GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 10 NOVEMBER 2020
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Qatar Airways launches passenger carbon offset programme in partnership with IATA and ClimateCare
Tue 10 Nov 2020 – Qatar Airways has launched a voluntary carbon offset programme for passengers in partnership with IATA and ClimateCare. The programme has been developed through IATA’s Carbon Offset Program, which aims to bring standardisation to airline passenger offset programmes and share best practice in the structure and implementation of carbon offsetting. The IATA programme has been independently audited and approved by the Quality Assurance Standard (QAS), which the airline body says is the world’s highest standard for carbon offsetting, with IATA being one of only four organisations worldwide to meet this standard. Contributions from the Qatar Airways programme will be directed to the Fatanpur Wind Farm project in India, which generates and supplies clean energy with a combined output of 108 MW to the Indian National Grid, avoiding around 210,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
“We are pleased to be able to offer our customers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions associated with their journeys with us,” said Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker. “As an environmentally responsible airline, our modern fleet of technologically advanced aircraft, together with our fuel efficiency programme, combine to optimise aircraft performance and reduce the environmental impact of flying. Our customers can now help to further minimise their environmental footprint by opting to contribute to our carbon offset programme.”
Customers can opt in when purchasing tickets through the Qatar Airway’s website and mobile application, with booking information, including information regarding the carbon offset programme, available in multiple languages. The airline assures customers the credits they buy are from projects delivering independently verified carbon reductions as well as wider environmental and social benefits.
QAS-approved offsets are checked against a 40-point checklist that includes emissions calculations, carbon reduction project selection and information provision. Carbon calculation uses ICAO methodology supplemented with actual airline carbon data. With certain limitations, approved offsets include UN CDM CERs, Gold Standard or VCS (version 2007 onwards) VERs and approved offsets based on land use employing sustainable REDD+ project methodologies.
The Fatanpur project consists of 54 wind turbines, installed in and around villages in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. They displace electricity generated from fossil fuel sources from the Indian grid.
“We are pleased to be working alongside Qatar Airways and IATA to retire high quality, independently verified carbon credits on behalf of Qatar Airways’ customers who want to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their flight,” said Robert Stevens, ClimateCare’s Director of Partnerships. “Their support for the Fatanpur project not only reduces global carbon emissions, it also provides employment opportunities; delivers improved education through providing materials and expertise to nearby schools; and supports a mobile medical unit – enabling improved healthcare to the local community.”
ClimateCare has over 20 years’ experience working with public and private sector clients to fund sustainable development projects around the world, with offices in the UK and Kenya, and is currently ranked the top B Corp in the UK. B Corp is a global movement of 3,500 companies “that are using business as a force for good”.
Welcoming Qatar Airways to the IATA Carbon Offset Program, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said: “There is no alternative to aviation when it comes to long-distance travel and carbon offsetting is an immediate, direct and pragmatic means of limiting the impact of climate change.”
Airlines that have been audited and are currently QAS certified include Mango Airlines, South African Airways, SriLankan Airlines, TAP Portugal and Thai Airways.
US environmental groups say proposal by EPA to adopt rules equivalent to ICAO Aircraft CO2 standards is illegal
Mon 9 Nov 2020 – US environmental groups say the proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt the ICAO CO2 standards for aircraft into US regulations violates the nation’s Clean Air Act because it fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite the EPA’s findings that such emissions endanger public health and welfare. Moreover, they say, the proposal’s failure to consider the statutory factors laid out in the Act or analyse the costs and benefits of a range of possible emission standards, and refusal to select an alternative based on the evidence before the agency was “arbitrary and capricious”. The groups were responding to a public comment period just closed on the proposal, which has been largely supported by US aerospace and airline sectors. Although the majority of aircraft will not be subject to the standards until January 2028, the industry is calling for finalisation of its domestic adoption by the end of this year.
The aircraft CO2 standards were adopted by the ICAO Council in March 2017 and are contained in Annex 16 of the Chicago Convention. It applies to new aircraft type designs from 2020 and to aircraft type designs already in production as of 2023. Those in-production aircraft which by 2028 do not meet the standards will no longer be able to be produced unless their designs are sufficiently modified. The EPA and FAA represented the United States on ICAO’s environmental protection committee CAEP, which drew up the standards.
After legal challenges by environmental groups, in 2016 the EPA issued findings that within the meaning of section 231 of the Clean Air Act, elevated concentrations of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere endangered the public health and welfare of current and future generations, and that GHG emissions from certain classes of engines used in certain aircraft are contributing to the air pollution that endangers public health and welfare.
As such, the EPA is proposing to regulate GHG emissions from covered airplanes through the adoption of domestic GHG regulations that match ICAO’s international CO2 standards. Covered airplanes are civil subsonic jet aircraft with a MTOM greater than 5,700 kgs and larger civil subsonic turboprop airplanes with a MTOM greater than 8,618 kgs. It proposes to adopt the ICAO CO2 metric, which measures fuel efficiency, for demonstrating compliance with the GHG emissions standards. The metric is a mathematical function that incorporates the specific air range (SAR) of an airplane/engine combination – a traditional measure of airplane cruise performance in units of km/kg of fuel – and the reference geometric factor (RGF), a measure of fuselage size.
To measure airplane fuel efficiency, the EPA is proposing to adopt the ICAO test procedures whereby the SAR value is measured in three specific operating test points, and a composite of those results used in the metric to determine compliance with the proposed GHG standards. In order to be consistent with the current annual reporting requirement for engine emissions, the EPA is also proposing to require the annual reporting of the number of airplanes produced, airplane characteristics and test parameters.
The EPA says US manufacturers have already developed or are developing technologies that will allow affected airplanes to comply with the ICAO standards, in advance of its adoption, and it anticipates nearly all affected airplanes to be compliant by the respective dates for new type designs and for in-production airplanes. This includes the expectation that existing in-production airplanes that are non-compliant will either be modified and re-certificated as compliant or will likely go out of production before the production compliance date of 1 January 2028.
“For these reasons, the EPA is not projecting emission reductions associated with these proposed GHG regulations,” it states in the executive summary of the proposed rule.
The EPA held a virtual public hearing on September 17, with participation from aircraft and engine manufacturers, aerospace and airline industry associations, environmental organisations and other interested parties. Over 120 written public comments have been submitted in response to the proposal by the October 19 closing date.
A coalition of environmental groups that first filed a suit against the EPA over a decade ago to force the agency to address GHG emissions from aircraft said the proposal violated section 231 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) as it failed to reduce GHG emissions from aircraft despite the EPA’s own endangerment findings.
“Moreover, the proposal’s failure to consider the statutory factors laid out in section 231, over-reliance on factors outside the statute, failure to analyse the costs and benefits of a sufficient range of possible emission standards, and refusal to select an alternative based on the evidence before the agency are arbitrary and capricious,” says the submission by Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Natural Resources Defense Council.
“These flaws cannot be remedied in a final rule. Instead, EPA must replace the proposal with one that meets its duties under the Clean Air Act. The final regulations must employ strong mechanisms to reduce emissions from aircraft and protect the public health and welfare and in doing so, EPA must consider the full panoply of available measures, including declining fleetwide emissions averages and operational and design improvements.
“To avoid catastrophic climate change, EPA must implement standards that far exceeds ICAO’s standards in both stringency and scope.”
The submission dismisses the EPA’s argument that US manufacturers would be at a competitive disadvantage if the US failed to adopt standards in line with ICAO’s. “EPA provides no legitimate basis for this assertion. Nothing prevents the US from adopting standards that are more stringent than ICAO’s and EPA has responsibility to do so if that is what public health and environmental protection require.”
Commenting on its own submission, Annie Petsonk, International Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said: “As EPA’s own analysis indicates, the proposed standards will not drive emissions down. It simply embodies what the industry has already baked in. To justify its approach, EPA relied on a problematic estimate of the costs of doing nothing, arbitrarily ignoring the real costs of climate pollution that people across the country are facing every day.
“As the aviation industry tries to bounce back from Covid, it must put addressing the climate crisis at the core of its recovery, and government needs to lead the way. A stringent aircraft pollution standard would mean jobs building the aircraft and creating the fuels of the future. Instead, EPA’s proposed aircraft rule ignores the science and contravenes laws that require it to protect public health and the environment.
“We urge EPA to replace its proposal with standards that will actually reduce aircraft emissions, as one key element of a broader package of carrots and sticks to get the aviation industry to take real steps to cut climate pollution.”
In its submission to the EPA, the non-profit environmental research organisation International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said its analysis showed new deliveries of commercial aircraft in 2019 were on average 6% more fuel efficient than required by the ICAO standards.
With some caveats, the industry response to the EPA’s proposal is supportive of legislation in line with ICAO CO2 standards, which it sees as meeting the criteria set out in the CAA’s section 231.
“Adopting the standards into US law will ensure US-manufactured aircraft and engines are available to US airlines, while fostering global competition and enabling our airlines to acquire aircraft and aircraft engines at market-driven, competitive prices,” says a joint submission by Airlines for America and the Air Lines Pilots Association International. “Especially given that, as the agency itself notes, other ICAO member states that certify airplanes have already adopted the ICAO CO2 standards, the agency needs to act to put US manufacturers on the same footing as their foreign counterparts.”
The two trade bodies said the ICAO standards would achieve GHG emissions reductions, support US policies to combat climate change and provide international uniformity. “Aircraft and the international airspace system simply could not function if aircraft and aircraft engines were subject to disparate regulatory requirements and standards.”
However, they asked the EPA to clarify in its rulemaking that the proposed US standards did not apply to in-service aircraft and disagreed with the agency’s conclusion that there could be no costs or benefits attributable to the standards.
A submission by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said its members had already taken steps to ensure compliance with the proposed standards, including making plans to end production of the least fuel-efficient aircraft.
“The majority of aircraft will not be subject to the standards until 1 January 2028. Nevertheless, we urge the EPA to finalise the domestic adoption of these rules by the end of this year,” said the AIA. “Airlines purchase aircraft several years in advance. They are currently deciding on aircraft that will be delivered through the end of this decade. When making these decisions, airlines will require assurances that aircraft meet the standards to operate in international markets.
“Without domestic regulations in place, the FAA would be unable to certify an aircraft as meeting the ICAO CO2 standards. In this situation, US manufacturers would be at a serious competitive disadvantage if airlines were to seek greater regulatory certainty by opting to purchase aircraft manufactured elsewhere that meet the requirements of their certifying authority’s equivalent rules, which have already been implemented in some cases.
“If this was to occur, it could jeopardise tens of billions of dollars in sales for the US aerospace industry.”
Engine manufacturer GE said the proposed rule would provide the global aviation industry with much-needed certainty and consistency as it faced the Covid crisis and its adoption would satisfy US obligations under the Chicago Convention by ensuring compliance with ICAO standards.
GE also argued that more stringent GHG standards were not appropriate and would potentially violate the Clean Air Act.
“The CAA does not require the EPA to ‘technology force’ at the risk of flight safety,” said the submission. “[It] requires EPA to refrain from changing aircraft emission standards if such a change would adversely affect safety. To maintain the trust and confidence of the flying public, it is imperative that EPA not adopt standards that could in any way be perceived as sacrificing aviation safety. The perception of the flying public matters and EPA should endeavour to avoid any erosion of public confidence in the safety of aviation. This objective is best achieved by EPA remaining aligned with the ICAO analytical criteria of technical feasibility, environmental benefit, cost effectiveness and impacts of interdependencies, which have helped ensure the continuation of aviation’s impressive safety record.
“Moreover, when preparing this proposal, EPA carefully analysed the impacts of two more stringent alternatives. These analyses show that the alternatives would lead to minimal reduction in GHG emissions, while imposing significant costs associated with deviating from the ICAO standards. Consequently, EPA appropriately decided against proposing either of these alternatives.”
While supportive of aligning EPA regulations with the ICAO CO2 standard, both Boeing and Airbus are opposed to the reporting requirements laid out in the proposal. Boeing said they were unnecessary as they were duplicative of FAA reporting requirements, “and unwise because they pose unnecessary risks to Boeing’s confidential business information and potentially the nation’s security.”
The concerns are centred on fears the EPA could make public manufacturers’ specific air range data.
“SAR data is highly sensitive, treated by Boeing and other airplane manufacturers as a trade secret and protected zealously from disclosure to competitors and the public,” says the Boeing submission. “because of the strategic value of SAR data, it can also be subject to federal export controls and sanction regimes.
“There is also a risk that someone could wrongly argue that SAR data should be considered to be emissions data or ‘related technical information’ that EPA must disclose. EPA should not collect SAR data … and should not require reporting of that data. If it nonetheless requires reporting of SAR data then EPA must ensure that data is protected from public disclosure.
“EPA need not collect SAR data to track airplane CO2 emissions performance and verify compliance. ICAO agreed to the use and public reporting of an aircraft’s [fuel efficiency] metric value for this purpose because it is sufficient by itself to enable assessment of compliance with the CO2 emissions standard, while continuing to maintain the confidentiality of manufacturers’ SAR data. Significantly, ICAO does not require public reporting of RGF – an important element of SAR data – precisely because it can be used to derive an airplane’s SAR.”
Airbus too said SAR data and the reference geometric factor were highly commercially sensitive information. It also questioned the EPA’s authority to request such information when a large number of airplanes delivered around the world would never operate within the United States.
“ICAO is the right body to create international standards,” said the Airbus submission. “Airbus believes that in the absence of a worldwide harmonisation process, regional requirements could produce unintended consequences that would harm the aviation industry. We therefore urge the EPA to adopt the proposed ICAO rule with no additional requirements.”
The ICAO Aircraft CO2 standards are contained in Volume III to Annex 16 of the Chicago Convention and were adopted in Europe by the European Parliament and Council in July 2018 (Regulation (EU) No. 2018/1139). The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published certification specifications concerning the standard in August 2019.
Covid-19 underscores global need to combat global animal smuggling in aviation, says report
Wed 28 Oct 2020 – While there is no evidence that a pandemic of zoonotic origin, such as Covid-19, has been linked to air transport, the aviation sector can play an important part in mitigating the risk of future disease events and pandemics by strengthening efforts to combat animal smuggling, says a report produced for ROUTES, an international group of agencies and transport industry representatives fighting wildlife trafficking. Based solely on public reporting, around 50 high zoonotic risk trafficking instances are identified every year across the world. The report details identification methods and other recommendations for the industry and government agencies to follow. Meanwhile, Air Canada has become the first North American airline to attain illegal wildlife trade certification by IATA.
Within air transport, live animals and meat products from domesticated and wild species engender the most significant risk of zoonotic spillover – the transfer of a pathogen from the original host to either humans or another species (see graphic below) – and illicit supply chains constitute a potential vector through which a zoonotic disease could mutate to infect humans.
“Smugglers exploit the speed and efficiency of air travel and air cargo to transport animals and animal products, often bringing different species in close proximity for long periods of time,” said Ben Spevack, Senior Analyst at C4ADS and author of the report ‘Animal Smuggling in Air Transport and Preventing Zoonotic Spillover’. “This illicit activity circumvents animal safety requirements around health examinations, vaccinations or quarantine, creating extremely favourable conditions for zoonotic disease spillover.”
Around 800,000 pathogens and microorganisms linked to emerging infectious diseases currently exist in animals, including 500 new coronavirus strains identified in bats alone. Birds are known to carry over 60 different zoonotic diseases. The World Organisation for Animal Health estimates three new infectious diseases emerge from animals every year. A disease that crosses the animal-human interface can evolve into one that is transmitted from human to human (or from human to animal). The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the destructive potential of zoonotic spillover, says the report, and the frequency, severity and financial impacts of zoonotic disease events are growing.
“Understanding the vectors for zoonotic disease – and, by extension, the dangers of illicit animal shipments – is fundamental for designing effective zoonotic disease mitigation policies and protocols,” advises Spevack in the report.
He notes the aviation industry has measures in place to ensure safe transit of humans and goods through the proper channels. “While such regimes can strongly reduce the risk of zoonotic spillover within regulated animal trade, illicit flows of animals or animal products circumvent these measures,” he points out.
“Given the nature of illicit supply chains – the introduction of species into new geographies, the consolidation of multiple species in close quarters, the stress-induced suppression of animals’ immune systems and the lack of mitigation measures such as pathogen surveillance testing – the continuation of animal smuggling along air routes is a factor in increasing the likelihood of future disease outbreaks.
“However, the aviation sector, working in partnership with enforcement authorities, conservation stakeholders, and the scientific community, has the opportunity to help reduce the risk of zoonotic spillover. Collaboration with traditional counter-wildlife trafficking stakeholders and awareness informed by analysis of animal smuggling can decrease the risk of public health crises.
“As air transport stakeholders recover from the impacts of Covid-19, it is important that future pandemic prevention programmes include counter-animal smuggling initiatives as a key risk mitigation activity.”
The report offers a number of recommendations to airlines, airports and enforcement authorities, based on capacity and role. All stakeholders should incorporate zoonotic spillover considerations into counter-animal smuggling protocols and practices, and coordinate activities related to countering wildlife trafficking with animal health authorities to minimise the risk of animal disease. It advises airlines and airports to increase proactive passenger awareness measures on the public health risks of animal smuggling. They should also inform aviation policies and practices on counter-smuggling and zoonotic spillover mitigation initiatives with data on trends in smuggling of animals and animal products.
Enforcement authorities are encouraged to increase public reporting on seizures, increase incentives among law enforcement for interdiction of illicit shipments and monitor the development of automated detection and other emerging technologies to build capacity to identify illicit animals or animal products in airport screening systems.
The report was produced by C4ADS (the Center for Advanced Defense Studies), a non-profit focusing on analysis and reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues, as part of the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership.
“Faced with the current health crisis caused by the novel Covid-19 virus, the world and the aviation sector are unfortunately grappling with the turmoil that zoonotic diseases can pose. Understanding of air transport’s risk from animal smuggling could be instrumental in reducing global vulnerability,” commented Michelle Owen, Routes’ Lead. “Comprehensive training and protocols are already being adopted by airports, airlines and enforcement agencies to combat wildlife trafficking. These efforts can help mitigate the risk of future outbreaks.”
As well as C4ADS, partners to ROUTES include wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, WWF and trade bodies Airports Council International (ACI) and IATA.
“The current crisis has highlighted the global need to better understand what factors can increase the risk of zoonotic disease occurrence. ACI joined the fight against wildlife trafficking in 2016 and supports the United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration signatory airports and ROUTES partners to combat wildlife trafficking. Airports can integrate wildlife conservation initiatives into their sustainability umbrella, helping to protect biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods, stability and global health,” said Juliana Scavuzzi, Senior Manager Environment, ACI.
Added Sebastian Mikosz, SVP of Member and External Relations at IATA: “As the world works to recover from Covid-19, the focus is shifting to building back better and with greater resilience. Science tells us to expect more pandemics in the future and combatting the smuggling of wildlife can be viewed as a key prevention measure.”
The Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) certification awarded to Air Canada was introduced by IATA last year and recognises actions taken by the airline to strengthen defences against wildlife trafficking in line with the 11 commitments of the Buckingham Palace Declaration. These commitments include adopting a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trade, improving the industry’s ability to share information about illegal activities and encouraging as many members of the transport sector as possible to sign on.
The IWT module was developed with support from ROUTES and is a component of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA), which includes a two-stage certification process, both achieved by Air Canada. IEnvA is a programme developed specifically for the aviation sector and demonstrates equivalency to the ISO 14001:2005 environmental management systems standard.
Air Canada Cargo has developed and introduced controls and procedures to reduce the likelihood of transporting illegal wildlife and illegal wildlife products. In 2018, it became the first airline to achieve the IATA CEIV Live Animals certification, which aims to meet the highest standards in the transport of live animals.
“There’s a connection between how wildlife is treated, how it can spread zoonotic disease and how we’ve ended up with the potential for pandemics in the world,” said Teresa Ehman, Senior Director of Environmental Affairs at Air Canada.
Middle East peace deal will help save 87,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions with direct routings over Israel
Tue 27 Oct 2020 – The recent overflight agreement between Jordan and Israel, which allows for flights to cross both countries’ airspace, will result in shorter flight times, reduced fuel burn and an annual reduction of around 87,000 tonnes of CO2, based on the number of eligible departure airports, says IATA. Should the number of eligible airports increase and traffic returns to pre-Covid levels, the emissions reduction could more than double to 202,000 tonnes each year. In the past, airlines have flown around Israel when flying east/west operating over Middle East airspace but the new direct routing will on average cut 106 km eastbound and 118 km westbound on flights operating from the Gulf States and Asia to destinations in Europe and North America. The operational elements of the new agreement are being led by the civil aviation authorities of both Jordan and Israel, with support from IATA and air traffic management agency Eurocontrol.
Based on the number of eligible departure airports, the direct routing should result in a total saving of 155 days of flying time per year, increasing to around 403 days in the event more departure airports are deemed eligible and air traffic returns to previous levels.
“The connecting of the airspace between Jordan and Israel is welcome news for travellers, the environment and the aviation industry during these very difficult times,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional VP for Africa and the Middle East.
“The direct routing will cut return journey times for passengers by about 20 minutes and reduce CO2 emissions. Airlines will also save on fuel costs, which will help as they struggle to survive the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Direct flights between Israel and Jordan have taken place since peace accords were signed in 1994 but up till now they did not use each other’s airspace for flights to different destinations. Under the new agreement, Israeli and Jordanian flights can use each other’s airspace between 11pm and 6am local time during weekdays and during a longer window of 12 hours on weekends.
“The agreement will significantly cut flight times to Gulf countries, Asia and the Far East, leading to fuel savings and less pollution,” said a Jordanian government statement.
An Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10 flight on October 14 from Milan Malpensa to Abu Dhabi was the first regular passenger flight to cross Israeli airspace. Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, also became the first Gulf carrier to operate a commercial passenger flight to and from Israel. The Boeing 787 flight departed Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on October 19 and returned on October 21. This followed a symbolic commercial flight by Israel’s national airline El Al between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi on August 31.
Boosting civil aviation is seen as an important part of the peace accords signed in September by Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, which was brokered by the United States, with the three countries agreeing to ensure regular and direct flights to promote relations. In September, Saudi Arabia allowed flights between Israel and the UAE to cross its airspace.