Tag Archives: Aviation

UK airports must shut to reach 2050 climate target

All UK airports must close by 2050 for the country to reach its target of net zero climate emissions by then, scientists say.

LONDON, 18 February, 2020 − If it is to achieve its target of net zero climate emissions by 2050, all UK airports must close by mid-century and the country will have to make other drastic and fundamental lifestyle changes, says a report from a research group backed by the government in London.

With the UK due to host this year’s round of crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November, a group of academics has embarrassed the British government by showing it has currently no chance of meeting its own legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to nothing within 30 years.

Their report, Absolute Zero, published by the University of Cambridge, says no amount of government or public wishful thinking will hide the fact that the country will not reach zero emissions by 2050 without barely conceivable changes to policies, industrial processes and lifestyles. Its authors include colleagues from five other British universities.

All are members of a group from UK Fires, a research programme sponsored by the UK government, aiming to support a 20% cut in the country’s true emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of its future industrial strategy. The report was paid for under the UK Fires programme.

As well as a temporary halt to flying, the report also says British people cannot go on driving heavier cars and turning up the heating in their homes.

“The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping”

The government, industry and the public, it says, cannot continue to indulge themselves in these ways in the belief that new technologies will somehow save them – everyone will have to work together change their way of life.

Because electric or zero-emission aircraft cannot be developed in time, most British airports will need to close by the end of this decade, and all flying will have to stop by 2050 until non-polluting versions are available.

Electrification of surface transport, rail and road, needs to be rapid, with the phasing out of all development of petrol and diesel cars immediately. Even if all private cars are electric, the amount of traffic will have to fall to 60% of 2020 levels by 2050, and all cars will have to be smaller.

The report also suggests that ships, currently heavy users of fossil fuels, need to convert to electric propulsion in order to allow for necessary imports and exports.

Not enough time

The reasoning behind the report is that technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon capture and storage, will not be developed in time and on a large enough scale to make a difference to emission reductions by 2050.

Nor is it any use exporting energy-intensive industries like steel-making, because the emissions will still take place abroad.

Instead, homegrown industries need to be developed that use no fossil fuels but are powered by electricity. The report says blast furnaces need to be phased out and replaced by existing technologies that recycle steel using renewable electricity.

It calls for public debate and discussion about the lifestyle changes that will be essential. Although such luxuries as flying away on holiday and driving large cars will have to be foregone, and eating beef and lamb curtailed, the scientists say that life could be just as rich as today.

They say: “… sports, social life, eating, hobbies, games, computing, reading, TV, music, radio, volunteering (and sleeping!) We can all do more of these without any impact on emissions”.

Offsets won’t work

They want the public to help by lobbying for airport closures, more trains, no new roads and more renewable electricity.

The report insists that the government should not try to hide any of its emissions by importing goods: “The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping.”

Nor can there be any meaningful “carbon offsets.” The only short-term option we have of reducing emissions – at least by 2050 – is to plant trees. “Even a massive increase in forestry would only have a small effect compared to today’s emissions.”

The authors comment: “There are no invisible solutions to climate change. We urgently need to engage everyone in the process of delivering the changes that will lead to zero emissions.” − Climate News Network

All UK airports must close by 2050 for the country to reach its target of net zero climate emissions by then, scientists say.

LONDON, 18 February, 2020 − If it is to achieve its target of net zero climate emissions by 2050, all UK airports must close by mid-century and the country will have to make other drastic and fundamental lifestyle changes, says a report from a research group backed by the government in London.

With the UK due to host this year’s round of crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November, a group of academics has embarrassed the British government by showing it has currently no chance of meeting its own legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to nothing within 30 years.

Their report, Absolute Zero, published by the University of Cambridge, says no amount of government or public wishful thinking will hide the fact that the country will not reach zero emissions by 2050 without barely conceivable changes to policies, industrial processes and lifestyles. Its authors include colleagues from five other British universities.

All are members of a group from UK Fires, a research programme sponsored by the UK government, aiming to support a 20% cut in the country’s true emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of its future industrial strategy. The report was paid for under the UK Fires programme.

As well as a temporary halt to flying, the report also says British people cannot go on driving heavier cars and turning up the heating in their homes.

“The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping”

The government, industry and the public, it says, cannot continue to indulge themselves in these ways in the belief that new technologies will somehow save them – everyone will have to work together change their way of life.

Because electric or zero-emission aircraft cannot be developed in time, most British airports will need to close by the end of this decade, and all flying will have to stop by 2050 until non-polluting versions are available.

Electrification of surface transport, rail and road, needs to be rapid, with the phasing out of all development of petrol and diesel cars immediately. Even if all private cars are electric, the amount of traffic will have to fall to 60% of 2020 levels by 2050, and all cars will have to be smaller.

The report also suggests that ships, currently heavy users of fossil fuels, need to convert to electric propulsion in order to allow for necessary imports and exports.

Not enough time

The reasoning behind the report is that technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon capture and storage, will not be developed in time and on a large enough scale to make a difference to emission reductions by 2050.

Nor is it any use exporting energy-intensive industries like steel-making, because the emissions will still take place abroad.

Instead, homegrown industries need to be developed that use no fossil fuels but are powered by electricity. The report says blast furnaces need to be phased out and replaced by existing technologies that recycle steel using renewable electricity.

It calls for public debate and discussion about the lifestyle changes that will be essential. Although such luxuries as flying away on holiday and driving large cars will have to be foregone, and eating beef and lamb curtailed, the scientists say that life could be just as rich as today.

They say: “… sports, social life, eating, hobbies, games, computing, reading, TV, music, radio, volunteering (and sleeping!) We can all do more of these without any impact on emissions”.

Offsets won’t work

They want the public to help by lobbying for airport closures, more trains, no new roads and more renewable electricity.

The report insists that the government should not try to hide any of its emissions by importing goods: “The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping.”

Nor can there be any meaningful “carbon offsets.” The only short-term option we have of reducing emissions – at least by 2050 – is to plant trees. “Even a massive increase in forestry would only have a small effect compared to today’s emissions.”

The authors comment: “There are no invisible solutions to climate change. We urgently need to engage everyone in the process of delivering the changes that will lead to zero emissions.” − Climate News Network

Flight paths are set to get bumpier

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE As growing carbon dioxide emissions continue to warm the climate, more aircraft are likely to encounter turbulence in flight, meaning bumpier and perhaps longer journeys for passengers, scientists say. LONDON, 9 April – Airline passengers – and airlines too – could be in for a rough ride as the decades pass and the world warms. Two British scientists have asked the question literally uppermost in the minds of transatlantic flight planners: what difference will global warming make to atmospheric turbulence? Clear air turbulence is an enduring problem for commercial aircraft: pilots cannot see it coming, it doesn’t reflect signals to onboard radar, and satellite monitors cannot detect it. Pilots however encounter moderate or uncomfortable clear air turbulence at least one per cent of cruise time. This adds up to tens of thousands of bumpy episodes each year, and hundreds of passengers who didn’t fasten their seatbelts in time may be injured. Clear air turbulence is calculated to cost airlines £100 million ($150 million) a year in delays and damage, and although air crew and passengers have been facing such discomforts almost since the invention of flight 110 years ago, the mechanisms of turbulence are still, in that famously enigmatic scientific phrase, “not fully understood.” But Paul Williams of the University of Reading and Manoj Joshi of the University of East Anglia report in Nature Climate Change that they decided to look at computer models to see whether climate change would make a difference. Turbulence is linked to atmospheric jet streams and these are likely to be strengthened by man-made global warming. Since, right now, climate scientists cannot predict episodes of turbulence in particular latitudes at identifiable altitudes, the researchers could reach only very general conclusions.

“Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate in the first place”

And since the factors involved in churning up flows of air are the subject of serious academic debate, they had a lot of possibilities to consider and at least 20 different units of measurement to factor into their models – technicalities like the magnitude of vertical shear of horizontal wind, flow deformation and simple wind speed, and highly specialised meteorological considerations such as the negative Richardson number, and the Brown energy dissipation rate. They also had to consider the air traffic lanes between Europe and the Americas, the changes according to season, and the projected rates of increase in carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. They decided to focus on the case for winter flights, because that is when turbulence is at its peak. They found that at typical cruise altitudes in the northern half of the North Atlantic corridor in winter, most of their diagnostics showed between 10% and 40% increase in median strength of turbulence, and a 40% to 170% increase in the frequency of episodes of moderate or greater turbulence. So the airplanes that significantly increase the potential for global warming will also be affected by global warming. “We conclude that climate change will lead to bumpier transatlantic flights by the middle of this century, assuming the same flight tracks are used”, they report. “Observational evidence suggests that this increase in bumpiness has already begun. “Flight paths may need to become more convoluted to avoid patches of turbulence that are stronger and more frequent, in which case journey times will lengthen and fuel consumption and emissions will increase, in the same season and location that contrails have their largest climatic impact.” Finally, they say, any increase in clear air turbulence would have important implications for large-scale atmospheric circulation, because clear air turbulence contributes significantly to exchanges between the stratosphere and the lower atmosphere. “Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate in the first place”, said Dr Williams. “It is ironic that the climate looks set to exact its revenge by creating a more turbulent atmosphere for flying.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE As growing carbon dioxide emissions continue to warm the climate, more aircraft are likely to encounter turbulence in flight, meaning bumpier and perhaps longer journeys for passengers, scientists say. LONDON, 9 April – Airline passengers – and airlines too – could be in for a rough ride as the decades pass and the world warms. Two British scientists have asked the question literally uppermost in the minds of transatlantic flight planners: what difference will global warming make to atmospheric turbulence? Clear air turbulence is an enduring problem for commercial aircraft: pilots cannot see it coming, it doesn’t reflect signals to onboard radar, and satellite monitors cannot detect it. Pilots however encounter moderate or uncomfortable clear air turbulence at least one per cent of cruise time. This adds up to tens of thousands of bumpy episodes each year, and hundreds of passengers who didn’t fasten their seatbelts in time may be injured. Clear air turbulence is calculated to cost airlines £100 million ($150 million) a year in delays and damage, and although air crew and passengers have been facing such discomforts almost since the invention of flight 110 years ago, the mechanisms of turbulence are still, in that famously enigmatic scientific phrase, “not fully understood.” But Paul Williams of the University of Reading and Manoj Joshi of the University of East Anglia report in Nature Climate Change that they decided to look at computer models to see whether climate change would make a difference. Turbulence is linked to atmospheric jet streams and these are likely to be strengthened by man-made global warming. Since, right now, climate scientists cannot predict episodes of turbulence in particular latitudes at identifiable altitudes, the researchers could reach only very general conclusions.

“Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate in the first place”

And since the factors involved in churning up flows of air are the subject of serious academic debate, they had a lot of possibilities to consider and at least 20 different units of measurement to factor into their models – technicalities like the magnitude of vertical shear of horizontal wind, flow deformation and simple wind speed, and highly specialised meteorological considerations such as the negative Richardson number, and the Brown energy dissipation rate. They also had to consider the air traffic lanes between Europe and the Americas, the changes according to season, and the projected rates of increase in carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. They decided to focus on the case for winter flights, because that is when turbulence is at its peak. They found that at typical cruise altitudes in the northern half of the North Atlantic corridor in winter, most of their diagnostics showed between 10% and 40% increase in median strength of turbulence, and a 40% to 170% increase in the frequency of episodes of moderate or greater turbulence. So the airplanes that significantly increase the potential for global warming will also be affected by global warming. “We conclude that climate change will lead to bumpier transatlantic flights by the middle of this century, assuming the same flight tracks are used”, they report. “Observational evidence suggests that this increase in bumpiness has already begun. “Flight paths may need to become more convoluted to avoid patches of turbulence that are stronger and more frequent, in which case journey times will lengthen and fuel consumption and emissions will increase, in the same season and location that contrails have their largest climatic impact.” Finally, they say, any increase in clear air turbulence would have important implications for large-scale atmospheric circulation, because clear air turbulence contributes significantly to exchanges between the stratosphere and the lower atmosphere. “Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate in the first place”, said Dr Williams. “It is ironic that the climate looks set to exact its revenge by creating a more turbulent atmosphere for flying.” – Climate News Network