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EU revives Airline Carbon Tax Proposal

The European Union’s executive branch on Wednesday proposed taxing airlines for emissions made while crossing European airspace, revising a controversial plan the EU had to back down from last year.

Under the new European Commission proposal, airlines using EU airspace could be subject to a tax for air-polluting carbon emissions on the portion of a flight that crosses the European Economic Area (EEA).

“The European Union has reduced greenhouse gas emissions considerably, and all the economic sectors are contributing to these efforts. The aviation sector also has to contribute, as aviation emission are increasing fast — doubling since 1990,” said EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard in a statement.

The new proposal is an amended version of the EU’s ill-fated CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for intercontinental flights, which the EU suspended last year after a flurry of protests from emerging countries, airlines and aircraft builders that raised fears of a trade war.

Under the former scheme, flights through EU airspace, wherever they originated, were required to buy pollution credits to cover 15 percent of their CO2 emissions for the entire flight, wherever it originated.

In the new proposal, the tax would apply only to the part of the flight crossing the EEA — the 28 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland.

The announcement of the amended plan comes after the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreed earlier this month to regulate the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions but gave itself until 2020 to work out the details.

The EU’s new plan would apply from the beginning of 2014 until the ICAO regulations take effect, the European Commission said.

“With this proposal, Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins,” said Hedegaard.

The plan, which has to receive the backing of the EU’s member states and the European Parliament, risks reigniting the standoff between the EU and countries such as China, India and Russia that do not want the tax imposed on their airlines.

Asked if the proposal risked raising an outcry after the Montreal deal, Hedegaard replied: “Every country that respects the rule of law will recognise that we have the right to take the measures we want in our airspace.”

Flights to and from developing countries that generate less than one percent of global aviation emissions would receive a full exemption. © AFP

 

Source: EU revives Airline Carbon Tax Proposal – © AFP – 17/10/2013

 

Airlines have 3 years to come up with measures to drastically cut emissions

A landmark agreement on climate change was reached at the close of the 38th Assembly of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal.

ICAO’s 191 member states convened in the Canadian city last week.

“Today was a great day for aviation, for the effort against climate change and for global standards and international cooperation,” Tony Tyler, director-general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said after the agreement was reached. “Industry, civil society and governments have worked hard to reach this point and keep aviation at the forefront of industries managing their climate change impact.

“Now we have a strong mandate and a short three-year time frame to sort out the details. Airlines need and want a global MBM [market-based measure]. Without losing any of the momentum built up over these last two weeks, we are eager to get on with the detailed work needed to design the global scheme in time for finalisation at the 2016 assembly.”

The agreement will set in motion discussions on the detailed design elements of a global MBM, including standards for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and the type of scheme to be implemented.

In June, IATA’s 240 member airlines representing some 84 per cent of global traffic overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking governments to develop a global mandatory carbon-offsetting scheme. The industry believes that this will be the most effective and efficient MBM to implement.

Tyler praised the European Commission for its important role in this. The EC earlier made persistent efforts on aviation emissions.

IATA members agreed that technology, operations, infrastructure and economic measures made up the four-pillar strategy to address climate change.

The IATA Technology Road Map identifies technologies that could reduce fuel per aircraft by up to 30 per cent. Improved operations can save fuel and carbon-dioxide emissions by up to 6 per cent per year. Meanwhile, governments and infrastructure providers could avoid up to 12 per cent of carbon-dioxide emissions by addressing airport and airspace inefficiencies.

Thanks to technology and improvement in operations, air transport has reduced its fuel use and carbon-dioxide emissions per passenger-kilometre by well over 70 per cent compared with the 1960s. Although traffic increased by as much as 5.3 per cent year on year, total emissions for 2012 increased by only 3 per cent to 689 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, compared with 669 million tonnes in 2011.

According to IATA, air transport accounts for 2 per cent of global man-made carbon-dioxide emissions. Air transport’s contribution has not increased in the past 20 years and is not expected to increase beyond 3 per cent by 2050, the association says.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sets the strategies that total climate-change impact (including radiative forcing from other greenhouse gases) at 3 per cent now should not increase beyond 5 per cent by 2050.

CNG2020 means that aviation’s net carbon-dioxide emissions will not rise beyond 2020 levels even as demand for air transport continues to grow. Aside from ICAO’s endorsement, this vision would become true if governments and fuel firms supported and scaled up the production of sustainable biofuels for aviation.

Governments and providers of air-navigation service need to improve air-traffic management, and live up to their commitments to deliver the Single European Sky in Europe and NextGen in the United States, IATA believes.

At IATA’s annual general meeting in June, its members adopted a resolution providing a set of principles on how governments could integrate a single global market-based measure as part of an overall package of measures to put a cap on net aviation emissions from 2020.

Source: The Nation, 13th October 2013