The recognition that a market-based measure is technically feasible came from a meeting of the Icao Council earlier this month. Icao’s operating structure means this is a step forward rather than a breakthrough – the next step is for a ‘high-level group’ of geographically representative senior government officials to make proposals for a market-based measure, which would then be put to the next Icao Assembly in September 2013. At this stage, the likely outcome is far from clear. The ‘high-level group’ will evaluate a series of market-based options including a global cap-and-trade system similar to the EU ETS, a global carbon offsetting scheme, and an offsetting measure with a revenue generation mechanism.
Three days after the Icao Council issued its conclusions, the Commission said it would ‘stop the clock’, in the sense that the requirement for airlines operating flights beyond Europe to pay for emission permits under the ETS would not apply for 2012 emissions. Airlines have had to account for their 2012 emissions as from January 2013 and the first bills were due to be sent out in April 2013. The proposed deferral means the ETS will only apply to intra-EU flights, and international airlines who have been issued excess free allowances will have to return them.
T&E aviation manager Bill Hemmings said: ‘Icao has effectively admitted that a global market-based measure for the aviation sector is simply a question of political will. Throughout the 15 years of Icao inaction since the Kyoto protocol was signed, we have always said technical objections were simply a convenient excuse, and now this has been accepted. The EU has made a bigger gesture than was necessary by stopping its clock for one year, but the clock is still ticking for Icao and the climate. There is no longer any excuse for inaction, and we hope Icao’s “high-level group” will move quickly to develop a viable measure that is environmentally effective and addresses the concerns of developing nations.’
The Commission’s proposal to delay the implementation of aviation’s entry to the ETS for flights into and out of the EU is a goodwill gesture intended to give Icao time till its 2013 assembly. The delay still has to be agreed by member states and the European Parliament, and there could be resistance among MEPs who have firmly supported the EU’s original action to include aviation in the ETS.
Meanwhile the American House of Representatives has voted to authorise the US transport minister to order US airlines not to participate in the ETS. The vote came a day after the Commission’s announcement that it was willing to stop the aviation emissions trading clock by one year. The vote, which confirms a similar vote in the Senate, leaves potential confusion in the legal position regarding the USA’s involvement in the ETS. It is now up to President Obama to decide whether to sign the legislation into law and then whether to enforce its provisions.
The US Environmental Defense Fund, which with T&E is a member of the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, said the House of Representatives vote was ‘superfluous and sets a bad precedent for US foreign relations’.
Hemmings added: ‘Obama finally has the chance to prove that he means what he said on climate change in his victory speech. The US deputy ambassador to the EU said the US could not talk with “the threat of the ETS hanging over everybody’s head”; if the Commission’s move still does not clear the sky, we don’t know what would.’
For more news about ICAO and the ETS see EU ETS News Stories
Obama fails first climate test by rejecting inclusion of US aviation in EU ETS
November 28, 2012 Barack Obama has signed a law excluding US airlines from the ETS, which is a blow to hopes for stronger climate action during the president’s 2nd term. Environmental campaigners had urged him to veto the aviation bill as a sign of his commitment to fighting climate change. The White House said in a statement Obama still saw climate change as a priority but that he disagreed with subjecting US and other foreign airlines to the ETS. They said the Obama administration would work to resolve airline emissions through the ICAO. But this is disappointing to European officials and to campaigners in the US who had urged Obama to veto the bill. After winning re-election Obama listed climate change as one of the three main challenges facing the country. Connie Hedegaard tweeted: Aviation ETS: So far the re-elected Pres. #Obama #climate policies look EXACTLY as in first term. Wonder when we’ll see the announced change?” Click here to view full story…
ICAO now says there are likely to be further delays in its attempt to work out a global carbon plan
November 16, 2012 One step forward, two steps back … A top official at the UN’s ICAO – Secretary General Raymond Benjamin – has said he welcomed the EU’s suspension of its ETS in order to give ICAO time to thrash out a plan to reduce the aviation’s carbon footprint globally. On Monday the EU put its ETS scheme on hold for a year as ICAO had said it would set up a committee to work through difficult political issues that are blocking its progress, such as how to deal fairly with developing nations. Benjamin now says he cannot rule out further delays in ICAO’s work. Benjamin said in June that he believed the agency would narrow down the three “market-based measures” still being considered and put its weight behind a single option by March 2013. But now he cannot guarantee this would happen before next fall’s ICAO general assembly in Montreal in November 2013. Announcing the one year delay in ETS, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said of ICAO: “If this exercise does not deliver – and I hope it does – then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS – automatically.” Possible schemes by ICAO are a cap and trade scheme, global carbon offsets, and offsetting with a revenue-generating mechanism. Click here to view full story…
Despite EU concession, US Congress passes bill to halt US airline compliance with ETS
Date added: November 14, 2012
Less than 48 hours after the EU had announced it was suspending the inclusion of flights to and from Europe from the EU ETS, the US House approved a Senate version of a bipartisan bill that aims to prevent US aircraft operators from complying with the EU legislation. The bill authorises the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit compliance if deemed in the public interest. It now goes to the President for signature. An amendment by the Senate calls for pursuance through ICAO of a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions. The final passing of the EU ETS prohibition bill by Congress has been welcomed by US airline and aviation representatives, although US NGOs said the bill was superfluous and counterproductive. There is strong feeling in the US that the EU does not have sovereignty in the US and has no right to levy taxes on it. A spokesman for Connie Hedegaard said it is now up to the US to show that they are serious about pushing for a global solution. Click here to view full story…
EC freezes ETS for airlines flying to and from Europe till November 2013 progress by ICAO
November 12, 2012 The EU has announced that it will delay the date by which airlines have to pay for their emissions on flights to and from Europe. This is very disappointing news. However, they will only delay until there is progress by ICAO on producing a global deal on aviation emissions. If there is not adequate progress by ICAO when it meets in November 2013, the EU ETS will continue to include international aviation, as it does now. Flights within Europe remain in the ETS as before – whether by EU airlines or non-EU airlines – the change is only for flights to and from the EU. Connie Hedegaard, announcing the change, said EU member states will still have to formally endorse the Commission’s exemption for non-EU carriers. The change has occurred because of intense pressure from countries such as the USA, India and China – and lobbying from Airbus on fears the ETS is causing it to lose plane sales. China and India have far more to lose than us if they start a trade war, because they export far more to us than we export there. Nonetheless, the EU and UK have meekly conceded to blackmail from China instead of doing the right thing. We understand that David Cameron was lobbying the EU to defer ETS. It demonstrates, yet again, the UK and EU leaders prefer to sacrifice action on climate change in favour of narrow business interests. The EC has repeatedly said it only included aviation in the ETS after more than a decade of inaction at the ICAO. Unfortunately the concessions made by the EC are much larger than required, and there is no expectation that ICAO will come up with anything worthwhile in the next year.but on the positive side, the EC can no longer be accused of not doing anything in response to voluble continuing criticism over its approach to aviation and climate change. Click here to view full story…
NGOs cautiously welcome ICAO’s decision to speed up work on a global measure to reduce aviation emissions
November 9, 2012 The Council meeting of ICAO has agreed on some important issues relating to so-called ‘market based measures’ (MBMs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. These recognise that global MBMs are technically feasible, while in the past there have been objections. In the past there has been insufficient political will, but now the decisions have moved to a political level. Tim Johnson, Director of Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said: “ICAO has shown that with coordinated effort the technical issues can be resolved. Similar and rapid effort is now required to resolve the political questions in a spirit of fairness and equity while remembering that addressing aviation’s climate change impacts is a necessity. Everyone says a global approach is the way to go – now it’s time to match these words with deeds.” ICAO will now set up a High Level Group which will make proposals on an MBM as well as a so-called ‘framework’ for MBMs on how countries would implement them. These proposals will be put to the triennial Assembly in September 2013. Click here to view full story…