No one likes being misled by airlines, not on price, or where their luggage ends up. But fliers face a new risk: being misled on how sustainable their flights are. In a few years, fliers could be told that some of their ticket price is being used to prevent deforestation when in reality those forests had been cut down years ago. That’s because in 2016 countries meeting at the UN’s aviation agency (ICAO) agreed to establish a scheme to offset aviation emissions above 2020 levels, but left it uncertain as to whether they would deliver on this promise. The scheme, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), means airlines won’t have to cut their CO2 emissions but instead pay other actors (the “offsetting” bit) to reduce theirs.
Almost every Christmas gift you gave or received two months ago was transported vast distances across the ocean, spending weeks inside a shipping container. What powers these epic journeys across the globe? Unfortunately, it’s not reindeers. It’s the black, sludgy dregs of the refining process known as heavy fuel oil. Each tonne, when burned, releases several thousand times the amount of sulphur and tiny lung-damaging particles that petrol or diesel cars do, while also contributing to dangerous climate change.
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.
Transport has taken over from power generation as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US – and the situation is likely to get worse as the Trump administration plans to weaken emissions standards. T&E says the policy will only damage US carmakers. Transport has been the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe since 2016.
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.
EU governments must step back from irreparably weakening Europe’s biggest climate law, six of Europe’s leading environmental NGOs have said, after talks between member states and the European Parliament ended in deadlock this week. The proposed Effort Sharing Regulation sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period, but governments are insistent on loopholes that would actually result in hundreds of millions of tonnes in additional CO2 emissions.
Some 35 world leaders have called for shipping emissions to be part of every country’s emissions reductions commitments under the Paris climate agreement. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomed the leaders’ recognition of the need for economy-wide action, as mandated by the 2015 accord, with shipping being a key sector – responsible for around 3% of global CO2 emissions.
The French president has reiterated his call for a European carbon tax on the EU’s borders to guarantee fair competition for companies taking action to reduce their climate impact. The idea – which featured in T&E’s report, Can trade and investment policy support ambitious climate action?, last month – has been gathering momentum and was previously endorsed by IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman.
Europe’s only government that does not tax diesel fuel more favourably than petrol has gone a step further by increasing tax on diesel engine cars while leaving it unaltered for petrol cars. In his annual budget speech, the British chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister) said new diesels that failed to pass the strictest emissions tests would pay more tax each year. T&E said the announcement was more important for its symbolism than its financial impact.
The days of time-based charges for heavy-goods vehicles may be numbered after it emerged that two more EU member countries are close to introducing distance-based charging schemes for heavy goods vehicles. The Netherlands and Bulgaria plan to introduce distance-based charging, and the timing could be important for the future of truck charging in Europe.