UK Transport Secretary calls on the US and EU to agree on a common approach to aviation and climate change
Rt. Hon. Geoff Hoon, UK Secretary of State for Transport
Fri 8 May 2009 – The UK’s Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has called on the European Union and the US to work together to create a safe, sustainable and viable aviation industry to meet the economic and environmental challenges. He said he wanted to see an agreement between the EU and US on a clear approach to climate change in aviation, involving new fuel efficiency standards and meaningful global emission goals. Aviation can move away from being seen as part of the environmental problem, he said, and instead become a part of the global solution.
Speaking at the International Aviation Club in Washington DC, Hoon said: “Climate change is one of the defining issues of our age. And it is one that the aviation industry must confront – the industry cannot stand still or shuffle sideways in the hope that this issue will go away or solve itself. But I believe that the opportunity is there for the industry to give a lead.
“There is a lot that can be achieved by technological improvements and other efficiencies – such as in air traffic control. But it’s clear to me that we need to go further than that. The only way I can look the European electorate in the eye and convince them that I am taking aviation emissions seriously is if I can guarantee that those emissions will be capped. That is what the inclusion of aviation in the European Emissions Trading Scheme is designed to do.
“I know the ETS remains politically, conceptually and legally controversial over here [USA]. But I don’t think it makes sense at this time to polarize this debate by concentrating on a legal argument about what the Chicago Convention might or might not mean. Instead, let’s look at practical ways of moving forward.
“I accept that the US aviation industry is concerned about what it sees as the imposition of the ETS on terms determined by the European Union. The EU came up with the ETS in the absence of concrete proposals from other nations or regions. But we are not pretending that it is the only possible scheme design in town.”
Hoon stated the ETS had been designed to interact with similar schemes elsewhere and if the US was to design a broadly equivalent domestic system then inbound US flights would be exempted from the EU ETS.
“So there is a clear opportunity for constructive engagement. And I am delighted to see the beginning of serious discussions about cap and trade in Washington,” he said.
“More widely, I believe the aviation industry can seize the chance to move onto the front foot and work multilaterally to determine its own future. But it needs a global emissions goal to provide direction, backed up by stretching international fuel efficiency standards.
“That goal must be consistent with the ambitions and expectations for the Copenhagen Climate Conference. If we can make significant progress, aviation can move away from being part of the environmental problem and, instead, become a clear part of the global solution.”
In his speech, Hoon also called for the completion of stage two of the EU-US Opens Skies negotiations by June 2010 with the main objective of liberalizing all foreign ownership in airlines, with European and US carriers having the ability to operate like any other competitive international company. He also urged the US not to give special trade protection to certain areas of its aerospace industry.