Air Group Calls for Real Progress on Emissions

June 25, 2008
A proposed emissions trading scheme would add cost for airlines and their users and subject the industry to legal challenges.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament to put aside their single-minded focus on emissions trading and deliver real progress in reducing aviation emissions with a Single European Sky.

“I urge the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission to support our successful strategy with concrete measures. And to stop plans to punish airlines and travelers with an emissions trading scheme (ETS) that will only invite international legal battles,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA.

“When it comes to aviation, Europe’s governments have lost the plot,” said Bisignani “Tunnel-vision on emissions trading is no solution at all. Airlines are working hard to reduce their 2% share of global carbon emissions. Europe is fixated on punitive measures. Unilaterally bringing aviation into the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) seeks to limit mobility and adds €4.2 billion to the cost of travel. But reducing emissions is more effective than charging for them.’’

Bisignani pointed to record fuel prices as strong industry incentive to reduce fuel burn and related emissions. “Europe’s ETS proposal was developed when oil averaged $55 per barrel (Brent). Now oil is around $135. Our 2008 fuel bill could be $190 billion.’’

Bisignani called on Europe to drive a global approach to emissions trading. “Europe must show international leadership. The drafters of Kyoto envisaged a global ETS solution for aviation brokered through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – a UN body. Europe’s unilateral regional scheme misses the mark. An ETS that is fair, global and compliant with international law could be effective. But only if it is part of a comprehensive programme to reduce emissions. Europe’s regional scheme is none of these. To survive the oil crisis, airlines are already doing everything possible to save fuel and reduce emissions. So there is no additional incentive. Already over 130 countries have vowed to oppose it. And it puts 7.6 million aviation-related European jobs at risk with higher costs.”

“It’s time to say BASTA. Enough. Europe must refocus. First, it must put aside its ETS proposal. Making decisions in the middle of an energy crisis for an ETS to be implemented in five years is crazy. Second, it must be honest. Emissions taxes may fill government coffers, but they do little for the environment. Third, Europe must find a comprehensive strategy that can reduce aviation emissions – even in the middle of a crisis,” said Bisignani.

IATA’s Four Pillar strategy designed to limit aviation’s impact on the environment – by investing in technology, flying planes effectively, building efficient infrastructure and implementing positive economic measures – has been endorsed by ICAO’s 179 member states and is delivering tangible results.

“The industry strategy is delivering results. Airlines will spend $3 trillion to renew their fleets over the next 20 years. Our target is a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020. IATA Green Teams worked with airlines to save 7 million tonnes of CO2 in 2007 through better flight operations. In 2007 IATA optimized 395 routes, saving 4 million tonnes of CO2. Our target is to eliminate the 73 million tonnes of unnecessary CO2 emissions caused by inefficient infrastructure. Europe is falling behind,” said Bisignani. “Tax credits for re-fleeting and research funding are essential measures. Industry increased its research spend and tested bio-fuels, solar power and fuel cells. By 2017 10% of our fuel will be from alternative sources. But OECD countries reduced their energy research budgets by 50% compared to 1980. This must change.”

“Uniting Europe’s 35 air navigation service providers into a Single European Sky is the biggest action that Europe could take to improve environmental performance – saving 12 million tonnes of CO2. Routes would be optimized and the 21 million minutes of delays experienced last year would be reduced. I challenge the French Presidency [of the European Union] to work with the Commission to deliver a Single European Sky within its mandate,” said Bisignani.