Aviation climate targets may drive 3 million hectares of deforestation

Aviation climate targets may drive 3 million hectares of deforestation

SOURCE: Rainforest Foundation Norway DATE: October 1, 2019 SNIP: As the general assembly meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) got underway in Montreal, Rainforest Foundation Norway’s new report ‘Destination deforestation‘ goes into the heated debate about “flight shame” and the role of the aviation sector in contributing to the climate crisis. The report reviews the status of the targets the aviation industry has set for alternative fuels and shows how high the risk is that expanding biofuel use in aviation will cause the last thing the world wants or needs right now: increased deforestation. The aviation industry has set an aspirational goal to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50 percent in 2050 (compared to 2005), without limiting growth. Central to this vision is a near complete shift from conventional jet fuel to alternative aviation fuels. Near total replacement of fossil fuel would be needed to meet this target. A number of technologies are available to produce aviation biofuels, or even to produce aviation fuels from electricity, but the only one of these technologies currently operating at a commercial scale is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process to produce jet fuel from vegetable oils and animal fats. The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation. Unless alternative aviation fuel policies actively support more sustainable options, it is likely that meeting the aviation industry’s aspirations to reduce emissions would lead to a sharp increase in demand for soy and palm oils. The report estimates that meeting the aspirational targets outlined by...
‘Worse Than Anyone Expected’: Air Travel Emissions Vastly Outpace Predictions

‘Worse Than Anyone Expected’: Air Travel Emissions Vastly Outpace Predictions

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: September 19, 2019 SNIP: Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial air travel are growing at a faster clip than predicted in previous, already dire, projections, according to new research — putting pressure on airline regulators to take stronger action as they prepare for a summit next week. The United Nations aviation body forecasts that airplane emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, will reach just over 900 million metric tons in 2018, and then triple by 2050. But the new research, from the International Council on Clean Transportation, found that emissions from global air travel may be increasing more than 1.5 times as fast as the U.N. estimate. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 million flights around the world last year. “Airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel efficient. But we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that,” said Brandon Graver, who led the new study. “The climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected.” Underlying the growth in aviation emissions is the rapid expansion of air travel worldwide, propelled by a proliferation of low-cost airlines and a booming tourism industry catering to a growing middle class. A separate study released this week by the industry group Airports Council International found that the world’s fastest-growing airports were in emerging economies; 12 of the top 30 were in either China or India. The study underscored the heavy carbon-dioxide footprint of domestic flights, often left out of negotiations over global emissions-reduction...
Direct CO2 capture machines could use ‘a quarter of global energy’ in 2100

Direct CO2 capture machines could use ‘a quarter of global energy’ in 2100

SOURCE: CarbonBrief DATE: July 22, 2019 SNIP: Machines that suck CO2 directly from the air could cut the cost of meeting global climate goals, a new study finds, but they would need as much as a quarter of global energy supplies in 2100. The research, published today in Nature Communications, is the first to explore the use of direct air capture (DAC) in multiple computer models. The two DAC technologies included in the study are based on different ways to adsorb CO2 from the air, which are being developed by a number of startup companies around the world. One, typically used in larger industrial-scale facilities such as those being piloted by Canadian firm Carbon Engineering, uses a solution of hydroxide to capture CO2. This mixture must then be heated to high temperatures to release the CO2 so it can be stored and the hydroxide reused. The process uses existing technology and is currently thought to have the lower cost of the two alternatives. The second technology uses amine adsorbents in small, modular reactors such as those being developed by Swiss firm Climeworks. Costs are currently higher, but the potential for savings is thought to be greater, the paper suggests. This is due to the modular design that could be made on an industrial production line, along with lower temperatures needed to release CO2 for storage, meaning waste heat could be used. The energy needed to run direct air capture machines in 2100 is up to 300 exajoules each year, according to the paper. This is more than half of overall global demand today, from all sources, and despite rising...
Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 11, 2019 SNIP: Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report, an influential review of the market, revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. They also resulted in a second consecutive annual increase for coal use, reversing three years of decline earlier this decade. Carbon emissions climbed by 2% in 2018, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy. That level of growth in emissions represents the carbon equivalent of driving an extra 400m combustion engine cars onto the world’s roads, said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist. Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China, India and the US which was in part due to industrial demand, as well as the “weather effect”. This was spurred by an “outsized” energy appetite in the US which recorded the highest number of days with hotter or colder than average days since the 1950s. “On hot days people turn to their air conditioning and fans, on cold days they turn to their heaters. That has a big impact,” Dale...
‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up

‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: May 20, 2019 SNIP: Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners. As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried. “Earthworms are yet another factor that can affect the carbon balance,” Werner Kurz, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria, British Columbia, wrote in an email. His fear is that the growing incursion of earthworms — not just in North America, but also in northern Europe and Russia — could convert the boreal forest, now a powerful global carbon sponge, into a carbon spout. Moreover, the threat is still so new to boreal forests that scientists don’t yet know how to calculate what the earthworms’ carbon effect will be, or when it will appear. “It is a significant change to the carbon dynamic and how we understand it works,” Cindy Shaw, a carbon-research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, said. “We don’t truly understand the rate or the magnitude of that change.” The relationship between carbon and earthworms is complex. Earthworms are beloved by gardeners because they break down organic material in soil, freeing up nutrients. This helps plants and trees grow faster, which locks carbon into living tissue. Some types of invasive...