Posted on: 04 October 2013 by Mark Howells
An agreement to for the air transport industry to move ahead with global market-based measures (MBM) that will help to enable the industry achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 has received a mixed welcome from airline associations.
IATA (International Air Transport Association) has praised the leadership of governments in reaching the agreement. "Today was a great day for aviation, for the effort against climate change and for global standards and international co-operation,” declared Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and CEO. “Industry, civil society and governments have worked hard to reach this point and keep aviation at the forefront of industries managing their climate change impact. Now we have a strong mandate and a short three-year timeframe to sort out the details. Airlines need and want a global MBM. Without losing any of the momentum built up over these last two weeks, we are eager to get on with the detailed work needed to design the global scheme in time for finalisation at the 2016 Assembly."
As noted, IATA believes the agreement will set in motion discussions on the detailed design elements of a global MBM, including standards for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and the type of scheme to be implemented. In June, IATA's 240 member airlines – representing some 84% of global traffic – overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking governments to develop a global mandatory carbon offsetting scheme. The industry believes that this will be the most effective and efficient MBM to implement.
"We should also recognise the important role that the European Commission and Parliament have played in raising the aviation emissions issue up the international agenda,” Tyler added. “Aviation would not be in the climate leadership position it is in today were it not for their early and persistent efforts which inspired both industry and other governments.
Meanwhile, the director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), Andrew Herdman, welcomed the decision, commenting, “The aviation sector has committed to ambitious environmental targets, and is successfully pursuing a four pillar strategy of technology, operations and infrastructure improvements, which will nevertheless need to be supplemented by market based measures. This landmark agreement clearly demonstrates the benefits of international co-operation and a partnership effort involving industry pointing the way forward to a truly sustainable future for international aviation."
Herdman continued, "Looking ahead, the challenge will be in ensuring that the collective industry commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020 is implemented in a way that is fair and equitable, avoiding competitive market distortion, whilst reconciling the differing interests and perspectives of developed and developing nations. There were some tense moments and tough negotiations during the ICAO Assembly, but the important point is that for the first time all the major players were fully engaged in trying to map out a constructive way forward based on reaching a genuine consensus amidst divergent views."
The European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) believes that the outcome of the 38th General Assembly of ICAO actually failed to produce a global solution to address aviation emissions.
“While some interests have hailed the outcome as a landmark resolution, in that ICAO states have agreed to continue to study proposals for a global market-based mechanism to tackle aviation emissions, in reality, nothing of substance has been committed to, only three more years of discussions,” argued John Hanlon, ELFAA’s secretary general. “ICAO has firmly rejected the EU’s publicly stated dual aims – first, to reach agreement on a realistic path to developing a global MBMs, and, second, to agree on a transitional Framework Agreement, for comprehensively applying national and regional MBMs to international aviation.
“This ICAO meeting had been seen by the EU as an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the reduction of national, regional and global CO2 emissions. That opportunity has been missed,” Hanlon declared.
ELFAA stated that the European Parliament's support for the EU compromise to apply EU ETS to emissions from international flights in EU airspace only, as a "bottom line" concession, has also been rejected. “In fact, none of the EU so called red lines, spelled out by Commissioner Hedegaard, EU Commissioner on Climate Action, at the time of granting the ‘stop the clock’ derogation aimed at enabling an agreement at ICAO level, have been met by the outcome of the General Assembly of ICAO,” the Association commented.
ELFAA says it now looks to the EU to honour its commitment to "snap back automatically" to the full "all flights" scope of EU ETS, commenting, “An intra-EU ETS would be totally ineffective environmentally, capturing only a fraction of EU aviation emissions of CO2. It would also be unlawful, as found by the CJEU Advocate General in her Opinion at the time of rejection of the US carrier's challenge to inclusion in EU ETS, ruling it would be discriminatory and in contravention of the stated environmental objectives of the Directive to discriminate between flights, according to their origin or destination airport.”
The exemption of international flights in the one year only EU Derogation was conditional on very specific outcomes from the ICAO General Assembly, none of which – according to ELFAA – have been delivered. “The EU must now restore the environmental effectiveness of EU ETS, and EU credibility, by reverting to the legal ‘all flights’ scope,” ELFAA concluded.