Wednesday 4 March 2015

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The latest contributions on Aviation policy in Europe.


Where are the bunkers on the road to Paris?

Posted by on 09/02/15

This blogpost by Bill Hemmings and Andrew Murphy of T&E and Mark Lutes of Climate Action Network International was first published in Eco

In the final years of negotiations for the new climate agreement, it’s still not clear if it will include the fastest growing emissions sources — international aviation and shipping, also known as bunker fuels.

CO2 emissions from international shipping and aviation were about 950 megatonnes (MT) and 705MT respectively in 2012; combined they account for as much emissions as Germany, the sixth largest emitting country. When indirect effects are taken into account, the impact could already be approaching 10% of global climate forcing. In the almost two decades since the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) started discussing greenhouse gases, little concrete action has materialised and, scarily, these emissions are on course to double or even treble by 2030. If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions. Such high emissions from the international transport sector would make it all but impossible to limit aggregate global warming to less than 2ºC as it would place an impossible emission reduction burden on other sectors.

IMO and ICAO discussions have seen limited progress.

Carbon neutral growth from 2020 is the most ambitious goal that the aviation sector has proposed, allowing emissions to grow to 2020 and then offsetting growth beyond that. This is far short of what is required for a 2ºC pathway, and there is little assurance that even these goals would be implemented.

International shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050. The IMO suspended consideration of market-based measures in 2011, and the question of setting a global cap on shipping emissions is not on the IMO agenda. Efficiency regulations agreed for new ships will likely not have a significant impact for several decades, and the shipping industry is now fighting any new measures.

At COP 21, the UNFCCC should mandate the setting of robust and meaningful reduction targets, as well as the adoption of mitigation measures that will ensure these sectors begin to play a fair and equal role in addressing dangerous climate change. Eco welcomes the introduction of text in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) yesterday which demands the setting of targets for emissions from these sectors consistent with staying below 2ºC.

All aboard? Paris climate deal must address aviation and shipping

Posted by on 22/01/15

By Andrew Murphy, Transport & Environment’s aviation policy officer

The latest round of climate talks concluded in Lima last month with a sense that some of the basics have been agreed to set the foundations of a global agreement in Paris next year.

While the final outcome fell short of expectations, all parties seem to have accepted in principal the need to curb their emissions to keep an increase in global temperature below 2C.

However, the two international sectors, aviation and shipping – the emissions of which have not been allocated to parties – seem to be the exception. Together, international aviation and shipping emissions account for 5.3 per cent of global CO2 emissions – equivalent to being the sixth largest nation state CO2 emitter. A failure at Paris to recognise the need for these sectors to contribute to keeping within the 2 degree target would be remarkable.

Parties to the Kyoto Protocol were unable to reach agreement on how to address emissions from these sectors, and instead delegated responsibility to the UN agencies responsible – the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for shipping and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for aviation. Progress by both bodies since then has been painfully slow. ICAO is working to a 2016 target date to agree a global market-based measure (MBM) based on carbon neutral growth to take effect in 2020. The IMO has agreed a design efficiency standard for new ships but has no overall reduction target and is not even discussing one. In this regard, two developments at Lima may be significant.

The first is that countries re-iterated that by, March 2015, they all should ideally submit an INDC (Intended Nationally Defined Contribution) – which would include information on how each country will limit its greenhouse gas emissions. All 190 countries that are part of the UNFCCC process are encouraged to outline what action they will take. We can then compare these commitments – developed and developing – with what the ICAO and IMO has pledged to do.

The second is that the annex of the negotiation text for a new climate deal includes a reference to net zero emissions of carbon by 2050. This proposal was supported by many countries. It is uncertain if this reference will survive negotiations over the final text to be agreed in Paris, but it sends a clear signal to businesses and governments about the path we are on.

So far aviation and shipping commitments fall well short of complete decarbonisation by 2050: international shipping is expected to increase its emissions by up to 250 per cent by 2050, according to its own report released earlier this year. Discussions at the IMO on any MBM have been frozen for three years and the organisation and industry seem to think they have a licence to grow their emissions.

International aviation is growing three to four per cent per annum and could see its emissions increase 400 per cent between 2006 and 2050. The global MBM that ICAO is discussing will at best offset emissions above a 2020 baseline but whether such offsets represent real emissions reductions is a fundamental question hanging over the whole process. A major gap seems to be developing between the ambition of the UNFCCC and its 190 members on the one hand, and the IMO and ICAO on the other hand.

Though international aviation and shipping managed to escape serious attention in Peru, a number of states called for their inclusion by requiring the Paris agreement to cover all global GHG emissions. Member states in both ICAO and IMO should recognise that momentum is shifting behind a meaningful agreement in Paris and they should act to ensure the ambition of the aviation and shipping sectors matches that of the rest of the world.

Boeing and Embraer deepen sustainable biofuel collaboration

Posted by on 20/01/15

Boeing and Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer announced the opening of a joint centre for sustainable biofuel research in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Through this centre, the companies will coordinate and jointly fund research at Brazilian universities and other institutions, with a special focus on how to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil.

The collaboration will be led by Boeing Research & Technology-Brazil (BR&T-Brazil), one of Boeing’s six international advanced research centers. Boeing also has active biofuel-development projects in the United States, Middle East, Africa, Europe, East and Southeast Asia, and Australia. Globally, more than 1,600 passenger flights using sustainable aviation biofuel have been conducted since it was first approved for use in 2011.

“Boeing and Embraer, two of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, are partnering in an unprecedented way to make more progress on sustainable aviation biofuel than one company can do alone,” says Donna Hrinak, president of Boeing Brazil and Boeing Latin America.

When produced sustainably, aviation biofuels can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel. On the EU policy side, Boeing urges the new Commission and European Parliament to focus on policy measures that can support aviation biofuels development and commercialisation.


Boeing moves forward with tests of tobacco biofuels

Posted by on 29/12/14

Boeing and its partner South African Airways recently announced that farmers in South Africa will soon make their first harvest of energy-rich tobacco plants that will be used in research and development of next-generation sustainable aviation biofuel. The nicotine-free tobacco plant’s seeds generate an oil that could be turned into bio-jet fuel as soon as 2015; future research could result in biofuel applications for the plant’s stems and leaves as well.

Sustainable aviation biofuel made from these plants can reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 50 to 75 per cent, ensuring it meets the sustainability threshold set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).The initiative continues Boeing’s efforts to support the production of sustainable aviation biofuels suited to local ecosystems around the world — working with partners in the United States, Europe, China, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Australia, and other countries.

When produced sustainably, aviation biofuels can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel. On the EU policy side, Boeing continues to advocate for policy measures that can support aviation biofuels development and commercialisation.

Aviators’ boss ‘confused’ about airline efficiency: the impact of the oil price slide

Posted by on 19/12/14

The rapid slide in oil prices, down 41% since June, has left the aviation industry struggling to defend its continuing high fuel surcharges and reports of record profits, writes Andrew Murphy. Here is IATA’s director general, Tony Tyler, updating his stance on oil prices in light of recent developments:

Reuters reported in November 2014: “Lower jet fuel prices, which make up around one-third of the cost base of airlines, would take time to filter through due to hedging strategies, IATA said. ‘And it could even be an indicator of difficulties ahead if the fall is driven by declining demand for oil rather than rising supply capacity,’ Tyler said.”

While in March 2012 he was singing a different tune: “The risk of a worsening Eurozone crisis has been replaced by an equally toxic risk – rising oil prices. Already the damage is being felt with a downgrade in industry profits to $3.0 billion,” Tyler said.

However, for those of us concerned about the climate impact of aviation, there is no confusion – lower oil prices could fatally undermine the drive towards more efficient flying. Two recent reports show that, even when prices were above $100 dollars a barrel, the aviation industry was not able to acheive its own goal of 1.5% fleet efficiency improvement per annum. A report from the German-based Atmosfair found that the efficiency of the world’s largest airlines was around 1% over the past year while a report from the ICCT found that domestic US aviation saw zero net improvement in its efficiency in 2013.

With oil today falling to $66 a barrel, there is a real risk that airline operators will hold off investing on more efficient aircraft and aircraft manufactures will resist investing in a new generation of even more efficient aircraft. Purchasing aircraft, or the R&D for developing more efficient ones, is not cheap and the industry needs certainty that such investments will pay off – wild flucations in oil prices are a barrier to this. We now risk moving further way from the IATA goal of 1.5% efficiency improvement per annum and ICAO’s even more ambitious goal of 2% per annum. While the drop in the price of oil may not last forever, any delay in improving efficiency will further fuel the increase in aviation emissions, which are already predicted to increase by between 60% and 80% by 2026 due to passenger growth of 4% per annum.

ICAO is working to develop a market-based mechanism. However, even if it is approved at its next Assembly in 2016, it will be 2020 before it comes into force. As the climate cannot wait six more years, we need the new European Commission to use 2015 to set out a credible path to reducing aviation emission and adopting measures that will encourage greater efficiency. This should include a revision of the EU ETS for the 25% of Europe’s aviation emissions that are still covered by this scheme since “stop the clock” so that it sends a real price signal to industry. It should also include an amendment of the Energy Taxation Directive so that aviation, like every other transport sector, is subject to fuel duty.

What aviation means for growth

Posted by on 15/12/14

With Boeing’s support, the Euractiv Institute recently held a forum at the European Parliament on why aviation matters in order to draw the attention of EU policy-makers to aviation’s contribution to economic growth and the need for the appropriate policy framework in support of the aviation sector. The event attracted a broad range of stakeholders, including airline personnel, industry associations, aerospace manufacturers, and NGOs.

The forum was hosted by Marian-Jean Marinescu, MEP of Romania, who introduced the conversation by emphasising the contribution the aviation sector makes to job growth and economic mobility. Referring to the Single European Sky II Plus programme — which is currently in the co-decision process between the Parliament and EU member states — he expressed hope it can be completed in the next six months.

Emmanuelle Maire, the head of unit for internal aviation market and airports at the Commission’s Transport Directorate, also discussed aviation’s role in growth, which she called a catalyst for value production, generating 2.7 million direct and indirect jobs. Maire cautioned that aviation is not growing as fast in Europe as it is in other regions and called for the Commission to project an integrated vision for strong hubs, regional airports and airlines in the EU. However, Guillaume Xavier-Bender of the German Marshall Fund warned that the traditional US/EU business model for airlines, airports, and aerospace firms is under pressure from emerging models from the Persian Guld states and Southeast Asia.

Other speakers explored the technological aspects of aviation’s contribution to growth. Aviation is rapidly developing new sustainable biofuel capabilities to reduce the sector’s environmental impact. Jens Nilsson, MEP for Sweden, pointed out that political targets and R&D investment are crucial for new fuels. Boeing’s President for EU & NATO Relations, Brian Moran, discussed how research and new products such as the B787 Dreamliner are addressing challenges associated with emissions and aircraft noise.

Moran called for “smart regulations” and investments to help aviation fulfil its promise of growth. As far as policies are concerned, Hhe urged EU policymakers to continue working through ICAO to develop a global system to address aviation emissions, recognizing that no one country or region can address a worldwide challenge on its own. Moran also stressed that chemical regulations should take into account aviation’s unique ecosystem and high safety standards, that increased policy support is needed to advance aviation biofuel development and commercialisation, and that capacity constraints both on the ground and in the air need to be addressed.

Boeing 787 ecoDemonstrator begins new round of sustainability tests

Posted by on 24/11/14

Boeing has launched a new round of tests with its specially outfitted B-787 ecoDemonstrator, employing it to test more than two dozen technologies to improve the aircraft’s environmental performance. The tests will evaluate software to improve the plane’s operational efficiencies, remote sensors that cut down on wiring, improvements in flight controls and special anti-icing wing coatings.

Other tests include automated, satellite-based continuous-descent spacing to make landings more efficient, new greenhouse gas sensors, real-time turbulence reports, cutting edge instrument landing systems and wing access doors made from recycled carbon fiber.

“The ecoDemonstrator is focused on technologies that can improve airlines’ gate-to-gate efficiency and reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise,” says Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “Through the ecoDemonstrator Program, Boeing continues to invest in innovation that benefits the environment and our customers.” The 787 joins a B-737 ecoDemonstrator that included wing and fan nozzle improvements.

The ecoDemonstrator program is part of Boeing’s commitment  to improving sustainability in flight and its goals are aligned with the EU focus on sustainable transport. The 787 Dreamliner itself represents a 20 percent improvement in efficiency compared with similarly sized aircraft.

A preview of the Juncker Commission on aviation

Posted by on 04/11/14

The new European Commission, led by President Jean-Claude Juncker, took office on 1 November. Juncker has reorganized the Commission for more cross-functional work, with — in addition to the commissioners — sevenVice-Presidents with broader portfolios such as energy or jobs and growth, including the first Vice-President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Juncker has charged Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc of Slovenia with working under the Vice-President for energy union to achieve the EU’s goals of greenhouse gas reductions in the transport sector, in which the worldwide aviation sector will play a significant role. Bulc is also called on to deliver the EU’s goals for SESAR, the technical implementation institution behind the Single European Sky initiative.

Bulc has noted the role of sustainable biofuels in achieving Juncker’s emissions reductions goal. “Alternative fuels are now firmly at the heart of EU transport policy,” she told the Parliament during her introductory hearing in October. “The challenge now is to get things up and running on the ground. That means making sure enough appropriate infrastructure gets built so that we create the conditions for these fuels to power transport into the future.”

Bulc said she hopes for transport to achieve the recognition it deserves as an important part of Europe’s economy. Transport “tends to be seen as a problem, rather than a solution and as a creator for growth,” Bulc said. “I will do my best to change that kind of attitude, by working with you, the European Parliament, to give transport the importance that it deserves.”

Boeing congratulates Commissioner Bulc on her appointment and welcomes her support for our sector in general, and alternative fuels in particular. As for aviation, when produced sustainably, aviation biofuels can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel. EU policy measures remain key to advance aviation biofuels development and commercialisation.

Boeing partners with Chinese firm on sustainable biofuel from waste cooking oil

Posted by on 23/10/14

Boeing recently announced a partnership with Chinese aerospace company COMAC to test turning waste cooking oil — also known as “gutter oil” in China — into sustainable aviation biofuel. Boeing and COMAC estimate that used cooking oil in China can result in 1.8 billion litres of biofuel, none of which comes from feedstocks and cropland that competes with food production. The joint facility in Hangzhou will produce 650 litres of biofuel daily with a goal of assessing the feasibility and cost of producing higher volumes.

The initiative continues Boeing’s efforts to support the production of sustainable aviation biofuels suited to local ecosystems around the world — working with partners in the United States, Europe, China, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Australia, and other countries. When produced sustainably, aviation biofuels can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel. On the EU policy side, Boeing continues to advocate for policy measures that can support aviation biofuels development and commercialization.

“Strong and continuing teamwork between Boeing and COMAC is helping our industry make progress on environmental challenges that no single company or country can solve alone,” says Boeing China president Ian Thomas. “By working together for mutual benefit, we’re finding innovative ways to support China’s aviation industry and build a sustainable future.”


Boeing forecasts air cargo rebound for Europe, world

Posted by on 13/10/14
Boeing has released its World Air Cargo Forecast showing that air cargo has rebounded in 2014 and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.7 per cent over the next 20 years — more than doubling. “We see strong signs of a recovery as air freight traffic levels continue to strengthen after several years of stagnation,” says Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President for Marketing Randy Tinseth. “The air cargo market is now growing at nearly the long-term rates.”
Intra-Europe air cargo is expected to increase 2 per cent per year, while Europe-to-North America grows at 3.1 per cent. Asia represents a major growth opportunity for European air cargo, with Europe-to-East Asia forecast to expand at 5.1 per cent per year, Europe-to-South Asia forecast at 4.7 per cent, and Europe-to-Middle East at 4 percent.

Other promising growth areas for European air cargo include the Latin America-to-Europe corridors — already a fast-growing zone — with growth forecast at 4.8 per cent, as well as Europe-to-Africa, with expected growth of 4.3 per cent.

This growth in air cargo, along with projected growth in passenger travel, will require effective policy implementation of the European Union’s goals for the Single European Sky and SESAR — which will improve environmental efficiency while boosting throughput — as well as increased sustainability in fuels and technology. Boeing is strongly committed to sustainable growth of aviation through its investments in second-generation aviation biofuels and advanced aerospace technology.

Aviation industry makes commitment on climate action

Posted by on 28/09/14

In support of the United Nations Climate Summit and in keeping with its longstanding goals of sustainable growth, the aviation industry joined other business and government groups in making a commitment on climate action. The commitment is between the UN agency ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the Air Transport Action Group, which represents the aviation sector.

Through this commitment, aviation is pledging to “a pathway of sustainable growth encompassing all areas of the commercial industry and governments working in partnership.” It is building on a record of action, as an industry and with ICAO — for example, the historic agreement at the 2013 ICAO Assembly on creating a global, market-based mechanism to limit carbon emissions.

The partnership will also focus on developing sustainable aviation biofuels, deploying new and energy-efficient technology, modernising air traffic control to minimize climate impacts, developing a common carbon emissions standard for new aircraft, and building aviation sustainability capacity in ICAO member states around the world.

The commitment includes Airports Council International, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, the International Air Transport Association, the International Coordinating Council for Aerospace Industries Associations, and the International Business Aviation Council — representing all the stakeholders in the aviation industry, including airports, airlines, air traffic control, and aerospace firms.

“Today’s announcement builds on the collaborative action taking place across the commercial aviation sector. It is impressive to see all parts of the industry working with each other, and with partners in research, government and other sectors to deliver the climate actions we have committed to as an industry,” says ATAG Executive Director Michael GIll. “Aviation is a force for good in the world, supporting economies, fostering tourism and allowing global cultural exchange. We believe that we can continue to deliver these benefits to the world whilst also addressing our climate impacts.”

Boeing and Embraer Partner for Sustainable Biofuels in Brazil

Posted by on 15/05/14

Boeing and Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer recently announced that they will form a join research centre to help develop Brazil’s sustainable aviation biofuel industry. The centre, to be based in Sao Jose dos Campos, will perform research, as well as funding and coordinating research with Brazilian universities. The research is expected to focus on technologies that fill gaps in Brazil’s sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain, such as feedstock production and processing technologies.

“Boeing is working aggressively around the world to expand the supply of sustainable aviation biofuel and reduce aviation’s carbon emissions,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “With our joint biofuel research center, Boeing and Embraer are making a strong commitment toward a successful, sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil.”

Boeing is leading the industry in developing sustainable biofuels that minimise both CO2 emissions and indirect land-use changes (ILUC). The company’s partnerships in other parts of the world — such as in the United Arab Emirates — have shown significant promise and results. When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel emits 50 to 80 percent lower carbon emissions through its lifecycle than petroleum jet fuel.

Boeing continues to partner for technological progress and advocate for policy measures that can support aviation biofuels development and commercialization, also through its leadership in the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), which has called for policymakers to consider mechanisms to lower the contribution of high ILUC risk biofuels and create incentives for sustainable fuels that have been certified as low risk of ILUC. SAFUG members made a public pledge to promote robust standards for sustainable aviation fuels.

ATAG Hosts Aviation Summit

Posted by on 07/05/14

The Air Transport Action Group has just finished hosting its 2014 Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva. The conference focused on global politics, the UN’s sustainable development goals, building sustainable aviation infrastructure, and meeting capacity demands. With a nod to the centennial of airline travel marked this year, the conference also looked forward to the next century of commercial air travel.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ managing director for environmental strategy and integration, Julie Felgar, moderated a panel discussion on preparing for growth and provided the aerospace perspective. Other panelists included leading figures representing airlines, airports, and air traffic management providers.

Given aviation’s projected growth rates, the group discussed how the industry can meets its future capacity demands — in the air and on the ground — in a sustainable manner. Boeing’s corporate-wide efforts to promote sustainability continue to build its industry-leading position and provide a commercial advantage.

The conference also addressed the historic greenhouse gas emissions agreement inked at the ICAO assembly last year, government-industry partnerships, and aviation’s economic benefits.

Boeing values opportunities like these to share what the aviation industry is doing to continuously improve its environmental performance. Besides significantly reducing our own CO2 emissions, energy use, hazardous-waste generation and water consumption within our operations, Boeing is continuing its leadership role on global efforts to help the commercial aviation industry achieve the goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020. To that end, Boeing is researching and developing new technologies that help define the next generation of cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient airplanes, such as the 787 Dreamliner or the 737 MAX.


Parliament ratifies ‘stop the clock’ deal

Posted by on 13/04/14

On 3 April, the European Parliament in plenary session adopted by a 458-120 vote a negotiated agreement with the EU Greek Presidency and the Commission on the aviation ETS. The measure now goes to the Council of Ministers for its final endorsement. The agreement came after the Environment Committee had rejected the arrangement.

The key element of the agreement is the extension of the “Stop the Clock” derogation until 2016 (i.e. a suspension of the law for intercontinental flights). The agreement follows the original Commission’s proposal to apply the ETS with an airspace approach from 2014 until a global Market Based Measure is implemented in 2020.

Peter Liese, the lead MEP supporting the negotiated agreement — and rapporteur in the Environment Committee – called the deal “the best option under the circumstances,” although he defended the ETS. “We have a very clear message for the world. Either we get a global agreement in 2016 or we will have the full scope of the EU’s ETS back in 2017.”

The agreement would stop the clock only until 2016, that is when the ICAO Assembly is next scheduled to meet, so that if progress is not made the full ETS can be implemented. The deal also calls for member states to report how they spend revenues collected from auctions under the ETS.

Boeing continues to strongly support a global agreement at ICAO level to address aviation emissions.The European Parliament’s pragmatic decision enhances the ICAO process and creates positive momentum towards a global solution.

MEPs Reject Agreement with Council Presidency on ‘Stop the Clock’

Posted by on 28/03/14

On 19 March, MEPs in the Environment Committee rejected a negotiated agreement with the EU Greek Presidency and the Commission on the aviation ETS. The key element of the agreement was the extension of the “Stop the Clock” derogation  until 2016 (i.e. a suspension of the law for intercontinental flights. The agreement follows the original Commission’s proposal to apply the ETS with an airspace approach from 2014 until a global Market Based Measure is implemented in 2020.

The dossier now goes to the full Parliament, which is expected to vote on 3 April. Peter Liese, the lead MEP supporting the negotiated agreement — and rapporteur in the Environment Committee – remained “optimistic that the plenary will support the compromise”.

The agreement would stop the clock only until 2016, that is when the ICAO Assembly is next scheduled to meet, so that if progress is not made the full ETS can be implemented. The deal also calls for member states to report how they spend revenues collected from auctions under the ETS.

Boeing looks forward to a final outcome in the EU process that supports a global approach at ICAO level.