GIACC proposals are an important step towards a global agreement on aviation emissions, says top EU official
Daniel Calleja, Director Air Transport, European Commission
Thu 18 Jun 2009 – The European Commission’s Director of Air Transport, Daniel Calleja, has said he did not agree with those who believed ICAO had failed to deliver on an action plan to reduce international aviation emissions. He said that although there were difficulties reconciling the positions of developing countries with those in the developed world, the recent report by ICAO’s Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC) had come up with a workable framework on which ICAO should be given a mandate post-Copenhagen to develop a global agreement. The incoming Secretary General of ICAO, Raymond Benjamin, said that GIACC’s report proposals would help meet the challenge of reducing aviation emissions but fuel efficiency goals were not enough and emissions must stop growing.
Both were speaking at ACI EUROPE’s annual assembly and congress held in Manchester this week. Calleja said Europe was pursuing a number of initiatives within a comprehensive approach, including the €1.9 billion SESAR research and development programme, the €1.6 billion Clean Sky technology programme and an important study on alternative fuels. But, he said, these elements were not enough to meet the carbon reduction targets that aviation was required to achieve. “That is why the Commission proposed market-based measures, given the forecasted growth in air transport,” he told delegates. “Although we are in an economic crisis right now, once it is over traffic will continue to grow and we have to face the challenge of global warming.”
Calleja said the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was the most cost-effective market-based instrument because it had the important advantage of allowing aviation to grow. There were those, he said, who believed the EU was wrong in acting unilaterally given that climate change was a global problem requiring a global solution. “But the truth is, things were moving very slowly. It was only when the EU put its system on the table that we saw some movement in ICAO.
“Now we are seeing action inside the industry and in member states. The European Union would like to pioneer a global solution because we agree that aviation is global. We cannot act alone and we need to engage with the rest of the world and deal seriously with this issue. Our system is in line with international law. We are ready to adapt it because it does not start until 2012. So if there is an international agreement in ICAO, which we would favour, we would be ready to adapt our system, as we are ready to recognize equivalent systems from third countries. We don’t want to have overlapping systems where airlines are subjected to different schemes. We want to have a global system, which is why we have included this possibility in our directive.
“We are making good progress with some countries. With Australia and New Zealand we are currently engaged in negotiations because they are going ahead with similar systems. And we are also very interested in the recent moves in the US where is legislation coming, and the EU is open to discussions with the US and other countries on compatible systems.”
He did not believe there would be a legal challenge to the inclusion of foreign carriers into the EU ETS but agreed it was an issue that could possibly arise in future negotiations with the US over the Open Skies agreement.
Calleja said the Commission did not share the view that GIACC had been unambitious and that ICAO had failed. “I have to tell you that we do not agree. It is true that discussions within ICAO are difficult – there are 190 countries – and the position of the developing countries is not the same as for developed countries but we think there is a framework on which we can work.”
He said the 2% annual fuel efficiency goals, the basket of measures and the monitoring and the reporting of aviation emissions by all states were important elements of the GIACC proposals. He also saw the possibility for more ambitious goals and he said the EU was working hard to have carbon-neutral growth by 2020.
Calleja was of the opinion that international aviation would be addressed in the UNFCCC Copenhagen talks in December but acknowledged the difficulties. “The major challenge we have ahead of us is how to reconcile the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), which is strongly maintained by developing countries, with the fundamental ICAO principle of non-discrimination. This is the critical issue that has to be settled in these negotiations.”
He stated the EU would like to have ambitious targets set at Copenhagen for aviation but at the same time a mandate be given to ICAO to develop a global framework. “The process must be done through ICAO to avoid distortions over the two principles,” he said.
Calleja told GreenAir Online that an international agreement at ICAO was very important and a flow of funds from the EU to developing countries would be on the table if it was reached. “Everything is possible in the framework of a global negotiation.” He said that the ICAO General Assembly in September 2010 would be “an important moment of truth” for ICAO.
Raymond Benjamin, who will take up his new role as Secretary General of ICAO from August, said that GIACC had come up with “an aggressive plan of action” that would result in a 60% improvement in the fuel efficiency of civil aircraft by 2050 from a 2005 base level. The resulting recommendations following the ICAO high-level meeting in October, he said, should form the basis of a position for the Copenhagen climate talks in December.
“But Copenhagen is by no means the end of ICAO’s work in this field – it is just a step,” he said.
He believed the initiatives the industry was taking such as IATA’s four-pillar strategy and the work being carried out on biofuels were moves in the right direction. “But fuel efficiency is not enough. Emissions must stop growing,” he told delegates to the European airports conference. “Last week, airlines committed themselves to achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020, which means that aviation emissions would cease to grow in absolute terms.”
On taking office, he said he would commit ICAO to a greater engagement with non-governmental as well as government organizations. “It is my belief that ICAO can be improved, and also be more effective in serving the global air transport industry.”