A Portuguese regional airport that was expanded with large amounts of EU funding has announced plans to turn itself into an aircraft parking facility because demand for the airport has fallen badly short of predictions. The case highlights T&E’s call for greater scrutiny of public money being used to prop up carbon-intensive, underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits.
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is undermining attempts to agree an environmentally effective fuel efficiency standard that would apply to new planes worldwide. The warning, from a group of 17 European environmental NGOs, came after it emerged that the EU is pushing for a significantly less ambitious carbon emissions standard for airplanes than the US.
ICAO’s CAEP (environment) committee meets in Montreal this week to decide on a global CO2 (fuel efficiency) standard for new aircraft. The standard has been 6 years in the making and is intended to require aircraft manufacturers to produce new aircraft after an agreed date in the 2020s with a design fuel efficiency better than that which would have happened without the standard. These design fuel efficiency improvements would generate real “in sector” emissions reductions as opposed to ICAO’s plan to use offsets in its global MBM under development which would see aviation emissions unaffected and the “heavy-lifting” done by other sectors of the global economy.
While the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) continued its essential work to develop a global market-based mechanism to cut the sector’s emissions, by far the biggest highlight of 2015 was the Paris COP21 summit.
The Paris ‘Conference of the Parties’ 21, the most important climate conference since the failed Copenhagen one of six years ago, is nearing an outcome. The dramatic 13 November events in the city has surely added grit to France’s determination to succeed, and has forged some unusual alliances. There is some hope that the spirit of togetherness – not just against terrorism but also to tackle that other global threat which the COP is about – will help in forging a transformative deal.
EU approval of Ireland’s €42.5 million in state aid to small regional airports has been criticised for allowing public money to prop up underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits. Four airports will receive the grants over the next four years – while the Irish government faces calls to address ‘chronic’ underinvestment in low-carbon public transport.
Promised fuel efficiency gains by the aviation industry are far off-track and will meet the UN aviation body ICAO’s goal of improving 2% a year by 2020 some 12 years late. The average fuel burn of new aircraft has improved by just 1.1% a year since 2010, according to a new study by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT).