If implemented through global agreement rather than unilaterally by the European Union (EU), an emissions trading scheme (ETS) could prove effective in reducing aviation’s environmental footprint, according to Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Speaking with AIN during a visit to the Indian capital New Dehli, Tyler warned that the EU will not get the global agreement it claims it wants unless it “takes the gun away from the heads of other countries.” Nonetheless, he added that IATA considers the ETS “a good example of a market-based measure which would help the industry in meeting challenging goals.”
Tyler’s position puts him at odds with other aviation groups that fundamentally oppose the use of the ETS to cap the industry’s carbon emissions. Tyler is clearly mindful that European airlines, which will likely have to live with the ETS even if the EU backs down over imposing it on non-European carriers, constitute a significant portion of IATA’s membership. At the same time, he praised China for taking a firm stand against the imposition of the scheme on airlines from outside Europe. China’s willingness to impose sanctions against European manufacturers and airlines preceded similar hard-line positions on the part of India and Russia, but IATA hopes to avoid the situation escalating. “We hope it won’t come to [sanctions] and that common sense will prevail,” Tyler said. “We will regret it if airlines get caught in the crossfire of a trade war.”
He welcomed recent agreement through the International Civil Aviation Organization over new standards for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for new aircraft as a step toward both improved fuel efficiency and global consensus on reducing emissions. Tyler maintained that countries such as India do not oppose the ETS as a tool for emissions management, but rather the forcible way Europe wants to apply it. “What Europeans believe is a stepping stone in the global system is a roadblock for the industry. They should recognize that and find a way of withdrawing the objectionable elements. They should come to ICAO for this,” concluded Tyler.