Airlines lobby group, IATA, claims that aviation produces only 2% of global man-made CO2 emissions. While this is true, they are telling barely half the story. According to Professor Dr Volker Grewe, researcher at DLR and chair for climate effects of aviation at Technical University Delft, air transport’s contribution to climate change is roughly 5%. This is because in addition to emitting CO2, aircraft flying at altitude impact the atmosphere in various ways which have a large, albeit transient, additional warming effect.
NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that such a move is both against EU law, and threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions.
A UN scheme being set up to tackle the climate impact of flying will credit airlines that use fossil fuels that have been declared to be ‘green’. The extraordinary concession was pushed through by Saudi Arabia, with the backing of the United States, and means that, for example, airlines burning kerosene could be rewarded with reduced obligations to buy carbon offsets simply because the refinery producing the oil was running on renewable electricity.
The environmental impact of a global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation is coming under renewed scrutiny after 12 European states told the UN aviation agency they will consider pulling out if safeguards are weakened any further. Countries meeting at ICAO later this month are set to finalise the rules governing the use of offsets and alternative fuels allowed under the scheme, known as CORSIA, which is supposed to cap net aircraft emissions at 2020 levels.
Decisions that affect EU environmental legislation need to be far more transparent and open to public discussion. This is the argument at the heart of two legal actions initiated this month concerning a new global CO2 emissions standard for aircraft.
There are growing calls for a green tax shift to the transport sector, which would help fill a gap in the EU’s budget after the UK leaves. A T&E analysis has found new measures such as a carbon tax on motor fuels, aviation kerosene duty, and ending the VAT exemption for flights within and from Europe would raise more than €50 billion annually. And last week, as EU leaders discussed the looming gap, 17 eminent economists rowed in behind the idea, calling it a ‘once in a decade opportunity’ to create a fossil-fuel contribution to the EU budget.
T&E convened a workshop to discuss emissions reduction pathways and measures for aviation in light of the Paris requirement for all sectors to cut emissions and to decarbonise by the second half of this century.
The UK cannot enjoy its current access to the EU air transport market after it leaves the EU unless it also commits to respecting EU aviation rules, a new report by T&E says. The report examines how to safeguard efforts to reduce the environmental impact of aviation after ‘Brexit’, and concludes that everyone stands to benefit if the British government adheres to EU rules on emissions trading and state aid.
The Dutch government’s refusal to publish documents about a controversial CO2 standard for aircraft, among other issues, is being challenged in court by T&E member Natuur & Milieu. It’s alleged that, by continuing to withhold decisions and research about the CO2 standard, emission trends, biofuels and offset rules – all of which were drafted or developed behind closed doors at UN aviation agency ICAO – the Netherlands is in breach of EU law.