Airlines stall in tackling climate change

The aviation sector accounts for two percent of world greenhouse gas emissions. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 March 2019
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Airlines stall in tackling climate change

  • More fuel-efficient planes, wider use of biofuels and ensuring that planes fly at full capacity would help to limit emissions
  • Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, almost 200 governments agreed to cut emissions to help avert more floods, droughts and rising sea levels

OSLO: Airlines are doing too little in the fight against global warming, a study funded by investors with $13 trillion of assets under management said on Tuesday.
The fast-growing sector accounts for two percent of world greenhouse gas emissions and should do more to manage risks of climate change, the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) said in a review of 20 of the world’s biggest listed airlines.
It rated Delta, Lufthansa, United Airlines and ANA Holdings as the best performers at managing the business risks and opportunities of climate change. But all could do more.
“Investors have a clear message to the aviation sector: When it comes to carbon performance they must be in it for the long haul,” said Faith Ward, co-chair of the TPI on behalf of the British Environment Agency Pension Fund.
“Investors do care ... it’s about encouraging disclosure so we can make informed decisions,” she told Reuters.
TPI, which seeks to assess the performance of businesses in cutting carbon, groups 40 investors with $13 trillion under management, including BNP Paribas and Legal & General Investment Management. Its research is by the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute.
More fuel-efficient planes, wider use of biofuels and ensuring that planes fly at full capacity would help to limit emissions.
TPI separately said easyJet and Alaska Air now had the most efficient fleets among the top 20 listed airlines, judged by their emissions per passenger kilometer flown.
At the other end of that scale, ANA, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines have the highest emissions intensities, it said.
Lead author Professor Simon Dietz of the Grantham Research Institute said some airlines had adopted broad industry goals to cap net carbon emissions at 2020 levels, or to halve net emissions by 2050 from 2005 levels.
But that focus on net emissions often meant airlines could buy permits to emit carbon dioxide, rather than make cuts themselves.
“The issue is that we don’t know how much they are going to reduce their own flight emissions compared to buying offsets,” he told Reuters.
Dietz also said there were other effects of aviation apart from carbon dioxide that need more research. Contrails, for instance, may can cause high-level clouds that trap heat.
Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, almost 200 governments agreed to cut emissions to help avert more floods, droughts and rising sea levels. They promised to “enhance public and private sector participation” in cutting emissions.


Italy endorses China’s Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

Updated 25 min 42 sec ago
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Italy endorses China’s Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

ROME: Italy endorsed China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan on Saturday, becoming the first major Western power to back the initiative to help revive the struggling Italian economy.
Saturday’s signing ceremony was the highlight of a three-day trip to Italy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the two nations boosting their ties at a time when the United States is locked in a trade war with China.
The rapprochement has angered Washington and alarmed some European Union allies, who fear it could see Beijing gain access to sensitive technologies and critical transport hubs.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio played down such concerns, telling reporters that although Rome remained fully committed to its Western partners, it had to put Italy first when it came to commercial ties.
“This is a very important day for us, a day when Made-in-Italy has won, Italy has won and Italian companies have won,” said Di Maio, who signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Italian government in a Renaissance villa.
Taking advantage of Xi’s visit, Italian firms inked deals with Chinese counterparts worth an initial 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion). Di Maio said these contracts had a potential, future value of 20 billion euros.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) lies at the heart of China’s foreign policy strategy and was incorporated into the ruling Communist Party constitution in 2017, reflecting Xi’s desire for his country to take a global leadership role.
The United States worries that it is designed to strengthen China’s military influence and could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.
WARM WELCOME
Italy’s populist government, anxious to lift the economy out of its third recession in a decade, dismissed calls from Washington to shun the BRI and gave Xi the sort of red-carpet welcome normally reserved for its closest allies.
Some EU leaders also cautioned Italy this week against rushing into the arms of China, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying on Friday that relations with Beijing must not be based primarily on trade.
There was not even universal backing for the BRI agreement within Italy’s ruling coalition, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League, warning against the risk of China “colonialising” Italian markets.
Salvini did not meet Xi and declined to attend a state dinner held in honor of the visiting leader on Friday.
Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star Movement, says Italy is merely playing catch up, pointing to the fact that it exports significantly less to China than either Germany or France.
Italy registered a trade deficit with China of 17.6 billion euros last year and Di Maio said the aim was to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible.
After talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio in the morning, Xi flew to the Sicilian city Palermo for a private visit on Saturday afternoon.
He is due to head to Monte Carlo on Sunday before finishing his brief tour of Europe in France, where he is due to hold talks with Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.