EC-commissaris DImas: "Het is tijd voor de luchtvaartsector om mee bij te dragen aan het gevecht tegen klimaatverandering"

Greenskies Newsletter August 2005


A public internet consultation conducted by the European Commission has shown broad support among the aviation industry, NGOs and citizens for taking action to limit the aviation sector¹s growing impact on climate change. The results of the two-month consultation are published today. The Commission is also publishing a new study which shows that it would be feasible to include airlines in the EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme. This is one of the options that the Commission is considering as it prepares to put forward an EU strategy for tackling aviation¹s contribution to climate change. This strategy is scheduled for after the summer break.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "the message from the many citizens and organisations who expressed their views is very clear: it is time for the air transport sector to start contributing to the fight against climate change. And there is an understanding and acceptance that this must happen even if it may lead to a modest rise in ticket prices"²

Only 13% did not agree that increasing the price of air transport would be acceptable if it is necessary to reduce its impact. Organisations such as airports,  airlines and NGOs also believe that action is required: 99.5% of respondents fully or rather agreed that the air transport sector should be included in efforts to mitigate climate change, although opinions differ on how this should be done. (EU-press release 29 July 2005)


The Commission is currently looking at the options available and in particular those which can strengthen airlines¹ economic incentive to reduce emissions. To complement previous studies on fuel taxation and emissions charges, the Commission had a study carried out into the possibility of including aviation in the EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The study, whose final report is published today, shows that including aviation in the ETS would be feasible. It analyses different possibilities for doing so and gives indications of the possible impacts. It shows that flights from the EU to non-EU countries are responsible for more than 60% of all emissions from aircraft taking off from EU airports. The study concludes that it would be legally possible for the EU to include these emissions in the scheme provided that all aircraft operators are treated in the same way, regardless of nationality.

Both reports are available at :


Tourism is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, mainly as a result of air travel.  Aviation is generally exempt from taxation and is therefore in a favorable position compared with other transport modes.
For equity reasons as well as to internalize external costs it has been called for the introduction of taxes or charges on air travel, for example in the form of a Value Added Tax on international tickets, a charge on kerosene or on emissions. Depending on price-elasticities, such taxes or charges could lead to a decrease in demand for air travel or behavioral shifts, such as substitution to land-based transport modes, trip suppression or changing travel patterns. Recent research on air travelers in Sweden, New Zealand and The Netherlands shows, however, that tourists are not fully aware of the cost of air travel (real and external costs, especially in the case of low-cost carriers), and their sensitivity to price increases is low (in stated preference research).
Interviewed tourists were prepared to pay a carbon charge to mitigate environmental costs, but they were not inclined to stop traveling. The studies identified a general lack of knowledge about how air travel impacts on the environment and for this reason it appears that any introduction of economic instruments on air travel would need to be underpinned by social measures to ensure acceptance of those instruments with the general public.
Stefan Gössling, Susanne Becken, Paul Peeters
(mail for details to


Privatizing the aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody could well turn out to be a gold mine for its new owner. Debt-ridden  Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody proposed  (just before the announcement of a public tender) a project turning its testing aerodrome into an international airport over the next couple of years.

"We're planning to open an airport, but it'll be up to the new owner to tackle how to do it," said Aero's spokesman Vítezslav Kulich.
Although the tender for Aero has yet to be declared, the company's aerodrome could be even more of a major lure to potential suitors than the manufacturing facilities, reported the Czech business daily Hospodárské noviny.
"We do support further development of airport infrastructure in this country," said the ministry's spokeswoman, Marcela Svejnohová.

A new international airport in Vodochody would bring the number of international airports in the country to six.
Vodochody is located about 13 kilometers (8 miles) north of Prague's city center, and thus could become a major competitor for the main Czech international airport in Ruzyne, which is 10 kilometers west of the city center.
Other Czech international airports are located in Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary and Pardubice.
"Ruzyne is getting overcrowded. In the first six months of this year,
Ruzyne Airport cleared 4.9 million passengers, a growth of 15 percent against the same period last year, said CSL spokeswoman Anna Kovaríková.
In June alone, the number of passengers was 14 percent higher than last year and a record number of 1.1 million passengers passed through Ruzyne's gates, she added. CSL's deputy CEO Hlousek said more than 10 million passengers were expected at Ruzyne this year.


The guides have been produced as a result of the UK Government's requirement that all major airports produce an Airport  Master Plan.
Although they are particularly relevant to groups in the UK, they may provide a good resource for other local campaigners in  the rest of Europe.

The first guide is aimed at enabling campaigners to prevent the airport's Master Plan from being incorporated into the local planning system. This can be found at

The second guide is a template to allow local campaigners to produce their own Airport Master Plan which will raise the environmental, social and economic arguments about airport expansion. This is two parts - a template where local campaigners can fill in the gaps with the necessary information
( and an action guide which explains how to fill in the gaps and adds further information on all of the issues


Frankfurt airport is planning to invest 3.4 billion Euro in a new runway and a third terminal to grow from 477 to 660 thousand flights a year.
More than 127 thousand residents filed complaints. One of the complaints is that proposed flight paths cross the Ticona chemical plant. The state government favours these paths because other flight paths are over residential areas, causing more noise problems.
Airport company Fraport is already starting to by houses under (proposed) flight paths and to make compensation payments (Oausgleichszahlungen¹) to residents. In return these have to promise not to go to court to try to stop the expansion of the airport.
Recently Fraport was allowed to build halls for the A380. Judges decided that economical arguments are in this case more important than plants an animals in the forest that will be destroyed. More on


Angry residents blasted aircraft noise from a sound system outside the home of BA boss Rod Eddington at 5am this morning.  Campaigners against night flights paid an early morning visit to Rod Eddington¹s home in the normally quiet Berkshire village of Shurlock Row.  Their visit was timed to coincide with British Airways AGM which takes place today.

The protesters rigged up a sound system outside the BA Chief Executive's two and a half million pound house and blasted out aircraft noise for 15 minutes.  The campaigners, dressed in pyjamas, apologised to other residents of the village who came out of their homes to complain about the noise.

HACAN ClearSkies Chair, John Stewart, who accompanied the campaigners said, "Residents under the flight path wanted to say farewell to Rod Eddington by giving him a taste of his own medicine.  The majority of night flights using Heathrow are operated by British Airways or one of its subsidiary companies. And BA is amongst the strongest supporters of night flights.' Stewart added,' The campaigners have apologised to the other residents of the village who were woken up by the noise, but added the noise was less loud than the planes they have to put up with every night.  Rod Eddington¹s legacy to residents under the flight path has been one of countless sleepless nights."


The thorny issue of climate change has left most airlines bending over backwards to sound green. But Europe's largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair, has dismissed its environmentally nervous rivals as "lemmings".
Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, has refused to support an industry-wide effort to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Asked yesterday what he would say to travellers worried about the environment, he replied: "I'd say, sell your car and walk."

This week, airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Flybe and First Choice, formed a sustainable aviation group aimed at cracking down on pollution, noise and harmful emissions.

Mr O'Leary said Ryanair would not be joining: "A lot of members of the sustainable aviation group won't be around in 10 years' time - that'll be their main contribution to sustainable aviation."
He described the coalition as an example of "high-fare airlines getting together to pursue policies blocking competition," adding: "The sustainable aviation group, God help us, is another bunch of lemmings shuffling towards a cliff edge."

Aircraft account for about 5% of carbon dioxide emissions and air travel is forecast to double within 25 years. There are fears that cheap flights could hamper efforts to fulfil Britain's commitments agreed at the Kyoto summit in tackling climate change. The aviation industry favours an emissions trading scheme, allowing airlines to buy and sell carbon dioxide allocations. But Mr O'Leary said such a scheme amounted to a plot by airlines such as British Airways to punish rapidly growing rivals.

"British Airways won't be growing its existing emission levels because it's going nowhere - it's shrinking," he said. "We will be increasing our emissions over the next few years simply through growth in traffic." Roger Wiltshire, director general of the British Air Transport Association, said: "They obviously don't want to engage in a debate over the environment, which is rather sad."

Environmentalists were less circumspect. Jeff Gazzard, of the GreenSkies Alliance, said: "Michael O'Leary is a recidivist, serial polluter and he should be arrested for crimes against the climate."
(Andrew Clark, transport correspondent, The Guardian)


An advert for low cost airline Ryanair which refers to the London bombings has received almost 200 complaints.
It features Winston Churchill saying: "We shall fly them to the beaches, we shall fly them to the hills, we shall fly them to London!"

The Advertising Standards Authority has received 192 complaints that it was crass or offensive and is considering whether to investigate. But Ryanair said it was stimulating the tourism market after the attacks.
(BBC News)

- - - Special thanks to Todd Edelmann for spotting news stories and VCD for the news from Germany!


Nieuwsbrief juni


Dear aviation campaigners,

In this June newsletter a lot on aviation and climate change, an important topic this (Green) Week, and a story about the new Airbus.

best wishes, Evert Hassink


During Green week, this Wednesday, NGO's presented a report on the climate impact of aviation, a joint NGO position and an inflatable Carbon Dinosaur to European Environment Commissioner Dimas.
- For pictures and the report "Growth in Flights Will Wreck Climate Change Targets" see
- For position paper "Measures to Curb the Climate Change Impacts of Aviation", see

Aviation companies were not impressed. They argued "hasty is nasty", as they believe that talking about measures in international organisations is a sufficient way of taking responsibility for climate change...


The aviation sector will likely join the European Union's emissions trading scheme to tackle pollution rather than face a fuel tax, the EU's environment chief said on Tuesday. The European Commission is currently studying three options for dealing with aviation emissions, inclusion in emissions trading, a fuel tax or extra ticket charges.

"It is the most probable to be approved -- to be proposed and approved," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told a news conference, referring to the inclusion of aviation in the EU's emission trading scheme.

But he said airlines were unlikely to join the landmark system by 2012, when the first time period covered by the climate change treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol ends. "It will be difficult to do it before, but we shall try."

The EU launched its emissions trading system in January. The scheme sets limits on the amount of carbon dioxide (C02) energy-intensive installations like power plants can emit and allows them to buy or sell allowances that give them the right to release the main gas blamed for global warming.

European airports and some major airlines -- including British Airways -- have come out in favour of an inclusion in the system, saying it would be more beneficial to the environment than a tax.The Commission's report on aviation is due in June or July, Dimas said, and a final decision would not be made until then.
(Jeff Mason, Planet Ark)


Tackling the impact of aviation on climate change solely by including it in the EU's greenhouse gas emission trading scheme would be a "grave error", according to an advisory body set up by the European Commission's transport and energy directorates.

"It is rather doubtful that, in the short-term, inclusion in the scheme would have much, if any, impact on aviation's emissions," says a report from the European transport and energy forum.  The forum was created in 2001 and is dominated by industry and trade union figures.
Environment Daily 17/05/05


Jos Dings of the European Federation for Transport and Environment and Roy Griffins of Airports Council International, Europe debate the issues surrounding climate change and aviation. The aviation industry's contribution to climate change is high on the European political agenda.
For campaigners who have been working for several years on the issue, this fact is a major step forward.

Emissions trading will just enable the sector to buy emission reductions at a low price from other sectors. And that is why a package of measures are needed whereby en-route emissions charges and/or taxes also play a role, in addition to measures to end VAT exemptions.
Read more on:


Environmental campaigners present managers at Bristol International Airport (BIA) with a `bill' for the environmental cost of aviation today (Thursday 19th May). It warns the airport management that by increasing flights they will be increasing their contribution to climate change.

Friends of the Earth campaigners drew up the bill following comments from Andrew Skipp (Managing Director of BIA) in March when he said that: "Bristol International Airport is prepared to pay its environmental costs."

The bill shows BIA already causes more carbon dioxide to be emitted than all the cars in Bristol, or the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes for every Bristol resident. It would need a forest eight times bigger than Bristol to absorb this much carbon dioxide. Bristol Friends of the Earth is querying whether BIA. is really going to pay to fix this damage to the environment?

The airport has said that it is planning to double the number of passengers by 2020, which will mean a doubling of these climate damaging emissions. Bristol Friends of the Earth says this is madness when we are trying to reduce the effect we have on the climate.

Other current unpaid costs are increasing aircraft noise over a wider area and growing road traffic on the A38 and rural roads. Future costs will involve destruction of countryside by the construction of more roads to support traffic associated with the BIA expansion.


Airbus claims its new A380 is a cleaner way to fly. Hans Volkhoff investigates (The Guardian 4, 2005)

Test flight engineer Fernando Alonso looked relaxed when he said goodbye to Airbus chief executive Noël Forgeard last week before boarding the A380 for its four-hour maiden flight from Toulouse. As 30,000 people waited to see the giant double-decker take off, he said: "This is a routine test flight. . . the only difference is, we're taking the biggest weight in civil aviation into the air."

When people talk about the A380, it is usually in superlatives.
According to Airbus, the plane is the biggest, the quietest, the most innovative, and the most fuel-efficient of the large European Airbus family. The company calls it the "green giant" and maintains it is "environmentally friendly".

According to the company's marketing director, Richard Carcaillet, the A380 is the answer to the continuing growth of air traffic, and the best solution to congestion at major hubs and airports. It will allow airlines to deal with the rapidly growing number of passengers without increasing the environmental impact.

But there are many ways of comparing and interpreting Airbus's noise and efficiency statistics. According to the company, the noise "footprint" of the plane at 85 decibels is about a third less than that of the Boeing 747-400's < roughly 7km long, measured from the starting point at the runway. "This is achieved while we have 30% more passengers on board. Generally speaking, the A380 produces half the noise of a 747," says Carcaillet.

However, Jan Fransen, aviation specialist of the Dutch environmental organisation Nature and Environment (SNM), says Airbus's comparison with the Boeing 747-400 is questionable. "The 747 is by far the noisiest plane in the sky, and we're delighted that more and more airlines are replacing it with the quieter 777. It would make more sense to compare the A380 with this newer Boeing," he says. "If the noise footprint of the A380 stays within the limits of the B777, it would be a remarkable achievement. But we won't know this until we receive the full figures on the A380."

"It's sales talk", says John Stewart, chair of the Heathrow pressure group Hacan Clear Skies. "Behind the glamour lies the reality for residents. This plane will be one of the noisiest beasts in the sky. The fact that Airbus considers it to be a quiet plane is ridiculous. The A380 will just about meet the new International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO] norms, which will be introduced in 2006."

Last week, many commentators remarked that the aircraft seemed remarkably quiet on its take-off and landing, although this may have been partly due to the fact that it took off next to empty. According to Airbus, it weighed 420 tonnes at take-off, compared to roughly 560 tonnes when laden with 555 passengers. "Adding 140 tons of weight, for petrol and passengers, would make a huge difference. Possibly up to five decibels, which is enormous", says Fransen.

Carcaillet also says the A380 is more efficient. According to the company's advertising slogans for the aircraft: "Per passenger/kilometre it uses less petrol than a modern diesel car like the Volkswagen Lupo: less than three litres per hundred kilometres." But Carcaillet admits that this is only true if the plane is fully booked with 555 passengers on a non-stop long-distance flight. In reality, he says, most aircraft are only 75% fully laden.

Despite all the new technology, the A380 is only 12% more fuel efficient per passenger kilometre than the Boeing-747, which was designed 40 years ago. "Twelve per cent is very disappointing," says Fransen. "With all the new materials that are used to keep the weight down, one would expect a much bigger environmental gain."

Fransen is also disturbed that the plane is still so polluting.
"Aircraft engines have become more fuel efficient but they now produce more nitrogen oxide (NOx), due to higher compression and higher combustion temperatures. At higher altitudes NOx leads to the production of extra ozone and thus contributes to global warming. Despite tighter NOx norms and the environmental benefits of fuel efficiency, NOx emissions are still much too high."

Airbus frequently quotes BAA's Eryl Smith, planning director at Heathrow airport, who says the A380 is the best solution for the congested London airport because it "allows more passengers without extra flights".
Heathrow is the first airport to be ready for the A380 and is investing more than £450m in runway and taxiway widening, as well as a new pier for Terminal 3, and double-jetty passenger ramps.

Both Fransen and Stewart say the A380 is not a solution for congestion and will only contribute to air traffic growth, which is expected to double in the next 10 years. "People will travel even further for their holidays or business meetings, which leads to more pollution per journey," says Fransen.

"One shouldn't measure pollution per passenger/kilometre any more, but per passenger/hour. We don't necessarily spend more time travelling, but we travel much further in that time."