US proposal to include aviation in cap-and-trade legislation would be counterproductive, warns IATA chief
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO
Mon 21 Sep 2009 – The Obama Administration must work with the aviation industry to achieve a goal of carbon neutral growth by 2020, urged Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA, in a Washington speech last week. US contributions to aviation emissions reductions are critical, he said, but warned that proposals to include aviation within the cap-and-trade legislation currently before the US Senate would be counterproductive. Bisignani said accelerating the implementation of the NextGen air traffic management system and creating the fiscal and legal framework to support investment in sustainable biofuels were important steps requiring government support.
He told a meeting of the International Aviation Club that aviation could not be treated in the same way as ground-based polluters such as power plants. “The US must exempt aviation from its cap-and-trade proposal to give the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) an opportunity to develop a global sectoral approach,” he said. “If not, this punitive tax will contravene the Chicago Convention and compromise the ability of the US to object to Europe’s unilateral Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), as well as undermine ICAO’s work.”
Bisignani warned that a flight from New York to London could be triple-taxed from 2012 as a result of the EU ETS, the UK’s Air Passenger Duty and the proposed US cap-and-trade system.
“This is nonsense,” he said. “The EU ETS is unilateral, extra-territorial and illegal. The US must be among countries to fight it, shouting even louder.”
A global solution through ICAO was the best way to reduce emissions, maintain a level playing field and eliminate a patchwork of punitive taxes, he argued.
He told the audience that he had stressed in a meeting with Carol Browner, the President’s assistant on climate change issues, that US support at next month’s ICAO High Level Meeting was critical. “This will be the last opportunity to move towards a global solution with a declaration that clearly defines targets and bridges the gap between ICAO’s principle of global standards and UNFCCC’s principle of common but differentiated responsibility.”
Bisignani said it would send a strong signal to the Copenhagen climate talks if a global sectoral approach with a strong policy vision from ICAO could be maintained along with the full support of the airline industry through IATA. Following the High Level Meeting, he said he hoped to take this message to other meetings with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Dr Pachauri of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
He urged the US Administration to put the NextGen ATM modernization project on a fast track to reduce delays by 40% and save 10 million tonnes of CO2 annually, and fix New York’s airports to reduce delays and improve environmental performance. “The real solution is a complete redesign of the airspace,” he believed.
He said the Administration needed to support sustainable biofuels through the right fiscal and legal framework. “Certification is possible as early as next year but we need to move fast to prepare infrastructure and ramp up production,” he stated.