to the final – but to receive the top prize is overwhelming,” said Dr Materazzi, who is a Research Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering, at UCL. “This is evidence that airlines are taking this challenge seriously and are starting to actively engage with academia to find sustainable solutions. We look forward to progressing our concept, which will hopefully see the development of the fuel of the future.”
The two runners-up were entries from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Christie Burley, an academic associate at LSE, presented a ‘power-to-liquids’ combined with carbon capture utilisation pathway that would harvest the CO2 produced by existing industrial plants and convert it into jet fuel using renewable energy produced from wind turbines. She estimated her technology could produce 1.95 million tonnes of jet fuel a year, enough to satisfy BA fuel demand, and consume 9.7 million tonnes of CO2, which is about 8% of global industrial CO2 use. The Low Carbon Jet Fuel project presented by a team from the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions and School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University entails the production of jet fuels through the integration of novel technologies, taking CO2 and wood pellets from waste biomass and a combination of co-electrolysis to produce a jet fuel that is negative in emissions.
IAG Group Head of Sustainability Jonathon Counsell said BA’s ambition was to be using one million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – nearly 8% of total fuel needs – by 2035 that would be produced from up to 14 plants, as well as providing significant opportunities for jobs and exports. “We truly believe the UK can become a centre of excellence on this,” he said. “We have a hot-bed of talent in this country.” By 2050, he foresaw up to 30% of the airline’s fuel requirements could be met by SAF, which would save around 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
Counsell reported over 30 refineries had closed down in the UK over the past 20 years, so there were many brownfield sites to build SAF-producing plants that would create high-value jobs in industrial areas. There was also a strong UK aviation sector that wanted to buy the product, together with world-class academic institutions and now government support, he said. With 80% of jet fuel being imported into the UK, producing SAF in the UK would reduce this dependency, he added.
IAG, said Counsell, will be investing $400 million in SAF development and fuel offtake contracts over the next 20 years.
The Immingham project team, which also includes Shell, is in the process of developing the engineering and business case, and, according to Velocys, is still subject to funding and a final investment decision, which would include a decision to proceed with the acquisition of the site. Wareborn said the Immingham project was at the pre-FEED stage and once the financial close had been reached by the anticipated end of 2020, construction would start in 2021 that would take three years to complete. Once operational, the plant is expected to employ around 100 staff and convert 300,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste into jet fuel.
Presenting the Future of Fuels awards, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said: “We are the first airline in Europe to build a plant to convert organic household waste into sustainable aviation fuel with our partner Velocys and now we are the first to bring together academics from British universities to work alongside us to create new solutions to this key environmental issue.
“There is a huge opportunity for the UK to be a global leader in sustainable aviation fuels. We know that there is a future for electrification, a pathway for organic household waste to SAF and this competition addresses what other pathways there could be to decarbonise aviation. This winning proposal from UCL is incredibly exciting and we look forward to exploring it with them.”
Emissions from international aviation must be included in a UK net-zero by 2050 target, says government advisors
Thu 2 May 2019 – The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises the government on climate policy and action, has recommended that to be line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the UK should set a 2050 net-zero target to cover all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping. The body says the target must be met without recourse to carbon offsetting. In a major report released today, it says increased ambition and stronger levers over and above present ICAO targets will be required in the long run and it will advise the government later in the year on its approach to aviation. The CCC says ICAO’s CORSIA scheme is not compatible with achieving net-zero globally and the UN agency should set a long-term objective consistent with Paris. The report comes a day after a High Court ruling against legal action brought by groups opposed to Heathrow expansion.
The UK current 2050 target, set in 2008, is to reduce emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels but the temperature ambitions of Paris have led the CCC to review the target and advise the government on how net-zero could be achieved. In order to map a pathway to reach its long-term target, the government sets five-year carbon budget periods, the latest in preparation being the sixth carbon budget that will cover the years 2033-2037. Until now, emissions from international aviation and shipping have been left out of the carbon budgets (domestic flights are covered) but included in the 80% target, although the two sectors were omitted from UK climate change legislation. The CCC subsequently recommended the target be legislated as “at least 80%” to cover the possibility that other sectors may need to compensate for lower reductions in emissions from international aviation and shipping.
“Net-zero is a more fundamental aim than previous targets,” says CCC Chairman Lord Deben in the foreword to the 277-page report, ‘Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming’. “By reducing emissions produced in the UK to zero, we also end our contribution to rising global temperatures. That this outcome is now within reach is testament to the UK’s progress – deploying new solutions, learning by doing, driving costs down, as required by the Climate Change Act. The Act was the world’s first legally-binding framework for tackling climate change and it remains one of the strongest in the world to this day. Committing to net-zero will reaffirm the Act’s strength, but it is essential that the commitment is comprehensive, achieved without use of international credits and covering international aviation and shipping.
“All of this rests, however, on more than a new target. Our advice is offered with the proviso that net-zero is only credible if policies are introduced to match. Existing ambitions must be delivered in full, challenges that have so far been out of scope must now be confronted. There is a manageable cost to tackling these challenges, and the lesson of the last decade is that costs fall when there is a concerted effort to act.”
He called for UK governments (to include Scotland and Wales) to legislate for the new target as swiftly as possible. “We must now increase our ambition to tackle climate change. The science demands it; the evidence is before you; we must start at once; there is no time to lose,” he concludes.
The report includes emissions from international aviation as one of those challenges that must be confronted and “cannot be ignored”. The net-zero target should be legislated as a 100% reduction in GHGs from 1990 levels and cover all sectors of the economy, including international aviation and shipping, advises the report.
Setting and pursuing a UK net-zero GHG target for 2050 would confirm the nation as a leader among the developed countries on climate action, believes the CCC.
“It demonstrates important principles of including emissions from all greenhouse gases and all sources, including international aviation and shipping, not relying on international offsetting and targeting highest possible ambition,” says the report. Pursuing a later date or weaker target would undermine discussions with other climate leading governments such as Sweden, France, California and the EU, in particular the latter, argues the CCC, with which the UK is aiming to reach an agreement on the net-zero target in 2020. It adds that setting an earlier target date is not credible at this time.
The report lays out a number of scenarios involving technologies and behaviours that could best meet the net-zero challenge, which it says taken together would reduce UK emissions by 95-96% from the 1990 baseline by 2050.
“Tackling the remaining 4-5% would require some use of options that currently appear more speculative,” it continues. “That could involve greater shifts in diet and land use alongside more limited aviation demand growth, a large contribution from emerging technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, or successful development of a major supply of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels.
“Updated evidence for aviation points to greater potential to reduce emissions, although we still expect the sector to emit more than any other in 2050.
“Part of the challenge in shifting to a net-zero target is that there is less flexibility and less scope for under-delivery in areas that prove difficult to change. This adds to the importance of developing currently speculative options, given that these may be needed to meet the target in full domestically.”
Efficiency improvements have barriers to uptake and upfront costs but sectors like aviation can often recoup these costs through fuel savings, it says, and costs can similarly also be saved by shifting consumer choices towards, for example, reduced flying.
One of the report’s scenarios is removing emissions from the atmosphere through, for example, direct air capture but the CCC estimates annual costs at around £10 billion ($13bn) in 2050, possibly as high as £20 billion.
“These could be paid by industries, like aviation, that have not reduced their own emissions to zero,” it argues. “That would imply increasing costs, for example for flights, from 2035, as emission removals scale up in our scenarios.”
The report notes that if aviation GHG emissions were left to increase, by 2050 they would constitute around 10% of the global cumulative carbon budget compatible with limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C or below. While ICAO’s CORSIA scheme offers a route to limit post-2020 aviation emissions and can provide an interim measure to allow new solutions to become available, “its emission cap at 2020 levels, committed until 2035 only, is not compatible with achieving net-zero emissions globally,” says the report. “ICAO should set a long-term objective for aviation emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement and align CORSIA to this.”
A CO2 road-map published in 2016 by UK aviation industry coalition group Sustainable Aviation set out to demonstrate that the UK could accommodate a significant growth in passenger numbers (around 60%) to 2050 and still maintain emissions at 2005 levels of 37.5 MtCO2, a view currently aligned with the UK government’s objective.
Reacting to the CCC’s report, the group’s Chair, Neil Robinson, said: “The UK aviation industry shares the Committee on Climate Change’s ambition to bring emissions into line with the Paris Agreement. We look forward to studying the CCC’s recommendations and working with the government on how we work together to rise to this challenge, while enabling the many positive benefits aviation brings by connecting people across the world.
“Since 2010, UK aviation has successfully decoupled growth in CO2 emissions from growth in passengers, freight and flights. We expect this to continue, as set out in the CO2 Road-Map. For instance, we believe there are exciting opportunities to further reduce emissions through the development of hybrid electric aircraft, use of sustainable aviation fuels and modernisation of UK airspace.
“Aviation is by its very nature a global industry, and like the government, we back an international approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. That is why we have signed up to emissions limits via the world’s first industry-specific global agreement, CORSIA, which will drive investment in the new, cleaner aircraft of tomorrow.”
Under its Further Ambition scenario setting a pathway to net-zero, the CCC anticipates the aviation sector will still be emitting 31 MtCO2 in 2050, which would require a combination of passenger demand constraint, a 10% biofuel contribution and aircraft fuel efficiency improvements of 1.4% per year for the next few decades. Pressure group Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) says this is highly speculative.
Commenting on the report, AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said: “The CCC’s recommendations set out a world-leading pathway for the UK to stop contributing to climate change in the future. It’s essential that government recognises the need for commitments that cover all sectors, including aviation, and that don’t rely on internati