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Boeing recently released a new video showcasing its ecoDemonstrator, an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 outfitted with advanced experimental equipment to test and measure technology that can reduce aviation’s environmental impact.
The video demonstrates how the ecoDemonstrator draws on natural features in constructing the wing and the variable fan nozzle. EcoDemonstrator program manager David Akiyama highlighted Boeing’s study of the movement of birds’ wings, which move constantly in flight. “You’re able to morph wing using concepts observed in nature,” he said. By allowing further adjustments to the wing, Akiyama said, Boeing can “optimize the wing at takeoff, landing, and cruise . . . to burn less fuel and to reduce community noise.”
The ecoDemonstrator is showing ”a 1 percent fuel efficiency improvement,” he added, which, “for these very optimized commercial airplanes that we’re designing is a tremendous amount.”
During the last months, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has come out with positive statements about shale gas investments, most recently on Poland – a rather rash endorsement of the controversial technology.
posted on the Bankwatch blog by Ionut Apostol, Bankwatch energy campaigner
In February this year the EBRD’s managing director for energy and natural resources, Ricardo Puliti, welcomed Shell’s move into Ukrainian shale gas, with a twist on energy independence for the country, while inviting smaller companies to follow Shell for the crumbs. While this doesn’t mean that the EBRD will finance Ukrainian shale gas operations, the invitation may be an indication of EBRD positioning, where it sees itself making some business.
In May, statements from the EBRD’s top banker in Poland, Lucyna Stanczak, gave us more reason for concern. Stating that shale gas is one of the priorities of Poland’s energy policy, she said that the bank could not ignore it. As Reuters reported, the EBRD plans to include shale gas operations in its upcoming country strategy for Poland for the coming three years.
Leaving aside the very controversial debate on shale gas in Poland, my prediction is that at the end of the day, the economics of shale gas (pdf) – which look less and less convincing – will most likely prevent the EBRD from joining such projects. What is this blog post all about then, you ask? In my view, the EBRD’s pitches into shale gas undermine the bank’s efforts to be seen as a responsible investor that chooses the least damaging option.
Considering the water contamination and the (not so small) carbon footprint of shale gas, one can argue that lignite is less damaging. Should this be an excuse then for the EBRD to go and continue financing lignite projects like the Sostanj power plant? Rather not. Choosing between one very harmful fossil fuel and another is a false choice when one should be concentrating on energy efficiency and sustainable renewables. Yet for a “down-to-earth” institution like the EBRD, a marginal improvement can be good enough, as long as it is economic feasible. Business is business, after all.
The EBRD’s energy policy, applicable to all its countries of operation, is currently being revised, with a draft to be open for consultation in June or July. The European Investment Bank is also expected to publish its draft energy policy in June. With statements like these on shale gas (or like others on coal), I’m very curious to see what these European banks have in stock for climate action and public benefit.
The International Air Transport Association on 3 June endorsed a goal of carbon-neutral aviation industry growth after 2020 — a goal called “CNG2020″ put forward by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The IATA resolution emphasized the role that the aviation industry has played and is playing in pursuing sustainability, and it calls for national governments to work together and with industry actors to develop a comprehensive, global plan, which the association said should include sustainable aviation biofuels and ”market-based measures as necessary.” IATA also urged governments and member airlines to work toward the global plan under ICAO’s auspices.
A comprehensive, global approach negotiated and agreed under ICAO would have to be significantly more likely to achieve worldwide emissions reduction goals, as well as to avoid the burdens of a patchwork of regional mechanisms, such as the European Emissions Trading Scheme — the application of which to non-European airlines has recently been suspended pending ICAO negotiations. ICAO will take up the issue at its General Assembly this fall.
Boeing supports a global solution with industry leadership. Speaking recently at Carbon Expo 2013, Antonio de Palmas said that the road to sustainability winds between technology improvements and policy-making and, moving forward, success can only be defined by the synergistic junction of these two dimensions. Technology is the most powerful driver for sustainable aviation but policies are also critically important and the two dimensions must stay strictly intertwined. De Palmas also presented the three main technology trajectories that the industry is developing to reduce emissions :