The Commission has published proposals aimed at reducing the amount of taxpayers’ money that goes to airports and airlines. However, the fine print of what is initially a consultation means small airports will continue to receive massive subsidies that often make their way to low-fares airlines, even when such subsidies distort competition between airlines. The consultation is important, because when it is complete the Commission can implement its preferred solution without consulting MEPs.
The European Commission today published new draft guidelines  that will allow regional airports and EU carriers serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth €3bn a year. In a good number of cases  these rules prop up unprofitable regional airports and low-cost carriers, allowing them to continue to operate in an unsustainable way which distorts competition between budget and national carriers. The proposed guidelines also permit the bail out of financially unviable operations for a decade and allow infrastructure aid for building new airports to continue in aeternum.
Air travel accounts for 5-14% of global climate emissions and is growing rapidly. Nevertheless, aviation emissions remain unregulated. Pressure is mounting on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to agree to a mechanism to reduce aviation emissions during their next triennial Assembly in September 2013.
The world’s leading airlines have indicated the need to accept a global market-based measure to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) agreed at its annual meeting earlier this month that a global carbon-offsetting measure after 2020 would be acceptable to its airline members. T&E has recognised the shift in air industry thinking compared with earlier statements, but says the IATA position is ‘not convincing’.
One of the main arguments put forward by countries such as China, India and Brazil is that according to agreed principles under the UNFCCC 'developed' countries have the greater historical responsibility for their accumulative historical CO2 emissions. The list of top 20 historical aviation emitters, however, includes China, Singapore, the UAE and Brazil, suggesting that these countries also have a historical obligation to address aviation emissions. See below an array of data that set out the actual situation regarding historical responsibility for international aviation emissions.
Developing countries argue that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should start with developed countries because they have the greatest historical responsibility for generating CO2 emissions and thus causing the bulk of global warming. At the recent abortive round of deliberations of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) High Level Group, these arguments came to the fore again. During the discussions to find consensus around global action to address aviation’s contribution to climate change, China, India and Brazil revived old arguments that they have no responsibility to act, not even at differentiated levels, because of these historical issues enshrined in the global climate negotiations.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade body comprising 240 airlines worldwide, today finally acknowledged the need for a global market–based measure to reduce aviation's contribution to climate change. IATA called on their airline members to encourage their governments to agree at this year’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly on a global carbon offsetting measure to take effect in 2020.
A coalition of 11 environmental, development and science groups wrote to Tony Tyler, the head of international aviation trade body, IATA, calling for a global sectoral approach that covers the environmental cost of airlines' emissions. The letter was sent days before 240 airlines gathered in Cape Town, South Africa at IATA's Annual General Meeting to discuss the industry issues including the sector's contribution to climate change. The full letter is reproduced in the downloadable link below.
The EU’s decision to ‘stop the clock’ on including emissions from intercontinental flights in its Emissions Trading Scheme appears to have been influenced by Chinese threats to cancel orders for new planes from Airbus. A letter from the president of the French aircraft maker to China’s leading aviation official – seen by Reuters – says Airbus played an influential role in persuading the EU to give the world’s governments another year to reach agreement on how to tackle carbon emissions from air transport. T&E says European governments have effectively given China ‘a veto over European policy’.
International aviation is on course for a rough landing in our warming world. Air travel is growing rapidly -- and so are aviation emissions, which are already responsible for 5 percent of the warming effect of global greenhouse gas emissions.