Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dutch government urged by airlines to drop tax proposals as NGOS take it to court over ICAO aircraft CO2 standard

Thu 14 Dec 2017 – Eight years after ditching an air passenger ‘eco’ tax introduced a year earlier, the Dutch government is reportedly planning new aviation taxation measures to address the sector’s environmental impact. International airline associations have written to the Dutch finance minister urging the government not to proceed with the policy. They believe the government envisages a Europe-wide aviation tax resulting from negotiations due in 2019 over the Paris climate objectives and a tax on noisy and polluting aircraft. If the two measures are deemed insufficient then an aviation passenger tax may be introduced in the Netherlands from 2021, they fear. Meanwhile, the government is being taken to court by three NGOs for refusing to release ICAO documents on the global aircraft CO2 standard adopted by the UN agency in March this year.

A Dutch aviation tax could generate around €200 million ($230m) annually from the sector, but KLM and Schiphol Group say it would not help the environment and instead would interfere with maintaining a competitive aviation market. When an air passenger tax was introduced in July 2008, it was expected to raise in the region of €300 million a year but was scrapped a year later following a steep decline in passenger traffic at the main Dutch airports, particularly at Amsterdam Schiphol, with air travellers said to have taken flights from airports in Belgium and Germany to avoid the tax (see article).

Not only would the proposed new tax would have the same negative impact on the Dutch economy, it would contradict international law, standards and principles, claim the nine associations – IATA, ERA, AIRE, AFRAA, A4A, AACO, AAPA, ALTA and NACC. The taxation policy would be “at odds with the principles that underlie all of ICAO’s requirements regarding environmental levies,” they said, pointing out that the resolution underpinning ICAO’s CORSIA scheme was to be the sole market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international aviation. “Moreover,” they added, “intra-EU flights are subject to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, in which airlines already pay their contribution towards reducing the environmental impact.

“As an absolute minimum, the associations request that the Dutch government undertakes an independent evaluation of the economic and environmental impact of the policy and holds an open and constructive public consultation process before making any final decisions.”

In October, another airline association, Airlines for Europe (A4E), released a study it commissioned from PwC that showed abolishing the German air passenger tax would boost the country’s GDP by €67 billion ($79bn) cumulatively over the next 12 years. PwC estimated that Germany’s revenues from air passenger taxes would raise €1 billion in 2017.

“The study demonstrates the impact of passenger taxes, which hinder economic growth and tourism. Countries that have scrapped them have seen a boom in air traffic, which has benefited their economies,” said Thomas Reynaert, A4E’s Managing Director. “Removing all air passenger levies would add more than 24.6 million passengers by 2020.”

The study estimated that around 79% of the additional passengers would come to Germany for leisure purposes and the remaining 21% for business reasons. Currently, air passenger taxes are collected in Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway and the UK, with Germany the second largest collector after the UK.

NGOs counter that the European sector is under-taxed as it escapes taxation on its aviation fuel and airline tickets.

The three NGOs taking the Dutch government to court – Natuur & Milieu, Transport & Environment (T&E) and environmental lawyers ClientEarth – say that by refusing to publish decisions and research about ICAO’s aircraft CO2 standard, EU citizens and civil society are being denied their right to access environmental information under Directive 2003/4/EC.

The standard was ineffective as a result of commercial pressure, said the NGOs, who claimed that two-thirds of the observers on ICAO’s rule-making environment committee CAEP were industry lobbyists and accused aircraft manufacturer Airbus of having undue influence in drafting the EU’s position on the CO2 standard.

“We’re exclusively reliant on tidbits of information from ICAO and governments about how they are addressing aviation emissions,” said Andrew Murphy, Aviation Manager at T&E. “That makes it difficult for civil society groups and outside experts to examine claims about ICAO’s effectiveness. Only by making such reports public is it possible to conduct a fair assessment of ICAO’s efforts to take climate action.”

Supported by T&E and ClientEarth, the lawsuit is being taken by Natuur & Milieu at Utrecht district court to appeal a previous decision by the Dutch government not to disclose the information.

“Emissions from aviation have a global impact that cannot be ignored. The public has the right to access information on how emissions from aircraft will be reduced and to participate in decisions that affect their health and environment,” said Ugo Taddei, a clean air lawyer at ClientEarth. “By making these decisions behind closed doors, the Dutch government is breaking EU transparency rules and putting business interests before those of the planet as a whole.”

Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Air BP enters into airport and business aviation initiatives to offset flight emissions

(photo: Air BP)

Fri 18 May 2018 – Air BP has announced carbon offsetting initiatives with an airport in Spain and a business aviation company in Brazil. To mark the fifth anniversary of Teruel Airport, all carbon emissions related to Jet-A1 and Avgas 100LL aviation fuel supplied by Air BP during May will be offset through BP’s Target Neutral programme that invests in carbon reduction projects around the world.

LanzaTech bags second advanced jet fuel grant from UK government for a first commercial-scale ATJ facility

LanzaTech/Shougang ethanol demonstration plant near Beijing

Wed 4 July 2018 – Alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel technology company LanzaTech has secured a £410,000 ($540,000) grant from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) to help with project development funding for building the world’s first large-scale ATJ facility producing commercial quantities of low carbon jet fuel in the UK.

Vienna Airport appeals to Austria’s highest courts over ruling that a new runway would violate climate law

Fri 24 Mar 2017 – Vienna Airport has filed an appeal to Austria’s highest courts over a ruling by a lower federal court that a new third runway would violate the country’s climate protection laws. The airport operator, Flughafen Wien, has lodged a complaint with the Austrian Constitutional Court arguing the ruling violates its guaranteed rights and freedoms to carry on a business. It has also filed an extraordinary appeal with the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court that the ruling contained serious procedural violations, inconsistent reasoning and was materially unlawful. In its judgment handed down last month, the Federal Administrative Court ruled the positive economic benefits of the airport expansion were outweighed by the potential harm to the public interest from climate change caused by higher carbon emissions as a result of increased flights. However, the airport argues national climate protection law specifically excludes CO2 emissions from flight traffic and it is anyhow only responsible for its own CO2 emissions.

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.

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

ICAO opens consultation with States on proposed rules for CORSIA implementation

Thu 7 Dec 2017 – ICAO’s proposed rules for States and aeroplane operators on the administration; monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions; carbon offsetting requirements; and emissions units under the CORSIA scheme have been circulated to the UN agency’s 192 member States for comment. The so-called CORSIA Package is made up of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and related guidance material. The 128-page document sent by the ICAO Secretary General to States on Tuesday contains a proposal for a first edition of a new Volume IV (CORSIA) to Annex 16 (Environmental Protection) of the Chicago Convention to apply from 1 January 2019. It also includes draft Implementation Elements and supporting documents. States have been requested to forward their comments on the proposals to ICAO by 5 March 2018, an unusually short consultation period.

While the administrative and MRV requirements are proposed for applicability from 1 January 2019, CO2 offsetting requirements and related actions are proposed to apply from 1 January 2021.

States’ comments on the proposals will be considered by ICAO’s Air Navigation Commission, a 19-member technical body that recommends SARPs for adoption or approval by the governing ICAO Council. The CORSIA SARPs are expected to be formally adopted by the Council at its session next June.

States may respond to the Package by agreeing or disagreeing with the proposals, with or without commenting, or having no indication of position. No objections or comments will be taken as an agreement without comment or no indication of position respectively.

Following adoption by the Council, contracting States will then have to incorporate the SARPs into their national regulations but can notify ICAO if they do not intend to adopt all the standards and recommended practices contained in the new volume.

Aeroplane operators – ICAO is using the word “aeroplane” instead of “aircraft” as CORSIA only applies to fixed-wing aircraft – conducting international flights will be required to develop an emissions monitoring plan during the second half of 2018 and submit it to their State no later than 28 February 2019. As the CORSIA baseline will be set using the average emissions between 2019 and 2020, all operators will need to start monitoring their CO2 emissions from 1 January 2019.

The SARPs apply to an operator that produces annual CO2 emissions greater than 10,000 tonnes from the use of an aeroplane with a certificated take-off mass greater than 5,700kg conducting international flights on or after 1 January 2019, with the exception of humanitarian, medical or firefighting flights. The regulation applies to all such operators, regardless of whether the country it is registered in is one of the 72 that have so far volunteered to join CORSIA from the start in 2021.

Links:

ICAO – Mechanisms for CORSIA implementation

Countdown to CORSIA checklist

ICAO CORSIA implementation video:

Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Two new European projects get off the ground to investigate conversion of forestry residues to jet fuel

KLM will operate an 88-seat Embraer 175 on its new daily biofuel route to Växjö

Thu 17 May 2018 – To mark the introduction of a new daily flight between Amsterdam and Växjö Småland Airport, KLM has announced it will invest in 120,000 litres of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) per year for use on all flights to and from the destination in southern Sweden.