The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reiterated the air transport industry’s commitment to its ambitious agenda to reduce CO2 emissions and urged the European Union (EU) to abandon its misguided plans to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) commencing in 2012.
IATA invited governments to join industry as committed partners in a global approach to reducing aviation’s carbon emissions that could also include a global ETS or other compensation measures.
“The industry’s value chain is united around ambitious targets and a clear strategy to reduce its carbon footprint. To achieve the positive economic measures, technology improvements, more efficient infrastructure and better operations necessary to meet our targets, governments need to be much more proactive stakeholders and real partners,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO in a speech at the Greener Skies conference in Hong Kong.
Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers are committed to improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually to 2020, capping net carbon emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and cutting net emissions in half by 2050, compared to 2005.
“These are challenging targets. Airlines represent 2% of global manmade CO2 emissions. This year that is estimated to be some 650 million tonnes of CO2 emitted while carrying 2.8 billion passengers and 46 million tonnes of cargo. By 2050, the industry aspires to carry 16 billion passengers and 400 million tones of cargo with some 320 million tonnes of CO2 emissions,” said Tyler.
The industry has agreed on a four-pillar strategy to achieve emissions reductions that has also been endorsed by governments through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The four pillars are investments in technology, more efficient infrastructure, more efficient operations and positive economic measures.
“IATA is not opposed to emissions trading. We support the concept as a possible mechanism for the fourth pillar of our environment strategy. But the EU’s unilateral and regional approach to ETS could not be more misguided. It is distracting governments from focusing on the real solution—a global approach through ICAO,” said Tyler.
Tyler noted that the EU’s plans challenge national sovereignty. “Europe’s plans contravene international law with the extra-territorial application of taxes. What right does Europe have to charge an Australian carrier for emissions over China? It is an attack on sovereignty that is being challenged by governments. China, India and the US are among states formally opposing the EU ETS. And the US is even processing a bill that will prohibit its carriers from participating. While the EU sees its actions as supporting a positive environmental agenda, the rest of the world sees it as an attack on sovereignty,” said Tyler.
Managing carbon emissions is a global problem. Aviation is a global industry. And we need a global solution. All roads lead to ICAO. It is time for Europe to refocus on a Plan B that is centered on a global solution through ICAO,” said Tyler.
Tyler also responded to EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard’s comment that the issuing of free ETS allowances would enable aviation to invest 20 billion Euros in clean technologies between now and 2020. “If that were the reality, we wouldn’t be complaining! But it’s not. The well-known fact is that airlines will be net purchasers of carbon emissions permits for the foreseeable future. The starting cost is $1.2 billion in 2012. To put that into perspective, the industry’s projected 2012 profit is $4.9 billion. Aviation cannot afford expensive regional mistakes - all parties urgently need to get back around the table to agree a global approach under the leadership of ICAO,” said Tyler.