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Can airlines find a cleaner way to fly?

Robin McKie, The Observer (UK)
Aviation and carbon emissions: The science

Planes may account for only 2 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, but it is a figure destined to rise. The aviation industry is expanding at a dramatic rate, around 5 per cent a year. Twice as many passengers are likely to be passing through British airports in 2020 compared with today, and three times by 2030.

As the developed world acknowledges climate change warnings, the carbon emissions from industry will fall. The aviation industry’s output will therefore account for an even larger percentage of emissions. One calculation, by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, suggests the UK aviation industry could end up accounting for every gram of our carbon quota by 2040.

Such calculations suppose aircraft designers cannot clean up their act, a suggestion firmly rejected by experts who point to a massive research programme aimed at cutting fuel use by planes by around 50 per cent by 2020, a move that would also halve their carbon emissions.
(27 January 2008)

League can’t really go green without axing jet fuel

Tony Gallagher, The Province
It was nice to see the NHL form a relationship with the GreenLife Organization, which helps organizations cope with the global changes that seem to be on everyone’s mind these days.

Even if it’s only window dressing, the association might bring league and player officials to the realization that their industry not only has a massive carbon imprint, it’s not really doing much thinking about the long-term future.

After all, the NHL has many cities like Vancouver whereby virtually every game these teams play involves a flight somewhere and not just a commercial flight.

…The funny part about this NHL green association is that the long-term future of NHL hockey as presently understood is threatened less by greenhouse gas emissions and more by the possibility of the world running out of oil.

As anyone who hasn’t lived in a cave lately might have realized, there are substitutes for gasoline although they aren’t terribly energy efficient yet.

The one fly in the new energy world ointment at the moment is there is no substitute for jet fuel. You can’t use corn syrup or cow dung or anything else, at least for the moment.

And when the world runs out of oil — many believe it will be much sooner than later if you’re a Peak Oil buff — substitutes will abound in other areas, but flying will be pretty much a military endeavor unless things change pretty radically, pretty quickly.
(31 January 2008)

Christchurch International Airport: Southern Hemisphere’s first Carbon Neutral Airport

Josie Howitt, WorldChanging
Last week, Christchurch International Airport Ltd. became the second in the world, after Sweden’s SLV, to be certified as “carbon neutral”. Using New Zealand’s carboNZero programme, emissions caused by ground operations (not including planes or engineering works undertaken by airlines on site) must now be managed and offset by buying carbon credits.

The carboNZero programme has been developed according to international best practice at Landcare Research NZ. Events (such as conferences), organisations, products and services can be certified through the programme, whereby qualified consultants work with the individual or organisation to measure, manage (reduce), and mitigate (offset) emissions.

But the focus of carboNZero is not simply to paying to continue as always. Rather, meaningful emissions reductions are made: with electricity being the major contributor to Christchurch International Airport’s carbon footprint, a building management plan has been implemented to improve energy efficiency. The airport has also improved waste recycling programmes, including recycling former road materials; invested in slow-growing grass species that don’t require spraying; used ground water to cool the terminal; and used LPG instead of diesel for heating systems.

… Increasing public concern over climate change impacts of international travel is one reason for striving for carbon neutrality. This is a concern for Christchurch International Airport with nearly 2 million international visitors annually, and for New Zealand as a whole, where tourist spending contributes 10% of GDP.

… Now it remains for the airline industry to also step up to the carbon neutral challenge. Virgin Blue, who run Pacific Blue in New Zealand, offer an option for consumers to offset their flight at the purchasing stage, where an extra fee is paid to buy carbon credits.
(27 January 2008)
If peak oil and climate change become more serious concerns, it will not be enough to make airports carbon neutral. Air travel itself will be curtailed, causing problems for tourist destinations like New Zealand. -BA

Flight tax to hit long-haul and heavy planes

Dan Milmo, Guardian
Airlines that fly long-distance routes and own the heaviest aircraft will be the biggest losers under aviation tax proposals announced by the Treasury yesterday.

The government said it expects to phase out air passenger duty (APD) by November 2009 and replace it with a levy that charges individual aircraft by weight and distance travelled. All jets weighing more than 5.7 tonnes, including freight aircraft , which are exempt from APD, will be charged according to their weight on take-off from the UK and their final destination.
(1 February 2008)