An interesting insight into the mind of the would be planner here:

But at the core of this plan is a much more worrying assumption. It is that we can continue to justify building the aircraft themselves, and still meet climate change requirements. And it is also assumed that we can continue to consume as if the planet can forever sustain our every desire. Neither of those assumptions is in any way consistent with the demands that the planet is actually imposing on us to consume less.

Aviation’s about 2% of emissions. We can handle that continuing. Even if we want to get to net zero there are extraction methods available to balance that – forests, pasture, iron fertilisation, all sorts of things. There’s also the possibility of changing the fuel of course. If we ever get to green hydrogen – something we can already do at a price – then synthetic avgas is easy enough chemistry.

But the planner:

Climate change has not changed that. The plan is instead that flying will continue on the basis of new fuels or other hydrogen or electric-powered aircraft.

Do I think that is likely? Candidly, I do not. I see no chance of that change happening: if it was going to I think we would be seeing a lot more progress than the very limited number of experimental battery-powered aircraft of extraordinarily limited capacity now being trialled.

The planner can’t see it happening. Therefore:

And yes, whilst I mention it, this is a reason for sustainable cost accounting. That accounting system is deliberately designed to inject reality into business decision making. Gatwick seeks to be basing its thinking on fantasies. Something ash to bring it down to the ground.

The planner is going to estimate the costs of each individual business becoming carbon neutral including Scope 3 emissions. The planner can’t see how this can be done. Therefore the planner would declare this business to be carbon insolvent based upon the planner’s “I see no chance of that change happening”. For this is what sustainable cost accounting does. It puts the planner and his auditor, including their limited knowledge, in charge of what economic activity is allowed to continue.

Subjectivism based upon ignorance might not be the best way of running the world.

29 thoughts on “Ban it!”

  1. The thing with any sort of pragmatic environmentalism is substitution. Streaming movies instead of driving to Blockbuster, walking to the local shop instead of driving.

    Flying is pretty much done. I know there are these trainspotting twats who want rail sleepers, but they’re much slower and more expensive (even with the thumb on the scale). FlyBe died because business travel inside the UK declined. No-one would expect me to work in their Glasgow office like they did in the early 2000s.

  2. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    Other people (used to) fly more than I do! Waa waa waa! It’s not fair! Waa waa waa! Ban it now!

    Other people earn more than I do! Waa waa waa! It’s not fair! Waa waa waa! Tax them now!

    Other people have a nicer train set than I do! Waa waa waa!

    …etc

  3. There is more to flying than business bullshit BoM4. Flying is only done if we are coward enough to let the wannabe tyrants close it down.

    This kind of eco-tyranny crap needs to get the necks of the wannabe eco-tyrants stretched to encourage the others.

    A good example being the XR scum that Johnson has told his costumed thugs to do nothing about. In contrast to their violent antics against Anti-LD freedom protestors.

    Any freedom protestor should now go well-equipped to return any abuse Plod hands out. And to photograph/identify individual costumed thugs in particular.

  4. I think the comments of Bloke in Germany sum it up. It’s like the rantings of some semi- literate undergraduate. Almost too ludicrous to take seriously.

  5. “Neither of those assumptions is in any way consistent with the demands that the planet is actually imposing on us to consume less.”

    Nothing that’s actually happening is consistent with the idea that the planet is imposing any demands on us to consume less.

  6. Anyone know what percentage of a flight’s costs is the fuel? I can see some stats for airline costs in the 15%-30% region quoted online (clearly varies from year to year with the fuel price) which suggests a switch to a substantially more expensive synthetic fuel wouldn’t produce an order of magnitude change to the cost of flying. If synthetic fuel is four times (random number for illustrative purposes) more expensive than current fuel during a price peak, ticket prices might double, something like that? Which suggests a switch would kill a lot of demand to be sure, and the industry would certainly be smaller, but there’d still be a fair amount of flying that people felt to be worthwhile. The remaining flyers might find not much of their consumer surplus is left, but enough that they still want to make the trip, and do it by air not rail or coach or a long drive. Presumably change would actually be gradual anyway with a the ratio of synthetic to fossil fuel being stepped up over time? So as Timmy says, this does have an air of feasibility about it, and as @bom4 says, quite a lot of flight demand is being substituted out (some short haul domestic by land transport – European countries seem to have had a drop in such flights along routes they’ve built high-speed rail so presumably same will happen here, some business meetings replaced by teleconferencing) but what’s left gets harder to substitute so may be less price-sensitive.

    Re battery-powered aircraft – okay, it’s an obvious attempt to replicate the electric car phenomenon in the skies, and the tech progress on range for cars does mean more is now feasible in a plane. But heavy batteries on a plane is still a fundamentally stupid-sounding idea and clearly this was never going to be a competitor with the conventional aviation industry (which is why, as Timmy says, greener fuel is where it’s at for any substantial change to occur). Are these battery planes basically a toy people are showing off tech with, or is there any serious commercial momentum behind them, some minor niche it’s thought they might fulfil? They’re clearly an irrelevance in terms of greening the current airlines.

  7. “There is more to flying than business bullshit BoM4. Flying is only done if we are coward enough to let the wannabe tyrants close it down.”

    Yes, there’s things like holidays in the sun. And there really isn’t any way to replace that. Although fast ferries to Spain might work.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    MBE,

    The fuel usage is greatest at takeoff and then landing. Most planes are quite efficiently cruising altitude so any increase in fuel costs in theory will have a bigger pact on short haul flights.

    Germany’s Green Party was talking about banning flights of less than 3 hours to for people on to trains. It wasn’t very popular, the Balearics being inside that range, and they seem to have dropped it or at least stopped talking about it from what I’ve seen. Maybe BiNK(GP) has more details.

  9. Were it not for his hatred of advertising and IP businesses, Murphy would be advised to engage a Brand Consultant.

    His beggarly and tiresome peddling of “Sustainable Cost Accounting” is never going to make him rich.

    5 Minutes to Armageddon Accounting
    Apocalypse Now! Accounting
    Accounting for the Four Horsemen

    just might

  10. Yeah! Get the train from Bonn to Mallorca. I’m sure that will work, iron horses can swim can’t they?

    I joke, but getting the train from Sheffield to Dublin was a whole lot less hassle and more enjoyable than the flying cattle truck.

  11. Can we not agree that if you want to fuck up the entire world as we know it you really ought to have some sort of proof that the catastrophe hypothesis is anything like real? It’s a crock. Even if I’m wrong that it’s a crock, why isn’t there any experimental proof that even the so-called greenhouse effect is real? It has never been demonstrated in a lab and never been observed happening in real world conditions.

    Fact is, they WANT to fuck up the world and this is just a convenient excuse.

  12. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    The green party program is nicely summarised at pinterest dot
    pin/699887598324779969/

    Enjoy your Soy-Lent future!

  13. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “Can we not agree that if you want to fuck up the entire world as we know it you really ought to have some sort of proof that the catastrophe hypothesis is anything like real? ”

    No. The green religion, the corona religion, is like all previous religions. You will obey. You will not question. It is about Faith, and Virtue. Faith is believing in the absence of proof and is a virtue. The more implausible the object of your faith the more virtuous a person you are. You are superior to unbelievers. This also means you get forgiveness for breaking the rules, but the unbelievers do not.

    Green and corona are also like old religions in that if you don’t obey now then terrible bad, (for green, fiery) things will happen after you are dead. When you can no longer see that they are not actually happening.

    Green and corona is simply the evil side of human psychological weakness coming back to haunt the present.

  14. Until I retired from my rail consultancy work, I was flying regularly from Bristol to Belfast or Glasgow. The security theatre made the whole thing a misery. I’ve not missed it this past two years and if I never get in another aircraft or see another airport again, I won’t miss it. The process was a purgatory that I endured because I had to for work, now that I don’t have to, I choose not to. A motorcycle and ferries will work just fine for me – although given the level of manufactured panic going on at present, I’m avoiding even that.

  15. @BiND

    Yeah, definitely varies by flight type – I think it gets worse again for ultra-long haul because of the “need to carry more fuel to carry the fuel (to carry the fuel)” issue, but I don’t know where the optimum is.

    There are some other complications like other harms aircraft do just by dint of releasing emissions at higher altitude (where their atmospheric effects can be worse regardless of how “greenly” the fuel was sourced) but on the flip side they’re less bad for particulate emissions and you don’t need anywhere near as much infrastructure for flights as railways do. Life-cycle emissions for rail look a lot worse once you take all the construction work into account. There’s a Wired article that touches on some of this, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/trains-planes-emissions-co2-comparison suggests that trains beat planes at present but not necessarily by as much as you might think, but I haven’t stumbled across anything really convincing on how feasible “green aviation” actually is and how it might compare to “green railways”. Just intuitively, I would be very surprised if greening rendered almost all commercial aviation infeasible, since even now its CO2 per passenger kilometer isn’t totally off the scale compared to rail and I don’t think there’s much more (electrifying some diesel lines, mostly) that could be done to improve trains whereas Timmy points out some potential big gains coming down the line for planes.

  16. It is mind-boggling to imagine the cost of an aeroplane ticket exceeding the cost of hotels for overnight stays en route/sleeping car train tickets. So increasing the fuel cost by a few hundred percent will not deter people from taking long-haul flights in preference to taking a train.
    A reasonable price for train tickets would involve abolishing TUPE and the RMT but that would be a small price to pay for replacing most “internal” flights with a decent city-centre to city-centre train service.

  17. Just read a book about Neil Woodford. Basically, so long as he stuck to investing in tobacco companies, he was doing fine. As soon as he started investing in eco-loon shit he didn’t really understand it all went tits up.

    “The plan is instead that flying will continue on the basis of new fuels or other hydrogen or electric-powered aircraft. Do I think that is likely? Candidly, I do not.”

    Says the man with absolutely no understanding of the science or engineering involved.

    It would be interesting to have had Spud opine at the time about powered flight, TVs, computers and all sorts of other technologies, 10 years before each amazing and transformational development.

    Powered flight? computers smaller than a house? moving images on a screen beamed into your home? Candidly, he’d think not.

    What a pompous ignorant twat he is.

  18. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    But at the core of this plan is a much more worrying assumption. It is that we can continue to justify building the aircraft themselves, and still meet climate change requirements. And it is also assumed that we can continue to consume as if the planet can forever sustain our every desire. Neither of those assumptions is in any way consistent with the demands that the planet is actually imposing on us to consume less.

    What does this tell us? Two things, actually. First, nobody is inviting Richard Murphy to attend their conferences on their dime. Second, Richard Murphy can’t afford the price of a plane ticket.

  19. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “It is mind-boggling to imagine the cost of an aeroplane ticket exceeding the cost of hotels for overnight stays en route/sleeping car train tickets. ”

    Oh, they do it deliberately.
    Pre-pandemic, flight from BiG City to London (LHR or LCY), economy class
    First flight out, last flight back the same day: €400.
    Same flights but stay 1 night: €200.

  20. ” Are these battery planes basically a toy people are showing off tech with, or is there any serious commercial momentum behind them, some minor niche it’s thought they might fulfil?”

    To answer that you really have to get into the physics of heavier than air flight. Planes stay in the air by creating lift. One could say they’re constantly throwing a mass of air downwards equivalent to the mass of the aircraft. So it’s a simple action/reaction & easier to visualise. To climb, they need more lift than in level flight. So thy need to shift more air than the mass of the aircraft to get vertical acceleration. The economical cruising altitude is dependent on the density of the air. Lower the higher the aircraft flies. The mass/lift ratio of the aircraft. Several other things. At economical cruise altitude the plane covers more distance than it would at sea level for the same expenditure of energy. But that economical cruise altitude changes throughout the flight. Because the mass/lift ratio changes as it burns fuel & loses mass.The range of an aircraft depends on how much fuel mass it can take off with. Too heavy & it’s a ground vehicle. The plane uses a good portion of it’s fuel mass climbing to economical cruise altitude. So it’s getting lighter all the way up. And it becomes more economical throughout the flight as its mass drops. That’s a jet running on aviation fuel
    The energy density of aviation fuel is about a hundred times that of current batteries. So an electric plane would have to carry 100 times the fuel mass of a jet to make the same flight? No, because it’s not a truck driving along a road with it’s weight supported by its wheels. The plane has to do it with lift. And you just increased the lift requirement a hundredfold. And the mass stays with the aircraft for the entirety of the flight There isn’t a number for the battery mass of an electric aircraft will let it do the same range as a jet. The plane would be unable to get off the ground. Even if you had batteries a fifth of the energy density of jet fuel it still wouldn’t fly.
    A plane with its batteries comprising a significant proportion of its total mass can do short duration flights over small distances. The further you want to go, the more battery mass proportion until you get to an aircraft is nothing but battery, motor & the wings. Pretty well what those drone toys are.
    The paper yesterday was talking about a hybrid plane. Electric but with an onboard ICE generator recharging the batteries. This still doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s got propellers. It’ll never manage the altitude & speed capability of a jet. So it can’t get to the economical cruise altitude. The modern passenger jet is about the most efficient method of travel, using current physics, over certain distances. Those being where the efficiencies derived from it’s cruising altitude & speed are greater than the energy used to get it to that altitude & speed. Round about 400 miles I believe, depending on which aircraft

  21. Anybody remember the site used to show all the comparisons? If IRC airfreight is more economical energy/kg wise than rail-freight over certain minimum distances. Even beats sea-freight if I if I’ve got it right. Sounds unlikely until you realise a ship is constantly pushing aside water equivalent in mass to its own. Air is a lot less dense so you go a lot further for the same energy.

  22. Seimens has a prototype synthetic jet fuel play in Adu Dhabi. Solar powered electrolysis of water to give hydrogen. The hydrogen is reacted with CO2 to give methanol and further reacted to give synthetic kerosene. i.e. carbon neutral jet fuel. We can keep on flying. As the latest solar power in Adu Dhabi comes in at 1.35 US cents per kWh flying doesn’t need to become an expensive luxury. But lets not try making this green jet fuel in the UK where our climate makes renewable energy expensive and unreliable.

  23. @AndyF
    I they’re doing that WTF are government pissing about wanting electric cars? Stay with the same vehicle fleet & use synthetic fuels. Except I’d imagine there’s a lot less pork in it for the usual suspects.

  24. @bis

    Does annoy me that the switch to electric cars has essentially been mandated rather than just sticking an extremely tough limit on emissions, and seeing if the tech turns up to make very efficient internal combustion engines running on synthetic fuel or whatever a viable, affordable alternative to battery power. But to be fair, it doesn’t seem infeasible electric cars would win that race in the end anyway – the range issue looks close to being sorted out pretty satisfactorily, it’s the charging infrastructure which is the big nasty question mark – whereas with aircraft I can’t imagine synthetic fuel losing out to any prospective super-high-tech mega-battery.

  25. @ BiNK(GP)
    That’s a disgusting rip-off but doesn’t answer what I actually said: “en route”.
    e.g. London-Moscow flights start at £91 compared to minimum €245 for a sleeper for the Paris-Moscow leg of the journey; cheap alternative is minimum €95 for a sleeper for the Warsaw-Moscow leg plus fares for the other legs of the journey plus the cost of a hotel for the first night.

  26. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “It’s got propellers. It’ll never manage the altitude & speed capability of a jet. So it can’t get to the economical cruise altitude. ”

    This is only part of the problem. If the engine matches turboprop performance you can get to 30K+ feet. Sure, not quite with the speed, but the big Airbus transport plane propellers have 8 blades because they are bloody fast (just not really bloody fast).

    Carrying all that extra weight also creates problems on landing, because if you heavy you gotta go faster to stay in the air with flaps down at full power so you need better tyres and a longer runway. Big jets fully fueled, expecting a multiple thousand-mile trip, if they develop problems just after take off they have to dump all that fuel just to be able to land. If you live anywhere near a busy airport you will know the odd occasion it happens, because you can smell it.

  27. @ Binkie
    Problem with props is the prop tips go supersonic before the aircraft goes as fast as you need. Don’t know why they use turbo-props on the Airbus. No doubt the required flight profiles. But look at the difference between the US B52s on turbojets & the Russian Bears on turboprops. Similar dryweights. Similar ranges. But the B52 carries twice the payload of the Bear. Flies about 125km/h faster & bit over 1000m higher. The gross weight of the Bear’s 50,000 kg more than the B52’s 40% difference.

  28. @MBE
    My guess is that the current government knows a 2035 switch to electric is infeasible. But this is about politicians being electable in today’s political climate. Not about politicians in 2035 being electable in 2035’s. 2022 is distant future to politicians in 2021.

  29. AndyF, I’d just use nukes to make the H2 and then produce the synfuel in the UK.

    When I think of all the waste of lives and money on the Middle East since the Germans threatened the UK’s Anglo-Persian oil company fields during WW1, I’d argue a simple technical fix would be cheaper.

    Though I’m sure we Aussies’d be happy to cover the north of Oz with solar panels to produce your fuel if you’re prepared to pay for it.

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