IATA’s new chief has called for the European Union to abandon its plans to include aviation in the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETU) from 2012.

Speaking at the Greener Skies conference in Hong Kong Tuesday, IATA DG Tony Tyler said the air transport industry is committed to its ambitious agenda to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and he urged governments to use a global approach to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions that could also include a global ETS or other compensation measures.

He reminded delegates that airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers are committed to improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually to 2020, capping net carbon emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and cutting net emissions in half by 2050, compared to 2005.

“These are challenging targets. Airlines represent 2% of global manmade CO2 emissions. This year that is estimated to be some 650 million tonnes of CO2 emitted while carrying 2.8 billion passengers and 46 million tonnes of cargo. By 2050, the industry aspires to carry 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of cargo with some 320 million tonnes of CO2 emissions,” Tyler said.

But the EU’s emission reducing plan has several flaws, Tyler said.

“Connections via hubs closer to Europe will have a competitive advantage. Think of it from the perspective of Hong Kong. A direct flight to Europe will be charged on its emissions for its entire journey. But a connection through the Middle East or other closer hubs will be only charged for the last leg of the journey. This is an unacceptable market distortion,” Tyler said.

Tyler added that the EU ETS will also lead to a layering of taxes. Failure to coordinate in a global scheme will lead to air passengers compensating for their carbon emissions several times over.

“We already see it in Europe with the UK Air Passenger Duty and copycat departure taxes in Germany and Austria. All were implemented using environment as the justification. But there is no guarantee that any will be eliminated when the ETS takes effect,” Tyler said.

The EC earlier this week laid out its benchmark directive and insisted it will move forward with applying the cap-and-trade scheme to aviation. It said it has “no intention to amend its legislation” despite the legal challenge by the Air Transport Assn. of America and some of its members (ATW Daily News, Sept. 27). The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has joined with Russian Federation’s Ministry of Transport to denounce the EU ETS (ATW Daily News, Sept. 28).

“Managing carbon emissions is a global problem. Aviation is a global industry. And we need a global solution. All roads lead to ICAO. It is time for Europe to refocus on a Plan B that is centered on a global solution through ICAO,” Tyler said.

Photo: IATA DG Tony Tyler