Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2006

30 September 2006

WHAT DOES HE MEAN BY THESE WORDS?

Blair's 'radical' energy overhaul

BBC News - 27 September 2006

"Global warming is the greatest long-term threat to our planet's environment. Scarce energy resources mean rising prices and will threaten our country's economy. In 15 years we will go from 80% self-sufficient in oil and gas to 80% imported."

"We need therefore the most radical overhaul of energy policy since the War. We will increase the amount of energy from renewable sources fivefold; ensure every major business in the country has a responsibility for greenhouse gas reduction; treble investment in clean technology, including clean coal; and make sure every new home is at least 40% more energy efficient."

"We will meet our Kyoto targets by double the amount; and we will take the necessary measures, step by step by step, to meet one of the most ambitious targets on the environment set anywhere in the world - a 60% reduction in emissions by 2050."

Mr Blair wants to treble investment in clean technology. He has pledged to make the environment a focus of his last months in office with "the most radical overhaul of energy policy since WW2".

He says energy from renewable sources will rise fivefold, investment in clean technology trebled and every new home will be at least 40% energy efficient.

In his last speech to Labour delegates he said the UK will meet its Kyoto targets by double the amount pledged. He also says he wants to see a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement setting targets for industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

OUR COMMENT: Aviation?

Pate Dale


30 September 2006

GREEN MOVES ON BUSES AND FUELS

Tania Branigan - The Guardian - 28 September 2006

Labour yesterday attempted to reclaim the green agenda by seeking to reverse the decline in bus use and investing £10m to provide enough renewable energy to meet the domestic demands of Norwich, Oxford, Exeter and Newcastle combined.

The transport sevretary, Douglas Alexander, promised councils fresh powers over bus services, partly undoing Margaret Thatcher's deregulation of the industry, while David Miliband vowed to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of private funding by partnering energy schemes which will provide enough electricity to serve 250,000 homes.

The environment secretary also called for "a stronger European Union on the environment, not a weaker one".

Bug ministers shied away from the radical proposals Ken Livingstone offered – adding a £10 - £15 carbon tax to every plane ticket and rolling out water metering.

The mayor of London predicted green issues would dominate the next election, perhaps to the alarm of his party, which is regarded as less environmentally sound than the Lib Dems and the Tories.

"Aviation has got to be brought right to the centre of this debate", Mr Livingstone told delegates. But the subject was barely mentioned in ministerial speeches yesterday.

A Labour insider said: "The trouble with aviation is that the technology is not there yet. We are not going to stop people going on holiday."

Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth warned: "Many of the government's initiatives coming forward are broadly positive, but they are utterly insufficient to match the scale of the problem. Aviation is one of the most glaring omissions in policy terms."


30 September 2006

SUPPORT FOR BRANSON PLAN TO CLEAN UP SKIES
IS SLOW TO GET OFF THE GROUND

Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 28 September 2006

Sir Richard Branson called on airlines to take greater responsibility for global warming yesterday, but his plea to slash fuel emissions by a quarter received a lukewarm response from some corners of the green lobby and the aviation industry.

The chairman of Virgin Atlantic followed up his pledge to spend 3b dollars on renewable energy by proposing an industry forum dedicated to reducing aviation's contribution to climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft account for 2% of the global total and are expected to reach 15% by 2050.

In a letter to aviation executives, Sir Richard said: "We need to accelerate the pace at which we reduce aviation's impact on the environment."

Sir Richard said these emissions could be cut by a quarter by 2008 if the industry adopts environmentally friendly practices such as towing aircraft to starting grids close to runways in order to save fuel, changing landing approaches and unifying Europe's 35 air traffic control systems under one body to shorten flight routes. Gatwick airport has offered to run a trial of the starting grid concept.

Sir Richard said the measures should be overseen by a new global body: "Airlines, airports, air traffic controllers and governments should seize these initiatives."

However, Richard Dyer, aviation campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said Virgin should drop any support for new runways at Stansted and Heathrow airports. "The growth in emissions from airport expansion will outweigh any improvements he has suggested."

Mr Dyer said many of the proposals announced yesterday are already being considered or have been adopted. British Airways pilots have used a fuel saving landing technique known as continuous descent approach for the past 10 years. The proposals also fail to address take offs and high altitude flying, when passenger jets emit the most carbon, he said.

British Airways, Virgin's main rival in the transatlantic market, said it was committed to tackling climate change but was "puzzled" by Virgin's call for a new body to deal with the issue. Sustainable Aviation, an industry body dedicated to making flying more environmentally friendly was established last year with Virgin's help, said a BA spokesman.

"Virgin has played a big part in launching Sustainable Aviation. We recognise this is a big issue and all commitments to action are welcome. But we are puzzled as to why Virgin are looking to launch another body a year after they helped to launch Sustainable Aviation."

EasyJet welcomed the Virgin proposals and said its chairman was the "right person" to lead action on emissions.

Sir Richard also called for governments to take action against the aviation industry if necessary. "If the industry does not get its act together then governments should impose some of these things."

He admitted some of the proposals repeated existing ideas, but said the industry had failed to act on them so far. "Not enough has been done about it. Nor is there a sense of urgency out there to do something about it."

OUR COMMENT: Any action by the industry is to be welcomed. If action is to be effective, then inevitably it will be realised that ever increasing numbers of flights cannot be accommodated in any scheme designed to reduce emissions. There has to be a limit to expansion in the west, recognising that the third world must be allowed room for development.

Pat Dale


30 September 2006

COST OF SAVING THE PLANET: A YEAR'S GROWTH

Ashley Seager - The Guardian - 29 September 2006

The world would have to give up only one year's economic growth over the next four decades to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to stave off the threat of global warming, a report says today.

Consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers offer a "green growth plus" strategy, combining energy efficiency, greater use of renewables and carbon capture to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 from the level reached by doing nothing. Nuclear energy, it says, can play a role, but it is not crucial.

This scenario, which involves little real sacrifice in terms of economic growth, could be achieved only if embarked upon without delay, the report warns.

"If countries adopt a 'business as usual' approach, the result could be a more than doubling of global carbon emissions by 2050," said John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC.

"Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy is followed."

PwC envisages the Group of Seven leading economies taking the initiative, cutting their emissions by about half by 2050, while the fast-growing E7 countries - China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey - could still increase their emissions by 30% over the period.

"If this is to be achieved it will take further concerted action by governments, businesses and individuals over a broad range of measures to boost energy efficiency, adopt a greener fuel mix and introduce carbon capture and storage technologies in power plants and other major industrial facilities," Mr Hawksworth said.

The report says a combination of all these measures will be necessary to stabilise global CO2 levels at 450 parts per million, the figure scientific opinion judges to be broadly acceptable.

The PwC projections see China overtaking the United States as the world's biggest emitter of CO2 by 2010 while total E7 emissions would be more than double G7 emissions by 2050, with the "big three" - China, the US and India - accounting for just over half, up from 45% today.

The European Union could cut its share of global emissions to under 9% by 2050 from 15% now, while Britain's should fall to 1% from 2%, it said.

A shift to a much less carbon-intensive fuel mix would more than double the current non-fossil fuel primary energy share to about 30% by 2050. That alone would be sufficient to reduce carbon emissions by 25%. PwC's view that renewables could do the job without having to use nuclear technology could undermine Tony Blair's argument that atomic power is crucial.

Increasing energy efficiency gains to 2.6% a year from today's 1.6% would reduce emissions by a third, while carbon capture and storage - pumping power station emissions into disused gas fields underground - could achieve a further 20%.

OUR COMMENT: No suggestions as to the special problem of aviation, with no possibility of carbon capture or alternative fuels – BUT presumably aviation would be expected to also abandon expansion plans….

Pat Dale


27 September 2006

CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR QUICK DECISION

Dunmow Broadcaster - 21 September 2006

Stansted Airport expansion could still be decided this month

PRESSURE group Stop Stansted Expansion has called on Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to stick to its original deadline for making a recommendation on the airport's expansion plans.

UDC announced last week that it had deferred its decision from September 27 to November at the earliest and accused BAA and other organisations of delaying the decision.

SSE believes the council's development control committee should be given a recommendation by the end of this month as originally planned to avoid prolonging uncertainty in the community.

And if BAA cannot give the council all of the information it has requested, SSE said the application should be refused now.

A SSE spokesman said: "BAA submitted its planning application in April but failed to provide much of the information requested by the council. This included an analysis of the full environmental impacts in such areas as climate change, noise and road and rail impacts through to 2030."

"BAA also failed to comply with the council's request for a quality of life survey and full master plan for the airport."

"We have written formally to UDC, quoting the government planning guidelines which state that if the developer fails to provide enough information to complete the environmental statement, the application can be determined only by refusal."

Calling upon the council to refuse the application, SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "BAA has had ample opportunity to provide adequate information and has plainly failed to do so. We therefore urge the council to adhere to its original well publicised and clearly defined timetable for dealing with this application and to reach a decision by September 27."

A spokesman for UDC said they would not comment on the issue further until the planning committee meets on September 27.

BAA said it had not received formal notification of the extra information UDC requires from them, but that they would seek to provide the data as quickly as possible.

A spokesman said: "We welcome the fact that UDC are still looking to determine the application."

"We, like them, would like a firm decision as swiftly as possible to remove any uncertainty this delay may cause for the local community."

OUR COMMENT: Regrettably, unlikely, as it appears that a failure, not only by BAA, but also by the Highways Agency and the Rail Authorities to provide all the necessary information means that a full consideration of all the issues is impossible. We await the deliberations!

Pat Dale


27 September 2006

COULD THIS HALT STANSTED DEVELOPMENT?

Parliament criticised over air quality vote

ENDS Europe DAILY 2171 - 26 September 2006

The European parliament has angered the European commission and environmentalists by watering down key aspects of proposed new air quality EU legislation.  MEPs gave their first reading position on the directive in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

The air quality directive streamlines existing legislation and introduces new controls on ultra-fine particles under 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in the framework of last year's Cafe air quality strategy.  The parliament called for even more ambitious levels of protection, but failed to follow its own lead, the commission complained.

MEPs voted to allow member states to postpone compliance with existing limit values on air pollutants for up to four years beyond 2010.  For PM2.5 and already regulated PM10 particles, they added an extra two years under certain conditions.  EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas retorted that he could not accept extensions of more than five years.

Parliament weakened a proposed PM10 daily limit value of 50 ug/m3 by voting to increase the number of times it could be exceeded from 35 to 55 days per year.

The assembly also called for a new PM2.5 limits due to enter force in 2010 to be made non-binding until 2015.  It also called for member states to have greater flexibility over a requirement to reduce PM2.5 pollution by 20% between 2008-12 and 2020.

The vote was criticised by the European commission, which argued that it would delay implementation and expose populations to "excessive and avoidable" pollution levels.

The parliament did strengthen certain aspects of the legislation.  It called for an annual limit value for PM10 to be reduced from 40 ug/m3 to 33 ug/m3, and for the EU to aim for maximum 20 ug/m3 PM2.5 rather than 25 ug/m3, even while postponing a legal requirement for this goal to be respected.

Environmental group EEB called these changes "largely cosmetic".  "It looks good on paper but it won't do much in reality," said air pollution policy officer Kerstin Meyer.

On other aspects of the legislation, the parliament demanded measures targeting pollution at source in future proposals to help member states meet air quality limits, including the inclusion of 20 to 50 MW combustion plants in the IPPC directive and stricter Euro 6 standards for heavy vehicles.

MEPs also adopted a non-legislative resolution on the Cafe air quality strategy, in which they called for a long-term target for PM2.5 of 10 ug/m3 in line with recommendations from the World health organisation (WHO). They also demanded more ambitious targets for a number of pollutants including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NOx).

OUR COMMENT: While the EU Parliament votes do not determine what finally happens, it has a direct relevance to the Stansted airport application. BAA themselves have admitted that the new statutory levels for PM10 will be exceeded at 35 mppa and even maybe at 25 mppa. Also, that PM 2.5, the finest particles will be near the permitted level if they are included in the regulations. They dismiss this by referring to the attempts that have been made to remove the proposed lower levels. They also claim that because PM10 particles are emitted mostly by vehicles then this is irrelevant to the expansion of an airport. A surprising claim bearing in mind the number of airport bound vehicles pass through our local roads every day and night! However, even if the lower statutory levels are postponed for a few years they are still going to be enforced during the development period of runway 1 and the proposed runway 2. Expansion cannot be allowed if regulatory standards will be breached, so says the Aviation White Paper itself – so, what about it BAA?

Pat Dale


27 September 2006

WHAT ABOUT AVIATION FUEL?

Branson pledges $3bn transport profits to fight global warming

Billionaire to plough cash into new branch of conglomerate
producing controversial biofuels

Dan Milmo and David Adam - The Guardian - 22 September 2006

Sir Richard Branson joined the growing ranks of global warming activists yesterday by committing $3bn (£1.6bn) to tackle climate change. The billionaire pledged all profits from his Virgin air and rail interests over the next 10 years to combating rising global temperatures. However, the estimated $3bn will not go to charities and will be invested in a new branch of Sir Richard's ever-expanding Virgin conglomerate, Virgin Fuels. Much of the investment will focus on biofuels, an alternative to oil-based fuels made from plants.

The government has ordered petrol stations in the UK to source 5% of their fuel from renewable energy by 2010, one of several lucrative opportunities for biofuel producers such as Virgin.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "This is an extremely generous offer. The prime minister met Richard Branson and other business leaders in California in the summer and came back very impressed with the positive steps all the companies were taking to reduce their impact on global warming. The UK is already leading the way in Europe in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We will continue to press for an international agreement to control global emissions in the long run."

The Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, Chris Huhne, called it an "extraordinarily generous and imaginative gesture on Sir Richard's part".

Sir Richard may find some attempts to run his aircraft on biofuels struggle to take off. In 2000, scientists at Imperial College said that bioethanol was not suitable and could be dangerous. Small amounts of biodiesel could be mixed into existing aircraft fuel, kerosene, but critics say its green credentials have been exaggerated. Biodiesel is prepared from plants such as rape seed, and is supposed to be carbon-neutral because the carbon emitted when it is burned to release energy was absorbed from the atmosphere while the plant grew.

But recent studies have shown the greenhouse gains are much smaller than assumed. Making the fertilisers and pesticides needed to grow the crop takes large amounts of energy, as does processing it into fuel. Others say the amount of land required to grow crops on a sufficient scale could increase deforestation.

In an editorial, this week's New Scientist magazine says: "We cannot grow our way out of the twin crises of climate change and energy security. There is a real danger of creating a biofuels bubble that will burst, leaving behind a pungent whiff of chip-fat oil, burning rainforests and rotting fields."

Mike Childs, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, welcomed Sir Richard's commitment but said his air interests were part of the problem: "The fast growth in air flights cannot be maintained without causing climatic disaster. The government needs to introduce a climate change law and stop the expansion of airports, tax air fuel and encourage business to invest in more sustainable alternatives."

Virgin made its first investment in so-called green fuels this month by injecting $60m into Cilion, a California-based venture that plans to make bioethanol from corn and to construct seven refineries by 2009. Virgin Trains is switching its diesel-powered trains to biodiesel and the group also plans to develop a biofuel for planes. A spokesman for the group said wave and wind technology would also be considered as alternatives to petrol: "Even nuclear power is not out of the question."

Virgin's environmentally friendly transport plans extend into space. The Virgin Galactic service, which plans to transport tourists, aspires to be the most fuel-efficient space launch system developed. However, environmental campaigners say Virgin Galactic serves no practical purpose and is even more environmentally damaging than passenger jet travel.

Speaking at a news conference for Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative organisation in New York yesterday, Sir Richard said adults had a duty to pass on a "pristine" planet to the next generation: "We have to wean ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels. Our generation has the knowledge, it has the financial resources and as importantly it has the willpower to do so."

Airlines are coming under increasing pressure to account for their contribution to climate change, with the aviation industry expected to account for 15% of manmade global warming by 2015. Air transport was exempted from the Kyoto protocol on climate change, provided that airlines sought a way to reduce emissions through a trading scheme by 2007. With that deadline fast approaching and no agreement in sight, the prospect of taxes on aviation fuel or airline travel is becoming more realistic.

The industry strongly opposes new taxation and argues that its contribution to carbon dioxide emissions is comparatively small, accounting for around 2% of global emissions currently. Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, said recently that governments were in danger of exaggerating the environmental threat posed by airlines: "The notion that flying is a selfish, antisocial activity that single-handedly threatens planetary catastrophe bears no relation to the evidence."

FAQ

Where is the money coming from? Can Sir Richard Branson afford $3bn?
Unpicking the gordian knot of the Virgin empire's finances is notoriously difficult. Sir Richard's transport interests generated dividends and profits of around $215m (£113m) last year, of which around $100m went to Virgin. So he can probably generate around $1bn over the next decade.

So where will the rest come from?
Sir Richard is about to launch the Virgin America airline in the US and he will pledge all profits from sales of shares in his assets. For example, Virgin Trains is being lined up for flotation. With the growth from his existing businesses, he hopes to reach the $3bn. Nonetheless, monitoring Virgin Group's progress will be difficult.

How can he run his businesses if he is giving away profits?
Sir Richard is not frittering away $3bn. He is investing the cash in his renewable energy business, Virgin Fuel. Its first investment, in a Californian biofuel business, is a hard-nosed business decision from which Virgin expects to make a return. The same rule applies to the $3bn investment over the next 10 years.

What else could Sir Richard do to help the environment?
Some environmentalists would say that Virgin's most positive contribution would be to quit air travel altogether. The airline industry is fighting proposals to tax aviation fuel. At the very least, the industry expects to be signed up to an emissions trading scheme.

Do experts approve of biofuels?
Scientists are not yet convinced biofuels are a genuine solution to global warming. Although they are considered carbon neutral, because the carbon they release when burned was absorbed from the atmosphere while they grew, there are concerns about emissions produced during farming and processing crops.


27 September 2006

CO2 TARGETS 'SHOULD BE BINDING'

BBC News - 25 September 2006

The mock statement claims the rules need not stop development

Binding targets to reduce CO2 emissions should be included in regional planning rules, campaigners are to say in a "mock" climate change policy statement.

They will also call for local development plans to help communities deal with flood risks.

In March, a government report said Britain would be unlikely to meet its 2010 target to cut emissions by 20%.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, also supports using coercive measure to cut global warming.

Former environment secretary Margaret Beckett previously stressed that the government had not given up on its 20% goal but she conceded more needed to be done.

Call for changes in planning rules will be made in a statement to be delivered by Friends of the Earth and the Town and Country Planning Association.

Friends of the Earth campaigner on planning Hugh Ellis said: "As well as a new climate law called for in our Big Ask campaign, tough new rules are needed to reduce the impact that regional and local developments have on climate change." The statement also calls for the active promotion of low and zero carbon development.


27 September 2006

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY?

Car firms being sued on GW emissions

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles - The Guardian - 21 September 2006

America's most populous state, California, opened a new front in its struggle with climate change yesterday when it announced that it was suing the six largest carmakers in the US for allegedly contributing to global warming.

In the unprecedented lawsuit, the state accused Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan of creating a "public nuisance" and costing it millions of dollars. Environmental campaigners hailed the lawsuit as a landmark event in the effort to deal with global warming.

The suit, filed in a US district court in northern California, alleges that vehicle emissions have contributed significantly to global warming, and argues that the car manufacturers should be held responsible for the past and future cost of combating this crisis.

"Global warming is causing significant harm to California's environment, economy, agriculture and public health," said the state's Democratic attorney general, Bill Lockyer, who filed the complaint. "The impacts are costing millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing ... It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to this crisis."

California is the largest car market in the US, with more than 2m new vehicles registered every year, compared with about 2.5m for the entire UK. Car sales in the state totalled $83bn (£44bn) in 2005 according to the Automobile Alliance, an industry group representing carmakers. The 29m registered vehicles in the state drive a total of 320bn miles in the year.

The complaint further argues that monitoring and addressing the effects of global warming has cost the state millions of dollars. "Global warming has already injured California, its environment, its economy, and the health and well-being of its citizens," the complaint states, adding that dealing with global warming's harmful effects in the future, "will almost certainly cost millions more".

Roda Verheyen, co-director of Friends of the Earth's Climate Justice Programme, welcomed the development, saying: "This was a case waiting to happen. It is the most significant piece of climate change litigation that has ever been brought."

Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming programme, said the lawsuit built on initiatives taken by California and other states: "While the Bush administration continues to burrow its head in the sand, California has taken out a whole arsenal to combat emissions."

He said California's boldness stemmed in part from the attitude of its governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has been outspoken in his determination to combat global warming.

The Automobile Alliance in a statement said car manufacturers were already working to produce more fuel-efficient cars. Arguing that it needed more time to study the complaint, it noted that a similar suit, which saw energy companies sued on public nuisance grounds, had failed. "Using nuisance suits to address global warming would involve the courts in deciding political questions beyond their jurisdiction," the alliance said. "This opens the door to lawsuits targeting any activity that uses fossil fuel for energy."

The lawsuit comes as California aggressively pursues a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. A law passed in 2004 will force carmakers to reduce carbon dioxide exhaust emissions by 30%. That measure is currently being challenged by car manufacturers.

Last month the California state legislature approved a measure to force utilities to cut emissions, and the state has sued the federal government for failing to address the effects of global warming.


20 September 2006

NO MORE GREEN POSTURING - THE PLANET CAN'T WAIT

Leader - The Observer - 17 September 2006

Climate change sceptics, once a thriving species, will soon be extinct. The overwhelming majority of scientific opinion recognises that global warming is a reality and that humankind is responsible. As a result of carbon compounds emitted into the atmosphere the world, on its current trajectory, will get up to six degrees hotter this century, with drastic consequences.

One example: the Arctic ice sheet receded by 280,000 square miles between 2004-2005. At that rate the North Pole will be ice-free in the lifetime of many of us. The oceans will rise faster than even pessimistic environmental campaigners have feared.

Apocalyptic pictures can sap the will to take urgent action. But there are grounds for optimism. First, we know what the problem is. Global warming has not been visited upon us like a biblical plague. We are able to cut the amount of carbon we produce. It may be politically complex, but it is scientifically possible. Second, the political obstacles are fewer than they were even a year ago. In Britain, environmental debate is mainstream.

The Liberal Democrats, whose conference runs this week, deserve the most credit for a long-standing commitment to the environment. They have detailed green policies and deserve credit for their honesty in identifying the most effective instrument for bringing about change - the tax regime.

David Cameron has made the Tory party a late but zealous convert to the environmental cause and for this he, too, deserves credit. His photogenic Arctic explorations and enthusiasm for cycling have been dismissed by rivals as stunts, but the net effect has been to up the ante among all parties in the competition to be greenest. This is no bad thing.

Labour's record is mixed. Britain is on track to meet its targets on carbon emission under the Kyoto Protocol, but the government has abandoned the more stringent targets it set itself. Tony Blair fought to put environmental issues on the agenda when he chaired the G8 summit last year, but international accord to cut emissions is barely closer as a result.

There is no denying the awkwardness of decisions governments have to make on energy provision. They often reflect tangled arguments within the environmental movement. Nuclear power stations, for example, may not contribute as much as coal burning to global warming, but the waste is still toxic.

However, complexity is not an excuse for inaction. Devising realistic policies always requires a trade-off between lesser and greater evils. Britain needs new nuclear power stations. This is the only way to provide the volume of power that the country needs at an environmental cost that is, relatively speaking, manageable.

Similarly, stifling the cheap flight boom will hit tourism. But the effect of carbon emitted at altitude by thousands of planes criss-crossing the globe is too great to ignore. Aviation fuel, currently untaxed, must have a green levy put on it. Only when airlines come under financial pressure will they look in earnest for alternative ways to fuel flying.

Meanwhile, major investment is needed in alternative energies such as tidal and wind power and in carbon capture and storage. Planning regulations need to be completely rewritten so that new houses and businesses are developed to emit less carbon. Such steps have already been taken in Northern Ireland, as Secretary of State Peter Hain writes in today's Observer

Road use can no longer be free. While some rural drivers depend on their cars, many journeys are not necessary. Their environmental impact should be recognised in tolls.

These are not perfect policies, but they could make a positive difference to all of us. And that, surely, is what the political parties drawing up plans in conferences over the next three weeks, should be trying to do.


20 September 2006

BITING THE TAX BULLET

The Times Online - 19 September 2006

It may not be a Big Idea but Sir Menzies "Ming" Campbell, whose first party conference as Liberal Democrat leader began yesterday, has some good ideas about tax. He wants to abandon his party's long-held commitment to a 50% top rate of income tax and cut the tax burden on low and middle-income earners, including a 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax, mainly making up the lost revenue through environmental taxes.

Assuming he can get it through the Lib Dems' Brighton conference this week the party will distribute a million leaflets to homes, highlighting "The Green Switch" that it would bring in if it ever got close to power.

Green politics is a fertile area for opposition parties, as David Cameron has discovered, to the point of redrawing the Tory party's logo. But while the Conservatives have a self-imposed omerta on serious discussions about using the tax system to advance a green agenda, the Lib Dems are making the running.

Not all aspects of Sir Ming's plans add up; local income tax and and locally set business rates will cause some concern. Reversing some of Gordon Brown's capital gains tax reforms - one of the few positives on tax from his chancellorship - could hit entrepreneurs.

But the broad thrust of the tax plan, to cut taxes on income, while increasing taxation on what economists call "bads", in this case things that damage the environment, makes sense. Voters will not necessarily be happy with higher air fares and more expensive motoring but lower income taxes should compensate.

The Lib Dems, though, never make these things easy. Sir Ming's tax plans face a challenge in Brighton from his party's "soak the rich" tendency. They are unhappy with the idea of scrapping the 50% top rate and want the pledge retained for those on incomes above £150,000. If they win the day the new leader will have suffered the embarrassment of losing his first big battle. He will also struggle to convince voters that his party has anything fresh to offer. It is a test of how serious the Lib Dems are.

OUR COMMENT: He got his tax plan through. It included two green taxes, a higher excise duty on high emission cars, and an aircraft tax based on carbon emissions to replace airport passenger duty. Will the other Parties take the plunge and begin to do what is necessary?

Pat Dale


20 September 2006

MORE WARNINGS

'New climate' detected as Britain grows ever hotter

Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor - The Independent - 19 September 2006

England has become a full degree Celsius warmer since the Beatles started playing - and human activity is the cause, according to research released yesterday.

Since 1960, when John, Paul and George formed their legendary band - Ringo came later - the average temperature in England has undergone a remarkably steep rise, according to the research, released by the UK Met Office. Yet scientists are convinced that the new warmth, which is allowing red wine to be made in Surrey and olives to be grown in Devon, is not part of the climate's natural variability.

Instead, it is part of the global warming being caused by emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from industry and transport.

Furthermore, the warming of England is proceeding much more rapidly than the warming of the Earth as a whole, which has warmed by about 0.6C over the last century. England's average temperature has increased by nearly double that rate, in less than half the time. This is because the land is warming more quickly than the sea, and land at high latitudes - nearer the Poles - is warming more quickly than at low ones.

The new findings, which represent the first time that man-made climate change has ever been identified at such a local level, were unveiled yesterday at the Climate Clinic at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Brighton.

Created by Britain's major environmental group - with The Independent as media partner - the Climate Clinic is a roadshow-cum-think tank formed to press for tougher action on climate change. It will be lobbying hard at all three party conferences.

The new research was set out in Brighton by one of Britain's leading climate scientists, Dr Peter Stott of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. It is based on close analysis of the Central England Temperature record (CET), which is the longest-running series of temperature data in the world, dating back to 1659. (By comparison, the global temperature record dates back only to 1860.)

The CET represents a roughly triangular area of the UK enclosed by Bristol, Lancashire and London. It is now calculated as the average of the surface air temperature at three stations: Stonyhurst in Lancashire, Pershore in Worcestershire and Rothamsted in Hertfordshire.

Although the record has always gone up and down, at the end of the 1950s the CET average began a climb which is still continuing; the average has risen a full degree in just over 45 years, from 9.4C to 10.4C, giving England the beginnings of a new climate. Investigation of this rise by Dr Stott and another senior scientist, David Karoly from the University of Oklahoma in the US, which was also published yesterday in the journal Atmospheric Science Letters, has identified a man-made climate change "signal", meaning it cannot be explained by the climate's natural variation.

The recent warming they have detected "is consistent with the model response to increasing greenhouse gases ... and is not consistent with response to changes in natural external forcing, or to natural internal climate variations," Dr Stott and Dr Karoly say in their paper.

One of the significant points about the research is that it is the first time that scientists have looked at such a small geographical area and identified a temperature rise that can only be explained by anthropogenic (human-induced) factors.

In Brighton yesterday, Dr Stott said: "This is a remarkable anthropogenic signal. Sharp spikes in warming have been recorded in regions across the world, but because we in the UK hold this unique temperature record stretching back nearly 350 years we are able to say that background climate 'noise' can't reasonably be held responsible for what's happening in Central England."

"This is the first time anywhere in the world that climate scientists have been able to look at a small geographical area, identify significant warming and say humans have very likely played a part."

Changing way of life

BURGUNDY ON THE NORTH DOWNS
Although white wine grapes can do well here, England has hitherto always been too cool for red wine grapes, and in particular for the pinot noir, the classic grape of Burgundy. But at the Denbies wine estate near Dorking, Surrey - on the North Downs, 25 miles from central London - the pinot noir grape is now flourishing and producing a delicious Burgundy, English-style. (But be warned: it's not cheap.)

RING OUZELS DISAPPEARING
Britain's mountain blackbird, the ring ouzel, which lives on cool mountain tops and high moors, is disappearing because of rising atmospheric temperatures, scientists believe. Numbers of the attractive black and white bird have dropped by almost 60 per cent in the past decade, in the English and Welsh moorlands and in Scotland. They have already gone from the Long Mynd, a ridge of high ground in south Shropshire, where there were 12 pairs in 1999.

HAY FEVER RAMPANT
The warmer climate is to blame for the steadily rising numbers of Britons suffering from hay fever, according to the UK's leading pollen specialist. Pollen seasons are lengthening and the pollen itself is provoking a more powerful reaction - a situation already being reflected in rising GP consultation rates for hay fever, according to Professor Jean Emberlin, director of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the University of Worcester.

OLIVES IN DEVON
Britain's first olive grove has been planted in Devon. Temperatures have risen so far in recent years that it is now considered possible to grow the iconic fruit of the Mediterranean countries commercially in southern England. Mark Diacono, a Devon smallholder, has planted a grove of 120 olive trees on the banks of the river Otter near Honiton. He hopes for a commercial crop which will produce Britain's first home-grown olive oil in five to seven years.


20 September 2006

GLOBAL WARMING TO WASH AWAY BEACHES,
WARNS SPANISH STUDY

Giles Tremlett in Madrid - The Guardian - 11 September 2006

The fight for space on Spain's beaches looks set to grow fiercer over the next four decades as the sand starts to disappear under a rising sea that also threatens to flood beach-side homes, according to a Spanish environment ministry report.

Spain's beaches are expected to shrink by an average of 15 metres (50ft) by 2050 as global warming causes sea levels to creep up while stronger waves and currents eat away at the coastline.

In some of the worst hit resorts, unprotected beaches could vanish altogether while salt water washes into holiday homes, the authors warn.

"I wouldn't buy a house in La Manga," said the report's coordinator, Professor Raúl Medina, referring to an area in the south-eastern region of Murcia popular with British holiday-home buyers.

"It is a bad investment because I doubt that my children would be able to use it," he told the newspaper El País.

Global warming is melting the icecaps and raising sea levels around Spain by 2.5mm a year. By 2050 that will mean a 12cm-15cm rise, with northern Spain's Atlantic coast suffering most.

The Mediterranean coast, where many resorts already have to truck in sand each spring, will lose an average of around 10 metres of beach by 2050.

Hotel owners in the southern Costa del Sol have already asked for permission to bring in their own sand as beaches begin to shrink. The report also recommends that sea walls be raised in some Spanish ports and that planning permits for beach-side buildings take into account the changing shape of the coastline.

It also warns that some of Europe's most important wetland sites will be hit.

The Albufera of Valencia and the delta of the River Ebro as well as the Dóana national park in south-west Spain - one of Europe's biggest nature reserves - will all suffer the consequences of rising water levels and higher salinity.

"It will be even worse by the end of the century, when a lot of today's children will still be alive," warned the ministry's top climate change official, Arturo Gonzalo.

As climate change quickened, he said, so too would the rate at which sea levels rose. "The sea level will have risen between half a metre and a metre by the end of the century, and up to 50 metres of beach will disappear in some areas."

The warnings came as Spain's sweltering summer showed little sign of abating this month. Twenty cities have posted record monthly temperatures in the first week of the month, with the north-western city of Ourense recording a temperature of 41.4C (107F).

Farmers in Murcia, meanwhile, gathered to pray for autumn rains to prevent a third consecutive year of drought. Some 2,000 farmers asked the Virgin of Fuensanta, Murcia's patron saint, for rain.

Rainfall over the year up to September was 15% down on the average. The previous year had been 21% down, Spain's meteorology institute reported.


20 September 2006

TODAY'S REALITY - A HOLIDAY?

Airports fight move to loosen curbs on plane hand luggage

The Sunday Times - 17 September 2006

AIRPORT managers are resisting a government plan for a partial easing of baggage restrictions for passengers because, they claim, it will create confusion and worsen chaos at airports, writes Dominic O'Connell.

Douglas Alexander, the transport secretary, wants to increase the maximum size of hand luggage allowed on planes and to let passengers carry small amounts of liquids. Discussions are under way between Alexander, the airports and the airlines in the hope of reaching agreement in time to make an announcement tomorrow and to bring the changes into force on Friday.

Tight restrictions on what can be carried on planes were introduced last month after an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic jets using liquid explosives in toiletries and drinks bottles was foiled.

Even if the rules were relaxed to allow passengers to carry liquids there would still be restrictions on the size of bottles. Airports argue that this could create severe delays. One senior airport executive said: "This would double the amount of items being x-rayed. It would be a big addition to the workload of security staff who are already flat out with extra body searches and shoe searches."

Critics have accused Alexander of being too ready to give in to the lobbying of airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair. BA has been hard hit by the liquids curb because of its large number of business passengers going on short trips for which they carry overnight toiletries.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has been the most outspoken critic of the restrictions on hand luggage. His and other budget airlines achieve fast turnaround times partly because they discourage passengers from checking luggage into the hold.

Alexander plans to increase the permitted size of cabin bags from 45cm x 35cm x 16cm (approximately 18in x 14in x 6in) probably to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. This change is not opposed by airports. BAA, which runs Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, declined to comment yesterday.

O'Leary has threatened to sue the government for income lost because of the introduction of the security measures.


16 September 2006

WE NEED ACTION NOW!

Warning: bigger carbon cut needed to avoid disaster

Leading researchers say government has misled public
and call for 90% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050

John Vidal, Environment Editor - The Guardian - 15 September 2006

Drastic action is needed if Britain is to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, a ground-breaking environmental report warns today.

In the first big study of what households, business and government may have to do to cut carbon emissions, the leading climate change research body has revised upwards by 50% the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that need to be achieved by 2050.

The government-funded Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research says this is necessary because successive governments have failed to include aviation or shipping emissions in their calculations.

At the moment, the government's estimate is that a 60% cut in emissions is needed to avoid a 2C increase in temperatures by 2050. But the authors of today's study conclude that a 90% cut in emissions is needed. Their data suggests that when aviation and shipping is factored in, UK carbon emissions have not fallen at all since 1990.

In a scathing report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and the Cooperative Bank, the Tyndall Centre academics lambast successive governments for misleading the public on what has been achieved and what needs to be done.

"The government's carbon reduction policies continue to be informed by a partial inventory which omits the two important and rapidly growing sectors of air transport and shipping ... There is a clear void between the scale of the problem and the actual policy mechanisms proposed," the report says.

It proposes radical ideas to effect change, predicting that most buildings will have to generate their own electricity, double-decker trains will transport people to work, and planes might not be allowed to take off unless they are nearly full.

But the report says that 90% cuts are achievable if measures are taken within four years to stabilise emissions. Beyond 2010, it says, annual cuts of 9% will be needed for the next 20 years.

If the measures are not introduced urgently, say the authors, much more drastic and much less manageable cuts will be needed later.

The authors say that little new technology or investment in infrastructure will be needed to reduce emissions, apart from the development of hydrogen as a fuel, and carbon capture as a way to store carbon dioxide.

Instead they say that the government can encourage all sectors of society to become far more energy efficient, generating their own power and saving energy at all points.

However, they propose that Britain become the first country in the world to introduce a wide-ranging carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. They envisage that everyone would be able to trade emissions, with those who do not use much energy able to sell their quotas to those who use a lot. They also propose that aviation, the fastest growing emitter of carbon dioxide, be given a stringent cap on its emissions.

"The UK has reached a tipping point. If the government's carbon dioxide targets are actually to have meaning the government must act now to curb dramatically the nation's carbon dioxide emissions," says the report.

"The message is stark. We are deluding ourselves [if we] wait for technology or emission trading to offer a smooth transition to a low carbon future. The real challenge is making a radical shift within four years and driving down carbon intensity at an unprecedented 9% a year for up to 20 years."

Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "To turn this road map into reality we need a law that commits this and future governments to making annual cuts in the UK's carbon emissions. Without legislation to force government to reduce emissions annually, politicians will continue to place short-term gains ahead of the long-term decisions needed to get to grips with climate change."

Dr Kevin Anderson, research director of the Tyndall Centre's energy and climate change programme, said: "Our research demonstrates that the UK can move to a low carbon economy. But the journey will become much more demanding the longer the government leaves it to act."

He added: "To make a smooth transition to a low carbon future the individuals need immediately to begin to implement a major action programme."

Railways

By 2030, railways could be entering their greatest era. Trains are expected to remain the most carbon efficient mode of transport after cycling and walking, and the authors expect the British network to grow by 25% in 25 years as people forsake short haul flights for a new generation of high-speed trains linking national and European urban centres.

By 2030, the authors say, double-decker trains could be introduced to increase capacity. Not only will passenger numbers grow, but operators will be encouraged to run longer and fuller trains on more energy efficient fuels. Rail freight will increase, but will be curtailed because the existing lines will be used more for passenger traffic. Track improvements will also be needed to reduce emissions.

Industry

If Britain is to meet a 90% cut in emissions, the government must slow energy consumption and shift the economy towards renewables. The biggest emission savings, say the authors, will come from capturing and storing carbon emissions from coal and gas, and the generation of wave, wind and tidal energy.

By 2030, the authors expect wood and fuel crops to be heating public buildings and housing estates, and up to 36% of all electricity to come from renewables, compared with less than 5% today and 10% in 2010. A further 15% will come from "on site" micro-generation by buildings and appliances.

A big change in industrial processes and technologies will be needed, and reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions will become essential in industrial design. Energy demand from appliances may overall stay the same but the emissions from air conditioning, refrigerators, computers and mobile phones can be greatly decreased.

By 2050, industry will be located in hubs, so the waste heat from one manufacturing process is used by another. It will be far less carbon intensive when it uses hydrogen instead of gas and starts generating its own renewable electricity.

By 2050, hydrogen fuel made from both fossil fuels and renewables will be used widely by industry for transport and heating. Hydrogen fuel will also be produced at filling stations by a process called renewable electrolysis, with huge arrays of solar panels placed on embankments.

Roads

Cars and cities will have to transform themselves by 2030 if the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets. The biggest emission savings will come from the shift from oil to alternative fuels, and as cities effectively ban private transport from their centres. By 2030 the Tyndall report says there may be 13% fewer cars on the roads a wider choice of fuels including electricity, hydrogen, and biofuels.

A network of "multi-fuel" filling stations will be needed. Cars will generally be lighter and more efficient. In the short and medium term, say the authors, the government could increase road tax on inefficient vehicles, decrease the speed limit on motorways to 60mph, set minimum emission standards for company car fleets and encourage public transport.

By 2050, the authors say most cars will be run on fuel cells or by electricity and emissions could have reduced to practically nothing.

Buildings

Anticipating population growth, and a shift of people to the south, the authors expect roughly 2m new buildings in the next 45 years, but say that if high construction standards are introduced they need add little or nothing to overall CO2 emissions. But they consider some existing houses to be so energy inefficient that they may have to be demolished.

By 2030, the majority of homes would have highly efficient insulation and roofs, and would have begun to generate their own electricity from wind turbines and solar panels. In addition, the government could ban the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs in favour of LEDs. The authors suggest that by 2030, all individuals could be part of a carbon emission trading scheme, allowing people who do not travel much or burn much energy to trade quotas with those who are energy profligate. By 2050, little energy will be needed to heat or cool buildings.

Aviation

Over the next decade the aviation industry will come under intense pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It can achieve big cuts by developing lighter planes that burn less carbon-intensive fuels, and could also return to more efficient turboprop planes for short flights. Governments could demand speed limits on planes, ban larger ones from short haul flights and allow them to take off only if they are at least half full.

The Tyndall authors expect biofuels increasingly to be grown for aviation over the next 25 years and suggest that the government could increase the tax on flying. In addition, a moratorium could be put on runway building, aviation could be brought into an emission trading scheme and the industry could be given a cap on emissions.

By 2050, the authors say, domestic aviation will have greatly decreased as people shift to high-speed trains, and a combination of greater fuel efficiency and restraint encouraged by personal emission trading could reduce greenhouse gases from air travel to about one third of today's level.

OUR COMMENT: The Government has had a clear warning. Aviation expansion as proposed in the Aviation White Paper would be disastrous for all of us. Rethink the proposals!

Pat Dale


ANOTHER WARNING

Massive surge in disappearance of
Arctic sea ice sparks global warning

Arctic meltdown is speeding up... sea ice is vanishing faster than ever before... polar bears face extinction... and America's top climate scientist warns we only have a decade to save the planet

Michael McCarthy and David Usborne - The Independent - 15 September 2006

The melting of the sea ice in the Arctic, the clearest sign so far of global warming, has taken a sudden and enormous leap forward, in one of the most ominous developments yet in the onset of climate change.

Two separate studies by Nasa, using different satellite monitoring technologies, both show a great surge in the disappearance of Arctic ice cover in the last two years.

One, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, shows that Arctic perennial sea ice, which normally survives the summer melt season and remains year-round, shrank by 14 per cent in just 12 months between 2004 and 2005.

The overall decrease in the ice cover was 720,000 sq km (280,000 sq miles) - an area almost the size of Turkey, gone in a single year.

The other study, from the Goddard Space Flight Centre, in Maryland, shows that the perennial ice melting rate, which has averaged 0.15 per cent a year since satellite observations began in 1979, has suddenly accelerated hugely. In the past two winters the rate has increased to six per cent a year - that is, it has got more than 30 times faster.

The changes are alarming scientists and environmentalists, because they far exceed the rate at which supercomputer models of climate change predict the Arctic ice will melt under the influence of global warming - which is rapid enough.

If climate change is not checked, the Arctic ice will all be gone by 2070, and people will be able to sail to the North Pole. But if these new rates of melting are maintained, the Arctic ice will all be gone decades before that.

The implications are colossal. It will mean extinction in the wild - in the lifetime of children alive today - for one of the world's most majestic creatures, the polar bear, which needs the ice to hunt seals.

It means the possibility of a lethal "feedback" mechanism speeding up global warming, because the dark surface of the open Arctic ocean will absorb the sun's heat, rather than reflect it as the ice cover does now - and so the world will get even hotter.

But most of all, the new developments add to the growing concern that climate change as a process is starting to happen much faster than scientists considered it would, even five years ago when the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its last report.

"These are the latest in a long series of recent studies, all telling us that climate change is faster and nastier than we thought," said Tom Burke, a former government green adviser and now a visiting professor at Imperial College London. "An abyss is opening up between the speed at which the climate is changing and the speed at which governments are responding.

"We must stop thinking that this is just another environmental problem, to be dealt with when time and resources allow, and realise that this is an increasingly urgent threat to our security and prosperity."

Yesterday, Jim Hansen, the leading climatologist and director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York, issued a now-or-never warning to governments around the world, including his own, telling them they must take radical action to avert a planetary environmental catastrophe. He said it was no longer viable for nations to adopt a "business as usual" stance on fossil-fuel consumption.

"I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most," he said.

Early in his first term, President George Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto Treaty that is meant to bind nations to lower emissions of warming gases. However, opinion in the US is starting to change, as evidenced by the huge success of the documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, narrated by the former US vice-president Senator Al Gore.

The two Nasa Arctic studies, released simultaneously, break fresh ground in dealing with the perennial, or "multi-winter" ice, rather than the "seasonal" ice at the edge of the icefield, which melts every summer.

Concern about the melting rate has hitherto focused on the seasonal ice, whose summer disappearance and retreat from the landmasses of Arctic Canada and Siberia is increasingly obvious. In September 2005, it retreated to the lowest level recorded. Such rapid shrinkage of the perennial ice has not been shown before. "It is alarming," said Joey Camiso, who led the Goddard study. "We've witnessed sea ice reduction at 6 per cent per year over just the last two winters, most likely a result of warming due to greenhouse gases."

Dr Son Nghiem, who led the team which carried out the Jet Propulsion Laboratory study, said that in previous years there had some variability in the extent of perennial Arctic ice. "But it is much smaller and regional," he said. "However, the change we see between 2004 and 2005 is enormous." Britain's Professor Julian Dowdeswell, the director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, agreed the changes shown in the American studies were "huge", adding: "It remains to be seen whether the rate of change is maintained in future years."

The melting of the Arctic ice will not itself contribute to global sea-level rise, as the ice floating in the sea is already displacing its own mass in the water. When the ice cube melts in your gin and tonic, the liquid in your glass does not rise.

There are great volumes of land-based ice - the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and mountain glaciers - which are subject to exactly the same temperature rises as the Arctic ice, and which have also started to melt. They will add to sea levels. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet would, if it were to collapse, raise sea levels around the world by 16ft (5m), submerging large parts of Bangladesh and Egypt - and London.


16 September 2006

CARBON TRADING 'MUST NOT BECOME A PANACEA' - WWF

ENDS Europe DAILY 2163 - 14 September 2006

Efforts to refine the European emission trading scheme (ETS) must not deflect political attention from policies needed to improve energy efficiency, WWF told stakeholders at a seminar on the future of the ETS in Brussels on Monday.

Measures to promote lower-carbon road transport are for example urgently needed, the head of WWF UK's climate programme, Keith Allott, said.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas emphasised the need for additional measures to curb aviation's climate impact even if the sector is incorporated into the EU ETS.

Seminar organised by IPPR http://www.ippr.org.uk/, see discussion paper www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=476.


16 September 2006

Stansted Airport News

"Lack of Response" delays Stansted expansion decision

Sndra Perry - Herts & Essex Observer - 14 September 2006

A decision by planners on Stansted airport's bid to expand to about 35 mppa has been delayed to the surprise of key players. Uttlesford District Council announced on Monday it would not be able to decide the application by BAA on September 27th as expected – it would have to be deferred until November at the earliest.

It blamed delays in receiving responses from the Highways Agency, Network Rail, 'One Railway', the DfT's Rail section and BAA. But these organisations passed the buck back to Uttlesford. The Highway's Agency said it had written only on September 4th to say it was unable to need an extension until November and was likely to be able to respond before September 27th.

The DfT said at no time over the past 16 weeks had the Council indicated information not yet received from it would lead to a significant delay and Network Rail said it was still awaiting formal consultation details from Uttlesford to outline what additional information was required.

BAA was also "surprised" and said it too, was still to receive formal notice of what additional information Uttlesford required on noise, traffic and air quality issues. In response, Uttlesford said it stood by its original statement. A spokesman added that the Highways Agency was now less definite, issuing words such as "likely" and that it had heard "not a dicky bird" from DfT and Network Rail in response to its original requests.

Council Leader Mark Gayler said: "I am extremely disappointed that the time scale for handling this application has been stretched and I regret the continuing uncertainty that this causes for the local community".

If BAA, highways and rail agencies had done their job properly this delay would not have occurred, he said. Stansted Airport is seeking to maximise use of the existing single runway by applying for an increase from 241,000 air transport movements a year to 264,000, equivalent to about 35 mppa.

OUR COMMENT: A ragbag of excuses. Surely the transport agencies and the DfT Rail realise that 10-15 or more mppa will mean more passengers on the roads and the rail. We were told at the Inquiry into the Draft East of England Plan that congestion was present on the M11 and expected to increase, and that over-crowding of trains at peak time would occur if the number of commuters increased. Also, it may interest commuters to know that trains are not regarded as overcrowded until all standing spaces have been filled! These agencies are supposed to be advising or running essential businesses and we would expect them to be anxious to appraise Uttlesford Council of the possible future situation at the earliest possible time. As for BAA….

Pat Dale


12 September 2006

RIVALS VIE OVER HOW GREEN IS THEIR HIGH-TECH AIR LINER

Habs Kundnani - The Guardian - 5 September 2006

For three decades, Airbus and Boeing have been engaged in a titanic battle for supremacy in the global market for continental airliners. But with soaring oil prices as well as increasing pressure from environmental pressure groups and governments over CO2 emissions, that battleground is increasingly shifting to fuel efficiency.

Boeing;s strategy is to build its aircraft - such as the new 787 Dreamliner - from revolutionary plastics that reduce weight and therefore fuel use and CO2 emissions. Airbus, meanwhile is placing its face in the Airbus 380, whose sheer size it says, reduces the amount of fuel used per passenger, while also adding an all-new A 350 mid-sized long-haul jet as a direct rival to the 787.

For all its technical problems, Airbus argues that, environmentally, the A 380 is a great leap forward. Seating 550 passengers or 800 in an economy-only configuration Airbus says that, if full, it uses 2,9 litres of fuel per person per 100 Km, making it the first sub-3 litre airliner - more efficient than the latest family car.

Boeing has its own new jumbo jet that it is pitching against the A 380 from 2010. It says the 450 seat 747-8 - the latest incarnation of the familiar jumbo that has flown since 1969 - will be far quieter and more fuel efficient than the 747-400, which cam out in the 1980s, and the A380.

But the airliner that Boeing really thinks will take the market share from Airbus is the much smaller 787, which will seat up to 290 passengers, but have a similar range as the A380 of around 8000 nautical miles.

The 787 has been so popular with airlines that it forced Airbus into a belated redesign of it's a 350, which was originally little more than an updated A 330 and attracted only 100 orders, compared with 360 for the 787. Airbus released details of the new A 350 XWB (standing for extra wide body) in July and cannot yet say how fuel efficient it will be.

The 787's fuselage is made largely of light weight carbon fibre composite materials instead of the traditional aircraft aluminium, which Boeing says makes it 20% more fuel efficient than other jets of its size. It says the 787 could use as little as 2.3 litres per passenger per 100 KM.

Boeing says, using composites, which are added to the fuselage in layers during construction, also means it wastes less material than it does cutting a body of an aircraft from sheets of aluminium. "Its more like making a jacket than a sculpture" says Bill Glover, Boeing's director of environmental performance for commercial airplanes.

It was Airbus that pioneered the use of composites and it has long used them for tail fins, rudders and even wings. But until recently the European firm said they were too risky for a fuselage and pointed to the problems Boeing was having after the US company admitted that engineers had discovered tiny bubbles between the Dreamliner's layers of composite.

Now, however, with airlines clamouring for its rival's Dreamliner, Airbus has been forced to increase its own use of composites. The company's new chief technical officer, Jean Botti, has spent virtually his entire time on composites since taking on the job.

Airbus and Boeing's two key products, the A 380 and the 787, reflect two very different visions of what the market for commercial air travel will look like in an increasingly environmentally conscious future.

The idea behind the A 380 is that airlines will pack large numbers of people in huge aircraft flying between big airports on different continents and then put them on short haul flights on smaller planes to get to their destinations - what Tom Williams, former head of Airbus UK, calls the "urbanisation" case.

Airbus believes this "hub and spoke" model, which relies on large aircraft being as full as possible, is the best way to make flying both cheap and environmentally friendly. Boeing, on the other hand, thinks the market for giant planes like the a 380 is much smaller than Airbus does. It also believes that its planes are now advanced enough to by-pass hubs and fly smaller numbers of people directly between mid-sized cities around the globe.

For example, to get from Tokyo to Vienna, one would normally fly from Tokyo to Frankfurt, then switch planes and fly from Frankfurt to Vienna. Boeing says it makes more sense to fly directly from Tokyo to Vienna and that the Dreamliner makes this economically viable for the first time.

It says that this "point to point" model is also better from an environmental point of view; aircraft will use less fuel, take-off and land less frequently, and there will be less congestion at hubs. It estimates that between 30% and 50% of all traffic at hub airports are just passing through.

A study by researchers at Cranfield University is quoted to support Boeing's case. "The noise and emissions social cost impact of the hub by-pass networks was sufficiently lower than the hub to hub in all cases" the researchers say.

Mike Mason, the founder of Oxford based Climate Care agrees that flying point to point would reduce CO2 emissions. But he adds that, by making flying more convenient, it could increase demand, which would ultimately be worse for the environment. "Paradoxically, the best thing for the environment would be a really crappy airoplane that no one wants to fly on" he says.


IT SEEMS THAT THE MARKET IS STILL WAITING
FOR THAT GREEN PLANE!

Future Flight Greener by Design

A new national competition has been launched to design an environmentally-friendly airliner for 2050.

Details of the competition can be found on: www.futureflight.org - including information and lesson plans about aviation, travel and the environment.

The initiative is funded by EPSRC, with many partners such as Airbus and Microsoft. The 2006 competition will be launched at International Youth Day, Farnborough International Airshow, 21/7/2006.


12 September 2006

GREEN LIGHT FOR 28 NEW CLIMATE CHANGE
PROJECTS IN THE UK

Carbonfree.co.uk website - 9 September 2006

The Government has announced the go-ahead for 28 new projects in its campaign to change public attitudes to understanding and tackling climate change.

The projects, totalling £3.5m, are designed to form part of an innovative new approach to raise awareness at regional and local level of the urgent need to tackle climate change, following the announcement of 53 successful projects in June.

Among the successful projects announced are plans to educate children about carbon footprints through a carbon calculator; using community radio to get across key climate change messages to the ethnic community in Bradford, bringing together community based film-makers and communicators in Bristol to work with young people in the development of short climate change films and an interactive "Climate Dome" to tour the North East.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson said it was important to develop new and exciting ways of communicating climate change so that new audiences and communities at national, regional and local level could understand the need to change their attitude towards the issue.

Speaking on a sustainable development visit today to Nottinghamshire, Mr Pearson said: "I am pleased to announce the final 28 successful Climate Challenge Fund project today. These grass-roots communication projects on climate change are vital to help change people's attitudes to climate change - the largest single environmental threat facing this generation.

"Too often, we still disregard the environment and waste too much energy. It is important that we all recognise the need to move towards one planet living," he added.

The Climate Challenge Fund was set up to provide financial support for communications projects across a full range of media, seeking to achieve positive changes in public attitudes about climate change. Defra received more than 500 applications from across England totalling nearly £60m worth of bids.

Seven of the winners in this tranche submitted projects covering the whole of England; five were from the North West and West Midlands; four from the South West; two from Yorkshire and Humberside and one each from the East of England, East Midlands, London, North East and South East.


12 September 2006

A BETTER SOLUTION?

Try taking the boat or train

Letter of the Week - New Statesman - 8 September 2006

It's a shame. Ray Brown doesn't know anyone who considers environmental issues when planning holidays (Letters, 4th September), because growing numbers of us do exist. At 24, I've already flown a lot in my short life, long and short haul, but since discovering the huge impact my flights have had on the climate I've decided to cease using air travel for holidays or commuting.

I'm so certain this is the right thing to do that I have started a web site to extol the benefits of travelling without flying and to help others do the same: www.flyless.info

This autumn I'm travelling to America on a green "fact-finding" trip. I'll be crossing the Atlantic by freighter ship and then the States by train. Travelling sustainably need not be a sacrifice. It's time policy makers began using sticks to curb unsustainable travel, but they must also sell to us the juicy carrots that come with "slow travel".

Jack Guest
Norwich


12 September 2006

TORIES WANT WORLD BODY ON EMISSIONS

Fiona Harvey - Financial Times - 11 September 2006

A global body with similar scope to the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund should regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the Conservative party will suggest today. The body would enforce worldwide cuts in emissions after 2012, when the current provisions of the Kyoto protocol on climate change expire.

Peter Ainsworth, Tory shadow environment secretary, said the "global climate change emissions authority" would create a level playing field for companies reducing their emissions, and would ensure that the fledgling international market in carbon trading remained in existence after 2012.

Companies needed this kind of long-term certainty to make substantial investments in technology to reduce their greenhouse gas output, and he criticised Tony Blair for failing to begin work on a post-2012 framework for cutting emissions.


5 September 2006

AIRPORTS OWNER REJECTS BREAK-UP
AS 'POISONOUS COCKTAIL'

Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 1 September 2006

BAA, Britain's largest airport owner, has rejected calls from airlines that it should be broken up, warning that it would be "a poisonous cocktail for consumers". The owner of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports has been criticised by airlines for its handling of the recent security crisis, which led to the cancellation of thousands of flights at an estimated cost of £300m to the aviation industry.

The public relations disaster came in the middle of an Office of Fair Trading investigation into British airports, which is to report by the end of the year. BAA, bought by the Spanish group Ferrovial this year, submitted its response to the inquiry yesterday, after submissions by British Airways and Ryanair last week that called for the break-up of the company.

Nearly two-thirds of people who fly in and out of Britain go through BAA airports. Stephen Nelson, BAA chief executive, said BAA and Ryanair were demanding action because they wanted more control over prices and investment at airports.

The Civil Aviation Authority caps the amount BAA can charge airlines for using its London airports. The company said airlines wanted to reduce those fees and break up ownership of London assets, this endangering investment in extra capacity at Heathrow and Stansted.

"Failure to build new runway capacity will lead to gridlock, disappointed customers and significant loss to the national economy," Mr Nelson said, "Despite this, some airlines want to break up BAA and impose even heavier price regulation. This have-it-both-ways proposal would be a poisonous cocktail for consumers. It risks setting back the much needed investment programme which BAA is pursuing, to transform London's airports like Heathrow terminal five, Heathrow East (a proposed development at them airport) and the Stansted second runway."

BAA added in its submission that the airports market was "imperfect" because most people used the airport closest to where they lived or one that offered flights to their preferred destination. Factors such as allocation of take-off and landing slots also distorted the market, the company said. A break-up would threaten investment, outweighing any benefit to consumers in price or choice.

"We are not saying that the current situation is perfect and we welcome the OFT's review as long as it is wide-ranging and evidence based. The OFT needs to consider regulation as well as ownership structures."

BA argued in its submission last week that BAA is dragging its heels over expanding capacity at Heathrow and Stansted, something BAA denies. Ryanair added that regulation of the company by the Civil Aviation Authority was inefficient, setting price caps that allowed BAA to build "gold-plated facilities" at its airports that are of no use to its customers.

OUR COMMENT: An interesting price war using the un-consulted consumers as the excuse. For most of us and also, hopefully the government, the real question should be "How much extra capacity can be accommodated in view of the threat of climate change?" The Government should be seriously reviewing the Aviation White Paper in the light of recent scientific advice, recent adverse weather events and environmental reports from the polar ice, and the changes occurring in the sea CO2 levels.

Pat Dale


5 September 2006

FIGHTING US ON THE BEACHES: RYANAIR'S CHEAP
NORMANDY LANDINGS ENRAGE CHIC DEAUVILLE

Angelique Chrisafis - The Guardian - 4 September 2006

At the half-timbered clubhouse of a Normandy golf course, Christiane Célice looked up from her lunch and stared across towards the Channel. "Isn't it beautiful?" she sighed. "Now imagine if a Boeing 737 thundered past, it would ruin the whole effect. We must fight to the end."

From her 19th century cottage, the former antique dealer is leading a battle against the imminent arrival of Ryanair to Deauville, the ultimate chic beach resort on the Normandy Riviera.

The Irish low-budget airline next month starts three flights a week from Stansted to the Calvados town after striking a deal with the local mayor. In a standard transaction by small towns keen to attract low-cost flights from Britain, Deauville town hall itself will meet the cost of advertising the new route to England, paying Euros170,000 a year (£114,000) in monthly instalments.

To Madame Célice and her growing protest group it is unthinkable to spend French taxpayers' money promoting a non-French company. She believes the new route will damage the tranquillity of an area once beloved of Gustave Flaubert and Marcel Proust, lower the price of homes and crowd the roads.

"We're considering legal action," she said. "Not against Ryanair, but against our local representatives. Why should French taxpayers' money be spent on this?"

Network

Picturesque Deauville is nicknamed "the 21st arrondissement" for the Parisians who swell the population of 4,500 to 30,000 in the summer. Coco Chanel opened her first boutique here and Yves Saint-Laurent owns a house nearby. The town's film festival, casino, polo matches and thoroughbred horse fairs attract celebrities and foreign visitors in private jets but, to Madame Célice, regular Ryanair flights are a step too far.

Her group recently held its first public meeting. Those who spoke included the TV presenter Frédéric Mitterrand, nephew of the former president. Some feared the worst. The owner of a smart restaurant currently occupying the second floor of the tine airport fears he could be shut down for a snack bar.

"We're not anti-English," Madame Célice said. "From William the conquerer to the Normandy landings and the liberation there has always been a link across the Channel here - we get on exceptionally well with the English. But you can't build an airport for every house or village where English, German or Italian people are."

The debate on Deauville reflects the growing network of low-cost flights between England and France. Until now, Normandy, where at least 9,000 British people own homes, was the only region without a budget route to Britain. Over the past 6 years dozens of small French towns have made deals with budget airlines, acknowledging that a cheap "commuter" flight to Britain can boost tourism, business and property sales. Some new routes have been followed by an influx of British people buying second homes or moving to France.

Ryanair already has agreements with 19 state owned airports in France to transport what its founder Michael O'Leary calls "the chateau owners of the shires".

In the south-west, Bergerac is an example of how a region can be transformed. In 2001, before the first Buzz flights from Stansted, the airport handled 16,000 flights a year. In 2005 250,000 passengers passed through on several new routes as the Dordogne enjoyed a boom in British house buyers. A new book analysing the effect of low-cost routes on the region is called "Help, the English are invading us!"

Paradox

Its author, José-Alain Fralon, says: "There is a certain amount of envy. Why have low-cost flights for the English when we don't have them for ourselves? There are currently five or six different flights between Bergerac and England, but none between Bergerac and Paris. Some people question why France gives money to foreign companies which will compete with our TGV (high speed trains). But the paradox is that France has the greatest number of small airports of any European country and in a way the British have aided decentralisation with these flights."

On the beach at Deauville, Christian Fougeray, head of the chamber of commerce and the syndicate that owns the airport, said the protestors were in the minority. He said that the Euros 600,000 that local authorities will spend improving the airport would have been spent regardless. The airline would bring 40,000 passengers a year, creating jobs. "Its fantastic for tourism, brilliant for business and it makes perfect sense," he said.

Building a sandcastle with his son, one Londoner who took 7 hours to drive his family over on the ferry said the flights would transform the journey.

At the picturesque neo-Norman town hall, the mayor, Philippe Augier, brushed aside the suggestion that budget flights from England would cheapen the resort's image. "Yes, Deauville is in many ways a celebrity town, but everyone is welcome here," he said.

"The very rich don't keep the small businesses open here" observed one local restaurant owner.

In the Jardin des Délices shop where British tourists buy Calvados, the owner Pascal Bultez was checking the Ryanair website. "A return flight for Euros33? Can it be true? I haven't flown to London before, but I'll definitely be doing it now".

OUR COMMENT: The other side of the coin! The same arguments!

Pat Dale


5 September 2006

CAMERON JOINS GREEN CALL ON EMISSIONS

Brendan Carlin, Political Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 2 September 2006

David Cameron called on Tony Blair yesterday to introduce annual targets for reducing harmful carbon emissions. The Tory leader said that real action on the environment was "Mr Blair's chance to make a legacy for himself."

The Government sets long-term targets for reducing harmful emissions, including the aim of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. But a coalition of organisations, including Friends of the Earth (FoE), has called for stricter, annual targets as damage from global warming is "cumulative".

Yesterday, Mr Cameron threw his weight behind the coalition's call. Speaking at a press conference co-hosted by FoE in Devon, he urged Labour to put aside "petty party differences" and join a cross-party consensus to introduce the legislation in the next Queen's Speech.

The Tories indicated this week that they were prepared to consider imposing huge tax increases on motorists and on air travel.

Mr Cameron said: "Annual targets will make it much harder for any one government to shirk responsibility, hoping that another will get back on track for 2050."


DAVID CAMERON CALLS FOR CLIMATE CHANGE BILL

Press Notice - Conservative Party - 1 September 2006

David Cameron will today join Friends of the Earth in calling for a Climate Change Bill to be included in this years Queen's Speech. Speaking in Devon, alongside Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper, David Cameron will say:

"There is a growing consensus at Westminster about the danger that climate change represents to the future of our planet. But despite many speeches and pronouncements on this vital issue by everyone from the Prime Minister to the lowest Parliamentary Under Secretary, Ministers' rhetoric is failing to translate into Government action that in any way matches up to the scale of the challenge."

"So I am today backing calls from Friends of the Earth for the Government to bring forward in the next Queen's Speech a Climate Change Bill as a central part of its legislative programme for the coming parliamentary year." "So what should this Bill do?

1. Annual Targets. First, it should establish year on year targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% by 2050, and must set in place a legal framework for these targets.

2. Independent expert scrutiny. Second, it should establish an independent monitor to report to Parliament Britain's progress in meeting those annual targets, and to audit government policy to assess whether we remain on track to hit future targets. Britain needs an official group of independent climate change experts to carry the same weight in this area as the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England does in monetary policy."

"There is clearly a basis in Parliament for cross-party support for such a Bill, as there is a commitment amongst all parties to the long- term 2050 target. But much more needs to be done to agree the actions we need to take in the short term - and year on year - to meet the ambitious long-term goal. We cannot go on just talking about the issue. By putting this off we are creating an ever bigger burden for the next generation. No one doubts that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown can talk the talk, but if Britain is to show real global leadership, we need action now, not vague promises of action in years to come."

"If the Government introduces such a Climate Change Bill, we will work positively and constructively with them to put in place the necessary mechanisms."

"This would be a new way of working at Westminster, but it is not unprecedented. I believe we can find the resolve and determination to overcome, on a cross-party basis, the great challenge that climate change represents for our nation and our planet."

"But I don't want to stifle policy debate, or for this new consensus to in any way reduce effective parliamentary scrutiny of Government policy. Far from it. There is still a huge battle of ideas to be fought on the best ways to meet any new annual targets for carbon reduction. But if we can all agree on the goals that this and future Governments are required to reach, the direction we must travel, and the framework for assessing progress, then the effectiveness of long-term policy for reducing the burden of CO2 emissions should be that much greater."

"The simple fact is that we cannot afford for any Government in this century to put off action on climate change. All must do their bit regardless of their political colour. Long-term targets have not provided sufficient incentive to act so far: annual targets will make it much harder for any one Government to shirk responsibility, hoping that another will get back on track for the 2050 target."

"Our children will judge this generation of political leaders on our ability to put aside petty Party differences in order to pull together in the face of this unprecedented global threat. Most people will be amazed to find that despite all the rhetoric and speeches on the dangers of climate change, not a single Bill devoted exclusively to this most pressing of issues has been passed in Government time at Westminster."

"We can no longer delay or sideline our response to the threat of climate change, or hold back from exploiting the tremendous opportunities that also come with any changes of such a scale. The time for worthy ministerial speeches is over. It is time for all political parties to take responsibility and work together to get things done."


5 September 2006

A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

Letter to The Times - 4 September 2006

Sir, In just over ten weeks' time, the government programme for the next session of Parliament will be announced in the Queen's Speech. Given the urgency of tackling climate change, we have written to the Prime Minister, calling on him to use this opportunity to enable Parliament to debate and enact a legal framework for cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

It is now clear that the total volume of greenhouse gases we add to the atmosphere in the first half of this century will determine the severity of such impacts in the middle of 2050. While this is a global challenge, we in the UK must make our fair share of the cuts.

This means action over a period of time stretching way beyond the tenure of any one Government or Prime Minister. For this reason we support a legal framework for cutting carbon emissions, with annual targets and reporting and scrutiny procedures. A sizeable majority of Members of Parliament have also supported such a proposal; some 380 MPs have signed Early Day Motion 178.

By allowing Parliament to agree a long-term framework for tackling climate change that rises above party differences we will help future governments to tackle the issue while sending a clear message about the direction of Government policy. Climate change is a huge problem - but it is a solvable one.

PETER AINSWORTH
Shadow Secretary of State Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Conservative

CHRIS HUHNE
Shadow Secretary of State, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Liberal Democrats

COLIN CHALLEN MP
All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change

ASHOK SINHA
Stop Climate Chaos

TONY JUNIPER
Friends of the Earth

DALEEP MUKARJI
Christian Aid


5 September 2006

GLOBAL WARMING 'CANNOT BE STOPPED'

Mark Henderson - The Times - 4 September 2006

Our correspondent reports from the British Association for the Advancement of Science's Festival of Science

THE world must be more realistic about the chances of preventing climate change and prepare for the inevitability of global warming, the head of one of Britain's foremost scientific societies will urge today.

Politicians and environmentalists have failed to understand how difficult it will be to curb global warming and are overlooking the importance of adapting to the hotter world it will bring, according to Frances Cairncross, the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

While measures to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming are essential, they have been emphasised over and above the equally vital need to develop ways of coping with climate change, Ms Cairncross will say.The "ineffectual" Kyoto Treaty will not stop temperatures rising, as the US and large developing nations such as China and India are not involved, and even if a global agreement to limit carbon dioxide emissions is reached, a significant degree of warming is still likely.

As a result, scientists and governments need to think now about measures, such as better flood defences and wildlife corridors, that will help threatened species to migrate as habitats are lost.

"Adaptation policies have had far less attention than mitigation, and that is a mistake," Ms Cairncross will say in her presidential address to the association's Festival of Science in Norwich.

"We need to think about policies that prepare for a hotter, drier world, especially in poorer countries. That may involve, for instance, developing new crops, constructing flood defences, setting different building regulations, or banning building close to sea level."

Ms Cairncross's message will be controversial as many environmental groups have discouraged talk of adapting to global warming as an inevitability for fear that it will hand politicians an excuse for failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Cairncross, an economist who is also Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, believes, however, that there is no reason why adaptation and mitigation cannot proceed hand-in-hand. "There are some things that we can't adapt: we can't relocate the Amazon rainforest or replace bleached coral reefs, but we have to think about adaptation with mitigation," she said.


5 September 2006

TOP SCIENTIST'S FEARS FOR CLIMATE

Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst - BBC Online - 31 August 2006

Sea levels could rise by 4m over the coming century, he warns.

One of America's top scientists has said that the world has already entered a state of dangerous climate change.

In his first broadcast interview as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, John Holdren told the BBC that the climate was changing much faster than predicted.

"We are not talking anymore about what climate models say might happen in the future. We are experiencing dangerous human disruption of the global climate and we're going to experience more," Professor Holdren said.

He emphasised the seriousness of the melting Greenland ice cap, saying that without drastic action the world would experience more heatwaves, wild fires and floods.

He added that if the current pace of change continued, a catastrophic sea level rise of 4m (13ft) this century was within the realm of possibility; much higher than previous forecasts.

To put this in perspective, Professor Holdren pointed out that the melting of the Greenland ice cap, alone, could increase world-wide sea levels by 7m (23ft), swamping many cities.

Safe limits

He blamed President Bush not only for refusing to cut emissions, but also for failing to live up to his rhetoric on harnessing technology to tackle climate change.

"We are not starting to address climate change with the technology we have in hand, and we are not accelerating our investment in energy technology research and development," Professor Holdren observed.

He said research undertaken by Harvard University revealed that US government spending on energy research had not increased since 2001. In order to make any progress, funding for climate technology needed to multiply by three or four times, Professor Holdren warned.

Last year, the UK's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, held a science conference to determine the threshold of dangerous climate change. Delegates concluded that to be relatively certain of keeping the rise below 2C (3.6F), CO2 levels in the atmosphere should not exceed 400 parts per million (ppm) and the highest prudent limit should be 450 ppm.

In October, at an international conference in Mexico, UK environment and energy ministers will try to persuade colleagues from the top 20 most polluting nations to agree on a CO2 stabilisation level.

Professor Holdren expressed doubt that progress could be achieved because if the US administration agreed that there was a need to limit CO2, this would inevitably lead to mandatory caps. President Bush has already rejected that option.

For more than a year, the BBC has invited the US government to give its view on safe levels of CO2. Our request is repeatedly passed between the White House office of the Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the US chief scientist.

To date, we have received no response to questions on this issue that Tony Blair calls the most important in the world. Professor Holdren called on the US Government to back the UK position.

John Holdren, in addition to his presidency of the AAAS, is a director of the Woods Hole Research Center, and Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard University.


1 September 2006

BAA GROUNDS CLAIM OF RUNWAY DEFIANCE

Herts & Essex Observer - 31 August 2006

A claim that the new owners of BAA might defy the government and build a new runway at Heathrow before a second at Stansted has immediately been quashed.

On Sunday BA's chief executive Willie Walsh said he believed the Ferrovial consortium would take a more pragmatic approach to the business case for Heathrow over the Essex terminal. But the idea was scotched by BAA, saying it was a non-starter.

On Tuesday a BAA spokesman said nothing had changed. After BAA was bought for £10.1bn in June by ADI. It confirmed to the Observer that it would continue with a second runway at Stansted.

The spokesman said this week that a third runway at Heathrow would have to overcome environmental issues first and that government review was not due to start until next year. Its conclusions would be after the planning application for G2 (Second Generation) had been submitted.

"In the south-east, there's a shortage of airport capacity so the Government White Paper which suggests that there should be a second runway at Stansted as early as possible is an extremely valuable piece of policy" he stated.

The spokesman also felt that any inquiry into BAA's monopoly ownership of Britain's main airports would not affect plans for expanding Stansted. The Office of Fair Trading is collecting views within the industry to consider whether to refer the issue to the Competition Commission. Any such inquiry would take at least 2 years, he said.

BAA's new owner's review of the costings for Stansted's G2 were "proceeding apace" and should be published no later than the autumn, said the spokesman. A planning application is expected to be sent to Uttlesford District Council in summer 2007.

The BAA spokesman concluded that a recent drop in passenger numbers due to the latest terrorist threat was "a blip, rather than a trend" and the travelling public were quick to recover from such chocks.

OUR COMMENT: Well, they would say that, wouldn't they! BUT since BAA's own Environmental Assessment for the expansion of runway 1 admits that European Air Quality legislation may be breached by 2014 if the number of flights increases, it would seem that there are significant environmental issues still to be solved at Stansted as well as Heathrow before any second runway application is made. Quite apart from the big problem that won't go away - Climate Change. If London airports are too crowded then why not a priority system? The government is not intending to build new rail lines for our overcrowded commuter services - why are new runways so essential? An economic case has not been made that is stronger than the environmental objections, neither can industry be expected to supply the necessary carbon credits for a carbon neutral expansion.

Airport Watch has mounted a campaign urging the government to Rethink the Aviation White Paper. All thinking people should join it and write to the Minister for Transport Visit www.airportwatch.org.uk

Pat Dale


1 September 2006

AIRLINES CALL FOR BREAK-UP

Herts & Essex Observer - 31 August 2006

Stansted airport's low-cost carriers are urging an inquiry to recommend BAA's monopoly is broken up. Ryanair and easyJet have made the plea to the Office of Fair Trading, which is looking into the UK aviation industry for a possible report to the Competition Commission.

EasyJet, which has stressed that BAA should not be allowed to pass on the cost of its take-over by Ferrovial to travellers, has added there must be strong price regulation to stop airport owners abusing their monopoly position.

Its chief executive Andy Harrison says: "UK consumers must not pick up the bill for Ferrovial's acquisition of BAA. Consumers need better protection from the airport operators who behave like local monopolists, pushing up prices to hide their own inefficiencies. So, while easyJet supports the break-up of BAA, the primary focus must be on tougher regulation."

Ryanair's head of regulatory affairs and company secretary Jim Callaghan cited "numerous abuses" by BAA at Stansted, which he said the CAA had failed to address. "The CAA has failed to prevent BAA from developing gold plated facilities that do not meet the requirements of passengers and have led to inflated airport charges for consumers."


1 September 2006

SUPPORT FOR A CLIMATE CHANGE BILL

Yeo backs office energy efficiency

Graham Dines - News Environment - Eadt - 29 August 2006

SWITCH off your computers when you leave the office for the night - that's one of the messages being hammered home by MPs who are urging Government action to crack down on carbon emissions from the workplace.

A coalition of organisations campaigning for sustainable energy have welcomed the backing given by South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo - chairman of the influential parliamentary environmental audit committee - of a Bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions from offices.

He is one of the main sponsors of a House of Commons motion - signed by nearly 300 backbench MPs from all political parties - supporting the Climate Change (Commercial and Public Services Sector) Bill.

"The offices sector has the fastest growing energy use apart from aviation," said Mr Yeo. "With the proliferation of computers and other electronics, its use of electricity, which has a particularly high carbon footprint, is projected to increase by nearly 45% from 1990 to 2020."

"The Bill will set legally binding targets for reducing energy usage in the commercial sector and further targets for energy production from renewable sources, combined heat and power, and microgeneration.

"We hear lots about how everyone should use less energy at home but what happens in offices is just as important. This Bill would be a big step in the right direction. "To back it up the Government should give discounts on the business rates to those offices which minimise their carbon emissions."

"The need for urgent action to cut our carbon emissions is greater than ever. The Government has rightly acknowledged that we need to do a lot more if we are to meet our climate change targets of a 20% reduction in C02 emissions by 2010."

Mr Yeo added: "I fully support this Bill which will ensure the Government makes our offices more environmentally friendly. I will do all I can to ensure that it becomes law as soon as possible."

Among the groups supporting the initiative are Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, Greenpeace, Help the Aged, National Federation of Women's Institutes, the trade union Unison, and WWF-UK.

Other sponsors of the motion include two Labour former environment ministers, Michael Meacher and Elliot Morley.

Signatories include Suffolk and Essex MPs Brooks Newmark (Conservative, Braintree), John Gummer (Con, Suffolk Coastal), David Ruffley (Con, Bury St Edmunds), Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point) and Bob Russell (Liberal Democrat, Colchester).


1 September 2006

THE EU CARBON TRADING SCHEME

UK publishes second-phase carbon trading plan

ENDS Europe DAILY - 21 August 2006

The British government has published full details of its national allocation plan for the second phase of the EU carbon emission trading scheme (ETS). The announcement confirms provisional figures released two months ago and expands on them by setting out draft installation-level allocations of carbon permits. The plan (Nap) must still be approved by the European commission.

The overall cap has been set at 246m tonnes of carbon annually over the 2008-12 second phase. Of this amount, 237m tonnes will go to installations that took part in the scheme's in the first phase. The figure is marginally tighter than the 238m tonne provisional cap announced by environment minister David Miliband in June.

The remaining 9m tonnes will go to cover additional activities at 160 installations that are being drawn into the ETS for the first time. The net effect of the cap will be to save 8m tonnes of carbon annually over the business-as-usual scenario, the government says.

The reduction in allowances will be borne "entirely" by large electricity producers, it adds. Some minor installations, including hospitals and universities, have been removed from the scheme. "We are focusing on the biggest carbon emitters while removing those businesses where the costs outweigh the environmental benefits," climate minister Ian Pearson said.

Industry minister Malcolm Wicks said the Nap "provides further certainty for business" and "improves and simplifies" the scheme. But green group WWF blasted the targets as weak and said the allocation confirmed the government had "effectively abandoned" a voluntary target to slice 20 per cent off 1990 carbon emissions by 2010.

Around seven per cent of the allowances will be auctioned at the start of the second phase. There will be an eight per cent limit on the volume of emissions that can be covered by credits from projects under the Kyoto protocol flexible mechanisms. Operators will be able to bank their permitted level of project credit use between years.

OUR COMMENT: Is this tough enough? We have yet to hear up to date news about including aviation.

Pat Dale


1 September 2006

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY - AND FOR THE GOVERNMENT

The HA Interview – Tim Johnson of AirportWatch

www.hiddenagendas.org.uk - 30 August 2006

Tim Johnson of AirportWatch tells Chris Wearmouth why there are far more important long-term concerns about aviation than security.

"Thank God I went on holiday in June." That thought has crossed my mind on many occasions since the alleged terror plot was foiled and increased security imposed on air travellers across the United Kingdom.

Hundreds of people stuck in seemingly never-ending queues; non-travellers banned from terminals; the raised question of profiling – air travel has never seemed either as far from the glamour of the 1950s or the 'turn up and go' attitude of Ryanair and EasyJet.

The security question falls against several backdrops, not just increased terrorist threat. For example, if the threat is only going to increase, as doomsayers predict, how are we going to cope with increased passenger flow as airports expand to meet demand? But, according to aviation environmental pressure group AirportWatch, expansion poses a global threat with a far greater potential long-term bearing than terrorism.

"There are four main impacts," says Tim Johnson of the Aviation Environment Federation, a partner in AirportWatch, along with the likes of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and local pressure groups such as HACAN ClearSkies. "And three of these are local. These are the aspects that the public doesn't really think about. One is that the car parking, the runways and the terminals all require land. There are a lot of national treasures in the UK in terms of historic buildings and ancient woodlands which are under threat from airport expansion plans.

"Secondly, because it's largely invisible, they don't see the impact that airport activity – that includes the aircraft, cars travelling to and from the airport – has on the air quality. We are already in breach of EU standards in protecting public health of air quality and it's largely due to the activity generated by Heathrow that these are being breached.

"The one that upsets the communities living around airports most of all is the aircraft noise. Anyone that's got a long enough memory will tell you that the early jets in the '50s were five, if not ten times as noisy as the jets you get today. But the communities will argue that while they're less noisy they're no less an intrusion as there are ten times as many.

"Perhaps the number one issue for everyone is the climate change aspect. Aviation globally is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide. More importantly, all the other sectors have a relatively stable profile whereas aviation is growing at a phenomenal rate. The activity of technology to deal with this is probably summed up quite simply by looking at the fact that aviation demands growth annually four to five percent. But the rate of technological improvement in terms of efficiency is growing at only one percent.

"The other cause for concern is the fact that at altitude aviation has other greenhouse gas effects beyond CO2 emissions seen in contrails. The invisible impact that you don't see are oxides of nitrogen. At altitude they actually increase ozone concentrations, which has a global warming effect, and increase methane concentrations, which has a global cooling effect. The industry would like to tell you that these balance each other out. Scientists will tell you it doesn't, that it happens largely in the northern hemisphere, where we have a large amount of aviation, and it's largely a global warming effect. The effect on climate change is two to three times greater than the effect of CO2 emissions alone."

AirportWatch was formed in the wake of the 2003 White Paper on aviation, which the environmental NGO movement found weighted in favour of expansion with little, if any, guarantees given regarding the management of environmental impacts.

Given the current insatiable appetite for air travel, specifically cheap air travel, it would be easy to perceive AirportWatch's stance as out on a limb and out of touch with the masses. However, the organisation's research found that opinion is in fact largely along the lines of what AirportWatch stands for, according to Tim Johnson.

"First of all, people did consider aviation as an everyday mode of transport but in increasing numbers recognised their behaviour did have an impact, not only on climate change (which is the thing that concerned most people). They also realised that their bucket and spade trip they were taking to Spain that left at four o'clock in the morning wasn't just an inconvenience to them as a traveller but it did have an impact in terms of people whose houses they were flying over.

"There's a general changing mood that says the travelling public in all age groups were prepared to pay more for the environmental damage they caused. But what they're not saying is that they're willing to moderate their behaviour. We still think that the only institution that's going to be in a position to drive through that change is central government and it has to come through the form of regulation. This is the role that AirportWatch has set itself.

"What we really want to see is limits to emissions, not necessarily limits on flying, and thereby laying down a challenge to the aviation industry."


29 August 2006

BA PILES PRESSURE ON AIRPORT OPERATOR

Daily Telegraph - 25 August 2006

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh moved to widen the rift between the airline and airport operator BAA still further by alleging that security at Heathrow airport has been in a state of disarray for many months.

Mr Walsh, whose airline is the largest flying in and out of the London airport, is unhappy about lengthy queues and extended search times at Heathrow, which he argues were a problem well before the terror alert of a fortnight ago.

His comments threaten to re-ignite the very public spat between the two companies a fortnight ago, which culminated in BAA Heathrow chief executive Tony Douglas confronting Mr Walsh at BA's Compass Centre building on the edge of Heathrow on August 12th.

At the centre of Mr Walsh's discontent is the airport's central security search area, which he believes is unable to process the high numbers of passengers who flow through the airport at peak times. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph he said: "We've had issues with them (BAA) on their performance for some months now, its not just arisen in the last couple of weeks".

He went on to reveal that he has raised the issue on a number of occasions, largely with Mike Clasper, who has since stood down as BAA's chief executive. "I had a number of meetings with Mike Clasper on this going forward on a number of months and the fact that we've made it public is a clear indication of this. It is critical that these issues are addressed for BA, for our passengers, and for everyone using the airport."

Mr Walsh, who has been chief executive of the airline for 10 months, went on to issue the airport operator with an ultimatum, saying: "We want to see an improvement in performance at the airport, and that has to be significant. The events of August 10th are no excuse."

When asked if he would take legal action over this, he refused to rule it out, saying: "We're keeping all our options open. We will look at every option."

A BAA spokesman acknowledged there had been an increase in security regulations in February to meet with European standards, which led it to recruit extra security staff at all its airports. But he added that since then security has been running as normal until the problems caused by extra pressures linked to the terror alert which were imposed on BAA by the Department for Transport.

His rather stark comments came as BA unveiled the thrust of its submission to the Office of Fair Trading's inquiry into BAA's alleged London monopoly. BA wants Heathrow and Stansted to be owned by different companies, largely as it is at these two airports at which the majority of future expansion will take place. But the airline also wants strict economic regulation to continue at Heathrow and Gatwick, in direct conflict with what BAA is known to argue in its own submission to the OFT.

BA will also suggest that a number of BAA controlled services – thought to include IT and security – could be put out to tender to lower costs.

Low-cost airline easyJet argues in its submission to the OFT that UK airports must be subject to strong price regulation, and says that UK air travellers must not pick up the bill for Ferrovial's recent acquisition of BAA.


29 August 2006

FOCUS: AIR RAGE

Dominic O'Connell - The Sunday Times - Business News - 20 August 2006

The shambles at Heathrow caused by the recent terror alert has turned into a blame game between British Airways and the airport's owner.

Three days after the terror alert first brought chaos to Heathrow airport, Willie Walsh finally flipped. His aides had dissuaded him from publicly criticising BAA, Heathrow's owner and operator, but on the afternoon of Saturday, August 12 he decided he had had enough.

At 3pm he attacked. "We are ready and able to operate a full schedule at Heathrow," he said in a statement. "We have sufficient flying crew, ground staff and aircraft in place. However, BAA is unable to provide a robust security search process and baggage operation, and as a result we are being forced to cancel flights and operate others without all the passengers on board."

It was tough stuff for a BA chief executive - particularly one who has been in the job for less than a year. And it broke an unwritten understanding between Britain's two biggest transport groups that they would not air their dirty laundry in public.

Walsh's predecessors, Sir Rod Eddington, Robert Ayling and Lord Marshall may all have had private doubts about BAA, but rarely said anything against it openly.

Stephen Nelson, BAA's chief executive - an even newer arrival than Walsh, having been in the hot seat just five weeks - was at Heathrow when the BA bombshell landed.

He resolved to confront Walsh. Accompanied by Tony Douglas, BAA's Heathrow boss, he drove round the airport to see him. A 45-minute debate ensued. The two sides disagree on the venue - sources at BAA said the clash took place at Waterside, BA's campus-style headquarters near Heathrow, while BA insiders insist it happened at the Compass Centre, the airline's operational base a mile up the road. But they do agree on the nature of the conversation. "It was... well, let's just say it was fairly frank," said one BA source.

With flights at Heathrow returning to near normal this weekend, the Walsh-Nelson showdown may have marked the low point in the airport shambles caused by the terror alert.

But airline executives, analysts and investors remain deeply concerned about the long-term effects of the crisis. They think the increased security restrictions mean BAA will struggle to maintain the throughput of passengers even in the medium term, and that the new rules may have as yet unforeseen consequences for airlines (see below).

The debacle has also brought to the surface long-simmering tensions between BAA and its customers, and marked an end to 20 years of friendly relations between the airport operator and its largest customer, BA.

For BAA and its new owners, a consortium of investors led by the Spanish group Ferrovial, there is a twist in the tale. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is in the middle of an inquiry into BAA's dominance of the airport market around London. BAA owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and accounts for more than 90% of all flights from the capital. If the OFT does not like what it finds, it could send the matter to the Competition Commission for a full inquiry.

Most airlines were likely to urge a break-up of BAA, and their attitudes will only have been hardened after the events of the past fortnight. One senior airline executive said: "It was a pretty good bet that the OFT would refer BAA to the Competition Commission anyway - but now I am sure they will."

THE ROW between Walsh and Nelson was triggered by a government-imposed security crackdown at all British airports. Having apparently foiled a terror plot with a series of raids and arrests around London and the Home Counties in the early hours of Thursday, August 10, the government introduced tough new screening measures from 2am that day.

The result was chaos, particularly at Heathrow, which is not only Britain's largest airport, but also the world's busiest international hub.

Although airlines were at first understanding, patience soon wore thin, particularly when it became apparent that despite a scaling back of the ultra-tight screening demanded in the immediate aftermath of the arrests, heightened security measures were here to stay.

Typically, Michael 'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, was the most outspoken. O'Leary was critical of BAA: "They are generally incompetent" but reserved his strongest attack for government officials, saying the new security requirements were nonsensical.

He urged Whitehall to bring in police and troops to airports to meet the extra security requirements, and said he would sue the government if his demands were not met by the end of this week. "The argument against bringing in police and troops seems to be that they will not know how to body-search people. How ridiculous is that? Of course they know how to do body searches," he said.

O'Leary said a return to normal restrictions was urgent. "What we have at the moment is idiocy. They are making it up as they go along. How can a single bag of one size be less of a risk than a single bag that is slightly larger?" At BA, however, the ire was directed less at the government than at BAA. Although Walsh declined to be interviewed, sources at BA said he was eager to go public with criticisms of BAA from early on in the crisis.

He was prevailed upon to keep quiet until last Saturday, when a worsening of queues at Heathrow made him go public, the BA sources said.

"The straw that broke the camel's back on Saturday was there being only three out of seven security lanes open at one point during the day, which was just maddening."

BAA rejected the airlines‚ attack on its performance. "Airline criticism has been neither fair nor accurate. It is inconceivable that we as an airport operator would not have contingency plans, but we cannot have hundreds of trained staff just standing idle ready to come in at a moment's notice," said a spokesman.

"All the airlines have been well aware of the situation at Heathrow because we are part of a joint crisis committee. On the ground we have had very good relations with airline people, who appreciate what we are doing," the spokesman said.

It is understood that Nelson and other senior BAA executives were particularly galled by Walsh's accusation that BAA's security was "not robust". They thought this implied that BAA's systems would allow security lapses, a suggestion that infuriated them. BA denies it intended the statement to have that meaning.

SOME at BAA think Walsh's outburst may have had less to do with the immediate problems at the airport than with the longer game of the competition inquiry into Britain's airports.

BAA has owned and operated seven of Britain's largest airports since its privatisation 17 years ago. It has a near monopoly in Scotland, owning the largest airports serving Glasgow and Edinburgh. It has a similar hold on the lucrative London market.

So far, breaking up the monopoly has not figured on the government's agenda. But in recognition of the company's market power, its prices are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It determines what BAA can charge airlines in landing fees and passenger-handling charges.

The CAA's findings, issued every five years, are subject to the automatic review of the Competition Commission. To date, the commission has found no reason to break up BAA.

That may be about to change. Halfway through this year's bidding war for BAA - eventually won by the Ferrovial-led consortium, which paid an eye-watering £10.3 billion for the company - there was a dramatic intervention by the Office of Fair Trading.

It said it would examine the ownership of Britain's airports to see if it was anti-competitive. The OFT's chief executive is John Fingleton, who is close to Walsh.

When the OFT recently launched an investigation into allegations of price-fixing at BA, Fingleton withdrew from handling the case because of his association with Walsh, passing the job to the OFT chairman, Philip Collins.

Submissions for the airport inquiry were due in at the end of last week, but at the eleventh hour the OFT granted a one-week extension. The opinions of some leading airlines are already known - Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic said it would call for a break-up, as did O'Leary, with Easyjet expected to follow suit.

But the OFT will be particularly keen to hear from BA, the airports group's biggest customer. The airline's submission is not expected to be handed in before the end of next week, but Walsh's outburst suggests that British Airways, too, will urge a break-up.

Senior executives at BAA are now resigned to a referral to the Competition Commission, a move that will trigger a long inquiry into the status of Britain's airports. Having just got its hands on them, Ferrovial may not have long to play with the full set.

Who will be hit hardest by the new security?

THE behaviour of airline share prices over the past fortnight has underlined the one clear message that has come out of the crisis - nobody knows what the long-term effect of the terror scare on the aviation industry will be.

BA shares fell sharply in the immediate aftermath of the alert, but they more than recovered the ground lost. Easyjet and Ryanair are still down, reflecting a widespread belief that low-cost airlines will be hit hardest by restrictions on cabin luggage. They have encouraged carry-on bags to cut the time and expense of loading luggage into aircraft holds.

But budget airlines are scathing of this analysis.The bottlenecks at airports are to do with the processing of people, not bags,‚ said a spokesman for Easyjet.

However, passengers may be dissuaded by the charges that low-cost airlines now demand for checked-in baggage. Ryanair charges £2.50 an item one-way if passengers pre-pay, or £5 at the check-in desk. The charges rise to £3.50 and £7 from September 1.

Easyjet, which has not charged so far, changed its policy on Friday. It will allow one piece of checked baggage free, but charge £5 for each additional piece if pre-paid, £10 if paid at the check-in desk.

Analysts say the long-term effects cannot be determined until the security situation is clarified. Andrew Lobbenberg, an analyst at ABN Amro, said "The enduring impact will depend on where aviation security regulations stabilise. If they return to previous levels, but not allow liquids or gels in carry-on bags, the only impact will be a boom for toiletry and cosmetics retailing in airport arrival shops. If the size of hand baggage continues to be limited, then all airlines will face slightly higher ground handling costs" he said.


29 August 2006

THE UNIONS CONCERNS

T&G: Plane turnaround times for airport safety

News Gatwick - Press Statement - T & G Union - 21 August 2006

RAISE PLANE TURNAROUND TIMES FOR AIRPORT SAFETY, URGES T&G

The time to prepare aircraft for departure must be fixed at a minimum of one hour, Britain's main aviation union is insisting .

The Transport and General Workers Union is calling for the new standard as part of a charter for safer working practices at Gatwick airport. The charter also calls for a new maximum weight of 23 Kg for each piece of passenger baggage, containers to be used for stowing all hold baggage in planes, and action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution at Gatwick.

OUR COMMENT: What is good for Gatwick must be good for Stansted too. Low-cost airlines rely on quick turn around times to keep costs down. Even one hour seems insufficient to clear, check and clean an aircraft!

Pat Dale


29 August 2006

PRESSURE ON MOTORISTS AS WELL AS PLANES?
(OIL MEANS CO2 WHEREVER IT'S USED)

BP targets green consumers with carbon-offset scheme for drivers

James Daley - The Independent - 23 August 2006

BP will raise the stakes in the battle to be seen as the most environmentally friendly oil company today, launching a website which allows motorists to offset the carbon emissions from their car by donating money to the development of renewable energy sources.

The website - www.targetneutral.com - helps drivers to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide which their car emits each year, subsequently calculating how much they need to pay to neutralise the effects of their pollution. The website will be not-for-profit, with all proceeds invested in a series of renewable energy projects across the globe.

BP says an average car, driven 10,000 miles a year, generates approximately four tonnes of carbon dioxide - enough to fill a hot air balloon. The cost of neutralising this on www.targetneutral.com would be about £20 a year. Although the scheme is open to all motorists, BP says it will make an additional contribution to scheme members who buy their petrol at BP stations and who use a Nectar card.

BP says the scheme has been developed in conjunction with a series of leading non-governmental organisations, and will be advised and monitored by an independent advisory and assurance panel chaired by Sir Jonathon Porritt, the founder of the sustainable development charity, Forum for the Future.

Peter Mather, the head of BP's UK operations, and a member of the advisory panel, said: "Targetneutral is a practical and straightforward step that BP is taking to enable drivers to help the environment. BP is taking the lead because our extensive research shows there is a huge consumer demand for such a scheme, but a general feeling from customers that they don't know where to start."

Sir Jonathon said: "The scientific consensus on climate change is overwhelming: we need to take radical action now if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences. We all have a responsibility to take up that challenge in our own lives, at home, work or as motorists. For this reason, Forum for the Future is very supportive of what BP is doing through targetneutral. The scheme should help raise awareness of the links between driving and climate change. Helping everyone get more 'carbon literate' is something all oil companies will need to commit to in the very near future."

Five projects will initially benefit from the scheme, including two in India - a biomass energy plant in Himachal Pradesh and a wind farm in Karnataka. Money will also go towards an animal waste management and methane-capture programme in Mexico.

The BP scheme is the latest in a string of carbon-offset projects to be launched in the UK but the first by a major oil company. BP is to provide all of the set-up funding for the company and will also pay any ongoing running costs.


BURNING QUESTIONS

BP is keen to accentuate its eco-friendly ambitions. But critics doubt how seriously the company is committed to cleaning up its act.

Peter Huck - The Guardian - 23 August 2006

Over the last decade, BP, the world's second largest oil company, has burnished its green credentials. In 1996, the company withdrew from the Global Climate Coalition, the global warming "deniers" backed by the oil industry. In 2000, it rebranded itself as an energy company, Beyond Petroleum, stressing its commitment to environmentalism. And last year the company said it would spend $8bn (£4.2bn) on solar, wind and hydrogen energy over 10 years. "No one should be able to use the environment without restoring it," the company's group chief executive officer, Lord (John) Browne, solemnly told Vanity Fair in May.

But does BP have a dark side? Earlier this month, the company sent shock waves through world markets when it halted production at Prudhoe Bay, America's biggest oilfield on Alaska's North Slope. The field closed after BP found severe corrosion inside 16 miles of "transit lines", which help feed crude from 2,200 oil wells into the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Production has since resumed in Prudhoe Bay's western section.

The problem surfaced when BP inspected feeder pipes following a 270,000-gallon spill - Prudhoe Bay's worst - in March. Whereas BP had run external tests on pipes, the insides had not been "pigged" (measured by a smart electronic device, named with the acronym for "pipeline inspection gauge", or because it makes a squealing noise as it scrapes through pipes) since 1992 as there was no legal requirement to do so.

"We're very disappointed with what we've learned about our inspection programme," said Scott Dean, a BP spokesman. "We thought we had a good programme. Based on what we've learned, it was just not good enough."

Some pipes were 80% corroded. Normally, Dean said, chemicals were injected into lines to tackle corrosion. The monitoring budget for this year was $71m, up 80% since 2001.

But Prudhoe Bay, opened in 1977 and exploited by BP in a joint venture with Exxon Mobil and Conoco-Phillips, is an old field. Production has steadily declined since the late 1980s. "Oil becomes more viscous," said Dean. "It contains more sand and sediment." Sludge had built up inside feeder lines, preventing chemicals from reaching the corrosion.

So why hadn't eco-friendly BP anticipated this problem and pigged the lines? To the company's critics, it is part of a disturbing pattern that they claim gives the lie to BP's green credentials. Last month, the company closed 57 wells at Prudhoe Bay after whistleblowers alleged they were leaking. Subsequently, BP agreed 57 wells "exhibited problems with surface casing", and said 37 remain "shut in" as they "did not meet the company's operating criteria".

Toxic gases

In April, another BP line ruptured on the North Slope. The same month the company was fined $2.4m for safety problems at a facility in Ohio. In March 2005, following a refinery explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 in Texas, BP was fined $21.4m. A few days earlier, the company agreed to an $81m settlement following charges it had released toxic gases from a refinery in California.

"It's the tip of an iceberg," says Melanie Duchin, a Greenpeace energy specialist, of the latest shutdown. "What other ugly surprises are out there?" Duchin says BP invests about 5.7% of its annual capital spending in alternative energy. "In the end, they're committed to oil and gas."

So are BP's eco concerns genuine? It depends on your perspective. "You can't be a green oil company - it's like being a healthy tobacco company," says Duchin. "Oil is dirty. There are direct impacts to the environment in terms of spills, leaks and toxic messes. When you burn the stuff, it causes global warming."

There are some 400 spills at Prudhoe Bay and on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline each year. And climate change is alarmingly obvious in the Arctic - three to five times the global average, as tundra melts and sea ice thins, drowning polar bears.

None the less, BP did acknowledge global warming when other oil companies assiduously denied its existence. It also pulled out of Arctic Power, the lobby group that wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Confronted by a PR disaster when the pipe corrosion scandal surfaced, the company has stressed its commitment to alternatives. These include a project to provide clean energy to 250,000 California homes by separating hydrogen from natural gas.

Natural gas is a central plank of BP's Beyond Petroleum vision, the next stage in a "journey of many steps", from oil to alternatives. Along with Exxon and Conoco, BP wants to build a $20bn pipeline to ship gas from Prudhoe Bay to the Lower 48. But environmentalists complain that the gas releases carbon emissions, fuelling climate change.

Greenpeace wants BP to close its field at Prudhoe Bay. "That's a radical position," says Duchin. "But we need to take this debate beyond oil." This would send a signal that BP was accelerating its "journey" towards alternative energies. Could this happen? Maybe. Dean admits Prudhoe Bay's age brings "additional maintenance problems", but is adamant that BP intends to stay, and pace its natural gas ambitions.

Still, BP agrees Prudhoe Bay is a "historic field" and is focusing on oil and gas deposits in Russia, the Caspian Sea, Angola, Trinidad, Indonesia and the Gulf of Mexico. "We're realists," says Dean. "We'll continue to use hydrocarbons like natural gas." BP will embrace the "era of zero carbon emissions", by "keeping pace" with demand for alternatives.

Yet reacting to demand is different from leading the market. BP's website stresses its search for "sustainable supplies of oil and gas for decades to come", even as it acknowledges "precautionary action is necessary" to curb global warming. It is a tricky dilemma. How to reconcile oil and gas extraction with green stewardship?

The pipeline scandal only highlights BP's problem in balancing its eco-image with a thumping $7.3bn second-quarter profit. Unless the company accelerates its journey towards zero emissions, it will remain haunted by its dark side.


18 August 2006

IS IT THE END FOR CHEAP FLIGHTS?

Victoria Kennedy and Beth Neil - Daily Mirror - 14 August 2006

IT IS just over a decade since Stelios Haji-Ioannou kick-started the cheap flights revolution when he launched easyJet. And in that time we have become used to flying to Europe for less than the price of a meal out. But could the glory days of budget air travel now be numbered as a result of the 10/8 liquid bombs plot?

The cost of delays and cancellations and the introduction of increased security checks have hit budget airlines hard. The carriers say they are losing millions each day the chaos continues as a result of the terrorist threats.

EasyJet has cancelled more than 500 flights since Thursday, and Ryanair has grounded a fifth of all scheduled departures. Industry experts predict that airlines could lose £200million as a result of the increased security measures this weekend. And if the measures stay in place, it is feared the extra costs will be passed on to passengers in the form of increased ticket prices.

Under the current security measures, all passengers leaving British airports must undergo individual body searches and carry-on luggage is banned, apart from a few essential items you can take on board in a clear plastic bag.

These changes may sound small but they are having a huge impact on the airlines as the delays do not only mean a longer trip, they hit carriers in the pocket.

David Bryon, former MD of low-cost outfit BMI Baby, said: "Smaller companies rely on a quick turn around between flights of around 25 minutes. But with the security checks now taking longer, they cannot meet this deadline. This affects the crew costs. There are strong rules in place that members of the crew can only work a certain number of hours a day."

"Most budget airlines work to the cost of having five crews per aircraft. But with the security checks meaning things take longer, the airlines will have to employ more people - and that adds an awful lot to costs. At the moment low-cost carriers like easy Jet and Ryanair are big enough to absorb the extra costs but it will be harder for smaller airlines. They will definitely feel the pinch."

And the ban on hand-luggage is also having effect on profits. Bryon continued: "In the past, small airlines have tried to encourage passengers to carry more hand-luggage on board to cut the costs of baggage handling, as this usually has to be done by an outside company. If you can't have hand-luggage then the airlines have to pay more to the handling company to put more baggage in the hold. They tend to charge per bag."

"Small budget airlines also make money from charging passengers extra if the luggage they check in is too heavy. At the moment though, with passengers having to check in more luggage than usual, they have decided to waive charging people this extra cost. There is also a complication with on-board sales as it's uncertain what you can now sell on the plane, in case of security risks. And, of course, on top of all this people are deciding to hold off booking flights at the moment so there will be a drop in sales."

Ryanair yesterday urged the government to revise the "heavy-handed" security measures. The airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "The goal of these terrorists and extremists is not just to kill but also to disrupt the economic life of Britain. The UK government, by insisting on these heavy-handed security measures, is allowing the extremists to achieve many of their objectives. It is vital that the government works with the UK airports and airlines to prevent the collapse of the London airports."

"We believe that the body-search requirement can and should be revised from 100 per cent to the normal 25 per cent of passengers without in any way diminishing airport security. These numbers still allow any suspect groups or individuals to be body-searched. More importantly they will allow the main UK airports and the UK air transport system to return to normal, which is the most important message we can send to these extremists."

But David Learmount from Flight International magazine insisted bargain-hungry customers have nothing to worry about. No-frills, purely functional airlines, are here to stay "It's absolutely not the end," he said. "Budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet are still growing like nettles. And why? Because, quite simply, we want to use them."

"This latest crisis will hardly affect their costs at all. Costs probably won't even go up as much as one per cent. As a proportion, that is positively minute. And that's assuming security stays at the level it is at the moment - which it won't. When fuel charges went up, their costs increased by 10 to 15 per cent. Did they hike their prices then? No they did not. But British Airways did."

"Nothing will change. BA and co will remain full-service airlines because some people prefer to pay extra to get a free meal and a bit more leg-room. They don't want to be packed in. The budget airlines will continue to go from strength to strength because the demand for cheap flights is bigger than ever."

Learmount pointed out that business was booming for budget airlines before the alleged terror plot emerged. Just last month easyJet, which was launched in 1995, forecast that its rising passenger capacity would deliver a huge pre-tax profit growth of 40-50 per cent in the current year.

The Luton Airport-based carrier, which has started flying 19 new routes over the past 12 weeks, announced that it had carried nearly 3.2 million passengers in July, 11.3 per cent up on the same month of 2005.

The average flight was 90 per cent full and the company's policy of generating extra revenue from its secondary services is bearing fruit. The £5 extra to guarantee early boarding is proving particularly popular with business passengers and easy Jet predicts the growth in supplementary revenue this year to be around 30 per cent.

It's a similar story over at Europe's leading budget carrier, Ryanair. Two weeks ago the company reported an 80 per cent surge in profits as it carried more passengers than ever to sunnier climes. Desperate for ways to combat rising fuel costs, Ryanair has concentrated on improving efficiency. It is paying off - 84 per cent of seats on its planes were filled during the first quarter.

Bryon added: "It all depends how long the measures last. If we have a few more weeks like this it will start to get really costly and will impact on airlines and passengers. This will have cost airlines millions already. So the new measures are unsustainable."

"Would it be the end of budget airlines if these measures stayed in place? No, but it would change the way things were handled and the cost would have to be passed on to the consumer."

It seems budget-conscious travellers may have to dig a bit deeper for their jet-setting breaks.


18 August 2006

IMPLICATIONS FOR STANSTED?

Future of low cost flights rocked by terror alert

Andy Steel - Walden Local - 16 August 2006

The future viability of Stansted airport as a Mecca for low-cost airlines was called into question this week following last Thursday's terror alert. The Department of Transport's new guidelines for the checking in of passengers as a result of the emergency will drastically affect the quick turnaround times needed by companies like Reyanair and Easyjet to enable them to offer cheap flights.

Said Carol Barbone for Stop Stansted Expansion : "If the new high-profile security initiatives continue BAA may be unable to sustain passenger demand. "Stansted is based on low-cost travel which means rapid turnarounds and are essential to airline profits. If these can't be achieved because of check-in delays and baggage restrictions then the market at Stansted could become unsustainable. If it isn't profitable one has to wonder how plans for further expansion and a possible second runway can be viable".

Yesterday (Tuesday) Ryanair described the DoT's hand luggage restrictions as "nonsensical" and blamed BAA's "chronic inability to staff its security facilities at Stansted for continuing delays which were "paralysing" the operation of the airport.

Said a spokesman: "At 4.00 this morning BAA had opened just four out of its 14 security points. Passengers had already been checking in for one hour at that point. At 5.00, just one hour prior to the scheduled first wave of departures, only three more had been opened. We were forced to cancel eight flights and more delays and cancellations are inevitable. We are again calling on the government to take the lead, bypass the dithering and relieve the paralysis by bringing in the army or the police to support hard pressed BAA front line staff. We are also urging it to introduce common senses to searching and baggage regulations and restore the situation to normal as a matter of urgency."

Said a spokesperson for BAA: "All security staff are working extremely hard to deal with the new restrictions and we continue to deploy extra staff into the terminal building to help passengers. There can be no shortcuts in security and if this means there is continued disruption we apologise to all our customers".

The terror threat was downgraded from critical to severe on Monday, helping to eases the congestion which left thousands of passengers stranded last week, but some restrictions remain in place. The change in threat level means the ban on taking hand luggage on to flights has been eased, although restrictions remain.

OUR COMMENT: The terrorist threat is not going to go away. BAA has prided itself on the productivity of its staff, employing relatively fewer as passenger numbers increase. However, in situations like this, productivity has to be sacrificed to the needs of security, with the inevitable knock on effects on the profits of airlines, especially those relying on tight schedules to maintain profits - a double whammy with ever rising fuel costs. Cheap air travel does hurt - first the environment, then the profits, and now the passengers themselves.

Pat Dale


18 August 2006

DO BRITONS CARE ABOUT FOOD MILES?

Denis Campbell - The Observer - 13 August 2006

Most Britons do not care where the fruit and vegetables they buy come from, are not motivated to buy British and don't consider 'food miles' in their purchases, according to a new survey.

The over-50s are most likely to take such considerations into account, while younger adults are least likely, the British Market Research Bureau found.

In the survey of 997 people, 61 per cent are not concerned which country their produce came from, with only 9 per cent describing themselves as 'very concerned' and 30 per cent 'fairly concerned' about the issue. While 54 per cent of the over-50s said they regularly or always buy produce grown in this country, just 32 per cent of 25-34s do so.

Similarly, only 36 per cent of shoppers know what 'food miles' are - the distance goods have travelled to reach the British shops, which is a big issue to environmental campaigners.

Just over half those surveyed, 52 per cent, believe the UK should import less food so that the environmental damage is limited, even if there is less variety in shops and food costs more as a result. But 23 per cent think this country should maintain - or even increase - imports of food, in order to preserve variety and keep costs low.

OUR COMMENT: We don't know what questions were asked - were people told why there is concern? Both because of climate change from air food miles, and because British home grown food is not being sold when it is in season? Last autumn in the height of the UK apple season, a survey of supermarkets showed that only a third of the apples on sale came from the UK. Losses for home producers and more unnecessary pollution.

Pat Dale


18 August 2006

SOME PROGRESS IS BEING MADE!

Global carbon market continues massive expansion

ENDS Europe DAILY 2150 - 16 August 2006

The global carbon market has grown five-fold over the last year, according to new figures from analyst Point Carbon. Between January and June 2006 around 684m tonnes of carbon worth E12bn were traded, more than five times that for the equivalent period last year.

Transactions under the EU emission trading scheme (ETS) continue to dominate the market, accounting for over 80% of the monetary value and over 60% of the total volume of carbon trades. The value of trades was much lower than forecast, mainly due to the carbon price crash earlier this year (EED 05/05/06 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/20911).

The market for carbon credits generated by the Kyoto protocol's flexible mechanisms also showed strong growth, but the volumes and values traded were also lower than expected. Together, credits from the clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation (JI) accounted for 226m tonnes worth nearly E2bn in the first half of 2006.

In a separate development, the secretariat of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) has awarded the contract to build the international transaction log (ITL) to Belgian company Trasys SA. The system, due to be fully operational by April 2007, will enable country-to-country trades of carbon credits.

Meanwhile, analysts are predicting that the hot, dry weather experienced in Europe this summer will push up carbon emissions. Lower water levels have reduced output from hydro-electric and nuclear power stations, with the slack taken up by increased fossil-fuelled generation. There has also been increased demand for air conditioning. Some analysts are now estimating a smaller surplus of carbon credits at the end of the first phase of the ETS, Reuters reports.


18 August 2006

A WARNING FOR ALL - ESPECIALLY THE AIRPORT

Water "must be seen as vital economic commodity"

ENDS Europe DAILY 2150 - 16 August 2006

Businesses and governments must urgently recognise the essential economic value of water in their strategies and policies, according to two new reports published by industry and environmentalists in the build up to World Water Week.

In the first, the World business council for sustainable development (WBCSD) says water shortages pose potentially as serious a challenge as climate change. It explores three future scenarios to understand how businesses can contribute to sustainable water management, including an analysis of innovation in water efficiency, security of water supply and water rights.

The second report, from WWF, echoes sentiments in the first. Its authors show that water crises are no longer a problem restricted to the developing world. Climate change and poor resource management are leading to droughts across rich countries too, they say.

The report identifies seven key challenges the developed world must tackle: it must properly value water, agree on a balance between conservation and consumption, accommodate natural flows, modify or repair ageing infrastructure, address water use in agriculture, reduce water pollution, and build knowledge of the water system. The developed world must set an example for the developing world, says WWF.


18 August 2006

CAMERON UNVEILS 'MINI MANIFESTO'

BBC News - 17 August 2006

Mr Cameron says he wants to give the Tories a new sense of direction.

Conservative leader David Cameron has unveiled the final draft of his party's Built to Last document outlining what he believes it should stand for.

He said he wanted a "responsibility revolution" to hand more power back to individuals and communities. But he admitted the document had had to be beefed up after activists said it did not contain enough policy detail.

To meet the great environmental threats of the age, to enhance the environment and to increase general well-being. We believe that there is more to life than money; that the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our relationships and the sustainability of our environment are central in building a strong and just society.

Today that means:

– Playing our part in tackling climate change by encouraging green growth through binding annual targets for carbon reduction, a long-term price for carbon, and the removal of barriers that hold us back from leading the world in new green technologies.

– Encouraging more eco-conscious use of our resources through energy and water conservation, and recycling.

– Encouraging greater corporate responsibility by offering a lighter regulatory regime to companies who make a commitment to responsible business practice.

– Enabling people to strike a better balance between work and life through ?exible working – with government setting an example by making the British public sector a world leader in ?exible working.

– Supporting families and marriage, and making high quality childcare more available and more affordable.

– Promoting the construction of attractive, affordable and eco- friendly housing through new approaches to planning and building regulations, and by decentralising the provision of energy.

– Improving transport through greater integration in our railways, more school buses and investment in new light rail systems for cities - and adopting tough targets for carbon reduction in new cars.

– Supporting the shared experiences that bring us together and promote well-being, like sport, the arts and culture, and reforming the National Lottery so that its proceeds are properly allocated to these purposes.

OUR COMMENT: A welcome commitment on climate change, but why no mention of air transport?

Pat Dale


10 August 2006

AIRPORT OPERATOR REFUSES TO ATTEND PUBLIC MEETINGS

Saffron Walden Reporter - 10 August 2006

AIRPORT operator BAA Stansted's decision not to attend forthcoming public consultation sessions has been described as a 'big letdown' by an Uttlesford councillor.

The airport has lodged a planning application with Uttlesford District Council to increase the number of passengers using Stansted beyond 25 million per annum.

Two public examination sessions had been planned for two weeks' time, but have now been cancelled as BAA Stansted has confirmed it will not be in attendance.

Cllr Alan Dean, the district council's member for Stansted Mountfitchet and community champion for the airport, wrote of his disappointment in an online blog at www.stanstedexplained.info

Cllr Dean said: "It feels like a snub to local democracy and the community. The best way to get to the bottom of a controversy and to get clarification is to get all the parties together in a room to see how well they stand up to each other's questioning. If the airport operator won't turn up, the exercise would be largely futile. So it's been cancelled."

The sessions would have enabled the regional development agency, strategic health authority and Stop Stansted Expansion campaigners to justify their views on the plans.

A BAA Stansted spokesman said: "We presented a very detailed application that we consider contains sufficient information. We have had public engagement sessions in the past and we do not believe that it is necessary for us to attend another."


10 August 2006

THE PUBLIC SAY 'SLOW DOWN THE GROWTH IN AIR TRAVEL'

Press Statement by the Airfields Environmental Trust - 9 August 2006

An important research study has been undertaken by Ipsos MORI for the Airfields Environmental Trust. The results show:

* When told about climate change dangers, the public favour slowing down the growth in air travel, with support outweighing opposition by three to one.

* A policy aimed at slowing down the growth in air travel attracts more support than opposition among men, women, all age groups, all socio-economic groups, among supporters of all political Parties and across the North, Midlands and South of Britain – and that is true whether or not people are told facts about climate change.

* In a ratio of six to one the public think that protecting the environment should be given priority over economic growth in the air travel industry – the exact opposite of the emphasis in the Air Transport White Paper.

* The government's reluctance to raise air passenger duty is widely thought to be based on a belief that to do so would be unpopular. That belief is shown to be false. On balance the public support for doubling the air passenger duty and, when told about climate change, the ratio is over two to one. Doubling the tax has greater support than opposition among men and women, among all age groups, all socio-economic groups and across the North, Midlands and South of Britain. Even among those who fly frequently more support doubling the tax than oppose it.

* The idea of a big tax increase, putting £20 on a flight to Paris and £200 on a flight to Australia, would be considered by most politicians to be a guaranteed vote loser. This survey shows that - if a government could demonstrate that all the money raised were to be spent on the environment, or on better health and education – a clear majority of the public (at least three to one) would accept these large tax rises.

Speaking for AET, Peter Lockley said: "We started from the position adopted by the government, and the airlines, that the public are opposed to any restraint or tax on air travel. The research was designed to see whether the public would accept a change of policy if a government were to spell out the climate change dangers."

"In fact what the research shows is that the public have already got the message. The balance of public opinion is in favour of slowing down the growth in air travel, and for increasing tax on flying, even before the climate change situation is explained."

OUR COMMENT: This Mori Poll seems to be fairly representative of a cross section of the British public - 2,100 persons in all were personally interviewed. One interesting point is that 50% of those interviewed had not flown during the last year or had never flown. The full report is available on this website.

Pat Dale


10 August 2006

CAN A WATER NETWORK CURB SHORTAGES?

Hywel Griffith - BBC News - 9 August 2006

The merit of a national network to pump water from wetter parts of Britain to drier areas is being considered by the Environment Agency. But is such a system a viable way of solving summer shortages?

The Environment Agency is carrying out a study on the cost of a national water network, which it expects to complete in the next few weeks. The Elan Valley's reservoirs could be expanded to feed a water grid.

It will look at the implications of creating a system to pump water from wetter, western parts of Britain via pipes, canals and rivers to the drier east.

The Institution of Civil Engineers says the idea should be taken seriously, as it would offer one answer to summer shortages.

Professor Roger Falconer, from the Institution, thinks existing reservoirs in North and Mid-Wales could be enhanced as a source of the water.

"From Lake Vyrnwy (in North Wales) for example," says Prof Falconer, "that could be the equivalent of 150 swimming pools full of water a day, to transfer that via canals to the Thames, and then distribute to other parts of the UK, or via the Trent to East Anglia."

Institution of Civil Engineers' vision of a national water grid

Prof Falconer says a national water grid is viable and could be "one of the options to address the current and future problems we have with water supply for various parts of the UK."

But creating larger reservoirs would also draw strong local opposition in rural areas.

In the Elan Valley in Mid Wales, reservoirs which opened in 1904 provide water to parts of the Midlands. Building larger dams to increase supply levels would be unpopular.

"I think we're in a very different world today from the world we had a hundred years ago", says Peter Cox, from local community group CARAD.

"These days there's far more education about environmental matters, cultural matters and national politics have changed massively since then as well - I think there'd be a lot of resistance."

'Sustainable solution'

His objections are echoed by local councillor John Jones - but he is anxious that the scheme could still go ahead. "They're talking of building another dam up at Graig Goch," says Mr Jones.

"At this present time you're hardly allowed to walk on the grass up here because of some rare plant or other. But if this dam comes off - and it will come off as surely as night follows day - they won't have a quibble about flooding all these rare plants, you mark my words."

An Environment Agency spokesman said the idea of a national water grid had been looked at many times: "In engineering terms, a national grid is feasible, but the question is whether we should build one. It needs to be looked at in terms of the pressures on water resources and what is the most sustainable solution."

He said its study looking at how much a major pipe network would cost and its environmental impact was due to be completed in the next few weeks.

Building a national grid would also need the water companies to be on board. Water UK regards it as too costly an option that could harm the environment.

But Prof Falconer warns that answers must be found: "We've got a redistribution of the population which exacerbates the problem - we need more water in other parts of the country."

OUR COMMENT: There has been much debate, notably in the course of the Panel Inquiry into the East of England Plan, as to whether the Stansted and Harlow areas can sustain the suggested numbers of houses and whether the expansion of the airport will mean that local residents have to suffer cuts in supplies. This is one of the driest areas in the UK and already 50% of supplies come from outside the area. The airport appears to be relying on the fact that it has a contract with the water company and that it can keep usage down to the amount allowed for in this contract. However, this figure does not necessarily allow for water that is needed for a variety of uses apart from servicing passengers. Neither does it allow for more than 35 mppa, or regular droughts. The Panel's report recommended that major developments should not proceed until it could be demonstrated that sufficient water would be available.

Pat Dale


10 August 2006

STANSTED USES MORE LOCAL FIRMS

EADT Business News Online - 7 August 2006

STANSTED Airport says it is using local companies "more than ever" for a wide range of services and products.

A poll of four key areas of the airport's operations showed that many local firms are seizing the opportunity to become suppliers of BAA and other on-airport companies at Stansted.

They are also serving it indirectly as second or third tier suppliers.

The findings of the latest research was shared with businesses who attended two seminars sponsored jointly by BAA Stansted and Business Link Essex in record numbers.

More than 450 company representatives took part in the seminar programmes, which provided them with a better understanding of how they can win business with companies at the airport, as well as how to take full advantage of the opportunities brought by the airport's growth.

The events were a forerunner to 'Stansted Meet the Buyers', to be held in September, where local businesses will be invited to meet airport firms to discuss potential new business orders.

Stansted's director of communications Mark Pendlington said: "The opportunities for local and regional businesses to work with Stansted Airport are endless.

"We want to help them make the most of those opportunities, so we not only facilitate new business meetings, we offer free practical advice and support on marketing and sales too.

"Our research shows that businesses in Chelmsford, Braintree, Bishop's Stortford, Takeley, Harlow, Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden and Cambridge, to name but a few, are all successfully doing good business with Stansted."

"This all brings to life the truth of the value of Stansted to the local and regional economy. In the last five years along, the 'Meet the Buyers' initiative has put £10million worth of orders into local companies, and we are now challenging ourselves to do even better in future."

OUR COMMENT: It would be rather surprising if local firms had not seized the chance to supply the needs of Stansted airport. No one disputes that the airport has been good for local business, though not on the scale that is implied. What is questioned is whether a further huge expansion of the airport can continue to attract sufficient further business to make it profitable and, if it does, can this justify the environmental damage that will be caused - the extra traffic, the pollution and the loss of quality of life over a very wide area.

Pat Dale


8 August 2006

IN BRIEF
(IS THIS THE ONLY POLICY HE WISHES TO PROMOTE?)

e-politix briefing - BBC Online - 7 August 2006

The prime minister says today that British households may be given state-subsidised individual carbon audits on their homes to encourage them to cut their own contribution to global warming.

"We're looking at how you make this really widespread for people, so you get a kind of movement going of people knowing how much carbon is emitted from their own household and how they can reduce it," Tony Blair says in an interview with BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"A lot of it's about information to people, because I think people kind of do want to do the right thing, but they kind of look at climate change and think: 'This is so enormous and it's global, how the hell can I do anything about it?'"


8 August 2006

MPS REVIEW CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMME

Ben Hall, Political Correspondent - Financial Times - 7 August 2006

International air passengers should face a raft of new taxes, a committee of MPs urges on Monday, issuing a fresh attack on government for failing to reduce carbon emissions from transport.

The environmental audit committee urges the Department for Transport to "urgently accelerate its efforts" to curb greenhouse gases, setting its sight on international air travel which now produces twice as much carbon dioxide as in 1990.

The government and airline industry were proving "intransigent" towards reducing emissions from overseas flights.

The MPs seek higher air passenger duty, bilateral agreements between European Union countries for new air taxes - the proceeds of which could be ploughed into new high-speed rail links - and a compulsory charge on all airline tickets to pay for offsetting the carbon produced by the flight.

They also demand a rethink of airport expansion plans and call for air passenger duty to be levied per aircraft rather than per person to promote fuller loads and greater efficiency.

Despite the government's support for including airlines in the EU's emissions trading scheme, the committee warns that such a step is years away.


8 August 2006

MP'S SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT SLAMS GOVERNMENT INACTION ON AIR TRANSPORT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Press Release - Aviation Environment Federation - 7 August 2006

Progress on taxes, charges & ETS to reduce growth in emissions from flying labelled "slow, both the Government and industry are as intransigent as ever"

MP's "urge the DfT to widen the terms of its current progress review of 2003 Aviation White Paper into a fundamental rethink of its airport expansion policy"

Air Passenger Duty "should be raised to slow the growth in flights" & extend demand management taxation policies to cover air freight as well

Today's publication (Monday 7th August 2006) of the UK Parliament's House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Report "Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport" sees the watchdog group of MPs from all political parties savage the Government's current expansionist air transport policies.

Government policies are identified as doing little to slow down emissions from air travel which the report confirms is the fastest growing source of damaging climate-changing emissions right now.

The Report also recommends that each passenger's individual emissions per flight should be calculated, printed and displayed prominently on tickets and that all publicity material should feature an airline's aircraft fleet fuel efficiency performance too, as part of a range of measures to educate the public about the damaging climate change impacts of their flights.

Jeff Gazzard, Aviation Environment Federation Board Member, said:
"This isn't the first time that EAC MP's have issued withering criticism of the Government's feeble attempts to control the climate change impacts of flying. The EAC's comments are accompanied by a range of progressive and intelligent policy proposals with a number of innovative suggestions ranging from extending green taxes on air transport through to "health warning" type public information campaigns on tickets, adverts and websites, all of which we can strongly support."

Jeff Gazzard added:
"We are also very pleased that the EAC has commented positively on and endorsed, with qualifications we are happy to accept, the AEF's own plans for environmental taxation that would bring future air transport growth in line with the rate at which the industry can improve its fuel efficiency, a fair & equitable solution."

"We think the best way to achieve this goal is to add a "congestion charge" of the skies to ticket prices of 3.6 pence per passenger kilometre. We have already had access to the DfT's own modelling software and this analysis showed that applying the "polluter pays" principle and charging the environmental costs of flying at this level would reduce future demand by half."

"This doesn't mean the end of flying - what it does mean is that we can start to sensibly and pragmatically control & reduce the soaring runaway climate change impacts of this sector. The polluter - the passenger - must & should pay. And as MPs on the EAC uncompromisingly state:

The Department should implement demand management measures straightaway

"This time we hope the Government, in the shape of new Transport Secretary, Douglas Alexander, will react urgently and intelligently and fundamentally rethink current air transport policy, as the EAC requests."


8 August 2006

ANOTHER VIEW - CORRECT - OR NOT?

Air tax hike 'would hit poorest'

BBC News Online - 7 August 2006

The report of the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee said air travel was the fastest growing source of CO2

Raising air travel taxes would only hit poorer people, said ministers as MPs accused them of failing to stop transport that fuels global warming.

Carbon dioxide emissions from aviation are set to rise five-fold, the Commons environmental audit committee says. It says the government has a "fatalistic" approach to the problem.

But budget airline Easyjet said the MPs' calls for higher taxes would be unfair to poor holidaymakers and fail to make planes more efficient.

The MPs say transport is the only sector of the UK economy where carbon dioxide emissions have risen consistently since 1990, including a doubling in air traffic emissions.

"Unless the Department for Transport raises its game, transport will go on rising so fast that almost anything else we do is going to be really useless."

At-a-glance: The Committee report and reactions

They are pushing for tax on air travel to be charged per flight, rather than per passenger - and be extended to cover air freight.

And passengers should have to pay to "offset" the emissions from their flight by funding green projects elsewhere.

Efficiency drive

But an Easyjet spokeswoman said: "The idea to price the most price-sensitive and less affluent customers (i.e. the poorest in society) out of the sky as the means to reduce emissions from aviation is not only a blunt and unimaginative measure - but it is also unnecessary."

Better options included reforming air traffic control and ending state aid, which often funded outdated planes, she said.

Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman also resisted higher passenger taxes, saying those on good wages would still be able to afford to go on holiday.

"What we need is a system which effectively taxes inefficient airlines or taxes those airlines that don't invest in the more modern aeroplanes," said Mr Ladyman.

That was why the government wanted aviation included in the European Union's emissions trading scheme, he argued.

Tax hike

Planes are not the MPs' only target. They also want bigger penalties for drivers of "gas guzzling cars".

They welcome the recent introduction of variable Vehicle Excise Duty, which means that the lowest-carbon cars pay no road tax, while gas-guzzling 4x4s pay an increased rate of £210.

But they say the measure should be extended, highlighting calls for the top band to rise to £1,800.

Under the plans, lower bands would be at £300 intervals down to the least-polluting cars which would be tax-free.

The report says the purchase of zero-tax cars fell between 2004 and 2005.

It also suggests a return to the fuel tax escalator, which increased the cost of petrol above inflation to deter road usage and caused widespread protests six years ago.

Road tax hikes

Committee chairman Tim Yeo said: "Unless the Department for Transport raises its game, transport will go on rising so fast - and particularly aircraft - that almost anything else we do is going to be really useless."

He said the variable road tax introduced by the government barely amounted to the cost of filling a fuel tank, he argued.

Mr Ladyman said the government did not "rule out doing more in the future" on the tax levels.

But he was not sure that measure would deter people from buying gas guzzlers when they were already prepared to pay thousands of pounds for extra fuel.

He also argued that the speed limit should be based on safety and was not a cost effective way of tackling pollution.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said the MPs' report backed his party's plans for using green taxes to change behaviour without raising overall taxation.

OUR COMMENT: The argument that only the poorest will suffer is one that can be applied to any aspect of everyday life. All political parties profess to wish to end poverty, which is an essential and basic goal. Poverty restricts all access to travel and to recreation and, however low air fares are, the actual costs of food and board while on holiday could not be afforded by those who fall in the general category of "the poor". For those just above this level cheap fares do make a significant difference, BUT cheaper holidays have been around for years, coach trips still attract many, and so do no-flying camping holidays.

Cheap travelling by air has attracted so many because everyone from all income levels likes a bargain and saving money on the travel allows more to be spent while on holiday. Surveys of air passenger's social groups has shown that they come predominately from those who are more comfortably off and a significant number fly several times a year. They can afford more short breaks or they have brought a house somewhere in Europe.

What is the justification for subsidising these travellers to fly rather than coach or rail and boat when they are visiting Europe? Or Scotland? Or even Ireland? How many hours travel do they actually save and are those hours (which can hardly be described as full of comfort) worth saving? While the government encourages this most polluting form of travel, rail services are allowed to wither and become ever more crowded and expensive. As for the Minister's hope that airlines will invest in more modern aircraft - and solve the problem, - he has been badly advised. It will not solve the problem until aviation technology comes up with some better solutions.

Pat Dale


8 August 2006

FOOTNOTE!

Full planes boost Easyjet figures

BBC Business News Online - 7 August 2006

Easyjet is benefiting from increased passenger numbers

Budget airline Easyjet has restated its forecast that its rising passenger capacity will deliver pre-tax profit growth of 40-50% in the current year.

In a trading statement, the Luton Airport-based carrier said it carried nearly 3.2 million passengers in July, 11.3% up on the same month of 2005.

Its load factor - which measures how well Easyjet fills its planes - was 90.4%, up from 88.4% in July 2005.

Easyjet said it had started flying 19 new routes over the last three months.

Its total revenue per seat for the three months to the end of June rose 17% to £45, from £38.50 during the same period in 2005. "We now expect full year capacity growth to be in the region of 13% and expect unit revenue and unit costs to be slightly higher than our previous guidance," the company said in its statement.


8 August 2006

GIVE UP CHEAP FLIGHTS, HOLIDAYMAKERS TOLD

Ned Temko, Chief Political Correspondent - The Observer - 6 August 2006

It's the peak holiday season, but it still takes just a few minutes online and a few pounds to book a flight to Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin... even Prague, Rome or Barcelona.

Not for much longer, though, if an influential group of MPs gets its way. Alarmed at what it sees as the government's wilful disregard of the effects of cheap air travel on global warming, the cross-party environmental audit committee will tomorrow lay out a range of proposals to get people to pay for some of the damage they do.

It may take time and, given the tangle of international agreements that govern flights overseas, it is far more likely to mean the end of bargain fares to Manchester than to Moscow (£118 this week, if you know where to look). But the aim is to shift at least some passengers from air travel to high-speed rail links. The MPs also want changes on Britain's roads, with increases in road tax, targeted road tolls and more congestion charges.

It is vital, one committee member told The Observer yesterday, that the government should factor in the environmental impact of its transport policies - something the MPs were surprised to find is not happening. There is an ambitious overall target to cut Britain's carbon emissions by 60 per cent before 2050, but no specific plan for transport - which is the biggest emissions culprit and shows every sign of getting worse.

"They don't even measure the relative emissions impact of building a new road as against a new public transport project," the MP said.

While a national road-charging scheme to charge motorists by the mile is being piloted, its aim is to cut congestion, not to discriminate between a higher-emissions Land Rover and an environmentally less damaging Toyota Prius.

But tomorrow's report is expected to say that the main challenge is air travel. Jetting off to the Mediterranean with a budget airline can now cost less than a tankful of petrol for a 4x4. The MPs will argue that the problem has arisen because airlines don't pay tax on their fuel, because passenger duty charges have been kept unrealistically low, and because no one in the government is prepared to take on the airlines.

The Transport Secretary, Douglas Alexander, told the committee that the government was addressing the problem of airline emissions by pushing for air travel to be included in the Europe-wide emissions-trading scheme. But with many of the airlines backing that strategy, the MPs were sceptical. Their fear was that this 'soft option' would not significantly change domestic policy on air travel, despite official figures showing that transport - particularly air travel - is the only sector of the British economy whose emissions have risen since 1990.

"Given the predictions for aviation growth, transport emissions could take up our whole global target emissions, leaving no room for emissions by any other sector of the economy by 2050," said Desmond Turner, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, during the committee's questioning of Alexander.


8 August 2006

FURTHER THOUGHTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Summer nights heating up, scientists say

Seth Borenstein - The Times - 4 August 2006

America in recent years has been sweltering through three times more than its normal share of extra-hot summer nights, government weather records show. And that is a particularly dangerous trend.

During heat waves, like the one that now has a grip on much of the East, one of the major causes of heat deaths is the lack of night cooling that would normally allow a stressed body to recover, scientists say.

Some scientists say the trend is a sign of manmade global warming.

A top federal research meteorologist said he "almost fell out of my chair" when he looked over U.S. night minimum temperature records over the past 96 years and saw the skyrocketing trend of hot summer nights.

From 2001 to 2005, on average nearly 30 percent of the nation had "much above normal" average summertime minimum temperatures, according to the National Climatic Data in Asheville, N.C.

By definition, "much above normal" means low temperatures that are in the highest 10 percent on record. On any given year about 10 percent of the country should have "much above normal" summer-night lows.

Yet in both 2005 and 2003, 36 percent of the nation had much above normal summer minimums. In 2002 it was 37 percent. While the highest-ever figure was in the middle of America's brutal Dust Bowl, when 41 percent of the nation had much above normal summer-night temperatures, the rolling five-year average of 2001-05 is a record - by far.

Figures from this year's sweltering summer have not been tabulated yet, but they are expected to be just as high as recent years.

And it is not just the last five years. Each of the past eight years has been far above the normal 10 percent. During the past decade, 23 percent of the nation has had hot summer nights. During the past 15 years, that average has been 20 percent. By comparison, from 1964 to 1968 only 2 percent of the country on average had abnormally hot nights.

"This is unbelievable," said National Climatic Data Center research meteorologist Richard Heim. "Something strange has happened in the last 10 to 15 years on the minimums."

But it is not surprising because climate models, used to forecast global warming, have been predicting this trend for more than 20 years, said Jerry Mahlman, a climate scientist at National Center for Atmospheric Research and a top federal climate modeler.

It is a telltale sign of global warming, Mahlman said: "The smoking gun is still smoking; it's not shooting people yet."

One reason global warming is suspected in summer-night temperatures is that daytime air pollution slightly counteracts warming but is not as prevalent at night, said Bill Chameides, a climate scientist for the advocacy group Environmental Defense.

The records for summer-night low temperatures are part of a U.S. Climate Extremes Index developed by the National Climatic Data Center. Last year, in large part because of record hurricane activity, saw the most extreme weather in the United States since 1910.


8 August 2006

THREE-QUARTERS OF ETS NAPS ARE "TOO WEAK"

ENDS Europe DAILY 2145 - 31 July 2006

Fourteen of 19 available national allocation plans (Naps) for phase two of the EU emission trading scheme fail European commission criteria aimed at ensuring the scheme helps protect the environment, according to analysis by Deutsche Bank and seen by ENDS.

The bank predicts that of the 19 plans so far published in draft or full, only those of Germany, Italy, Portugal, the UK and Slovenia fully respect three key criteria laid down by the commission. All the others fail on one or more of them, it says.

The criteria assessed are that emission caps must be set in line with the member state's Kyoto target; that they must be based on real emissions in 2005;  and that they must take account of the potential for economy-wide carbon intensity improvements.

Based on its own analysis, the bank calculates that all 25 EU states should allocate a total of no more than 1.93-1.975bn tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year in the second phase.

However, it estimates that the 19 published Naps already allow for emissions of 1.94bn tonnes per year, meaning the target is certain to be exceeded once the remaining six are added in. 

The bank reckons that caps in the 19 available plans will have to be slashed by an average of 7% if there is any hope of the overall target being respected.

Meeting Deutsche Bank's suggested EU-25 emissions target would require countries to set caps an average of 11% lower than in phase one Naps.  In contrast, the commission has suggested that an aggregate 6% reduction would be appropriate in the second phase, an estimate it stuck to even when it emerged the publication of verified 2005 emissions data showed that too many allowances had been allocated

Meanwhile, green group WWF last Thursday condemned delays, weak national caps, low use of auctioning and heavy reliance on Kyoto's flexible mechanisms in key phase-two Naps. The group analysed final Naps submitted by Germany and Poland plus draft Naps published by Spain, Italy and the UK.

A commission review of the emission trading scheme - originally due on 30 June - is now likely to be published in the autumn. The commission still hopes to publish a mandate for the working group later this month.


3 August 2006

A GREEN AIRPORT? IS IT A JOKE?

Airport first in UK to win eco status

Saffron Walden Weekly News - 27 July 2006

Stansted airport has become the first BAA airport and only the second in the UK to achieve an internationally recognised environmental management standard.

The standard required Stansted to demonstrate strict management practices and commitment to improve environmental performance. Four independent audits were carried out over a 14 month period.

The airport is providing environmental training to employees and has exceeded its overall target to recycle at least 22% of its airport waste. It is also home to a wide variety of plants and animals including great crested newts, oxeye daisies and the rare pyramid orchid.

Stansted has just launched its Corporate Responsibility website and report this week which outlines the airport's progress on managing the environmental economic and social performance from April 2005 to March this year.

Terry Morgan, managing director of the airport, said: "I am very proud of our achievements over the past year, especially the fact that we have become the first BAA airport to achieve certification to the ISO1400q Environmental Standard. This standard is in recognition of the huge amount of effort that goes into maintaining the biodiversity of the site and its surroundings. We face many challenges in the aviation industry and I recognise the social and environmental impacts that we have. However, this challenge is a tremendous opportunity for us all at Stansted to continue to deliver the substantial economic and social benefits that we see every day and take a lead on minimising the impacts"

OUR COMMENT: Mr Morgan is economical with the truth. He recognises that aviation has "challenges". We all know that air travel and air freight are an essential part of modern living, many of us have used the airport from time to time. BUT, we should all know that both are one of the biggest polluters of our environment. To date, and for the forseeable future, this situation can only be marginally improved by improved technology. Such mitigation as is possible has to be enforced and Mr Morgan is to be congratulated on achieving the standards required by this eco-label. He should give some credit to the foresight of Uttlesford District Council in setting up the Countryside Protection Zone, which helps to preserve his newts, daisies and orchids on site. However, do these species thrive on extra nitrogen deposition? Or, over time, will they suffer like the ancient trees of nearby Hatfield Forest which are trying to cope with a surfeit of such chemicals? Has he given thought to monitoring outside his airport borders? Regrettably he will probably lose his award if expansion goes ahead. That is what the current argument is all about. What are the environmental and social limits that should be put on the expansion of any airport?

Pat Dale


3 August 2006

A SHORTAGE OF GREEN AWARDS ELSEWHERE

Mixed results for UK's environment

www.greenconsumerguide.com - 2 August 2006

The latest statistics for the UK's environmental performance across the board, published this week, has shown mixed results on a number of important green issues. The Sustainable Development Indicators measured statistics since 1999, for 68 different topics.

Areas that showed levels of improvement included waste recycling, air pollution emissions and local environment quality, while areas displaying degradation since 1999 included aviation emissions, household waste levels and water lost through leakages.

Environment Minister Ian Pearson welcomed the improvements, but acknowledged that the areas that needed attention.

"These indicators highlight the challenges for our lifestyles, for business and for policy makers if we are to move towards 'one planet' living. They illustrate where we are making progress and where we may need to think and do things differently to get improvements," commented the Minister.

"The need to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the home and from our cars in order to combat climate change is clearly shown. But the indicators also demonstrate a wide range of other areas where action is needed. We are all in this together. Action by Government, individuals and business are all needed if we are going to avoid dangerous climate change and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life for future generations."

OUR COMMENT: Mr Pearson has forgotten to mention aviation emissions - does he not realise that they are greenhouse gases as well? Or does he, like the Department for Communities and Local Government, believe that it is all the responsibility of the Department for Transport?

Pat Dale


3 August 2006

TRANSPORT POLICIES 'ARE NOT GREEN'

www.lineone.net/news - 2 August 2006

Government transport policies are failing to tackle climate change, a report from environmental groups has said. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from surface transport will continue to rise unless there is a radical change in approach, the report added.

The Department for Transport (DfT) does not know the full impact of its decisions on climate change and is "pinning its hopes for meeting climate targets on policies which already look set to fail", the report concluded.

Friends of the Earth (FoE), Road Block and Transport 2000 were among the groups which published the report, which was written by consultants Steer Davies Gleave.

FoE's senior transport campaigner Tony Bosworth said: "The DfT is losing the battle against climate change, and unless it changes its policies, it will continue to fail."

"Transport secretary Douglas Alexander must make action on global warming his main priority. And the Government must back growing calls for a climate law to make successive governments responsible for annual cuts CO2."

Stephen Joseph, executive director of Transport 2000, said: "Transport's contribution to climate change is growing but this report shows that the DfT is not tackling it with any urgency or priority."

"It is pinning its hope on policies which look set to fail. The Government must now find the political will to put in place policies to change how we travel."

OUR COMMENT: AND the DfT must RETHINK their Aviation Policy. If motorists are to modify their use of their car, so must recreational air travellers cut down on air miles. Try the train or coach! Pat Dale


29 July 2006

A FLIGHT OF FANCY?

Third runway passes pollution test

Ben Webster - The Times - 26 July 2006

Expansion is more likely after fears about air quality were dispelled

A NEW runway at Heathrow is a more likely prospect after a government study found the air pollution problem around the airport was less serious than had been feared and could be overcome.

Ministers are supporting a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow to allow an extra 175,000 flights a year. The runway, 1.2 miles (2,000m), and capable of handling short-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, would open between 2015 and 2020.

The 2003 aviation White Paper said that expansion could not go ahead if it would cause air quality to fall below the European Union's minimum standard.

Department for Transport research had found previously that a third runway would expose 35,000 people living in the area to excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide. It is emitted by aircraft and vehicle engines and can cause fatal lung damage.

The new study contains results from 18 monitoring sites around Heathrow and shows that all but two were within EU limits in 2004. It also reports a small but significant downward trend in levels of nitrogen dioxide and says that nitrogen oxides and particulates are either falling rapidly or are already too low to present a problem.

The study, conducted by a panel of senior scientists, establishes a more accurate method of predicting how levels of air pollutants will change under various scenarios. The department will use the research to make recommendations on how nitrogen dioxide can be reduced sufficiently to allow a third runway to be built.

The Government has said it will make a final decision by next summer.

Ian Poll, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Cranfield University, who was appointed to check the validity of the study, said: "The problem of air pollution is manageable and the continued expansion of Heathrow is desirable and technologically feasible."

"This report gives us a far better understanding of air quality issues and will stand up to the toughest scrutiny."

Radical measures might be needed to reduce nitrogen dioxide to the required levels but there were no insurmountable problems, Professor Poll said.

The next generation of aircraft engines will produce far less nitrogen dioxide than those flying today.

Lord Soley, chairman of Future Heathrow, which campaigns for the airport's expansion, said that the main source of nitrogen dioxide around the airport was from cars on the M4 and the airport's access roads. A previous government study considered building a roof over a four-mile stretch of the M4 and installing vents to filter out nitrogen dioxide.

Lord Soley said that emissions could also be reduced near the airport by moving most of its 40,000 parking spaces to derelict land north of the M4 beside the M25. A new monorail line would link the new car park to the terminals.

John Stewart, chairman of ClearSkies, which represents people living under Heathrow's flight paths, said: "It looks like the third runway will pass the air pollution test but there will still be the problem of a new flight path blighting 150,000 residents."

Mr Stewart welcomed the Government's decision, announced yesterday, to abandon plans to remove the cap on the number of night flights at Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow. "It will be a great relief for residents to have Heathrow's cap of 16 flights a night maintained. But I suspect this means ministers have decided to focus on the bigger battle of building a third runway," he said.


29 July 2006

WE'RE ALL HEADING FOR A FIERY FURNACE
IF WE GO ON TAKING THESE CHEAP FLIGHTS

Magnus Linklater - The Times - 26 July 2006

JET TRAVEL is a sin, says the Bishop of London, and of course he is right. How can it not be a mortal sin to contribute actively to the end of the world?

When one 747 from London to New York spews out more CO2 emissions than a motorist does in the course of an entire year, when the 16,000 flights taking off each year generate 600 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, destroying the planet's upper atmosphere, when global warming is melting the ice-cap and threatening the poorest nations of the world with starvation or drowning, when mankind, in the memorable words of the climate guru James Lovelock, is "perceptibly disabling the planet like a disease", does this not add up to a most grievous offence against nature, to say nothing of God? Is the Bishop wrong, then, to suggest we should all take personal responsibility?

I note that he fell short of a thundering pulpit denunciation by conceding that a cheap flight to Benidorm, or the use of a gas-guzzling Chelsea tractor on the school run might only be a "symptom of sin" rather than the actual burn-in-hell thing itself.

But at least his words were stronger than the milk-and-water follow-up from the Church of Scotland, which bleated that "our souls are not in any imminent danger from large cars or flying". Why ever not? I should have thought that if God did indeed create the heavens, the earth and all that is therein, he would be mightily displeased to see us collectively disabling it.

The Kirk seems to have forgotten its own Westminster Confession of 1646, which teaches that "every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the law of God and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal."

That's more like it. Along with the thundering language, it introduces that powerful motivator, guilt. And though the modern world may find it a struggle to define the concept of sin - or even to admit that it exists at all - it knows perfectly well what guilt is. Guilt drives us back on to the straight and narrow, however far we have strayed from it; it jolts us into making that telephone call to Aunt Sadie, whom we promised to invite to lunch last Christmas; it fills the collecting boxes of the nation; it squeezes out the confession that either ends or saves a marriage; it forces the murderer into a police station to confess to a killing; it can make a politician enter a pair of cowboy boots on his register of interests; and it just might persuade us to go by train instead of by air next time.

Guilt may be national as well as personal. It can end slavery, make reparation for the crimes of a previous regime or motivate the world's aid agencies in their endless attempt to eradicate world poverty. It contributed to the decision of Nato countries to intervene in Kosovo, and shamed the Security Council that failed to do the same in Rwanda. Guilt may eventually force Condoleezza Rice to lean on Israel to stop the bombing of Lebanon, and it just might persuade the world's governments to restrict rather than encourage air travel.

Guilt, in short, could prompt the first stirring of a popular revolt against the excess of carbon emissions that is destroying our planet. I may as well start the ball rolling myself. This summer I bought a cheap Ryanair ticket to Grenoble in France. It cost me £17. At the last minute I had to change my flight. The price had dropped to £4.99. Did I feel triumph at pulling off a remarkable bargain? I did not. I felt guilty. How could I, who had initially budgeted for a flight costing at least a couple of hundred pounds, justify a ticket that was less than the train fare into town?

Alongside me, in a packed aircraft, were other passengers, heading for a destination they had barely heard of, on an airline whose only attraction was its fare, funded not by its ticket price but by the cheap perfume it managed to sell on board, to an airport that would barely have existed before the rise of budget air travel, on a journey as artificial and unnecessary as it is possible to imagine, which had the effect, however, of shaving yet another centimetre off the ozone layer and depriving yet another polar bear of its rapidly melting ice floe.

All over the world, encouraged by governments that remain wilfully blind to long-term pollution, cities and regions are competing for the right to open new airports, granting easily affordable landing rights to a plethora of airlines with names like Flybe, Wizzair, Jet2 and Excel, which no one had heard of a few years ago, but which all share one thing - the inalienable right to destroy our environment.

Far from trying to rein back on this insane expansion, most countries are subsidising it - to the tune of about £30 billion a year in Europe alone. There is no VAT on aviation fuel, no VAT on new aircraft and no VAT on ticket sales. In Britain, airlines would have to pay £5 billion a year if they were taxed at the same rate as motorists. Since they do not, tickets cost about 42 per cent less than they did ten years ago, and the number of people who fly is expected to double over the next 15 years. We are, in effect, subsidising an industry that is poisoning our planet, in the name of another industry - tourism - that will, of course, be the first to suffer from the poisoning of our planet.

I don't know how this makes you feel, but it leaves me bathed in sweat at the mere thought of it. That's either guilt, or the weather, or both. Either way, it's a sin.


29 July 2006

"THIRD RUNWAY PASSES POLLUTION TEST": OH NO IT DOESN'T!

Press Release - GreenSkies - 27 July 2006

Development of air quality model not yet used alongside assessment of future Heathrow air pollution from aircraft & cars - Airport supporters "mistaken & wrong" to think and claim air pollution solved - Pro-industry academic "should apologise or resign immediately" from Department for Transport Heathrow project

A report in yesterday's Times newspaper, "Third Runway passes pollution test", follows the publication of an extremely detailed and highly technical Department for Transport report developing an air quality model suitable for use at and around major airports. This would allow an air pollution map to be produced showing where impacts would fall and, allied to GIS information, the numbers of people affected by levels either breaking or within the EU mandatory air quality standards, vital for protecting human health.

This work is a part of the DfT's "Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow".

The model is designed for use alongside studies of future growth, performance standards and pollution outputs, allowing pollutants from all the likely sources of air pollution at and around Heathrow - aircraft, road traffic and airport operations - to be forecast reasonably accurately.

This part of the work programme, an emissions inventory and the overall combined modelling work has not been carried out.

Jeff Gazzard, GreenSkies Alliance co-ordinator, said:

"The recently-published technical report on air quality at Heathrow categorically does not nor was ever intended to give the green light to a third runway. It does confirm the current situation that two sites are significantly over the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide air pollution. It simply provides the tools to analyse the dispersion of future levels of pollution when deciding if Heathrow can ever be expanded."

"Several other monitoring sites are hovering around the legal limit, and the proposed third runway would add 30% more planes and large numbers of cars and commercial vehicles to the already polluted road network around Heathrow."

Jeff Gazzard added: "The Aviation Environment Federation's recent report, 'Emissions Impossible', looked in depth at the air quality issues linked to the end of runway alternation at Heathrow and the 3rd Runway/6th Terminal proposal and concluded that an expanded Heathrow would inevitably not meet mandatory EU air quality standards. The biggest problem for the air transport industry is that the very latest aircraft are actually emitting more NOx, not less, making compliance at a very busy airport like Heathrow difficult if not impossible."

The Times report also stated that:

Ian Poll, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Cranfield University, who was appointed to check the validity of the study, said: "The problem of air pollution is manageable and the continued expansion of Heathrow is desirable and technologically feasible."

Jeff Gazzard commented:

"We are deeply disappointed that one member of the DfT's so-called independent peer review group, Professor Ian Poll, of Cranfield University, has cut the ties of his impartial peer reviewer status and reverted to his day-to-day role as uncritical champion of the air transport industry. His claim that expansion at Heathrow can go ahead is mistaken and wrong. The DfT's own documents say the report: "does not reach any conclusions about the viability of a third runway or the introduction of mixed mode operations."

Professor Poll should be ordered to publicly retract and apologise for this statement or resign or be sacked immediately - whatever independence he may have had has just flown out of a Department for Transport window, closely followed by his credibility.

Airlines call this a "double-daily" departure!"


29 July 2006

THE GOVERNMENT VIEW ON AIRPORT EXPANSION,
ESPECIALLY ON AIRCRAFT NOISE

Press Release - GreenSkies - 27 July 2006

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport has recently given an interesting account of some of the government's thoughts on the environmental impacts of aviation expansion. This is in a letter responding to concerns from a local resident over the threatened expansion of Stansted. A number of the points made are important in view of the intention to review the Aviation White Paper this year.

She says: "To tackle the local impacts of airport expansion, the White Paper prescribes a range of measures. These include new legislation and economic instruments as well as improved technology and stringent planning conditions attached to airport development. The Government's objectives are to limit, and where possible, reduce noise impacts over time, to ensure air quality and other environmental standards are met and to minimise other local environmental impacts. Loss of landscape and built heritage is avoided where possible and otherwise minimised and mitigated to the greatest extent possible".

She goes on to say that "Any airport development plans will be subject to the rigours of the land use planning system. The environmental impacts and other potential local and regional impacts of airport development will be considered as part of this process. Airport developers will be expected to provide full environmental and health impact assessments and the robustness of these assessments will be tested as the application passes through the various planning stages."

If this were truly government policy then applications to expand Stansted or Heathrow would certainly fail! Yet, the Department for Communities and Local Government who were first approached about these same concerns, referred them to the DfT saying that "unfortunately it (the dept.) does not have responsibility for the issues raised". Is this department ignorant of planning procedure in relation to environmental and health damage? Yet the Planning legislation puts responsibility for the final decisions on major developments on to their Minister, Ruth Kelly herself.

This statement cannot be reconciled with current Planning procedure. If the present Communities and Local Government Department cannot handle the assessment of the environmental impacts of new developments then who is responsible?

In addition, Defra is responsible for Air Quality enforcement and the preservation of the environment and the Department of Health is concerned with Health impacts.

The letter from the DfT goes on to detail the government's views on climate change (no change!) and then to discuss the various studies that have been carried out on the effects of aircraft noise on children's learning skills. The WHO guideline figures for noise are dismissed as "desirable in an ideal world, but not a realistic aspiration in the short to medium term", though they may be taken into account when setting targets.

Some of the findings of the studies into the effects of noise on children are described and it appears that the government does accept that aicraft noise exposure is related to impaired performance in reading comprehension and recognition memory and the letter repeats the latest RANCH study somewhat tortuous conclusion that "opportunities for psychological and restorative environments improve children's well-being and potentially protect against adverse reactions to noise".

However, the Minister's response is even more tortuous. After saying that larger airports with over 50,000 movements a year are expected to provide acoustic insulation for schools exposed to medium or high levels of noise she returns to the Aviation White Paper and quotes the much ridiculed section that suggested that when there are difficulties with noise insulation alternative mitigation measures can be provided, such as "environmental grants, provisions of quiet rooms for reading or music, or funding school trips away from the noisy environment."


25 July 2006

AIR FOOD MILES ADD TO GLOBAL WARMING

Cost of food grows to 18m tons of carbon dioxide

Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent - The Independent - 21 July 2006

Cars, lorries and planes are emitting a record 18 million tons of carbon dioxide a year transporting food around Britain, new figures from the Government showed yesterday.

A jump of 6 per cent was recorded in the number of "food miles" by road and air in 2004, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The figures will heighten concern about the damage done by the supermarkets' policy of flying in products like sweetcorn from Thailand, prawns from Ecuador, or apples from New Zealand. They are also a blow to the Government's commitment - made in its Food Industry Sustainability Strategy earlier this year - to cut the social and environmental costs of food miles on 1990 levels by 20 per cent by 2012.

Environmental campaigners said the figures showed ministers should be doing more to curb emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes climate change, which has been blamed for this summer's extreme heat.

Food miles are clocked up by air freighting produce often thousands of miles to the UK, trundling lorries round the motorway network and by customers travelling to and from shops.

Amid the rise of the supermarket chains and the all-year round stocking of fruit and vegetable varieties, Co2 emissions from food miles have soared in the past decade. They rose by 15 per cent from 1992 to 2002 and by a 4 per cent between 2002 and 2004, according to Defra.

In its latest statistics, the Government revealed that in 2004 the distance transporting food around towns and cities rose by 2 per cent to more than 11bn km. Within that the number of car journeys dropped by 2 per cent - the public may be limiting journeys to the supermarket, or shopping more locally. But heavy goods vehicles travelled 4 per cent more and vans 12 per cent more. Nationally HGV journeys jumped by 5 per cent and air food kilometres by 2 per cent.

According to a Government report last year, food miles cost the country £9bn a year - £5bn from road congestion, £2bn from road accidents, £1bn from pollution and £1bn from other factors.

A spokeswoman for Defra said the Government was working with the food manufacturers and supermarkets and had been impressed by the seriousness with which they were taking the issue.

Some stores such as Asda believed they were reducing road miles, she added. Yesterday, Sainsbury's said that it had cut the distance travelled by its lorries by 5 per cent to 134m km.

Friends of the Earth said the figures were more evidence that the Government was not doing enough to tackle climate change.

In March this year Margaret Beckett, then Environment Secretary, admitted Britain would fail to meet its long-standing target to reduce 1990 carbon dioxide levels by 20 per cent by 2010.

Germana Canzi, of Friends of the Earth - which backs the introduction of tax on air fuel - said: "These figures confirm the fact that the Government is missing its targets for reducing CO2 emissions and we are very disappointed because the Government has had many opportunities to meet its climate targets."

But she added: "I don't think the public are aware of food miles. They have come to take it for granted that you can go to the local supermarket and buy a vast range of products all year round and most people do not make the link between their behaviour and the impact it has on climate change.

"By making flying more expensive then the products would be more expensive and people would have an incentive to buy things locally rather than things flown half way around the world."

Produce on the move

* Food miles cost the country £9bn every year in delays, pollution and road accidents.

* Lorries did 5.5 million miles in food miles in 2004, according to Defra, while cars did 4.2 billion.

* Air travel was responsible for 17 million miles but it has been rising fast. It rose by 136 per cent from 1992 to 2002. Between 2002 and 2004, it rose 31 per cent.

* Some products are flown 12,000 miles to supermarkets.

* In a survey last year, Greenpeace found two-thirds of apples on sale at supermarket had been air-freighted from abroad - at the height of the British apple growing season.


25 July 2006

ARE THEY SERIOUS? THEY NEED TO CHECK THEIR FACTS!

Heathrow Raps MPs for Delays

The People - 23 July 2006

FURIOUS airport chiefs yesterday blasted MPs for delaying a new runway at Heathrow - by swanning off on holiday.

The House of Commons put off making a decision on the controversial plan until after the summer recess.

That means MPs won't consider it again for THREE MONTHS.

And that will allow foreign airports to steal a march on London, Heathrow business leaders fear.

It will also cost the economy BILLIONS in lost revenue, they claim. Heathrow employs 70,000 people directly - with another 250,000 British jobs relying on airport contracts. And nearly £10billion a year is spent by visitors arriving by air.

Future Heathrow - an umbrella group of bosses and unions - yesterday warned the Government of dire consequences.

Director Clive Soley said: "Unless we sort out Heathrow soon, the implications will be very bad and will seriously affect the economy."

"If a third runway isn't built, the airport will go seriously downhill."

"We are being overtaken by many airports in Europe. Ten years ago such a suggestion would have been laughable."


25 July 2006

A MORE SENSIBLE VIEWPOINT

'Ditch plans to concrete South'

Charles Clover, Environment Editor - Daily Telegraph - 22 July 2006

Plans by John Prescott to concrete over large areas of the South East should be scrapped and millions of new homes built instead in London and along the Thames, a Government adviser said yesterday.

Sir Terry Farrell, the international architect who advises the Thames Gateway Development Corporation, has told ministers that there is room for millions of homes in the area between the East End of London and Dartford, Kent, and that Government plans for the area "lack vision".

He made his intervention just as Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, is reviewing the plans she inherited from Mr Prescott for "sustainable communities".

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Terry described the thinking behind Mr Prescott's plans for four growth areas - the Thames Gateway, Ashford, Kent, the M11 corridor and Milton Keynes - as "woolly".

He said: "I am very, very critical of those who say London is full up and we should build into Kent and up the M11. What are we doing moving up there when London needs regenerating? We have to make London work."

Sir Terry said that building along the M11 corridor, around Milton Keynes and around Ashford would involve billions of pounds in investment in new hospitals, roads and schools from "a cold start".

Instead of providing 200,000 extra houses on brownfield land, with 100,000 in the Thames Gateway, the Government should be planning for millions of new homes packed close to London's existing transport and other facilities, along the River Lea, its canals, and the north and south banks of the Thames.


25 July 2006

UK WARNS OF SMOG

Gretchen Hendriks - News Environment - 21 July 2006

The UK Government was forced to issue smog warnings earlier this week, as record temperatures caused a surge in ground level ozone.

High ozone levels can exacerbate asthma and heart conditions.

Ozone in the stratosphere, over 10 kilometres above the Earth's surface, protects the planet from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. But when the gas is emitted through human pollution at ground level, it combines with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides to form smog.

On Tuesday, the European Environment Agency launched a new online tool to help European citizens to track the concentration of ground level ozone in their areas.

According to the EEA, as much as 30% of Europe's urban population is exposed to concentrations of ozone above the safety limits set by the EU, and ozone pollution causes up to 20,000 deaths a year.

"The EU has made it obligatory for countries to alert citizens on a national level when ozone levels reach particular levels," said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, the executive director of the EEA.

"However, Ozone Web goes much further by allowing you to monitor ozone anytime, from anywhere," she added.

"You can monitor ozone levels in a neighbouring country or at a holiday destination, check recent trends and track the spread of ozone across Europe by the wind."

UK citizens can also access data on pollution levels through Teletext and online at www.airquality.co.uk

OUR COMMENT: Traffic and aviation emissions are responsible for the chemical reactions that give rise to ozone smog. Ozone is not regularly monitored at Stansted because the actual levels are very dependent on weather conditions, BUT aviation emissions are still very important in ozone production.

Pat Dale


22 July 2006

CARBON TRADING SLOWS UP

EU emission trading plans trickle in slowly

ENDS Europe DAILY 2140 - 18 July 2006

The European commission has still received only six national allocation plans (Naps) for the second phase of the European emission trading scheme (EU ETS) more than two weeks after the deadline for submission.  EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas confirmed the figures on Saturday during an informal ministerial summit in Turku, Finland.

Germany, Estonia, ,Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Luxembourg are the countries that have submitted final plans. Only Estonia actually met the 30 June deadline.

This is a far worse success rate than in first phase although the European commission has piled political pressure on member states to perform better this time round.

In Turku, Mr Dimas emphasised that Europe risked missing its Kyoto protocol targets if countries did not submit their Naps soon. "It is especially crucial to practise what we preach if we ask the US and other countries to contribute," he added.

The commissioner said latecomers would be sent letters at the end of the month to be followed by "more formal" action afterwards to ensure compliance.

The commission expects more Naps to be submitted "in the near future", a spokesperson told ENDS.  Greece and Slovakia, for example, have finished public consultations and could submit soon, it is believed.

Others are further behind, and several will not submit their Naps before August at the earliest.  These include Italy and Spain, the Netherlands and the UK . Denmark has yet even to issue its draft Nap and is embroiled in a debate with the commission over 1990 baseline data.

There are nevertheless lots of signs of activity on Naps, even in these countries.  In the last week alone, for example, Italy, Spain, and Austria have published drafts, some details of which we summarise below:

* ITALY proposes to allocate 186m tonnes per year to existing installations, 13% less than in the first phase, with cuts mainly in the electricity sector. A new entrant reserve of 8m tonnes is proposed.

* SPAIN is proposing to allocate 145m tonnes per year to existing installations, nearly a quarter less than for the first phase. The commission recommended a 16-18% cut in its December guidance document. A new entrant reserve of 8m tonnes is planned.

The draft Spanish Nap drew fierce criticism from Greenpeace Spain because it included a recalculated baseline for 1990 emissions. Greenpeace also criticised a proposal to let installations obtain up to half their carbon credits via Kyoto's flexible mechanisms. Ireland has set a similar limit. Most countries have set much lower caps of up to around 10%.

* AUSTRIA proposes a cap of 32.8m tonnes per year. Although this is 5.5m tonnes less than projected emissions, it is only 0.6% less than the first phase cap and higher than recommended by the commission. The new entrant reserved is set at 1% of the total cap.

OUR COMMENT: What are the odds for the promised inclusion of aviation? Wasn't this going to solve the problems of aviation expansion?

Pat Dale


22 July 2006

MORE UK IDEAS (BUT LITTLE ACTION)

UK signals interest in personal carbon permits

ENDS Europe DAILY 2142 - 20 July 2006

The UK government is to look into the idea of issuing citizens with personal carbon allowances to boost efforts to curb greenhouse gases emissions, environment minister David Miliband said on Wednesday.  Such a radical scheme would be a world first.

Individuals would be given "ration cards", from which points would be deducted for purchases of electricity, gas, fuel and air tickets, Mr Miliband said. Low users could sell surplus points to a central bank.  The government would set an overall cap on carbon emissions to ensure they fall over time.

Personal allowances would be a fairer way than higher taxes to address consumer-related carbon emissions - which account for 44% of the national total - the minister added.  The government has ordered a feasibility study, to report back in the first half of 2007.

The idea of personal carbon allowances is an extension of the emission trading scheme (ETS) already set up by the EU for industry.  However, whereas the ETS covers only some 12,000 installations across the whole of the EU, personal allowances would have to cover millions of participants in the UK alone.


22 July 2006

LABOUR PLANS CARBON CAP ON HOUSEHOLD ENERGY USE

Charles Clover, Environment Editor - Daily Telegraph - 17 July 2006

Plans to impose a limit on the amount of carbon that every household in the country is allowed to emit are being drawn up by the Government.

The proposal, which gets one obscure reference in last week's Energy Review, is to impose an overall cap on household energy use, starting in five years' time.

The "cap and trade" scheme, to be administered by energy suppliers who would hand out energy saving equipment to bring down household consumption, would be revolutionary in its effect on how we heat and light our homes.

However, the scheme would require more snooping about what we use energy for - through smart meters. And, equally controversially, energy supply companies say it would not work without punitive charging for heavy users of electricity and gas who refused to fit efficiency measures.

The scheme is designed to address the incentives that currently exist for suppliers to increase energy sales year on year, according to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

What the Government proposes is that suppliers of electricity or gas, who currently have an obligation to increase energy sales year on year, would have a new obligation to reduce the energy use of their customers.

Suppliers would sell a package of measures that would save energy or enable their customers to produce it more efficiently, using, for example, heat pumps or micro-combined heat and power plants. It would extend the practice of subsidising energy-saving equipment for some, at the expense of all consumers.

Suppliers of energy already have an energy efficiency commitment under rules laid down by Ofgem - which means they spend about nine per cent of fuel bills subsidising things such as low-energy lightbulbs and A-rated fridges - but this new obligation would go much further.

The proposed new "cap and trade" arrangements would impose a cap on overall household emissions and allow companies to trade any amount of ''undershot'' below that target with other companies by selling them permits to emit carbon, or purchase more permits to pollute if they overshot.

In other words, it would be like the European Union carbon trading scheme now in place for big companies, except that it would be the responsibility of the supply companies, not the domestic user, to reduce household emissions overall.

The relevant Energy Review states: "The Government wishes to incentivise energy suppliers to engage more actively with customers in order to deliver greater energy efficiency in the home … We want to provide the right stimulus for them to develop new market opportunities to sell energy services, rather than just energy per se, so what the consumer buys are services for heating, lighting and powering their homes, in the most energy-efficient way practicable.

"Our energy companies are willing to go in this direction - to change their whole business model - if we support them through the right policy framework."

OUR COMMENT: You can fly for the weekend to Europe as often as you like, but you mustn't use that fire too much! Clearly such a scheme has merit and it is fair to all but only if it covers all energy use, not just at home.

Pat Dale


22 July 2006

ANOTHER BATTLE LOOMONG?

New owners committed to Stansted's second runway

The Walden Local - 11 July 2006

ADI, the consortium led by Ferrovial, which is the new owner of BAA, this week confirmed that the company will continue its planned development of a second runway at Stansted Airport. It also confirmed BAA's continued commitment to the policies put forward in the Government's 2003 Air Transport White Paper which originally recommended the second runway.

BAA's new owners will be reviewing the plans and costings to ensure they are in line with best practice and will deliver value for money for all stakeholders. The review is expected to conclude in the autumn.

Said a spokesman for Ferrovial: "We still expect to make a planning application in summer 2007 and do not forsee any delays to the timing of the development."

"We know that many local people are keen to know where they stand and our aim will be to report back to the community just as soon as we have had time to review out plans."

OUR COMMENT: As far as most of the local community are concerned they do not want a second runway, neither should there be one built if the Government were actively pursuing a reasonable and effective climate change policy which included a rethink of the Aviation White Paper. The airport, capped at its existing size, with a wider range of services, including long haul and larger, more modern and quieter planes, charging fair landing fees, and practising the best environmental policies, could offer a more profitable future to its owners than an attempt to rival Heathrow with all the problems and expense of infrastructure expansion, the destruction of the surrounding environment and opposition from the community.

Pat Dale


16 July 2006

INDUSTRY REACTS TO EU PARLIAMENT ON AVIATION

ENDS Europe DAILY 2138 - 14 July 2006

European parliament proposals on reducing the impact of aviation on climate change risk damaging the European tourism industry if adopted at EU level, says the World travel and tourism council (WTTC). The body was responding to a non-legislative resolution adopted by MEPs last week

In a statement issued on Thursday, the WTTC said a proposed kerosene tax would "stifle" long-term growth in air transport while increasing air and ground-level emissions because of increased delays at airports.

In a separate reaction to the same resolution, the International emissions trading association (Ieta), which represents major firms engaged in carbon trading, said MEPs had failed to resolved technical problems raised by the potential inclusion of aviation into the EU emission trading scheme.

Ieta argues that allowances allocated to the aviation sector under the EU scheme are not compatible with the Kyoto protocol because the treaty excludes the sector. The parliament's proposal for a self-contained scheme applied to just the aviation sector would avoid allowance "leakage" into the Kyoto system, but would limit reduction opportunities across sectors, it said.

OUR COMMENT: A somewhat two sided claim! "Stifling" aviation growth will damage the EU tourist industry! Which part of the Tourist Industry? Certainly not the UK tourist market, more people might stay at home, and, the UK balance of payments would be helped. There are other ways to travel to Europe! The whole idea of carbon trading is to reduce carbon emissions. Aviation must play its part as well as other sections of EU industry and individual efforts to save energy. The Nuclear "solution" is not the answer. What about the energy costs in building the reactors, in mining the ore and dealing with the waste? Climate change is a global concern.

Pat Dale


16 July 2006

REVEALED: BLAIR'S ENERGY BLUEPRINT

Long-awaited government review stresses need for more renewables
but critics blast nuclear plans

Oliver Morgan, Industrial Editor, The Observer - 9 July 2006

The government will this week unveil plans for a five-fold increase in energy generation from wind, solar, tidal and agricultural sources as a key measure in its long-awaited energy review.

Proposals to raise the level of electricity produced by these sources from 4 per cent to 20 per cent of the UK's needs, along with moves to prioritise support towards promising technologies that are currently uneconomic such as offshore wind farms, will be outlined in the document, to be published on Tuesday.

The boost will be emphasised by ministers to head off criticisms of the government's backing for nuclear power, which forms a key part of the strategy.

In the 120-page document, the final draft of which has been seen by The Observer, the government concludes that nuclear power is now economically viable and that it should play a role in the UK's future need for sources of carbon-free and secure energy.

The government is concerned that without nuclear, the UK will become dependent on gas, moving from 38 per cent of today's supply to 55 per cent by 2020, with up to 90 per cent of this imported - largely from potentially unstable regions such as the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Russia. Three years ago it drew the opposite conclusion in its last Energy White Paper.

The review says that the closure of nuclear and coal plants over the coming decade will mean 25 gigawatts of carbon-free, secure capacity must be built by 2020 - some 30 per cent of today's total capacity.

The review states: 'Based on a range of possible scenarios, the economics of nuclear now look more positive than at the time of the 2003 Energy White paper.' It adds: 'Government considers that nuclear should have a role to play in the future of the UK generating mix, alongside other low carbon-generating options.' Sources indicate that six modern stations, each capable of generating 1.6 gigawatts of power, are envisaged by the Department of Trade and industry.

However, the review also stresses that nuclear plants must be financed and operated by the private sector, and that there will be no subsidy to underpin them. The government's scenarios are based on the continuation of high gas prices, which make nuclear relatively more attractive, and the emergence of a reliable and long-term market to place a 'charge' on carbon, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy experts are sceptical. Dr Jim Watson, the senior fellow in the Sussex Energy Group at Sussex University, said: "I find it hard to see how the government can expect the market to fund this against uncertainty on energy and carbon prices."

The review states that it will support renewables, which currently generate only 4 per cent of UK electricity, by increasing the level of the Renewables Obligation (RO), which forces power suppliers to source a given amount of their electricity from them at a given price through a system of certificates.

It will do this by:

* Increasing the level of the RO. Currently there is a target to supply 15 per cent of electricity from these sources by 2015. The review states that the target will always be set above existing capacity so that investors know there is no risk of oversupply.

* Creating 'bands' within the RO, with a higher price for technologies that are uneconomic but should create high volumes of renewable power, such as offshore wind farms and solar installations. The review admits this has been unsuccessful so far.

The review outlines a streamlined planning process in which generic nuclear reactor types can be pre-licenced and a High Court judge will be appointed to expedite local planning inquiries.

Much of the strategy relies on the establishment of a stable and predictable price for carbon, which will penalise gas and other fossil fuels. The report makes clear that this means overhauling the European Emissions Trading Scheme, which sets caps on CO2 emissions permitted by each European nation, with penalties for those that exceed them.

Investors will need some persuading, after the price of carbon fell by 70 per cent earlier this year because some EU countries, particularly Germany, set generous caps on their industries.

The paper states: 'A clear and stable long-term carbon policy framework is important for creating the confidence and certainty that is needed to underline changes in industry behaviour.' One industry expert was sceptical, saying: 'The UK government is going to have to tell EU states that they must crack down on their industry to make our nuclear plants pay for themselves.'

Watson said: "The banks are going to want reassurance on assumptions on the gas price, the carbon price and the ability of nuclear to generate at that level. I think these numbers are optimistic."


16 July 2006

UK FAILS TO AIM FOR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP
IN LOW-CARBON FUTURE

Nuclear plans are "unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary"

Press Statement - Friends of the Earth - 11 July 2006

Today's Energy Review is a huge missed opportunity, Friends of the Earth said today. The environmental campaign group also warned that that building new nuclear power plants would be "unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary".

The environmental campaign group welcomed proposals to tackle rising emissions from supermarkets and the service sector, as well as action to make energy companies reduce emissions and energy consumption. But the report virtually ignored transport and the proposals it did make will make little or no change in the short to medium term.

Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: "This Energy Review is a massive missed opportunity. It is not ambitious enough on energy efficiency and renewable power, and practically ignores tackling emissions from the transport sector."

"It is clear that the Government priority is nuclear power. This is a huge mistake. Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary. We can tackle climate change and meet our energy needs through clean safe technologies. The UK is currently one of the Europe's worst performers on renewable energy. The Government must aim to make the UK a world leader in developing a low-carbon economy."

"This Energy Review shows the need for a new climate change law that would require successive governments to deliver annual reductions on carbon dioxide emissions. Most MPs and three quarters of the public already back this call; the government must do so too."

"The disastrous economics of the nuclear industry means that UK taxpayers are already committed to paying tens of billions of pounds to clean up the mess created by half a century of nuclear power. Without massive public subsidies it is very doubtful that private sector companies will take the huge financial risks of building new nuclear reactors. To this extent it looks like the government is opening the door for new state handouts for nuclear."


16 July 2006

UK REVIEW SETS SIGHTS ON CLEANER ENERGY

ENDS Europe DAILY 2135 - 11 July 2006

In a closely watched move, the UK government gave a green light to new nuclear power stations on Tuesday.  The shift came in a major review of energy policy targeting big cuts in fossil carbon emissions and long-term energy security.  The review also includes new measures to boost energy efficiency and to increase electricity generation from renewables.

According to the government, things have changed since 2003, when a previous energy review put off decisions on nuclear.  It wants the private sector to take the commercial risks.  What the review does is to signal the government's support and to promise a range of actions to reduce barriers to new build.

Britain's health and safety executive will next year provide guidance on the assessment of new reactor designs.  In a report due next month, experts will provide the basis for government decisions on long-term radioactive waste disposal.  Planning procedures for building new nuclear power stations will be streamlined.

For all the symbolism and enormous political interest in nuclear power, it makes up only a small part of a review which actually starts with a reinforced commitment to energy saving. A series of new measures could save an additional 9m tonnes of carbon per year, the government says.

Among these, it promises more billing information and smart metering for consumers, and action with other governments to phase-out the most inefficient light bulbs and white goods.  It pledges to make all government buildings carbon-neutral by 2012.

More renewable and distributed energy is also at the heart of the review.  The government is promising to reform the existing "renewables obligation" to drive production up towards its goal of 20% of electricity by 2020.  A new banding system will encourage technologies like offshore wind and solar.

The government states that coal will remain an important part of UK energy supply and proposes measures to encourage "clean coal", especially carbon capture and storage.

Citing the EU emission trading scheme as one of the key drivers for a low carbon economy, the review restates the government's desire for the scheme to be strengthened from 2013, for example by including aviation and road transport. 

It points towards new measures to increase the share of biofuels in the transport market.

UK employers' association CBI welcomed the proposals.  Greenpeace claimed they would "suck investment away from renewables and efficiency" and "lock the UK into its current, criminally wasteful, centralised energy system".  Green MEP Caroline Lucas said the plans would "catapult UK energy policy back 40 years".


16 July 2006

NGO MAKES A CASE FOR AVIATION FUEL TAX

ENDS Europe DAILY 2134 - 10 July 2006

Introducing a tax on kerosene in addition to bringing aviation into the EU emission trading scheme would not affect the competitiveness of European airlines, according to a report published by green groups T&E and Climate action network.

Released last week to coincide with a vote in the European parliament on a resolution on reducing emissions from aviation (EED 04/07/06 www.endseuropedaily.com/21301), the report argues that the aviation sector is less vulnerable to economic distortions than other parts of the economy. One reason is that strict regulations in the EU air transport market limit competition from airlines outside the zone.

The report rejects the industry's argument that aviation fuel taxation is a "blunt and ineffective instrument", saying that a tax of E0.12 per litre would reduce CO2 emissions by 20% while creating over half a million jobs if revenues are used to lower taxes on labour.

Although it is a "good first step", the emission trading scheme alone will not "do much" to reduce aviation emissions as CO2 prices are likely to be relatively modest for the sector, while causing economic hardship for others. The scheme could become more effective if prices were to vary according to sectors, or if a specific scheme for aviation was created, the report says.


8 July 2006

MEPS URGE STAND-ALONE AVIATION CO2 TRADING

ENDS Europe DAILY 2130 - 4 July 2006

The European parliament has demanded the creation of a self-contained carbon trading scheme for the aviation sector separate from the EU's industrial emission trading scheme (ETS).  In a political resolution adopted on Tuesday, it also called for an "immediate" tax on kerosene, or aviation fuel.

MEPs said a stand-alone aviation emission trading scheme should cover "as a first step all flights to and from any EU airport". All emission allowances should be auctioned, and the initial allocation should be set at European level rather by national governments, they said.

Rapporteur MEP Caroline Lucas of the Greens said the vote sent a "clear signal to the European commission that strict and binding legislation is needed to curb the fast-growing climatic damage caused by airlines."

The commission is due to propose measures tackling the sector's climate impact later this year, but has envisaged including aviation in the existing ETS rather than creating a separate system (EED 27/09/05 http://www.endseuropedaily.com/19491). 

If aviation emission are eventually included in the main ETS, this should not happen until at least 2013, the parliament said.  And even then, "special conditions [should be] applied to ensure it does not distort the market to the detriment of less protected sectors."  There should be a limit on the number of allowances airlines can buy to meet their targets, and a requirement to cut a certain proportion of emissions before airlines qualify for trading.

Full auctioning must be pursued because free allocation of permits would lead to "windfall profits to the sector at the consumer's expense", the resolution says.  The scheme should have a "rigorous cap" and take into account early actions taken by progressive airlines.

The parliament called for "other policy instruments" to the address the non-carbon dioxide impacts of aviation, but did not specify further.  It did, however, call for the EU to "immediately require a [kerosene] tax on all domestic and intra-EU flights" and to promote biofuels in the aviation sector.


8 July 2006

BEFORE THE VOTE

Airlines ready for a dogfight over EU's plan for cleaner, greener skies
Lufthansa leads the way in lobby of MEPs as they vote on a controversial scheme

Hans Kundnani and David Gow - The Guardian - 4 July 2006

A new front in the battle against global warming opens today when 732 MEPs debate the European commission's plans to extend its fledgling and controversial greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (ETS) to air travel - the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide.

Airlines have been fiercely lobbying the MEPs in recent weeks, according to Caroline Lucas, a leading Green and author of a report calling for a separate aviation-only ETS, which is certain to be endorsed when the European parliament votes on the issue tomorrow.

But European airlines are fighting among themselves on how best to tackle their emissions, which account for just 3% of the European Union's CO2, but have risen by 85% since 1990 and grew 7.4% in 2004 alone, according to the European Environment Agency. It says increased CO2 emissions from international flights have cancelled out almost a quarter of the cuts made by other sectors. By 2050, the International Panel on Climate Change believes aviation will produce up to 15% of man-made global warming.

'Cut or pay'

The EU's proposals, first set out in September 2005, would force airlines to join the ETS and, like power companies and heavy industry, trade their emissions as an incentive to be more fuel-efficient. Airlines would buy permits to cover their CO2 output above an agreed limit or sell them if they undershoot that target. Experts say the "cut or pay" plan could add up to €9 (£6) to the cost of a flight by 2008, when the second phase of the ETS begins.

British Airways strongly supports an aviation emissions trading scheme after campaigning against alternatives such as a tax on fuel. The British government also favours it as cost-effective and as guaranteeing a specific environmental benefit in a way that surcharges do not. But the proposal is being threatened by some other European airlines, led by Germany's Lufthansa, which are using their considerable influence to block the EU's proposals.

Air transport was exempted from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change under the condition that airlines seek a way to reduce emissions through a trading scheme by 2007. But progress through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN body, has stalled, leaving a Europe-wide scheme as the only realistic alternative.

Tomorrow's vote by MEPs will enable Stavros Dimas, EU environment commissioner, to put forward concrete proposals in September. He wants to include aviation within the overall ETS by, say, 2009, but Ms Lucas and other environmental campaigners want a separate scheme, embracing not just CO2 but vapour trails and nitrogen oxides. She said: "Without strict and binding legislation, airlines could scupper global efforts to reverse climate change ... They enjoy tax breaks and hidden subsidies worth £9bn in the UK alone and getting the industry to pay its way has been pitifully slow."

Lufthansa, however, says the scheme is flawed because it would put European airlines at a competitive disadvantage. A spokesman, Stefan Schaffrath, said: "We have a responsibility but not the responsibility."

The German carrier claims that other ways of reducing emissions, such as modernising its fleet of aircraft and improving air traffic management, would have greater potential for reducing CO2 emissions.

It says it has invested billions in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft, ordering 15 Airbus A380 superjumbos, which, it said, will be the first aircraft to use only three litres of fuel per person per 100km. It has also simplified flight paths for its aircraft, for example by securing Chinese approval to fly over its airspace en route to Hong Kong, Beijing and Manila and thus saving 7,000 tonnes of fuel a year. "We are on a continuous improvement track," said Mr Schaffrath.

Bottlenecks

Lufthansa also points to the need to reduce bottlenecks in the sky and cut the amount of time aircraft spend in holding patterns. It estimates that more efficiency in air traffic management - in particular through the creation of what it calls a "single European sky" managed by a single air traffic control authority - could reduce fuel consumption by 12%.

Most British airlines, including BA, say that although the EU scheme is not perfect, it is the best workable option. Andrew Sentance, BA's chief economist and head of environmental affairs, said: "Somebody somewhere has to start down this track."

BA does, however, want to restrict the scheme to EU flights, initially, at least, leaving its lucrative transatlantic flights outside the scheme. Willie Walsh, chief executive, rejects a separate ETS for aviation. He said: "If you closed down every airline that operates from the UK you would reduce global CO2 emissions by just 0.1%. You will not solve global warming by singling out aviation."

The alternative to an ETS could be a flat tax on airline travel, which could be even more expensive for the airlines and consumers and, all airlines say, would be a blunt instrument with no environmental benefit unless the tax raised was ring-fenced. In fact, the one thing the airlines can agree on is that a tax is a bad idea.

Some German airline observers say that, after seven years of the previous "red-green" government, Lufthansa is sick of more regulation or that it believes a tax will eventually be introduced anyway and wants to avoid paying twice.

Others, however, see a more sinister reason why BA is so much more supportive. Uwe Weinreich, an airline industry analyst at Hypo-Vereinsbank in Munich, says the real losers of the EU's emissions trading scheme would be the low-cost carriers such as easyJet, because the increase relative to their original flight prices would be greater. Because BA faces more competition from low-cost carriers than European counterparts like Lufthansa, the reasoning goes, it might think an ETS would work in its favour.

However, the budget airlines themselves don't share that view, pointing out that they have newer, more fuel-efficient fleets and would thus pay less. EasyJet, for example, says it has been in favour of an ETS longer than anyone. "We're the good guys," says Toby Nicol, a spokesman for the airline.


8 July 2006

AFTER THE VOTE

Airlines Reeling after EU Climate Change Vote
MEPs Adopt Green Proposals to Cut Flying's Impact on Climate

News Release from the office of the South-East England's Green MEP Caroline Lucas - 4 July 2006

AIRLINES have been left reeling after a vote in the European Parliament called for a raft of measures to tackle their growing contribution to climate change.

Euro-MPs in Strasbourg voted by 439 to 74 to adopt proposals drafted by Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas to introduce a range of measures including an airlines-only CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme and emissions charges to tackle their non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. There were 102 abstentions.

Dr Lucas told fellow MEPs the EU must take action to curb airlines' greenhouse gas emissions if we are to stand any chance of avoiding devastating climate change: "Doing nothing just isn't an option".

"The aviation sector is growing fast – aircraft movements are predicted to double by 2020 and triple by 2030 - and technological efficiency gains just aren't enough to counteract the massive increases in emissions that this will generate.

"We simply have no choice but to clip the airlines' wings and force them to reduce their impact on the climate, if we are to stand any chance of cutting our emissions by the level that's needed to halt the deadly march of climate change.

"Airlines currently enjoy a complex array of tax breaks and hidden subsidies - worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone - which are long outdated and totally incompatible with global climate goals. International progress on removing these and getting the industry to pay its way has been pitifully slow, which is why we must ensure the EU really paves the way for global action by introducing the most effective legislation possible.

"Emissions trading has the potential to play a role in reducing the climate change impact of aviation - but only if it is accompanied by other measures to tackle the fact that aircraft emissions are two to four times more potent than those from other industries (because of the altitude at which they are emitted, and the effects of non-CO2 emissions like condensation trails and nitrogen oxides) – and, crucially, only if it doesn't allow airlines to carry on business as usual by gobbling up the emission rights of other sectors."

MEPs have been intensively lobbied by the airlines in recent weeks – with most calling for air travel to be included in the EU's existing Emissions Trading Scheme: a measure which will do little to deter airlines' future emissions growth. Even Andrew Sentance, BA's head of environmental affairs, openly admitted as much last week.

Dr Lucas's report will now form the Parliament's submission to the EU Commission's forthcoming legislative proposals – which could be on the EU statute book by 2008.

"At a time when few now deny the urgency of addressing climate change, the rapid growth in flying threatens to throw all efforts to reduce dangerous emissions off course," added Dr Lucas, who is also an MEP for South-East England and Green Party Principal Speaker.

"We must work together to find ways of making the aviation industry reduce its social and environmental impact, rather than draining tax payers' cash as it continues to generate pollution, noise, congestion – and climate change."


8 July 2006

WHAT ABOUT AIRPORT NOISE?

Noise Pollution and Human Health

Readers' Letters, EARTH TALK, The Environmental Magazine - Published 7 March 2006

Dear EarthTalk:
What are the health and environmental issues associated with the noise and air pollution at airports?
John Cermak, via e-mail

Answer:
Researchers have known for years that exposure to excessively-loud noise can cause changes in blood pressure as well as changes in sleep and digestive patterns - all signs of stress on the human body. The very word "noise" itself derives from the Latin word "noxia," which means injury or hurt.

On a 1997 questionnaire distributed to two groups - one living near a major airport, and the other in a quiet neighborhood - two-thirds of those living near the airport indicated they were bothered by aircraft noise, and most said that it interfered with their daily activities. The same two-thirds complained more than the other group of sleep difficulties, and also perceived themselves as being in poorer health.

Perhaps even more alarming, the European Commission, which governs the European Union (E.U.), considers living near an airport to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke, as increased blood pressure from noise pollution can trigger these more serious maladies. The E.U. estimates that 20 percent of Europe's population - or about 80 million people - are exposed to airport noise levels it considers unhealthy and unacceptable.

Airport noise can also have negative effects on children's health and development. A 1980 study examining the impact of airport noise on children's health found higher blood pressure in kids living near Los Angeles' LAX airport than in those living farther away. A 1995 German study found a link between chronic noise exposure at Munich's International Airport and elevated nervous system activity and cardiovascular levels in children living nearby. And a 2005 study published in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet, found that kids living near airports in Britain, Holland and Spain lagged behind their classmates in reading by two months for every five decibel increase above average noise levels in their surroundings. The study also associated aircraft noise with lowered reading comprehension, even after socio-economic differences were considered.

Living near an airport also means facing significant exposure to air pollution. Jack Saporito of the U.S. Citizens Aviation Watch Association (CAW), a coalition of concerned municipalities and advocacy groups, cites several studies linking pollutants common around airports - such as diesel exhaust, carbon monoxide and leaked chemicals - to cancer, asthma, liver damage, lung disease, lymphoma, myeloid leukemia, and even depression. CAW is lobbying for the clean up of jet engine exhaust as well as the scrapping or modification of airport expansion plans across the country.

Another group working on this issue is Chicago's Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare, which lobbies and conducts extensive public education campaigns in an effort to cut noise and pollution and rein in expansion plans at the world's busiest airport. According to the group, five million area residents may be suffering adverse health effects as a result of O'Hare, only one of four major airports in the region.


8 July 2006

THE FRENCH ARE ALSO WORRIED

French Senate warns of looming oil shock, calls for energy transition

Euractiv - 4 July 2006

In Short:
A report by the French Senate calls on the EU to lead an energy transition to counter climate change and "an oil shock of great magnitude" which they predict will hit the world by 2020 at the latest.

Brief News:
The combination of supply shortages and surging demand from China, India and the US promises to send the barrel of oil above 150 dollars by 2020, slashing GDP in consuming countries by 2% along its way, warn Senators Laffitte and Saunier in a report to the Parliamentary office for the evaluation of scientific choices (OPECST).

Presenting their report on 29 June, the two senators also warned of "a real threat of climate change going out of control" with financial consequences which they say are currently vastly underestimated. "From 1% of world GDP at present, the costs of climate change could be brought to 2.5-3%," the senators write.

To tackle this looming crisis, the report calls for an energy transition in which the EU would play a key role. The transition would be financed by specific taxes that would be entirely dedicated to the promotion of renewable energies, buildings insulation, biofuels and other climate-friendly technologies, particularly in the transport sector.

Motorway charges, a carbon-based tax on cars and an increase in petrol taxes are among the ideas put forward to support the scheme, bringing 4 to 5 billion euros added revenue to the state.

"Science and technology allow us to make this transition happen because the substitution options to […] fossil fuels exist or are close to market maturity," the senators write.


2 July 2006

MORE CRITICISM

Carbon trading leaves a nasty smell

Sunday Telegraph - 2 July 2006

Companies have made millions selling excess permits - while hospitals and schools have to buy them, reports Robert Watts

When it was launched with a fanfare last year the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme was trumpeted as a way to curb the damage big business does to the environment. Today, 18 months after its launch, the farcical side-effects of the scheme are starting to become clear.

According to a report to be published this week, some of the world's most powerful energy companies - including BP and Esso - have already made millions of euros from the scheme. Meanwhile, -Britain's cash-strapped hosp-itals have been forced to spend an extra £1.3m a year at a time when they are being forced to sack nurses and other key staff.

"Not only is it expensive and an administrative nightmare, but this botched attempt at central planning is having all sorts of perverse results," says Neil O'Brien, the director of Open Europe, the Westminster think-tank, which conducted the study.

This, of course, was never the intention. Under the scheme, the European Commission gives member states targets for the quantity of carbon dioxide they can -produce. The member state governments then set individual targets for companies and other organisations for how much carbon dioxide they are permitted to produce. The scheme allows those who exceed their pollution targets to buy carbon permits from companies that have not used their full allocation.

Overnight a so-called "carbon trading" market sprang into life, with banks, accountancy groups and other companies charging chunky fees to put vendors in touch with sellers.

"On paper it's been an extremely good system," says Professor Michael Grubb, the chief economist at the Carbon Trust, the organisation the Government set up to encourage businesses and other organisations to slash their emissions.

"It's just that the governments in all the member states nearly all have ended up being too generous in giving out these allowances. Most of the facilities ended up with surpluses last year. There was definitely naivety at the outset."

When the scheme started, the price of the credits was €8 (£5.54) and passed €30 two months ago. In May, however, after it became apparent that there were far more carbon credits in circulation than had previously been thought, the price collapsed to less than €10. The price has recovered somewhat since and so far, the average price of the credits has been €18.20.

So how much carbon di-oxide has each company been emitting? A document on the commission's website gives a breakdown of every UK organisation covered in the scheme. This says how many tonnes of carbon dioxide the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs has allowed companies and other organisations to produce and, crucially, how much they actually produced last year.

For instance, GlaxoSmithKline's operations centre in Dartford used only a fifth of its allocation. Smith & Nephew, the medical giant, used only half of its total allocation. Corus's plant in Stocksbridge used only a third of its credits. Any surplus carbon credits, of course, could be sold on the open market.

Grubb suggests that some companies have deliberately overestimated the amount of carbon dioxide they will produce. There is also the suspicion within government that advisors and companies selling carbon credits have deliberately ramped their price. After all, the larger the carbon credit price, the bigger the commission.

So how much have businesses made from selling these surpluses? Open Europe's report highlights the enormous surpluses of the two oil companies, BP and Esso. Using the average price of €18 over the life of the scheme, Open Europe calculates that if they have sold all their surplus credits, the scheme has boosted BP's profits by £5m and Esso's by £5.8m.

The Carbon Trust is adamant that too many companies have made a fast buck from the scheme and want this stopped. "Those who were smart enough to understand the market and realise they had a surplus did very nicely," says Grubb. "And that does have to be fixed."

But the even grimmer irony of this scheme is the effect on the British taxpayer and our public services. Open Europe's report highlights the little-known fact that almost 150 schools, universities, military bases and even some prisons have also been obliged to sign up to the scheme because they have a power station or boiler with a capacity of 20MW or more.

Whereas most private sector organisations have surpluses, the opposite is true of organisations in the public sector. As a result, many hospitals, universities and army bases have been forced to buy carbon credits from businesses to meet their allocation targets.

Our tables show that, while some companies are making millions of pounds, a huge amount of taxpayers' money is being spent buying carbon credits from the private sector. Open Europe estimates that this astonishing situation will cost the NHS about £1.3m a year between 2005 and 2008.

Surely not-for-profit public services should be excluded from the potential costs and administrative burden of carbon trading? "I think one should look at whether some of those entities should be allowed to opt out," says Grubb. "These organisations are not part of the market economy and not used to hand-ling these kind of systems at all. It's a valid case."

An official at Defra admitted to The Sunday Telegraph last week that there were more sensible ways to get the public sector to cut its emissions than via the scheme.

One other issue for Britain is that unlike other EU member states, the UK has been far tougher in setting overall emission targets. "The UK has chosen very tough targets which use past emissions as a base line," says O'Brien. "Other member states - including some of the richest members - have given firms far more generous allowances. This means that UK firms have been buying carbon credits from rival firms in other member states."

The bar chart illustrates how some countries have made hundreds of millions of pounds from the scheme. So although some companies have made a lot of money out of it, UK companies as a whole could, according to Open Europe's report, be worse off to the tune of £470m because of it.

Last week, David Miliband, the environment minister, announced that the Government will issue 3 per cent fewer credits a year to UK businesses in the second phase of the scheme, which will run from 2008 to 2012. This should ensure that those UK companies that have been reaping enormous profits will not continue to do so.

But the Carbon Trust is adamant that the situation will not really improve until other member states slash the number of permits they issue to their companies.

"The UK government is going to be tougher," says Grubb. "But, unless other member state governments do the same, too many companies will still profit from a scheme that is supposed to be about improving the -environment."


2 July 2006

POWER COMPANIES TO BEAR THE BURDEN
OF STRICTER EMISSIONS TARGETS

David Adam, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 30 June 2006

Ministers are to crack down on carbon pollution from electricity generators under stricter targets agreed for tackling climate change. David Miliband, the environment secretary, said the power companies would have to "bear the burden" of new limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

The move is expected to increase electricity bills by about 1% for business users and 0.5% for domestic customers.

The proposed cap on industry pollution, under the second round of the European emissions trading scheme, should save an extra 8m tonnes of carbon each year, from 2008-2012, the equivalent of the output from 4.5m households.

It means that British industry will be allowed to emit only about 238m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year - a level that is about 13% down on current levels.

Almost all those covered by the plan are heavy energy users and include power stations, steelmakers and oil firms. Companies viewed as less heavy polluters, such as supermarkets, are excluded, though the government is considering a scheme to cap their emissions too. The systems are supposed to cut overall emissions by forcing polluting firms to buy "carbon credits" from cleaner firms.

The announcement settles a difference between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Trade and Industry over the scale of cuts that should be imposed. The DTI had wanted to set the yearly cap of companies' carbon dioxide emissions higher, at 252m tonnes.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "It's towards the top end of that range, so it's encouraging from the point of view that Mr Miliband has an influence on decisions made across government." Some observers claimed Defra had planned to announce far stricter cuts but had performed a late U-turn.

Mr Miliband said: "This will help create greater certainty for business and sends a clear message that emissions trading is here to stay. The scheme provides industry with the flexibility to decide whether to make emissions reductions themselves or buy reductions from others." Electricity companies were being targeted because they were not subject to international competition, he added. In the move, some of the carbon permits required by firms will be auctioned and the proceeds spent on renewable energy.

Yesterday a CBI spokesperson said: "British business is up for doing its bit to tackle climate change and knows that this will involve challenging targets under the emissions trading scheme. But such a demanding cut is likely to feed through to higher electricity prices. The government is taking a risk with the competitiveness of UK business."

Greenpeace said it was a "step in the right direction though still too small". It meant the UK was projected to cut emissions by 16.2% below 1990 levels by 2010, missing Labour's manifesto pledge of 20%.


2 July 2006

CUTS IN CARBON EMISSIONS WILL FAIL
TO MEET ELECTION-PLEDGE TARGETS

Andy McSmith - The Independent - 30 June 2006

Labour has admitted that it will break a key election promise to cut drastically the UK contribution to global warming.

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, revealed yesterday that the amount of carbon dioxide released in Britain would be cut by just 16 per cent in the two decades to 2010 - well short of the 20 per cent target set in Labour's election manifesto.

But he insisted that Britain was still a world leader in the battle against climate change. He told MPs that he would be issuing permits to British industry that allow companies to emit 238 million tons of carbon per year in the period from 2007 to 2012, which he claimed was a cut of eight million tons a year.

The news was greeted with some relief by environmentalists, because it came only 24 hours after the German and French government had told their industries that they would be allowed, in effect, to increase their output of carbon over the same period.

Each EU government has until today to announce its targets under the EU's emissions trading scheme.

The scheme allows firms which emit less than their permitted level of carbon to sell their permits to high emitters, creating a powerful incentive to invest in clean technology.

Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "This proposed 3 per cent reduction in CO2 from British industry is not ambitious enough. It won't even be enough to meet the Government's own target. But at least it's a reduction from what was allowed before, and at the top end of the range of cuts the Government consulted on. It's a step in the right direction, though still too small a step."

John Cridland, the deputy director-general of the CBI warned: "Such a demanding cut is likely to feed through to higher electricity prices and, with firms already struggling to meet current energy costs, the Government is taking a risk with the competitiveness of UK business."

The announcement suggests that a long-running battle between two government departments over climate change has been settled in Mr Miliband's favour. Earlier in the year, his department, Defra - then headed by Margaret Beckett - was arguing for a cut of at least eight million tons, after a rise in world gas prices caused power stations to switch to coal, pushing up the UK's carbon emissions. But the Department of Trade, then headed by Alan Johnson, warned that any figure above about 3 million tons could damage the competitiveness of British industry.

Defra and the DTI announced yesterday that they were launching a joint Transformation Fund to boost investment in green technology.

The Institute for Public Policy Research, a leading Labour think-tank, said the disappointing announcement from EU governments showed that the emissions trading scheme should be run from Brussels rather than by national governments.

Simon Retallack, head of the IPPR's climate team, said: "You can't have a situation where each country expects others to pick up the slack on their behalf."

Britain and Norway will join forces in a scheme to store carbon dioxide emissions under the North Sea oilfield, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has announced. "The development of carbon capture in the North Sea is such a big challenge it will require new infrastructure, a new regulatory framework and new market mechanisms," he told a press conference in Westminster.


2 July 2006

MORE PESSIMISTIC VIEWS

Carbon cap will hit UK business, says CBI chief

Angela Jameson, Industrial Correspondent - The Independent - 30 June 2006

BRITAIN'S electricity generators will bear the brunt of tough targets for reducing emissions after the Government announced an 8 million tonne cut in carbon allocations, for the crucial second phase of a Europe-wide trading scheme.

Fears were raised that the unexpectedly challenging targets, 2.9 per cent below the current ambition for lower emissions, would damage Britain's industrial competitiveness and would force soaring electricity prices even higher.

In the first year of the Europe-wide trading scheme, the UK was one of only three countries to issue fewer allocations than its industry needed. The signs are that countries' allocations for phase two of the scheme, which runs from 2008-2012, will be generous and fail to encourage the scarcity of carbon permits on which the trading scheme depends.

David Miliband's statement in the House of Commons was interpreted as a victory for the new Environment Secretary over the Department of Trade and Industry, which had been arguing for smaller cuts. The 8 million-tonne reduction is at the top end of the Government's proposed 3 million to 8 million range.

John Cridland, the deputy director-general of the CBI, said: "Such a demanding cut is likely to feed through to higher electricity prices, and with firms already struggling to meet current energy costs, the Government is taking a risk with the competitiveness of UK business."

Britain's manufacturers also expressed concern that electricity generators would pass the costs of the scheme on to them. "These proposals will leave the UK significantly out of step with the rest of Europe and damage our competitiveness at a time when we can ill afford to do so," Martin Temple, director-general of the EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said.

Electricity generators, which will bear the biggest burden of the scheme, also called on other sectors to share the load and for other EU countries to take the emissions trading scheme more seriously.

Mr Miliband said that the decision to set the cap for carbon emissions at the top end of the range proposed by the Government sent a clear message that the emissions trading scheme was here to stay.

"We think that this is the right thing to do environmentally, diplomatically and economically," the Environment Secretary said.

However, the UK will miss its initial ambition of delivering a 20 per cent cut in emissions against 1990 levels by 2010. Despite yesterday's targets, emissions will be lowered by only 16.2 per cent by 2010.

Environmentalists were equally critical of the UK's allocations, calling them too soft rather than too harsh. Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said that Labour needed to cut emissions by 12 million tonnes to have any hope of hitting its 20 per cent emissions reduction target.

The UK is also proposing to auction 7 per cent of the permits quota, potentially worth £150 million at yesterday's carbon prices. Some of the funds could be ring-fenced for a new Environmental Transformation Fund that will be used to invest in developing renewable energy technologies.


2 July 2006

TRUE OR JUST MORE PESSIMISM?

Carbon trading will not cut airline emissions, says BA

Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor and Michael Harrison, Business Editor - The Independent
30 June 2006

Greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, increasingly implicated in climate change, will continue to grow even if the airlines join Europe's emissions trading scheme (ETS) which is designed to cut them, British Airways' chief economist admitted yesterday.

Although the scheme would help to cut back Europe's carbon dioxide emissions as a whole, the "burden of reduction" would fall on ground-based industries, while the aviation industry would buy emissions permits under the scheme to continue its expansion, said Andrew Sentance, who is also BA's head of environmental affairs.

Mr Sentance's admission will be seized on by environmental campaigners, who claim that although including aviation in the EU scheme is being trumpeted as a major step forward, it will do nothing to make actual cutbacks in levels of aircraft emissions - the fastest-growing sector of all greenhouse gases.

As a result of this, the environment committee of the European Parliament is proposing that instead of putting aviation into the general ETS as presently constituted, there should be a special scheme just for the aviation industry.

Under such a scheme, airlines would have to compete only with one another for pollution permits, and not with industry in general, and so would be under much fiercer pressure to cut damaging exhaust emissions.

The proposal, strongly opposed by airlines including BA, will be voted on by the parliament in Strasbourg next week. Although it will not automatically become binding EU policy if adopted, it is likely to have a major influence on the final decision of the European Commission on aviation and the ETS, which is expected in the autumn.

Emissions from aviation are an increasingly hot topic in the drive to contain global warming, Accounting for a little less than six per cent of total emissions in the UK, the burgeoning growth of air passenger traffic means they will zoom up to become an increasingly large proportion of the total in the coming decades.

Although new carbon limits are being set for EU member states for the next stage of the existing ETS beginning in 2008, the earliest that aviation could be included is 2012, given the time it would take to pass the necessary laws.

The UK airline industry is divided over whether carbon trading is a good idea. BA and easyJet strongly support emissions trading to head off the draconian alternative of a tax on aviation fuel to curb air travel. The UK airports operator BAA also backs the idea. But Ryanair is opposed and bmi, the second biggest airline at Heathrow, remains to be persuaded either way.

BA thinks any scheme would have to be restricted to point-to-point travel within Europe because of the difficulty of trying to impose carbon limits on overseas airlines, particularly US ones. But easyJet wants it to cover all airlines flying into and out of Europe, on the grounds that air travel within the EU accounts for only 25 per cent of total carbon emissions. Along with BA, it wants a "benchmarking" system so airlines with younger, less polluting aircraft fleets get preferential treatment when permits are allocated.

Although bmi gave cautious support yesterday to carbon trading, Sir Michael Bishop, the chairman, remained "neutral". "I'd like to see more research before we are put on the cross and locked into a scheme which could last 25 or 30 years. Agriculture accounts for a much bigger proportion of UK carbon emissions but you never see farmers being held to account," he said.

Sir Michael also questioned how much political will there would be for including aviation in the ETS. "I'd like to see the politician who bans cheap air travel. There are no votes in that."

In September the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia forecast that if the UK was to meet its climate change target of cutting back total CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, the aviation industry would account for 100 per cent of Britain's allowable emissions by that date, if air travel continued to grow at its current rate. "Everyone else's carbon emissions will have to go to zero to allow for aviation pollution," the centre said.

Air passenger traffic is forecast to more than double in the UK in the next 25 years, from 180 million to 475 million passengers per annum.

Asked yesterday if joining the EU trading scheme would allow aviation emissions to continue growing, Mr Sentance said: "Yes, it would allow them to continue to grow. But it would allow emissions from other sectors to continue to grow as well, if they want to buy the permits. What it would do is ensure that globally, the target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions could be achieved."

But Mr Sentance disputed the centre's projections, and said by 2050 UK aviation emissions would range from 17 per cent of the total - under a scenario of low traffic growth and high fuel efficiency - to 46 per cent of the total - under a scenario where growth was high and fuel efficiency low.

He also rejected environmentalists' claims that the scheme would fail in its object if it did not force a cutback in the amount of CO2 jet aircraft inject directly into the stratosphere each day.

Green campaigners were wrong to focus on aviation, "just one sector", he said. "They should look at the global picture. The emissions trading scheme is the most effective mechanism of reducing the global total."

He indicated that paying for emission permits in the ETS might add €1-€2 (70p-£1.40) to the cost of an average flight ticket. Although environmental campaigners say the increase would be too small to have any effect on reining back the growth in passenger demand, Mr Sentence said: "Every price increase has an effect on demand." Greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, increasingly implicated in climate change, will continue to grow even if the airlines join Europe's emissions trading scheme (ETS) which is designed to cut them, British Airways' chief economist admitted yesterday.

Although the scheme would help to cut back Europe's carbon dioxide emissions as a whole, the "burden of reduction" would fall on ground-based industries, while the aviation industry would buy emissions permits under the scheme to continue its expansion, said Andrew Sentance, who is also BA's head of environmental affairs.

Mr Sentance's admission will be seized on by environmental campaigners, who claim that although including aviation in the EU scheme is being trumpeted as a major step forward, it will do nothing to make actual cutbacks in levels of aircraft emissions - the fastest-growing sector of all greenhouse gases.

As a result of this, the environment committee of the European Parliament is proposing that instead of putting aviation into the general ETS as presently constituted, there should be a special scheme just for the aviation industry.

Under such a scheme, airlines would have to compete only with one another for pollution permits, and not with industry in general, and so would be under much fiercer pressure to cut damaging exhaust emissions.

The proposal, strongly opposed by airlines including BA, will be voted on by the parliament in Strasbourg next week. Although it will not automatically become binding EU policy if adopted, it is likely to have a major influence on the final decision of the European Commission on aviation and the ETS, which is expected in the autumn.

Emissions from aviation are an increasingly hot topic in the drive to contain global warming, Accounting for a little less than six per cent of total emissions in the UK, the burgeoning growth of air passenger traffic means they will zoom up to become an increasingly large proportion of the total in the coming decades.

Although new carbon limits are being set for EU member states for the next stage of the existing ETS beginning in 2008, the earliest that aviation could be included is 2012, given the time it would take to pass the necessary laws.

The UK airline industry is divided over whether carbon trading is a good idea. BA and easyJet strongly support emissions trading to head off the draconian alternative of a tax on aviation fuel to curb air travel. The UK airports operator BAA also backs the idea. But Ryanair is opposed and bmi, the second biggest airline at Heathrow, remains to be persuaded either way.

BA thinks any scheme would have to be restricted to point-to-point travel within Europe because of the difficulty of trying to impose carbon limits on overseas airlines, particularly US ones. But easyJet wants it to cover all airlines flying into and out of Europe, on the grounds that air travel within the EU accounts for only 25 per cent of total carbon emissions. Along with BA, it wants a "benchmarking" system so airlines with younger, less polluting aircraft fleets get preferential treatment when permits are allocated.

Although bmi gave cautious support yesterday to carbon trading, Sir Michael Bishop, the chairman, remained "neutral". "I'd like to see more research before we are put on the cross and locked into a scheme which could last 25 or 30 years. Agriculture accounts for a much bigger proportion of UK carbon emissions but you never see farmers being held to account," he said.

Sir Michael also questioned how much political will there would be for including aviation in the ETS. "I'd like to see the politician who bans cheap air travel. There are no votes in that."

In September the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia forecast that if the UK was to meet its climate change target of cutting back total CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, the aviation industry would account for 100 per cent of Britain's allowable emissions by that date, if air travel continued to grow at its current rate. "Everyone else's carbon emissions will have to go to zero to allow for aviation pollution," the centre said.

Air passenger traffic is forecast to more than double in the UK in the next 25 years, from 180 million to 475 million passengers per annum.

Asked yesterday if joining the EU trading scheme would allow aviation emissions to continue growing, Mr Sentance said: "Yes, it would allow them to continue to grow. But it would allow emissions from other sectors to continue to grow as well, if they want to buy the permits. What it would do is ensure that globally, the target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions could be achieved."

But Mr Sentance disputed the centre's projections, and said by 2050 UK aviation emissions would range from 17 per cent of the total - under a scenario of low traffic growth and high fuel efficiency - to 46 per cent of the total - under a scenario where growth was high and fuel efficiency low.

He also rejected environmentalists' claims that the scheme would fail in its object if it did not force a cutback in the amount of CO2 jet aircraft inject directly into the stratosphere each day.

Green campaigners were wrong to focus on aviation, "just one sector", he said. "They should look at the global picture. The emissions trading scheme is the most effective mechanism of reducing the global total."

He indicated that paying for emission permits in the ETS might add €1-€2 (70p-£1.40) to the cost of an average flight ticket. Although environmental campaigners say the increase would be too small to have any effect on reining back the growth in passenger demand, Mr Sentence said: "Every price increase has an effect on demand."


2 July 2006

UK ANNOUNCES NEW CURBS ON EMISSIONS

Ben Hall, Political Correspondent - The Financial Times - 29 June 2006

Britain's electricity generating companies are to bear the brunt of unexpectedly tough curbs on carbon dioxide emissions after the government announced a cut of 8m tonnes under the next phase of the EU emissions trading scheme.

David Miliband, environment secretary, told MPs on Thursday that he would issue UK companies with 238m permits for 2008-12, representing a cap on emissions of 238m tonnes of CO2 a year. This amounts to an 8m tonne reduction on the first phase of the EU scheme, at the top end of the government's 3m-8m range. Business had lobbied hard for smaller cuts after complaining that the UK's more ambitious curbs under the first phase put British industry at a competitive disadvantage relative to other EU countries.

However, although the government has opted for a more demanding 8m tonne reduction in the second phase of the flagship EU scheme, the government has also raise the total baseline of emissions in recognition of higher output from business.

Power station operators are to receive a lower allocation of pollution permits than other industrial sectors and will have to pay for them, Mr Miliband said.

The government has chosen to allocate 7 per cent of the UK's permits by auction, possibly raising £150m depending on the market price of carbon, Mr Miliband said. The EU allows member-states to auction up to 10 per cent of their allocation, in the hope that it will create a more genuine market for carbon.

Mr Miliband said the curbs sent a "clear message that the emissions trading scheme is here to stay, that the government is committed to making it work, providing clear, progressive awards for a shift to low carbon technologies, and that the UK is determined to maintain its leadership role on this issue".

He said the proposed reductions were roughly equivalent to the total carbon emissions of 4.5m households.

The government has recently been subjected for heavy criticism after admitting that it would fail to meet its own target of cutting CO2 emissions by a fifth on 1990 levels by 2020. Emissions in recent years have begun to rise. The EU emissions trading scheme has also been undermined by the issuing of excess permits last year by some member-states, leading to gyrations in the price of carbon.


2 July 2006

UK ANNOUNCES SECOND-PHASE CARBON TRADING CAP

ENDS Europe DAILY 2127 - 29 June 2006

The UK will cut its allocation of carbon dioxide emission permits to industry by three per cent in 2008-12 compared to the number granted during the EU emission trading scheme's first phase, British environment secretary David Miliband has announced.

A draft national allocation plan (Nap) released on Thursday would give 238m allowances per year to British businesses in the second phase of the scheme (ETS), 7m fewer than the total distributed during the 2005-8 trial phase.

Seven per cent of allocations will be auctioned. There will be an eight per cent limit on the proportion of emissions installations can offset by buying carbon credits generated by the Kyoto protocol's flexible mechanisms.

The UK said the plan confirms Britain will meet its Kyoto protocol greenhouse gas reduction target - a key condition in EU rules on the second-phase allocation. The UK will now begin work on a detailed installation-level distribution of allowances and hopes to send its final Nap for European commission approval by early September, more than two months after the official deadline.

Because UK businesses emitted more than their allocation in 2005, the real cut in emissions required by the second-phase allocation is closer to 12.5 per cent, officials said. Overall, carbon emissions should be around 29m tonnes lower by the end of the second phase than they would have been without a cap. Greenpeace called it "a step in the right direction, though still too small a step."

British firms have been the biggest net buyer of allowances in the trading scheme so far and the UK allocation will be one of the most important factors influencing the EU carbon price. The proposed cap is at the more restrictive end of a range proposed by ministers in March, when a first draft of the Nap was released as part of a climate policy review

The electricity sector will bear the full brunt of the cut in allowances, the ministry said. Other sectors will be allocated allowances according to need. British business association the CBI warned the cuts could threaten UK competitiveness by pushing up power prices. But Mr Miliband insisted the impact on electricity prices would be "relatively muted". He estimated a maximum one per cent increase for industrial users and an increase of half that for domestic consumers.

Meanwhile, a new "environmental transformation" fund jointly run by the UK's environment and industry ministries is to be set up to invest in "non-nuclear low carbon technologies and energy efficiency". Details of the fund will be announced in 2008.


2 July 2006

THE HOUSE OF LORDS DEBATE THE AVIATION BILL

The amendment to retain the limit to the number of night flights is restored

Hansard - 28 June 2006

Baroness Tonge: My Lords, I do not apologise for rising again. I support the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, about the Government and the aviation industry. Over the past few years, I have begun to think that the Government should declare an interest when they speak about civil aviation issues because it is becoming quite obvious that aviation has been singled out among all forms of transport for favour.

I thank the Government for deciding not to increase the number of night flights at present. That decision is very welcome, and has been welcomed by all the campaigners on this issue. But the emphasis that is being placed on quieter aircraft makes us feel quite sure that that is the means by which the Government will eventually increase the number of night flights. As the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said, less noise does not mean no noise. As my noble friend said, there is no such thing as a quiet aircraft unless one counts gliders, but I do not think that they are used very much to carry passengers. So people suffer from being woken by aircraft noise even if it comes from so-called quiet aircraft.

I should like to repeat the invitation that I have issued to every Minister of transport over the past 10 years: please come and spend a night at my house or at one of my neighbours' houses. They will not be interfered with. I will not even talk to or harangue them, because the noise of the aircraft will keep them awake. I even promise to bring them a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit in the morning to alleviate their tiredness and angst as a result of not being able to sleep properly.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, at the risk of sounding unappreciative, I resist the temptation to visit the noble Baroness's house. No mention has been made in the debate of noise insulation, which is very important and is happening at the moment. No mention has been made of noise quota limits, which are also significant. No mention has been made of the Government's activities within the WHO, which, in the long term, I am convinced, will come up with the right solution. This has to be done on an international basis. At the moment, the WHO is carrying out regular reviews and revisions of the guidelines. This demonstrates how important it is to evolve a policy based on international considerations. As far as sleep disturbance is concerned, again, no mention has been made in the debate about the research that has been undertaken and is being undertaken at the present time. My noble friend will doubtless say something about this. These are highly relevant omissions as far as this debate is concerned, and that is why I mention them.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, this has been a most interesting debate, although I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, that his charge was somewhat unfair. It may have been that in the past some Ministers joined industries outside, but I have no ambitions in that area and neither has any of my colleagues as far as I know. In any case, to suggest that our policy is dictated by one dimension of the air industry is absurd. Inevitably with regard to air transport, we have a whole range of conflicting interests. After all, airports play their part in this, as do the people who live close to airports and the millions of our fellow citizens who use aircraft. So I am not prepared to accept the suggestion that the Government approach this matter as some kind of response to one particular lobby.

I am conscious that we are dealing with a very difficult area. There is a danger that those who argue that movements are the only measurement of noise are guilty of taking a rather facile approach. There is no research that defines noise in terms of being more of a disturbance through the movements of aircraft. We do not know, and no one can say that with authority. They can use their instinctive response but that is not the same as having proof. The problems with regard to noise are either cumulative over a period of time or individual instances. Therefore the case cannot be made by any reference to research on sleep disturbance that it is the number of aircraft movements that needs to be regulated.

If the issue was cut and dried in those terms, if science established evidence along the lines suggested by my noble friend Lady McIntosh and the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and if things were as straightforward as that, then of course the Government would be able to act and present the full and clear facts to the nation on the question of the incidence of aircraft impact. But things are not that straightforward. That is why the Government merely seek the flexibility to measure noise on the basis of a recognition that a balance will have to be struck between the use of aircraft and the needs of people on the ground who want to fly.

It will not do for the House to take that negative approach to transport which indicates that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds at present and nothing should disturb the situation. I never thought to hear a Liberal Democrat Peer say that air travel is being particularly favoured by the Government. Where does the noble Baroness think that the huge increase in rail passenger numbers has come from, if it is not a reflection of huge investments in rail transport, supported by a Government who are all too well aware of the environmental aspects of rail but also of the demand from people for travel?

It is no use this House being in some state of abnegation about the concept of travel. Travel is a singularly desirable good. It may become less desirable either because one has to do it because of one's job or because one is in one's more mature years, but travel is greatly valued by the great mass of our population. They use their cars frequently and they use trains with greater frequency—and the greatest expansion in travel in recent years has been in air travel. I say nothing about the virtues of cruising and sea travel. So we have a demand that must be met, and it will not do for it to be suggested in this House that there are easy answers to these questions.

I emphasise that all that the Government are seeking is some flexibility with regard to the criteria that are adopted. It is not the case that the Secretary of State will be bound to any one policy. In fact, the binding is in the amendment, with regard to aircraft movements. If the Secretary of State in 2012, or years thereafter, decides that that is by far the best criteria, or if there is scientific evidence that establishes that that is rightly the issue that concerns most of those people who live close to airports, then the Secretary of State will have the freedom to continue to impose movement limits. But it may be that technological and social change, and even investigations of sleep patterns and the nature of disturbance, have produced a scenario in which that may not be the right policy.  

All that the Government are seeking to do through the legislation is to guarantee that there is flexibility available to any Secretary of State—and let me say that no Secretary of State will act carelessly on this matter. No one in this House should underestimate the pressures, which are reflected in the contributions made this afternoon, of anxiety at the expansion of airports, airport usage and aircraft noise. That is clearly destined to be and will remain a major issue for the nation. So any Secretary of State is bound to take into account public opinion in the balance of factors for the good of the wider society. We are merely suggesting that, within this framework, the legal position needs some flexibility, rather than just the narrow concept of movement. That is why I do not think that the amendment should be accepted.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comments and other noble Lords who have participated in the debate. The Minister said that there was no evidence that the number of flights was the main reason for disturbance, but you have only to speak to the millions of people who live under flight paths to know that it is indeed the number of flights that causes the disturbance. The thought of having many more noisy flights is terrifying to them, as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and others indicated. This amendment aims to remove that fear.

Although 2012 is a long way away, there is a fear that by then there could be many more flights. There is also the fear that, if the Secretary of State has the powers, things might be considered before then. If there is a lot of new evidence and new technology by 2012, the Secretary of State at that time—who I expect will be from my party and would not want to increase the number of night flights—could examine the situation then. Why do we need legislation now? Our amendment gives security to those considerable numbers of people who are concerned about the matter. Let us worry about 2012 when we get there, when the then Secretary of State can confront the issues.

I fail to understand a lot of the points that the Minister is making. Our amendment gives security to people who do not like the number of flights that there already are but will accept a restriction on numbers, which is better than nothing. I want to pursue my amendment and to test the opinion of the House.

On Question, Whether the said Motion (B1), as an amendment to Motion B, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 185; Not-Contents, 128.


2 July 2006

ENVIRONMENT CHIEFS JOIN FORCES
TO FIGHT GROWTH IN AIR TRAVEL

Michael McCarthy and Clare Kenny - The Independent - 27 June 2006

Britain's environmental leaders today call on the Government to change course over aviation policy - or pay a huge environmental and social price.

In a letter to The Independent, an unprecedented coalition of senior greens, scientists and politicians demands a radical rethink of current plans for air travel expansion, which they say will lead to an enormous increase in emissions of the greenhouse gases causing global warming.

The letter marks the first shot in a campaign highlighting the consequences of allowing air travel to grow in line with demand - the so-called "predict and provide" approach. This was at the heart of the 2003 Aviation White Paper, which foresaw new airport runways being built across Britain in the next 30 years as passenger numbers grow nearly threefold, boosted by the market in cheap flights.

The message of the Rethink! campaign, organised by AirportWatch, an alliance of environmental organisations and community groups at airports around the UK, and being spread by a series of newspaper advertisements, is that unless the Government alters its approach, the price to pay will be unacceptably high, involving at least a doubling of aviation's contribution to climate change. Aviation is the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

It will also involve, the campaign says, the exposure of hundreds of thousands more people to aircraft noise, the destruction of numerous natural habitats and historic buildings, and more pollution for communities near airports.

Today's letter is signed not only by leaders of green groups such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Transport 2000, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the World Wide Fund for Nature, but also by Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and Green Party politicians, senior scientists such as the chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Sir John Lawton, and the heads of major charities including the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and War On Want.

"We believe that urgent action is needed to bring aviation policy into line with climate change targets," they say.

"The Government must fundamentally rethink its aviation policy so that it plays a part in making the annual cuts in emissions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."

Carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft exhausts, if their rapid growth is left unchecked, will alone account for more than the entire amount by which Britain is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gases over the next half-century.

Aircraft currently account for about 4 per cent of the world's CO2 emissions, but by 2030 they could account for a quarter of the total.

Britain's environmental leaders today call on the Government to change course over aviation policy - or pay a huge environmental and social price.

In a letter to The Independent, an unprecedented coalition of senior greens, scientists and politicians demands a radical rethink of current plans for air travel expansion, which they say will lead to an enormous increase in emissions of the greenhouse gases causing global warming.

The letter marks the first shot in a campaign highlighting the consequences of allowing air travel to grow in line with demand - the so-called "predict and provide" approach. This was at the heart of the 2003 Aviation White Paper, which foresaw new airport runways being built across Britain in the next 30 years as passenger numbers grow nearly threefold, boosted by the market in cheap flights.

The message of the Rethink! campaign, organised by AirportWatch, an alliance of environmental organisations and community groups at airports around the UK, and being spread by a series of newspaper advertisements, is that unless the Government alters its approach, the price to pay will be unacceptably high, involving at least a doubling of aviation's contribution to climate change. Aviation is the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

It will also involve, the campaign says, the exposure of hundreds of thousands more people to aircraft noise, the destruction of numerous natural habitats and historic buildings, and more pollution for communities near airports.

Today's letter is signed not only by leaders of green groups such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Transport 2000, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the World Wide Fund for Nature, but also by Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and Green Party politicians, senior scientists such as the chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Sir John Lawton, and the heads of major charities including the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and War On Want.

"We believe that urgent action is needed to bring aviation policy into line with climate change targets," they say. "The Government must fundamentally rethink its aviation policy so that it plays a part in making the annual cuts in emissions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."

Carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft exhausts, if their rapid growth is left unchecked, will alone account for more than the entire amount by which Britain is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gases over the next half-century.

Aircraft currently account for about 4 per cent of the world's CO2 emissions, but by 2030 they could account for a quarter of the total.


2 July 2006

CLIMATE CHANGE DEMANDS A FUNDAMENTAL
RETHINK OF AVIATION POLICY

Letters - The Independent - 27 June 2006

Sir: Aviation is the fastest-growing source of climate change emissions, both in the UK and worldwide. Yet the Government is planning to expand airports across the country to cater for the huge growth in passenger numbers that is being fuelled by artificially cheap air travel. Aviation expansion at the rate forecast by the Government will make it extremely difficult to meet our long-term climate change targets.

This outdated "predict and provide" approach has been criticised by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the Sustainable Development Commission, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Tyndall Centre and numerous environmental organisations.

We believe that urgent action is needed to bring aviation policy into line with climate change targets. The Government has an opportunity to do this later this year. In its 2003 Aviation White Paper it said that it would publish a progress report in 2006.

We believe that this is not enough, and that the Government must fundamentally rethink its aviation policy so that it plays a part in making the annual cuts in emissions that are needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Failure to do so will be another example of the Government's action on climate change not matching its rhetoric.

ALISTAIR CARMICHAEL MP, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY

SUE HOLDEN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE WOODLAND TRUST

TIM JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, AVIATION ENVIRONMENT FEDERATION

STEPHEN JOSEPH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, TRANSPORT 2000

TONY JUNIPER, DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

SIR JOHN LAWTON, CHAIRMAN, ROYAL COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

CAROLINE LUCAS MEP, GREEN PARTY PRINCIPAL SPEAKER AND EU RAPPORTEUR ON AVIATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

JOHN MCDONNELL MP, CHAIRMAN, CAMPAIGN GROUP OF LABOUR MPS

ROBERT NAPIER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE UK

FIONA REYNOLDS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NATIONAL TRUST

LOUISE RICHARDS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WAR ON WANT

SHAUN SPIERS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT RURAL ENGLAND

STEPHEN TINDALE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE UK

LORD WHITTY, FORMERLY MINISTER OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

GRAHAM WYNNE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF BIRDS

TIM YEO MP, CHAIRMAN,HOUSE OF COMMONS ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE


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