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Aviation industry ready to thrash out ETS deal

Emissions trading scheme top of ICAO agenda as industry seeks to avoid further upheaval

The world’s aviation leaders will meet in Canada next week, with hopes of working out a global carbon offsetting scheme for the world’s airlines.

The 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) gets underway in Montreal on 24 September 2013, with the main issue on the agenda being the single worldwide emissions trading scheme (ETS), following the global row over the EU’s recent attempts to impose a unilateral scheme.

Late last year the EU agreed to ‘pause’ its ETS plans, and pursue a global solution through ICAO. But failure to agree on a worldwide scheme next week could lead the EU to resume its unpopular plan. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is strongly opposed to the EU ETS, said it is hopeful of a resolution.

Tony Tyler
“We need a global way forward” – Tony Tyler

“Climate change will be at the top of the assembly’s agenda,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general & CEO. “It is important that governments keep firmly focused on reaching agreement on a global solution. Environment is a global challenge. Aviation is a global industry. And we need a global way forward. National or regional schemes are politically charged distractions. We must not allow such discussions to get in the way of important progress that needs to be made,” he added.

At IATA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June 2013, the world’s airlines overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on governments to agree to a mandatory global carbon offset scheme. And IATA, along with four other organisations – Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), the International Coordinating Committee of Aerospace Industry Associations (ICCAIA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) – urged the ICAO assembly to agree the framework of a new carbon trading scheme, to be implemented from 2020.

The EU ETS was designed to charge airlines based on their carbon emissions on flights to and from EU countries. It was deeply unpopular however, as it charged airlines not only for their emissions within EU airspace, but for the duration of the flight, making it especially expensive for long-haul carriers. Several countries, including China, India and the US, sought to ban their airlines taking part in the programme, saying the extra-territorial taxation infringed their sovereignty. China even placed a temporary ban on purchases of large Airbus jets in retaliation, leading to fears of a damaging trade war.

The aviation industry is estimated to account for 2% of global manmade carbon emissions. To address this, IATA has already agreed several wide-ranging measures, including carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and reduction in emissions of 50% by 2050.

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