British Airways’ chief executive Rod Eddington has urged the global aviation industry to work together to reduce its impact on climate change or face the risk of additional taxation.
Speaking today at the Aviation and Environment summit in Geneva, Mr Eddington said the industry must unite to develop an effective strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well as promoting its past environmental achievements. If it does not, he warned, governments will view the industry as an easy target for taxes to fund non-aviation projects.
Mr Eddington said, “The recent suggestion by French President Jacques Chirac that our industry can be used as a “cash cow” to solve the problems of Africa is just the latest in a long series of proposals to tax or charge aviation with environmental levies in some way. If we are to resist damaging and punitive proposals of this sort, we need to define and promote our industry response more clearly.”
British Airways stated that emissions trading is the most economically and environmentally effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions levels. The airline is currently trading emissions in a voluntary British government scheme and supports the inclusion of aviation into the European Union’s emissions trading scheme from 2008.Ê
Mr Eddington added, “Our experience is that trading is a workable approach and need not be excessively costly. A tax would not only be bad for the economics of our industry, it would also be bad environmental policy. Taxes which doubled the cost of aviation fuel and cost airlines and their passengers £50 billion each year would cut less than 0.5 per cent off the growth of air traffic over a 30 year period.”
Mr Eddington said also that improvements in air traffic management systems - such as shorter flightpath routes, less stacking and the use of continuous descent landings - can cut emissions by up to 12 per cent. He added that many air traffic management systems are government controlled and governments have an important role to play in delivering improved environmental performance through better infrastructure.