UK aviation has managed to decouple passenger increase from carbon and noise growth, says industry report

Tue 19 Dec 2017 – UK cross-industry coalition group Sustainable Aviation (SA) says the sector has succeeded in disconnecting the growth in passenger numbers from the rate of growth in carbon and noise emissions. In its latest progress report, carbon emissions from the six airline members of the group – British Airways, easyJet, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways and Virgin Atlantic – increased by less than half a per cent between 2014 and 2016 despite a 9% increase in the number of passengers flown. During the same period, it reports a reduction of 12,000 people in the noise contour areas of five SA member airports. Commending the report, the UK Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, said sustainable growth was one of the key objectives of the government’s long-term strategy for UK aviation.

Total CO2 emissions from the five airlines in 2016 amounted to 33.6 million tonnes, a 0.2% increase since 2014 compared with a 2% in passenger revenue tonne-kilometres (RTKs). Fuel efficiency reached 0.347 litres/RTK in 2016, a 2% improvement over the two years and 13% better than 2005.

“Aviation is a UK success story. However, delivering environmentally sustainable aviation growth in the UK, with the significant economic benefits that it brings, is a challenge that our industry is ready to meet,” said SA Chair, Ian Jopson, acknowledging “there is more to do.”

Jopson, who is Head of Environment and Community Affairs at air navigation services provider NATS, stands down after a two-year tenure. Achievements made by the group and its members during that period, he said in the introduction to SA’s Sixth Progress Report, included an updated roadmap on delivering long-term carbon emission reductions from the sector, a leading contribution by UK airlines in securing global progress on the CORSIA emissions scheme and significant progress in creating a UK sustainable aviation fuels sector.

The latter had been achieved by securing the inclusion of such fuels in the government’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation and working with the government agency Innovate UK to form a group to bring together interested stakeholders. Jopson also noted progress on airspace modernisation following the government’s publication earlier this year of a revised UK Airspace Policy.

“The industry is committed to playing its role,” said Jopson. “However, we can’t achieve sustainable growth without the support and action of government.”

Sustainable Aviation published a report earlier this year on local air quality around airports, which found that aircraft emissions contributed just 1% of UK NOx emissions, compared to 32% from road transport, and 0.1% of PM10 emissions.

“However, we recognise the need to tackle this issue head on and we set out in that report a number of activities to further reduce the air quality impact of aviation,” said Jopson.

Noise, though, had been a priority for SA’s activities in 2016, he said. “We have made good progress against our 2013 Road-Map. However, I think it is fair to say that these benefits have not always been reflected by community perceptions. It is essential that we better understand the concerns of local communities.”

The group has commissioned independent research involving focus groups and one of the first tasks of incoming Chair, Neil Robinson, is to oversee the publication in early 2018 of a discussion paper on ways to further reduce aircraft noise.

Also in 2018, SA is to publish its vision for aviation in 2050 and the following year to update again its CO2 roadmap.

“I am delighted to be taking over as Chair at such an interesting time,” said Robinson, who is Group CSR Director at Manchester Airports Group, in the progress report. “As we prepare to enter the CORSIA scheme from 2020; the UK government develops a new Aviation Strategy, which places safe and sustainable growth at its heart; and we seek to limit global temperature rises to less than 1.5C, it has never been a more important time for Sustainable Aviation and our members.”

Speaking at the launch of the report, Baroness Sugg, the new Aviation Minister, said: “The aviation sector is one of our key industries, essential to our future prosperity and the very symbol of global Britain. But as we continue to push the boundaries of success, sustainability must remain at the heart of everything we do. I am encouraged by the actions of the aviation industry to embrace that commitment.”

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.

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

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.