Germany announces investments in CO2 Technology
France is imposing a CO2 tax
UK worries about cost to attain 2050 CO2 goal
Germany We hear a lot on this side of the Atlantic that Europe, or its supposed voice (the EU), is unified and aggressively moving toward a goal of climate-neutrality by 2050.
Chancellor Angela Merkel points to aviation technology as a primary strategy to reach this goal.
“Germany unveils plan for climate-friendly aviation
The German government wants to promote a culture of innovation to develop CO2-neutral aviation. Chancellor Merkel has said Germany must develop more alternative fuel sources, including hydrogen-based energy technology.
At the National Aviation Conference, a gathering of politicians and aviation professionals held in Germany‘s eastern city of Leipzig on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany should become a global leader in producing climate-friendly aviation technology.
The [stet] , as green mobility is an integral part of international efforts to reverse climate change. Merkel emphasized that promoting a competitive and climate-friendly aviation industry in Germany depends on becoming an innovator in climate-friendly energy sources.
“It is important that the aviation industry can demonstrate how growth is not always connected to emissions that are harmful to the climate,” said Merkel.
On Wednesday, the German government introduced the “Leipzig Statement for the Future of Aviation,” a document signed by industry and government officials outlining the future of climate-friendly German aviation.
“The federal government supports the development of new propulsion methods, along with climate-friendly aircraft technology as part of the aviation research program,” said part of the statement.
In Leipzig on Wednesday, Merkel called for a sustainable and profitable German aviation industry
More money needed
However, to implement this innovation plan, more money will have to be redirected into research and development of non-fossil fuel energy sources.
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said Wednesday in Leipzig that the government was “committed to ensuring that the revenue of the aviation tax is used for research, innovation and climate goals.” This would require tax reform, specifically earmarking an aviation tax for research into alternative energy sources.
Scheuer also mentioned increasing the aviation tax with input from the German aviation industry on how to best “adapt” tax revenues towards innovation. Hydrogen power to the rescue?
During her speech in Leipzig, Merkel also announced a strategy for developing hydrogen energy in Germany set to be introduced by the end of 2019.
“The potential of hydrogen for aviation has not yet been realized,” said Merkel.
Ideally, synthetic fuel could soon be used in place of kerosene-based jet fuel, produced with green electricity through hydrogen dialysis. Additives to fossil-based kerosene have long been tested and approved. But the problem is that only very small quantities of climate-neutral fuel are available at very high prices.
Merkel admitted this, but added: “It has been the case with every technology that it was very expensive in the beginning.”
Despite good intentions, until alternatives are made affordable, the European aviation industry will continue to be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“In the long term, we cannot do without hydrocarbons on long-haul routes,” the president of the Federal Association of the German Aerospace Industry, Klaus Richter, told Germany‘s dpa news agency.
Although Merkel said the aviation industry needed to become more climate-friendly, the chancellor added that Germany “does not want forced restrictions on our mobility.”
Earlier in August, the association of the German aviation industry released a six-point program outlining a strategy to sink CO2 emissions from aircraft.
Merkel praised the sector‘s voluntary goal of stopping aircraft emissions from rising starting in 2020 and then reducing emissions by 2050 to half the level measured in 2005.
France uses taxes
Next year, in 2020, the French government will introduce a new aviation tax. This tax will reportedly add €180m of investment for other modes of transport that have a lower environmental impact. Of particular focus is rail. Is this a good idea? Let’s dive deeper and find out!
According to RunwayGirl Network, the new “eco-contribution” tax on flights that depart France is to start at €1.50 for domestic and European flights in economy, while the charge goes up to €9 in business. For long-haul flights, we will be seeing charges of €3 in economy and €18 in business.
In Germany, the equivalent tax is between €7 and €40 and is dependent on distance. That tax generates about €1 billion per year according to the website Airport Watch. The UK equivalent begins at £13 for economy trips of under 2,000 miles and goes up to £172 for long-haul non-economy flying. According to Bloomberg, flights to Corsica, Overseas France as well as those transiting through France will not be taxed.
IATA is saying that it will hold the French government to account in spending this tax money on accelerating aviation sustainability, particularly in prioritizing more efficient air traffic control and promoting sustainable fuels.
Air France is quoted in RunwayGirl’s article saying:
“This new tax would significantly penalize Air France’s competitiveness, at a time where the company needs to strengthen its investment capacity to more rapidly reduce its environmental footprint, notably as part of its fleet renewal policy,”
Aviation and climate change
According to Wikipedia, The International Panel on Climate Change estimates aviation accounts for roughly 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change. This figure includes both CO2 and non-CO2 induced effects.
Whether or not this is a good idea or a bad one depends on whether you believe in climate change and the role/impact of aviation in warming the planet. If you believe 97% of climate scientists then you’re more likely to think this is a good idea.
IATA and Air France opposition
It should be no surprise we are seeing some opposition from IATA. The International Air Travel Association is slamming the new eco aviation carbon tax saying that it goes counter to helping airlines transition towards cleaner fuels. The website BioFuels Digest says that the tax will also negatively impact the €100 billion that aviation generates for the French economy, as well as risk the 500,000 new jobs from the lack of competitiveness of French aviation.
The UK has priced out the coast of the 2050 Carbon Neutral goal:
The UK will need investment worth billions of pounds every year to remove enough greenhouse gases from the air to meet its 2050 climate targets, according to a report commissioned by the government.
The report, by analysts at Vivid Economics, estimated that the UK would need as much as £20bn a year to remove up to 130m tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air.
This will be necessary in the coming decades to make up for industries such as aviation, agriculture and heavy industry as the UK works to build a net-zero carbon economy.
“Even if emissions are reduced aggressively across the economy, the UK is expected to continue to emit a significant amount of greenhouse gases annually,” the report said. “The rate of rollout will need to be rapid, particularly in the 2030s and 2040s, and will require significant policy support.”
The report has urged ministers to consider supporting investment in greenhouse gas removal. This could mean offering new subsidies and grants for carbon capture technologies and projects, or demanding that companies that supply fossil fuels and agriculture products offset a percentage of their carbon emissions by investing in greenhouse gas removal.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “This report presents a variety of different options for consideration, and we will look closely at its findings.
“We recognise the importance and urgency of taking action right across the economy to deliver on our world-leading net-zero target, including by developing our approach to greenhouse gas removal technology.”
On average, the report estimates that the UK may need between £1bn and £2bn a year in 2030 to remove greenhouse gas emissions from the air, rising to between £6bn and £20bn by 2050.
The most expensive projects would involve technology that can absorb carbon dioxide from the air. This could remove about 25m tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year at a cost between £160 and £470 a tonne.
The cheapest options include restoring natural habits, which could absorb 5m tonnes of carbon from the air every year at a cost of between £8 and £78 a tonne.
The report even suggests supporting “enhanced weathering”, a relatively new approach to carbon removal in which fields are spread with ground-up silicate rocks, such as basalt, to increase the soil’s natural rate of carbon absorption. This could remove 15m tonnes of carbon from the air every year, but the cost of this process is uncertain at between £39 and £390 a tonne.
The analysts expect large-scale greenhouse gas removal to rely on projects that use bioenergy alongside carbon capture technology, known as BECCS, as well as projects that capture carbon directly from the air, or DACCS.
BECCS technology is being used on a small-scale at the Drax power plant in North Yorkshire, where some of the coal-burning power units have been converted to run on biomass.
Biomass is considered by the UK and EU governments to be carbon-neutral because the pellets are made from sustainably farmed trees which absorb carbon emissions while they grow.
Drax is using carbon capture technology at the power station to trap one tonne of carbon emissions a day from burning the pellets.
However, the project has attracted criticism from campaigners who question whether biomass, which Drax imports from the US, should be considered a renewable energy source. Almost 800 scientists wrote to the EU government last year to call for biomass to be stripped of its carbon-neutral status.
The virulence of the opposition of some (many?) is shown by the flight shamming movement, but the above articles suggest that a solid consensus around solution(s) has yet to be formed by national leaders and policy–makers.
The good news that technology holds promise, but yet has demonstrated that it is THE solution:
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