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Why we need to fly less: aviation, carbon offsets and climate change

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Aviation emissions are rising, flight ticket prices don't reflect the climate impacts of flying, the ICAO carbon offsets scheme is insufficient to meet the 2 degree temperature goal set by the Paris Agreement at COP21. The Aviation industry needs to consider demand management to reduce emissions in accordance with the Paris Accord targets..

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Why we need to fly less: aviation, carbon offsets and climate change

  1. 1. First step needed: includeFirst step needed: include the climate impact coststhe climate impact costs of flying in aviation ticketof flying in aviation ticket pricingpricing Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Why We need to Fly LessWhy We need to Fly Less
  2. 2. ● Aviation contributes 2% of global CO2 emissions and is rising. ● Causes about 5% of human global warming climate impact. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets
  3. 3. ● Growth in aviation emissions at 3-6% per year. (Larkin) ● 5.2% passenger growth in year to June 2016 (Choice) John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets
  4. 4. ● Climate impact of aviation is estimated at least 2-3 times actual aviation CO2 emissions (and perhaps up to 6x) due to emissions of soot and particulates, other Greenhouse gases, ozone formation, effects on the atmosphere, contrails and cirrus cloud formation. See Anja Kollmuss and Crimmins (2009) http://sei-us.org/publications/id/13 John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets
  5. 5. ● Aviation is projected toAviation is projected to consume approximatelyconsume approximately a quarter of the world’sa quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budgetremaining carbon budget by 2050 for 1.5°C.by 2050 for 1.5°C. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets
  6. 6. To meet the 2 degrees Celsius ParisTo meet the 2 degrees Celsius Paris Agreement target “assuming anAgreement target “assuming an optimistic 2% annual fuel efficiencyoptimistic 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement…. passenger-kmimprovement…. passenger-km growth rates would need to be cutgrowth rates would need to be cut to zero from 2020, with a 4% p.a.to zero from 2020, with a 4% p.a. reduction from 2025.”reduction from 2025.” - Professor Bows-Larkin (2015)- Professor Bows-Larkin (2015) John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets
  7. 7. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets
  8. 8. ● Airlines are achieving only minor efficiency gains which are dwarfed by growth inAirlines are achieving only minor efficiency gains which are dwarfed by growth in capacity. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has hadcapacity. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has had responsibility for emissions reduction under Kyoto but has dismally failed to stopresponsibility for emissions reduction under Kyoto but has dismally failed to stop the growth in global aviation emissions to date...the growth in global aviation emissions to date... ● ““The absence of meaningful policies that go beyond pursuing efficiency gainsThe absence of meaningful policies that go beyond pursuing efficiency gains through technology has influenced recent aviation emissions growth rates.through technology has influenced recent aviation emissions growth rates. Incremental technology change and minor adjustments to operations, coupledIncremental technology change and minor adjustments to operations, coupled with a buoyant market, uphold the aviation sector’s COwith a buoyant market, uphold the aviation sector’s CO22 growth at between 3%growth at between 3% and 6% per annum (p.a.).” Bows-Larkin (2015)and 6% per annum (p.a.).” Bows-Larkin (2015) False hopes and myths abound for reducing these emissions.False hopes and myths abound for reducing these emissions. See Peeters etal (See Peeters etal (2016)2016): Are technology myths stalling aviation climate policy?: Are technology myths stalling aviation climate policy? The Conversation: Aviation emissions are rising – and industry solutions are justThe Conversation: Aviation emissions are rising – and industry solutions are just technological myths.technological myths. https://theconversation.com/aviation-emissions-are-rising-and-industry-solutions-are-just-technological-myths-56032https://theconversation.com/aviation-emissions-are-rising-and-industry-solutions-are-just-technological-myths-56032 ● John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets Aviation Industry promises efficiency improvements toAviation Industry promises efficiency improvements to technology and Infrastructure to reduce emissions.technology and Infrastructure to reduce emissions.
  9. 9. Aviation used 48 billion gallons (174 bn litres) jet fuel in 2008.Aviation used 48 billion gallons (174 bn litres) jet fuel in 2008. To supply biofuels, some 274.8 million acres of cropland would be needed toTo supply biofuels, some 274.8 million acres of cropland would be needed to supply global aviation industry at current levels of consumption. (1.11 million sqsupply global aviation industry at current levels of consumption. (1.11 million sq kms, 424,700 sq miles).kms, 424,700 sq miles). About 2.5% of crop and pasture land would have to be devoted to satisfy aviationAbout 2.5% of crop and pasture land would have to be devoted to satisfy aviation biofuel demand. This has equity, food security and biodiversity implications.biofuel demand. This has equity, food security and biodiversity implications. Using 100% Biofuels mitigates just a third of aviation climate impact.Using 100% Biofuels mitigates just a third of aviation climate impact. Up to end of 2016 there were two airports supplying biofuels to about 5500+ flights.Up to end of 2016 there were two airports supplying biofuels to about 5500+ flights. See Treehugger: So How Much Agricultural Land Will We Need To Keep GlobalSee Treehugger: So How Much Agricultural Land Will We Need To Keep Global Aviation Aloft With Biofuels?Aviation Aloft With Biofuels? http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/so-how-much-agricultural-land-will-we-need-to-keep-global-aviation-aloft-http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/so-how-much-agricultural-land-will-we-need-to-keep-global-aviation-aloft- with-biofuels.htmlwith-biofuels.html ● John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets The promise of biofuels to reduce aviation emissions?The promise of biofuels to reduce aviation emissions?
  10. 10. A single trip flight from London to Sydney generates theA single trip flight from London to Sydney generates the equivalent of about 125 suitcases of COequivalent of about 125 suitcases of CO22 (2.5 tonnes) , argues(2.5 tonnes) , argues Engineering Professor Hugh Grant (Cambridge University), in anEngineering Professor Hugh Grant (Cambridge University), in an October 2016 youtube video.October 2016 youtube video. ““How are you going to get the message across that flying is oneHow are you going to get the message across that flying is one of the worst things you can be doing?”of the worst things you can be doing?” “The thing that I feel about flying is that I’ve been hoodwinked,“The thing that I feel about flying is that I’ve been hoodwinked, I’ve been duped into thinking that flying - ‘is perfectly safe, it’sI’ve been duped into thinking that flying - ‘is perfectly safe, it’s clean, it’s the best way….see the world, but there is no penalty,clean, it’s the best way….see the world, but there is no penalty, everyone should do it’”everyone should do it’” “I think 30, 40 years ago when the Jumbo jet transformed the“I think 30, 40 years ago when the Jumbo jet transformed the way we fly, we ought to have been told: ‘By the way, by the timeway we fly, we ought to have been told: ‘By the way, by the time you get to our destination you will have 125 suitcases of COyou get to our destination you will have 125 suitcases of CO22 toto get rid of.’”get rid of.’” Youtube: How to calculate your carbon footprint fromYoutube: How to calculate your carbon footprint from flyingflying https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrCX_mawAmkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrCX_mawAmk ● Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Hoodwinked: suitcases full of CO2 wasteHoodwinked: suitcases full of CO2 waste
  11. 11. So why not just put a tax on aviation jet fuel as a climateSo why not just put a tax on aviation jet fuel as a climate impact tax?impact tax? Fuel for international aviation is tax free as set by theFuel for international aviation is tax free as set by the Chicago Convention on International Aviation in 1944 andChicago Convention on International Aviation in 1944 and bilateral agreements.bilateral agreements. Flying is kept artificially cheap, while trains and carsFlying is kept artificially cheap, while trains and cars become lower emission but more expensive.become lower emission but more expensive. So any climate impact tax would need to be collected as aSo any climate impact tax would need to be collected as a ticket or departure tax, making it a hard sell forticket or departure tax, making it a hard sell for politicians.politicians. See The Conversation (2015):See The Conversation (2015): It’s time for a global tax onIt’s time for a global tax on aviation emissionsaviation emissions https://theconversation.com/its-time-for-a-global-tax-on-https://theconversation.com/its-time-for-a-global-tax-on- aviation-emissions-36020aviation-emissions-36020 Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Taxing aviation fuel? You wish….Taxing aviation fuel? You wish….
  12. 12. ICAO is taking climate action with CORSIA offsets….ICAO is taking climate action with CORSIA offsets…. ● The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreed in October 2016 to introduce in 2020 the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) program, a market based mechanism for carbon offsetting (First phase 2020-2027 is voluntary participation). ● New CO2 efficiency standard for aircraft adopted….but compliance starts 2028 ● CORSIA program from 2020 covers estimated three quarters of international aviation’s expected emissions growth between 2021 and 2035. Anticipated coverage 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions. BUTBUT ● This falls short of ICAO’s own target of carbon neutral growth from 2020, and well short of what the Paris Agreement requires – one study indicates that it deviates 55% from the 2°C objective ● Integrity of CORSIA program depends upon high quality carbon offset credits being used. (Not guaranteed, rules still to be written) ● Under CORSIA, base aviation emissions activity not offset, just the increase from 2020. Australia was one of 60 countries that initially signed up Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Sources: International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation - 6 Oct 2016 COP22: aviation emissions under Paris – Nov 2016
  13. 13. Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation’s emissions gap
  14. 14. Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland ICAO offsets program from 2020 Base emissions set at 2020 levels. Some growth excluded from the program. Airlines will offset only the increase above 2020 levels, which will flow into ticket prices. Consumers still expected to voluntarily do own carbon offsets for the rest.
  15. 15. ICAO carbon offsets program CORSIA is not a solution to aviation emissions, just some small steps to continue the charade of business as usual for the industry. A way to hoodwink the public that action is happening in aviation. It diverts emissions reduction work primarily to other sectors through offsets with no guarantee of effectiveness (rules still to be written on offsets) Majority of aviation emissions are not offset under CORSIA, just the excess over 2020 levels. Flight tickets will continue to not reflect true cost and climate impact of flying, providing a significant advantage over lower emissions ground transport. ICAO refuse to consider demand management, yet to have emissions reduction in line with the Paris Agreement 2°C temperature target requires zero growth in passenger-kms from 2020, and 4% p.a. reduction from 2025, according to Professor Alice Larkin. Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland ICAO carbon offsets won’t solve the problemICAO carbon offsets won’t solve the problem
  16. 16. “the more simply structured aviation sector is pinning too much hope on emissions trading to deliver CO2 cuts in line with 2°C. Instead, the solution remains controversial and unpopular – avoiding 2°C requires demand management.” “A personal carbon quota scheme for CO2 that includes international flights is one mechanism that could lead to such a radical change in levels of per capita flying” - Professor Alice Bows-Larkin (2015) “Demand management. This is very unpopular with industry, very unpopular with those of us who fly regularly, but we are going to have to seriously manage demand in aviation whilst we wait for technologies to try and substitute for this very high carbon form of activity. At the moment those technologies are a long, long way off, and in the interim we just have to curtail the amount of flying that we do.” - Professor Kevin Anderson (Youtube Dec 2014) Bows-Larkin (2015):Bows-Larkin (2015): All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate changeAll adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policypolicy http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14693062.2014.965125http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14693062.2014.965125 Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland The need for demand management...The need for demand management...
  17. 17. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland “The aviation industry’s current projections of the sector’s growth are incompatible with the international community’s commitment to avoiding the 2°C characterization of dangerous climate change. “Even a highly optimistic uptake of the most promising technologies for reducing the CO2 intensity of flying cannot deliver the rapid and deep rates of mitigation to comply with the IPCC’s carbon budgets for a reasonable to likely chance of staying below 2°C. “This stark conclusion holds even with the heroic assumption that other sectors may be able to shoulder some additional mitigation effort to compensate for the aviation sector mitigating less than its counterparts. “Ultimately, however construed, the maths forthcoming from the IPCC’s 2°C carbon budget, mandates that the demand for aviation will need to be constrained if the global community is not to renege on its 2°C commitments.” Aviation growth incompatible with Paris AgreementAviation growth incompatible with Paris Agreement Aviation emissions and carbon offsets Source: Alice Larkin et al (May 2016) Aviation and Climate Change – The Continuing Challenge (Chapter)
  18. 18. You get to choose and way up the ethics of flying….You get to choose and way up the ethics of flying…. ● Do I need to travel? Can I skype, teleconference? ● Can I travel by lower emissions means: train, boat, bus, even car? ● Should I offset my CO2 emissions or my CO2e emissions? ● What credits do I buy? ● How can I be assured of carbon offset credit quality? ● A number of climate scientists and others already restrict or refuse air travel due to aviation emissions carbon footprint. Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Photo: London’s Heathrow Terminal Four. Airports have a huge carbon footprint, generate air and noise pollution.
  19. 19. ● Carbon Offsetting is a fraught area that needs better regulation, with many marginal schemes that don’t have any positive value and need to be avoided. ● It’s a confusing area for consumers ● 30 Airlines offer voluntary carbon offset programs for CO2 emissions to customers. They are very cheap, but poorly marketed and mostly ignored by consumers. ● Only 1 in 10 passengers on Qantas or Jetstar choose to buy carbon offset credits. (Qantas has largest offsets program of any airline) ● For 2014/2015 1.2% of Qantas flight emissions offset by customers. ● Choice recommends “Purchase verified carbon offsets from the airline or through an accredited agency. Offsets that avoid emissions through energy efficiency, or replace fossil fuel based energy with renewable energy are the most effective, with forestry projects ranked last.” Aviation emissions and carbon offsets John Englart – Climate Action Moreland The Australian Consumers Association magazine Choice featured aviation carbon offsets in their Dec 2016/Jan 2017 issue. Should you buy carbon offsets? https://www.choice.com.au/travel/on-holidays/air lines/articles/should-you-buy-carbon-offsets-for -flights Choosing Carbon offset credits….Choosing Carbon offset credits….
  20. 20. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland ● Carbon offsets are shown to be ridiculous in a satirical website called cheatneutral.com ● This website puts forward that you can pay someone to offset the guilt of cheating in a relationship. In fact it is likely to provide a justification for continued cheating. It makes it acceptable to cheat. ● Similarly, carbon offsets are used to assuage our guilt with flying everywhere. ● Carbon offsetting is fundamentally the wrong way to go about tackling climate change. Carbon offsets like cheating in relationshipsCarbon offsets like cheating in relationships Aviation emissions and carbon offsets For aviation emissions we need to reduce the number of flights taken, and where possible avoid flying.
  21. 21. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Only 3-5 percent of the World’s population undertakes flying. It is undertaken proportionately more by rich people, while the impacts of climate change will be felt disproportionately by poor people. “When it comes to aviation, this is the most profligate form of energy consumption we have of carbon emissions per hour of activity. There is no other activity, nothing that we do, that consumes more energy than flying in any single hour. If we are serious about climate change, because there are no good alternatives in the short to medium term, we have to curtail the amount of flying we do. “Currently, flying is carried out by a relatively small proportion of our population who fly regularly. It is those who should be taking the lion's share of the cuts in the amount of flying we do. “So we can still have some aviation, but much more limited amount of aviation, but that needs to be spread more evenly rather than a small cohort of people flying very regularly and making arguments for expansion on the basis of a family that occasionally flies to Benidorm for a holiday once every two years.” -Professor Kevin Anderson (Youtube 2014) Flight emissions and inequityFlight emissions and inequity Aviation emissions and carbon offsets Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy director of The Tyndall Centre, on Air Travel (Dec 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGGptVyiIe8
  22. 22. There may be a green future for aviation, but it will likely be very different to the one presented by ICAO and the airline industry. Low fossil fuel Hydrogen or helium dirigibles and solar+battery flight is already here in smal-scale demonstration forms. Hybrid aircraft may be possible. Battery development and engineering breakthroughs are needed to make mass transit low fossil-fuel aviation possible. This may be decades away at the earliest. But it may also prove not to have quite the same capacity or speed of present day high carbon emissions aviation…. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets Does Aviation have a Green future?Does Aviation have a Green future? Two ICAO brochures marketing the airline industry ‘Green’ efforts in aviation, primarily based on carbon offsets.
  23. 23. ● We need to fly less ● Price flight tickets to include climate impact. ● Demand management of flying needed to meet 2°C Paris Agreement target. ● Climate impact of aviation is 2-3 times (and might be up to 6x) actual CO2 emissions ● If you do fly and offset CO2 , choose quality carbon credits that help to reduce emissions. ● The ICAO CORSIA offsets program starting 2020 is insufficient. It is largely a greenwash mechanism to maintain business as usual for the airlines. John Englart – Climate Action Moreland Aviation emissions and carbon offsets Summary Photo: Fossil fuel free aviation?: André Borschberg in Solar Impulse flying over the Torresol Energy’s Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant in 2016, which is partially owned by Masdar, Solar Impulse’s host partner in Abu Dhabi Image: Solar Impulse/Flickr

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