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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Sustainable avaition consultation and the threat to democracy

Letter to No. 10 Downing Street in response to the government decision not to proceed with the sustainable aviation consultation.

Dear Mr. Cameron,

Ref: Aviation consultation.
After spending considerable time preparing a submission for the Sustainable Aviation consultation on behalf of Plane Stupid and People and Planet, it is with horror and rage that I read in the press this weekend your government is not going to publish the result of its consultation because, according the FT, “the question is being handed over to an independent commission.”
If you decide not to publish the conclusions from your government’s year long study into the future of aviation, you are saying to the public that we should never again bother wasting our time engaging with any public consultation exercises, because when those in power do not like the result they will simply change the rules.

The aviation debate is of such importance that it must be resolved through our elected representatives, irrespective of how messy and distasteful this becomes. To delegate this to an independent commissioner says that our elected representatives are of no importance, and by inference the process of voting is a wasted effort. You should be fearful of what happens when you undermine the process of governance and democracy, especially as we enter hard times ahead and when we are already seeing the strains on our society.

Any proposition that the commission will be independent is nonsense. The commissioners will no doubt be powerful leaders of businesses, aviation and finance companies that have vested interests in expanding aviation. I am prepared to bet that no credible climate change experts or representatives from local communities that stand to be destroyed will be invited to the commission. Your commission will only be independent in as much that it will be independent of any environmental consideration.

We met with Theresa Villiers MP and the Department for Transport in July 2011 and were encouraged to make submissions to your consultation. We were assured of a fair and transparent process that would fully consider all evidence submitted. The Department for Transport presented their strategy for making aviation sustainable by controlling greenhouse gases through a combination of biofuels, carbon trading and new technological innovation. My report totally discredited all these approaches. Its “unpalatable conclusions” were:
  1. The strategies of introducing new technology, biofuels and carbon trading which form the basis of the sustainable framework document will not deliver any reduction in aviation greenhouse gas emissions. This is an unacceptable position given the critical risk that humanity faces due to the unsustainable build up of greenhouse gases.
  2. Aviation emissions can only be reduced by imposing a strict ceiling on plane movements or aviation fuel sales. This ceiling must then be reduced in line with the objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 80%.
  3. The principle objective of the Department for Transport should be to work with other equivalent departments in other countries to implement similar policies (as point 2) and to find ways to reduce demand for transport.
  4. The Department of Transport will have to show considerable courage to stand up to the advertising and lobbying campaigns that the aviation industry has already launched to subvert any movement towards recognising and taking action on climate change. The legal definition of fraud should be reviewed and test cases implemented against companies that make blatantly false environmental claims.
  5. The final adjudication that the government makes must take cognisance of the impact that rising oil prices will have on both the long term viability of the aviation industry and the full risk of wider instabilities in society and in the international arena.
  6. The forced reduction in aviation will fundamentally change the economic model and philosophies that our society has built on by forcing a clear acknowledgement that economic growth cannot continue indefinitely and limits have been reached. As such, this consultation must be integrated with the debate on the introduction of individual carbon rations or the imposition of a carbon tax, where the receipts are distributed directly to the population as advocated by James Hanson.
  7. It will not be possible to achieve the large reductions in aviation within the debt based economic system that we operate today. However, to maintain the existing growth based system will result in large scale impoverishment of society, climate collapse and war.
I can only conclude that your decision to move to an independent commission and not publish the results of your consultation is to avoid addressing the points that I raised in my submission.

The rapidly unfolding events since preparing this report underline all the above: The rate of melting of the Arctic Ice cap far exceeds the worst scenarios of the IPCC report of 2007, with the real prospect of an ice free ocean by 2015 leading to the collapse of the climatic stability upon which we have built our fragile civilisation. Syria is enmeshed in civil war following the destruction of its economic stability after a prolonged drought wiped out 85% of its live stock and converted a wheat exporting nation to a wheat importing nation at the mercy of world food prices. World food production is in a state of collapse following extreme droughts and floods. The list goes on.

It is against this background that you and your government continue in a state of blind hubris to believe airports should be built to cater for the holiday needs of a society in 2050, which in all likelihood will have ceased to exist by that time, and you will pervert the processes of governance to ensure this happens. These policies of hell bent expansion in defiance of blatantly evident limits to growth make our democracy as illegitimate as a dictatorship hell bent on expansion through force of arms.

You need to recognise that we now live in a new age where we are systematically learning that the glories of our past are being exposed as lies in all their dirt and gore. We now know our banks operated fraudulently, that we went to war on fraudulent claims and that top athletes like Lance Armstrong cheated. They all crashed, destroying themselves and many innocent people in the process. However, the biggest lie is still being played out; it is the one that you are continuing, which is that we can make a better future by destroying what is left of our environment. Your lie like every other will crash taking many innocent victims with it. When our system of governance ignores the science and calls to reason; persecutes those that protest peacefully, you might want to wonder what the prospective victims are left with and what they should do.

Yours sincerely

Kevin Lister

Monday, August 20, 2012

Complaint to the common standards committee again Neil Carmichael MP

20th August, 2012
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (the Commissioner)
The House of Commons

Dear Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (the Commissioner),

Subject: Complaint against Neil Carmichael MP

Neil Carmichael has steadfastly refused to respond to emails and correspondence I have sent him on matters of supreme importance to the future of this nation and the global community. In doing so he is violating the following clauses of the “Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct ofMPs

The breaches of specific clauses are outlined below: 

Clause III.  Public Duties of Members
6. Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.

Breach 1

I have asked that he raise the question in parliament of the carbon budget associated with the decision to proceed with Trident.  At present the government is working towards the "Low Carbon Transition Plan" which was issued in the last parliament. A key commitment of this was "that all major decisions would be subject to a carbon audit." This position has been echoed in other documents and position statements of this administration.

The decision that we take on our nuclear deterrence is the most major decision of all. Its construction, operation, defense and our subsequent response to adversary nations who are forced to respond in kind requires massive military industrial complexes that are energy hungry and require expanding economies to fund.  As well as having enormous implications for this country, it forces our competitor nations to reciprocate and makes a dangerous situation on climate change much worse. 

I had previously written to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on this topic, copying the correspondence to Neil Carmichael, requesting that they commit to preparing a carbon budget for Trident and incorporate Trident with climate change talks. They refused. This makes a mockery of all statements and positions that the government takes on climate change. It is hard to see how any meaningful progress towards international climate change agreements can be made without honest debate on the carbon budget of those items that preserve the existing status-quo of the power structures and nation state competition.

It is therefore of supreme importance that this is raised proactively in parliament and debated thoroughly.

Following the lack of response from DECC, I asked Neil Carmichael to raise this question in parliament. He has not done so, nor even replied to my correspondence.

By willfully ignoring my correspondence he is supporting the status quo position that the Trident decision should be made independently of its climate change impact. That status quo position is leading us towards ecological breakdown, which is against the interests of the nation. Neil Carmichael is therefore failing in his duty “to act in the interests of the nation as a whole.”

Breach 2

Following a peaceful protest at the Fairford Air Tattoo in 2010, when I hosted a spoof website to protest at the climate change impact of the military industrial complex, I was subjected to an early morning raid on my house, arrested for fraud and had my job threatened. I remained on police bail for 18 months, at which point all proceeding were dropped without charges even being made and without apology.

This was a blatant and crude attempt to muzzle dissent and impose a de-facto restraining order. A state response of this type is normally associated with the odious dictators that we profess to abhor, and which we build our military to protect ourselves again.

I arranged a meeting with Neil Carmichael in his constituency surgery to raise the issue. He agreed to raise the issue further with the Chief Constable and advise accordingly of the response. He did nothing, and I had no further response from him.

This is a clear case of Neil Carmichael failing in his “special duty to [his] constituent” whose right to free speech and peaceful protest was denied by the apparatus of the state acting in the interests of large corporate interests.

Breach 3

I along with some mathematics colleagues analysed the claims climate change claims of the aviation. Their claims were (1) The industry is committed to improving fuel efficiency of new planes by 50% by 2020 and (2)  the industry is committed to getting emissions down to 2000 levels by 2050 despite a trebling of air passengers.

Basic maths and engineering demonstrates conclusively these claims are impossible. Yet they were peddled consistently by the now defunct lobby group Flying Matters on behalf of the aviation industry. Similar false claims continue to be used by others and have had a significant impact on government policy and public attitudes to aviation. False claims of this nature are supported by combined marketing budgets measured in the billions.  This is fraud, which by definition is the use of false information to seek gain.

This evidence was presented to Neil Carmichael. We asked that he raise in parliament the issue of fraudulent advertising on the environmental credentials of the aviation industry.

He took no action on this. On the contrary, he continued to raise questions in parliament in support of aviation.

By not raising this issue he is failing to “act in the interests of the nation as a whole” as the nation must have correct information on the climate change impact of large corporations and public debate needs to be held to determine how they can be prevented from abusing their power.  

Clause  IV.  General Principles of Conduct
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Breach 1

We note that Neil Carmichael is a member of the Environmental Audit Committee. Despite this he publically supports the construction of the Trident replacement system and been an advocate for high carbon industries such as aviation.

In no way can this be called leadership by example.

By contrast, his actions are a classic case where people with a diametrically opposed position to the objectives of a group gain a position of influence to subvert its good intention.

Clause V.  Rules of Conduct
9. Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.

Breach 1

Neil Carmichael has made it clear he has a personal interest in high carbon industries such as aviation. He has written in the local press on his reflections on holidays in Morocco and Turkey, all of which involve flying. By contrast his predecessor, David Drew, refused to fly on environmental grounds. 

His inaction to follow up any request I have made of him on the environmental impact of aviation contrasts with his evident personal interest in allowing aviation’s continued destructive growth.

Kevin Lister BSc (aero eng), MBA
cc:    Neil Carmichael MP
        38-39 Palace Chambers
        London Road
        Gloucestershire GL5 2AJ

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Embedding Sustainable Development: An update

E-mail sent to all members of the Environmental Audit Committee

I note that the above session will be held on the 11th July.

I note with extreme concern that the referenced document “Embedding sustainable development: the Government’s response,” is premised on the oxymoron that development can be sustainable. As such, the measures in this document are totally insufficient to meet our 2050 climate change targets or provide an example to the rest of the world.

I trust this committee will be cognisant of the following facts and ensure they receive adequate consideration:  

  1. All critical measures of climate change now exceed the worst case scenario of the 2007 IPCC report. This puts us on track to a 6oC heating profile by the end of this century. This will lead to the loss of virtually all life on the planet. The further heating in the following century will render the planet totally lifeless. Far from addressing this threat by decreasing greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere, greenhouse gases emissions are increasing super-exponentially. As a result of this trend we will exceed all key climatic tripping points by 2030 if not considerably beforehand. No recovery will be possible past this point. The committee should also be aware that in 2010 significant methane gases releases started in the high Arctic  indicating that worse case climatic runaway scenarios may already be upon us.
  2. This government has not considered its obligations to the Durban Platform. It did not present any proposals “to increase the level of ambition to tackle climate change” and is ignoring the future aspiration to have legally binding cuts in CO2 emissions from 2020. This is evidenced amongst other things by government pressure to expand airport capacity in South East. This environmental audit committee should note with extreme alarm that climate change has been virtually censored out of the debate. What few discussions there are have been limited to statements that aviation emissions can be catered for by carbon trading within the EU ETS. This has not been subjected to any scrutiny.  It is despite all the evidence pointing to the concept of carbon trading being totally flawed and aviation emissions doubling every 17 years.
  3. The environmental audit committee should also consider that the military industrial complex is never considered in any climate change documentation or initiatives. However, to maintain our ability to compete with other nations on the international stage, we need huge energy intensive manufacturing facilities. These are  are funded with arms sales to other countries, usually oil rich countries, and through an economy which must continue to expand to raise the taxation. The high carbon industries needed for these arms races are considered “strategic” and are in receipt of considerable government support which is both political and financial.
  4. Allied to the above point, the Environment Audit Committee should also challenge the decision to build Trident. The construction of Trident requires a huge military industrial complex which can only be funded through excess consumption in an expanding economy.  Our competing nations will be forced to reciprocate by expanding their own military-industrial complexes and economies. This is the antithesis of cutting consumption to minimise greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a sustainable economy. Thus Trident and the associated nuclear weapons race across the planet makes committing to international climate change agreements impossible. The document under review states ministers will have the “opportunity to raise sustainability issues and identify where policies might otherwise compromise sustainability.” I trust that the committee will press ministers to explain how they think the decision to proceed with Trident does not compromise sustainability. The committee should also note that under the Low Carbon Transition Plan, which all parties agreed to, Page 36 states that, “To stay on track, the Government is moving to a radical new approach. Every major decision now needs to take account of the impact on the carbon budget.” The committee should be aware that no carbon budget has been produced for Trident despite this being the most major decision any government can take.  
Yours sincerely, 
Kevin Lister

Monday, July 02, 2012

Freedom Of Information Request on Trident sent to MOD

Freedom of Information Request: 

Your department recently announced a £1billion contract to Rolls Royce for advanced work for the Trident replacement submarine nuclear reactors. Should the decision be made to proceed with Trident, this will be just one small part of a much bigger investment programme. An expenditure of this size in the current economic circumstances indicates your department’s expectation that the decision to proceed with Trident will be made in the next parliament. 

I and many others are extremely concerned about the implications this has on our ability to agree international climate change agreements, which is our biggest security threat. To build the replacement Trident missile system requires a huge military industrial complex and large economy to raise the taxes. The maintenance of this infrastructure and economy is wholly incompatible with the need to move towards a sustainable society to combat climate change and peak oil. What is more, it forces our competing nations to make similar decisions. The resultant industrial competition is the exact opposite of the co-operation needed to save our planet’s destruction from climate change. 

We would also point to the recent releases of methane hydrates in the high arctic. This worrying development shows climate change is rapidly developing its own momentum which will very soon be totally out of our ability to control, and therefore all measures to reduce CO2 emissions must be considered. 

The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan states, “To stay on track [with carbon reductions], the Government is moving to a radical new approach. Every major decision now needs to take account of the impact on the carbon budget.” As you will appreciate, no decision is more important than Trident. 

It was therefore highly disappointing to find in correspondence with DECC that they do not have a carbon budget for Trident nor are they prepared to calculate one.  Therefore, as a matter of major public interest we will take it upon ourselves to calculate and publicise the carbon budget.  

To assist our work in this area, we request under the Freedom of Information Act the following information:

Copies of the latest bills of materials for Trident 

Manufacturing specifications for key components

List of all key manufacturing sites, 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Letter to Princess Anne - following her trip to Greece

Dear Anne,

I watched with little interest your trip to Greece to bring back the “Olympic” flame. Unfortunately, there was not much I could do at the time to avoid it. It was covered in all the newspapers, all the television stations and most of the standard web sites such as Yahoo. All the well-paid editors of these organisations told us what a great and important job you were doing and how we should all be so grateful for your efforts.

I ask you to consider the absurdity of your actions and in future to show sensitivity to the minority of people in this nation that have pressing concerns about climate change. Not everyone is bowled over by consumerist propaganda, and some are quite distressed by it. Unfortunately, I can only assume that the privilege you enjoy prevents you understanding we have exceeded all the worst-case predictions on climate change. As a direct consequence, we face the inevitability of our civilisation collapsing by the end of this century, or worse the extinction of all virtually all life on our beautiful planet.

It is therefore totally unacceptable to see you flying all the way to Greece to pick up the tiniest little flame. Your flight would have contributed about 50 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere. There is the certain irony of the flames in the jet engines sustaining your flight dwarfing the pathetically flickering ember you brought back with you.

Like it or not, you and David Beckham, are amongst the top excess consumers in our society. Relatively simple maths shows that the top 5% of our society are responsible for about 30% of the global CO2 emissions. This group of top consumers are antisocial and destructive. As a key member of this group, you maintain your position in it through a symbiotic relationship with the same big corporations that are threatening us with further unsustainable growth. In case you did not notice, the airline that flew you was BA. While it tries to demonstrate egalitarianism with your outing, it simultaneously subverts the government’s attempts to cut the aviation industry’s carbon emissions. Its sponsorship of the Olympics is merely another element of an ongoing propaganda onslaught to make us believe that ignoring environmental responsibilities is the normality we should all accept.

As well as your own reckless excess consumption, there is also the question of your parenting ability and the morality that you instil in your children. Unfortunately, I could not avoid the reports of your daughter parading the Olympic torch around Cheltenham on her pet horse. Did you suggest at any time to your daughter that perhaps supporting one of the biggest propaganda exercises since the 1936 Nazi Olympics is not the best thing that someone in her position should be doing? I put it to you that encouraging your daughter to support consumption to excess just because the privilege of her birth allows her to do so is no better than someone at the bottom of society joining the riots in the city centres last year to enjoy the same pleasures of unbridled consumption. 

What further irony that as you flew all the way to Greece to get your little spark, and rubbed your privilege into the wounds of Europe’s first failed state, the Home Secretary was putting in place plans to stop waves of Greek economic migrants flooding our country. Her plans will be supported by force if necessary. The sad fact is that your actions support the absurdity of our country happily waving nationalistic Union Jacks as we firmly shut our borders to the desperate and disposed, while allowing the privileged and powerful of the Olympics to indulge themselves at our expense.

In these increasingly troubled times, we should not be surprised if we see a resurgence of extreme right wing nationalism. Nationalism is after all, what the institutions of this country put above everything else and what they are there to support. It seems that with Royal Weddings, Golden Jubilees and Olympics, they have never been so busy getting the masses ready for the forthcoming crises.

I am sure that you must be delighted to be playing your part.

From a citizen of the world, and a subject to no one,
Kevin Lister

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Why Gloucestershire should not welcome the Olympic Torch

Sent to all editors of Gloucestershire news papers

Dear Editor,

We are approaching the big day when the Olympic torch will be paraded through Gloucestershire.  It will, no doubt, be accompanied by headlines of how the people of Gloucestershire welcome its arrival and how we are all so grateful to support such an event. Hopefully, before the good people of Gloucestershire jump on the bandwagon, many will at least stop, pause and think what this has come to represent.

It is useful to recall the tradition of the Olympic torch. Adolf Hitler started it for the 1936 games. He also is famous for going on to start the Second World War, gassing the Jews and trying to implement a scorched earth policy. Since 1936, the Olympics and politics are inseparable. It gives odious nations and destructive corporations the opportunity cleanse their image to the world.  The Olympic movement has shown that it is not too bothered which organisation capitalises on this opportunity, so long as the money rolls in.

In a clear demonstration of Olympic amorality, this year they have seen fit to award BP the title of its “sustainability partner.” This is greenwashing on a monumental scale. BP is the company that virtually destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, is destroying the Canadian Forests through their tar sands projects and now threatens to destroy the Arctic with deep sea drilling. They are one of the most polluting and destructive organisations on the planet. Their actions are leading us to disastrous runaway climate change. They are joined by fellow sponsors such as BAA which is arm twisting the government to expand the carbon intensive aviation industry and Dow Chemicals who are yet to adequately compensate the victims the Bophal disaster.
We should be under no illusions how bad the environmental catastrophe is that these large corporations are seducing us towards. Every single measurement of climate change is either at or exceeding the worst-case scenario of the 2007 IPCC report. We have been put firmly on the path to extinction.

To put it in perspective, today’s corporate sponsors of the Olympics are succeeding where their predecessor Adolf Hitler failed. They are successfully implementing a scorched earth policy by maximising carbon emissions and triggering runaway climate change. They are knowingly gassing the planet for today’s young people with critically dangerous levels of greenhouse gasses. By comparison Hitler limited his gassing mainly to the Jews. The directors of these corporations know what they are doing is wrong and immoral, but they choose to continue and hide behind propaganda.  They should take note that the defence of only carrying out orders and pleading ignorance failed at Nuremberg.

As well as the corporate sponsors, we should also be looking at the countries that come to play at the Olympics. Why do we let Bahrain and Saudi Arabia come when they are abusing human rights so violently at home? Why do we let India, Pakistan and Israel come when they have refused to abide by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and are leading the world closer than ever to nuclear war? Why do we let Russian and China come when they concern us so much we are about to impoverish our country by spending £100billion on replacing Trident? Why do we let America come when its corporations have lobbied so hard to stop climate change agreements?

We do this because it is more important the interests of the corporations and governments who profiteer from the Olympic movement are protected than the people they endanger.

The real problem is that our survival relies on us collectively facing up to enormous challenges. It has been said many times that we cannot continue with business as usual. Unfortunately, the message from the Olympics is that we should carry on with business as usual; we should look the other way when we know we should not and we should believe the unsustainable can be sustained.

The sad reality is that the Olympics are an anachronism from another time that we cannot return to.  The people of Gloucestershire should not welcome the Olympic torch.


Copenhagen Diagnosis report

Indian violation of the NPT

Monday, May 07, 2012

Open Letter to Theresa Villiers MP, Aviation Minister

Subject: Is the B787 Dreamliner the end of the road for aviation?

Dear Theresa,

Boeing’s B787 Dreamliner world tour has just finished its stop over in the UK. The media presented it as the next generation plane that would sweep aside the challenges of climate change with the latest new technology.  Nothing is further from the truth. The reality is that the B787 is a high risk and desperate last throw of the dice by an industry whose survival is inherently incompatible with the combined crises of climate change and peak oil.

As you wrestle with the concept of making aviation sustainable, it is important you fully understand how the limitations of aero-engineering drive the commercial risk exposure to unacceptable levels.

Publicly available information on the Boeing 787 show the typical number of seats is 280, the fuel capacity is 138,700 litres and a range of 15,700 km.  Crudely, this gives a fuel consumption of 0.0316 litres/passenger km.

Similar data for the long range Boeing 777 is 350 seats, a fuel capacity of 181,283 litres, and a range of 17,000 km giving a fuel consumption of 0.0304 litres/passenger km. Using the same data for the A380 gives 0.032 litres/passenger km. Thus there is little if any measurable improvement between the B787 and previous generation planes such as the B777 and the A380 when taken on this basis.

The immediate question this raises is what has happened to the much-hyped efficiency improvements of the B787? The answer is simple. The B787 is smaller than the B777 and A380. As such, it loses economies of scale.  So the new technology simply allows a smaller plane to fly with the same seat efficiency of a larger one and with a more comfortable interior.

But this was the business strategy. Boeing wanted to get the efficiency and range of a larger plane on a smaller plane to exploit the potential of the point-to-point transport model. This would enable the aviation industry to circumvent the restrictions of the major hubs such as Heathrow and continue to grow through exploitation of regional airports.

This business model is hubris on a grand scale. It flies in the face of all the platitudes of the aviation industry about their newfound concern for the environment.  Flying thousands of B787s around the world in a point-to-point network is the most effective way to maximise carbon emissions and it ignores the economic realities of escalating fuel prices.

If the aviation industry were genuinely concerned about carbon emissions, it would have used the technology in the B787 to design slower planes.  By way of comparison, the Lockheed Constellation of the 1940’s had an efficiency of 0.0334 litres/passenger km. This is well within the margin for error for the Boeing 787. Its equivalent efficiency to today’s super modern planes was delivered by basic physics. This tells us that drag is proportional to the square of speed, power is proportional the cube of speed and if you want to fly further you have to use energy to carry the extra fuel.  So doubling the speed increases drag by a factor of four and the power consumption of the engines by a factor of eight, making an efficient plane one that flies slowly over short distances.

So the claims of Boeing and the aviation industry to have produced a revolutionary fuel-efficient plane are wrong. Their technology simply allows smaller planes to continue to fly fast and cover the long distances that only larger planes could previously manage.

More critically the development costs of the B787 are an industry record of $10billion. This gives the B787 the dubious distinction of having the lowest ever ratio between improvements over its predecessors to developments costs. It is another first associated with this plane, but one that Boeing’s marketing department keeps quiet. As such, the B787 brings aviation’s unsustainable trend of increasing development costs and diminishing returns to a critical apex.

The recent history of the A340 puts this risk into perspective. The A340 served long haul routes, but being larger than the 787 its fuel consumption of 0.031 litres/passenger km was comparable.  When oil prices rose in 2008 operators could not run it profitably as its breakeven load factor increased to 120%. This led to the plane being taken out of service and the A340 production line was shut down in 2010.

Similar developments are now being witnessed with other airlines. Qantas recently announced a delay to its A380 programme. This is largely driven by diminishing margins in the face of rising fuel costs and carbon taxes. The same economics will inevitably apply to other airlines and they will come to similar conclusions. Policy makers must realise that these events taken together are cause for serious alarm, especially as the A380 was billed as the world’s most efficient plane on its recent debut into commercial service.

The danger for Boeing is as the economics of the B787 are not significantly better than the A340 on a per seat basis the whole project is highly exposed to increases in fuel prices.  It will take only a modest increase in the price of oil to render the whole project none viable, and with it much of the aviation industry.

If this sounds implausible, then it is worth remembering that the B787 concept was developed in 2004 to allow growth in aviation to continue. It was not designed to help the industry consolidate in the face of rising fuel costs and environmental danger. The idea of whole classes of modern planes such as the A340 becoming redundant overnight was not even on the horizon.

These are fundamental issues no aviation minister can ignore. They determine future policy. Aviation growth cannot continue in the face of rising fuel costs, rising development costs and rising production costs. As such, the role of the aviation minister must be to chart the decline of the aviation industry in a way that can be done with the minimal amount of pain for those that are in the industry and those that depend on it.  The alternative is to ignore the evidence and wait for the industry to collapse suddenly and painfully and to take everyone else with it. 

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Lister Bsc (aero Eng), MBA

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quantifying the carbon budget of Trident

If the government will not quantify the carbon budget of Trident, we will.

We can not cooperate on climate change when we are locked into competitive engagement  

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Today is just another day of destruction - nothing special

Article from Indymedia - posted 28th Feb

Today is just another day, nothing special and nothing unexpected happened. The Occupy camp was smashed in London, the shelling continued its slaughter in Syria, the drum beat for nuclear war against Iran beats another decibel louder, the world’s nuclear armed competitors meet in Moscow to see how they can co-operate to protect their aviation industries from ineffective European legislation for carbon trading, orders continue to be placed for long lead items for Trident and Russia announces its biggest ever military build up. It is just another day of routine destruction, suppression, violence and stupidity in our collective march towards armageddon. 

It could however have been a different day because today is the 28th February. This is the day that the world’s governments agreed at the Durban climate change talks as the deadline for submitting proposals to increase the level of co-operation on climate change. 

You may remember the Durban Climate Change Conference. This was the great event that was billed as an outstanding success because a couple of women toiled through two consecutive nights to produce the Durban Platform agreement. Everyone went home happy. Delegates patted each other on their backs as they got in their private jets. The world’s press did as it always does. It toed the party line and reported the world was saved. They said we did not need to worry because everyone had agreed on a legally binding agreement on climate change to come into force in 2020. 

If you had that sneaking suspicion that something was wrong and you were being fooled, then you were right. Today was the first test and the world had failed totally and utterly. Because today not a single credible proposal for co-operation on climate change has been submitted from anywhere. There has not been a single report in any mainstream media outlet about this failure. Everyone, including the environmental movement has either ignored it or is so defeated by the fight that they could not summon the energy to read the Durban Platform

Maybe co-operation on climate change is just too difficult a thing to talk about. Faced with a collapsing ecosystem and energy shortages, co-operation means agreeing mutual sacrifices. This is a concept incompatible with a market-based economy that must keep on growing for its very survival. It is a concept that is incompatible with the massive military build-ups across the planet that collapsing nations need to secure the last available resources. It is a concept that is incompatible with beating other nation states through economic competition. These are all the things that we love. 

So bizarrely we have a paradox. The media will report on the coming horrors of climate change. The media will report and on the horrors of war in Syria. But there is not a single piece of mainstream media that will advocate the alternatives needed to allow co-operation to take place and prevent these unfolding horrors. 

Our government tells us how we must all do our little bit on climate change and it shelters behind glossy reports such as the Low Carbon Transition plan. None of their documents cover the CO2 budget for our military and the military that we build for our oil-producing allies. It certainly does not cover the carbon budget for Trident. Could these have been omitted from the reports by some strange accident? 

So while you are told to cycle to work and survive on the carrots that you can grow, the military industrial complex will go and build the biggest and most destructive weapon systems possible such as Trident and force our competitor nations to do the same. 

All this needs taxes and taxes are only generated by continued consumption and pollution. The resulting military and economic competition makes it impossible to agree to carbon reductions. So, it is absolutely no surprise we cannot co-operate on climate change. 

If we are serious about co-operating on climate change, then the first thing that we must do is force our government to publish the carbon budget for our nuclear deterrence and force our competitor nations to do the same. It is only by demonstrating the ecological disaster these weapons are forcing upon the planet and eliminating these that we can create the space to properly co-operate on climate change. The events of today show these systems that are supposed to provide our defence are actually locking us into a downward spiral of climate change devastation. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Freedom of information request to find what is planned in our name

Dear Mr Lacy,
Thank you for your last email.

As you must appreciate this exchange of correspondence has followed a strange path. Firstly you were unable to provide any proposals to increase the level of ambition on international climate change co-operation. Then in the last email you say that something will be provided but that you cannot say anything about it. I am sure that you will understand that I should be rightly sceptical.

As this is an issue of major public interest, I would request that you make the proposals available under the Freedom of Information act.
I have also read the document that you have referred to in the last correspondence that was the basis of your position.
The following suggests the strategy for achieving the targeted CO2 cuts is highly unlikely to be achieved:
  • The document has a heavy reliance on carbon capture and storage. Unsurprisingly this is proving to be a commercial failure. The basic laws of thermodynamics make the idea of carbon capture and storage a non-starter. It takes so much energy to extract the carbon, compress it and then mine and transport the additional coal needed to run the process it barely passes the basic test of viability. Its fundamental flaws are made especially acute in a world that has already run increasingly short of fossil fuel. Put simply, carbon capture and storage will speed us along the path towards peak oil and peak energy. 
  • Likewise, your document bets heavily on nuclear. This is despite the ongoing and developing disaster in Fukishima where large parts of Japan are being abandoned forever.  I also note that there is nothing in the document about the carbon budget associated with the massive decommissioning programme that will eventually be needed  and how this will be catered for once our fossil fuel reserves have been exhausted.
  • The other significant omission is the carbon budget for the military and the construction and operation of our nuclear deterrence. Please explain how this will be incorporated into the UK Low Carbon Plan and how taxes will be raised to fund it in the economic environment that the document presupposes

Your own figures show UK CO2 emissions are now rising. The emissions from the nations that we are compete with are also rising. This makes it more important than ever that we propose true co-operation on climate change.  I therefore find it hard to understand why as a minimum we cannot commit to quantifying the CO2 emissions associated with the Trident System replacement as part of the Durban Platform.

Kevin Lister

Friday, February 17, 2012

Don't worry about climate change - the government has a secret and cunning plan

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your email of 8 February, in reply to my previous letter to you (TO2012/01993/BL) of 5 February.

The UNFCC document indicates our current thinking ahead of 28 February. As mentioned in my previous correspondence, the UK remains committed to tackling global emissions and will submit as part of the EU its views on increasing the level of international mitigation ambition. I am afraid that I cannot say anymore at this stage.

We are committed, in an ambitious way, to reducing global emissions. We have legislated to accept the independent Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) advice on the level of the Fourth Carbon Budget. This is the most ambitious legally binding limit on carbon emissions set by any government in the world to date. This represents a 50% reduction of GHG emissions in the Fourth Carbon Budget period (2023-2027) as recommended by the CCC. Internationally, the achievements at Durban, which we have outlined before, were significant and places us on a roadmap which will lead to a new global legally binding agreement with emissions reduction commitments for all but the poorest and most vulnerable countries, as you know.

I referred you to the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan (2009) in answer to your point about how we are plotting to cut emissions by 2020, rather than your question about carbon budgets.

Departmental carbon budgets were announced in the Low Carbon Transition Plan on a pilot basis. However, the latest on how we are now managing our carbon budgets is set out in the Carbon Plan (published on 1 December 2011) on page 118:

The Carbon Plan also sets out the Government’s plans to meet the fourth carbon budget and showing how doing so sets us on a plausible pathway to 2050. For further information, visit:

I do apologise for the lack of clarity on this point.

Yours sincerely,
Bill Lacy
DECC Correspondence Unit

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

UK Low Carbon Transition plan says make carbon budget for Trident

Dear Mr Lacy,

Thank you for your last correspondence and ongoing assistance in helping me understand the government's plans for abiding by the intent of the Durban Platform deadline date of the 28th February for submission of proposals to raise the level of ambition for international co-operation on climate change.

I have read the document that you referenced:

Unfortunately, this does not give any specifics about what this government or any other will do to raise the level of co-operation. It is merely a skeleton document with no flesh. It acknowledges the most optimistic scenarios will result in catastrophic global heating and that the level of ambition needs to be raised such that we can achieve a 50% reduction on 1990 levels by 2050.

It is worth pointing out that today's global emissions are already twice those of 1990. We therefore need to reduce global CO2 emissions to a quarter of today's.

I am delighted you have confirmed “the government will submit as part of the EU its views on increasing the level of international mitigation ambition by the 28 February.”

I, and many others, would simply like to know what these are. On the basis that nothing has yet been published, there has been no media debate on the issue and no government announcements, we are entitled to be sceptical that the issue is being treated with the seriousness it merits. Can you confirm the government will announce before hand its proposals and give a date for these?

I would also like to thank you for referring me to the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan

Page 7 of this document says, “For the first time, UK Government departments have been allocated their own carbon budgets.” This flatly contradicts your previous response when you said, “The five year Carbon Budgets introduced by the Climate Change Act 2008 set a cap or limit on greenhouse emissions on an overall economy wide basis and therefore don’t apply on an individual sectoral basis or a particular policy basis.

Likewise, Page 36 says, “To stay on track, the Government is moving to a radical new approach. Every major decision now needs to take account of the impact on the carbon budget.” It is therefore not acceptable that for you to say that there has been no carbon budget impact assessment of pursuing Trident.

The comment on page 7 suggests that there should be a specific carbon budget for the ministry of defence and the arms industry. The comment on page 36 suggests that a decision to proceed with Trident should be subject to a carbon impact assessment. There can be no decision in government more major than the Trident replacement.

Please confirm that UK Low Carbon Transition Plan will be adhered to when it comes to the Trident Replacement.

I also note that the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan relies on carbon capture and storage being successful. As this is proving to be a failure globally, then there needs to be increasing focus on carbon budgets elsewhere and honesty in impact assessments.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister