European airline association hits back at media misconceptions of its EU ETS stand following Commission letter
Sun 19 June 2011 – Following its joint letter with Airbus to the European Commission over the EU ETS, the Association of European Airlines has attempted to dispel ‘myths’ and misconceptions concerning its approach to the under fire scheme. The AEA denies it has called for airlines to be excluded from the EU ETS following legal challenges and “foreign indignation” but maintains the scheme “is unilateral, unnecessarily burdensome and could jeopardise a global approach.” The association, which represents 36 European scheduled carriers, says it wants to work with the Commission to avoid a potential trade conflict that could damage Europe’s airlinks, with knock-on consequences for imports, exports and mobility. While fully backing a global emissions trading scheme, it contends the entire global aviation community was behind mid- and long-term emissions reduction objectives.
The AEA Secretary-General, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, said media-wide coverage of the its letter to the Commission had suggested airlines were looking to shirk their environmental obligations, which was wrong, he said, arguing that as a growth sector it wanted to ensure sustainability.
“Our members are pushing hard to advance the development of alternative fuels, to operate the most environmentally efficient aircraft and to use optimal air routes,” he said. “Beyond the obvious environmental rewards, these efforts are strongly incentivised by the spiralling cost of jet fuel.”
He said European aviation was concerned by the threat of retaliation and legal challenges from “outside powerful economic and political players” over sovereignty issues posed by the inclusion into the EU ETS of all airlines serving Europe.
“We want to work with the Commission to tackle these issues before they boil over with serious economic consequences,” he added.
The AEA supported emissions trading, said Schulte-Strathaus, because it was environmentally beneficial and rewarded efficiency, which taxation did not. However, the carbon permit auctioning element – which would generate around €1.1 billion ($1.6bn) in annual revenues, he estimated – should be reinvested in environmental projects such as the Single European Sky.
“But the vast majority of EU member states have said they cannot or will not earmark these revenues. This is effectively a tax,” he stated.
The AEA calculates that as a net buyer of carbon permits from the start of the scheme, the EU ETS will cost European airlines in total around €3.5 billion per year. It says had this burden been imposed between 2000 and 2010, AEA member airlines would have been in the red every year part from 2007.
The Association also argues that the European scheme goes against an ICAO recommendation that urges States “to refrain from unilateral environmental measures that would adversely affect the orderly development of international civil aviation.”