UK Parliamentary committee criticizes airlines for dragging their feet on environmental schemes
Tue 5 Feb 2008 - A report by the House of Commons Treasury Committee looking into climate change and the implications for policy has accused airlines of “dragging their feet” in cooperating on environmental schemes, and recommends airlines adopt a system of eco-labelling so that consumers can compare the environmental footprint of each airline when purchasing their tickets.
“Aircraft emissions are a fast-growing component of the UK’s emissions, yet the aviation industry seems to be doing little about the problem,” said John McFall, Labour MP and Chairman of the all-party committee. “Our proposals for an industry-wide eco-labelling scheme would at least provide customers with the environmental information they need to make a choice between providers.”
However, the report’s comments were welcomed by UK carrier Flybe, whose environmental slogan is “Low cost but not at any cost” and introduced ecolabels for all 77 of its aircraft in June 2007, an industry first.
The label, modelled on those used in the sale of ‘white goods’ like fridges, microwaves and washing machines, shows a full range of environmental indicators per aircraft. The labels are presented as part of the online ticket booking process and are displayed on the side of all aircraft, as well as in onboard literature and advertising.
“Flybe is delighted that the Committee has highlighted our ecolabel scheme and encouraged the rest of UK aviation to follow our lead and adopt an eco-labelling system,” said Mike Rutter, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer. “The initiative is scientifically robust and we have, since June 2007, made the methodology fully available online to any other airline that wants to replicate it. We repeat our offer to the industry to make our expert staff available to any other airline wanting to develop their own ecolabels.”
Also in its report, the Treasury Committee welcomed the UK Government’s proposals to replace the current Air Passenger Duty with a Per Plane Duty but “regrets” that the Government has taken so long to do it. It urges the Government to ensure that cargo flights and private planes are included in the new regime and that tax differentials be introduced to encourage investment in cleaner technologies. The Treasury has just published a consultation document to look into the various options of operating the new duty (read story).
The Committee also encouraged the Government to “strive” for a much tighter allocation of permits in Phase 2 of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), which aviation will join. “For environmental economic tools to have impact in changing behaviour they must have bite,” said John McFall. “The potential impact of the EU ETS has been hugely diminished by the over-allocation of permits in Phase 1.”