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AEF July Newsletter: New website, covid-19 impacts and Manston decision

7th August, 2020

AEF’s website relaunches with a brand new look

We are excited to announce that AEF’s brand new website went live on July 1st. We have a fresh new look and lots of brand new content.

Green recovery: aviation

As the aviation industry both works to survive and looks to recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there has been much talk from NGOs and governments about how the industry can avoid returning to pre-pandemic levels of noise and emissions, setting a new trajectory that delivers long-lasting benefits.

Initial conversation looked at attaching green strings to public bailouts, with AEF outlining the steps Government should take to ensure a green recovery for the sector. In June, AEF wrote a joint briefing with Greenpeace UK and other environmental NGOs, setting out further steps for Government to create a more sustainable aviation industry as it recovers from the pandemic. In July, we co-signed an NGO letter to the Bank of England telling it that its loans to businesses (BA and easyJet borrowed nearly £1billion) must contain provisions to protect workers and the climate.

The UK Government has been busy too, with the creation of the Jet Zero Council, the Net Zero Transport Board, and the Aviation Restart, Recovery and Engagement Unit. In the last few days, the Government also unveiled £400m in private and public sector funding for technologies and research aimed at helping the aviation sector ‘to go green’ as part of a ‘FlyZero’ initiative. As AEF highlighted in an open letter to Government on its Jet Zero Council, these moves must be part of a wider programme of government action to deliver the UK’s climate commitments and not just a PR exercise for airlines and airports. AEF has since been invited to join the Jet Zero Council which held its first meeting this week, co-chaired by the transport and business secretaries. The Prime Minster also attended. 

Following the first meeting of the Net Zero Transport Board, one news source speculated the Government could legislate to include international aviation and shipping in the UK’s carbon budgets as early as 2023. This raises a few questions for AEF: is this the breakthrough that we have long campaigned for? Or a potential rejection of the CCC’s advice to legislate for it now? And waiting until 2023 certainly misses an opportunity to include it in the UK’s sixth carbon budget. 

ICAO approves plan to revise baseline for offsetting scheme CORSIA 

Following demands from airlines, UN aviation body ICAO has approved a plan to revise a baseline for its offsetting scheme CORSIA to account for the drop in traffic during the pandemic. The change means airlines will only have an offset obligation once traffic returns to pre-Covid levels, something that’s not expected to happen for several years. AEF, as part of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation ICSA, has called on states to adopt national measures immediately to make up for this gap in climate policy.

Manston Airport approved to open as freight hub

Manston Airport has been given permission to open as a freight hub. This goes against the advice of the inspectorate, which had highlighted that ‘the airport will damage the local economy and impact negatively on the UK’s carbon budget and our commitments to the Paris Agreement’.  

Chair of Ramsgate Coastal Community Team Jenny Dawes is launching an application for judicial review of the decision. She is currently crowdfunding to start the process. 

Government decarbonisation plan

In March, the Government published its decarbonisation plan, designed to represent the ‘first step’ towards a pathway to achieving carbon budgets and net zero emissions across every single mode of transport by 2050.
AEF submitted its response, stressing that aviation must be included in the government plans.

In other news

ICCAN has published its first review of aviation noise metrics and measurements. 

The CCC published its annual progress report in June. AEF was pleased to see its recognition of the need for action on non-CO2 effects of aviation, which in terms of their ability to warm the climate, are approximately equal to that of the sector’s carbon dioxide emissions.

ACOG has published its new report: Remobilising Airspace Change, which ‘highlights the impact of COVID-19 on the current airspace modernisation programme and sets out key recommendations to remobilise the national programme of airspace change’. The Department for Transport and CAA has published a response to the issues raised by ACOG.