The FINANCIAL — On the occasion of the 37th Assembly of the International Aviation Civil Organization (ICAO), taking place in Montreal from September 28th, the Association of European Airlines, representing Europe’s 35 major network carriers, has renewed its call for ICAO to agree on a global approach to reduce emissions from the aviation sector.
“We have a unique opportunity for governments to agree on a global industry carbon reduction plan prior to the Cancun UNFCCC Conference”, said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, AEA Secretary General. “For a template, they need look no further than the aviation sector’s ambitious program to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint”.
Aviation is the only global sector to have set itself far-reaching environmental targets: efficiency improvements of 1.5% per year up to 2020, carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards, and a 50% reduction of net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005. “The airlines are already undertaking several measures for carbon emissions reductions. For these to have a meaningful, they must be comprehensive and undertaken at global level”, said Mr Schulte-Strathaus.
Only a commitment at global level would deliver emissions reduction on a measurable scale, said the AEA Secretary General, given that air transport accounts for just 2% of man-made CO2 emissions. And only a commitment at global level would maintain a level playing-field between European airlines and their global competitors. “Previous efforts to achieve consensus within ICAO had faltered on the concerns of developing countries. AEA and its members have proposed solutions to address these concerns, and firmly believe that they need not be an insurmountable obstacle to agreement”, said Mr Schulte-Strathaus.”It is technically possible to reconcile the principles of the UNFCCC with those of ICAO; required is a political will to integrate aviation into a global scheme to impact the environmental footprint without distorting competition”.
Europe’s airlines are already paying a multiple for their carbon footprint in the form of taxes and charges. These payments limit the airlines’ ability to invest in the lower-carbon technologies which they need in order to achieve their carbon-reduction targets. In the view of European airlines, the national taxes also have a substantial impact on European competitiveness. In the absence of a global agreement, the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012 will greatly add to these distortions. “The Emissions Trading Scheme will cover 100% of the services of European networks, but non-European airlines will only be affected to the extent they fly to Europe. One regional mechanism cannot have a global impact; we need a global sectoral approach to this issue”, said the Secretary General.