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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Further Airbus complaint - that 2% claim again

I wish to complain about the Airbus “Green Wave” web page that is again erroneously presenting Airbus as an environmentally benign organisation.

The essence of this advert is that “Aviation contributes 2 per cent to man-made CO2” which is small in relation to deforestation and power generation. The implication being that we should do nothing to aviation as a CO2 source and concentrate instead on biodiversity.

However the proposition of doing nothing to the aviation industry, is false for the reasons set out below:-

1. Emissions from aviation are rapidly growing. The advert fundamentally fails to address this.

2. Man made emissions are rapidly growing, so taking 2% of a rapidly growing total, means that the proportion in consideration is also growing. To be precise the advert should have quoted the year on year growth in CO2 emissions.

3. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut to virtually zero to avoid runway climate change as the planet’s CO2 levels are already well into the danger zone.

4. The 2% figure does not include radiative forcing effects from aviation. This increases the global warming effectiveness of the CO2 by a factor of 2 to 5.

5. The exhausts emissions from plans have high NOx gas concentrations. The warming effect of these gases is up to 200 times more powerful that CO2.

6. By comparing their emissions with other bigger sources such as deforestation, Airbus are effectively making the moral comparison that it is okay to rob corner shops because other people rob banks. It is well known that deforestation emissions have risen enormously and that it is a priority to stop this. However, this is not a reason to allow aviation to continue emitting. It is actually a reason for aviation to be curtailed, as the earth’s climate system is under more stress and less able to sequestrate aviation’s emissions.

7. A major factor towards deforestation is the rush for biofuels which the aviation industry is pushing as a false solution to man made CO2 emissions, e.g. Air New Zealand is using Jatrophia.

8. The 2% figure the advert quotes does not include the emissions resulting from the extraction and refining of the crude oil. Typically for every 3 barrels of crude produced and converted to a finished product, 1 barrel is needed to cover the energy associated with refining and production.

9. The 2% figure does not include the emissions from the unsustainable industries that aviation subsequently supports such as tourism, cash crops grown in the third world, etc.

10. Estimates show 80% of aviation travel is discretionary and can be eliminated with no immediate hardship. However, loss of power is critical to the functioning of our civilisation.

11. The power industry is being forced to pursue renewable power generation and carbon capture technologies. The costs associated with these will be paid for by premiums on everyone’s electricity bills, causing significant hardship to the poor. However, the rich are being actively encouraged to continue flying. Effectively the cost of cleaning up the emissions of the rich falls to the poor, as it does not matter to the climate what the source of the emissions is.

Given the points, the correct statement from Airbus should have been “Aviations emissions are growing and will continue grow as this sector develops. Aviation causes direct and indirect emissions. When the indirect emissions are included, aviation’s contribution to greenhouse gases is far higher than 2% of the total. This is happening at a time when runway climate change has started and all the credible scientific opinion in the world concludes that cuts greater than 80% are needed in greenhouse gas emissions. Runaway climate change is the biggest threat to the planet’s biodiversity.”

I trust that along with other the other ongoing complaints against Airbus adverts, you will also force Airbus to address this deliberately erroneous statement on their web site.
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