Aviation emissions compromise possible between ICAO and European Union
The ICAO secretary-general Raymond Benjamin has said ICAO has narrowed down to 4 schemes the alternatives to the EU ETS, which it vigorously opposes. It is possible that some sort of compromise might happen. Some draft proposal should be produced by ICAO by March 2013, not the end of 2012, as had previously been suggested. Europe has repeatedly replied to opposition to the ETS that its hand was forced to go it alone after waiting in vain for more than 15 years for ICAO to come up with a global system to reduce aviation’s greenhouse gases. Their tardiness has been largely due to airline lobbies. There are now firm deadlines that will lead to a plenary assembly of ICAO in Montreal in September 2013 at which all 191 countries will be asked to vote on a single initiative. The EU has said they would modify their ETS if there is an equivalent global scheme. ICAO wants the funds from an ETS to go to aviation, while the EU ETS funds go into general government revenues.
The Montreal Gazette
The broad outline of a compromise – but only barely that – on aviation emissions between the European Union and Montreal’s International Civil Aviation Organization appears to be coming into shape.
In an interview with The Gazette on Monday, ICAO secretary-general Raymond Benjamin said that the UN body he heads has narrowed down to four schemes the alternatives to Europe’s ETS, or emissions trading system, which it vigorously opposes.
Many countries and airlines are also opposed to the ETS for various reasons, including that it’s a relatively inefficient regional scheme rather than a worldwide agreement, and that it will be costly for struggling airlines.
Europe has long replied that its hand was forced to go it alone after waiting in vain for more than 15 years for ICAO to come up with a global system to reduce aviation’s greenhouse gases, largely at the behest of airline lobbies.
During the interview, on a commercial Porter Airlines flight to Toronto powered partly by biofuels and organized by Bombardier Inc., Benjamin said that there are now firm deadlines that will lead to a plenary assembly of ICAO in Montreal in September 2013 at which all 191 countries will be asked to vote on a single initiative.
“And in the EU directive, it is written that if there is a global solution, they will modify their system.”
One of the four possible solutions retained by ICAO is a cap-and-trade scheme similar to the EU’s that came into effect on Jan. 1.
But Benjamin stressed that unlike the pure market-based system adopted in Europe, ICAO’s solution must include firm administrative and jurisdiction rules.
“A crucial point for us is that in the ETS, there is no obligation for the EU to spend the sums collected on aviation, or even on the environment. Each country does what it wants with that money. As far as we’re concerned, we absolutely want that if our system generates cash, it comes back to aviation for R&D.”
European officials have said that the goal of the ETS is not to make money, but to instill a sense of urgency in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We don’t know yet. All that’s happened is that (credits) have been granted. Eventually, airlines will have to buy them for emissions.”
Some Chinese and Indian carriers have yet to submit their emissions numbers – and are forbidden to do so by their respective authorities – and the March 15 deadline was pushed back to June 15, last Friday.
The numbers will become clear by next April 30, when – and if – airlines are required to pay for emissions.
“That’s when the situation will get a little complicated,” Benjamin said.
But he was also conciliatory.
“In their recent statements,” Benjamin said, “the EU and its own climate change bureau reaffirmed that ICAO has accomplished more in the last few months than we did in the last 20 years.”
“I’ll leave aside the last 20 years and take credit for the last few months. I have accelerated the work done by ICAO to find a global solution.”
He said it was too early to claim, as Europe has, that its ETS has cost airlines very little so far.
Benjamin was on his way to the Rio + 20 conference in Rio de Janeiro via Toronto, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, all four legs of which from Montreal were on flights assisted by biofuels.
James Cherry, president of Aéroports de Montréal, said at a morning briefing that recent additions at Dorval’s Pierre Trudeau International Airport are “four times more efficient,” featuring automatic window shades that reduce heating and air conditioning costs.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
ICAO Will Have Emissions Plan By March 2013