In an interview with the Reuters news agency, the president of the Icao council Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez said the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which will apply to flights to, from and within the EU from 2012, would contribute to a global scheme. ‘It means we don’t have to start from zero,’ he said.
Yet his comments are being seen in environmental circles as part of an attempt by Icao to keep the responsibility for the environmental impact of aviation under a post-2012 international agreement that will be discussed in Copenhagen in December.
Under the Kyoto protocol, responsibility for seeing that developed countries limited and reduced their aviation GHG emissions was handed to Icao. But in the 12 years since the protocol was signed, Icao has not only done nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft but has put numerous obstacles in the way.
T&E policy officer Bill Hemmings said: ‘Icao’s record since 1997 has included ruling out international measures to tax aviation fuel which would dampen demand, ruling out a greenhouse gas emissions standard for new aircraft, opposing closed emissions trading for aviation, rejecting global aviation emissions trading schemes in favour of local ones, calling for a three-year moratorium on climate emissions charges, and attempting to block inclusion of non-EU airlines in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation.
‘Little wonder then that environmental NGOs are keen for the UNFCCC or the Copenhagen summit to set the appropriate targets for aviation emissions and set out clearly what Icao’s role should be in achieving those objectives.’
The EU has for most of this decade threatened to take unilateral action on both aviation and shipping if the global bodies responsible for them (in shipping’s case the International Maritime Organisation, IMO) do not take adequate global action. But it appears the EU’s threat on shipping has once again slipped back another couple of years.
A last-minute agreement at last December’s summit of EU leaders was reached that says if the EU has not approved by the end of 2011 any IMO or UNFCCC agreement that involves shipping in a global emissions reduction scheme, the Commission will make a proposal for an EU-wide scheme to come into force by 2013.
The Commission first said it would take unilateral action on shipping as long ago as 2003 if no international action was agreed by the end of 2002. Its latest threat was to act on emissions if no global action was taken by 2009.
Last month it published a plan to increase the competitiveness of the EU maritime sector and improve its environmental performance by 2018. The plan calls for a long-term ‘zero-waste, zero-emission’ goal for the maritime sector, which would involved strengthening EU legislation on ship waste disposal.
Hemmings added: ‘It’s possible the EU has been feeling the heat having gone it alone over aviation emissions, or is waiting for the new Obama administration to take some of the initiative. Either way, if IMO doesn’t act by mid-2009, the EU should issue a proposal to include shipping in the EU-ETS.’
EU transport ministers have approved the second Single European Sky package of measures to develop a single market for air transport in Europe. The EU transport commissioner Antonio Tajani said it would mean ‘less CO2 emissions’ despite also meaning ‘less expensive tickets’ that are expected to lead to a greater number of flights.