U.S. teams with fossil fuel dinosaurs on airline emissions

The U.S. continues to oppose a European plan that would take meaningful steps to reduce emissions from commercial aviation.

International aviation group opposes EU plan to cut airline carbon footprint
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In the ongoing battle over reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aviation, The U.S. last week sided with fossil fuel dinosaurs like Saudi Arabia.

American officials signed a statement suggesting opposition to an European Aviation Directive that would hold all airlines accountable for their emissions from flights using European airports starting in January 2012.

The statement suggests that the EU policy is inconsistent with existing international legal frameworks. It also calls for emissions from aviation to be addressed in the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Critics of the U.S. position, led by the Environmental Defense Fund, say that ICAO has failed, after more than a decade of negotiations, to agree on an effective program to mitigate aviation’s impact on climate change.

“Countries say this issue should be addressed in a global forum, but after 14 years of frittering in ICAO, the tooth fairy has a better chance of delivering a serious plan to curb the rapidly rising global warming emissions from aviation anytime soon,” said Annie Petsonk, International Counsel at Environmental Defense Fund “We don’t have time for a fantasy approach to a real-world environmental problem,” Petsonk said.

“What’s the strategy?” said Jenny Cooper, aviation specialist at EDF. “Since the United States apparently cannot lead on this issue, they are going to obstruct instead?  The rest of the world is moving forward on climate change, and we need to play a constructive role.”

Emissions from aviation are expected to quadruple by 2050 if left unregulated, but the United States and the other countries who signed this declaration have repeatedly failed to take effective action to deal with the problem, whether through ICAO or other means.

“The Obama Administration pledged to lead global efforts to cut climate pollution, but with regard to aviation, the only thing the State Department and the Department of Transportation are doing now helping obstruct other nations’ efforts to tackle the problem,” Petsonk said.

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One Response

  1. Let’s be frank – ALL airlines HAVE already registered (a handful “under protest” admittedly) for free allowances within the scope of the EU ETS aviation regulations; they have also invested in all the necessary monitoring and verification software to participate; most are already operating in the carbon market through both in-house and external systems, advisors and traders; and all the airlines of the 26 states who signed up to this pretty meaningless declaration have done so too without exception.

    One or two airlines have already been fined by EU member state’s regulators for missing deadlines in the run-up to the ETS January 2012 start date, so perhaps now is a good time to remind airlines of the heavyweight, some might say draconian, financial penalties for any future non-compliance which could potentially bankrupt even the world’s largest airlines.

    We know that airlines are very aware of these penalties and many of them have said publicly that they do not intend to break any ETS-related laws at several meetings and events I have attended, although they oppose the scheme.

    There is a substantial degree of desperate last-minute posturing and grandstanding to try and avoid practical and fair market-based environment protection solutions from IATA and countries who should know better – the recent presentation to ICAO in Montreal from the EC’s Artur Runge-Metzger, International and Climate Strategy Director, easily found on the web, is a welcome and very clear explanation of where are right now and why the EU ETS is a fair and equitable policy.

    Using this scheme as the global model is the way forward. Those states trying to avoid the fairly “light touch” ETS regulation in this latest bit of institutionalised moaning, are misguided and out-of-touch with the reality of the urgent need for action to control and reduce the climate change impacts of civil aviation.

    Which is all the more difficult to understand when many are in the frontline of the fight against climate change right now.

    The EU is not going to capitulate and has the support of environment NGO’s everywhere – covering around a third of aviation’s global CO2 emissions is a stunning achievement and needs support and expansion, not arrogant whingeing from the industry’s flat earthers. If you can afford the cost of a ticket, you can afford the cost of carbon.

    Jeff Gazzard
    Aviation Environment Federation

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