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Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 14-Feb-2020

Headlines

IEA: Global carbon dioxide emissions flatlined in 2019

TUI Group: 'Hydrogen can play a crucial role' as a long term substitute to fossil fuels

NATS receives B grade from CDP for climate change efforts

Researchers find small altitude change could reduce warming effect of contrails by 20%

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IEA: Global carbon dioxide emissions flatlined in 2019

International Energy Agency (IEA) reported (11-Feb-2020) global carbon dioxide emissions flatlined in 2019 at 33 gigatonnes, despite global economic expansion of 2.9%.

IEA stated the reduction was primarily due to declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), fuel switching from coal to natural gas, and higher nuclear power generation. Other factors included milder weather in several countries, and slower economic growth in some emerging markets.

A significant decrease in emissions in advanced economies in 2019 offset continued growth elsewhere.

Original report: Defying expectations of a rise, global carbon dioxide emissions flatlined in 2019

Despite widespread expectations of another increase, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019, according to IEA data released today.

After two years of growth, global emissions were unchanged at 33 gigatonnes in 2019 even as the world economy expanded by 2.9%. This was primarily due to declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), fuel switching from coal to natural gas, and higher nuclear power generation. Other factors included milder weather in several countries, and slower economic growth in some emerging markets.

“We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “We have the energy technologies to do this, and we have to make use of them all. The IEA is building a grand coalition focused on reducing emissions – encompassing governments, companies, investors and everyone with a genuine commitment to tackling our climate challenge.”

A significant decrease in emissions in advanced economies in 2019 offset continued growth elsewhere. The United States recorded the largest emissions decline on a country basis, with a fall of 140 million tonnes, or 2.9%. US emissions are now down by almost 1 gigatonne from their peak in 2000. Emissions in the European Union fell by 160 million tonnes, or 5%, in 2019 driven by reductions in the power sector. Natural gas produced more electricity than coal for the first time ever, meanwhile wind-powered electricity nearly caught up with coal-fired electricity. Japan’s emissions fell by 45 million tonnes, or around 4%, the fastest pace of decline since 2009, as output from recently restarted nuclear reactors increased. Emissions in the rest of the world grew by close to 400 million tonnes in 2019, with almost 80% of the increase coming from countries in Asia where coal-fired power generation continued to rise. 

Across advanced economies, emissions from the power sector declined to levels last seen in the late 1980s, when electricity demand was one-third lower than today. Coal-fired power generation in advanced economies declined by nearly 15% as a result of growth in renewables, coal-to-gas switching, a rise in nuclear power and weaker electricity demand.

“This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade,” said Dr Birol. “It is evidence that clean energy transitions are underway – and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments.”

To support these objectives, the IEA will publish a World Energy Outlook Special Report in June that will map out how to cut global energy-related carbon emissions by one-third by 2030 and put the world on track for longer-term climate goals.

The Agency will also hold an IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit in Paris on 9 July, bringing together key government ministers, CEOs, investors and other major stakeholders from around the world with the aim of accelerating the pace of change through ambitious and real-world solutions.

Dr Birol will discuss these results and initiatives tomorrow at a special IEA Speaker Series event at IEA Headquarters in Paris with energy and climate ministers from Poland, which hosted COP24 in Katowice; Spain, which hosted COP25 in Madrid; and the United Kingdom, which will host COP26 in Glasgow this year. 

TUI Group: 'Hydrogen can play a crucial role' as a long term substitute to fossil fuels

TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen, via the group's official Twitter account, stated (13-Feb-2020) TUI supports hydrogen as a solution to the global CO2 situation. "Hydrogen can play a crucial role as a long-term substitute for fossil fuels", he added.

NATS receives B grade from CDP for climate change efforts

NATS received (13-Feb-2020) a B grade from CDP for its progress in addressing the climate change risks. CDP ranks companies from A to D- based on their awareness and management of environmental risks.

NATS head of environmental affairs Ian Jopson said: "We're now at the point where a wholesale modernisation is needed if we're going to keep pace both with growing demand and meet our environmental obligations".

Original report: NATS recognised for environmental progress

UK air traffic service provider, NATS has again been recognised for its work in reducing the environmental impact of flying.

For the second consecutive year, NATS has been awarded a B grade by CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) for its progress towards addressing the risks presented by climate change.

Designed to spur businesses into action on climate change, CDP ranks companies from A to D- based on their awareness and management of environmental risks.

NATS started its environment programme in 2008 with the aim of reducing not just the environmental impact of air travel through the more efficient use of airspace, but also its own estate by encouraging recycling and energy saving measures. Since the programme began, NATS has enabled savings of over 8.4 million tonnes of aircraft CO2 and reduced energy consumption on its estate by over 34%. NATS has recently set new targets to achieve net zero emissions in 2050, with a 35% reduction target for emission directly under its control by 2030.

Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environmental Affairs, said: “There is no doubt that climate change poses a huge challenge and NATS was the first air traffic service provider in the world to introduce an environment programme in 2008. We have made good progress, which this accreditation from CDP acknowledges, but there is no doubt that much more needs to be done as we work towards our commitment as part of the Sustainable Aviation coalition to reach net zero emissions as a UK industry by 2050.”

The UK’s network of airways and flight paths were first designed in the 1960s and make it impossible to take full advantage of the capabilities of modern aircraft. NATS is playing a leading role in cross-industry plans to modernise the country’s airspace over the next five years, allowing aircraft to fly higher for longer, get more direct routings and enable more continuous descent approaches, something that both reduces fuel burn and emissions.

Jopson continues: “Over the past 12 years we’ve made hundreds of improvements to how our airspace is managed and introduced new tools to help us do that, but we’re now at the point where a wholesale modernisation is needed if we’re going to keep pace both with growing demand and meet our environmental obligations.”

Dexter Galvin, Global Director of Corporates and Supply Chains at CDP, adds: “The next decade is crucial in our shift to a net-zero economy, and we believe corporations are at the heart of this transition.

“By ranking companies, we aim not just to highlight leaders’ best practice, but to inspire all businesses to be transparent, aim higher and take more action.”

Researchers find small altitude change could reduce warming effect of contrails by 20%

Institute of Atmospheric Physics and University College London researchers published a study finding 2.2% of aircraft flights in Japanese airspace generated 80% of anthropogenic warming due to aircraft contrails (Cosmos, 12-Feb-2020).

The study also found that altitude changes of as little as 600 metres could reduce the formation of contrails by nearly 60%, while only increasing fuel consumption and emissions by 0.014%. This strategy could reduce the warming effect from airline contrails by a total of 20%.

The addition of new engine technology could offer a further 68.8% reduction to the warming produced by contrails.

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