IAG achieves highest ‘A’ rating in 2017 CDP climate list of global company performance

Mon 6 Nov 2017 – International Airlines Group (IAG) has achieved a coveted ‘A List’ status in this year’s CDP ratings of leading environmental performances by the world’s leading organisations. Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, the global disclosure system enables companies to measure and manage their environmental impact and the data is used by investors and purchasers, as well as policy-makers. The Climate A List was established in 2011 and introduced for water and forests in 2015 and 2015 respectively, with IAG one of 112 companies worldwide making the 2017 climate change A List, the only representative from the aviation sector. It was also awarded ‘most improved’ UK organisation in 2017. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Willie Walsh said last week IAG would take an equity investment in its new sustainable aviation fuels venture with Velocys.

The A List achievement is down to a number of measures IAG says it has taken in a commitment to make it the world’s leading environmentally sustainable airline group.

“This is great news and a recognition of our efforts to lead the industry in tackling climate change,” said Walsh, responding to the CDP top listing. “IAG was the first airline group worldwide to set its own carbon emissions targets and we’re very proud of our role in securing the first global carbon offsetting scheme.

“We’re investing in modern and more efficient aircraft and have created innovative operational procedures to reduce CO2 output. Developing sustainable fuel is also crucial and we’re working to convert domestic waste into jet fuel, which is an amazing innovation to cut emissions while reducing landfill.”

The group, which currently comprises British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, says it has integrated climate change targets into its business strategy and improved its reporting on how environmental risks are mitigated and the opportunities to enhance its airlines’ performance.

Speaking at last week’s UK Airport Operators Association annual conference, Walsh said IAG’s venture with waste-to-fuel technology company Velocys could see first supplies of renewable fuel by 2021. “The focus just now is on producing the fuel for British Airways but in time it could be for other members of the group,” he told delegates.

British Airways was involved in a previous project called GreenSky to build a biorefinery in east London with Solena but pulled the plug two years ago (see article), citing poor economics and a lack of government support. The UK government has now signalled its intention to incentivise renewable aviation fuels through its Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation scheme and is providing funding towards projects to produce renewable aviation fuel (see article). It is also backing an initiative to create a sustainable aviation fuels group called SAF SIG to build a UK industry supply chain (see article).

“The technology exists but the challenge has been to create a commercial model that works and now we have that with the government’s recent support,” explained Walsh.

“We are prepared to invest – we are very clear about that. We see this both in terms of equity and also taking the supply of fuel. It will be a multi-million pound investment although we’ve not put a limit on it at this stage but initially it will be in the tens of millions rather than hundreds.”

He said IAG was committed to using alternative fuels produced from waste. “There are a lot of environmental concerns over the use of crops and competition with food supply to make biofuels, which in our view is not sustainable. The good news is that there is pretty much no limit to the amount of waste in the UK at the moment that can be used. It doesn’t have to be new waste either – it could be waste from old landfill. There is a lot of potential.”

List of airlines, airports, aviation and aerospace companies in CDP Climate List 2017:



Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

KLM signs agreement with Costa Rica to explore potential for sustainable biofuel flights from San Jose

Tue 7 Nov 2017 – KLM has entered into a cooperation agreement with the government of Costa Rica to research the possibility of flights out of the capital San Jose using sustainable aviation fuel. The Dutch carrier said it was the first time such an agreement had been made by an airline with a government. The two parties signed a letter of intent last week that will see KLM share its knowledge and expertise with the government in close cooperation with partner SkyNRG. The move coincided with the KLM launch after a 20-year break of a direct twice-weekly return service between San Jose and Amsterdam that will be operated by a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner.

“This cooperative effort is a new step in making civil aviation more sustainable,” said KLM COO René de Groot. “The greater the production – and therefore the greater supply of biofuels – the lower the price will be and the more businesses will use it. KLM and Costa Rica are taking the lead now. It would be great if other airlines, governments and the entire biofuel supply chain took such steps.”

In 2009, KLM became the first airline in the world to operate a flight using sustainable biofuel, which it followed with its first commercial flight in 2010. Since then, the carrier has operated more than a thousand flights using bio-based jet fuel. From October 2016, it started using sustainable biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil that is produced by AltAir and delivered by SkyNRG on all flights from Los Angeles for a period of three years. The Los Angeles biofuel is delivered directly to the storage tanks at the airport, which also hold the conventional jet kerosene supply. Oslo Airport was the first airport to supply a percentage of sustainable fuel through its regular fuelling process, with KLM purchasing biofuel there for a series of 80 flights.

KLM operates a Corporate BioFuel Programme through which a variety of companies contribute to stimulate the use of sustainable biofuel and help bridge the cost gap with conventional fuel. However, says KLM, the market for sustainable biofuel remains far from mature and the price is three times higher than that of fossil fuel.

Except for El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala, Costa Rica is the only country in Latin America to volunteer so far to join the ICAO CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme from the start.

Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Rocky Mountain Institute signs partnership deal with The Good Traveler carbon offsetting programme

Fri 10 Nov 2017 – The Good Traveler carbon offsetting programme is to be administered by the global non-profit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) under a multi-year partnership. The programme is a non-profit collaboration among US airports and transportation authorities that includes San Diego International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, the Port of Seattle and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. RMI will join their Advisory Member Group to help shape future strategy of the programme, with an objective to grow the market for high-quality carbon reduction options and to cultivate new travel-based emissions-reduction projects.

The Good Traveler programme was launched in September 2015 by San Diego International, which issued a Request for Proposals earlier this year from parties interested in operating the programme and supplying carbon offsets (see article).

“The programme is an important part of our efforts to address the impact of carbon emissions on climate change,” said the airport’s CEO, Kim Becker. “We are proud to see it grow and expand to other airports across the country.”

Under the programme, 100% of funds are directed to reducing the carbon impact of the aviation sector and airport communities. Offsets are verified and retired through the Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard, the Gold Standard or American Carbon Registry.

The programme’s portfolio currently supports regional climate mitigation projects in the US that includes the Arcata Community Forest in Northern California, the Big Smile Wind Farm at Dempsey Ridge and Water Restoration Certificates by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

“The Good Traveler is a great way to help our travellers reduce their footprint, ensuring carbon offsets are verifiable, traceable and invested in projects that benefit our economy,” said Christine Weydig, Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ’s Office of Environmental and Energy Programs.

RMI says it plans to incorporate in-sector travel emissions-reduction projects over time, such as projects involving sustainable aviation fuels.

Founded in 1982, RMI’s mission is to “transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure low-carbon future and to engage with others to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables.” In 2014, the Carbon War Room initiative started by Virgin’s Richard Branson was merged with and now operates as part of RMI.

“We’re thrilled to join these airport leaders advancing sustainable travel and we are committed to ensuring The Good Traveler drives carbon reduction innovation,” said Adam Klauber, Director of RMI’s Sustainable Aviation programme, commenting on the new partnership. “We look forward to expanding its customer base and to integrating in-sector offset projects. This will be a game-changer for decarbonising the fast-growing aviation industry.”

Added Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman: “Visitors and citizens of the Seattle region care deeply about the environment and we are responding with our own commitment to reduce the Port’s carbon emissions by 50%. The Good Traveler is a perfect complement to these programmes. Passengers can be personally involved in reducing their carbon footprint through an easy-to-use, intuitive offsetting programme designed specifically for air travellers.”

Travellers can purchase credits from The Good Traveler website or retail outlets and works on a simple basis of a payment of $2 for every 1,000 miles flown. As of July 2017, the programme is reported to have offset nearly 20 million air miles equivalent to 3,352 tonnes of CO2.

The airport partners say the programme is also working towards more efficiently investing airport revenue into offsetting carbon emissions from ground operations through the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Eight airlines join ‘Fly Green Day’ to use Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel on flights out of Chicago

Fri 10 Nov 2017 – Eight airlines have flown from Chicago O’Hare International Airport using a jet fuel blend containing Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) renewable fuel derived from bio-isobutanol. Blended and supplied by Air BP, the fuel was made available using the airport’s existing fuelling infrastructure, such as pipelines, terminals and tankage. This was the first time blended fuel had been supplied to airline customers through the main fuel hydrant system. The airlines – Lufthansa, United Airlines, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Atlas Air – were participating in Fly Green Day, an event to help boost the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuels, sponsored by the O’Hare Fuel Committee and organised by Gevo.

“This is a significant milestone as we continue to develop our ATJ platform,” said Gevo CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. “We fundamentally believe that our ATJ is one of the most cost-competitive bio-based jet alternatives in the market place. Leveraging existing supply infrastructure should lower the full cost to serve our end customers. Jet fuel is one of Gevo’s core market segments and this represents the next step in building a profitable business from this market vertical.”

Gevo’s ATJ renewable fuel, which can be produced from a variety of carbohydrate feedstocks, was approved for commercial aviation use in April 2016 and was first used by launch customer Alaska Airlines. The isobutanol is produced at its Luverne fermentation facility in Minnesota and converted into jet fuel at a biorefinery in Silsbee, Texas. Test flights using the fuel have been carried out in the past by the US Air Force, Army and Navy.

Involved in the process throughout, Air BP worked with Gevo to bring to the airport a demonstration batch of biojet produced from bio-isobutanol and purchased by the airline customers. The aviation fuel company blended the biofuel with regular Jet A fuel and certified its quality.

“This is the first time we have supplied our customers with biojet produced from alcohol and demonstrates how we are working with multiple suppliers to build a leadership position in this area,” said Jon Platt, CEO of Air BP. “We anticipate that through this promotion we will inspire more of our customers to use lower carbon fuels.”

In January 2016, Air BP introduced biojet via the existing fuelling infrastructure at Oslo Airport in Norway and has since supplied Bergen Airport in the country and Halmstad Airport in Sweden. A year ago, Air BP announced a $30 million investment in aviation biofuel producer Fulcrum BioEnergy, with the aim of distributing and supplying biojet into aircraft at key hubs across North America.

Meanwhile, IATA’s annual Alternative Fuel Symposium takes place next week in Vancouver. It will cover outcomes from ICAO’s recent Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, deployment solutions, 2020 production potential, global and regional initiatives, and airline strategy and demand trends including sustainable aviation fuel eligibility in the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme.


Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Environmental groups criticise ICAO over lack of CORSIA transparency and threat to biofuel sustainability criteria

Fri 18 Nov 2017 – ICAO has come under fire from two environmental groups over a perceived lack of transparency on decisions concerning its CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme and fears that sustainability criteria for the use of biofuels qualifying under the scheme are being heavily watered down. ICAO’s governing Council has been meeting in Montreal to discuss detailed regulations on the operation of the scheme that have been drawn up by its technical committee CAEP. However, CAEP confidentiality rules and the closed-door Council sessions are allowing ICAO to develop climate policy in isolation and this risks undermining the Paris Agreement, argues Carbon Market Watch. Meanwhile, Transport & Environment says it understands political interventions in the Council could lead to the removal of 10 out of the 12 sustainability criteria for biofuels recommended by CAEP. The CORSIA Package, as it is known, is due to be sent shortly to all ICAO states for scrutiny and approval.

CORSIA, says Carbon Market Watch (CMW) in a new analysis report, is currently the only significant carbon offsetting scheme in the post-Kyoto period when the Paris Agreement comes into force, and the reliance on purchasing carbon credits from reductions in other sectors poses significant challenges to ensure the integrity of the scheme. Transparency on how the CORSIA rules will be designed as well as opportunities to engage in this process by all affected stakeholders are paramount for the scheme’s effectiveness, it argues.

However, it accuses ICAO of developing the rules “locked away from the public domain … and shielded from public scrutiny.”

CORSIA will have a direct impact on countries’ compliance with the Paris climate targets and at a time when wider UNFCCC climate talks are taking place at COP23 in Bonn to discuss emission reduction transfers between countries, it is unclear how carbon credits purchased by airlines are booked to avoid double counting of reductions towards ICAO and the Paris goals, says CMW.

“Aviation’s measure risks blowing a giant hole in the Paris Agreement,” said CMW Aviation Policy Officer, Kelsey Perlman. “The irony is that delegates in Bonn and Montreal are currently negotiating interlinked climate issues, with one held in public and the other behind closed doors.

“ICAO needs to allow for more public scrutiny, but the truth is we can’t afford to keep waiting to see how this measure affects global climate ambition.”

CMW points to parliamentarians in Europe asking their governments for more information on CORSIA. During a recent debate in the European Parliament, a Commission official with knowledge of the contents of the CORSIA Package was unable to reveal details to members of the Parliament because of ICAO non-disclosure rules.

“The European countries that have defended transparency this week in Bonn while sitting in the dark in ICAO, need to open up the debate,” said Perlman.

How ICAO interprets transparency and public participation requirements is covered in a new paper by the Columbia Law School, which finds the ICAO governance process falls short of the public information requirements of the Aarhus Convention. The international treaty grants the public rights of access to information, participating in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, according to the report. Of the 45 countries that are members or observers of the ICAO Council and CAEP, 13 have signed up to the treaty.

“The ICAO rules of procedure allow for access to information and public meetings but inexplicably these rules have not been followed in the decision-making process around the sector’s offsetting scheme,” said Aoife O’Leary, author of the study. “And this despite the obligations the Convention places on many of the ICAO member and observer countries.”

The CORSIA Package – comprising draft regulatory Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and guidance material – is due to be sent to all ICAO States next month, who will only be given up to four months to scrutinise and respond before adoption by the Council in June next year.

In its annual submission to the UNFCCC subsidiary body SBSTA, which met during COP23, ICAO said having rules in place covering monitoring, reporting and verification of the sector’s carbon emissions was the immediate priority so that States and airlines can be ready to report emissions from 2019. “After that, ICAO will determine eligible emissions units which airlines purchase in order to meet offsetting requirements under CORSIA,” it added.

In another submission to SBSTA, Chile – with the support of Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru – said given its projected growth, the aviation sector would be required to compensate 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions during the period of CORSIA’s existence (2021-2035).

“As these compensations would mainly be supplied by activities outside the sector, Parties to the Paris Agreement should carefully consider the relationship between CORSIA and the Paris Agreement. Parties should seek ways to further collaborate in the climate change process. This should create synergies and mutual support on the overall objectives of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, and the objectives of ICAO Resolution A39-3.”

Meanwhile, Transport & Environment fears that at the current ICAO Council Session, member states have voted to reject ten key sustainability criteria out of the 12 that were submitted to the Council by CAEP experts for biofuels that would qualify under CORSIA. Under the scheme, airlines using sustainable aviation fuels can be credited against their emissions obligations. A CAEP working group had recommended the defining criteria of “sustainable” that included 12 environmental and social safeguards.

According to T&E’s own sources, the two surviving rules are a 10% greenhouse gas reduction target for biofuels compared to fossil jet fuel and a ban on crops grown on land that was deforested after 2009. Removing the remaining safeguards is contrary to UN’s globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, it said.

The sustainability rules have implications beyond CORSIA because they will become the de facto global standard for biofuel use in the aviation sector, it added.

The Brussels-based group criticised the European Commission for agreeing to the Council position, which T&E claims has been supported by France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Germany, although opposed by the Netherlands and the UK.

“If this extreme weakening of the sustainability criteria for biofuels is confirmed, the European Commission will have effectively surrendered to ICAO, showing how little it cares about human rights or biodiversity,” said Carlos Calvo Ambel, T&E Analysis and Climate Manager.

Responding to T&E’s claim, an aviation industry spokesperson said: “The aviation sector has been working hard to ensure that the deployment of alternative fuels is done in a sustainable way, including as part of the CORSIA package. Industry is working with environmental groups and governments through the ICAO experts process to develop a robust set of sustainability criteria for the use of these fuels.

“We await the outcome of the Council meeting but according to reports, the sustainability criteria were partially adopted, with some being sent back to the experts for further evaluation in the coming months. Nothing was rejected, as we understand it, but rather needs more study. It is vital that this process is able to be done in a robust manner so we can rely on these elements well into the future.”

In its SBSTA submission, ICAO said its recent Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels had “confirmed the critical importance of ensuring the sustainability of aviation alternative fuels, which is currently under consideration by ICAO.”

Editor’s note: CORSIA will be the focus of the upcoming Aviation Carbon 2017 conference that takes place in London on December 4 and 5, with a session devoted to the role of sustainable aviation fuels in the global carbon offsetting scheme.





Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Heathrow adds emissions along with noise metrics to its airline performance league table

Wed 21 Jun 2017 – Heathrow Airport has extended its quarterly ‘Fly Quiet League Table’ to include for the first time the emissions performance as well as the noise performance of airlines serving the airport. The 50 busiest airlines at Heathrow are now publicly ranked on their efforts to reduce emissions from the aircraft they use for operations at the airport. A new metric has also been introduced that takes into account unscheduled night flights operating between 11.30pm and 4.30am. The league table has tracked airline noise performance since 2013 and is credited with incentivising airlines to use their quieter aircraft types and operating procedures at Heathrow. Based on data from January to March, British Airways short-haul, Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways were judged to be the cleanest and quietest fleets at the airport.

EU States back proposals on extending Aviation EU ETS ‘stop-the-clock’ and provisions for CORSIA review

Thu 22 Jun 2017 – EU Member States have agreed a common negotiating position ahead of talks with the European Parliament (EP) on existing regulations concerning the Aviation EU ETS and its post-2020 future when the global CORSIA market-based scheme starts. The Council, which represents the States, says it broadly supports European Commission proposals, including to extend the derogation – known as ‘stop-the-clock’ – for extra-EEA flights until the end of the current phase of the EU ETS in 2020. This is also supported by most EP members but as the derogation ceased to exist at the end of 2016, swift action will need to be taken to adopt a revision by the end of this year to avoid a legal gap. The two institutions must also agree on future steps to be taken in the light of decisions still to be reached at ICAO on the global scheme. A report has already been submitted by EP rapporteur Julie Girling, along with proposed amendments by members of the EP environment committee (ENVI), with a vote scheduled for July 11 and a EP plenary vote in the autumn.

UK airspace improvements help NATS reduce carbon emissions but more modernisation required, it warns

Fri 23 Jun 2017 – Air navigation service provider (ANSP) NATS reports that improvements to the design of UK airspace helped save 55,900 tonnes of CO2 in 2016, worth £6.2 million ($8m) in fuel savings for airlines. In 2008, NATS became the first ANSP in the world to set an airspace environmental target and says it is currently tracking at a 5 per cent improvement on a goal to reduce air traffic management (ATM) related CO2 emissions by 10 per cent by 2020. However, warns NATS, it will become more difficult to achieve this unless further efficiencies can be delivered by modernising UK airspace. CO2 savings in the previous year were 157,000 tonnes. In its annual Responsible Business report, NATS says its campaign to increase the use of continuous descent approach (CDA) procedures by aircraft landing at UK airports resulted in an additional 32,070 quieter arrivals in 2016 over 2015.

Virgin Atlantic sees impressive gains in fuel efficiency and an 8% fall in emissions as a result of fleet changes

Tue 27 Jun 2017 – Following a slowdown in the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet in 2015, Virgin Atlantic Airways has rebounded with an impressive 8 per cent annual improvement last year, according to the airline’s latest Sustainability Report 2017. This is largely down to the positive impact of Boeing 787 aircraft entering the fleet in 2016, improved passenger load factors and other operational gains. Total CO2e aircraft emissions fell from 4.43 million tonnes in 2015 to 4.08 million tonnes in 2016, from a high of 5.22 million tonnes in 2007 when Virgin Atlantic set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 per cent per revenue tonne-kilometre (RTK) by 2020. The 22 per cent reduction since 2007 is matched by a 17 per cent fall in CO2 per RTK and a 22 per cent drop in CO2 per passenger km over the past 10 years. This, says the airline, puts it well ahead of the industry’s annual fuel efficiency improvement target for the period up to 2020.

US domestic aviation emissions could increase 33-50% by 2030 as a result of Trump climate withdrawal

Tue 27 Jun 2017 – Although there has been recent speculation over the possibility of the United States not joining the voluntary phase of ICAO’s CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme as a result of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, there are other implications for global aviation emissions. Pledges made by countries under the agreement must take into account reductions in domestic aviation emissions, which are not covered by CORSIA. Globally, domestic aviation emissions make up around 38 per cent of all aviation emissions, with the US responsible for nearly a half. According to research by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Aviation, Transport and the Environment (CATE), US domestic aviation emissions could rise by 33 to 50 per cent over 2005 levels if the US does not carry out its CO2 reduction plans and so heavily impact the sector’s overall emissions.