China sets new aviation energy intensity reduction target as its officials prepare for talks in Brussels over EU ETS
Thu 5 May 2011 – China’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAC) has issued guidance to airlines urging them to speed up energy efficiency and emissions reduction measures on domestic and international operations. It is aiming to reduce carbon intensity by 22 per cent by the end of 2020 from 2005 levels. The CAAC says the country’s aviation industry should focus on fuel-saving technology and other new technologies such as alternative fuels, as well as promote greater awareness of the importance of energy savings and emissions reductions. It also calls on Air Traffic Control departments to optimise available airspace to shorten flight distances through better coordination with the military and implementing new air navigation procedures. Although any connection with the target is denied, Chinese officials are due shortly in Brussels for talks with the EU on the inclusion of China’s airlines into the EU Emissions Trading System.
Under an earlier five-year plan, from 2006 to 2010, CAAC had aimed for a reduction of 9% in energy intensity by the Chinese aviation industry. CAAC foresees a three-phased approach to achieving the new 22% goal – measured in terms of reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions per revenue tonne kilometre – and says new aircraft technology, research programmes and cooperation on international initiatives should be implemented to keep pace with energy saving and emissions reduction measures being undertaken in the major developed countries.
It also wants to see greater efforts in promoting emissions reductions and energy management in airport construction and ground services, including aircraft ground emissions.
Through the China Air Transport Association, four Chinese airlines recently wrote to the European Commission to protest their inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which starts in January (see story). The Chinese government has previously set out its own resistance to the application of international market-based measures on its airlines, maintaining that it is exempted as a developing country under the present UN climate change treaty. Despite similar opposition from other major developing countries, it has so far failed to derail the EU’s decision to include carriers from outside the EU in its flagship emissions reduction scheme.
The EU has though said it is prepared to omit airlines from the ETS from third countries that are prepared to take their own equivalent actions to reduce aviation carbon emissions.
However, a Chinese source told GreenAir Online that the timing of the new intensity target announcement and the negotiations in Brussels was coincidental. A Commission official said meetings with third countries on aviation and climate change matters were held regularly and there was nothing unusual in the Chinese visit.
“The precise agenda is still to be finalised, so the visit cannot be characterised as simply talks about ‘equivalent measures’ as we will probably cover a wide range of issues,” he told GreenAir Online.