GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 7 OCTOBER 2019
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Last day drama at ICAO Assembly as old disputes between developed and developing countries over climate action re-emerge
Fri 4 Oct 2019 – Drama unfolded on the last day of ICAO’s 40th Assembly as China, India and Russia attempted to reopen negotiations on two climate related resolutions that were expected to be adopted in the final plenary session. Signs of discontent in closed sessions during the Assembly emerged when a joint statement (WP/605) was released by China, India and Russia detailing significant changes they wanted to the climate change resolution. China called for a secret ballot of States that resulted in the original climate and CORSIA resolutions (WP/58 and WP/59) being adopted by 92 votes to 25, with 10 abstentions. The three major emerging nations, with the support of others, notified ICAO of reservations to the resolutions and called for a high-level meeting in 2021 to continue discussions on the issue. IATA told the Assembly that intense outside pressure meant industry would have to work faster than ICAO to reduce the sector’s climate impact.
“Many States came here hoping for no drama on CORSIA but for those of us who have worked on this issue for many years, we knew better and an easy meeting was unlikely, but few expected it would come to a vote,” said the United States representative in a closing statement during the Plenary. “It was unfortunate the meeting was pushed in a direction of division rather than in a spirit of working together to find compromise.
“No country claims CORSIA is perfect and most are quick to point out its flaws but if we wait to find the perfect answer to be agreed by all countries to address this important issue, we will be waiting for a long time.“
The vast majority of countries at ICAO had supported the resolutions, he told the Assembly, but much work was still needed for ICAO to address the issue. “The United States remains committed to working with other countries in a spirit of cooperation but we expect the same from others,” he said, adding his reluctance for a high-level meeting so soon after the difficult discussions that had taken place at the Assembly. “While today has been perhaps bitter-sweet, we are eager to see CORSIA continue to be implemented and remain committed to working to address the difficult issues raised in this meeting.”
China’s representative said substantial divergent views existed on the two resolutions that had not been addressed properly during the Assembly. He said China wanted a high-level meeting in order to “improve” the two resolutions.
“As the largest developing country, China strongly supports the efforts to address international aviation’s impact on the environment and climate change. China is taking proactive action to effectively control the growth of aviation emissions,” he said.
However, he added, States should be allowed to choose their own mid-term and long-term goals and the implementation path that was best for their own circumstances. “China therefore advocates for the establishment of an international aviation emissions reduction scheme that allows each country to make contributions to the best of its ability and that is fair and just as well as conducive to mutual learning,” he said.
"We maintain the goal of 2020 carbon-neutral growth only focuses on controlling the growth of emissions while neglecting developed countries historical responsibilities for emissions and the legitimate rights to the development of developing countries and emerging economies. This goes against the notion of justice and fairness advocated by the international community and undermines mutual trust and cooperation among Member States.”
In the unadopted joint proposal by China, India and the Russian Federation for revisions to the draft climate change resolution, wording was struck out on a long-term aspirational goal for international aviation.
India’s representative said a high-level meeting would be a way forward to address the concerns of the sizeable minority who had voted against the adoption of the proposed text of the resolutions, which she said had elements that were difficult to accept. She said India had particular concerns over ICAO’s carbon-neutral growth from 2020 goal and targets for sustainable aviation fuels.
The Russian Federation representative said the international focus should be on a real decrease in emissions through technology and his country believed the implementation of CORSIA would increase the growth of emissions from international aviation and would have a negative impact on ICAO’s strategic goals of safety, environmental protection and economic development. He maintained CORSIA would distort competition and the sustainable development of the aviation industry.
Russia and Brazil both expressed support for a high-level meeting. Despite not agreeing with certain parts of the resolutions, Brazil was still implementing the MRV elements of the CORSIA SARPs, stated Brazil’s representative.
“However, discussions at the previous Assembly and this Assembly shows that CORSIA is a complex mechanism that raises concerns by many countries,” she said, calling for a broad dialogue between States. “If we want to keep CORSIA as a global and effective resource we must include the appropriate tools to address these concerns. As we have seen, this is not an easy task. In order to have an effective review of CORSIA in 2022, the Council needs to start work now.”
Finland, on behalf of the EU, Iceland and Norway, said a clear majority of States had wanted to make CORSIA a success. The EU, Iceland and Norway continued to strongly support CORSIA and remained fully committed to implement from the start of the pilot phase, said the representative, and called on other ICAO States yet to volunteer to do so as soon as possible.
EU States came to the Assembly to defend their perceived right to continue applying the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to international flights within Europe, which paragraph 18 of the draft CORSIA resolution appears to negate by making CORSIA the exclusive global market-based measure for international aviation. Pre-Assembly discussions between the EU institutions had centred around entering a reservation on the paragraph if it was adopted. However, the original text remained yet a reservation was not mentioned by the Finnish representative.
Instead he said States retained their sovereign right to implement their legal obligations under the Paris Agreement in a manner consistent with civil aviation's Chicago Convention, as long as each State applied its laws and regulations on an equal basis to all aircraft operating in its jurisdiction. This would suggest the EU believes it is within its right to continue with the EU ETS once CORSIA starts in 2021, regardless of paragraph 18, as long as airlines were not subject to duplicative requirements.
IATA’s representative told the Assembly that what had been witnessed over the past few days during meetings had been unprecedented. “As an observer, it could be construed that ICAO had taken a step backwards in a world where at the moment the pressures are intense on airlines to move forwards on resolving the climate change issue as quickly as possible,” he said. “We will continue to support ICAO but, sadly, I think we’re going to have to move faster than ICAO is going to be able to in order to take whatever steps we can in finding ways to continue to reduce our environmental footprint.”
Video recordings of the two Plenary sessions are here and here
Investment flows into development of electric propulsion for future commercial aircraft
Thu 26 Sept 2019 – Aircraft engine manufacturer GE is to partner with NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program to develop a central component for the electric propulsion of a commercial aircraft. The project team is aiming to develop a next-generation inverter that meets the size, power, efficiency and altitude requirements specified by NASA for flight operations. This provides power to drive the electric motor and the challenge is to come up with an inverter that is small enough and delivers the required power to support electric flight. GE believes its silicon-carbide technology can provide the significant increase in power density that is required. NASA says it has been researching electric aircraft architectures for nearly two decades and has developed experimental aircraft that have demonstrated electrical propulsion concepts to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions. In related news, Boeing and Safran have announced a joint investment in Electric Power Systems, which is developing aviation-grade energy storage systems.
Explaining the GE/NASA programme, Konrad Weeber, Chief Engineer of Electric Power at GE Research said: “We’re essentially packing 1 MW of power into the size of a compact suitcase that will convert enough electric power to enable hybrid-electric propulsion architectures for commercial airplanes. We have successfully built and demonstrated inverters at ground level that meet the power, size and efficiency requirements of electric flight. The next step is to build and demonstrate one that is altitude ready.”
Another challenge, noted Weeber, is to develop insulation systems that perform reliably at high altitudes given the high voltages required to manage the electric power. Fortunately, he said, the team will be able to tap decades of IP and knowledge developing insulation materials for power system applications in the energy, industrial and transportation sectors to overcome this technical barrier.
Added Amy Jankovsky, Hybrid Gas-Electric Propulsion subproject manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center: “With recent advances in materials and power electronics, we are beginning to overcome the challenges faced in developing energy-reducing electrification concepts, and this inverter work is a critical step in NASA’s Electrified Aircraft Propulsion effort. Our partnership with GE is key to advancing flight-weight and flight-ready components in the megawatt class.”
Funding of the $12 million programme will be a 50/50 cost share between GE and NASA.
Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Safran Corporate Ventures say their joint investment in Electric Power Systems (EPS) will help the Utah-based aerospace company develop a highly automated industrial base capable of producing aviation-grade energy storage systems “at an unprecedented scale”. It will also support the advancement of technologies to further reduce the costs of battery systems for electric airplanes.
“We will collaborate with EPS to offer our customers electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems with a level of performance that sets us apart from competition,” said Alain Sauret, Safran Electrical & Power President. “This technology cooperation is emblematic of Safran’s strategy in greener propulsion solutions.”
EPS supports electric and hybrid-electric airplanes such as the NASA X-57, Bye eFlyer and Bell Nexus. The company’s CEO, Nathan Millecam, commented: “Electrification of flight has the potential to fundamentally change how goods, services and humans connect. We are thrilled to work with visionary companies such as Boeing and Safran to further develop and field advanced energy solutions that can meet real world mission demands.”
In April, Collins Aerospace Systems announced a $50 million investment in The Grid, an advanced electric power systems lab that will design and test systems like high-power generators for the next generation of more electric aircraft. Among the first platforms to be supported will be the recently unveiled United Technologies hybrid-electric Project 804 flight demonstrator. Its goal is to re-engine and fly a regional turboprop aircraft powered by a 2 megawatt-class hybrid-electric propulsion system.
“Collins is the innovation leader in electric systems, and The Grid positions us to remain the world leader in the electrification of aircraft for decades to come,” said Collins Aerospace CEO Kelly Ortberg. “In the not-too-distant future, hybrid-electric and fully electric aircraft will revolutionise air travel as we know it – opening up new markets like urban air mobility, while re-invigorating others like regional service to underutilised airports. They will help support a greener planet by reducing carbon emissions and will help our airline customers by reducing operating costs and fuel consumption.”
Speaking at the ICAO 40th Assembly in Montreal, Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group said: “Aviation has always been an industry exploring the cutting edge of technology and a number of new developments give us guidance on the shape of air transport operations in the future. Electric propulsion and even hydrogen are starting to become more robust technology options, although a great deal of research remains to be done in both areas. Electric may be a possibility for short-haul aircraft operations in the 2035-2040 timeframe.”
UK government’s climate advisers suggest a pathway towards net-zero aviation emissions by 2050
Tue 24 Sept 2019 – Emissions from international aviation and shipping must be included in the country’s net-zero emissions by 2050 climate target, says the UK government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC). However, the body accepts that even with improvements to fuel efficiency and the use of sustainable and novel fuels, zero-carbon aviation is highly unlikely to be feasible by 2050. In a letter and report to the UK Transport Secretary, the CCC proposes that demand growth be limited to at most 25% above current levels and the use of what it calls greenhouse gas removal offsets to deal with remaining emissions. Aviation, it says, is likely to be the largest emitting sector in 2050 and account should also be taken of the added climate impact of its non-CO2 effects. Formal inclusion of international aviation emissions in the net-zero target would complement agreed international policies, such as CORSIA, and should not be interpreted as a unilateral UK approach to reducing these emissions, says the CCC.
CCC scenarios suggest UK aviation CO2 emissions could be reduced from 36.5 million tonnes (Mt) in 2017 to around 30 Mt in 2050 through a combination of fuel efficiency improvements, limited use of sustainable fuels and by managing demand growth. It says it is unlikely there will be major technological breakthroughs in commercial aviation to make a significant difference to the level of emissions by 2050, given long development and certification lead times and slow turnover of the fleet.
However, the CCC foresees a continuation of the historic 1.4% annual improvement in fuel efficiency for UK departing flights on a seat-km basis. This could be achieved through more efficient engines, including both advanced conventional jet designs and some deployment of hybrid-electric aircraft in the 2040s. Its scenario expects hybrids could make up less than 10% of kilometres flown in 2050 and no full-electric aircraft are considered feasible, particularly for long-haul flights, by mid-century. Other improvements in aircraft design, such as high aspect ratio wings and composite materials, operational efficiencies and airspace management would also contribute to fuel efficiency gains.
The CCC’s scenario of a 10% uptake of sustainable fuels in 2050 is based around potential supply of biomass and strong governance to ensure genuine emissions savings. It advises government not to plan for higher levels of uptake at this stage, given the range of competing potential uses for biomass across the economy and uncertainty over which will be the most cost-effective.
In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term, warns the CCC. “Our scenario reflects a 25% growth in demand by 2050 compared to 2018 levels,” it says in the annex to the letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “This compares to current government projections which are for up to a 49% increase in demand over the same period.”
The CCC provides ‘speculative aviation options’ to reduce emissions below 30 Mt in 2050. Further demand constraint, for example, could save up to 8 Mt in 2050. Other reduction possibilities include the use of synthetic carbon-neutral fuels, or power-to-liquid, which entail recycling captured CO2, for example through direct air capture, in conjunction with zero-carbon hydrogen into a drop-in replacement for kerosene. However, the costs of such technology and the price premium are substantial, points out the CCC, but if synthetic fuels fully replaced fossil fuel use then this could reduce aviation emissions to gross zero.
A less expensive approach to achieving net-zero aviation (and shipping) emissions would be through the use of scalable greenhouse gas removal (GGR) offsets on remaining emissions. GGRs include bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air capture of CO2 with storage (DACCS). GGR offsets could be funded through a requirement on the aviation and shipping sectors to pay for removals or governments could generate revenues through an emissions trading system or carbon tax that can be used for government-procured removals. In principle, GGR offsets could be delivered through international policies, such as CORSIA, or domestic policies as long as they demonstrated genuinely additional removals within a robust governance framework. The CCC advises that it would make sense for a substantial proportion of these offsets to occur domestically as these would provide advantages to the UK relating to availability of CO2 storage capacity, offshore engineering expertise, and market regulation and design.
It believes international policies are unlikely to overcome all barriers to decarbonising the aviation sector and domestic policies should also be pursued where these can help overcome UK-specific market barriers and do not lead to risk of carbon leakage.
With CORSIA due to end in 2035, the CCC calls for a long-term goal for global international aviation emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement.
“This would provide a strong and early signal to incentivise the investment in new, cleaner, technologies that will be required for the sector to play its role in meeting long-term targets,” it says. “This is particularly important in aviation given the long lifetimes of assets.”
To achieve this, it calls on government to support research, innovation and deployment in technology and alternative fuels. The largest contribution to reducing aviation emissions will come from new technologies and aircraft designs, it adds, and development of a UK market for aviation biofuels could be supported by achieving more of the government’s 2030 Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation target through aviation fuels, subject to strong sustainability criteria being put in place.
To limit growth in demand for air transport to at most 25% above current levels by 2050, the CCC suggests measures including carbon pricing, a frequent flyer levy, fiscal measures to ensure aviation is not undertaxed compared to other transport sectors (for example, fuel duty and VAT), reforms to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty or management of airport capacity. It calls on government to assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero, adding: “Current planned additional airport capacity in London, including the third runway at Heathrow, is likely to leave at most very limited room for growth at non-London airports.”
Commented Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the CCC: “Now is the time to bring the UK’s international aviation and shipping emissions formally within the UK’s net-zero target. These are real emissions, requiring a credible plan to manage them to net-zero by 2050. Their inclusion in the UK target will complement international approaches and increase confidence that the Government is prioritising their reduction, ensuring the net-zero target covers all of the UK’s emissions.
“As the UK prepares to host the next major climate summit in 2020, we are well placed to show global leadership on this fundamental issue of international concern.”
Responding to the CCC letter, Neil Robinson, Chairman of UK cross-industry group Sustainable Aviation, said: “Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world, and we welcome the leadership shown by Ministers in legislating for the UK to be net zero by 2050. We believe that through an international approach, with the right government support, and together with substantial investment from industry, net zero is within reach for UK aviation if we all play our part.
“Building on the work we’ve already done, we should continue to develop new technologies, including working with fuel producers to develop sustainable aviation fuels and the successful introduction of global offsetting schemes through which airlines will pay for any extra emissions they create. By investing tens of billions of pounds in new, cleaner aircraft, we have already decoupled growth in aviation from growth in emissions, and as a global industry we have a long-established plan to halve our emissions by 2050.
“Carbon reduction, however, is a global issue requiring a global response, with governments and industry working closely together, and for emissions to be managed within an international framework.
“If the UK climate ambition is not matched elsewhere, the global market would be distorted with carbon emissions simply exported to other countries, which would be bad for the environment and bad for British travellers. We are therefore urging Ministers to continue leading through ICAO to agree a meaningful global emissions reduction target for aviation, consistent with the requirements of the Paris Agreement.”
Heathrow Airport Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We welcome the recommendation to include aviation in the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050, and the call on the government to introduce policies that avoid competitive distortion. Heathrow will work with industry partners and the government to ensure the UK leads the way in the development of sustainable fuels and continues to benefit from a thriving aviation sector while driving towards net-zero emissions.”
Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of UK campaign group Aviation Environment Federation, said: “British people currently take more international flights than anyone else in the world but there’s a growing public recognition that this feels out of step with the action we need to take on climate change, and two-thirds of Britons say they support limiting air travel to address the climate crisis.
“The government has dodged the issue of aviation emissions for too long. With climate targets that are now tougher than ever, it’s time for them to look again at plans for new runways, bigger airports and more flights, and focus instead on delivering an effective plan to make the aviation sector accountable for its emissions.
“It’s worth remembering that demand for aviation growth is being driven by a minority of frequent flyers, with 70% of UK flights made by just 15% of the population.”
ICAO’s CORSIA scheme still requires strong support from countries, Aliu tells Assembly
Wed 25 Sept 2019 – Opening ICAO’s 40th Assembly in Montreal yesterday, Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu called on States to affirm their support for the global CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme and warned countries against imposing further measures such as taxes on international aviation emissions. Over the next fortnight, EU countries will be seeking to block or amend wording in a proposed Assembly resolution that attempts to make CORSIA the exclusive market-based measure at the expense of the EU’s own Emissions Trading System. At the Assembly, industry and environmental groups are calling on ICAO to speed up an agreement on setting a long-term target to reduce aviation emissions. The Assembly takes place following UN calls for greater climate action and a large climate march on Friday (27th) is due to pass the ICAO building, with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg expected to participate.
In his opening speech to the Assembly, which is being attended by over 2,600 government officials from ICAO’s 193 Member States, Dr Aliu said the CORSIA scheme adopted at the last 39th Assembly in 2016 needed “resilient support”.
In a thinly-veiled message to EU representatives, he told delegates: “It is important for us to remember that CORSIA was adopted after very difficult negotiations and to avoid a cumbersome patchwork of national measures for operators such as taxes which can impede global connectivity. It would therefore be counterproductive to aviation and climate change progress if we fail at this Assembly to assure CORSIA’s continuing launch as a truly global offsetting scheme for international flight emissions.”
On the eve of the Assembly, the airline industry too warned Europe and other countries against taking additional market-based measures. “Today, CORSIA is a reality with airlines tracking their emissions. Unfortunately, there is a real risk that CORSIA will be undermined by governments piling on additional carbon pricing instruments,” said IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac. “They are branded ‘green taxes’ but we have yet to see any funds allocated to actually reducing carbon.
“CORSIA was agreed as the single global economic measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth by generating $40 billion in climate funding and offsetting around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035. Governments need to focus on making that commitment a success.”
Despite pressure from the European Parliament and Commission for EU States to defend the application of the EU ETS on intra-EU flights after CORSIA starts in 2021, three countries – France, Italy and Ireland – declined to agree a common EU position in advance of the Assembly. This would have resulted in a formal reservation being filed by all 28 EU States – an effective notification of non-compliance – against a clause contained in a Resolution (A40-WP/59) on CORSIA expected to be adopted at the Assembly. Instead, EU State delegations will attempt to have the exclusivity clause amended or excluded from the final text, before deciding on whether to file a reservation at the end of the Assembly.
If the EU believes CORSIA does not go far enough to address fast-growing emissions from international aviation, other ICAO States, in particular the BRIC nations, accuse the scheme and its carbon-neutral growth from 2020 (CNG) goal of going too far. In a statement at the Assembly’s opening plenary yesterday, India’s representative said CORSIA discriminated against developing countries with fast-growing aviation markets. In a working paper submitted to the Assembly (A40-WP/306), China and the Russian Federation described CORSIA and CNG as “morally unfair”. These countries have consistently filed reservations at previous assemblies against the CNG goal and have yet to commit to joining CORSIA’s initial voluntary phases, despite calls from ICAO and industry.
Both industry and environmental groups are stressing the urgency of ICAO delivering on a long-term goal and plan to reduce international aviation emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. The issue was expected to be discussed at this Assembly but has been delayed until 2022.
“Our existing industry long-term goal to halve net total CO2 emissions by 2050 remains a robust and ambitious focus for industry action in line with Paris,” said Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, during the UN Climate Action Summit in New York earlier this week. “We urge governments also to adopt a pathway towards a UN-backed long-term goal for aviation and set in place the right policy environments to meet the needs of that goal. Importantly, those policies must be implemented by governments in the short-term to help build a foundation for meaningful long-term reductions in CO2 – we can’t wait until 2049 to take action.”
During the UN Summit, airport industry group ACI Europe reaffirmed its goal, which is backed by 203 airports across 42 European countries, to deliver net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 without the use of carbon offsets. Based on current traffic volumes and an estimated carbon footprint, the commitment is expected to eliminate 3.46 million tons of annual CO2 emissions as of 2050.
“Crucially, it means the European airport industry is aligning with the latest scientific evidence, the need to secure a +1.5 degree future and the Paris Agreement,” said ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec.
The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, which represents six environmental NGOs at ICAO, says it is “critically urgent” that governments and the aviation industry align with the Paris objective through adjusting short-term actions and developing a long-term decarbonisation vision for the sector. In an information paper submitted to the Assembly (A40-WP/561), ICSA says the current CNG goal should be broadened to cover aviation’s non-CO2 climate effects, extended to cover all emissions rather than just growth and ratcheted downwards to comply with a 1.5 degree pathway. The paper lays out five ‘enhanced climate mitigation targets and levers’ to help meet long-term emissions goals through policies and measures.
The Assembly runs until Friday, October 4. During the Assembly, ICAO is running a series of 30-minute presentations on YouTube called SkyTalks. So far, environmental issues have been covered in two presentations: ‘Global Coalition for Sustainable Aviation’ and ‘CORSIA’.
Global aviation CO2 emissions are rising 70 per cent faster than ICAO projections, finds ICCT
Thu 19 Sept 2019 – Analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows global CO2 emissions from commercial aviation are currently rising 70% faster than long-term projections by ICAO that already point to a tripling of emissions by mid-century. ICCT has carried out what it claims is the first detailed global CO2 inventory for aviation in 15 years and finds that total emissions from all commercial operations, including freight, totalled 918 million tonnes (Mt) in 2018, around 2.4% of the global total. This is close to the industry’s own estimates of 905 Mt reported in June, which was a 5.2% increase over the previous year. The ICCT data shows 40% of global passenger transport-related CO2 emissions came from domestic flights, which are outside the scope of ICAO’s global CORSIA scheme. ICCT has also released its latest US domestic airline fuel efficiency rankings that found Frontier Airlines to be the most efficient in the 2017-18 period.
ICCT says using IATA estimates, CO2 emissions from commercial flights have increased 32% over the past five years from the 694 Mt emitted in 2013, implying an annual compound growth rate of 5.7%. ICAO projects a 2.2 to 3.1-fold increase in CO2 from international aviation (therefore excluding domestic aviation) from 2015 to 2045, or a 2.7% to 3.9% annual compound growth rate, depending on assumptions about fuel-efficiency gains.
ICCT calculates passenger transport accounted for 747 Mt, or 81%, of global aviation emissions in 2018, and emitted four times as much CO2 as freight transport, so has focused most of its study on passenger operations. Globally, two-thirds of all passenger flights in 2018 were domestic, accounting for one-third of global RPKs (revenue passenger kilometres) and a large majority of departures in a number of countries, including Brazil (92%), the United States (91%), China (91%), Indonesia (89%) and Australia (86%).
Flights within the Asia/Pacific region in 2018 emitted the largest share of passenger transport-related CO2 at 25% of the global total, or 186 Mt. Collectively, the 28 members of the European Union accounted for 142 Mt from passenger transport, or 19% of the global total. Intra-EU flights emitted an estimated 67 Mt of CO2, or 9% of the global total. The five countries with the highest CO2 emissions from passenger transport by departure were the United States (182 Mt, 24% of total CO2), China (94.9 Mt, 13%), United Kingdom (29.8 Mt, 4.0%), Japan (23.4 Mt, 3.1%) and Germany (22.2 Mt, 3.0%).
Carbon intensities by route group were also investigated by ICCT. The least efficient route groups – flights within the Middle East and within Africa – were found to have emitted over 30% more CO2 to transport one passenger one kilometre than the worldwide average in 2018. High-income countries were responsible for 62% of CO2 emitted from passenger aircraft. Overall, less developed countries that contain half of the world’s population accounted for only 10% of all passenger transport-related aviation emissions.
To compile the inventory, ICCT used multiple public data sources and merged to quantify the amount of fuel burned and therefore CO2 emitted, using aircraft performance and design software. ICCT said for future updates it intends to identify better data sources to improve its analysis of air freight and expand its work on model validation, particularly for domestic operations, using international, national and airline-level data. It also expects to include projected emissions in its reports.
ICCT has been ranking US airlines for fuel efficiency on domestic routes since 2010 and, for the first time, Alaska Airlines has been replaced as the most fuel-efficient carrier by Frontier Airlines in its 2017-18 rankings. Its large investment in new, more efficient Airbus A320neo aircraft has enabled Frontier to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet by almost 4% from 2017 to 2018 through new deliveries, according to ICCT. It also flew more direct routes and with more passengers per flight than almost all of its peers. Spirit and Southwest, its closest competitors both burned 7% more fuel on comparable flights. The worst-ranked carrier, JetBlue, burned 26% more fuel than Frontier on comparable flights, which ICCT mostly attributes to lower seating densities.
Overall, ICCT found CO2 emissions from US flights are continuing to expand rapidly, with traffic increasing three times as fast as improvements in fuel efficiency. From 2016 to 2018, it says passenger miles increased 10%, fuel efficiency improved 3% and overall fuel use rose by 7%.
European Commission recommends EU States object to CORSIA exclusivity provision to protect EU ETS
Thu 12 Sept 2019 – The European Commission has recommended EU Member States file a reservation at the upcoming ICAO Assembly against an attempt by a majority of ICAO’s Member States to ensure the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme is the only market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international flights. The EU has signalled its intention to continue applying its own scheme, the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), to flights within the European Economic Area after 2021 when CORSIA is due to start. This would contravene an ‘exclusivity’ clause in a draft revision of the CORSIA resolution for consideration at the Assembly. The purpose of a reservation would be to inform ICAO that EU States do not intend to comply with the stipulation if adopted. However, three EU States have so far declined to support the move, which requires EU unanimity, fearing the impact on relations with third countries over an already fragile political agreement.
Speaking at a press briefing today, Pascal Canfin, the newly-elected Chair of the European Parliament’s environmental committee (ENVI), said the exclusivity provision was a threat to the EU’s sovereignty and its capacity to ensure the aviation sector contributes more to the fight against climate change and to deliver on EU climate commitments.
“The position of the European Commission aligns therefore with what we are after, which is to allow the EU and its Member States to continue legislating on international flights covered by the EU ETS,” he said. “The debate now is not about how we do this but about having the capacity to do so after the ICAO resolution vote.”
Canfin said at a meeting of the EU Council on Tuesday, a large majority of Member States either supported or did not oppose the reservation, except for France, Ireland and Italy, which opposed. The French MEP, who has an international climate and environmental background, said he has since spoken to the French government and is hopeful its position will change. Dialogue was continuing with the two other countries, he added.
He believes the French opposition to the reservation is partly guided by its Airbus interests. In 2011, China threatened to pull a large Airbus aircraft order if the EU went ahead with plans to include emissions from international flights to and from third countries in the EU ETS. In a move known as ‘stop the clock’, the EU subsequently reduced the scope of the scheme to intra-EEA flights only. Canfin believes the opposition also has to do with the mixed diplomatic signals it might send to third countries of the EU supporting CORSIA yet seeming to oppose it through a reservation.
“Our counter-argument to this is that the EU has always been a driving force for having a functioning CORSIA mechanism that has teeth,” he said. If CORSIA did not permit States to take further action to deal with growing emissions from international flights, he argued, then it was a weak agreement. “The global floor should not also be the ceiling and prevent parties from going beyond.”
Without unanimity among the 27 States, revealed Canfin, it would not be possible to file the reservation and said the EU position had to be finalised by September 18. He said the EU remains fully supportive of CORSIA, “as long as it works,” but not if the price to be paid was to reduce its capability to strengthen the capacity to deal with aviation emissions through the EU ETS.
The exclusivity clause in the draft Assembly resolution (A40-WP/59, para 18) “determines that the CORSIA or any other scheme decided by the Assembly is to be the only global market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international aviation so as to avoid a possible patchwork of duplicative State or regional MBMs, thus ensuring that international aviation CO2 emissions should be accounted for only once.”
Industry and NGOs urge ICAO to adopt a long-term emissions reduction goal for international aviation by 2022
Mon 9 Sept 2019 – The aviation industry and environmental organisations have urged ICAO to agree on a long-term goal to reduce emissions from international aviation for adoption by its 41st Assembly in 2022. Industry and NGOs believe ICAO must act in light of the recent UN IPCC special report calling for a net zero emissions world by the middle of the century. In a working paper for consideration by States attending the Assembly, industry has also expressed concern that the implementation and effectiveness of the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme could be undermined by States or groups of States applying carbon pricing instruments or taxes to international flights additional to CORSIA. Meanwhile, a paper from China and Russia describes CORSIA and its carbon-neutral growth goal as “morally unfair”.
The climate change resolution A39-2 adopted at the last ICAO Assembly in 2016 requested the governing Council to continue to explore through studies the feasibility of a long-term aspirational goal for international aviation and to present progress of the work at this year’s Assembly. However, a working paper (A40-WP/55) to be presented by the Council at the upcoming 40th Assembly merely says the work is continuing for presentation at the following 41st Assembly in 2022.
The aviation industry committed a decade ago to a long-term goal of halving its net aviation CO2 emissions by 2050 compared with 2005 levels. In a working paper submitted for this year’s Assembly (A40-WP/194) by IATA and trade associations representing airports, aerospace, business aviation and air navigation service providers, they request the Council, “with the full support and collaboration of industry”, a long-term climate goal for international aviation for adoption – rather than presentation – at the 41st Assembly.
The paper notes that recent Assemblies of airport association ACI World and ACI Europe have adopted resolutions calling for ICAO to become more ambitious and to show leadership in setting long-term sectoral emissions reduction goals. “They do so in light of the obligations many member airports have to their States under the Paris Agreement, with respect to national commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and cognisant of the additional call to action from the IPCC Special Report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’,” says the paper.
It also reveals the industry itself is currently undertaking “a thorough analysis” of potential pathways to its long-term goal, “in line with the necessary action from across the broader economy noted in the Paris Agreement and IPCC analysis.” It adds: “This will identify how the aviation sector can achieve significant CO2 emissions reductions by deployment of new technology, operational elements, infrastructure improvements and sustainable aviation fuels up to and beyond 2050.”
An information paper (A40-WP/277) submitted by the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), which represents six environmental NGOs at ICAO, says there is an urgent need for a long-term target for international aviation in light of the Paris Agreement and IPCC report.
“ICSA calls on the 40th Assembly to formally commit to a process and timetable for the analysis and development of a proposal for a long-term goal, to be presented for adoption as soon as possible at an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly, but certainly no later than the scheduled date for the 41st Assembly in 2022,” says the paper.
“Delaying this decision beyond the 41st Assembly would be unacceptable to civil society organisations, and would fail to send the necessary signals to the industry on the scale of improvement required to guide the development of sustainable alternative fuels and new technologies. This would be a missed opportunity.”
ICSA proposes the ICAO Council should instruct its technical environmental committee CAEP to complete its long-term goal analysis in 2020 and initiate a high-level meeting in early 2021 to share the analysis with all Member States, and discuss recommendations for an agreement as soon as possible thereafter but no later than 2022.
Despite the calls for a long-term goal, conflict still remains over ICAO’s medium-term goal of maintaining global net CO2 emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels from 2021, through carbon-neutral growth (CNG), which led to the adoption of the CORSIA scheme at the 39th Assembly in 2016.
In a strongly-worded joint paper (A40-WP/306), China and the Russian Federation describe the CNG goal and CORSIA standards as lacking “moral fairness”, arguing the burden will fall on fast-growing developing countries rather than mature developed economies.
They say: “Given the difference among countries in development stage, historical responsibility and coping capability, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for CORSIA implementation orchestrated by developed countries is a de facto reversion to the law of the jungle, which will make it more difficult for developing countries and emerging economies to participate in international aviation competition and bring additional cost to these countries.
“The vast majority of OECD countries have a mature international aviation industry which will see a limited incremental emissions growth in the future; meanwhile they possess a substantial amount of financial, technological and personnel resources to deal with aviation emissions. On the other hand, non-OECD countries, which have a huge demand and potential for international aviation development in the next 20 years, will see a rapid growth in emissions from international aviation.”
The paper accuses ICAO of not providing sufficient opportunities for consultation and negotiation on major issues, such as sovereignty and governance relating to international aviation and climate change, before decisions were taken in the Council.
“This will undermine the leadership sought by ICAO and the confidence and willingness of all parties to work together to address international aviation emissions through ICAO,” it argues, calling on ICAO to reform its decision-making mechanism.
“ICAO insists on granting itself the power to certify carbon credits and the sustainability of aviation fuel, which is not related to air navigation and international air transport at all. Therefore, Annex 16 Volume IV [CORSIA SARPS] is not legitimate or justifiable enough to guarantee the achievement of the objectives to ensure a level playing field to all countries.”
It concludes: “Lack of procedural justice in decision-making and moral fairness in the design of the implementation mechanism are the major issues in the current CORSIA implementation pathway developed by ICAO. Failing to address these issues appropriately would undermine the effective implementation of CORSIA.
“Whether CORSIA can be effectively implemented depends on whether ICAO can face squarely and respect the differences among Member States and redesign the implementation pathway following the idea of integrating the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) approach with international dialogue and consultation.”
Both China and Russia have yet to announce whether they will join CORSIA from the start in 2021 and participate in the voluntary phases.
Another area of potential conflict likely to arise at the Assembly is over the European Union’s intentions regarding the future of its Emissions Trading System (ETS) once CORSIA starts in 2021 and moves by some EU countries to impose extra flight taxes to address growing emissions from the sector. The ETS currently regulates on emissions from flights within the European Economic Area, so technically international flights.
“CORSIA was adopted with a recognition it should be the only market-based measure (MBM) applied to international flights and on the basis that emissions should not be accounted for more than once,” says a working paper (A40-WP/193) submitted by industry, which does not name the EU specifically. “Unfortunately, the implementation and effectiveness of CORSIA may be jeopardised by policies of individual States and group of States.
“Of particular concern is the fact that some States are applying or considering the application of a carbon pricing instrument or ticket tax to address emissions from international aviation that will be covered by CORSIA. Such policies are not only at odds with the international commitments of these States, they also undermine multilateral efforts to deal with climate change and reduce the availability of resources to drive research and implementation of new technologies.”
In a Council paper (A40-WP/59) with proposals for revisions and updates to the A39-3 CORSIA Resolution adopted at the last Assembly, the MBM exclusivity paragraph has been changed to read that CORSIA “is the only global market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international aviation so as to avoid a possible patchwork of duplicative State or regional MBMs, thus ensuring that international aviation CO2 emissions should be accounted for only once.”
In a debate by the European Parliament’s environmental committee (ENVI) last Wednesday (Sept 4), the European Commission’s Director-General for transport, Henrik Holohei, said the EU was considering whether to enter a reservation on the paragraph if adopted at the Assembly. Reservations are filed by countries after an Assembly to notify ICAO they object to elements of an adopted resolution. European States filed a reservation after the Assembly in 2010 that objected to a paragraph in a climate resolution that said States could only impose MBMs on flights to third countries with the mutual consent of other States (see article).
Holohei revealed that a “challenging” discussion had taken place during an ICAO Council meeting in June on the exclusivity issue and conceded a majority of States on the Council wanted the wording included in the Assembly A40 resolution. “European States spoke against it but were outnumbered by those who wanted to keep the reference to exclusivity,” he told MEPs, who are concerned about limits being imposed on more action in Europe to address aviation emissions and oppose the exclusivity provision.
He said Europe expected the resolution to be adopted at the Assembly. “It is essential we are adequately prepared for this in Montreal,” he said. However, he added, MEPs could be assured “that the Commission is determined to act fully in accordance with the provisions set out in the ETS Directive.”
He said the Commission would shortly start an in-depth assessment of CORSIA and by the end of next year present a report to European co-legislators in line with the reporting requirements of the Directive. On the basis of that report, EU States and Parliament can then decide how to implement CORSIA in the context of the ETS, he informed the MEPs.
Holohei said Europe would be reassuring other States at the Assembly that it was fully determined to implement CORSIA but in line with the Directive, EU environmental policies and Europe’s integrated aviation market.
“In preparation for the Assembly, the Commission will adopt today a proposed Union position on the exclusivity language in the Assembly resolution. This proposal will call upon European States to take the necessary measures to ensure that Europe honours all its political and legal commitments,” said Holohei, promising to submit the proposed text to the Parliament shortly.
“We must ensure the autonomy of the EU decision-making process. The Chicago Convention recognises expressly the right of each Contracting State to apply on a non-discriminatory basis its laws and regulations to the aircraft of all States. It has always been the EU position in international negotiations to maintain its prerogative to strive for a more ambitious approach when it comes to setting global environmental standards.”
The Assembly runs from September 24 to October 4. Reports have circulated that Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg will take part in a climate march in Montreal on September 27 that could pass the ICAO building.
NEW PUBLICATION: ICAO Environmental Report 2019: ‘Destination Green – The Next Chapter’
September 2019 – To coincide with the 40th Assembly, ICAO has published its triennial Environmental Report. The downloadable 376-page publication reports on ICAO’s international aviation environmental protection efforts and consolidates this progress in a single-reference source. It carries various articles and case studies that can best inform the public of the work conducted by the ICAO Secretariat, ICAO Member States, the aviation industry and the many other stakeholders involved. In her introduction to the report, ICAO’s Deputy Director, Environment, Jane Hupe says major steps have been taken since the 39th Assembly in 2013, including the adoption of CORSIA, a new CO2 emissions standard for aeroplanes and capacity building projects in ICAO Member States.
“With the implementation of all these activities, ICAO has consistently delivered on the ambition set by successive Assembly Resolutions on environmental protection, and is committed to maintaining its efforts by working together with Member States on the path towards a greener future,” she notes.
“Over the next triennium, ICAO and Member States, in collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, will move forward by continuing the implementation of measures to address aviation noise, and emissions that affect local air quality and the global climate; as well as undertaking work on new emerging technologies and forms of energy, such as all-electric and hybrid aircraft, supersonic aircraft, green and resilient airports, and adaptation to climate change, just to mention a few. Aviation is in essence a technology-driven sector that has fulfilled humankind’s dreams of flying.
“The next chapter for aviation will be to fulfil the societal aspiration of an environmentally sustainable flying future. The fourth industrial revolution offers an enormous opportunity, and innovation is at the forefront of the breakthrough needed to deliver fully sustainable air transport.”
The report can be downloaded here.