Montreal meeting confirms European isolation on emissions trading: European airlines should not be made to pay the price for EU leadership on emissions, says AEA.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation wound up its 36th Assembly with an unenthusiastic response to the European Commission’s proposal to include international aviation in the European Emissions Trading Scheme. The Association of European Airlines described the outcome as ‘disappointing, but not unexpected’ as one national delegation after another rejected the prospect of EU ETS being imposed on non-EU countries from 2012, one year after the scheme would apply to flights within Europe.

Said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus:  “The EU has consistently shown its willingness to assume a position of leadership in the aviation emissions debate; however, its inability to convince the rest of the world to follow that leadership has left Europe isolated, and European airlines must not be left exposed to any financial burden which would jeopardise our global competitiveness”.

AEA, he said, had always endorsed the concept of emissions trading as a potentially useful tool for managing emissions, as part of a strategy which should also involve operational, infrastructural and technological advances.  However, it was absolutely essential that the design elements of the system should be carefully crafted so as to avoid financial penalties for the airlines out of all proportion to the environmental benefit.  “That design process is still taking place”, he said.  “We in Europe have not yet seen a model which we can unconditionally accept; what chance, then, of convincing the rest of the world?”

On the positive side, he continued, ICAO had committed to an action programme to address emissions which, echoing the AEA Emissions Containment Policy, would take into account technological advances, operational measures and much-needed improvements in Air Traffic Control, as well as ‘market-based measures’.

“I sincerely hope that the European Commission will join constructively in this process to find an effective global solution to what is a global challenge.  I hope that we may see the international aviation community commit to a series of objectives, which can be tackled through a range of measures”. 

“ETS is a means to an end.  It is important to define the end before defining the means, and if there are elements in EU ETS which constitute an absolute barrier to international acceptance, they should be re-thought”.

Source: Association of European Airlines (AEA)
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