Melbourne Airport Runway expansion, risk management and aviation emissions
A Response from Australia Pacific Airport (Melbourne) to my questions on runway expansion and aviation emissions.
On my first question, regarding factoring in the possibility for development of east coast high speed rail and it’s impact on flight projections, they utterly failed to answer my question.
This is a big fail in their risk management and in their corporate business model.
Labor Party front-bencher Anthony Albanese made clear that a Federal Government is likely to pursue development of a high speed rail east coast network. See this February 2019 article in the Sydney Morning Herald: Time to ‘bite the bullet’ and build high-speed rail: Albanese.
“We should bite the bullet and go for a high-speed rail connection not just through to Sydney but right through to Melbourne and then north to Brisbane,” Mr Albanese told Newcastle radio.
Even Allan Tudge the Liberal Government Minister responsible for Cities and Urban Infrastructure says that “High-speed rail has to be part of the landscape in the future,”, yet Melbourne Airport is failing to incorporate this scenario on flight projections into the future.
The detailed Draft Melbourne Airport Masterplan 2018 totally ignored the issue of aviation emissions, and what increasing the flight capacity of Melbourne airport will do to aviation emissions and the climate impact from increased flights. Read the 19 page Climate Action Moreland submission. The airport Corpolration is continuing along as business as usual when we have a climate crisis, with the airport masterplan failing to sufficiently acknowledge the changed circumstances and need to change the business model.
On my second question they also failed, deflecting responsibility for regulating increase in aviation emissions onto International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Sorry. this is not good enough. The airport corporation need to be held responsible for airport infrastructure upgrades that will directly increase aviation traffic and therefore aviation emissions and aviation climate impact.
They also need to include in their Risk Management Plan the possibility of regulatory constraints.
From The Elephant in The Sky (PDF) by Mark Carter:
According to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy, “Australia has not set a quantitative target for emission reductions in the domestic aviation sector. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution is to commit to implement an economy-wide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The government maintains that all sectors have a role to play that is important to reducing Australia’s emissions.
Aviation industry, and by implication airports, must also play a role and not just in green washing ground infrastructure, the question of limiting or reducing aviation emissions needs also to be addressed.
Melbourne airport prides itself on it’s carbon accreditation for ground infrastructure, but this is mere greenwashing when flight emissions are totally ignored.
The largest source of emissions is not covered: flights
What makes this problematic is that the wider public generally makes no distinction between emissions at airports and emissions during flights. Thus, if an airport operator claims to be carbon-neutral, this statement creates a false impression among the public – not least, because the wording used by airports in their advertising promotes such confusion.
The emission reduction measures airports undertake as part of their ACA programmes address, for example: operating solar-energy facilities or combined heat-and-power units to meet the energy demand of airport buildings; replacing conventional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lamps; using electric vehicles within the airport perimeter; cutting overall energy consumption in airport buildings; or improving the provision of public transport services for travel to the airport. The image gain provided by marketing an airport as green is priceless. This is all the more important for operators facing public criticism because their airport is being expanded or new runways are being built. –
– The Illusion of Green Flying by Stay Grounded Network
The Rocky Hill mine determination in the NSW Land and Environment Court by Justice Preston is an important legal precedent with implications for airport expansion inducing growth in aviation emissions.
In this case at paragraph 487 it is made clear that Scope 3 emissions produced by coal end-users should be considered: “Although GRL submitted that Scope 3 emissions should not be considered in determining GRL’s application for consent for the Rocky Hill Coal Project, I find they are relevant to be considered.”
The same should hold true for Airports in runway development programs or infrastructure that will induce aviation emissions. Responsibility must be shouldered by the Airport Corporation for inducing this emissions growth and increased climate impact, as well as the airline industry.
Australia Pacific Airport (Melbourne) also failed on question 3 to provide any answer, deflecting responsibility for including projections for increase in aviation emissions and non-CO2 climate impact of aviation as part of the Runway Development Program and impact building a 3rd runway will have in growth of aviation emissions onto IATA.
This is nothing more than passing the buck.
Full correspondence below:
Hi John Englart,
Thank you for your question on Melbourne Airport Runway Development Program. Our response below has also been posted on the site. (https://my.melbourneairport.com/runway-development-program)
1. Have you factored in the transactional risk and Business risk if high speed rail linking east coast capital cities is developed in the next decade to provide a high speed comfortable alternative to some of the busiest domestic flight routes?
How will this impact the Runway Development Program?
2. Have you factored in the regulatory risk of capacity constraints for flying due to growing unease about the growth in aviation emissions and non-CO2 impact of aviation on the Runway Development Program?
3. As new runways increase the flight capacity, will you include projections for increase in aviation emissions and non-CO2 climate impact of aviation as part of the Runway Development Program?
How will this be consistent with meeting international climate commitments made by Australia of striving to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C.
Hi John, thanks for contacting us. Below is some information in response to your questions.
Question 1. Have you factored in the transactional risk and Business risk if high speed rail linking east coast capital cities is developed in the next decade to provide a high speed comfortable alternative to some of the busiest domestic flight routes? How will this impact the Runway Development Program?
Answer: Our planning takes many variables into account, and factors such as future passenger forecasts are updated as part of our regular planning cycle. For example, between the 2013 and 2018 Master Plans for Melbourne Airport, our long-term passenger forecast was adjusted to reflect changes in demand for both domestic and international passengers.
While Australia’s airports predominantly service domestic passengers today, the fastest-growing demand is from international passengers, and that is a trend that will continue into the future.
Question 2. Have you factored in the regulatory risk of capacity constraints for flying due to growing unease about the growth in aviation emissions and non-CO2 impact of aviation on the Runway Development Program?
Answer: We’re conscious of the carbon footprint of our operation, which is why we are signed up to Airport Carbon Accreditation (https://www.airportcarbonaccreditation.org/ ). You may also be aware that recently we built our own gas-fired tri-generation power plant, and we announced last year plans to build a solar array on our airfield. These are just some of the projects in our pipeline that will help tackle carbon emissions from the airport itself. Regarding emissions from aviation more generally, the global industry association for airlines, IATA,has some great information about the airline industry’s efforts to tackle its emissions challenges – you can read more about that at this link: https://www.iata.org/policy/environment/Pages/climate-change.aspx
Question 3. As new runways increase the flight capacity, will you include projections for increase in aviation emissions and non-CO2 climate impact of aviation as part of the Runway Development Program? How will this be consistent with meeting international climate commitments made by Australia of striving to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C.
Answer: Please refer to our response to question 2 about the work we are doing.