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





See also


ICAO Will Have Emissions Plan By March 2013

June 19, 2012 (Reuters)
The ICAO’s secretary-general said he expects to have a draft proposal on measures to tackle emissions from aviation by March 2013, rather than at the end of 2012 as he had said previously.
The ICAO’s governing council is expected to discuss “market-based measures” to reduce emissions next week.
Secretary-General Raymond Benjamin said he will ask it to eliminate one of four options on the table at that session. Others could be ruled out when the council meets again in the autumn.
“I believe that the turning point will be in March next year, when we will put one option on the table, if all goes well,” he said. “It depends on the member states.”
Stiff resistance from China, the United States and other nations to the European Union’s airline emissions trading scheme has put the ICAO under pressure to come up with a global alternative that could resolve the dispute. In March, Benjamin said the ICAO was on track to have a draft by the end of 2012.
Under the EU’s system, airlines must buy permits for greenhouse gas emissions for planes operating in, to and from, Europe. Opponents say that violates non-EU states’ sovereignty, and that ICAO is the right place to come up with an emission-reduction plan.
Benjamin spoke on the sidelines of a media event at Toronto Pearson airport, where he was about to board a special Air Canada flight powered partly by used cooking oil.
It was part of a marathon four-flight trip from ICAO’s Montreal headquarters to Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.
The journey, which involves several airlines and aircraft from Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier, is designed to highlight the aviation industry’s progress toward sustainability.  [How on earth can 4 separate flights, with 4 separate landings and take offs, possibly be sustainable??]
Benjamin said his ultimate objective is ICAO’s autumn 2013 assembly, where its 191 members would have to approve any global emissions plan. The full assembly meets only once every three years.
“We have to have something for the assembly,” he said.
But an early consensus on the smaller council would give some reassurance that the UN body can help resolve escalating conflict over the EU plan.
The China Air Transport Association said last week that China will take countermeasures that could include impounding European aircraft if the EU punishes Chinese airlines for not complying with its scheme.
The warning came as EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said carriers would have to submit carbon emissions data or face enforcement action.
Airbus says that because of the trade row, Chinese airlines have suspended long-haul jet orders worth up to USD$14 billion.
The ICAO council’s President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez said in March that the four options being considered are :
– mandatory offsetting of emissions from airlines,
– mandatory offsetting with some revenue-generating mechanism,
– and two cap-and-trade systems.
Under one of the cap and trade systems, all aviation emissions could be traded. Under the other, only increases or decreases from an initial emissions baseline could be traded.