Transportation Environmental impact

Europe’s leading advocates for
clean transport & energy

Singapore shipper claims ‘milestone’ with simultaneous bio-methanol refuelling of cargo ship: ‘significant leap forward’
(SCMP) A Singapore shipping firm performed on Monday what it called the world’s first simultaneous refuelling of a container ship with bio-methanol while it was being loaded with cargo in the port.
Simultaneous loading and refuelling hastens a vessel’s turnaround time, according to Shmuel Yoskovitz, chief executive of Singapore-based X-Press Feeders.
With extra time, the ship can sail at a slower pace, reducing fuel use and leading to lower costs and emissions, he added.
Global maritime transport accounts for 2.89 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, data from the International Maritime Organisation shows. On a global scale, it is more polluting than air transport.

19 April
Low cost airlines pollute more than ever, latest emissions data shows
More than three quarters of European aviation emissions aren’t subject to a carbon price.
(Transport & Environment) Ryanair is Europe’s top polluting airline for the third year in a row, a new study on 2023 aviation emissions by green group Transport & Environment (T&E) shows. Lufthansa and British Airways are the second and third biggest polluters, but are still below their pre-Covid levels of flying. Budget airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air polluted more than ever last year – far past their peak in 2019. Ryanair emitted 15 Mt of CO2 in 2023 – 23% higher than pre-Covid levels – whilst Wizz Air’s emissions grew 40% in that time. Ryanair’s emissions are equivalent to that of seven million petrol cars in a year.


15 June
Europe’s luxury cruise ships emit as much toxic sulphur as 1bn cars – study
Cruise ship pollution around ports higher than pre-pandemic levels, but air pollutants from cruise ships fell 80% in Venice following the city’s ban on large ships


11 May
The Enduring Romance of the Night Train
The beguilements of the sleeper car have never seemed sharper than on the eve of a global lockdown.

(The New Yorker magazine 11 May issue) … in terms of cost, the plane and the train match up. The same goes for arrival times: 09:50 at Orly Airport, or thirteen minutes earlier at the Gare de Lyon, not far from the Place de la Bastille. And there’s the rub. Most night trains insert you into the core of a city, whereas planes deposit you, at best, on the outer rind. …
The second reason to travel by night train is flygskam. The word means “flight shame” in Swedish, and denotes the guilt that gnaws—or should rightfully gnaw—at your vitals when you realize that, by nipping from Berlin to Ibiza on EasyJet …you will, however indirectly, hasten the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.
The science is solid. If our Milanese broker flies to Paris (a distance of around four hundred miles), he will —not personally— …release one hundred kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s not counting the taxi rides to Linate Airport at one end and from Orly at the other, probably in a fuming snarl of traffic. Should he go overnight by train, the journey will be more circuitous, and maybe thirty miles longer, but the CO2 output will be under four kilos. That’s quite a difference, and it’s genuinely hard to spot a downside.

28 March
Cruise Ships Dumped Over 3 Million Pounds of Trash in Alaska Last Year
Records show cruise ships left behind more than 3 million pounds of trash in Alaska’s capital city in 2019.
Local government officials have reached out to both the Juneau landfill and the cruise ship industry to stop the dumping, but they aren’t having much luck.
Because both industries are private, and because there aren’t any laws on the books for cruise lines, there’s not much the city can do about it.
With the landfill projected to be full in 20 years, any amount of reduction helps. And, with the climate fluctuating, the normally frozen ground has thawed, causing waste to seep into the ground.
Along with groundwater pollution, trash finds its way into Alaskan rivers and back out into the ocean as well.

5 March
The coronavirus cruise ship quarantines confirm cruises are bad
(Vox) Their heavy and growing use of fossil fuels means someone on a seven-day cruise produces the same amount of emissions as they would during 18 days on land. And they can damage fragile ocean ecosystems due to practices like irresponsible disposal of sewage.
Cruises dump fuel and human waste into the ocean
…the cruise industry has a severe impact on the environment. These ships are essentially floating cities, and many of them produce as much pollution as one. In 2016, the Pacific Standard reported that “each passenger’s carbon footprint while cruising is roughly three times what it would be on land.”
Traditionally, ships use diesel engines, gas turbines, or a combination of both. Diesel fuel is linked to pollution as it produces nitrogen oxide emissions, which have been linked to respiratory disease and lung cancer. Their high sulfur content is also harmful to the environment since sulfur, when mixed with water and air, forms sulfuric acid — the main component of acid rain. Acid rain can cause deforestation, destroy aquatic life, and corrode building materials. But recently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that all vessels must switch to cleaner fuel with a lower sulfur content by 2020.
However, instead of paying for more expensive but less sulfuric fuel, such as liquefied natural gas, ships are installing “emission cheat” systems, called scrubbers. A scrubber allows a ship to wash cheap fuel and meet the IMO requirements, then discharge the pollutants from the cheap fuel into the ocean.
This will just add to the fact that a 3,000-person cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of sewage weekly. All cruise ship sewage goes through what is called “sewage treatment,” where solid and liquid waste is separated and sterilized, then the solid is incinerated and the liquid is released back into the ocean.


1 June
Aaron Karp: Trump’s withdrawal from Paris is bad news for the ICAO emissions deal
(Air Transport World) I expect to hear a lot of talk over the coming days, particularly at the IATA AGM in Cancun that starts June 4, about how the Paris climate agreement and ICAO’s Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) are separate international accords and the withdrawal of the US from Paris doesn’t necessarily mean the US is turning its back on the historic ICAO emissions agreement it championed during the Obama administration.
But the hard truth is that CORSIA, in ICAO’s own words, “complements” Paris. The two agreements are inexorably linked.
It’s impossible to imagine CORSIA without Paris. CORSIA filled in a gap left by Paris, which did not address international aviation emissions, in part because Paris is about each country reducing its domestic C02 emissions. CORSIA deals with emissions being emitted by aircraft flying between countries, sometimes long distances over international waters. In fact, ICAO makes a point of noting that it is incorrect to say Paris does not include aviation. The UN body governing aviation emphasizes that countries can use domestic flight CO2 reductions to help meet their emissions reduction commitments under the Paris agreement.
IATA proposes alternative solutions to carry-on electronics ban
(ATW) Additional security and screening measures at airports, including the use of sniffer dogs, are being proposed to US and UK authorities in an attempt to ward off a wider implementation of the laptop carry-on bans, IATA said Thursday.
Speaking to journalists ahead of the annual IATA AGM, which this year is in Cancun and begins June 4, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac listed the electronics ban as one of a number of issues that will be raised during the AGM meetings. He said the industry did not doubt there was a threat, but the US and UK solution—banning personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than smartphones from aircraft cabins—was “not effective and not a good way to protect passengers and crew against the threat.”


EU airline pollution curbs stay in the air until next year
(EurActiv) A European Union decision on whether to include international flights in its scheme to curb airline pollution will not come until next year at the earliest after the bloc’s executive has assessed a global deal which was finally approved last week.
International flights have been exempted from the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) since 2013 in an effort to avoid a trade war and give the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) time to craft its agreement.
Europe wants a tougher regime than that agreed by ICAO members, and has reserved the right to impose its own rules rather than adopting the ICAO measures which curb pollution from flights at 2020 levels.
6 October
ICAO logoUN aviation agency brokers first-ever global climate deal
By Christopher Adams & Mike De Souza
(National Observer) It will require more than 85 per cent of all civil aviation to be carbon neutral by 2021, Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Thursday.
He made the comments in Ottawa after all 191 member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed in Montreal to cap emissions at 2020 levels using what they call a “global market-based mechanism.”
“The eyes of the world were upon us at ICAO this week. Your announcement has answered their expectations which makes air transport the first major industry sector to take action at the global sector on international emissions,” ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu said.
Emissions growth beyond 2020 would require airline companies to offset by investing in environmental initiatives. The U.S.-based Enviromental Defence Fund called the agreement “historic,” saying in a statement that the aviation industry would need to cut or offset 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon pollution in order to cap emissions at 2020 levels.
“It sets the scene for further improvements with respect to all other emissions that were agreed to at the Paris (climate change) conference,” said Garneau, also an astronaut who was Canada’s first man in space. “It’s a major announcement. Canada played a leadership role. We’ve been working for months in the back rooms to try to bring as many countries on board. Eighty-five per cent of civil aviation will conform starting in 2021 and over 90 per cent by 2027.”
ICAO reached the deal at its 39th Assembly held in Montreal from Sept. 27 to Oct. 7. Over 2,000 delegates from 185 member states attended the assembly.
16 September
Governments look to finalize aviation deal on capping emissions
National governments will meet in Montreal this month aiming to conclude a climate deal for the global aviation sector that would establish a cap-and-trade system for airlines that fly international routes and could cost as much as $12-billion (U.S.) by 2030.
At the upcoming triennial meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), member states will be looking to approve the organization’s plan to cap greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the industry’s international flights at 2020 levels and establish a carbon market in which airlines could buy offsets to meet their individual targets.
The Canadian government has endorsed the proposal from ICAO, a United Nations agency based in Montreal, and the United States and China issued a joint statement this month pledging to join the voluntary system and urging other nations to follow suit.
The plan would combine efforts in the aviation industry to improve fuel efficiency – thereby cutting GHG emissions – and an offset market based on projects undertaken by developers, which can reduce emissions more cheaply than airlines could.


20 January
Abu Dhabi plans aviation biofuel project with Boeing and Total
(Planet Ark) With its huge oil reserves, Abu Dhabi has ample access to cheap jet fuel, but it has said it wants to develop sustainable energy sources to diversify its economy. Biofuels could also help Etihad meet targets in the aviation industry for curbing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Etihad expects to start commercial flights of aircraft with bio jet fuel in five years, chief operations officer Richard Hill told reporters.
The venture is looking at various raw materials to produce biofuel including agricultural waste, date palm leaves, and plants tolerant to salt water such as salicornia that could be grown in coastal areas of the United Arab Emirates, officials said.


4 October
Landmark Agreement on Climate Change at ICAO
Major Progress on Environment, Safety, Security, Operations and Regulation
(IATA) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) praised the leadership of governments in reaching a landmark agreement on Climate Change at the close of the 38th Assembly of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The agreement commits ICAO to developing a global market-based measure (MBM) that will be an essential enabler for the industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 (CNG2020). A global MBM complements progress on improving technology, operations and infrastructure in the industry’s long-established four-pillar strategy to manage aviation’s climate change impact.
24 September
contrail4501Pressure Mounts to Cap Airline Emissions
(IPS) – A contentious global agreement on how to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the global airline industry will be at the top of the agenda over the next two weeks at an international summit, potentially solidifying details that have yet to emerge after more than a decade and a half of talks.
While civil society and the aviation industry have often been far apart in their views on the optimal strength and framework for the new regulations, prominent voices on both sides are now urging governments to set a clear timetable at talks that began Tuesday in Montreal.
Some say the negotiations, under the 191-member International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a U.N. body, will offer a last, best opportunity to cut back on the sector’s globally significant greenhouse emissions while offering a fillip to broader multilateral efforts at combating climate change. Others are warning that failure to reach an agreement at the summit, which runs through Oct. 4, could result in an international trade war.

3 June
Historic Agreement on Carbon-Neutral Growth
(IATA Press Release) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 69th Annual General Meeting (AGM) overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution on “Implementation of the Aviation Carbon-Neutral Growth (CNG2020) Strategy” (pdf).
The resolution provides governments with a set of principles on how governments could:
Establish procedures for a single market-based measure (MBM)
Integrate a single MBM as part of an overall package of measures to achieve CNG2020
“Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation. Today, they have come together to recommend to governments the adoption of a single MBM for aviation and provide suggestions on how it might be applied to individual carriers. Now the ball is in the court of governments. We will be strongly supporting their leadership as they seek a global agreement through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its Assembly later this year,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Environment will be at the top of the agenda for the 38th ICAO Assembly in September. The aviation industry urgently needs governments to agree, through ICAO, a global approach to managing aviation’s carbon emissions, including a single global MBM. IATA member airlines agreed that a single mandatory carbon offsetting scheme would be the simplest and most effective option for an MBM.
“For governments, finding agreement on MBMs will not be easy. It was difficult enough for the airlines, given the potential financial implications. Bridging the very different circumstances of fast growing airlines in emerging markets and those in more mature markets required a flexible approach and mutual understanding. But sustainability is aviation’s license to grow. With that understanding and a firm focus on the future, airlines found an historic agreement. This industry agreement should help to relieve the political gridlock on this important issue and give governments momentum and a set of tools as they continue their difficult deliberations,” said Tyler.


Top Obama men join U.N. quest to curb airline emissions
(WEN|Planet Ark) A more than decade-long quest for a global plan to curb airline emissions is likely to pick up speed this week, with a meeting set for a new high-level team of officials, including two U.S. government advisers.
The meeting has been scheduled for December 12-13 in Montreal after a stand-off between the European Union and non-EU nations over a law to include all airlines that use EU airports in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The law has stirred threats of a trade war.
This week’s talks should be followed by a second meeting towards the end of January and another in March or early April, according to a letter dated November 16 from Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez, president of the council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), seen by Reuters.

16 March
U.N. Aviation Body Hit By Carbon Emission Dispute
(WEN/Planet Ark) The question of what role developing countries should play in reducing carbon emissions threatened to derail discussions at a top-level meeting of the United Nations body that oversees civil aviation, according to one official who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
The concept of differentiated responsibilities argues that developed countries should shoulder most of the burden for cutting emissions.
In a decision obtained by Reuters, the council instructed a working group to continue its study of “market-based measures” to deal with aviation emissions and report back at the next council meeting, scheduled for June.

13 February
Climate change and air travel: Slash emissions, fly by zeppelin
(The Economist|Gulliver) … Air travel [would be] slower, more dangerous, and a lot more expensive than it is now. Whatever you think of the science of climate change, I think we can all agree we don’t want that.

Opposition to the new European Union carbon tax on airlines could trigger a tit-for-tat trade war, argue planemakers, putting pressure on the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization to devise a global plan for carbon pollution that one analysis shows could amount to an EU bill to airlines of 505 million euros ($670 million) for 2012. EU representatives say that, while they are open to compromise, they will not suspend the tax, which is seen as critical to fighting climate change. AlertNet/Reuters (2/13), BBC (2/12)

13 January
Cargo boat and US navy ship powered by algal oil in marine fuel trials
Substituting biofuel for bunker fuel may bring about revolution in world’s shipping fleets
(The Guardian) Giant cargo boats and US navy warships have been successfully powered on oil derived from genetically modified algae in a move which could herald a revolution in the fuel used by the world’s fleets – and a reduction in the pollution they cause.
The results of substituting algal oil for low-grade, “bunker” fuel and diesel in a 98,000-tonne container ship are still being evaluated by Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping company, which last week tested 30 tonnes of oil supplied by the US navy in a vessel travelling from Europe to India. Last month, the navy tested 20,000 gallons of algal fuel on a decommissioned destroyer for a few hours. Both ran their trials on a mix of algal oil – between 7% and 100% – and conventional bunker fuel.


UN report spotlights climate jockeying
A report released Tuesday by the UN Environment Program is providing lawmakers with a snapshot of the past two decades of global environmental changes in the run-up to next year’s sustainable development meeting in Rio de Janeiro. The rifts among governments over climate goals are expected to come into sharp focus at the meeting today of the UN International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, Canada, where China, Russia and the U.S. are expected to ask the European Union to make non-EU airlines exempt from its emissions trading system. The Washington Post/The Associated Press (11/1), Bloomberg (11/2)

20 July
Stranded ship “time bomb” to Great Barrier Reef
(Reuters) – A stranded Chinese coal ship leaking oil onto Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is an environmental time bomb with the potential to devastate large protected areas of the reef, activists said on Monday.
The ship was a “ticking environmental time bomb,” Gilly Llewellyn, director of conservation for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Australia, told Reuters. She said this was the third major international incident involving its owners in four years.
Australian government officials say the stricken Shen Neng I belongs to the Shenzhen Energy Group, a subsidiary of China’s state-owned China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, better known by its acronym COSCO.

International pact on shipping emissions
Several dozen of the world’s biggest seafaring countries have agreed at a meeting of the United Nation’s international maritime organization to improve the energy efficiency of ships built after 2013 in order to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. Developing countries such as China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Africa were granted a six-year waiver for complying with the agreement, the world’s first ever to govern shipping emissions. The Guardian (London) (7/18)

4 July
Europe And U.S. In Legal Clash Over Airline Emissions
(Reuters/Planet Ark) U.S. airlines will step up their campaign against European Union climate policy next week, with a legal challenge at Europe’s highest court to their inclusion in the EU carbon market.
The EU aims to lead the world in fighting climate change, and says it needs to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions to guard against future climate impacts such as crop failures, droughts or flooding.
From January 2012, airlines flying to or from Europe will have to buy permits from the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme for 15 percent of the carbon emissions they produce. They join 11,000 factories and power plants already in the scheme.
Airlines warn of a looming trade war, but the EU says it will not back down. The carriers say their emissions should only be tackled in United Nations bodies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
6 June
Airbus chief warns on emissions policy
The head of Airbus has warned Brussels it faces a trade war with China and other powerful countries over Europe’s plans to make international airlines pay for their carbon emissions
Study reveals jet vapor as contributor to global warming
A study by the DLR German Aerospace Center shows that vapor left behind by jet engines on a normal day accounts for more carbon dioxide than that which has accumulated since the start of aviation more than a century ago. The jet contrails also help form cirrus clouds, which trap heat and further contribute to global warming — a factor that might potentially lead to government-imposed penalties designed to slow climate change. Reuters (3/29)


U.S. Opposes European Emission Charges for Airlines
The United States has stepped up pressure to stop European regulators from charging U.S. and other foreign airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions when they take off and land in Europe, prompting a defiant response from Brussels on Thursday.
24 April
Like Sept.11, volcano plane ban may hold climate clue
(Reuters) – Plane-free skies over Europe during Iceland’s volcanic eruption may yield rare clues about how flights stoke climate change, adding to evidence from a closure of U.S. airspace after September 11, 2001, experts say.
19 April
‘Eruption disruption’ could have long-term benefit
Expert says an ‘excellent opportunity’ has presented itself after Iceland’s volcano grounds thousands of flights
(Globe & Mail) Iceland’s volcano grounded thousands of flights but Judith Patterson, an expert on the impact of fossil fuel combustion in the atmosphere, says the eruption presents an “excellent opportunity.”
“Train travel is up in Europe and this shows the benefits of the train, instead of short haul, inter-Europe flights,” said Patterson, a professor of geology at Concordia University.
Ms. Patterson says while travelers aren’t likely to start boating across the Atlantic, modal shifts are on the horizon, but there will likely be a long-term effect on traveller confidence term effect is likely to be on the psyche.
Iceland volcano causes fall in carbon emissions as eruption grounds aircraft
(Guardian) Cooling effect from volcano ash cloud will be ‘very insignificant’, but flight ban stops emission of estimated 2.8m tonnes of CO2
17 March
Richard Branson Aims To Rock The Boat For Green Shipping
( According to Richard Branson’s new NGO, which is called the Carbon War Room, the global shipping fleet is the equivalent on the sixth most polluting country in the world:
Annual CO2e emissions currently exceed one million tons and are projected to grow to 18 percent of all man-made CO2e emissions by 2050. Yet existing technology presents an opportunity for up to 75 percent gains in efficiency, with required investments repaid in just a few years.
Fixing shipping will take bold ideas — see the ship at left, which is equipped with a kite from a company called SkySails — and it will take simple ones, like slowing ships down a little, adopting the equivalent of a 55 mph limit on the open seas. (See this New York Times story, which is literally about a slow boat to China.) And it will require bringing shipping companies, customers, regulators and others to work together to attack the problem.
16 February
(NYT) Slow Trip Across Sea Aids Profit and Environment
In a global culture dominated by speed, from overnight package delivery to bullet trains to fast-cash withdrawals, [Danish shipping giant Maersk] has seized on a sales pitch that may startle some hard-driving corporate customers: Slow is better.
By halving its top cruising speed over the last two years, Maersk cut fuel consumption on major routes by as much as 30 percent, greatly reducing costs. But the company also achieved an equal cut in the ships’ emissions of greenhouse gases.


20 December
One has to wonder what the IATA reps were smoking when they approved this cheery [and very self-satisfied] version:
Copenhagen Agreement Step in Right Direction – Aviation Strengthens Commitment to Tough Targets
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the Copenhagen Accord as an important step in the right direction for climate change. Aviation emissions were not addressed specifically in the Accord, a reflection of the pro-active measures the industry has taken to set challenging targets for itself, together with an aggressive strategy to achieve them.
17 December
Climate Deal On Ships And Planes Seen Slipping Away
(Reuters/Planet Ark) COPENHAGEN – Climate negotiators warned on Wednesday they may miss the opportunity to cap emissions from shipping and aviation and so miss out on billions of dollars in taxation to help poor countries cope with climate change.
With just two days left to reach a new U.N. climate change deal, negotiators say they are still a long way from agreeing targets for shipping and aviation, which together produce as much as 8 percent of the world’s climate-warming emissions.
Japan, Saudi Arabia, China and the United States have been blamed for blocking progress on tackling emissions from the two sectors. Both industries have recently called for tough carbon-cutting goals, but talks have become bogged down over technicalities.
10 December
First Fuel Cell Boat Cruises Amsterdam’s Canals
Emitting only water vapour and gliding silently through Amsterdam’s centuries-old canals, a canal boat — a popular tourist attraction — powered by fuel cells made its debut cruise on Wednesday.
The “Nemo H2,” which can carry about 87 people, is the first of its kind designed specifically to run on a fuel cell engine, in which hydrogen and oxygen are mixed to create electricity and water, without producing air-polluting gases.
From spring, visitors will have the option of a ‘CO2 Zero Canal Cruise’, for an extra 50 (euro) cents, which will go toward further research into carbon-reducing technology. The new boat cost more than double to build than a canal boat running on a diesel engine, and needs to visit a hydrogen dispensing station for a refill once a day, while normal boats only need a fuel top-up once a week.
But developers of the 3 million euro project, which was partly government funded, said costs would decline as more boats followed this test phase, and if more advanced hydrogen distribution infrastructure emerged.
23 November
Curbs To Ship Pollution Would Stoke Global Warming, Study Says
(Reuters/ Planet Ark) Shipping is slowing climate change by spewing out sunlight-dimming pollution but a clean-up needed to safeguard human health will stoke global warming, experts said Friday. “So far shipping has caused a cooling effect that has slowed down global warming,” Jan Fuglestvedt, of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (CICERO), told Reuters.”After some decades the net climate effect of shipping will shift from cooling to warming” because of cleaner fuels, he and colleagues in Germany, Britain and Norway wrote in this week’s edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
4 November
New study to provide roadmap for sustainable freight transportation
(CEC) The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has embarked on a new study to evaluate opportunities for making freight transportation more sustainable in North America.
The transportation sector contributes about 26 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in North America. At least a quarter of that share is related to transporting freight. Billions of tons of goods are moved every year in complex industrial and commercial supply chains that span the continent. Two-thirds of these goods are moved by truck and most of the rest by rail, giving the freight sector a significant environmental footprint.
12 October
Forget Grassroots Environmentalism; Branson’s Carbon War Room Is Taking Charge
… the Carbon War Room, a so-called “philanthropic initiative” started by SunEdison founder Jigar Shah and financially backed by Richard Branson, is pushing for ships to lower their carbon footprints. More specifically, the initiative mandatory emissions cuts enacted in the U.S. and EU, with the ultimate goal of cutting ship emissions by 20% on working vessels and 35% for ships built in 2012 and after. The Carbon War Room is also gunning for a mandatory provision for exhaust gas cleaning technology, which could cut over 80% of particulate matter and black carbon from ships emissions.
12 August
Airlines Will Be First U.S. Industry to Confront Cap and Trade
(NYT) Sometime this month, the European Union will release a list of airlines it will regulate under its existing cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide. Beginning in 2012, all international flights landing in the region must abide by the regulations. And several airlines on that list will have a decidedly New World feel: Delta, United and American.
13 June

A new solar-powered aircraft attempts to fly around the world with zero emissions
The prototype will be unveiled on June 26th by Solar Impulse, a project the aviators run. Mr Piccard helped pilot Orbiter 3, the first balloon to fly non-stop around the world, and comes from a family of adventurers: his grandfather, Auguste, was the first to fly a balloon into the stratosphere and his father, Jacques, plunged to record depths in a bathyscaphe. Mr Borschberg is an engineer and fighter pilot.
26 May
Climate Deal For Shippers
(Reuters/Planet Ark) COPENHAGEN – The head of shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk called on Tuesday on governments to reach a global climate deal for the shipping industry when they meet on a new climate treaty in December. International shipping was not included in the Kyoto Protocol, a replacement for which the world will try to thrash out in Copenhagen in seven months. Many shippers fear that competition will be distorted if the Copenhagen talks do not result in a global deal, causing some countries and regions to regulate separately. The best way to cap the global shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions would be a tax on fuel consumption as that would be easiest to control and administrate, Andersen said. The tax money should be put in a fund for environment friendly measures, he said.

24 May

Giovanni Bisignani at the World Business Summit on Climate Change

Sustainable next generation biofuels could reduce our carbon footprint by up to 80%. Three years ago nobody thought it possible, but four successful test flights in the last year prove that biofuels work. I am confident that certification by 2011 will be a reality. For the first time aviation could have a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. We did this work on our own without government involvement. We could achieve much more, much faster, with a fiscal and legal framework to accelerate research and reward investment. Where do we go from here? Kyoto recognised that aviation could not be handled within national targets. Unlike power plants our aircraft operate across borders and over the high seas. This has not changed and must be reflected in Kyoto 2 with a global policy framework that holds aviation accountable as a sector under the leadership of ICAO, working with the UNFCCC.

22 May

George Monbiot: As BA reports massive losses, isn’t it time to scrap the airport expansion programme?

The pressure to include their greenhouse gas emissions in national inventories is growing inexorably. This issue has suddenly become more urgent, with the publication of a new study in the journal Atmospheric Environment. It suggests that the greenhouse impact from aviation is about 4.9% of all “anthropogenic forcing” – which means humankind’s contribution to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report proposed only 3%. You might be tempted to imagine that this is still small beer; but it is massive by comparison to the size of the sector. In the UK, the turnover of all air transport (including freight) in 2007 was £20billion. This is smaller than the machinery rental sector. Aviation accounts for 0.78% of total business turnover in the UK. Yet it is responsible for 13% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Any fair pricing of greenhouse gases would make flying prohibitively expensive.

18 November 2008

Europe’s Environmental Challenge: Single European Sky by 2012

Bordeaux – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) challenged Europe to deliver a Single European Sky (SES) by 2012.

“After decades of talks and little action, failure to implement an effective SES is Europe’s biggest environmental embarrassment. In 2007, this failure resulted in 21 million minutes of delays and 468 million kilometres of unnecessary flight. This wasted 16 million tonnes of CO2.”

13 October

Airlines have to go green: IATA

Fuel efficiency will eventually make flying cheaper

(Montreal Gazette) International passenger traffic slowed to a five-year low in July and sagged farther in August, but the International Air Transport Association and its 230 member-airlines feel compelled to push ahead with their Green Vision. First-generation biomass fuels made from sugars, starches, oils or fats from farm products and competing with food production are not yet allowed for aviation fuel, David Behrens, director of IATA’s infrastructure strategy, said. Second-generation biomass fuels from forest and farm residues and municipal waste is already here. Third-generation biomass, made from algae – green pond scum – and other crops need lots more research but has high potential for reducing emissions. IATA is backing both second and third-generation biomass fuels to blend with kerosene or petroleum-derived fuels. Next-generation aircraft will be able to use a wider sources of fuels, Behrens said. Ultimately, Green Vision claims “zero emission” aircraft could be flying by 2050 – a goal that has met with skepticism from Boeing, Airbus, the big engine manufacturers and others. Environment Still a Top Priority Even in Times of Crisis

July 24

(George Monbiot) A cunning new loophole has wrecked the government’s Climate Change Bill.

The government has some good climate policies. It also has some bleeding disastrous ones, which appear to commit the United Kingdom to high carbon pollution for the entire period covered by the bill. A future Labour government would find itself snared by its own current policies. Surely it wouldn’t be foolish enough to set such a trap for itself?

One policy alone seems to doom future governments to prosecution: the planned doubling of the capacity of the UK’s airports by 2030. Using the Department for Transport’s projections, I estimate that by 2050 aeroplanes will account for 91% of all the greenhouse gases the country should be producing. Under the less optimistic figures published by Defra, the environment department, the proportion rises to 258%.

16 July


With the aim of raising public awareness on the importance of biodiversity and to engage young people in the global biodiversity agenda, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK in support of Green Wave, a multi-year worldwide educational campaign for children and youth leading up to the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010. To coincide with the announcement of the MoU, the official Green Wave logo was also launched. More

18-19 June

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, will be holding a unique Workshop on Aviation and Carbon Markets 

3 April

Aviation and Shipping Industries Not Yet Ready to Tackle Own Emissions

An interesting discussion broke out today at the UN climate change talks in Bangkok (yes, every so often it happens). It involved how the Kyoto Protocol could be strengthened by including greenhouse gases or emitting sectors that had previously been excluded.

Much of the discussion focused on emissions from international aviation and international shipping, what people here call “bunker fuels.”

Both of these sectors are significant contributors to global warming. If either were countries, they’d be in the top 5 or 6 globally in terms of their contribution to polluting the atmosphere. More importantly, emissions from both sectors are rising fast, faster in fact than any other sector. Emissions from international flights, for example, have nearly doubled since 1990.

When the Kyoto Protocol was being negotiated back in 1997, the technical issues surrounding how to allocate the emissions were deemed too complicated. For example, when a ship or plane leaves one country, arrives in another, and maybe refuels in a third along the way, which country is responsible for the emissions? Nobody had easy answers, so the industry associations—the International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO) and the International Marine Organization (IMO)—were formally given the mandate of figuring out how to address their own emissions.

Ten years later, guess what’s happened? Nothing. ICAO gave a presentation at the UN today whose message was essentially, “It’s really still too complicated.” Many countries, including the EU-27 and Norway, have made the point that the barriers are political, not technical. Today, they made concrete suggestions. For example, emissions from international flights could be assigned to where planes refuel. Wow, that doesn’t seem complicated at all.

The EU’s message was pretty clear: Enough is enough. If the industries don’t want to come up with solutions, we should. So let’s set up a working group to decide this at the UN. Seems reasonable, after so much time. As expected, there was opposition from countries that serve as international shipping hubs (Panama) and aviation hubs (Singapore), who would probably prefer no regulation at all. Unfortunately, however, Canada also opposed having a UN discussion, though we did say we wanted these emissions addressed. Apparently, the Canadian government thinks the industries need just a little more time to figure things out.

One Comment on "Transportation Environmental impact"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson June 5, 2013 at 2:01 am ·

    Wednesday Nighters not overly impressed by the IATA announcement, e.g.
    “… at the ICAO meeting here in May … there was much talk of the measurement metric principles that have finally been agreed upon by CAEP (ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection). There is a lot riding on the ICAO general meeting to be held here in September. Of note in the materials sent out by IATA is that ultimately it is the ICAO council that will decide the direction aviation takes. So a lot of nice intentions, but it is all riding on the ICAO council meeting in September.”
    “I glanced over the doc briefly,… seems so convoluted
    1. The aviation industry awakens at last to establish “principles”, when there are already 60 other sets of sustainabiity principles articulated over the last decade, most of which have no teeth, and lack enforceability … …. still at least they are showing some concern.
    2. Most of the principles deal with MBM (market based mechanisms) …. which they require to be…. “cost efficeint, … fair, … not reduce demand for air travel, … minimizing competitive distortion and administrative complexity, etc. a recipe for status quo.
    3. Individual operator responsibility will be based on ,… “the collective industry emissions baseline for CNG2020 should be defined as the average annual total emissions over the period 2018-2020″…. what this means is they want a holiday from carbon control for next 5 to 7 years.
    Calling it “Historic Agreement on Carbon-Neutral Growth” … hmmmm, … they must have a good PR agency.
    4. Well congratulations! I think?

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