Several environmental groups today handed over a citizens’ petition to the United Nations’ aviation body, ICAO, urging the agency to scrap its plan for the vast use of biofuels in planes. The petition, signed by 172,000 citizens across the globe and coordinated by the conservation group Rainforest Rescue, states that using biofuels on a large scale will inevitably accelerate palm oil expansion, triggering massive deforestation and a surge on greenhouse gas emissions. The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) will discuss the biofuels plan today at its Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels in Mexico City.
MEPs voted today to limit the exemption from the EU ETS of flights to and from Europe until 2021, pending further information regarding the UN aviation body ICAO’s global offsetting measure known as ‘CORSIA’. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes this vote as essential to safeguarding European climate goals. MEPs also endorsed a number of reforms to aviation’s inclusion in Europe’s emissions trading scheme which will start to cut back on the sector’s special treatment on climate policy.
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.
Since the creation of the European Single Aviation Market, the UK and its airlines have greatly benefited for decades from full access to the European market. This access will cease to exist on 29 March 2019 in the absence of an agreement. Given the current state of Brexit negotiations, the possibility of not reaching a future deal on the aviation relationship would greatly harm the industry, consumers and, particularly, the environment.
Emails between Airbus and the European Commission show that, when drafting climate rules for new aircraft, Airbus was given special privileges in determining essential aspects of the EU’s position at the United Nations’ aviation body (ICAO). The result is a global aircraft standard which will do nothing to cut the sector’s soaring emissions and a regulatory process steeped in secrecy and corporate interests, entirely removed from the normal European democratic process. NGO Transport & Environment obtained the emails via an access to documents request, after Airbus and ICAO opposed the public disclosure of the emails. The correspondence was finally released after an 18-month appeal process.
The rising scepticism about a global measure to partially offset aviation emissions was underscored this month with MEPs demanding a review in 2019 of the UN’s voluntary scheme, known as CORSIA. The European Parliament environment committee’s call for the review highlights Europe’s need to maintain an environmentally meaningful and strengthened regional measure, T&E said. The committee also voted to strengthen the EU emissions trading system’s (ETS) provisions on aviation.
The former EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard has warned that the proposed agreement to stabilise emissions from aircraft will only work if all the details are transparent. Writing on the Climate Home website, she said without transparency there is a risk that airlines will offset their growing greenhouse gas emissions against projects that either don’t do enough to combat climate change or are being ‘double counted’.
Carbon offsets are not working, according to a study by the European Commission. This measure allows polluters to pay others to reduce their emissions, so they can continue to pollute. The research found that 85% of the offset projects used by the EU under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) failed to reduce emissions.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has created an offsetting measure for the aviation sector which aims to compensate for emissions growth above 2020 levels.
A new study into the potential of biofuels to reduce aviation’s environmental impact has said that even advanced biofuels will not decarbonise aviation. The findings from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) come just four months after the EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc said biofuels were the ‘best choice’ to start decarbonising air transport. The findings also support what T&E and four other NGOs told Bulc in January.