GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 27 JUNE 2019
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European airport industry commits to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 without the use of offset credits
Wed 26 June 2019 – In a resolution passed at its annual general assembly in Cyprus, trade body ACI Europe committed the European airport industry to becoming net zero for carbon emissions under its control by no later than 2050. The sector says it is responding to the Climate Emergency and acting upon the latest scientific evidence from the UN’s IPCC report on holding the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. Based on current traffic volumes at European airports and the total estimated carbon footprint, the net zero goal requires the elimination of 3.46 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions. The resolution, backed by 194 airports across 24 European countries, also calls for the entire aviation sector to develop a joint ambition, vision and roadmap towards a net zero carbon emissions air transport system.
The airports further call on governments at ICAO to accept the IPCC evidence and to establish a work plan aimed at approving a long-term carbon emissions reduction target and related roadmap at the 2022 ICAO Assembly.
To achieve the 2050 net zero goal, the airports say they will reduce absolute emissions to the furthest extent possible and address any remaining emissions through investment in carbon removal and storage. ACI Europe’s current commitment to having 100 carbon neutral airports by 2030 allows for the offsetting of remaining emissions but it said airport operators will not have the possibility to purchase offset credits to reach net zero status.
“ACI Europe sees offsetting as a temporary measure to address residual emissions that airports will need to gradually replace by in-sector reductions as new decarbonisation technologies and opportunities arise,” stated the trade body.
It calls on European governments to accelerate “a clean energy transition ensuring that airports across Europe can switch to zero carbon energy under competitive conditions.”
ACI Europe has also launched a ‘Sustainability Strategy for Airports’ to address a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues, which it said will equip European airports with an industry-wide framework and guidance that will enable them to embed sustainability into their core business strategy.
The 194 airports signing the resolution handled 62.5% of European air passenger traffic in 2018 and are run by 40 airport operators. The resolution remains open to additional signatories, said ACI Europe.
“Europe’s airports have been leading climate action with annual reductions announced every year for the past decade. Forty-three of them have actually become carbon neutral, supported by the global industry standard Airport Carbon Accreditation. However, today’s commitment brings a new dimension to this – no offsets. Crucially, with its NetZero2050 commitment, the airport industry is aligning itself with the Paris Agreement and the ambitions of the vast majority of EU countries,” said Dr Michael Kerkloh, President of ACI Europe and CEO of Munich Airport.
“Europe’s airports have already started delivering, and I am confident that many will reach net zero before 2050. There are already three net zero airports in Europe: Luleå, Ronneby and Visby – operated by the Swedish airport operator, Swedavia. Swedavia aims to achieve net zero emissions for all its airports including Stockholm-Arlanda by 2020 along with Hamburg airport by 2022, while Amsterdam-Schiphol, Eindhoven and Copenhagen airports have set this goal for 2030.”
Welcoming the net zero commitment, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “The IPCC Special Report from last October is unequivocal about the need to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century. We need all sectors of society working towards this ultimate goal. It is therefore encouraging to see the airport industry voluntarily raising its ambitions and we look forward to working with this vital sector.”
EU States gather to discuss imposition of climate taxes and carbon pricing on European aviation sector
Wed 26 June 2019 – A coalition of EU States came together last week in the Netherlands to discuss how carbon pricing and taxes could be applied to Europe’s air transport sector. At a conference convened by the Dutch government, the country’s finance minister, Menno Snel, said it was unfair aviation escaped taxes compared to other transport sectors and called on States to work together to create a European aviation tax and carbon pricing system. His stance was supported in presentations by ministers from Sweden and France, who called for a carbon tax on fossil aviation fuel and that the next European Commission tackle the issue as a priority. The EU Commissioner responsible for taxation, Pierre Moscovici, said the Commission was ready to work with States willing to impose a fuel tax on flights between them. A researcher from Oeko-Institut estimates if flights covered by the EU ETS were taxed on their fuel, it would raise around €8.7 billion ($9.9bn) annually for European treasuries.
“Travelling by plane allows us to cross as many borders as we like – the world is at our feet and that is good – but there are also problems caused by flying, and the pollution doesn’t stop at our borders,” Snel told invited EU government representatives and academics. “Some might say creating an aviation tax won’t make a big difference but I think if we do it together, it really can.”
The Dutch government is planning to impose a ticket tax of €7 per flight, despite having pulled back from imposing such a tax a decade or so ago after a downturn in passenger traffic at Schiphol airport and travellers reportedly choosing to take flights from neighbouring countries. Snel said it was better for States to tackle the aviation pollution issue together.
“An EU-wide approach will make carbon pricing and aviation taxes even more effective,” he said. “It will prevent cross-border effects and create a level playing field where we can all share the same benefits at the same time. It makes sense to tax things that are undesirable than things that are desirable, such as more jobs. We want to shift the tax burden and putting a price on emitting carbon is a good way to do it. We also have an idea how we can do this although they are not set in stone and everything is up for debate.”
Snel said it was commonly believed international civil aviation’s Chicago Convention prevented States from taxing jet fuel (kerosene) on international flights. “It’s true the Convention doesn’t allow us to tax the fuel already onboard once a plane arrives but the restriction does not apply to fuel taken onboard before departure,” he argued. “That’s good news for all of us. Imposing a fuel tax would be a strong incentive for carriers to develop cleaner fuels. More importantly, it’s only fair that they pay.”
He was supported by Sweden’s Minister of Finance, Magdalena Andersson, who said the Convention had been good for trade and economic growth but new challenges were now having to be faced.
“Our view is that taxing aviation fuel would make a lot of sense,” she told delegates. “Just as a carbon tax on other fossil fuels, it doesn’t just address climate change, it also addresses the imbalances that exist today between different modes of transportation. All we have is this huge exception for the aviation sector and this is clearly a harmful subsidy. A tax on aviation fuel would meet the ‘polluter pays’ principle and raise public funds that could be used for important investment and climate-friendly technologies. It would also be easier to administer both for authorities and companies.
“A tax would both stimulate energy efficiency and the reduction of fossil fuels as we would only tax the fossil content of the fuel, and this would encourage the much-needed production of biofuels for airlines.
“Of course, it can also change people’s behaviour and a reminder that when we are flying, we are polluting our climate and so we need to pay for it. High income households do fly more frequently and longer distances than those on lower incomes, so the tax would be paid mainly by high income earners.”
Andersson said she expected there would be challenges to such a policy at ICAO but Sweden was willing to take the initiative “and we would be happy if we could have more friends in those discussions.”
She added the EU ETS only applied within the EU and did not ensure aviation contributed sufficiently to the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“We also have CORSIA but as I see it, it can only be a relevant policy tool if it is ambitious enough and what has been outlined so far is by no means sufficient in order to tackle climate change. So we clearly need stronger action nationally, bilaterally and internationally. We need to fill up the aviation taxation toolbox and it’s urgent.”
French ecology minister Brune Poirsson, whose government has been confronted by the ‘gilets jaunes’ mass movement that initially started as a public protest against rising environmental taxes on fuel, told the conference via a video: “It makes no sense for the majority of citizens to pay significant taxes on their car fuel in order to commute to work in their daily lives, while aviation fuel is not taxed for people who fly thousands of kilometres to go on vacation. This creates a feeling of deep injustice and unfairness and it hampers social acceptability for environmental policies.”
She acknowledged aviation had already taken action to reduce its emissions within the EU ETS and the future implementation of CORSIA.
“It’s a good first step and France has been fully supporting the successful implementation of CORSIA because it represents a unique opportunity for the aviation sector to curb CO2 emissions on a global level,” she said. “But we need to go further and faster. It is therefore crucial the sector intensifies its efforts, in particular in R&D investment in disruptive low-carbon technologies.
“At the government level, a coordinated European approach would be the best way to avoid negative impacts, especially on our competitiveness. We are only at the beginning of the debate and all the relevant policy tools should be discussed, such as a direct tax on aviation fuel, strengthening the EU ETS by reducing the free allocation [of allowances] for airlines and ticket or plane taxes.
“France strongly supports the initiative of the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium to open a discussion on this topic. It should become a key part of the next European Commission’s work programme. If an agreement cannot be found within the EU within a reasonable timeframe, then France would be open to becoming part of a ‘coalition of the willing’ on aviation taxation.”
Other major aviation European countries like Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have yet to express a public view on an EU-wide common approach to aviation taxation.
In addition to the Chicago Convention, another challenge in imposing jet fuel taxes on intra-EU flights is the EU’s own energy tax directive adopted in 2003 that exempts aircraft fuel from excise duty. As domestic aviation is outside the remit of the Convention, any country can charge a fuel tax or duty on domestic flights and EU Member States can also tax aviation fuel used in intra-EU flights but only by means of bilateral agreements.
EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the exemption was in stark contrast with the environmental objectives of the European Union.
“I can assure you the Commission is ready to work alongside Member States to explore all possibilities,” he told the conference via a video. “These include amending the directive to remove the exemption for aviation and maritime transport. In 2011, the Commission proposed to amend the directive in order to introduce taxation based on CO2 emissions and on the energy content of fuels. Unfortunately, the proposal had to be withdrawn in 2015 in view of the lack of unanimous support in the Council.”
Efforts to overcome the unanimity lock on EU energy taxation have so far failed although the Commission recently proposed a move towards qualified majority voting.
“I know it will be difficult to get this proposal adopted because in order to end unanimity, unanimity is required,” he reported. “But the important thing for us was to launch the discussion. We wanted to encourage Member States to take a stand and then be accountable to their citizens who had clearly expressed their concerns about climate issues in the recent European elections. We must live up to their expectations.”
Moscovici said the Commission could assist Member States willing to sign bilateral agreements by providing guidelines. He added the EU could work towards removing the fuel exemption from bilateral air service agreements with third countries by agreeing to tax fuel on a reciprocal basis. He named India, Japan, Brazil, Australia and the United States as examples since they already taxed aviation fuel domestically.
New aviation taxes should be looked at alongside other measures that include emissions trading, offsets, alternative fuels and operational improvements, he advised.
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Boeing commits $1 million towards Brazilian RSB-certified feedstock production for sustainable aviation fuel
Thu 20 June 2019 – Boeing has announced a $1 million investment in the Brazilian bioeconomy that will focus on identifying suitable feedstocks and supporting small-scale farmers achieve Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification for the production of biomass for conversion into sustainable aviation fuels. The aircraft manufacturer says its collaboration with RSB intends to maximise environmental, social and economic benefits, and ensure best-in-class sustainability standards in the country. RSB will be working with WWF to ensure sustainability in feedstock options and farming practices in order to increase the capacity for sustainable fuel production for the aviation sector. The Boeing investment is additional to the ‘Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy’ project – a partnership between RSB and WWF, and powered by Boeing’s Global Engagement portfolio.
“Brazil is a biofuel powerhouse and we believe this leadership can also translate into benefits for small farmers and communities who are at the forefront of the multi-feedstock supply chain that can support biojet fuel production in the country,” commented Marc Allen, Boeing SVP and President of Embraer Partnership & Group Operations.
The company said the investment would help to grow an industry that creates jobs and boosts the Brazilian economy without negatively impacting food security, biodiversity, land access or water rights and security.
As a key member of RSB and supporter of its sustainability standards, Boeing has collaborated with RSB and WWF on various projects over the last six years. The ‘Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy’ three-year project now underway provides guidance on the sustainability of alternative fuels and aims to bring together relevant stakeholders and policymakers to help direct investment, market development and further research to support the emergence of a sustainable bioeconomy.
In addition to Brazil, the project will also operate in Ethiopia and South Africa – countries identified to be of key importance given their rapidly growing commercial aviation sectors and potential to produce significant volumes of feedstocks.
“Boeing’s commitment to ensuring real and credible sustainability in the growing bioeconomy has seen them play a hands-on role in Brazil and beyond for many years,” said Rolf Hogan, RSB’s Executive Director. “This new piece in the puzzle reaffirms that commitment and we are looking forward to working with farmers, business, industry, government and other stakeholders in shaping this latest investment in growing a strong and sustainable bioeconomy which will create opportunities for all as we win the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.”
ICAO invites applications from emissions unit programmes for CORSIA eligibility assessment
Fri 14 June 2019 – ICAO has opened applications from emissions unit programmes for assessment by its Technical Advisory Body (TAB) under the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. Applications have to be completed and submitted to the ICAO Secretariat by 12 July 2019 after when the TAB will conduct an initial screening of programme applications. ICAO intends publishing applications on its website during August or September and then commence a 30-day public comment period. In August, the TAB is due to start its assessment of applied-for programmes against the adopted emissions unit criteria, with the aim of making recommendations to the ICAO Council for decision-making on eligible units by February 2020. A second application period is foreseen to begin in 2020.
Applications submitted by programmes will serve as a primary basis for assessment and applicants are advised by the ICAO Secretariat that they may be subject to further clarification questions and possible in-person interview. Unless designated as business confidential, the submitted information will be publicly available, with comments invited regarding their consistency with the emissions unit criteria (EUC).
ICAO has posted the application form on its CORSIA website along with full guidance on the EUC, as well as the terms of reference (TOR) under which the TAB will operate, its work programme and timeline, plus the list of the 19 members of the TAB. The TAB’s final recommendations to the Council on eligible unit programmes, and potentially project types, including the underlining decisions, are to be taken by consensus. If there is no consensus, according to the TOR, “then the prevailing and alternative conclusions will be described and substantiated, and presented to the Council for decision.” Meetings will only be open to TAB members, with support from the Secretariat.
Eligible programmes must address the following 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;
- Validation and verification procedures;
- Programme governance;
- Transparency and public participation provisions;
- Safeguards system;
- Sustainable development criteria; and
- Avoidance of double counting, issuance and claiming.
Offset credit programmes are required to deliver credits that represent emissions reductions, avoidance or sequestration that:
- 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; and
- Do no net harm.
United Airlines lays claim to having flown the industry’s most eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind
Thu 13 June 2019 – United Airlines has undertaken what it claims to be the industry’s most eco-friendly commercial flight to date. Dubbed the ‘Flight for the Planet’, it involved a number of environmental actions that included the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), zero cabin waste efforts, operational efficiencies and carbon offsetting. The flight on World Environment Day from United’s Chicago O’Hare hub to its ‘eco-hub’ in Los Angeles used a 30/70 blend of SAF provided by World Energy and traditional jet fuel. United remains the only US airline to use SAF on a continuous basis and recently renewed its contract with World Energy, agreeing to purchase up to 10 million gallons of “cost-competitive” fuel over the next two years. Meanwhile, Neste and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates five airports, have signed a MoU to facilitate the use of sustainable transportation fuels at Port Authority facilities and in its fleet vehicles and equipment.
Commenting on the United flight, Scott Kirby, the airline’s President, said: “The historic Flight for the Planet showcases United’s philosophy of working together to find new and innovative ways to lead us into a more sustainable future. As an airline, we see our environment from a unique perspective every day and we know we must do our part to protect our planet and our skies.”
In the economy cabin of the flight, traditional snack options were switched with a complimentary plated service featuring fully recyclable or compostable service ware and included a test of what United described as an industry-first, recyclable-paper hot beverage cup.
In the premium cabin, the airline said it is continuing to use reusable service ware, swap plastic lids for beeswax food wrappers and is removing the paper wrapping from silverware roll-ups. United has already eliminated non-recyclable stirring sticks and cocktail picks on aircraft systemwide and replaced them with an environmentally-friendly product made of 100% bamboo.
Fuel-saving operational efficiencies employed for the flight included the use of single-engine taxiing, air traffic control prioritisation and a continuous descent approach into Los Angeles. United used its Eco-Skies liveried Boeing 737-900ER which it said on average carries passengers 77 miles on a single gallon of fuel.
The airline also used electric-powered ground service equipment (GSE) to service the flight at the departure and arrival gates. Around 40% of United’s eligible GSE is electric powered, which rises to 70% at its Los Angeles hub. United says it is the first airline to use new ITW 7400 electric ground power units that substantially reduce noise pollution and cut carbon emissions by 90%.
The remainder of the Flight for the Planet’s emissions are being offset through its new consumer carbon offset provider Conservation International, which promotes nature-based solutions to climate change.
The agreement between producer Neste and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will see the supply of sustainable transportation fuels that include renewable aviation fuel, renewable diesel, renewable propane and other sustainable fuel products. The Port Authority operates New York JFK, New York La Guardia, Newark Liberty International, Teterboro and Stewart International airports.
“As the first US transportation agency to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement, the Port Authority is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by supporting the use of sustainable fuels across our facilities – especially in operations where electrification is not yet viable,” said Christine Weydig, Director of the Port Authority’s Office of Environmental and Energy Programs. “One of the key elements of that commitment is working closely with partners who can help us enact an aggressive sustainability agenda. So we are excited to collaborate with Neste to identify ways to develop the regional market for cleaner liquid fuel, as we work towards our goal of reducing the agency’s emissions 80% by 2050.”
Responded Neste CEO Peter Vanacker: “Decarbonising transportation requires partnering, sharing the same goal and working side by side. We are extremely excited to share our expertise in low-carbon renewable fuels to find solutions for the Port Authority to reach their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
“Over the years we have built a solid track record in decarbonising transportation with our Neste MY Renewable Diesel, and we are in the process of increasing our production capacity of Renewable Jet Fuel to meet the growing demand.”
European research project claims breakthrough in production of renewable jet fuels from sunlight
Thu 13 June 2019 – A project funded by the EU and Switzerland claims to have made a breakthrough in producing renewable jet kerosene from sunlight, water and CO2. The SUN-to-LIQUID project follows on from an earlier project, SOLAR-JET, that developed the technology to achieve the first-ever production of solar jet fuel in a laboratory environment. Researchers have scaled up the technology for testing in the field and a unique solar concentrating plant has been built at the IMDEA Energy Institute in Spain, resulting in the first synthesis of solar kerosene. A solar reactor, developed by project partner ETH Zurich, produces synthesis gas that is processed through an on-site gas-to-liquid plant, developed by HyGear, into kerosene. The partners claim a 90% reduction in net CO2 emissions compared to conventional fossil-derived jet fuel and given the abundant feedstock that does not compete with food production, they say it can meet future fuel demand at a global scale.
The SUN-to-LIQUID four-year project, which finishes at the end of this year, is supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. It involves leading European research organisations and companies in the field of solar thermochemical fuel research. In addition to ETH Zurich, IMDEA Energy and HyGear Technology & Services, other partners include the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Abengoa Energía. Project coordinator Bauhaus Luftfahrt is also responsible for technology and system analyses and ARTICC International Management Services is supporting the consortium with project management and communication.
“This technological demonstration can have important implications for the transportation sectors, especially for the long-haul aviation and shipping sectors, which are strongly dependent on drop-in hydrocarbon fuels,” commented project coordinator Dr Andreas Sizmann of Bauhaus Luftfahrt. “We are now a step closer to living on a renewable ‘energy income’ instead of burning our fossil ‘energy heritage’. This is a necessary step to protect our environment.”
The core solar technology and the integrated chemical plant have been experimentally validated under real field conditions relevant to industrial implementation, reported Prof Aldo Steinfeld of ETH Zurich, who is leading the solar thermochemical reactor development.
Explained Dr Manuel Romero of IMDEA Energy: “A sun-tracking field of heliostats concentrates sunlight by a factor of 2,500 – three times higher than current solar tower plants used for electricity generation.”
This intense solar flux, which is verified by a flux measurement system developed by DLR, allows reaction temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees C to be reached within the solar reactor positioned at the top of the tower. The reactor produces synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, from water and CO2 via a thermochemical redox cycle, and then processed through the gas-to-liquid plant to produce the kerosene.
During the SOLAR-JET project (see article), a total of 291 stable redox cycles were performed that yielded 700 litres of high-quality syngas, which was compressed and further processed through Fischer-Tropsch synthesis into a mix of naphtha, gasoil and kerosene. The SUN-to-LIQUID initiative involves a more than 12-fold scale-up of the complete solar fuel production plant and integrates for the first time the whole production chain from sunlight, water and CO2 to liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
The partners say the plant will run on a daily basis over a period of months under realistic steady-state and transient conditions relevant to large-scale industrial implementation. They add that a road-map will be established for competitive drop-in fuel production from the technology.
KLM to support research by TU Delft on the Flying-V future long-distance aircraft concept
Tue 11 June 2019 – KLM and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) have signed a cooperative agreement under which the airline will contribute towards TU Delft’s research into a future new aircraft concept called the Flying-V. The v-shaped design integrates the passenger cabin, cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings and the researchers believe the improved aerodynamics and reduced weight will enable the aircraft to use 20 per cent less fuel than the Airbus A350 while carrying the same number of passengers and volume of cargo. The aircraft would have the same wingspan as an A350 and be shorter in length so it would be able to use existing airport infrastructure. Meanwhile, KLM’s ground support subsidiary at Amsterdam Schiphol, KLM Equipment Services, is to switch its vehicles to using gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuel supplied by Shell this month to help improve air quality at the airport.
The long-distance Flying-V concept aircraft would carry 314 passengers in the standard configuration and 160 cubic metres of cargo, the same as a typical A350, and would be able to use existing gates, runways and hangars at airports. Under its present design, it would be propelled using the most fuel-efficient turbofan engines powered by kerosene that currently exist but the researchers say it could be easily adapted to make use of future innovations in propulsion systems, such as electrically-boosted turbofans.
“The Flying-V is smaller than the A350 and has less inflow surface area compared to the available amount of volume. The result is less resistance and that means the Flying-V needs less fuel for the same distance,” explained TU Delft Project Leader Dr Roelof Vos.
With the seating layout in the wings and the need for aircraft weight to be as light as possible to maximise efficiency gain, the researchers are also looking to improve the passenger experience through new interior design concepts.
“We are incredibly pleased to be able to cooperate with our trusted partner KLM on our combined mission to make aviation more sustainable,” said Henri Werij, Dean of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft. “Radically new and highly energy-efficient aircraft designs such as the Flying-V are important in this respect, as are new forms of propulsion. Our ultimate aim is one of emission-free flight. Our cooperation with KLM offers a tremendous opportunity to bring about real change.”
A flying prototype is due to be unveiled in October that will be used to test whether the Flying-V can remain stable and reliable while being flown at low speeds such as during take-off and landing. The flying scale model and a full-size section of the aircraft’s interior will be presented at the KLM Experience Days at Schiphol to coincide with KLM’s centenary celebrations.
Announcing the involvement with the Flying-V project at the recent IATA AGM in Seoul, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said: “In recent years, KLM has developed as a pioneer in sustainability within the airline industry. The development of aviation has given the world a great deal, offering us an opportunity to connect people. This privilege is paired with a huge responsibility for our planet. KLM takes this very seriously and has therefore been investing in sustainability at different levels for many years, enabling it to develop a broad spectrum of sustainability initiatives. We are proud of our progressive cooperative relationship with TU Delft, which ties in well with KLM’s strategy and serves as an important milestone for us on the road to scaling-up sustainable aviation.”
Last October, the Dutch aviation sector presented an action plan to government that aims to decrease aviation CO2 emissions originating in the Netherlands by 35% by the end of 2030.
Around 4,000 vehicles and ground support equipment service aircraft at Schiphol, with 60% belonging to KLM. KLM Equipment Services (KES) says around 30,000 litres of fuel a day are consumed during operations. This month, almost all the operational fleet is switching from Shell Fuelsave Diesel to Shell GTL fuel to improve air quality.
“Many staff complained about smoke and soot,” said Gerwin te Hennepe of KES. “GTL burns a lot cleaner than conventional diesel. As a result, there are fewer local emissions, less visible black smoke and less odour. Local air quality has improved considerably and with it, the well-being of our staff.”
Shell GTL fuel is also being used at Hamburg and Copenhagen airports.
Aviation emissions in Europe continue to rise rapidly, says Commission, as Ryanair pledges monthly CO2 statistics
Mon 10 June 2019 – While emissions from stationary installations, such as power and manufacturing plants, covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell by 4.1% overall in 2018, emissions from the aviation sector rose by 3.9%, according to confirmed figures released by the European Commission. The scheme covers over 11,000 stationary installations and 500 aircraft operators flying between European airports. The biggest reduction was achieved in the power sector where coal and gas-fired production is being replaced by electricity from renewables. In contrast, says the Commission, aviation emissions continue to increase rapidly and verified emissions from operators amounted to 66.9 million tonnes of CO2e in 2018. Meanwhile, Ryanair, which entered the top 10 of Europe’s biggest emitters for the first time last year, has become the first airline in the EU to release monthly statistics relating to its CO2 emissions.
The Commission reports 500 commercial aircraft operators reported their emissions under the EU ETS in 2018, including more than 100 based outside the EU that operate flights within the European Economic Area (EEA). Total verified emissions of 66.9 Mt of CO2e compares with 64.4 Mt in 2017.
Around 53% of the emissions were covered by allowances acquired from other industrial sectors, mainly contributing to reductions in the power sector. Aircraft operators received free allowances totalling 30.5 million tonnes, covering 45.5% of their emissions, with the remaining 1.5% being covered by international credits. The Commission said the number of non-compliant aircraft operators was “typically small” or who had ceased trading during the year. The price of EU carbon allowances (EUAs) rose sharply from around €8/tonne at the beginning of 2018 to nearly €25 by the end of the year.
Ryanair, described by Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs as Europe’s greenest and cleanest airline, said its emissions amounted to 1,157,000 tonnes for the month of May, having carried 14.1 million passengers, which was an increase of 13% compared to the same period last year. The airline’s total emissions for 2018 were 9.9 Mt, a 6.9% rise on the previous year.
Ryanair said that a passenger load factor of 96% and one of the youngest fleets (average of six years) helped it achieve 66 grams of CO2 per passenger/km in May, and an average over the year of 67g of CO2 per pax/km. This, it claims, is substantially lower than its EU competitors and the reduction from 82g to 67g (-18%) over the past decade compares with over 120g by major flag carriers such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France-KLM.
The metric is the most transparent and accurate way of measuring airline carbon efficiency, said Ryanair, and called on all other EU airlines to follow its example of publishing monthly emissions statistics.
The low-cost carrier is targeting to reach below 60g per pax/km by 2030 as a result of a $20 billion investment in a fleet of 210 new Boeing 737 “gamechanger” aircraft that are expected to be delivered between 2019 and 2024, which will carry 4% more passengers but with a 16% lower fuel burn and 40% lower noise emissions.
EU study arguing additional aviation taxes can cut emissions is dismissed by European airlines as flawed
Fri 7 June 2019 – A report published by the European Commission finds that imposing value added tax (VAT) on airline passenger tickets and/or applying a kerosene tax to flights would reduce aviation carbon emissions and noise from in line with a reduced demand for flying in Europe. The study modelled impacts on EU States and looked at aviation taxation in other major countries. In most EU countries, a 10 per cent increase in ticket prices would result in a 9 to 11 per cent lower demand and the resulting reduction in the number of flights would produce similar levels of reductions in emissions and noise. However, trade association Airlines for Europe (A4E) has dismissed the report as flawed and simplistic. Meanwhile, the Dutch government has released details of a conference to be hosted by the finance ministry on June 20/21 that is aiming to bring EU States together to discuss unified aviation carbon pricing and taxes.
The study, ‘Taxes in the field of aviation and their impact’, carried out by CE Delft for the Commission’s transport directorate (DG MOVE), found that most countries with a sizeable aviation activity levy taxes of some form on the sector. In the EU, VAT or other taxes on domestic aviation are the most prevalent and exist in 17 Member States, with six levying taxes on international aviation, usually in the form of a passenger departure tax on tickets.
Fuel is sometimes taxed on domestic flights, such as in the US, but fuel used on international flights is generally exempt from fuel taxes, largely as a result of provisions under the Chicago Convention, although this does not explicitly prohibit the taxation of jet fuel. Exemptions from taxation on jet fuel is also often mentioned in bilateral air service agreements, for example the EU/US agreement. Under the EU’s Energy Tax Directive, aircraft fuel for commercial operations is exempt from excise duty. However, Member States may abolish this exemption for intra-Community and domestic flights. The minimum excise duty for kerosene under the directive is €300 ($340) per 1,000 litres.
The study calculates the weighted average aviation tax in the EU across all Member States and destinations amounts to €11 ($12.50) per ticket. If all aviation taxes in the EU were to be abolished, it estimates the number of passengers would increase by 4%, resulting in an approximate equivalent increase in the number of flights, connections, aviation sector jobs and value added to the sector. However, aviation carbon emissions would increase by 4% and the number of people affected by aircraft noise by 2%, it believes, and because of the lower government expenditures or higher taxes on other activities resulting from the abolition, most of the increase in jobs would be compensated by a decrease in employment in other sectors.
Conversely, abolishing the exemption on aircraft fuel taxation – if it were possible, points out the report – would result in an increase of the average ticket price by 10% and a decrease in passenger demand of 11%. This would have a negative outcome for the aviation sector of a 11% reduction in both employment and value added. However, the higher fiscal revenues would offset the negative effects completely, says the study, and carbon emissions would decrease by 11% and the number of people affected by noise would fall by 8%.
The report does caution that any changes in the tax regimes must be carefully analysed since the role of aviation as a priority industry varies significantly between EU Member States.
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of EU transport ministers last Thursday, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said the report had been prepared for consideration by the next Commission and was part of efforts to inform EU Member States of the options to tackle emissions from air transport, which represented around 3.6% of all EU emissions. She said that along with investment in new technologies and the global CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme, aviation taxation was “another tool in the box”.
Bulc also said Member States should rethink their transport strategies and consider shifting journeys of up to 500-600kms away from regional aviation and towards high-speed rail.
Airlines for Europe (A4E) said the report contained simplistic assumptions and did not accurately reflect the negative impact such taxes have on the economy, while also exaggerating the environmental benefits. The industry body said it had incorrectly assumed that job losses in the aviation sector would be compensated for in other sectors.
“The fact is, 600,000 highly specialised jobs cannot be easily replaced,” said an A4E statement. “A detailed analysis of the impact such taxes would have on tourism, including employment, is also crucially missing. The tourism industry currently employs 13 million European citizens. The report also fails to account for shifting CO2 emissions to other transport modes or countries.
“Finally, a tax study which excludes the EU ETS is remarkable. Aviation is currently the only transport sector that is part of the scheme. The cost of emissions allowances has tripled in recent years to €25 ($28) per tonne. It is misleading to portray the aviation sector as not paying for its environmental footprint.”
Commenting on the report, A4E Managing Director Thomas Reynaert said: “Going forward, smart policies are needed to achieve sustainable mobility whilst maintaining EU competitiveness. Our focus should remain on finding ways to reduce CO2 emissions rather than short-sighted and ineffective measures such as new taxes. It’s very simple: taxing passengers or flights will not cut emissions.”
The Dutch conference on carbon pricing and flight and kerosene taxes is aimed, says the finance ministry, on bringing together a Europe-wide agreement on these taxes, rather than the current patchwork that exists among EU States.
It will be hosted by the State Secretary for Finance, Menno Snel, and will be attended by EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici, plus government representatives from other European countries. So far, Germany and the United Kingdom have not indicated their enthusiasm for the initiative.
Speeches are due to be made by Magdalena Andersson, Swedish Minister for Finance; Brune Poirson, French Secretary of State for Ecology; Koen van den Heuvel, Flemish Minister for the Environment; and Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management. Other speakers lined up include Ludger Schuknecht, OECD Deputy Secretary-General, and Ruud de Mooij, Chief of the IMF’s Tax Policy Division.
There will also be three sessions covering the characteristics of national aviation taxes, taxing aviation fuels intra-Europe and a coordinated approach to carbon taxation in the EU ETS sectors.
The Dutch government has indicated it wants to introduce a tax on air travel and transport from the beginning of 2021. It says while its preference is for a European tax on aviation, it has a bill drafted for a flight tax of €7 per departing passenger if insufficient progress is made on creating a Europe-wide tax. There would also be a tax on air cargo transport, with a lower rate for quieter aircraft. The government says the bill is part of efforts to charge consumers and businesses for environmentally polluting behaviour.
“Unlike travel by car, bus or train, international flights from the Netherlands are not in any way taxed. This is a key reason for introducing a flight tax,” said Menno Snel. “It will also help close the price gap between plane tickets and, for example, train tickets. Many of our neighbours already have a flight tax, so it’s our priority to seek cooperation at the European level.”
Airline emissions climb 5.2 per cent to reach 905 million tonnes in 2018 but growth expected to slow this year
Wed 5 June 2019 – IATA’s half-year economic performance report issued during its AGM in Seoul this week shows carbon emissions from the industry worldwide rose by 5.2% in 2018 compared to the previous year to reach 905 million tonnes. This compares to an annual increase of 5.9% recorded in 2017. According to IATA’s forecast for this year, the downward trend will continue with a rise of 2.5% in 2019 as a result of growing deliveries of new aircraft and a sharp rise in fuel prices. During the AGM, IATA airlines unanimously adopted a resolution reconfirming their support for the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme and committing to fully complying with its MRV and offsetting requirements. It also urged ICAO States to reiterate their support for CORSIA at its upcoming Assembly, encouraged all States to volunteer for its initial voluntary phases and that they confirm the scheme was to be the only market-based measure applicable to international flights.
The IATA report shows airlines used 359 billion litres of jet fuel last year compared to 341 billion litres in 2017, with the cost of fuel soaring 20.5% to $180 billion and forming 23.5% of average airline operating costs. Fuel costs are likely to rise to $206 billion in 2019 and represent 25% of average operating costs.
Fuel is such a large cost, says the report, that the industry is focusing intense efforts on improving fuel efficiency. IATA forecasts airline fuel efficiency, measured in terms of litres of fuel per 100 available tonne kilometres (ATKs) will improve by 1.7% in 2019, compared to 0.2% and 0.9% in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The trade body says this translates into expected savings of 16 million tonnes of CO2 and $3.5 billion in fuel costs during 2019. Between 2009 and 2014, the industry’s annual average per RTK fuel efficiency improvement stands at 2.4%, against its 1.5% average annual short-term target that runs until 2020.
Commercial airlines are expected to take delivery of over 1,750 new aircraft at a cost of around $80 billion in 2019, although this is dependent on the Boeing 737MAX situation. Around half of the deliveries will be to replace existing fleet, which will contribute significantly to the improved fuel efficiency expected this year, says the report. IATA says the sustained high fuel costs has made it economic to retire older aircraft at a higher rate. Passenger load factors are also expected to rise slightly to 82.1% in 2019, compared to 81.9% last year, and aircraft are being flown more intensively. Around 39.4 million scheduled flights are forecast for 2019.
As a result of rising fuel costs and what it sees as weakening world trade, IATA has downgraded its December 2018 forecast of a global industry profit of $35.5 billion in 2019 to $28 billion.
“Airlines will still turn a profit this year, but there is no easy money to be made,” commented IATA’s Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, at the AGM, pointing out it will be the tenth consecutive year of overall profitability for the industry. “The good news is that airlines have broken the boom-and-bust cycle.”
He told delegates that aviation was the business of freedom. “For 4.6 billion travellers, it is their freedom to explore, build business or reunite with friends and family. The economic benefit is 65 million jobs and a $2.7 trillion boost to the global economy,” he said. “Aviation is growing responsibly to meet this demand. We are determined to deliver sustainable global connectivity through aviation.”
De Juniac said airlines were aware that effective plans to cut emissions were critical in earning their licence to meet growing demands for air connectivity. “In fact, the strongest demand growth is in the developing world, reflective of aviation’s contribution to 15 of 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” he continued. “CORSIA sets the stage by capping emissions at 2020 levels. Between 2020 and 2035, it will mitigate over 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 and generate at least $40 billion in finance for carbon reduction initiatives.”
As well as encouraging all ICAO States to consider joining CORSIA’s pilot and first voluntary phases, the AGM resolution adopted by airlines calls for countries and regions – such the European Union – to recognise the scheme as the single global market-based mechanism for climate change mitigation and not to implement overlapping or duplicate measures like carbon taxes. Again with a finger pointed at the EU, the resolution urges ICAO States to ensure their domestic monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) regulations were fully aligned with ICAO’s agreed CORSIA standards, “with the aim of preventing market distortions and multiplicity of MRV requirements.”
The resolution also urged IATA’s own airline members to implement all available fuel efficiency measures, including investing in fleet replacement and other operational measures, as well as take part in the energy transition towards the use of sustainable aviation fuels.
Speaking on the sidelines of the AGM, IATA’s Director of Aviation Environment, Michael Gill, said a lot of work was being undertaken by the aviation industry on reducing CO2 emissions in terms of new technology solutions. These included potential electrification solutions coming online in the 2035 timeframe and the growth of sustainable aviation fuels. “We are seeing a significant uptake in the use of these fuels and that’s a very positive development.”
Responding to a growing public awareness of climate change, Gill said: “I think it’s very healthy that everyone in society is asking themselves how they are impacting on climate change, and aviation is no different. We have a strategy to reduce our CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 and we want to call on industry to go for even more ambition in the coming years. It’s an area we are looking into and we have a plan in place that should reassure the flying public that aviation is a very responsible industry as far as climate impact is concerned.”
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told delegates at a session on sustainability that the airline was passionate about the issue. “It’s very important for the future of our industry that we get this right,” he said. “We at Qantas have given ourselves very significant targets to reduce our impact on the environment and not just with regard to CO2.”
Joyce highlighted the airline’s recent zero waste domestic flight (see article) and that it had the largest carbon offset programme of any airline in the world, with 10% of customers opting to offset their emissions. He wanted to see the percentage climb and Qantas had introduced a number of initiatives, including giving bonus frequent flyer points for those choosing to offset. He related he had physically offset the emissions of his own trip to Seoul by helping plant 90 trees in a rainforest project in northern Australia the previous week.
He said the ultimate offset of not flying at all was a ‘cop out’ and a case of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’. “You just need to fix the bathwater by ensuring we do what is needed to meet our Paris commitments, maybe even being bolder than that and aiming for the 1.5 degree target,” he said. “We know it’s doable with our programmes in place that can get us there and we should be better in communicating it. The reason why some people don’t think they should fly is because our communication in some cases has been terrible. Airlines and IATA have to be more proactive in getting our message across. We know from the positive coverage we got in Australia to our zero waste flight you can have an impact if you focus on it and get your message right.”
Next year’s AGM will be held in Amsterdam and hosted by KLM.