Wed 14 Nov 2007 – Yesterday’s vote by European MEPs to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has been described as “a massive blow to the viability and competitiveness of the European airline industry, a barely measurable step for the environment, and extremely bad news for European growth and cohesion” by the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
“This vote reflects political compromises more than it does the reality of the environmental challenge and aviation’s real contribution to the issue – not to mention the fact that it is not based on any kind of impact assessment,” said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus of the AEA, which represents 31 European carriers.
Under the ETS, airlines would have to auction for 25% of their emission permits, which, said Schulte-Strathaus, is a “euphemism for taxes”.
“Clearly, it looks as though some MEPs are more interested in penalising European airlines and their passengers than in the environmental benefits such a system might deliver,” he said.
Airlines, said the AEA, are now “pinning their hopes” that the Council of Environment Ministers may help them out when they meet on December 20. “The EU has a responsibility for designing a scheme that does not lead to distortions of competition with non-EU airlines, and which European carriers and their passengers can afford,” said Schulte-Strathaus.
“Our member airlines are committed to doing everything they can to further reduce their impact on the environment. They have always endorsed the concept of emissions trading as a potentially useful tool for managing emissions, as part of a comprehensive strategy which should also involve operational, technological and infrastructural advances, such as the long-awaited implementation of the Single European Sky, which should allow us to avoid unnecessarily emitting 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
“Aviation accounts for 2% of global man-made CO2 emissions, with European airlines’ share amounting to 0.5%. Knowing this, however, the European Parliament has designed a scheme [ETS] which will have a devastating effect not only on European carriers’ financial stability but also on economic growth and tourism – especially in the new EU accession countries – and will result in a barely measurable reduction in CO2 emissions globally.
“The European Parliament seems to have lost sight of the key objective of the Scheme. The Council should not. Climate change is a global issue. If the EU does not get this right, Europe is now even less likely to convince other regions of the world to subscribe to this Scheme and, therefore, of making a real difference.”
Sylviane Lust, Director General of the International Air Carrier Association (IACA), said: “Let there be no doubt that the Parliament’s punitive design of the ETS would damage the aviation sector beyond repair.”
The association, which represents 37 airlines serving the leisure industry, calculates the scheme would cost airlines around 11 billion euros per year, “which they are unlikely to be able to absorb”.
Said Lust: “We continue to support the ETS in principle but it needs to be properly designed and affordable. It is now up to Member States to take responsibility for designing a proposal that, above all, takes account of the impact of a scheme, not just on aviation but also on European competitiveness.”
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