There is an old adage that say’s there’s your view and there’s my view – and there’s the truth that’s somewhere in between. That’s where we seem to be on the increasingly heated story about whether airlines should be part of the EU (European Union) Emissions Trading System or a global scheme developed in International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The EU says we are only pushing it now because we have waited ten years for ICAO action. The industry says it’s complex, it involves sovereign states, and we are achieving something finally in ICAO.
And both views, as any objective analyst will tell you, have some merit – the time has come for action, not talk at a global level, and a big factor is the pressure of the EU regional scheme really coming into force.
Which is why, as South African Tourism Minister Van Schalkwyk stated cogently at the Air Transport Summit last week, a moratorium would allow the necessary breathing space for aviation negotiators to go the last mile in harmony with evolving climate accords.
The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) supports this view because sustainable aviation growth is pivotal to global economic wellbeing, and a trade war at a time of fragile economic recovery is in nobody’s interest. Above all, a temporary moratorium will really only have a small carbon impact in a long-term battle to stabilize the Earth’s temperature, particularly for an industry which is so fundamentally international and which is now committed to a range of carbon reduction programs through smarter operating patterns, new aircraft, and engine technologies, with promising breakthroughs in clean bio-fuel on the horizon.
Such a moratorium will not only encourage a global emission trading scheme, it will also give time for European states to avoid double-dip green taxation and rationalize a trading scheme that collects money from auctioning permits to pay for carbon emissions with parallel action by key member states to collect taxes introduced allegedly to help reduce carbon emissions.
So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a true leadership solution for Europe is to take a “time out” and for ICAO to step up to the plate and deliver on a global scheme with the full support of the industry – not just talk about it.
And if it fails to deliver, then the EU has every reason to push forward, but hopefully with a clear leadership in avoiding double-dip taxation and double standards for this important economic sector.
The author of this article, Professor Geoffrey Lipman, is President of ICTP and a former senior executive at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), World Travel&Tourism Council (WTTC), and UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).