EU states deny reports that their Airbus ministers seek suspension of EU ETS until ICAO agreement
Thu 13 Sept 2012 – Reports by Reuters and other media that government officials from the four EU states that have a stake in Airbus aircraft manufacturing – the so-called ‘Airbus ministers’ – are seeking a suspension of the Aviation EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) have been described as inaccurate by two of the governments concerned. According to the reports, British and German junior ministers attending a meeting at this week’s ILA Berlin Air Show, along with their French and Spanish counterparts, will urge their governments to push for a suspension until the next ICAO Assembly in September 2013, when a global agreement on carbon emissions is hoped to be reached. The ministers have been persuaded that the threat of retaliatory action by countries opposed to the application of the EU ETS to their airlines, such as China, could lead to a loss of lucrative Airbus orders.
The EU ETS dispute has frozen deals on Airbus aircraft sales to China worth up to $14 billion, claims Airbus, and CEO Fabrice Bregier said on Monday that its production target of A330 aircraft may have to be cut.
Britain’s business minister, Michael Fallon, appointed just a few weeks ago, said: “Airbus has left us with no doubt that the threat of retaliatory action is a clear and present danger to its order list.”
Referring to the April 30 deadline when airlines must submit permits to cover their 2012 emissions, Fallon said the ministers were very aware the clock was ticking. “We have very little time left,” he said.
Peter Hintze, a German deputy economics minister and aerospace policy coordinator, said Airbus would suffer a disadvantage in major markets over the issue and demanded a global solution in which the goal was not just limited to one continent but was agreed worldwide.
A spokesman at the UK’s Department for Business said it was incorrect that his minister was calling for a suspension of aviation from the EU ETS.
“The UK is committed to reducing aviation emissions and to the role of the EU ETS in doing so,” he told GreenAir. “Like other European nations, the UK is keen to address issues that have been raised by a number of nations around the operation of the aviation element of the EU ETS. There was agreement by the European ministers at the Berlin Air Show that these issues need to be addressed through a global agreement to tackle aviation emissions.
“We recognise that a failure to resolve these issues could have a serious impact on the UK and European aerospace manufacturing and aviation sectors. We are pressing for faster progress in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other fora to secure a global solution which delivers on the EU’s objectives of continuing to reduce emissions from aviation.”
A spokesman for Peter Altmaier, Germany’s Environment Minister, said: “Germany’s position remains unchanged. Germany does not want to remove the Aviation ETS from the track. We look forward to the ICAO conference to implement global carbon trading for aviation.”
China’s airlines have been stopped by the Chinese authorities from complying with the EU ETS and did not submit their 2011 emissions reports by the March 31 deadline, as required under the scheme. A further EC-coordinated one-month deadline was set in the middle of May for submissions but this too has been ignored (see article).
A Chinese representative is now serving on the ICAO working group that is looking at three potential market-based options to put forward to the governing ICAO Council, which next meets in November.