| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2007
21 September 2007
BAA DENIES 'ENCOURAGING' STAFF TO PICKET SIR ALAN
The Walden Local - 19 September 2007
Claims that BAA were behind the picketing of Sir Alan Haselhurst's appearance at the Stansted Airport Public Inquiry yesterday (Tuesday) have been strongly denied by the company. The accusations were made by the Stop Stansted Expansion group who said the demonstrations by members of the United union were 'a throwback to a bygone age'.
SSE economics adviser Brian Ross said: "It is understood that BAA managers at Stansted encouraged the picket, promising to pay the staff for joining in the protest. Many of the Union demonstrators were believed to be BAA security staff and so the company's generosity in agreeing to pay them to join the picket line may not have been appreciated by airport passengers standing in the security queues. We're scratching our heads to understand what the protest was all about. The public inquiry is not considering the closure or contraction of Stansted Airport but the question of whether it should be permitted to expand to become the UK?s second largest airport after Heathrow."
"Many of our supporters are airport employees who feel enough is enough and that excessive expansion could threaten their future job security to mention their quality of life. And they have told us that they were not consulted or balloted about the protest although it was purported to be in their name."
Said Sir Alan: "There was a small group with a banner when I arrived and when they saw me there was a bit of shouting but they were not allowed near enough for any meaningful exchange. I fully intended to talk to them when I left the inquiry but by that time they had gone."
Said a spokesman for BAA: "We were recently made aware that the Unite union wished for some of its members to attend Tuesday's session of the G1 Public Inquiry. We were happy to support the request and agreed that a small number of staff were able to join workers from a number of other airport companies ? without having any detrimental effect on the airport's operation- to hear what the local MP had to say on what is after all a very important issue for all staff working at Stansted."
"The expansion of Stansted has the potential to create thousands of new jobs as well as enabling airlines to serve even more destinations as the airport grows to serve up to 35 mppa. Responsible and sustainable growth will also protect the thousands of jobs that already exist at Stansted as airlines will be able to maintain and develop their route networks with confidence and certainty. We strongly believe it's preferable that as many people who live and work in the area have the opportunity to see and hear first hand what is being debated and how it might affect their future."
Said Andrew Dodgshon for the Unite union: "We completely refute the claim that BAA encouraged our members to take part in Tuesday?s action. We asked permission for a small number of them to attend and BAA agreed. We support the expansion of Stansted Airport and the aviation industry in general. We recognise there are tough decisions to be made relating to environment protection and that is the purpose of the Inquiry."
Said Brian Ross. "Apart from the environmental arguments against BAA's expansion plans, a key concern is that this predominately rural area could become over-dependent on jobs at Stansted, making it vulnerable to a downturn in the aviation industry. Stansted is considered to be more vulnerable because a single customer, the non-union Ryanair, accounts for 2 out of every 3 scheduled flights."
"The area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and Stansted is already unable to fill job vacancies locally. We are surprised that BAA considered the picket worth supporting, especially at the expense of its paying passengers."
Sir Alan told the Inquiry Inspector Alan Boyland that today ? just as in the early 1970s ? he believes it wrong to expand Stansted Airport or any other inland site because of the major impacts such expansion would have. He said that the current application is the thin end if the wedge as far as the future is concerned for those in the region and that further expansion was by no means essential to the success of the aviation industry or to the nation. Far from being the 'Airport in the Countryside' he described how Stansted and its operations have come to dominate the landscape with far-reaching consequences on those living under flight paths or using the region's transport system.
21 September 2007
EU PREPARES TO DEFEND AIRLINE EMISSION PLAN AT UN
ENDS Europe DAILY 2388 - 17 September 2007
The EU will defend controversial proposals to include all airlines
flying into and out of the bloc in its carbon emission trading scheme
at a triennial meeting of the International civil aviation
organisation (ICAO) starting on Tuesday.
At its last meeting ICAO endorsed the inclusion of airlines in
regional emission trading schemes. But the US has since argued
that non-EU airlines should be included in the EU scheme only with
the mutual consent of the airline's home country. It is opposing the
EU's decision to apply its scheme unilaterally to all airlines. The
EU, meanwhile, argues that consent is not necessary.
In June EU transport ministers said the bloc should pursue its
aviation plans even without ICAO approval. Green transport group T&E
strongly supported this in a statement on Monday, accusing Icao of a
"shameful decade of inaction and obstruction".
ICAO was charged under the Kyoto protocol with the coordination of
work on emission reductions from aviation. It will meet from 18-28
September and is due to adopt a resolution that will include
non-binding guidance on emission trading and aviation next Wednesday.
21 September 2007
GRIM OUTLOOK FOR POOR COUNTRIES IN CLIMATE REPORT
David Adam, Peter Walker and Alison Benjamin - Guardian Unlimited - 18 September 2007
The effects of climate change will be felt sooner than scientists realised and
the world must learn to live with the effects, experts said today.
Professor Martin Parry, a climate scientist with the Met Office, said
destructive changes in temperature, rainfall and agriculture were now
forecast to occur several decades earlier than thought.
He said vulnerable people such as the old and poor would be the worst
affected, and that world leaders had not yet accepted their countries would
have to adapt to the likely consequences.
The professor was speaking in London at a meeting to launch the full report on
the impacts of global warming by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
The report ? which had its executive summary released earlier this year ? says
hundreds of millions of people in developing nations will face natural
disasters, water shortages and hunger due to the effects of climate change.
Today Professor Parry, co-chair of the IPCC working group that wrote the
report, said: "We are all used to talking about these impacts coming in the
lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Now we know that it's us."
He said the international response to the problem had failed to grasp that
serious consequences such as reduced crop yields and coastal flooding were
now inevitable. "Mitigation has got all the attention but we cannot mitigate
out of this problem. We now have a choice between a future with a damaged
world or a severely damaged world."
Countries such as Britain need to focus on helping nations in the developing
world cope with the predicted impacts, by helping them to introduce
irrigation and water management technology, drought resistant crops and new
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, said: "Wheat production in India is
already in decline, for no other reason than climate change."
The report says that "extreme weather events" are likely to become more
intense and more frequent, while higher global temperatures could affect
crops and water supplies and spread disease.
The effect on ecosystems could be equally severe, with up to 30% of plant and
animal species at risk of extinction if the average rise in global
temperatures exceeds 1.5-2.5C.
The 1,000-page document is part of the IPCC's fourth overall assessment of
climate change, to be published in full later this year. It was put together
by the so-called Working Group II, which examines global warming's impact on
the environment and people.
The experts involved warn that the consequences of rising temperatures are
already being felt on every continent, and sooner than expected. It is
"probably too late" to avoid some impacts in developing countries because
about 1C of warming is already in the climate system, they warn. If it is not
kept below 2C ? which "currently looks very unlikely to be achieved" ? up to
3.2 billion people will face water shortages and up to 600 million will face
hunger, they have predicted.
The trade and development minister, Gareth Thomas, told the launch of the
report at the Royal Geographical Society: "Failing to tackle it [climate
change] will lead to floods, droughts and natural disasters which can destroy
poor people's lives as well as their livelihoods."
Professor Parry said today that he was pessimistic about the chances of
keeping the increase in global average temperatures below 2C. "And it's
evident from the work of the IPCC that even with a maximum of 2C we're not
going to avoid some major impacts at the regional level."
In February the report of the IPCC's first working group, which looks at the
scientific background of climate change, concluded that global warming was
"very likely" ? a probability of 90% or greater ? to have been caused by
A report in May by the IPCC's Working Group III, which examines how climate
change can be addressed, argued that devastating global warming can be
avoided without excessive economic cost but only if the world begins acting
Today's report concludes that while the impact of a warmer globe will have
mixed effects ? for example, it notes that crop yields could increase in
northern Europe ? the overall impact will be deeply negative, particularly in
Africa, in the so-called "mega-deltas" of south and east Asia, and on small
islands and in polar regions.
By 2020, the report warns, up to 250 million Africans may be left short of
water, while access to sufficient food is "projected to be severely
compromised by climate variability and change".
"New studies confirm that Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to
climate variability and change because of multiple stresses and low adaptive
capacity," says the document.
15 September 2007
MEPS STAND FIRM ON AIRLINE EMISSIONS
ENDS Europe DAILY 2385 - 12 September 2007
The European parliament's environment committee appears intent on
strengthening a European commission proposal to cut greenhouse gases
from aviation, it became clear on Wednesday, though there is still
argument over the degree of tightening.
A third debate on the commission's proposal to include airlines in
the European emission trading scheme closely mirrored its predecessor
at the end of June.confirmed that most MEPs supported including all flights into and out
of EU airports in the scheme from 2010.
More varied views persist on the carbon cap for airline emissions and
how many of the sector's allowances should be auctioned. Mr Liese
reiterated that a stricter cap than his proposed 90 per cent of
2004-6 emission levels is "technically and politically not
On auctioning the rapporteur said his 50 per cent proposal had
received support from "many". Nevertheless, leading spokesmen from
the Liberal and Green groups called for 100 per cent auctioning.
Disagreement persists on how to spend auctioning revenues, what
benchmark to use to distribute remaining allowances, and whether a
multiplier should compensate for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
Several MEPs repeated calls for a limit on the allowances airlines
can buy from outside the sector.
Many MEPs condemned a vote in the parliament's transport committee
the previous day as a weakening of the plans (EED 13/07/07
http://www.endseuropedaily.com/23603). This committee, subsidiary to
the environment committee on this dossier, voted to delay inclusion
to 2012 and backed a cap of 110 per cent of 2007-9 emission levels.
It supported 20 per cent auctioning.
"The commission's proposal will only offset one year's growth of the
sector's emissions," Joao Vieira of green transport campaign group
T&E said. "The environment committee and the parliament's
responsibility is to ensure that we actually see a reduction in
emissions and that airlines don't get a free ride."
15 September 2007
BAA TO FACE THE FLAK AGAIN OVER STANSTED EXPANSION
Tim Webb - The Independent - 2 September 2007
BAA, the under-fire airports operator and owner of Heathrow, faces further criticism this week when the public inquiry over expanding Stansted airport resumes after the summer break.
Campaigners from Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and local councils are challenging the accuracy of BAA's estimates of how much rail and road congestion would result from the proposed expansion. The company, which was bought by Spain's Ferrovial last year, wants to increase the capacity of the Essex airport from 25 million passengers per year to 35 million.
In April, BAA had to revise its estimates for improving transport links to Stansted following a challenge by consultants appointed by Uttlesford District Council. BAA said the revised assessment was not "materially different" from the original.
Essex County Council and Hertfordshire County Council then pointed out errors which were corrected in a second revised assessment in July.
Tomorrow, councillors from both counties will express their concerns to BAA over what they claim to be the forecasts' lack of transparency and accuracy and inconsistencies with other local planning data. The councils said: "The complicated nature of the BAA transport-modelling suite, and the uncertainty surrounding future planning data and major transport scheme programmes, contribute to [our] concerns on the surface-access forecasts that have been submitted."
One area of contention between SSE and BAA is the company's forecasts of the number of future passenger transfers. Campaigners say BAA's projection underestimates the transport that passengers will need to get to and from the airport.
OUR COMMENT: Yes, they did face the flak and there are still disagreements. Evidence on Surface Access will be presented during the week beginning 25th September.
15 September 2007
FOREST NATIONS PRESS FOR CARBON CREDITS
John Aglionby in Jakarta and Fiona Harvey in London - Financial Times - 13 September 2007
Eight nations with the largest tropical forests have agreed to push for their protection to be made eligible for carbon credits.
Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia's environment minister, said Brazil, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Congo and Indonesia, with 80 per cent of the world's tropical forest cover, had formed the Forestry Eight, whose goal is to have forest preservation included in the successor to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012. Under Kyoto, only reforestation and afforestation are eligible for carbon credits.
The group's first meeting will be at a UN-convened gathering on climate change in New York on September 24. Formal negotiations on the global framework are to begin at a UN con-ference in Bali in December. "We're all in agreement now for the first time," Mr Witoelar told the Financial Times. "So I'm optimistic that carbon credits for not cutting down trees will become a reality."
Indonesia and Brazil are considered the world's third and fourth largest emitters of greenhouse gases respectively because of the amount of carbon that escapes during deforestation.
Indonesia has lost about 1.87m hectares of forest each year since 2000 according to government data. Under current carbon trading schemes, protecting the felled trees could have been worth more than $10bn a year.
Forests can help fight climate change because trees absorb carbon as they grow, and store it until they die or are cut down. Deforestation is thought responsible for about 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the Stern review said.
But paying countries to keep forests intact is controversial. Many governments fear rainforest nations could use the threat of destruction of their forests as a bargaining chip in climate change negotiations. It is also hard to quantify how much carbon forests hold, and how much forest a country has.
Also, much deforestation is caused by illegal logging activities, raising moral issues. James Connaughton, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said: "You would be paying people not to engage in an illegal activity."
These concerns have ensured that existing forests are specifically excluded from receiving carbon credits under the Kyoto protocol.
However, global support for forest preservation being eligible for carbon credits has increased. This week more than 200 scientific institutes, non-governmental organisations and businesses under the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) launched a Forest Declaration in Brazil to campaign for preservation to be recognised.
"We see these forests as giant utilities providing the world with essential services for free and we all need to start paying for them," said Andrew Mitchell, founder and director of GCP. "Forests are currently more valuable when they're cut down than left standing, and this needs to change."
15 September 2007
TWO VERSIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS
Greenhouse emissions cut a quarter by 2020
Charles Clover, Environment Editor - Daily Telegraph - 1 September 2007
Industrial nations have agreed that cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of at least a quarter are needed by 2020 to slow down global warming, in preliminary talks on a replacement for the Kyoto climate treaty in Vienna.
Delegates at the 158-nation meeting, which included the United States, struck a compromise deal noting that a suggested cut of 25-45 per cent on 1990 levels "provides useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emissions reductions".
But the agreement fell short of calls by the European Union and developing nations for the range to be called a stronger indicative "guide" for future talks on a replacement to the treaty, which expires in 2012.
Countries including Russia, Japan and Canada had objected to the idea of a guide, reckoning it might end up binding them to make sweeping economic shifts away from fossil fuels, now seen to be at least partly responsible for the warming seen over the past three decades.
Several hundred delegates in the Vienna conference hall applauded for 10 seconds after adopting the compromise text which paves the way for the start of climate negotiations in Bali in December and is likely to set the tone for US President George Bush's climate change meeting later this month.
"This is a small step," said Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the EU Commission delegation, "We wanted bigger steps. But I think the 25-40 percent will be viewed as a starting point, an anchor for further work."
Meanwhile, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was visiting Kyoto where she took part in the treaty negotiations in 1990 as Germany's environment minister, proposed making per capita emissions of greenhouse gases the basis for future climate change negotiations.
The suggestion was aimed at persuading developing countries such as India and China to join efforts to reduce global warming.
Merkel said poorer, more populous nations produce less greenhouse gas emissions per capita than developed nations, so the developing nations should be allowed to produce more gases per person while richer nations should reduce their higher levels, to meet in the middle.
15 September 2007
U.N. CLIMATE TALKS END IN CLOUD OF DISCORD
Industrialized, Developing Nations Still at Odds
Over How and When to Cut Emissions
John Ward Anderson - Washington Post Foreign Service - 1 September 2007
PARIS, Aug. 31 -- A five-day U.N. conference on climate change ended in Vienna on Friday with significant disagreements remaining about how countries should reduce greenhouse gas emissions and daunting estimates about the price tag for combating global warming.
Some industrialized countries balked at adopting language in the conference's final statement that would have set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. They agreed in the end that this target would be a nonbinding starting point for future discussion.
Many industrialized countries, including the United States, are wary of strict and mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, fearing that such curbs could strike at core sectors of their economies.
Illustrating the range of opinion, the Group of 77 -- a bloc of developing nations -- said that industrialized countries should target an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Japan on Friday that an equitable solution would base cuts on emissions per person and bring industrialized countries into line with developing ones.
A U.N. study found that it would cost at least $200 billion a year in additional funding to reduce the expected growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere and to return them to their current levels in 2030. By contrast, the U.S. government currently devotes about $6 billion a year to climate change programs.
The Vienna Climate Change Talks were attended by about 1,000 diplomats, scientists, business leaders and environmental activists from 158 countries. The conference was part of a series of meetings planned for the next several years to stimulate debate and negotiation on a global environmental accord to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.
The United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is not a party to the Kyoto agreement. But spurred by growing domestic pressure to deal with global warming, President Bush in May pledged to "convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions" and by the end of 2008 to "set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases."
The first of those meetings is planned for Sept. 27-28 in Washington, when 15 countries, the European Union and the United Nations will meet to formulate a process for achieving Bush's goal. The invited countries -- which include Russia and Brazil -- have 64 percent of the world's population, produce 90 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, consume 76 percent of the world's annual primary energy supply, and account for 82 percent of the global economy, according to U.S. statistics.
Many of the countries, particularly the developing ones, are reluctant to cut emissions if it means sacrificing economic growth. China, for instance, is opening two coal-fired power plants a week to meet the demands of its booming economy.
Bush's plan foresees nonbinding commitments -- White House advisers call them "aspirational goals" -- for reducing emissions, while many other countries favor mandatory caps. The E.U., for instance, has pledged to reduce emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by an additional 10 percent if the world's other developed countries match those cuts. The E.U.'s longer-term goal is to slash emissions to half of 1990 levels by 2050.
Harlan L. Watson, the State Department's senior climate negotiator and the top U.S. official at the Vienna talks, said that the United States would "look at" the E.U.'s goal of a 50 percent reduction during the Washington meeting but that it would "be a very tough target to meet." Targets are "useful if they're reasonably ambitious and attainable, but we don't believe that just making up numbers is a particularly useful exercise," he said.
Some environmental activists in Vienna questioned the motives and sincerity of Bush's initiative, saying they feared that it could evolve into an alternative to the U.N. and post-Kyoto process that would let big polluting countries evade the more stringent and obligatory gas reductions likely to be mandated by the world body.
"The question is, will the Washington meeting affirm that these major emitters are committed to keeping the climate safe, and agree to take on the kind of targets in reducing greenhouse gases that are necessary," said Hans Verolme, head of the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate Change Program. "If the intention is to set up a competing track of talks, I would not like to see that."
Watson said the Washington meeting was meant to "complement" the U.N. process, because the countries attending will be the biggest economies and the biggest polluters, "and if they can't agree, there's little hope of reaching an agreement" in the U.N. talks.
15 September 2007
CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE NEEDS REVOLUTION
John Aglionby in Jakarta - The Financial Times - 5 September 2007
A revolution of society on a scale never witnessed in peacetime is needed if climate change is to be tackled successfully, the head of a major business grouping has warned.
Bjorn Stigson, the head of the Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), predicted governments would be unable to reach agreement on a framework for reducing carbon emissions at either a US-sponsored meeting in Washington later this month or at a United Nations climate summit in Indonesia in December.
Climate change is also expected to be high on the agenda at this week's annual summit of Pacific leaders in Sydney.
"It will probably get worse before it gets better before governments feel they've got the political mandate to act," he told the Financial Times during a visit to Jakarta. "We're going to have to go into some sort of crisis before it's going to be resolved. I don't think people have realised the challenge. This is more serious than what people think."
The "challenge", Mr Stigson said, is for developed nations to cut carbon emission levels by 60 to 80 per cent from current levels by 2050 if global emissions are to be kept below 550 parts per million. Global emissions at that level would keep average permanent global temperature increase below 3 degrees by 2050, a level beyond which most scientists say climate change would be significantly worse.
The WBCSD reached this conclusion after studying the Stern review on climate change, the International Energy Association's world energy outlook, and a recent International Plant Protection Convention review.
"I think it's beginning to dawn on people that we are talking about such a major change in society people are saying this is tougher than what we thought," he said. "How do you change society in a radical way in a democracy so the people you want to vote for you are also going to suffer the consequences of the policies that you put in place."
"I don't think we've seen that kind of a challenge in societal change happening peacefully. It's [only] happened in revolutions."
The 200 members of the WBCSD, which have a combined market cap of $6,000bn, are dismayed by politicians' lack of political will to address the issues, Mr Stigson said.
"We're very concerned by what we see and the lack of response from governments in grasping the responsibility they have in dealing with this issue," he said. "Our problem right now is that we? don't know what the policies are going to be beyond 2012. How do you take these issues into consideration when you build a new plant that's going to live for 30, 40 years?"
The WBCSD want rich countries to agree on global targets for themselves while committing to developing nations $80-$100bn a year and technology to help them grow more sustainably.
"If that deal is not there, you'll be in a situation where India, China and Brazil will say, we're not going to get into any agreement," he said. "If I were betting my money now, I would bet that by 2012 the world will not have a global framework. We will have a patchwork of regional and national regulations that we have to make as compatible as possible."
15 September 2007
SCOTLAND LEADS THE WAY?
SCOTLAND PREPARES TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
New scheme aims to prepare people for effects of global warming
Paul Kelbie - The Observer - 2 September 2007
The Scottish Executive will launch an ambitious drive tomorrow to ensure that Scotland does its duty to combat climate change while at the same time preparing for the changes ahead.
A website to help organisations think about the effects of Scotland's changing climate goes live with the aim of forcing businesses and members of the public to think about the future.
While optimists claim that increased temperatures brought about by climate change will lead to a future Scotland basking in a Mediterranean lifestyle, the reality is that the hotter climate will also be less stable, possibly more stormy and certainly wetter.
The new website from the Scottish Climate Change Impacts Partnership (SCCIP) will offer free access to the most reliable up-to-the-minute data on climate trends and their likely impact.
Scotland is already experiencing the effects of climate change with rising temperatures and more frequent winter storms. The website, www.sccip.org.uk, is designed to provide the public with regular updates on the latest research and understanding of the science surrounding it.
"Climate change is the most serious environmental threat facing us," said Stewart Stevenson, minister for climate change, launching the scheme. "It's essential that we understand the challenges, including increased flood risks, and the potential opportunities, such as a longer growing season, that a changing climate will bring. Taking action now to adapt sustainably while reducing emissions will safeguard against damage to our economy and our environment."
SCCIP is keen to reduce Scotland's vulnerability to the impacts of a changing climate and encourage individuals and businesses to look for opportunities and take advantage of new crops, technological developments, and tourism.
The project is intended to encourage planning for different scenarios such as dealing with the new pests and diseases that may affect crops and livestock; designing buildings, roads and other structures to cope with changing weather patterns; and even launching new 'climate-proofing' businesses.
The Scottish Executive is committed to introducing a bill next year to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and make sure that ministers are held to account by Parliament in the event of failure. They also want to encourage Scottish businesses to invest in world-beating, low-carbon technologies to put Scotland at the forefront of the fight against global warming.
"Climate change threatens our people, our economy, our societies, and our very existence. It can only be tackled if we all work together in this Parliament, Scotland, the UK, and across the world," said John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth.
Scotland faces potential upheaval over the coming years as climate patterns alter. Scientists have already predicted that snow could become a thing of the past and put the country's already beleaguered ski industry out of business.
Rising temperatures could also cause the sea level to rise around Scotland up to 60cm over the next 80 years, while temperatures could increase by between 2.5 and 3.5C. Summers are predicted to become generally drier and the growing season will become longer by between 30 and 80 days.
11 September 2007
AVIATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
THE PRSSURE FOR ACTION HOTS UP
Joss Garmen: Gordon plays the jolly green giant, but he needs to get serious
The Independent on Sunday - 9 September 2007
The PM is keener on symbolic gestures than on acquiring a coherent climate change policy
Zac Goldsmith and John Gummer's Quality of Life Commission will publish its recommendations this week. I understand that among the proposals will be a call for a moratorium on airport expansion - certainly in the South-east - and a re-evaluation of the roads enlargement programme. Given that road transport already accounts for about a quarter of Britain's carbon footprint and that aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, these are sensible ideas. But while all the talk will be about whether or not David Cameron will take their thorough work on board, the real question is - will Brown?
With a panel of UN appointed climate scientists suggesting we have as little as eight years to stop the build-up of climate-changing emissions from reaching a tipping point, it's what our Government does now that counts. And that's what's so worrying. Last week, in a clunkingly symbolic gesture, he poached the former Tory donor and green enthusiast Johan Eliasch to boost his eco-cred. Every indication, though, suggests that Gordon Brown lacks a serious and coherent approach to cutting carbon. He remains wedded to the old-fashioned economic orthodoxies of continuous growth that could be fatal for the future of the earth.
Take aviation. The Government is committed to a near tripling of air passengers by 2030 - in flat contradiction to the scientists' explicit warnings. The Tyndall Centre - the country's most credible climate research station - reports that at current rates of growth aviation could account for 100 per cent of the UK's carbon "budget" by 2050. And yet there are those who say aviation is getting too much attention.
The main source of transport emissions isn't runways but roads, so shouldn't we be panicking about those? Yes, we should. Labour is committed to a £13bn roads programme ? even bigger than the Tories' controversial plan that Labour inherited in 1997. The M1 alone is expected to generate 186,000 tons a year of extra CO2. The author Mark Lynas has calculated that 1,500 times more is being spent on widening the M1 than is spent on domestic renewable energy generation through the low-carbon buildings programme.
With roads and runways alike, Brown seems intent on tarmacking over mounting opposition, demonstrated most colourfully at last month's climate camp. Documents obtained last week by the MP Justine Greening show the extent to which the Government is colluding with BAA. Our Government and this wretched airport company are attempting to ensure that the forthcoming "consultation" on a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow is engineered to minimise resistance. This is in spite of ministers' admission that the aviation industry alone is responsible for at least 13 per cent of the UK's climate impact. In other words, Brown's team is going out of its way to allow that figure to increase dramatically. They've even gone so far as to provide BAA access to highly confidential environmental test result data ? information that is still denied to opposition MPs, green groups and, most importantly, the public.
A pattern is emerging with these so-called "public consultations". Apart from a few crony appointments, they provide the only tangible evidence of Brown's promised "new type of politics". The PM recently said: "The big challenges we face as a country - security, global competition, climate change - can no longer be solved by the old politics. I believe that Britain needs a new type of politics. A politics built on engaging with people, not excluding them."
He may say he doesn't want to exclude them, but that isn't the reality. On Friday, six leading environment groups, including my organisation - Greenpeace - as well as WWF and Friends of the Earth, pulled out of the energy consultation, calling it a "sham". Little has changed since the High Court in February called the previous energy consultation "seriously flawed" and "manifestly inadequate and unfair". The new consultation claims nuclear generation is cheaper than wind, although government figures say the opposite. It takes some gall to mislead the public so brazenly and defy the High Court.
It's no wonder Brown doesn't want to hear any dissenting voices. Nuclear new build would reduce the UK's carbon footprint by just 4 per cent, but at a cost of tens of billions that could take Britain into a low-carbon, clean energy future if spent elsewhere. Even ignoring the fact that new nuclear power stations cannot come online until 2017 at the earliest, the 6.7 million tons of carbon the Government wants to save through a nuclear programme will be more than wiped out if ministers approve the new generation of coal-fired power stations now under consideration. If Brown wants to be taken remotely seriously on the environment, he should make sure short shrift is given to an application in Kent to build the first new coal-fired plant in more than 30 years. If not, more applications will follow, guaranteeing Britain misses its climate obligations.
If Gordon Brown was really listening, he'd understand the potential for what is called Combined Heat and Power (CHP) on industrial sites and in communities. At present our centralised power stations waste two-thirds of the energy they generate in the form of waste heat - that's the steam you see floating from cooling towers. According to the Government's own figures, by capturing that heat and using it with CHP technology, the nuclear programme could be shelved, giving us cheaper and cleaner fuel. Current policy means that the market is stacked against low-carbon forms of power and requires major reform if it is to reward generation more suited to climate and energy security.
The Stern Review made it clear: the cost of implementing these types of measures are a tiny fraction of the cost of failing to do so, but Brown seems not to have listened. Like it or not, he is likely to be remembered, more than for anything else, for what he did to halt the climate crisis. Almost by accident, the man who hates taking risks has become our leader at a time when seriously bold action is required. So far, he has shown little sign of changing.
11 September 2007
TURN OFF THE TV AND JOIN THE TORY GREEN REVOLUTION
Individuals as much as governments must help
in sustaining our increasingly beleaguered planet
John Gummer - The Observer - 9 September 2007
We live in a joined-up world and yet we organise our lives in silos. The imperative of global warming demands we change that approach utterly - not just governments, but businesses, groups and individuals. If we are to create a way of living that one planet can sustain, then water, waste, transport and energy, as well as farming, food, fishing and the built environment - have to be thought through as a whole. That's what we have been doing over the past 18 months in the Quality of Life Policy Group. Five hundred or more people have worked on the report that we publish this week.
Cutting our emissions by 80 per cent in fewer than 50 years demands a universal response. But it is the rich countries which have caused the problem and profited most from the pollution, so we have to provide the solutions. We won't succeed unless China and India join in, but we can't expect the poor to pick up the baton before we have even run the first lap. Nor can Britain stand on the sidelines, reminding the world that the US produces 25 per cent of the world's pollution with less than 5 per cent of its population.
President Bush has been a disaster, but that doesn't let us off the hook. The UK has a huge carbon footprint. It's our historic pollution that is causing much of today's climate chaos. If you count the pollution caused by the worldwide companies listed in London and add the emissions caused by our imports, then we're up there among the big polluters. The UK must take on its leadership role.
We've already played a key part in the EU and without Europe, there would have been no Kyoto protocol. We led the world in the Industrial Revolution. We must now lead a green revolution.
This is no quick fix but a concerted, consistent and continuous transformation to a low-carbon economy. Rising energy prices make energy efficiency and energy saving increasingly worthwhile. Our report shows how that can be delivered through dispersed generation and smart metering, maximising the use of heat and the efficiency of appliances and making it easy for individuals and companies to use less.
We also need a different way of looking at the built environment. Buildings contribute 50 per cent of our emissions. We have a conservative construction industry, a conservatism buttressed by complex and prescriptive building regulations. They should be replaced by objective, measurable output standards to encourage innovation and ensure the eco-building that we need. Enabling the building industry to contribute to change instead of being a barrier is just one part of the wider public involvement at the heart of our plans.
Governments have to set the parameters, but business must know where it stands. People must know what will be expected of them and left with the time to find the best way to deliver. They must feel involved in finding the answers instead of having them imposed.
That's why we propose a significant agenda for localism. Communities and parishes, individuals and groups will be able to play a more important part in making decisions that matter to them.
Local authorities should encourage the market for energy-efficient offices by offering reduced business rates for space meeting efficiency standards above the minimum required by the building regulations.
Localism is also about local food and local provision, it's about post offices and farm shops, it's about food miles and local amenities. Climate change puts a new cost on carbon and therefore changes the economic balance that, for too long, has driven us away from localism towards central control.
We need the one-nation philosophy extended to one world. Mrs Thatcher reminded us that 'we do not have this world freehold, but on a full repairing lease'. If the poor are expected to bear more than their fair share of the cost of that repair, they rightly will refuse. So, at home, we propose policies from water tariff reform to public transport improvement that ensure a fair deal for the least well off. Abroad, we advocate a programme to enable poor nations to benefit directly from the switch to the low-carbon economy.
We haven't shirked the difficult issues. Unlike Michael O'Leary, we haven't suggested that aviation should be excluded, nor pretended that we can continue to be mastered by the car. We relish the fullness, excitement and opportunity of modern life, but we all want to share it at a cost that the planet can bear. That is the essence of a green revolution and we see the Quality of Life report as its blueprint.
John Gummer is a Conservative MP and a former Environment Secretary
11 September 2007
NEW TORY SPLIT OVER GREEN TAX
EXCLUSIVE: Cameron will ditch 'vote losing' proposals on holiday flights
Vincent Moss, Political Editor - Sunday Mirror - 9 September 2007
David Cameron will bury Tory "green tax" plans to avoid a disastrous party split.
The results of a major policy review ordered by the Tory leader will be unveiled on Thursday.
The "Quality of Life" report by Cameron's "green' guru Zac Goldsmith and former minister John Gummer is expected to urge massive hikes in taxes on air travel and gas-guzzling cars.
Meanwhile Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, writing in today's Sunday Mirror, has launched a crackdown on aircraft emissions as the "green" battle hots up between the parties.
The Tory report will also recommend a ban on "inefficient" plasma TVs, washing machines, kettles and other electrical appliances.
But the proposals have led to furious behind-the-scenes rows at Tory HQ.
And advisers to Mr Cameron believe they have now persuaded him to dump the plans for green air taxes. Other parts of the report will be quietly shelved before the Tories finalise their manifesto for the next election.
The move follows a poll for the Sunday Mirror last week which warned that the plans would alienate ordinary Tory voters.
A senior Tory said: "Goldsmith and Gummer can announce all the potential taxes they want. But any massive increase in the cost of holiday flights for ordinary people would be electoral suicide."
Mr Cameron's shift was seen last night as another lurch to the right as he scrabbles to make up ground on Gordon Brown in the polls.
His decision to ditch certain green tax proposals, under pressure from the Tory old guard, is believed to have been a key factor in Tory donor Johan Eliasch's decision to ditch Mr Cameron to become an adviser to the PM last week.
The Tories claim their plans for more energy-efficient electrical goods will help reduce household fuel bills.
A leaked extract of the report obtained by the Sunday Mirror shows that Mr Gummer and Mr Goldsmith want a Tory government to set a date for a ban on selling power-hungry appliances. The report calls for manufacturers to fit devices to switch appliances off.
They would show how much power they use compared with similar devices and how much energy they consume in a year.
Mr Cameron will make a fresh attempt to woo industry leaders alarmed about the impact of his green tax plans in a speech tomorrow.
11 September 2007
RUTH KELLY MAKES A SMALL START
BUT MORE WILL BE NEEDED
Air controllers in CO2 bid
Press Association - 9 September 2007
Air traffic controllers are to be asked to join the fight against global warming.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly will write to National Air Traffic Control Services on Monday, asking them to use their expertise to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by aeroplanes using Britain's airports.
And she called on the aviation industry to act responsibly by ensuring that any increases in emissions from planes are matched by reductions elsewhere.
Carbon emissions from aviation could be cut by improving landing patterns and reducing the gas given off by planes as they taxi to and from runways, suggested Ms Kelly.
In an article in the Sunday Mirror, she wrote: "We need to look carefully at improving the landing patterns and reducing emissions from aircraft as they move from the departure gate to take-off."
"And we want the aviation industry to follow this lead, making sure any increases in emissions are matched by reductions elsewhere. We are pushing to include aviation in a carbon capping scheme across Europe as the basis for a world-wide agreement."
Ms Kelly is to meet industry representatives and environmentalists this week to discuss methods of reducing aviation's impact on the environment. She said that she wanted to make travel a "top priority" in the Government's battle against global warming.
But she was dismissive of proposals, floated by the Conservatives, for "green taxes" on flights, which she said could price families out of flying, saying: "We need to cut carbon, not punish families or damage our economy."
11 September 2007
ROYAL EXCHANGE: PERESTROIKA BEGINS AT HOME
Helen Power - Sunday Telegraph - 9 September 2007
BAA'S attempt to refurbish its image extends beyond the mere appointment of Sir Nigel Rudd as its new chairman.
Spanish owner Ferrovial has hired ICM to poll public opinion about Heathrow. "Which worries you most: crime, road congestion, council tax, litter or aircraft noise?" pollsters will ask.
"Do the airport's advantages outweigh its disadvantages for you, your community and the country? Should there be a third runway? Would you care if the two existing runways were used more efficiently?"
But that is the extent of the Spanish inquisition. No questions on long queues, lost baggage or flight delays.
Expect an announcement soon that 99 per cent of customers absolutely love Heathrow.
3 September 2007
PUBLIC READY FOR ACTION ON AVIATION EMISSIONS
MAJORITY OPPOSED TO AIRPORT EXPANSION
Climate Camp has backing of Middle England
Press Release - Aviation Environment Association - 17 August 2007
Public opinion is ahead of the politicians on tackling emissions from aviation, according to a new report commissioned by Enoughsenough and the Aviation Environment Federation. A majority of people in the UK believe that expanding airports is a bad idea and that the environmental costs of flying should be included in ticket prices. Only political leadership is missing.
"This research shows that if the government took the same kind of leadership on aviation that they have shown on banning smoking in public places, the public would respond positively," said Peter Lockley of the Aviation Environment Federation. "People understand that planning to double the number of flights over the next twenty years is absurd."
Peter Lockley continued, "Is it any wonder that we see direct action against airport expansion when the Government ignores not just its own scientific advisers on climate change, but a majority of the people it represents? The analysis published today supports the impression we have from letters and leader pieces over the last two weeks ? that the Climate Campers have the backing of Middle England as they highlight the madness of expanding our airports."
What the report found
Independent research company Woodnewton Associates drew on dozens of research papers and opinion polls to establish the public mood on aviation and climate change, and public willingness to see aviation subsidies cut or capacity increases curbed. The report concludes people want action:
70% of the public believe the government should take the lead in combating climate change, even if this means using the law to change people's behaviour (Ipsos MORI June 2007).
64% reject the argument that 'there is not much point doing my bit for the environment because Britain accounts for only 2% of the world's carbon emissions' (Populus November 2006)
78% are prepared to change their behaviour to help limit climate change (ONS August 2006)
And they want action on aviation:
Six out of ten people think that increasing the capacity for flights at UK airports is a bad idea (ICM 2007).
When thinking about climate change, 57% of people support a policy aimed at slowing down the growth in air travel (Ipsos MORI 2006). This is a higher level of support than for the congestion charge (39%), civil partnerships (45%), the scrapping of Clause 28 (39%) and other initiatives taken by the Government over the last ten years.
More people (44%) support the idea of air travel reflecting the cost of its impact on the environment that opposed (31%) (Defra/BMRB 2007).
A tax where revenue is directed into a fund to fight climate change, for example through better flood defences, is likely to prove particularly popular.
Even three years ago, 63% of the public said that governments should assume there worst and taken major action now on climate change, even if the scientific evidence isn't certain (Ipsos MORI 2004). Today, we would expect this to be even higher.
The message to politicians is clear: the public want action and are prepared to put up with some pain so long as the burdens and the benefits are shared out fairly. The Prime Minister can no longer claim that public opinion is against him: instead, the public is waiting for him to act.
What people don't like is being told they can't fly. But ending the subsidies for air travel is aimed at kerbing the run-away growth in aviation, not stopping people from flying. And stopping airport expansion should not put up air fares. There is plenty of capacity at the moment, if BAA, the airlines and the government would use it more sensibly.
3 September 2007
EU emission trading scheme "isn't working"
ENDS Europe DAILY 2372 - 13 August 2007
The EU's carbon trading scheme (ETS) will continue to fail to cut
industrial emissions during its 2008-12 second phase because of
"fundamental" design flaws, according to a report released by British
Eurosceptic think tank Open Europe on Thursday.
The report, "Europe's dirty secret: why the EU ETS isn't working",
says the European commission's decision to impose much tighter caps
in member states' carbon allocation plans for the second period will
not redress the situation because new problems will emerge.
An oversupply of carbon credits generated by carbon offset projects
in developing countries risks swamping the market, the report says.
This could lead to a new collapse in carbon prices and hinder efforts
to achieve domestic cuts in Europe. The price of carbon permits has
dropped to almost nothing for compliance with the first phase of the
scheme, but is around E19 per tonne for second phase allowances.
The increase in external credits will come because installations will
be able to buy carbon allowances on the international market through
the Kyoto protocol's flexible mechanisms, which they were not allowed
to do in the first phase of the EU scheme.
Many carbon offset projects are flawed because they are given credits
for emission reductions that would have been achieved in any case,
the report claims. And in Europe some member states are using
emission trading to subsidise polluting activities. This is the case
of Germany and brown coal, it says.
Rather than expanding carbon trading globally the international
community should set "tough and enforceable" national targets for
reducing carbon emissions. This approach would give governments the
flexibility to explore alternatives such as green taxes, it says.
The commission's environment spokeswoman, Barbara Helfferich, said
the report was a mixture of fact and fiction. She said there was no
"dirty secret" because the commission had been transparent about
problems with the scheme. She dismissed the claim that it would be a
failure during its second phase. "[Carbon] prices for 2009 show we
are doing something right".
3 September 2007
MORE BAD NEWS
UK aviation sector "not covering carbon costs"
ENDS Europe DAILY 2372 - 13 August 2007
Environmental taxes paid by the British aviation industry could be
compensating for only a little more than half of the damage the
sector causes to the climate, according to a new cost assessment from
the UK transport ministry. The ministry is consulting on the
methodology behind the assessment, which it says will be performed
every three years to inform policy.
According to the "central case" in a range of cost estimates, the
industry caused P1.6bn (E2.36bn) worth of climate damage in 2005, but
paid only P900m (E1.33bn) in taxes such as air passenger duty and the
fuel duty paid by small aircraft. Under other scenarios the industry
either more than compensated for the damage or paid for an even lower
proportion of it.
The paper was released last Tuesday. It says estimates of the UK
aviation sector's climate impact should be based on the carbon
emissions of all flights departing from UK airports. This data is
already collected annually for EU and UN climate reporting purposes.
To take into account the climate impacts of non-CO2 gases, the paper
proposes applying a range of multiplier values to the total emissions
The climate burden of the sector is then calculated by multiplying
its emissions by the "social" cost of carbon. A 2002 UK government
paper estimated this at P70 (E103) per tonne in 2000 and predicted a
P1 (E1.48) per tonne annual increase. The consultation paper says
fresh guidance is due shortly.
The ministry says industry-wide carbon offsetting initiatives and the
sector's imminent inclusion in the EU emission trading scheme offer
two new routes for aviation to cover its emissions. These will be
incorporated into future calculations. Stakeholders are invited to
submit comments by 30 October.
3 September 2007
SCIENTISTS WARN ON CLIMATE TIPPING POINTS
The Guardian - 16 August 2007
Some tipping points for climate change could be closer than previously thought. Scientists are predicting that the loss of the massive Greenland ice sheet may now be unstoppable and lead to catastrophic sea-level rises around the world.
In drawing together research on tipping points, where damage due to climate change occurs irreversibly and at an increasing rate, the researchers concluded that the risks were much greater than those predicted by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
If the Greenland ice sheet melted completely, for example, it would raise global sea levels by seven metres. According to the IPCC report, the melting should take about 1,000 years. But the study, by Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, showed the break-up could happen more quickly, in 300 years. Professor Lenton said: "We know that ice sheets in the last ice age collapsed faster than any current models can capture, so our models are known to be too sluggish."
His study identified eight tipping points that could be passed by the end of this century. They include the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the melting of the west Antarctic ice sheet, and a collapse of the global ocean current known as the thermohaline circulation. If that circulation stopped, the Indian monsoons and the gulf stream could be shut down.
Prof Lenton said the IPCC way of working, including multiple reviews, caused it to issue more conservative reports than his team's studies. He added that the inevitable collapse of the Greenland ice sheet was closer than thought because of the latency in the Earth's climate system. "If you could stabilise the greenhouse gas levels to today's level, you'll still get some further warming [by 2100]." A global average temperature rise of just 1C would be enough to slip the Greenland ice over the edge. The IPCC's prediction for 2100 is a rise of 1.1C-6.4C
3 September 2007
BAA BREAK-UP CAN ONLY IMPROVE
THESE GOD-AWFUL AIRPORTS
Readers' Letters - Financial Times - 29 August 2007
From Mr Michael O'Leary.
Sir, Martin Wolf's claim (August 24) that the break up of the BAA monopoly is not the answer to the shambles at the London airports is simply wrong. The break-up of this overcharging, inefficient, "couldn't-care-less" monopoly will improve these airports and is one of the few things that most airlines now agree on.
While Mr Wolf is correct in calling the current baggage restrictions imposed by the Department for Transport irrational, he omits that these restrictions have been efficiently and effectively applied at many other UK airports without the long queues and frequent delays endured by passengers regularly at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. BAA has had more than 12 months to recruit additional security staff, yet still our passengers are repeatedly the victims of understaffing and closed security machines, particularly at peak periods. BAA, like most monopolies, talks a lot about customer service, but its actions demonstrate its contempt for customers.
It may not be BAA's fault that the UK planning process takes a long time. That being so, however, why aren't each of the BAA airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) pressing ahead for planning permission for additional facilities for 10 and 15 years hence? The reason is that, like most monopolies, BAA wishes to constrain capacity in order to maintain high prices. This has always been its policy. Even when planning new facilities, BAA knows that the Civil Aviation Authority's failed regulatory regime will reward it for every pound of overspend and inefficiency it can manage. Therefore, true to form, it wastes ridiculous sums of money building complex, inefficient facilities that don't work, and which its airlines and passengers don't want. Why, for example, would BAA spend less than £1bn building a second runway and terminal at Stansted, if it can waste £4bn doing it in the knowledge that the CAA will reward this higher spend with a future income stream that will be four times greater.
As one of BAA's largest customers, Ryanair is a staunch advocate of breaking up this high-cost, inefficient, under-performing monopoly. At the very minimum, three competing London airports would each have an incentive to develop additional capacity, at lower costs, with the support of their airline customers. Competition between the three airports would see better service delivery, shorter queues and lower car parking charges. Airlines and passengers at competing airports would have more influence over the service standards and processing times than we do now - which is none. BAA Stansted doesn't care if you are stuck for one hour in a security queue; it is going to get paid for that passenger anyway. In fact, BAA benefits from these long queues, by encouraging passengers to check in earlier and thereby spend more time and money in its shops and restaurants. If it can save a few bob by under-recruiting and keeping these security machines closed, then, of course, that's an added benefit and so that's what it will do.
One only has to point Mr Wolf to the example of the airline industry in recent years to demonstrate the effectiveness of breaking up monopolies and allowing competition to improve services and reduce prices. Not everyone may like low-fares airlines, but at least everyone now has a choice. The advent of Ryanair has transformed short-haul air travel across Europe, with widely available air fares today that are less than one-tenth of the prices charged by British Airways and other high-fares airlines 20 years ago. Competition has transformed the airline industry, yet a regulated monopoly continues to deliver abject facilities, long queues and passenger disservice at BAA's London airports.
Martin Wolf is wrong. Breaking up the BAA monopoly can only improve these god-awful airports - and let's face it, after 20 years of BAA's protected monopoly, could the London airports really be any worse?
OUR COMMENT: Perhaps one day Mr O'Leary will address the more important worries about aviation ? what is he doing about climate change for example?
3 September 2007
OTHERS TRY AGAIN TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
International climate talks open in Vienna
ENDS Europe DAILY 2376 - 27 August 2007
The latest international talks to define a post-Kyoto policy
framework to address climate change opened in Vienna on Monday. The
head of the UN's climate convention, Yvo de Boer, described the
meeting as a crucial opportunity to "measure the temperature" of
There are two main items on the agenda. Parties to the Kyoto protocol
will discuss climate change mitigation potentials and future emission
reduction targets for industrialised countries. Meanwhile, parties to
the protocol's parent convention on climate change (UNFCCC) will look
at ways of strengthening implementation of the treaty.
Mr de Boer said he hoped the meeting would help "form the main
building blocks of a new climate change regime." It should set the
stage for agreeing a full negotiating agenda for the next two years
at the major UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December,
On Tuesday, the UNFCCC secretariat will present delegates with a new
assessment of investment and financial flows needed to respond to
climate change. It puts the requirement for additional annual
investment at 0.3 to 0.5 per cent of global GDP by 2030. The estimate
is of the same order as last year's Stern report, which suggested
that the worst impacts of climate change could be avoided at a cost
of 1% of global GDP per year by 2050.
Breaking down the figures, the UNFCCC report says that an additional
US$200-210bn will be needed in 2030 to return global greenhouse gas
emissions to current levels.
It finds the cost of adapting to climate change harder to estimate,
but predicts that by 2030 the additional sum needed will amount to
"several tens of billion US dollars". Like the Stern report, however,
the UNFCCC study stresses that the "value of the climate change
impacts that those expenditures would avoid could be larger".
The report concludes that carbon markets such as the EU ETS will play
a key role in generating the necessary extra funds. It also adds that
projects already planned under the Kyoto protocol's clean development
mechanism (CDM) are estimated to have generated 25bn US dollars of
investment in 2006.
But another report by the American NGO Environmental Defense,
published as a discussion paper for the Vienna meeting, warns that
continuing the CDM in its current form beyond 2012 "will make it
essentially impossible to achieve a decline in global emissions by
2020." By transferring reductions achieved in countries with no
emission cap to nations with caps, the scheme allows total emissions
to continue rising in both, it argues.
The report proposes new mechanisms to deliver real emissions
reductions, and recommends phasing out the participation of "major
developing economies" such as China and India in the CDM to allow
smaller developing countries to get more involved.
5 August 2007
CALLS FOR A TOUGHER CLIMATE CHANGE BILL
AVIATION AND SHIPPING MUST BE INCLUDED
Royal Society: 60 per cent emission cut 'will not be enough'
Report from Royal Society - 3 August 2007
The growing consensus over the need to raise the percentage of emission cuts planned in the upcoming climate change bill received a further boost today as the Royal Society joined the chorus of voices calling for a change in the target.
David Read, vice president, said: "The Royal Society is concerned that the government's commitment to making a 60 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 will not be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."
"In light of this we strongly agree with the report's recommendation that the new committee on climate change - when established - should review whether this target is appropriate in light of the latest science."
While stopping short of joining environmental groups and opposition parties in calling for the government to include aviation emissions in the calculations, Mr Read did push for more clarity on the issue.
"Furthermore, this report reveals that there seems to be confusion between government departments concerning whether emissions from aviation and shipping should be included within or be additional to this target," he pointed out.
"It is crucial that there is clarity on this issue, given the expected growth of emissions from these sectors."
5 August 2007
TOUGHER CARBON TARGETS LAW URGED
Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change - 3 August 2007
The report says people will need to adapt to "the realities of climate change"
The government's proposals to tackle climate change need to be tougher and legally enforceable, say MPs and peers.
A report said the government's target of a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 may not be adequate.
International aviation emissions should be included in targets and there should be a cap on the use of "carbon credits" to meet them, the joint committee said.
It backed the government's five-yearly carbon targets, but said there should be annual "milestones" and reports.
The joint committee on climate change was examining the government's draft Climate Change Bill - which ministers say shows Britain is "leading by example".
The committee also added that an upper limit on carbon reductions should be removed, as there was no "compelling reason" for it.
It sets out plans to reduce carbon emissions by a minimum of 60%, from the 1990 base level, by 2050 - and sets an interim target of "at least 26% but not more than 32%" by 2020.
The report said it could see no reason for that upper limit of 32% and asked for it to be removed.
The government's proposal to use foreign carbon credits to meet 70% of our emissions targets is outrageous
The committee expressed "surprise" that the government intended to buy foreign carbon credits to meet 70% of its emission savings under the EU emissions trading scheme.
It says there should be an "absolute cap" on their use, saying: "The bill as currently drafted would still theoretically allow all the savings to be made externally to the UK, notably in developing countries, and thereby postponing the decarbonisation of the UK economy."
The report also points out that emissions from international aviation are not included in the scope of UK targets, adding: "We consider this to be a serious weakness."
In addition, the report says the government must give a higher priority to changing the behaviour of individuals with major public information campaigns.
The committee also calls for "further thinking" on legal enforceability of targets and budgets and suggests a system whereby the environment secretary could "redress any failure" to meet a target through the courts.
It also says the Committee on Climate Change - a proposed oversight body - must be given sufficient powers and resources, and local councils should help communities adapt "to the realities of climate change".
The committee's chairman, Labour's Lord Puttnam, said the draft bill was an "exceptionally significant piece of legislation" because of the scale of issues it was trying to address, and its potential impact on people.
"The government's biggest challenge is to ensure that we all understand the consequences of both our own and future generations failing to achieve the targets enshrined in this groundbreaking bill," he said.
Liberal Democrat committee member David Howarth added: "The government's proposal to use foreign carbon credits to meet 70% of our emissions targets is outrageous.
"It puts off creating a low carbon economy in the UK and relies on other countries making the necessary changes."
"The committee has rightly taken a tough line on foreign credits. I hope the government listens."
5 August 2007
A REMINDER - AFTER A FEW FINE DAYS!
England under water: scientists confirm global warming link to increased rain
Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor - The Independent - 23 July 2007
It's official: the heavier rainfall in Britain is being caused by climate change, a major new scientific study will reveal this week, as the country reels from summer downpours of unprecedented ferocity.
More intense rainstorms across parts of the northern hemisphere are being generated by man-made global warming, the study has established for the first time - an effect which has long been predicted but never before proved.
The study's findings will be all the more dramatic for being disclosed as Britain struggles to recover from the phenomenal drenching of the past few days, during which more than a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours in some places, and floods forced thousands from their homes.
The "major rainfall event" of last Friday - fully predicted as such by the Met Office - has given the country a quite exceptional battering, with the Thames still rising. In Gloucester water levels had reached 34 feet, just 12 inches below flood defences - the same level as during the flood of 1947 - although a police spokesman said last night that the River Severn had stopped rising.
Last night vast areas of the country around Gloucestershire and Worcestershire were still inundated, large numbers of people in temporary accommodation, transport links were widely disrupted, and yet more householders were standing by to be flooded in their turn, in one of the biggest civil emergencies Britain has seen.
About 150,000 residents in Gloucestershire were left without drinking water when the Mythe Water Treatment Works in Tewkesbury became inoperable after flooding. Another 200,000 people are at risk of losing their supplies. The water shortages may last until Wednesday and 600 water tanks were being drafted to the area.
Panic buying of bottled water was reported, with supermarkets selling out of stocks, and there were contamination problems in south London, where 80,000 households and businesses in the Sutton area were advised to boil their water after rain got into a tank. Yet another potential danger was from car thieves; West Mercia police warned drivers who had abandoned their cars in the floodwater to collect them quickly to prevent theft.
The Great Flood of July is all the more remarkable for following right on from the Great Flood of June, which caused similar havoc in northern towns such as Doncaster and Hull, after a similar series of astonishingly torrential downpours on 24 June.
Meteorologists agree that the miserably wet British summer of 2007 has generally been caused by a southward shift towards Britain of the jetstream, the high-level airflow that brings depressions eastwards across the Atlantic. This is fairly normal. But debate is going on about whether climate change may be responsible for the intensity of the two freak rainfall episodes, which have caused flooding the like of which has never been seen in many places.
This is because the computer models used to predict the future course of global warming all show heavier rainfall, and indeed, "extreme rainfall events", as one of its principal consequences.
The new study, carried out jointly by several national climate research institutes using their supercomputer climate models, including the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office, does not prove that any one event, including the rain of the past few days in Britain, is climate-change related.
But it certainly supports the idea, by showing that in recent decades rainfall has increased over several areas of the world, including the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and linking this directly, for the first time, to global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.
The study is being published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, and its details are under embargo and cannot be reported until then. But its main findings have caused a stir, and are being freely discussed by climate scientists in the Met Office, the Hadley Centre and the Department for Environment For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
One source familiar with the study's conclusions said: "What this does is establish for the first time that there is a distinct 'human fingerprint' in the changes in precipitation patterns - the increases in rainfall - observed in the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes, which includes Britain."
"That means, it is not just the climate's natural variability which has caused the increases, but there is a detectable human cause - climate change, caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. The 'human fingerprint' has been detected before in temperature rises, but never before in rainfall. So this is very significant."
"Some people would argue that you can't take a single event and pin that on climate change, but what happened in Britain last Friday fits quite easily with these conclusions. It does seem to have a certain resonance with what they're finding in this research."
The Hadley Centre lead scientist involved with the study was Dr Peter Stott, who specialises in finding "human fingerprints" - sometimes referred to as anthropogenic signals - on the changing climate.
Last September Dr Stott, who was not available for comment yesterday, published research showing that the climate of central England had warmed by a full degree Celsius in the past 40 years, and that this could be directly linked to human causes - the first time that man-made climate change had been identified at such a local level.
The human fingerprint is detected by making computer simulations of the recent past climate, with and without emissions of greenhouse gases - and then comparing the results with what has actually been observed in the real world.
In Dr Stott's research, and in the study to be published on Wednesday, the observed rises in temperature and rainfall could be clearly accounted for by the scenario in which emissions were prominent.
The conclusions of the new rainfall study are regarded as all the more robust as they are the joint work of several major national climate research bodies, led by Environment Canada, with each using its own supercomputer climate model.
Global warming is likely to lead to higher rainfall because a warming atmosphere contains more water vapour and more energy. Since climate prediction began 20 years ago, heavier rainfall over Britain has been a consistent theme.
5 August 2007
Solar activity 'not the cause of global warming'
Steve Connor, Science Editor - The Indpendent - 11 July 2007
Claims that increased solar activity is the cause of global warming - rather than man-made greenhouse gases - have been comprehensively disproved by a detailed study of the Sun.
Scientists have delivered the final blow to the theory that recent global warming can be explained by variations in the natural cycles of the Sun - a favourite refuge for climate sceptics who dismiss the influence of greenhouse-gas emissions.
An analysis of the records of all of the Sun's activities over the past few decades - such as sunspot cycles and magnetic fields - shows that since 1985 solar activity has decreased significantly, while global warming has continued to increase.
Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Chilton, Oxfordshire, said: "In 1985, the Sun did a U-turn in every respect. It no longer went in the right direction to contribute to global warming. We think it's almost completely conclusive proof that the Sun does not account for the recent increases in global warming."
The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A, shows there is no doubt that solar activity over the past 20 years has run in the opposite direction to global warming, and therefore cannot explain rises in average global temperatures.
Dr Lockwood and his colleague Claus Fröhlich, of the World Radiation Centre in Davos Dorf, Switzerland, have produced the most powerful counter argument to suggestions that current warming is part of the natural cycle of solar activities. "There is considerable evidence for solar influence on Earth's pre-industrial climate, and the Sun may well have been a factor in post-industrial change in the first half of the last century," they write.
However, since about 1940 there has been no evidence to suggest that increases in global average temperatures were caused by solar activity. "Our results show that the observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanisms is invoked and no matter how much the solar variation is amplified," the two scientists said.
The theory that past changes in solar activity may have explained some changes in the climate before the industrial revolution is not in dispute. In previous centuries, for instance, notably between about 1420 and 1570, when the Vikings had to abandon their Greenland settlements, solar minima corresponded with unusually cool weather, such as the "little ice age" of the 17th century.
But climate sceptics have exploited this to dispute the idea that man-made emissions are responsible for global warming. In the recent Channel 4 programme The Great Global Warming Swindle, the rise in solar activity over the latter half of the 20th century was erroneously presented as perfectly matching the rise in global average temperatures.
Dr Lockwood said he was outraged when he saw the documentary, because of the way the programme-makers used graphs of temperature rises and sunspot cycles that were cut off in the 1980s, when the two trends went in the opposite direction.
"The trouble is that the theory of solar activity and climate was being misappropriated to apply to modern-day warming. The sceptics were taking perfectly good science and bringing it into disrespect," Dr Lockwood said.
The Royal Society said yesterday: "There is a small minority which is seeking to confuse the public on the causes of climate change. They are often misrepresenting the science, when the reality is that the evidence is getting stronger every day."
5 August 2007
Ryanair to cut winter services at Stansted
Walden Local - 1 August 2007
Ryanair is to cut its services from London Stansted this winter by around 20%, claiming that if it did not reduce flights to some destinations and temporarily cancel others they would make a loss. The Irish carrier's announcement came as it unveiled a 20% rise in profits for the 3 months to the end of June.
Defending its decision, Ryanair attacked their doubling of airport charges at Stansted in the past 3 months and the level of service it gets from the airport and its operator BAA. Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said: "The current service provided by BAA at Stansted is nothing short of appalling", he said. "We continue to press for the break-up of the BAA airport monopoly which provides abject facilities, a third-rate service and charges extortionate prices."
Said a spokesman for BAA: "We would like to congratulate Ryanair on yet another record profit announcement but, as with most of Ryanair's announcements, it is riddled with out dated rhetoric and inaccurate information."
?Stansted's charges remain among the lowest in Europe and are within limits set by our regulator the CAA. Ryanair is one of the most successful airlines in the world and the success of its base here at Stansted has helped it become as successful as it is today. Ryanair must also recognise the value of this relationship as only last month it launched two new routes from here and announced another that will begin in the autumn."
?It is also worth highlighting that Stansted has invested in more than 300 security staff since last summer and completed a £2m extension to the security search area. We feel it is more important to work together to help the passenger rather than pick apart the process."
?Ryanair's own pricing structure incorporates additional charges, for example £4 to pay using their own credit cards, £17 to carry sports equipment, £5 each way to check in a bag and if you choose to carry hand luggage only you are automatically charge £4 for an internet check-in facility".
Said Brian Ross for Stop Stansted Expansion: "Ryanair is the dominant airline at Stansted so its winter cutback will amount to about 10% fewer flights there. It's a reminder of just how dependent Stansted is on Ryanair. We believe this is largely a reflection on the bigger battle between Ryanair and BAA over the level of airport charges and poor service at Stansted. We also note that the number of passengers handled by Stansted has been below last year's throughput during the last 3 months. This may simply be a short term blip but on the other hand it may encourage BAA to rethink its expansion plans."
OUR COMMENT: This same war of words has been waged at the Public Inquiry over the application to expand the number of flights and passengers on the present runway at Stansted. It is clear that relationships between BAA and its customer airlines are not good. Airlines have benefited from cheap charges, allowed in order to help the development of the airport, but these are now raised as Stansted has to stand alone, unsubsidised by Heathrow earnings. It is also claimed by the airlines that part of this raise in charges was allowed by the CAA so that BAA could pay the capital costs of improvements to the airport terminal. The airlines claim that these improvements have not been carried out and that this part of the charge should not have been allowed.
What is the truth? A bit of both side?s allegations one suspects. We know who the loosers are!
Ryanair makes its profits from the listed supplementary charges and from other associated activities such as car hire. BAA makes its profits from airport car parking and charges for shopping and café facilities. None of these activities are central to flying costs. The actual flight tickets remain ridiculously low, persuading people that they can enjoy a bargain holiday. The result ? a lot of unnecessary flights leading to more pollution in the area and aggravating the climate changes that are already seriously damaging parts of the world. Whether this aggravation amounts to 0.5%, 2%, 10% or 25% of the total pollution responsible for climate change is immaterial. As another commercial giant reminds us ? every little helps and, if we are to be expected to cut our own consumption of energy at home and at work, then air travel must play its part.
So, fewer unnecessary flights, whatever the arguments on charges and, since Stansted bookings have fallen during the summer, and planes have been flying with lower loads - are would-be passengers taking note? Only time will tell, and meantime the government should become serious in its intentions and reinforce the Climate Change Bill. Aviation must pay its environmental costs, passengers, airlines and airports too.
5 August 2007
TRAINS TO PLANES PLAN - A 'RECIPE FOR DISASTER'
Herts & Essex Observer - 2 August 2007
BAA bosses have been accused of tunnel vision over trains to planes at Stansted Airport. The criticism came when members of a watchdog committee were told the company was prepared to pay for a second subterranean link as part of provision for a second runway but commuters were not its concern.
The G2 project would create an airport the size of Heathrow by 2030 with around 68mppa. Around 40% are expected to use public transport and in February 2007 BAA began consultation on the surface action schemes required to support expansion. In June airport chiefs added further details of the track and rolling stock upgrades.
At last week's Stansted Airport?s Consultative Committee. Project director Alistair McDermid told members BAA believed a second tunnel, which the company would pay for to branch off the main West Anglia line into the airport, longer trains increased from 8 to 12 carriages, and a third track on the approach to Tottenham Hale would be sufficient.
Mr McDermid stressed: "These are rail proposals to support G2 and not intended to cover the need for rail improvements more generally in the region for non-airport passengers."
He said BAA had been forced to formulate its scheme in the absence of an overall rail strategy for the Eastern Region, which is still not ready.
The committee accepted that BAA was not to blame for the missing master plan , but said that the lack of a comprehensive blueprint made it impossible to evaluate BAA's bid.
Members were particularly concerned that the scheme did not address existing problems, like cars queuing at level crossings such as Sawbridgeworth.
Herts County Councillor for the town Mary Bayes urged: "If you are going to be a good neighbour, you should be working on important things for everyone, not just people going to the airport".
She called on BAA to join with Essex and Herts County Councils and lobby for a proper strategy. She was backed by North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association representative Norman Mead, who said: "BAA seems to be concentrated on their needs ? without consideration for others."
Herts County Councillor for Bishop's Stortford Bernard Engel reinforced the message: "I am worried about the attitude that Alistair McDermid has been putting forward. Surely decisions must be made on the totality of problems, otherwise it's a recipe for disaster. BAA should be working with Railtrack to create a railway that's good for everyone. If BAA doesn't we will never get a satisfactory system."
Mr McDermid said that BAA was working with Railtrack behind the scenes and he would consider the committee's comments. Public consultation on the surface access proposals has now ended.
31 July 2007
SSE'S INQUIRY EVIDENCE:
AQQALUK LYNGE HITS THE NATIONAL HEADLINES
The two weeks of evidence presented to the Inquiry by SSE's witnesses finished with a big bang. The Inuit Leader Aqqaluk Lynge gave evidence on the effects of climate change on his homeland. The Inquiry was packed to hear him and he was widely reported in the media. Here is the Guardian's report:
STANSTED INQUIRY: MAN IN THE SEALSKIN WAISTCOAT OFFERS SOME COLD, HARD FACTS
Oliver Burkeman - The Guardian - 28 July 2007
As often happens when he travels outside his native Greenland, the Inuit politician Aqqaluk Lynge found himself clearing up a few misconceptions yesterday. For a start, the word "eskimo" is generally considered offensive. Coats with fur-trimmed hoods are not considered de rigueur either, unless you are hunting seal. Then there's the igloo thing, and the nose rubbing? ?I think some people have a kind of cartoon in their minds,? the silver-haired 59-year-old said with a twinkly smile. And the hundred different words for snow? "No" he laughed, "Sorry".
Despite his efforts to dispel myths about his culture, My Lynge was always going to come off as a slightly exotic outsider yesterday, if only because of the sheer mundane Britishness of the setting. He was appearing as a star witness at the public inquiry into the proposed expansion of Stansted airport, in a low-ceilinged office building not far from the terminal building, and his sealskin waistcoat stood out against the sober suits of lawyers representing airport owner BAA.
So did his argument ? which, coming after weeks of technical discussion over planning law, went to the heart of the issue, if thousands more flights were allowed to take-off from Stansted each year, he told the Inquiry, their impact would be felt in his homeland, in the form of thinning ice, lost hunting grounds, and eroded shorelines which are already threatening many Inuit settlements in Alaska, Canada, Russia and Greenland.
It is the first time an airport planning forum in Britain has taken into account the global impact of aviation on the climate, and Stop Stansted Expansion, the Campaign Group that invited Mr Lynge to testify, could hardly have hoped to create a more vivid moment. As he spoke of the damage to the Arctic environment, planes bearing the liveries of Ryanair and easyJet were taking off immediately behind him, the vast majority of their passengers on short haul trips.
"What happens in the world happens first in the Arctic," said Mr Lynge, a former minister in Greenland's home rule government and a vice-president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, a human rights organisation. The Inuit "the people who live farther north than anyone else" were "the canary in the global coal mine", he said. Climate change is "not just a theory to us? it is a stark and dangerous reality". Some Inuit villages have already lost homes as the sea moves inland 300 metres in places, while thinning ice makes hunting extremely difficult, even dangerous. "We don't hunt for sport or recreation," Mr Lynge said, "Hunters put food on the table. You go to the supermarket. We go to the sea ice."
BAA is seeking to remove the cap that limits the number of passengers taking off from Stansted to 25 mppa. Opponents say that could see flights increasing from 192,000 to 264,000 a year, raising the amount of carbon dioxide from 5m to 7m tonnes annually. The Inquiry's lead Inspector, Alan Boyland, will make a recommendation after the process concludes in October, and a government announcement is expected next spring. Stop Stansted Expansion says it will be the litmus test of the seriousness of the government's commitment to properly tackling the climate change issue.
As spectators applause for My Lynge's speech died down, BAA's lawyers did not attempt to question his account of changes in the Arctic. Their argument is that a local Inquiry is no place to challenge the government's overall policy on climate change, since allowing more flights from Stansted could be consistent with the overall aim of reducing carbon emissions provided sufficient reductions are made elsewhere. Flying Matters, a group backed by the airline industry, says My Lynge's claims are part of "an apocalyptic campaign of green spin".
Surely, said Michael Humphries QC, for BAA, Mr Lynge agreed that it was "not for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference to tell the UK government how it should deliver its greenhouse gas totals?" Mr Lynge proposed a deal. "I'm not here to meddle in UK policies, if you don't meddle in my environment".
During the previous 2 weeks SSE?s witnesses had given their evidence, with the exception of those concerned with the problems of Surface Access.
This subject has been postponed until the end of September because of BAA's action taken at the last minute, of presenting new figures on traffic levels, produced by changes in the methodology used. After all objecting parties protested the Inspector agreed to postpone the evidence session. This means that he will have difficulty in producing his report by Xmas, the date requested by the government. BAA has had plenty of time to collect evidence for their expansion plans and producing changes at the last moment disrupts the whole inquiry process. It is this kind of behaviour that leads to claims that Inquiries cause unnecessary delays to vital projects. Let it be officially noted that this delay was of the developer's own making.
SSE's witness are mostly, with the exception of the consultants Geoffrey Gardner, Professor Therivel and Roger Levett, "amateurs", many with considerable knowledge of their chosen subject, but few with specialist qualifications in their chosen fields. They have had to fill the gaps with intensive study during the last few years.
BAA's tactics were the same with most of the witnesses, to extract admissions that their knowledge could not be compared with that of BAA's consultants, who were all fully qualified and very experienced not only in their specialty, but also in their experience of giving evidence. However, such arguments were to be expected, and since most of the evidence is either factual or concerned with mutually agreed (or obvious) future uncertainties, the lack of specialist qualifications is not necessarily a handicap.
The matters discussed were in the main the same as those brought out during the questioning of BAA?s witnesses. They are:
The status of the ATWP and its many pronouncements
The accuracy of BAA?s many predictions and absence of some essential information in relation to traffic, noise, air quality, water and quality of life
The need to debate economic issues
The status of Hatfield Forest
Climate Change impacts and their relevance to Stansted airport expansion.
After initially refusing to subsidise transcripts of any proceedings except those involving BAA and SACC witnesses, BAA employed transcription services and have made available transcripts of all SSE's witnesses. These are online and we suggest that they make very interesting reading and give a good flavour of the cut and thrust of cross questioning.
Order of speaking:
July 17th||Peter Sanders - Historical Background|
Geoffrey Gardner - Planning Considerations
Professor Riki Therivel - Strategic Environmental Issues
July 18th||Professir Riki Therivel|
Peter Sanders and Paul Garland - Sustainability and the Sustainability Appraisal
Brian Ross - Air Traffic Forecasts
July 19th||Martin Peachey & Chris Bennett - Air and Ground Noise|
Pat Elliott - Air Quality
Ian Bruce - Water and Waste Water Impacts
July 20th||Ian Bruce|
John Drake & Suzanne Walker - Quality of Life
July 24th||Professor Jangu Banatvala - Health Impacts|
Maggie Sutton - Community Cohesion
Ken McDonald - Housing Impacts
July 25th||Brian Ross - Economic and Employment Impacts
July 26th||Brian Ross|
July 27th||Roger Levett - Climate Change|
Aqqaluk Lynge - Climate Change Impacts
15 July 2007
THE STANSTED INQUIRY: BAA'S FINAL WEEK
6 July 2007
All BAA's witnesses have now presented their evidence and endured the cross questioning of the main objectors, notably the Uttlesford District Council, SSE, and the Stansted Airlines organisation, STACC. The cross examinations were left to the lawyers who, as is customary, can probe into the credentials and credibility of the witnesses, a process similar to court room techniques, though, on the whole, more polite. The onus is on the Inspectors to evaluate the often conflicting answers.
The witnesses were experts on the very important issues of air quality, water and waste water, and ground noise. The first, Malcolm Pratt, had had to contend with evidence from two other consultants, as well as SSE's more general comments, presented from a local perspective.
Mr Pratt - Air Quality
Mr Pratt was under fire for allowing the air quality modelling (necessary to enable future predictions to be made) to proceed without insisting on validation of the model against a full year's actual monitoring of air quality around the airport, and having only one reliable automatic monitor providing information during the period of 7 months.
The results of this modelling showed that statutory limits of the aircraft (and vehicle) emissions of NOx (nitrogen oxides) for vegetation would be reached just across the road at the north west corner of Hatfield Forest.
There is general agreement that the limits of NO2, (nitrogen dioxide derived from the breakdown of NOx) for human health will not be breached - a fact surprising to those who lived through the application for expansion to 25mppa, when it was predicted that those living at the top of Start Hill and at High House could be affected by pollution. At that time BAA hastened to acquire a continuous monitor and miraculously found that the predictions were too high - they had relied on measurements given by nitrogen diffusion tubes, known to have a significant range of accuracy, and these, according to the more accurate continuous monitor, had given too high readings.
However, even allowing for this discovery, the amount of NOx emissions calculated for 2003 to 2004 had fallen by half since 2001. Better information on how aircraft emissions are produced, said Mr Pratt and, in general, it was agreed that there would be a fall, how much was the question. It was suggested by the UDC that the experiences of the previous application ought to have made BAA very cautious about the need to establish a proper basis for the air quality assessment for this application.
Why did Mr Pratt not insist on a full year's adequate monitoring so that the model used could be properly validated? Mr Pratt did not believe that there was enough time to carry this out when he was first appointed. He expressed himself quite satisfied with the model as when tested it produced an answer within 5% of the actual result measured by the single monitor during the 7 months it was operating.
He was then questioned on the reliability of the model - the government, faced with air quality problems at Heathrow, had set up a specialist project to investigate and report on the best way to get a more accurate picture of air quality round an airport. (It has long been recognised that airports present difficulties and that all methods have many uncertainties.) This report had recently become available and had made a number of recommendations, some of which had not been followed in the Stansted modelling.
This was new information used by SSE to help assess the uncertainties in the predictions for 35mppa. Mr Pratt did not believe that the new recommendations, even if followed, would make any significant difference, certainly not to the difference between the effects at 25 mppa and 35 mppa.
This raised the question of damage to Hatfield Forest. The BAA prediction takes the critical limit right up to the corner of the Forest. How much increase in emission estimations would be required for that critical level to creep into the forest?
We have already reported that the National Trust and the UDC have been measuring NOx in the depths of the Forest at Shell House and had reported exceedances of hourly rates of NOx (which are WHO recommended but not statutory) and this has, of course, stimulated an outbreak of mathematical calculations as to what might happen in 2014. Figures have been produced by both sides, corrected and debated away from the Inquiry and we still await an agreed position, if that is ever possible.
The fact remains that it looks as though emission levels in the Forest are already at or nearing the critical level but, with all the expected improvement in NOx levels in vehicle emissions, (2% a year) will that level be exceeded in 2014 at 30 mppa or above? It is agreed, after wind measurements, that winds from the north west are partly to blame but, the wind will still be around in 2014.
By the time the National Trust give evidence in September they will have nearly 9 months of records, not quite the favoured year, but the situation will be clearer. Mr Pratt agreed that excess nitrogen deposition from higher air pollution levels would be harmful to the Forest, but pointed out that high levels of deposition were common all over the UK and were expected to reduce with improved vehicle emission control. The question was not how much was the airport responsible for but how much extra there would be at 35 mppa over and above that resulting from 25 mppa. His mathmatical calculations had satisfied him that by 2014 the difference would be absolutely minimal.
Damage to Hatfield Forest raises a legal point that will be argued over. That is the question of whether the critical statutory limit for NOx applies in Hatfield Forest. The EU Directive and the UK regulations laid down that these limits should not apply within 5 Kms of a motorway, but nothing was said about the question of national nature reserves needing special protection, though other EU legislation does give them special treatment. The areas have acquired the title of "exclusion zones". Defra have now recognised that SSSIs and National nature reserves should merit protection wherever they are and announced in their last 2006 consultation on air quality that they would aim to see that 99% of all sites would achieve satisfactory NOx levels by 2010.
This raises the question of the strength of this policy statement as against the regulation advice. No arguments have yet been put forward but BAA has introduced the principle by asking Mr Pratt if he agrees with a statement in the Aviation White Paper that ?..The NOx concentration limit for the protection of legislation is not considered to be applicable around a developed Stansted?.? Mr Pratt, of course, agreed.
These arguments will undoubtedly be raised again. We await further results from the Hatfield Forest monitoring.
Mr Squires - Water and Waste Water Disposal
The East of England is the driest area in the UK and in Herts & Essex 50% of the water supply has to be imported from Graffham Water or from Thames Water. The serious likelihood of a water shortage was debated at the East of England Panel Inquiry and recommendations made by the Panel were accepted by the Secretary of State who included in the draft Plan 3 tough policies requiring water cycle studies before any larger developments and also that all new build should incorporate measures to reduce water use by 25%. Existing buildings would be expected to reduce water use by 8% with efficiency improvements.
The effects of an expanded Stansted on water supplies was therefore one of the reasons for the refusal of the planning application.
However, the Environment Agency and BAA have reached an agreement that BAA will observe most of the principles of these policies and use their best endeavours to incorporate measures to save water. Mr Squires gave details of what BAA would do and how the water supplies to the airport and metering throughout all the firms would be promoted and monitored. The predicted water usage in the Environmental Statement per passenger would be reduced and at 35 mppa the overall daily water use would remain within the contracted amount of 3 megalitres. This, BAA claimed, had already been included in Three Valleys Water Plans for future years before 2021 when additional supplies would have to be found.
The UDC has accepted the agreement on water efficiency measures and it would become a condition if planning permission was given. The UDC did not therefore cross question Mr Squires.
SSE enquired into the details of how this contract would perform, and explored what was going on at the moment. Mr Squires agreed that obtaining additional water supplies from outside the area would be a costly and high energy undertaking, but it would have to be done irrespective of G1.
On cross questioning it emerged that the 2006 water usage by the airport was very much higher than in 2005, and the reason appeared to be that 40% of the water supplied couldn't be accounted for. It could have been used for construction, it could have leaked, or unmetered firms were using excessive amounts. There had always been up to 15% unaccounted for water, but it had never been investigated because the costs of so doing are not economical.
The final figures for 2007 were not yet available but it appeared that the situation was no better and a full investigation was underway. Not a very good beginning for a new era of water efficiency savings - the statistics of which led to a mathematical difference of opinion. SSE calculated that only 7% of the originally predicted water use at 2014 would be saved, some way from the 25% demanded of new homes. Mr Squires claimed a 16% saving by including the likely improvements in existing buildings, notably the hotels.
The fact remains that a significant amount of extra water will be supplied to the airport of which an unspecified amount will disappear from the records, which occurrence, we are told, is very common, and it is not necessarily due to leakages.
On the question of foul water disposal Mr Squires had had an assurance from Thames Water that the Bishop's Stortford Sewage works was to be upgraded to cope with all the new houses as well as G1 and that this would not affect the quality of the Rivers Stort and Lea. He said that all was well with the disposal of the polluted water from the surface water drainage of the airport, which goes straight to Ryemeads for disposal. In spite of Ryemead?s concerns expressed at the East of England Panel, no objections had been raised by Thames Water.
Mr Flindell - Ground Noise
Mr Flindell's evidence was somewhat depressing. He had carried out a noise survey at four points round the airport where ground noise was a problem. It would increase marginally at 35 mppa from more planes taxi-ing and more use of APUs but ? we were back at the old argument, noise increases of under 3 decibels are not detectable by the human ear, and anyway houses in the areas that might be called annoyance areas are entitled to noise protection.
There was no case for adding up air noise and ground noise levels. The louder noise predominated and the final noise was only 0.5 decibel higher than the loudest one.
He did not recognise engine testing as a problem. He did not agree with the WHO recommendations as to noise levels for annoyance or for sleep disturbance, his levels were all 5 decibels higher. He agreed that a loud noise could wake up some sleepers but regarded the whole problem of sleep disturbance as somewhat inconsistent as people and noises were different and it seemed to depend on the time of night, people slept more soundly during the first part of the night.
No further mitigation was possible, everything that could be done was already in operation. So, there will be more noise, but don't worry, asleep or awake, you won't hear the difference.
9 July 2007
EU "NEEDS INTEGRATED GREEN AVIATION STRATEGY"
ENDS Europe DAILY 2355 - 6 July 2007
The EU needs an "integrated environment strategy" for the aviation
industry to reap green gains from improved air traffic management, a
high-level advisory group has told the European commission. The
group was consulted as part of a review of the EU's "single European
sky" (SES) initiative to create a unified European airspace.
In a report delivered on Friday to transport commissioner Jacques
Barrot the high-level group says better European-level coordination
of flight movements could reduce aircraft emissions by six per cent.
"Environment must be raised to the same level of importance as safety
and efficiency in the aviation system," the group concludes. The
European commission should also "continue to explore the application
of market mechanisms such as emission trading and environmental
charges to promote improved environmental performance".
9 July 2007
THE BOEING "DREAMLINER"
It represents a simple philosophy
Technology to new heights
Environmental impact to new lows
Reported on BBC News 9th July 2007, a spectacular publicity launch for the new carbon fibre 787 claiming 20% fuel savings and an equivalent fall in C02 emissions. It will be flying next year, say the manufacturers.
Advertised in the national press on 2nd July 2007 was the new Boeing 747-8 intercontinental. It claims a reduction in C02 emissions with a 30% reduction in noise. emissions.
The Dreamliner is believed to be included in BAA's 2014 forecasts for fleet mix. However, since the two main airlines, Ryanair and easyJet have already ordered and had delivery of today's version of Boeings and Airbuses, it is unlikely that Stansted will see many of these new models for some years.
Certainly Boeing is to be congratulated on such improvements but we still need to know how much reduction there is in nitrogen oxides as measures that reduce fuel use usually result in more of these emissions per unit of fuel. These emissions are responsible for the pollution that causes problems round airports, damaging human health and vegetation (such as Hatfield Forest) if concentrations rise above safe levels prescribed by law.
The recent expert report on pollution at Heathrow (The Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow) has warned that the situation with regard to these emissions in new aircraft with reduced fuel use needs further study.
We also need to remember that reducing aircraft CO2 emissions doesn't encourage a different kind of green light furthering air travel expansion.
9 July 2007
CHINA REJECTS BINDING TARGET
TO CUT GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
David Adam, Environment Corespondent - The Guardian - 6 July 2007
China will not agree any form of binding target to reduce its soaring greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new international deal on climate change, a senior official confirmed yesterday.
Lu Xuedu, deputy director of the Chinese government's office of global environmental affairs, said it "was not the time" for China to consider binding commitments, and he criticised developed countries for playing what he called the "games of children" over global warming. But Mr Xuedu said China had not ruled out binding targets in future.
"For the time being we don't have that capability to make those commitments. We hope we will have that capability very soon but it depends on the development process," he said in evidence to the UK joint committee on climate change. "When we can take such binding commitments will depend on our capability, our economical development level."
According to experts at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China has already overtaken the US as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. Finding a way to include China and the US in a new agreement on global warming to replace the Kyoto protocol is one of the key international challenges inherited by Gordon Brown as prime minister. President George Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto process, partly because it placed no requirements on China.
Mr Xuedu said it was unfair to make comparisons between US and Chinese emissions, because China's population was much larger and the country relied on cheap energy to lift people from poverty. "If you only visit Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, you see one China. But if you go to the countryside or just two hours' drive from Tiananmen Square you see a totally different situation."
He added: "No matter what kind of commitment we are going to make to the international community, we believe climate change is a serious issue. In many other countries their government today makes a commitment. Tomorrow their government change, they will say no, this is not my responsibility. This happens in many countries, even in many developed countries. It is like the play games of children. But for us, we're very serious."
He said the national climate change plan announced by Beijing last month would save "huge amounts" of carbon dioxide, but that China still needed outside help to battle rising pollution, particularly in the area of clean technology.
1 July 2007
BAA'S GENERATION 2 IN TROUBLE
BAA's Rail Consultation slammed by MP
Walden Local - 27 June 2007
Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has slammed BAA?s recently published Rail Schemes Consultation in a letter to Stansted Generation 2 Director Alistair McDermid.
Said Sir Alan: "I doubt I am the only person who thinks that the document issued by BAA is dreadfully thin. How anything meaningful can be made of such a questionnaire is beyond me. But, of course, I doubt whether BAA wants any thinking that is out of their box."
"I find the document seriously inadequate as the basis for response which can realistically inform the outcome. The criteria adopted by BAA do not cover reliability, length of journey and comfort. Journey times, even for the Stansted Express, have been getting steadily longer and yet BAA has nothing to say on the subject. People paying ever higher fares should be guaranteed a reasonable level of comfort for their journey."
"What is most depressing about the document is the absence of any recognition that the standard of service on the West Anglia line has declined in recent decades and equally the absence of any urgency in arresting the decline. The proposed timetable, anchored as it appears to be to Generation 2, is far too relaxed to meet the demand being placed on the railway. I seriously doubt if much of relevance or value will be gained from this exercise and, if it is, whether it will move BAA from the minimalist approach it has adopted."
1 July 2007
GOVERNMENT FITS AIR MONITORS TO MEASURE
'TOXIC FUMES' IN COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT
Mark Rowe - Daily Telegraph - 16 June 2007
The government is to fit air monitoring equipment on board aircraft amid increasing concerns that passengers, pilots and cabin crew are being exposed to highly toxic contaminants through the cabin air supply. At the same time, 1,500 pilots will take part in the first major health study designed to establish how extensive the problem may be.
Concern for the health of staff and passengers over cabin fumes
Test equipment fitted to aircraft will monitor air quality for contaminants from engine oil over the summer, a spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed. The move has been prompted by increasing concern voiced by pilots, passenger groups and doctors about the way in which the aviation industry uses compressed air on board aircraft. According to one study, nearly 200,000 passengers may have been exposed to toxic fumes in 2004 alone.
"We want to know whether there is or isn't evidence for the toxicity that some claim is associated with flights," said a spokesman for the DfT. "No evidence has been found to suggest that ill health on airlines has any link to fumes, but we want to reassure the public and crew that every angle is being explored."
Jet aircraft draw their cabin air supply from compressor fans located at the front of jet engines. The air is bled from the engines and circulated into the cabin. But this air is unfiltered and, according to the Aerotoxic Association, a campaigning group of pilots who claim to have suffered ill health, it is sometimes contaminated with burnt engine oil and hydraulic fluids. The engine oils contain organophosphates such as tricresyl phosphate (TCP), a recognised toxin. The problem is usually greater with older generation jet aircraft; the Boeing 757 and BAe 146 aircraft have also featured in pilot complaints.
A further study by Dr Sarah Mackenzie-Ross, a consultant clinical neuropsychologist at University College London, will assess 1,500 pilots.
Last year, Dr Mackenzie-Ross found that 34 pilots had suffered from a range of symptoms resembling chronic fatigue. By examining the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) database for 2004, she estimated that up to 196,000 passengers may also have been exposed to fumes on board aircraft in that year.
The CAA said it recognised that there was a problem with contaminated air but that it had lessened as a result of stricter monitoring of filters.
1 July 2007
WILL WE GET SOME ACTION AT LAST?
MEPs take tough stance on Airline Emissions
ENDS Europe DAILY 2348 - 26 June 2007
MEPs look set to propose that all flights into or out of EU airports
should be included in the European emission trading scheme from
2010. Key members of the European parliament's environment committee
backed the move on Tuesday.
In a second debate on plans to include aviation in the trading scheme
(ETS), MEPs also welcomed other suggestions from centre-right
rapporteur Peter Liese to increase the environmental stringency of
draft legislation tabled by the European commission last year.
In addition to supporting 2010 as a single inclusion date for all
internal and external EU flights, members of the main political
parties backed Mr Liese's call to auction half of all allowances and
to apply a correction factor for non-CO2 emissions if the commission
does not address these through other measures. Most also supported a
tighter overall cap on the sector's emissions.
MEPs from all parties suggested they were prepared to go even further
than Mr Liese in certain areas. Shadow rapporteur Matthias Groote
from the socialist PSE group called 50 per cent auctioning the
"minimum" and argued for a stronger correction factor for non-CO2
Several members urged 100 per cent auctioning and for airline
emissions to be capped at 50 per cent of 2004-6 emissions, rather
than the rapporteur's proposed 90 per cent. Mr Liese warned that 100
per cent auctioning would never be accepted by governments and that a
halving of emissions is "technically absolutely impossible."
Airlines should be forced to make at least some of the emission cuts
themselves rather than being able to buy all the credits they need
from the market, a few MEPs suggested. Green MEP Caroline Lucas
proposed a limit on the number of credits airlines can buy.
Centre-right member Anders Wijkman proposed a minimum fuel efficiency
threshold to gain access to the market.
*Meanwhile green group WWF released a report on Tuesday arguing for
100 per cent auctioning for airlines. This would avoid incentives to
fly more and windfall profits. The report, by consultancy CE Delft,
suggests full auctioning would have little or no impact on airline
profit margins, contradicting a recent study.
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