EBAA threatens pullout from emissions scheme

 - May 5, 2010, 10:23 AM

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) may advise its members to pull out of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme if Eurocontrol does not develop the EU-ETS support facility. This system would give business aviation operators a relatively cost-effective way to meet the requirement to monitor, report and verify the carbon emissions of their aircraft. But without the tool, EBAA says it will be completely impractical and unaffordable for business aircraft operators to meet ETS requirements.

At its meeting today, Eurocontrol’s air navigation services board is due to decide whether to back the development of the EU-ETS support facility. The plan faces stiff opposition from airlines, who do not want the fees they pay to Eurocontrol to fund a tool that they will not use for ETS compliance.

But EBAA has warned that unless this tool is available, operators will face the unacceptably high cost of paying independent verifiers to confirm their emissions data. When many aircraft operators registered their monitoring, reporting and verification plans with the European authorities, they indicated they would be using the EU-ETS support facility. If this option is now blocked they will have to reconsider how they could comply with ETS.

“We are almost of the view that if this doesn’t go ahead, then we might just say that we can’t do it,” EBAA chief executive Brian Humphries told AIN. “We have done our best to make [ETS] work, but we simply cannot participate in it without the necessary tools. We might just have to blow the whistle if we don’t get this tool.”

EBAA may even go so far as to advise its members to withdraw from the ETS process on the basis that some European officials now privately concede it has been a mistake to try to include business aviation in ETS. A senior representative of the European Commission’s environment directive has acknowledged that it is impractical for business aircraft operators to participate in ETS because they generate such a small volume of emissions compared with the airlines. However, he indicated to EBAA that the legal requirement cannot be changed until it is proved beyond doubt that the existing system does not work.

The withdrawal of the EU-ETS support facility would essentially confirm that ETS is unworkable for so-called small emitters, according to EBAA. Conceivably, it might be the proof needed to prompt moves by the EC to withdraw the requirement for business aircraft to be subject to ETS, although this would require complex changes to existing legislation.

The EU-ETS support facility is a development of Eurocontrol’s Pagoda model for calculating emissions from aircraft based on data from flight plans logged in the ATM agency’s Central Flow Management Unit. However, the important difference is that EU ETS also provides verification of the data and so, EBAA hopes, should avoid the need for operators to pay for expensive independent verification.

Several EU member states have said that they endorse the system, not the least because their own environmental and aviation authorities are struggling to deal with ETS data themselves. Some smaller regional airlines also support the development of EU ETS, which gives EBAA hope that the decision by the Eurocontrol board could go business aviation’s way today.

If the EU-ETS support facility is approved, EBAA will push European authorities to raise the threshold for operators allowed to use it. Currently, operators emitting less than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year would be permitted to use the EU-ETS support facility. EBAA would like this limit increased to 50,000 metric tons, or even 500,000. The association believes that unless the threshold is raised, operators will resort to registering aircraft on multiple AOCs to avoid exceeding the 10,000-ton limit.