GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 28 FEBRUARY 2020
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Airport and air navigation sectors provide best-practice PBN guidance for aircraft noise management
Fri 28 Feb 2020 – Airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have partnered to launch new guidance material on Performance Based Navigation (PBN), an advanced, satellite-enabled form of air navigation that enables aircraft to fly a precise vertical and lateral flight path. PBN offers enhanced safety, increased operational efficiency, reduced cost and a reduction in carbon emissions. However, because of the precise flight paths, PBN concentrates aircraft noise, which can bring benefits to some local communities around airports and adverse impacts to others. The new guidance addresses these benefits and challenges, as well as noise management options, stakeholder responsibilities, public engagement and PBN implementation case studies. Meanwhile, Europe’s air navigation and safety organisation Eurocontrol has joined with airports to launch a new initiative for more sustainable airport operations.
The new PBN guidance is a collaboration between trade bodies Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), which represents ANSPs, and Airports Council International (ACI) World. The material, ‘Use of Performance Based Navigation for Noise Management’, has been developed by CANSO’s Performance-based Navigation Workgroup and international contributors from ACI.
The guidance material explores the role of PBN’s operational improvements in reducing aircraft noise and emissions and demonstrates best practice. It is also applicable to non-PBN influenced flight path changes and highlights the important role of stakeholder consultation and collaboration.
The CANSO PBN Workgroup activities also help States develop and implement PBN. It has identified current and future PBN-related technologies and their operational application. This assists ANSP members in preparing for the future PBN environment, including earmarking resources, identifying requirements for collaboration, and allocating funding.
By implementing PBN routes, many States have been able to reduce track-mileage flown in all phases of flight and PBN can significantly improve climb and descent operations, says the guidance document. As an example, the introduction of new approach procedures at multiple airports in Canada are forecast to reduce GHG emissions by 367,000 tonnes by 2020.
But, it adds, there are challenges associated with PBN implementation, including the availability of necessary aircraft avionics equipage, redundancy, regulatory frameworks and community reaction to changes. “The challenges are as important to understand as the benefits to maximise the chances of success for any project,” it cautions.
PBN can benefit communities if, given appropriate geography and airspace capacity, the concentration of routes can be used to reduce overflight of residential areas, or provide respite based on community feedback, says the document.
“Managing aviation-related noise and emissions is a complex issue and requires the whole aviation industry to work together to improve performance, from aircraft design, trajectory and speed, to optimal flight routing and seamless ground-to-air operations,” commented CANSO Director General, Simon Hocquard. “For its part, air traffic management is helping to optimise the use of airspace and ensure safe, efficient and effective airborne operations by championing the latest best practice and technologies. CANSO is honoured to work alongside ACI in determining how ANSPs can further support efficient operations for airports, airline operators and States, and ensure we are socially and environmentally responsible in everything we do.”
ACI World’s Director General, Angela Gittens, said: “If our industry is to grow while continuing to manage and minimise its impact then effective collaboration and stakeholder engagement is key. ACI welcomed the opportunity to work with CANSO on creating guidance for our members in implementing measures to improve efficiency and safety while also reducing aviation-related noise and emissions, and, importantly, creating dialogue with the noise-affected communities surrounding our airports to explain those improvements.”
Speaking at the Digitally Connected Airports conference in Brussels organised by Eurocontrol and ACI Europe, Eurocontrol’s Director General, Eamonn Brennan, called for cooperation between all parts of the aviation industry to deal with capacity issues at European airports.
“We need to be able to meet future demand through sustainable operations and we need airports to be fully connected with the rest of the European network,” he said. “To achieve that, we need to integrate them digitally with the Eurocontrol Network Manager. Eurocontrol, ACI Europe and SESAR JU, along with airports, airlines, ANSPs and manufacturers, are now working together on this challenge to help meet the European Green Deal, whilst enabling airports to expand in the years ahead.”
Brennan said they would collaborate and develop “innovative sustainable airport solutions” that can be deployed by all airports across Europe by 2023.
“With air traffic predicted to grow by around 48% in the coming 20 years, it is crucially important that we harness the potential of digital connectivity to drive performance and change at airports and to enable an integrated European ATM network,” he said.
ICAO Council gathers to consider important decisions on carbon offset eligibility under CORSIA
Thu 27 Feb 2020 – During its 219th Session starting next week (March 2), ICAO’s governing Council is expected to make important decisions on the global carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation, CORSIA, which starts in 10 months’ time. Most notable is consideration by Council members of recommendations of the Technical Advisory Body (TAB) on emissions units, or carbon credits, to be eligible under CORSIA. The TAB has evaluated applications from 14 carbon programmes from the compliance and voluntary carbon market sector against a set of sustainability criteria adopted by ICAO and last month informally presented its findings to the Council. The decision on eligibility will provide the first test of the environmental integrity of the scheme, which is a cause for concern by some States, in particular Europe, and environmental groups.
EU States have met to discuss a joint position during the Council meeting and NGO Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) urged the EU to keep a united stance.
“As ICAO moves to decide which carbon credits airlines can use to comply with their international emissions limits, EU governments can use their collective diplomatic outreach to safeguard CORSIA’s integrity,” said Annie Petsonk, International Counsel for EDF.
Seven of the 36 members of the Council are from European States. “They can press ICAO to deliver transparency, bar old dubious credits and ensure each carbon credit is only counted once,” said Petsonk. “EU countries must show their commitment to stand up CORSIA with integrity. If it is peppered with bad quality, double-counted emissions units, its effectiveness will be fundamentally weakened. Our ability to tackle climate change will therefore have taken a backward step.”
EDF and other NGO groups represented at ICAO by the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) recently sent a letter to all Council members urging them to come up with the right decision on eligible carbon programmes and units rather than rushing to reach a full decision.
The letter also called for transparency on the decision making and for ICAO to publish “as soon as possible” the report and recommendations of the TAB, as well as the public comments on programme applications.
The NGOs also urge the prioritisation of carbon projects from the least developed countries and Small Island States, which they argue have the greatest likelihood of being additional. “We also note that the broader public will expect airlines to utilise only offsets from countries which have signed up to participate in CORSIA,” adds the letter.
ICSA members are concerned that a substantial majority of credits issued by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) lack environmental integrity yet could become eligible under CORSIA. They call on ICAO to limit eligibility to those from projects with a start date of 2020 or later, so that only projects implemented as a result of ICAO’s decision to establish CORSIA are eligible. The NGOs also caution against accepting projects that retroactively change their start date.
It is understood the TAB has recommended units issued from projects (‘activities’) that started from 1 January 2016 – the year CORSIA was adopted by the ICAO Assembly – for emissions reductions that occurred through to 31 December 2020 (‘end date’) should be eligible for compliance use in the CORSIA pilot phase (2021-2023). The end date is intended to deal with inconclusive negotiations at the UNFCCC over Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and concerns over additionality and double-counting. Future assessments by the TAB may likely add units resulting from new emission reductions created after 2020 that incentivise the development of new projects that have the greatest likelihood of CORSIA eligibility compliance.
Of the 14 programmes evaluated by the TAB, six have been recognised as having fully demonstrated eligibility, with a further two having conditionally demonstrated eligibility pending updates by the programmes to meet specific conditions. Two more are recommended for re-application in the second round of programme applications that is due to start next month, with the TAB finding the remainder not possible to assess, either because they were not considered to be programmes or were in the early stage of development.
Against fears of a shortage of units on the market caused by CORSIA demand, ICSA member Carbon Market Watch has analysed the availability of offset credits that airlines could purchase today if the three main voluntary programmes were deemed eligible under CORSIA by the Council. It found this supply would be sufficient to cover demand from airlines well into 2025 and leave plenty of time for new projects to be developed.
“It is hard to imagine there will not be enough opportunities to generate emission reductions and supply airlines with carbon credits,” it said. “The real concern is not the supply, it is the price. The average price of an offset credit in 2019 was $3.01. If the supply of credits truly was to decrease significantly, the prices would rise, and developers would run to implement new projects. There is no shortage of ideas to cut emissions, only a shortage of money.”
Meanwhile, Poland has submitted a paper for consideration by EU States at a meeting of the Environment Council next week (March 5). It proposes an end to the allocation of free allowances to airlines under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which it estimates was worth around €800 million ($860m) in 2019. It said a main objective of free allowances was to protect the EU airline industry from carbon leakage but this no longer applied because of the reduction in the scope of the EU ETS to include only flights within Europe.
It points out that aviation is the only sector covered by the EU ETS where emissions have been increasing year on year. A key objective of the EU ETS is to reduce GHG emissions in a cost-effective manner but the free allocation to aviation operators “should be considered as a mechanism that weakens the effect of the EU ETS, a situation which is currently not reasonably justified,” argues the paper.
The method of the free allocation may also result in interference with competition in the European market and may generate unjustified windfall profits for some operators and deficits for others, leading to unequal treatment, it adds. The increased revenues from full auctioning could be used to develop innovative solutions and to finance the transformation of the transport sector, in particular air transport, suggests the paper.
Appeal court’s climate ruling delivers blow to Heathrow’s expansion plans and third runway
Thu 27 Feb 2020 – The Court of Appeal in London has ruled the UK government acted unlawfully in failing to take into account the Paris climate change agreement when supporting the expansion of Heathrow Airport. In its judgement, the court said it was not making a decision that expansion was incompatible with the UK’s commitment to reducing emissions under Paris but the ruling raises doubts about whether a third runway will now be built. The government is now considering its next steps but the Transport Secretary has indicated it will not appeal the decision. Heathrow noted other challenges on noise and air pollution had been rejected by the court and said it would appeal to the Supreme Court as the issue was “eminently fixable”. Campaign groups fighting the expansion said the ruling had implications for other signatories to the Paris Agreement.
The judgement centres around the government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) that set the policy framework for expansion at Heathrow and the primary basis for decision-making on any development consent application for a new runway. It required the government to assess the supporting evidence, particularly with respect to the balance of environmental, social and health impacts.
“The Paris Agreement ought to have been taken into account by the Secretary of State,” said Lord Justice Lindblom in his ruling today. “The National Planning Statement was not produced as the law requires.”
Heidi Copland, Head of Planning at law firm DMH Stallard, said: “The ANPS is not itself determinative of permission being granted to begin development. It would however be one of a number of key considerations in any application for Development Consent. Having deemed the ANPS to have no legal effect, the Court of Appeal has effectively ensured that consent will be delayed until either this judgement is reversed by the Supreme Court or the government re-examines the proposed expansion to take the Paris Agreement into account.
"This is the first decision of its kind to hold that the temperature goal set out in the Paris Agreement has binding effect on those who signed up to it. In 2015, the then Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling stated the Agreement, which amongst other goals set a target of keeping global temperature rise below 2C, was “not relevant” to climate policy. The effect of this ruling is to hold otherwise, and may open the door to further challenges of national planning policies which have failed to take the Paris Agreement into consideration, not just in the UK but in all member countries.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said it was confident an appeal to Supreme Court would be successful and, in the meantime, would work with the government “to fix the issue that the court had raised.”
The airport pointed out that since the original court hearing, which had backed the government’s ANPS policy, the UK aviation industry had set out a detailed plan to reaching net zero carbon by 2050 (see article).
“This is a challenge that needs to be addressed for any UK airport to expand,” it added in a statement.
Trade body Airlines UK said the ruling was “extremely disappointing.”
Commented Chief Executive Tim Alderslade: “The economic prize is enormous if expansion is done right, with airlines ready to respond to the unlocking of new capacity by creating new routes and helping to connect the UK to new markets and destinations, and Heathrow to regions across the country. UK aviation has committed to net zero carbon by 2050 and this factors in the emissions created by Heathrow expansion. It is not a question of being pro-aviation or pro-environment.
“Of course, the advantages of an extra runway won’t be realised if landing charges are ramped up and airlines can’t afford to operate at the airport – and our support for expansion will remain conditional upon Heathrow delivering on their commitment to keep charges at current levels – but we are clear that as a country we cannot keep fudging this issue if we are to maintain our credibility internationally, and we urge ministers to appeal the decision, back expansion publicly and ensure it delivers for the whole country.”
Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, told the BBC the prospects for a third runway had “significantly diminished”.
Environmental group Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said the ruling should mark the end for plans for any new runways in the UK.
“This is a huge win for the climate and leaves Heathrow’s third runway plans in tatters,” said AEF Deputy Director, Cait Hewitt. “The project would increase emissions at the UK’s biggest airport and the UK has since legislated to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, so it’s very hard to see how government could now ever demonstrate that a third runway could be reconciled with the necessary scale of climate action.”
She noted that the ruling came shortly after local councils had rejected plans for the expansion of Bristol and Stansted airports on the basis of their environmental impacts, including climate change.
“The ruling today sets a precedent that the Paris Agreement must be the yardstick against which we measure all major infrastructure projects. All 195 governments who have ratified the Agreement could now see legal cases brought against projects which are incompatible with a 1.5 degree future,” said climate campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
Stay Grounded, an international network with 150 member organisations, many of whom oppose local airport projects, said the decision was a milestone for climate litigation.
“It gives hope to hundreds of communities around the world in their struggles against destructive airport projects: indigenous people, farmers and citizens who face losing their land and homes due to airport projects. But today we saw it is possible to stop them and preserve a liveable planet for us and future generations,” said Stay Grounded’s Magdalena Heuwieser. “We congratulate all the groups who are active against the third runway, including our member Plan B who brought the challenge to court. If we stand together, we can stop the aviation industry’s dangerous growth addiction and create a just transport system that works for the people and the planet.”
JetBlue closes airline industry’s first sustainability-linked loan with BNP Paribas as it aligns financial strategy with ESG goals
Wed 26 Feb 2020 – New York-based carrier JetBlue has closed a sustainability-linked loan (SLL) with global bank BNP Paribas by amending an existing $550 million senior secured revolving credit facility. Included under the terms of the SLL is a provision that aligns JetBlue’s strategic initiatives with its environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals and objectives. The SLL provides a pricing mechanism related to the applicable margin and commitment fee, which is then linked to the airline’s ESG score provided by Vigeo Eiris, an international provider of ESG research and services for investors and organisations. The market in green or sustainability-linked loans has grown rapidly in recent years as companies seek to improve their environmental and social performance, and with investors becoming increasingly concerned over exposure to climate risks. In 2018, the global market for green or sustainability-linked loans had reached over $99 billion and JetBlue says its SLL is an airline industry first.
“Our owners, many of whom are also crew members, want to see how ESG initiatives are connected to our financials,” explained Sophia Mendelsohn, Chief Sustainability Officer for JetBlue. “As the first airline to accomplish this type of transaction, we are directly linking our commitment to addressing environmental and social issues with our bottom line.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished but also understand we have more to do in reducing our carbon footprint and meeting the needs of our stakeholders.”
Last month, JetBlue announced it would be the first US airline to offset the carbon emissions from its domestic flights as of July (see article). It also signed an agreement with Neste to purchase sustainable aviation fuel for use on flights from San Francisco starting this year.
JetBlue started to formally review its financial partners’ sustainability strategy and commitments in 2018 and has shifted business to financial partners with stronger ESG policies themselves. Last year, BNP Paribas also helped the company move to sustainable cash management by creating tailor-made solutions to meet the airline’s ESG and treasury guidelines.
“A company not prepared to evaluate every aspect of their business through an ESG lens should feel pressure from investors,” Mendelsohn told the Wall Street Journal.
The key feature of a sustainability-linked loan is that the pricing of the loan is tied to the borrower’s performance against certain pre-determined sustainability criteria and not conditional on the proceeds being used for a particular purpose, as opposed to a ‘green loan’ where the proceeds are used for green purposes. SLLs accounted for $43.2 billion of the $99 billion SLL and green loan market in 2018, according to Bloomberg. European markets – principally in Spain, France and Italy – lead global SLL volumes, with a share of more than 80% of the market.
ESG rating agencies consider various data points, such as carbon emissions performance, to arrive at their respective scores and it is agreed when the loan is entered into that the pricing will change by reference to whether particular ESG performance targets are hit.
Vigeo Eiris, the ESG services provider in the JetBlue/BNP Paribas SLL, was formed in 2015 by the merger of Vigeo and Eiris, with credit rating agency Moody’s acquiring a majority stake in 2019. The company said it had evaluated JetBlue’s ESG performance for the SLL and will continue to do so every year.
“JetBlue’s SLL is just one element of the airline’s comprehensive ESG and sustainable finance strategy,” said Florence Pourchet, Co-Head of Global Banking Americas at BNP Paribas, who also oversees the bank’s sustainable finance strategy in the Americas. “As a leader in sustainable finance, BNP Paribas is dedicated to working with our corporate clients to identify tailored solutions that align with their specific efforts and commitments towards achieving their ESG goals.”
BNP Paribas closed a A$1.4 billion ($960m) SLL last year with Sydney Airport, which was a first for Australia and the largest transaction of its kind in Asia Pacific. The interest the airport will pay on the loan will depend on the annual assessment of its ESG risk rating by Sustainalytics.
Heathrow goes carbon neutral and aims for zero carbon infrastructure by mid-2030s
Tue 25 Feb 2020 – London’s Heathrow Airport has targeted to become a zero carbon airport by the middle of the next decade, having become one of the world’s first major aviation hubs to become carbon neutral for its infrastructure. The airport has invested £100 million ($128m) in improving energy efficiency and generating and buying renewable energy, which has resulted in a 93 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from its buildings since 1990. To reach carbon neutrality, remaining emissions will be offset through VCS-certified tree planting projects in Indonesia and Mexico, and Heathrow is to invest a further £1.8 million to support UK nature-based projects. Heathrow’s plan is to achieve net zero carbon across its airport infrastructure “as soon as possible” and work towards zero carbon by the mid-2030s. Meanwhile, SAS has taken the top ranking for the third consecutive quarter in Heathrow’s ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ league table.
The first step towards net zero for Heathrow is carbon neutrality and it has purchased 27,244 carbon credits to offset 2018 emissions from the airport’s gas, electricity, some of its operational vehicles and business travel. It has also purchased credits to offset anticipated emissions for 2019 to 2021. The airport expects a level 3+ carbon neutrality certificate within the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme to be approved later this year as part of the renewal timetable.
“Making our infrastructure entirely carbon neutral is a significant milestone and a testament to the determination of our airport to help spearhead a new era of sustainable aviation,” said Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye.
Offsetting is an interim measure to reduce carbon emissions on the way to becoming a zero carbon airport, says Heathrow. To achieve further carbon savings this year, efforts will be focused on improvements to sustainable transport links and ensuring targets are met to transition all of Heathrow’s cars and small vans to electric and plug-in hybrid.
Heathrow has been supporting UK natural carbon capture projects since 2018 covering peatland restoration, woodland planting and a regenerative farming pilot. Part of the new £1.8m ($2.3m) investment will go towards a new 87.4-hectare native woodland creation project in Scotland, in partnership with Forest Carbon. The airport said it hopes to use some of the projects to offset a small amount of its “hard-to-tackle” emissions over the next few years. It adds that it would like to encourage others within the aviation industry to invest in similar initiatives and also show that UK natural climate solutions would make good options for airline commitments under the global CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme.
“With the right support and incentives from the industry and government, Britain will be able to become a world leader in green aviation technologies, benefiting both the environment and the economy,” said Heathrow.
The airport promises to confirm a plan and a target date before the end of this year for achieving net zero carbon across its infrastructure, which includes moving away from gas to heat the airport. On the ground, it is working to ensure vehicles at Heathrow meet ultra-low emissions standards by 2025 as a step to a future fully zero carbon fleet. It is also developing a new approach to landing charges to help incentivise airlines switch to cleaner fuels and penalise those that don’t.
The airport is also supporting work by industry body Airports Council International to develop accreditation that will set official standards for airports to become net zero.
A campaign is about to launch that aims to engage passengers on climate change, which includes a new carbon offsetting platform in partnership with Norwegian-based climate action subscription service CHOOOSE to ensure every Heathrow passenger has the opportunity to easily offset their flight. The funds raised will be invested in recognised reforestation projects in Uganda and Costa Rica.
Heathrow is a member of UK industry group Sustainable Aviation, which recently pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (see article). The airport has published an eight-point action plan, ‘Target Net Zero’, on how it aims to support the commitment through its own efforts and working with others, for example in the development of sustainable aviation fuels and electric aircraft. The group says decarbonising the sector requires an international approach through governments as well as industry and is calling on ICAO to agree a global net zero emissions target at its next Assembly in 2022.
“Our sights are now set on working with the global aviation industry to deliver on net zero by 2050, at the latest,” commented Holland-Kaye.
Meanwhile, the top spot taken by SAS in Heathrow’s ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ table for the final quarter of 2019 is attributed to the airline’s operational performance and use of more efficient Airbus A320neo aircraft. The next generation aircraft makes up 7% of flights from the airport and flown by eight of the airlines operating there – British Airways, SAS, Lufthansa, Air Malta, Iberia and TAP – which all feature in the league’s top 20. Air Malta climbed three positions to second place, followed by Oman Air, the airport’s strongest long-haul carrier. The biggest mover was Austrian Airlines, which climbed 16 places as a result of deploying new Airbus aircraft, coupled with a reduction in late and early arrivals.
Since the initiative was launched in 2014, Heathrow says it has played a key role in the transformation of fleets at Heathrow. Operational metrics have also helped provide respite to local communities, it adds, with many airlines improving their track keeping and adopting Continuous Descent Approach procedures.
Los Angeles World Airports has recently launched a similar programme, called Fly Quieter, at Los Angeles International (LAX) aimed at incentivising large commercial airlines to fly as quietly as possible to address local community concerns over aircraft noise. The programme will evaluate airlines annually based on scoring from a variety of criteria, including compliance with LAX noise abatement procedures, the use of quieter aircraft and new technology, as well as engagement with local community groups and other stakeholders.
The airport will monitor noise levels of the flights themselves, consider the noise levels of the types of aircraft operating at LAX and evaluate other voluntary procedures that could reduce aircraft noise impacts on adjacent communities. Airlines will be evaluated within groups determined by the number of flights, both departing and arriving, at the airport.
LAX officials will collect data and engage with each airline over the course of the year to allow airlines to improve their scores by taking proactive noise reduction and/or stakeholder engagement efforts before finalising the annual scores and publicly recognising the airlines that make the most substantial efforts to address aircraft noise.
Delta to spend $1 billion over next 10 years towards goal of becoming first major carbon neutral airline
Mon 24 Feb 2020 – Starting March 1, Delta Air Lines is committing $1 billion over the next 10 years towards mitigating all flight and ground emissions from its global operations. The airline said it will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and new offsetting and carbon removal projects. Between 2005 and 2018, Delta reduced its absolute GHG emissions by 11%, although emissions have increased marginally year on year since 2012. In 2013, the airline became the first to cap its annual emissions at the 2012 level through the purchase of carbon offsets. In December, Delta entered into a long-term offtake agreement to purchase 10 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel annually from Gevo and is promising further announcements this coming year.
“As we connect customers around the globe, it is our responsibility to deliver on our promise to bring people together and ensure the utmost care for our environment. The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver,” commented Delta CEO Ed Bastian.
Delta’s carbon emissions amounted to 41 million tonnes in 2018, up from 40.2 Mt in 2017, although fuel efficiency improved by 1.23%. The airline has voluntarily purchased over 12 million carbon offsets since adopting its carbon-neutral growth strategy. Under the new pledge, efforts will be focused on improving fuel efficiency and decreasing jet fuel use, stated the airline, through an “ambitious” fleet renewal programme, improved flight operations, weight reduction and increased development and use of sustainable aviation fuels.
The airline said it will also invest in innovative projects and technology to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere “that go beyond the airline’s current commitments” and investigate carbon removal opportunities through forestry, wetland restoration, grassland conservation, marine and soil capture, and other negative emissions technologies. To advance its carbon reduction and removal goals, Delta said it would build coalitions and engage with employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, industry colleagues, investors and other stakeholders.
The airline added it wanted to minimise “a reliance on today’s limited carbon offset markets” and will allocate some of its financial commitment into “investment vehicles”, which include a dedicated fund focused on achieving its carbon neutral ambition.
A set of environmental sustainability principles have been drawn up to guide efforts towards carbon neutrality and overall sustainability:
- Action – Embed environmental impact as a consideration in every business decision;
- Innovation – Investigate, enable and advance new projects, innovative technologies and operational efficiencies to substantially reduce and mitigate emissions and the overall environmental footprint;
- Collaboration – Engage with employees and stakeholders with the understanding that environmental protection must be a shared goal;
- Evolution – Being nimble in evolving and adjusting in response to the latest scientific findings and technological developments; and
- Transparency – continue to publicly report on goals and progress, aligned with leading disclosure frameworks and standards, and track efforts and achievements through a robust governance structure.
“There’s no challenge we face that is in greater need of innovation than environmental sustainability, and we know there is no single solution,” said Bastian. “We are digging deep into the issues, examining every corner of our business, engaging experts, building coalitions, fostering partnerships and driving innovation.”
The sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that Delta has agreed to purchase from Gevo is expected to be produced upon completion of an expansion to Gevo’s existing advanced biofuel production facility in Luverne, Minnesota, and available for use by the airline between 2022-2023. Gevo will sell the SAF to Delta at a fixed price for the first seven years of the agreement, which is subject to Gevo raising the necessary finance to construct the expansion. Powered by inedible, industrial corn products, the Gevo process separates the sugar from the proteins in the corn product. The sugars are then used to make jet fuel while the proteins are fed to livestock.
In October 2019, Delta announced a $2 million investment to partner with Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels for a feasibility study of a facility in Washington State that would produce SAF from forestry residues. The study is expected to be completed by the middle of this year and if the project is given the go-ahead, first SAF deliveries are planned for the end of 2023 and could provide up to 10% of Delta’s annual jet fuel consumption in the West Coast region.
Delta has just been ranked the top US airline and 39th overall in a list of America’s Most Sustainable Companies by Barron’s, a business publication covering finance and markets. The 1,000 largest US public companies by market value were analysed against 230 key performance indicators addressing environmental, social and corporate governance issues, such as workplace diversity, data, security and greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are on a journey, and though we don’t have all the answers today, we know that our scale, along with investments of time, talent and resources will bring meaningful impact to the planet and ensure the sustainability of our business for decades to come,” said Bastian.
Delta Air Lines – Sustainability
KLM and SKyNRG announce new industry partners for their corporate biofuel programmes
Wed 12 Feb 2020 – KLM and SkyNRG have each announced new members of their respective corporate sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) programmes. Lavazza becomes KLM’s first Italian partner to the airline’s programme as part of implementing the coffee company’s sustainability objectives across its entire value chain. Partners in the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme pay a surcharge on their business travel that covers the difference in cost between biofuel and traditional jet kerosene to help stimulate the production of SAF. The programme was launched in 2012 together with Dutch SAF supplier SkyNRG, which itself was formed by KLM in 2009. Last year, SkyNRG started its own corporate SAF programme, Board Now, which extends the reach to non-KLM corporate customers. Its latest member is online air travel platform Etraveli Group, which operates over 20 brands globally.
KLM has been using SAF since 2011 and is currently the only European airline to do so on intercontinental flights. Multinational Lavazza has signed up to the UN 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as having joined the UN Global Compact.
Commenting on joining the KLM programme, Lavazza’s Chief Institutional Relations & Sustainability Officer, Mario Cerutti, said: “This agreement fits perfectly into the responsible development path that we have been pursuing for some time. Participating in the programme shows that today it is not enough to act alone, but an organic effort is needed between all the players in the market, in a transversal way with respect to the sectors: it is up to the leading companies to take the first step.”
Responded Barry ter Voert, SVP Europe at Air France-KLM Group: “KLM is not alone in its desire to make its operations more sustainable. Many companies in a variety of sectors think the same way. We are happy to enter into partnerships with companies to stimulate the availability of SAF on a large scale as it makes the price more economically competitive with that of fossil kerosene. In this way, KLM aims to send a strong signal to all airlines to do more to promote sustainable aviation and greatly reduce our joint environmental footprint.”
Last year, KLM committed to developing and purchasing 75,000 tonnes of sustainable kerosene annually for a period of 10 years from a new facility in Delfzijl, the Netherlands, which is due to open in 2022 and be the first to produce SAF on a commercial scale in Europe (see article). The DSL-01 plant is expected to produce around 100,000 tonnes of SAF annually, produced from wastes and residue streams. The project is being led by SkyNRG.
By joining SkyNRG’s five-year Board Now programme, members are contributing to the development of the plant.
“We are proud that Etraveli Group has signed up as our newest member to Board Now and we believe this sets an example for other international organisations with a carbon footprint from business travel or cargo,” said Theye Veen, Managing Director at SkyNRG. “Commitments like these are crucial in order to scale up the SAF industry and take the development of sustainable fuel worldwide to the next level.”
Headquartered in Uppsala, Sweden, Etraveli brands include Gotogate, Flightnetwork, MyTrip, TripStack and price comparison site Flygresor.se. The group describes itself as a global platform for flights and air technology.
“We are joining SkyNRG’s mission to lead the global transformation towards modern and sustainable travel,” said Mathias Hedlund, CEO of Etraveli Group. “We believe that supporting development into new technologies, such as sustainable aviation fuel, will enable travellers to continue to explore our planet while protecting it for future generations.”
UK aviation industry commits to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 despite a 70 per cent growth in passengers
Wed 5 Feb 2020 – The UK industry coalition Sustainable Aviation (SA), which represents airlines, airports and manufacturers, has pledged to collectively achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The group believes the goal can be met while still enabling a 70% growth in passenger numbers by 2050. It forecasts that under a ‘do nothing’ scenario, UK aviation activity emissions could rise from 37 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) in 2016 to 71 MtCO2 in 2050. SA has released a roadmap to show that 41 Mt could be reduced annually through in-sector gains from new and future aircraft technology, improvements in operational and air traffic procedures, and the use of sustainable fuels. To reach net zero would require an escalating price on carbon and market-based measures developed internationally that obligate airlines to mitigate the remaining emissions by investing in carbon reductions from outside of the sector.
In previous versions of its carbon roadmap, Sustainable Aviation demonstrated a pathway to achieving the same level of emissions in 2050 as was the case in 2005, around 37.5 MtCO2 (based on emissions from flights from UK airports), which was in line with then UK government policy. However, the climate warnings in last year’s landmark IPCC 1.5 degree report, the move by the UK government to set a national net zero target for emissions by 2050 and an assessment by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that aviation is likely to be the largest carbon emitter by 2050 has forced more ambition from the sector.
SA’s new carbon roadmap, ‘Decarbonisation Road-Map: A path to Net Zero’, says the ‘no improvement’ scenario of 71 MtCO2 per year in 2050 is the equivalent to the emissions of all cars on the road in the UK today. The roadmap sets out to demonstrate how the UK sector can still achieve a net zero target and outstrip the current global aviation industry’s long-term goal, although SA points out that this requires international agreement and progress on decarbonisation of the sector to ensure the goal can be met.
“Our commitment is a considerable step forward from the existing global industry target to halve net emissions by 2050, and recognises the need for aviation to go further, faster in reducing our carbon footprint,” says the industry group in the foreword to its carbon roadmap. “We call on the international bodies to build on the achievements that have been made to date by establishing a new long-term target, which is led by climate science and consistent with the Paris Agreement.”
SA members want ICAO to set a long-term target for global aviation at its next Assembly in 2022 and to develop a framework to deliver it.
The latest figures from the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) show UK aviation’s gross emissions account for 7% of the nation’s total. In 2017 gross emissions from UK flights was around 37 MtCO2, with domestic flights accounting for around 1.5 Mt, which is 20 Mt more than in 1990, so more than double. However, UK aviation emissions are about the same as ten years previously in 2007, despite the DfT reporting an average 4.2% per annum increase in passenger demand since 2011. The industry says this is indicative of the decoupling of growth in activity from carbon emissions, which is largely due to significant airline fleet upgrades.
SA has estimated that as a result of market-based measures, namely the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), there was a net reduction of CO2 emissions in 2017 of 5.2 Mt, so overall net emissions for UK flights were about 32 Mt.
The UK government forecasts a 90% growth in aviation activity to 2050 under a ‘do nothing’ scenario with no carbon pricing built in. Based on this approach, gross emissions would rise to 71 Mt in 2050 but a progressively applied carbon price to all UK aviation emissions rising to £220 ($290) per tonne by 2050 would dampen demand by around 30 million passengers per year, around 6% lower, and so reduce emissions to around 67 Mt in 2050. Sustainable Aviation has built this forecast into its baseline, which assumes a growth in activity to 462 million passengers and 3.2 million air transport movements per year by 2050. Passenger numbers are therefore expected to grow by 73% by 2050 relative to 2016.
The SA roadmap shows new and future aircraft technology offer the greatest in-sector opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions. Known aircraft technology is forecast to deliver a 17% fuel efficiency improvement by 2050 and for future aircraft technology, the figure is 24% compared to 2016. This, says SA, results in a combined potential reduction in UK aviation CO2 emissions of 37% by 2050 from aircraft technology and savings of 23.5 MtCO2.
Air traffic management and operational improvements are likely to reduce UK aviation CO2 emissions by 4.6% by 2050 relative to 2016, or around 3.1 Mt. Potentially greater savings could be made, it contends, but conversely improvements could be negated or even deteriorate significantly without airspace efficiency changes to deal with forecasted increases in air traffic.
By 2050, SA believes that with the appropriate level of government investment and policy support, the UK could be producing around 4.5 million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) per year, delivering a reduction in emissions of around 32%, so saving 14.4 MtCO2.
As well as the decarbonisation roadmap, SA has also published an updated SAF Road-Map, which calls for joint private-public investment of £1 billion to support commercial SAF plants across the UK, as well as a ‘centre of excellence’ for SAF development and deployment, and a cross-government ‘Office for Sustainable Aviation Fuels’. It also wants the government to incorporate recycled carbon fuels into the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) scheme and apply a 1.2x multiplier for SAF within the RTFO to encourage investment in SAF production.
The decarbonisation roadmap forecasts a reduction of 25.8 MtCO2 by 2050 from “effective” carbon market-based measures (MBMs) but says the level required will depend on the rate of take-up of other technology solutions that can be achieved cost-effectively over the period.
“While in-sector emission reductions are initially expected to be more expensive than offsets in the early technology development phase, over time we expect costs to drop significantly,” anticipates SA. “Higher carbon prices will also drive investment into in-sector reductions. SA believes there is an imperative for the aviation sector to aim for as much carbon reduction within the sector as possible.
“To avoid competitive distortion and carbon leakage, and ensure effective and efficient emission reductions, international solutions established via UN and country-agreed policies such as CORSIA are essential as unilateral action could simply move the carbon emissions away from the UK to another country.”
Commented Neil Robinson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation: “Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world. We know aviation emissions will increase if decisive action is not taken, and that’s why UK aviation today commits to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN.”
SA calls on the UK government to transition from the current ETS model to a policy aligned with the ICAO CORSIA framework. It foresees the EU ETS being continued for domestic and European flights up to 2025 with CORSIA applying to international flights from 2021. In the period after 2025, it calls for further development of carbon MBMs and carbon reduction options such as carbon sinks and removal solutions.
It also asks the government to explore the opportunity for UK and other airlines to be allowed to spend some of their CORSIA funds on UK projects “as a matter of priority”. These should include both nature and technology-based carbon reduction and removal solutions.
Speaking at an event in London yesterday to launch SA’s roadmaps, Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, welcomed the sector’s net zero commitment
He told UK aviation leaders: “I really love the industry but I know it must change and if you don’t then you simply won’t have permission to carry on operating in the years and decades to come. We have legally bound ourselves in the UK to net zero by 2050 but there is an enormous distance to go when it comes to aviation.
“There can’t be many areas of transport where it will be harder to reach net carbon than aviation so we have an enormous challenge on our hands. But it is a challenge we can meet and here in the UK we can lead that charge without leaving us at a competitive disadvantage. We want to work hand in glove with you to ensure we are delivering the technology of tomorrow.
“The government shares your ambition to work with ICAO and others on the [long-term] goal for the 41st Assembly in 2022 and to get the world on the UK route to cleaner skies.”
SA member British Airways has already committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and last month began offsetting the emissions from all its domestic flights.
“Solving the complex issue of climate change requires a multi-faceted response and we welcome the Sustainable Aviation commitment, which unites the UK aviation industry and outlines our collective pledge to a sustainable future,” said CEO Alex Cruz.
Virgin Atlantic and other airline members of Sustainable Aviation – easyJet, Tui and Jet2 – have also committed to the net zero target, as well as the UK’s largest airports.
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we all face and progress at the pace and scale required can only happen through deep collaboration across industry advanced by groups like Sustainable Aviation,” said Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.
Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation, said that while the industry had set the right level of ambition, the UK government must take steps to ensure it delivers.
“The aviation industry likes to set targets but so far has successfully resisted being held to account for delivering them,” he said. “To make sure this net zero goal translates into action, UK aviation and aerospace companies should now support the CCC’s recommendation to the government that it should legislate to include international aviation emissions in the UK’s net zero law.
“The roadmap should not give the industry a green light to grow without a government plan in place to limit emissions. To date, industry goals have failed to prevent absolute aviation emissions from increasing.”
COMMENTARY: Beyond the envelope: Rethinking is required to achieve essential greater ambition in aviation emissions mitigation
Wed 12 Feb 2020 – All measures towards aviation emissions mitigation should be supported and progress in ICAO’s basket of measures – aircraft technology, operational procedures, sustainable fuels and implementation of the CORSIA global market-based measure – will add to the impact. But, all together, they are still critically inadequate in terms of both substance and shortness of time frame. The timeline is critical if aviation’s requisite contribution to the Paris targets is to be achieved and even given the most optimistic scenario, aviation will fall well short. Thus, beyond stretching the envelope of the past and current mechanisms there is a pressing need for a serious re-evaluation of the whole approach to mitigation of aviation GHG emissions. New paradigms are required, believes Chris Lyle, with thinking outside two boxes, that of aviation and that of methodology.
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