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Posts from the ‘environment’ Category

CCC warns without a ‘true zero-carbon plane’ demand for aviation may have to be curbed

Business Green, 14 February 2019

UK’s climate body confirms net zero target assessment will be published in May, stressing greater effort will be needed to cut aviation emissions

Adopting a net zero climate target in the UK would require greater effort to cut emissions from aviation, particularly through developing clean technologies and limiting growth in flight demand, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has told the government.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, CCC chairman Lord Deben stressed that limiting emissions from UK aviation would require contributions from all parts of the aviation sector, and that the government should avoid relying on biofuels or international carbon offset credits to do the necessary heavy lifting.

Deben welcomed the government’s commitment to keeping UK aviation emissions at 2005 levels by 2050, as advised by the CCC, and to ask the National Infrastructure Commission to scrutinise the case for further airport expansion with consideration of the potential climate impacts.

However, Deben reiterated the CCC’s view that the government should not plan for significant use of biofuels to power planes, due to uncertainty surrounding sustainable biomass supplies and costs.
Instead, he said the government and industry should focus on developing new low emission aircraft designs, improved air space management, and the use of more sustainable fuels in the coming years.

The letter also predicted brokering a long-term climate target for aviation at an international level would help incentivise investment in new, cleaner technologies, but emphasised technologies alone were unlikely to be enough to stem the climate impact of aviation.

“In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered in the long-term,” the letter states.

Deben’s letter on Wednesday comes in response to the government’s Aviation 2050 strategy, which was launched for consultation in December. That draft strategy insisted the UK’s aviation sector could grow to meet rapidly increasing demand for air travel over the next three decades, while at the same time limiting emissions at 2005 levels by the middle of the century.

The strategy attracted criticism from green campaigners who highlighted the lack of detail on exactly how the government plans to limit the climate impact of growing demand for air travel over the next three decades.
Aviation is widely seen as one of the most challenging sectors of the economy to decarbonise, with emissions from the industry having more than doubled since 1990, in contrast to emissions for the economy as a whole having fallen by around 40 per cent.

The Department for Transport, however, has said it is currently developing a long-term policy framework with industry that will address how to ensure sustainable growth, and that it plans to update the aviation strategy at regular intervals. It has also pledged to work at an international level through ICAO to negotiate a long-term global goal for aviation emissions that would be consistent with the Paris Agreement.

The latest developments came as the CCC today confirmed its assessment of the UK’s potential to set a net zero emissions target for the middle of the century would be published on May 2nd 2019, conceding the publication date was “later than requested – a reflection of the scope and importance of the task”.

The UK currently has a legal requirement to achieve an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 against a 1990 baseline, but the government last year asked the CCC to look at whether this should be replaced with a more ambitious goal.

In light of current work to develop both a UK aviation strategy as well as a potential net zero emissions target for the whole economy, CCC chief executive Chris Stark said there was therefore now a “clear opportunity” to clarify the role of aviation in the UK’s long-term climate ambitions.

However, campaigners remain sceptical about the government’s abilit to seize that opportunity. Grayling has faced fierce criticism over his support for aviation expansion and his limited engagement with climate change issues. When announcing the government’s backing for a third runway at Heathrow Airport last summer, the Transport Secretary made no mention of the potential impact the decision could have on the UK’s climate targets, prompting Lord Deben to express “surprise” in another letter from the CCC last year.

The CCC’s latest intervention will therefore ramp up pressure on the government to ensure its aviation ambitions come alongside robust plans to ensure any growth in UK airport capacity does not blow a hole in domestic carbon budgets.

The move also came ahead of Airbus’s shock announcement today that following a review of its operations it will stop making its huge A380 planes by 2021, potentially putting thousands of UK jobs at risk. The plane manufacturing giant said it was also reducing its A380 output in the meantime due to a lack of order backlog with airlines “and in light of developments in aircraft engine technologies”.

The move could have an important impact on emissions scenario planning for the UK and international aviation sector, commentators have pointed out. The huge A380 planes – first launched as a rival to Boeing’s 747s in 2007 – have four engines, while much of the sector has shifted over the past decade towards smaller, more fuel efficient aircraft.

With the CCC planning to publish its net zero emissions assessment in May, this week’s letter suggests the UK’s independent climate body is keen to ensure there is a robust long term plan in place to ensure sustainable growth of the domestic aviation sector in line with the UK’s carbon targets. The pressure is now on the government and aviation sector to set out in much more detail how it foresees an increase in flights in a net zero carbon world.

VW Says the Next Generation of Combustion Cars Will Be Its Last

Bloomberg, 5 December 2018
Volkswagen AG expects the era of the combustion car to fade away after it rolls out its next-generation gasoline and diesel cars beginning in 2026. Traditional automakers are under increasing pressure from regulators to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to combat climate change, prompting Volkswagen to pursue a radical shift to electric vehicles.

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Carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector have declined 28% since 2005

EIA, 29 October 2018
U.S. electric power sector carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) have declined 28% since 2005 because of slower electricity demand growth and changes in the mix of fuels used to generate electricity. EIA has calculated that CO2 emissions from the electric power sector totaled 1,744 million metric tons (MMmt) in 2017, the lowest level since 1987.
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North shore woman fined $83,000 for chopping down neighbour’s trees

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September 2018
A woman on Sydney’s north shore must pay $83,000 after she cut down two of her neighbour’s trees for “dropping leaves in my pool”. Yueling Liu is one of two Hunters Hill homeowners who together have been ordered to pay more than $150,000 for illegal tree clearing and lopping, in a move welcomed by the local council as a deterrent to others.
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Trees make way for bike path in Cottesloe

Western Suburbs Weekly, 20 July 2018
GREEN-LEANING councillors face having to agree to cut down about 50 trees to get a long-delayed commuter bike path through Cottesloe that will eventual connect to Fremantle. “I saw the plan this morning, and it was a pretty lazy piece of town planning as it’s just a straight line that doesn’t seem to take into account the trees in the way,” West Tree Canopy member Peter Dickson told
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Electric car growth and greater fuel efficiency spark calls for change to fuel excise funding

ABC News, 29 August 2018
The drive to electric vehicles promises a better future — but there is a road rage battle brewing, pitting petrol guzzlers against their green successors on how we should be paying for our roads.
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Eight ridiculous things in Trump clean car roll-back (and one they got right)

Renew Economy, 8 August 2018
President Trump has followed through on his promise to roll back Obama-era fuel economy and emissions standards for passenger cars and trucks, proposing to freeze standards at 2020 levels. Given the tremendous benefits of these rules to-date and the promising future for 2025 and beyond, you can imagine that justifying this rollback requires contortions that would qualify the administration for Cirque du Soleil…and you would be right. Here are just a few of the ridiculous assertions found in the proposal to justify rolling back such a successful policy:
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California vows to ‘fight this stupidity’ as EPA moves to scrap clean car rules

The Guardian, 3 August 2018
The Trump administration has moved to weaken US vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.
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Why plastic bag bans triggered such a huge reaction

The Conversation, 16 July 2018
Woolworths’ and Coles’ bans on plastic bags have been applauded by environmental groups, but were reportedly met with abuse and assault and claims of profiteering. Even comedians saw value in the theatre of the bag ban. This reaction is due to supermarkets breaching their “psychological contract” with customers. When both major supermarkets appeared to back flip in the face of irate customers it only compounded the problem”.
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Time to rethink your SUV? Australia’s cars among the dirtiest, new report warns

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 2018
Australia’s car emissions are dirtier than those of Europe and the US, with experts pointing to Australians’ love of SUVs. In Australia, cars last year had a carbon emissions intensity of 171.5 grams per kilometre – 45 per cent higher than Europe (118.5gm/km), a new National Transport Commission report warns. This was also higher than the US, according to a separate analysis by an independent nonprofit, International Council on Clean Transportation, which set the measure for vehicle efficiency at 141g/km.

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