NBAA’s take on status of ETS

 - January 28, 2011, 3:00 AM

Although there is a nominal deadline of Jan. 1, 2012 for implementing the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, NBAA has stressed that the EU has not issued a final statement about whether that timetable will hold.

With the fate of ETS very much up in the air, the association is telling its members who fly into EU countries to be aware of the pending plan and provide information to the proper authorities when it is requested.

According to Steve Brown, NBAA senior v-p of operations and administration, there are two ongoing developments that make it potentially possible that the ETS will not be implemented in 2012 as scheduled.

First, there is a provision in the ETS rules that states that if the ETS goes into effect, the European Union can recognize parallel or equivalent emissions-mitigation programs in other parts of the world. In that case, operators in those parts of the world would not be subject to the ETS.

Second, there is also an ongoing discussion at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) about how environmental-mitigation measures can be approached on a worldwide basis rather than on a national or regional basis.

Brown explained that the predominant world view is that emissions mitigation should be a collective, global effort, but there are some regions of the world that have not reached that conclusion yet. “So there is going to be more dialogue within the Council of ICAO and within the various technical panels as to what next steps to take to try and create a global program,” said Brown. “This will occur throughout 2011.”

Meanwhile, the EU has not recognized any other programs as equivalent to ETS, and he suggested that lawmakers normally would not do so unless and until the ETS goes into effect, and that is still at least a year away.��

On August 9, NBAA posted “What’s Expected of NBAA Members In Order To Comply with the EU ETS?” on its Web site. It could be characterized as a five-step primer on compliance.

It emphasized that noncompliance carries civil penalties. The UK, for example, has set substantial monetary penalties for non-compliance, up through the impounding of aircraft, for not having an acceptable plan in place with the regulating authority. NBAA has been working with the European Business Aviation Association and the British Business and General Aviation Association to obtain refined guidance, and it plans to make this guidance available to the membership as it is developed. In the meantime, operators should comply with the requirements, in the time frame allotted, to avoid penalties.

Eurocontrol, on behalf of the European community, has put together a simplified model that operators can use to estimate emissions. Brown said that is what operators are typically doing. But at this point it is only informational and not a regulatory requirement because ETS is not yet in place.

In addition to the international climate talks involving the entire United Nations, which took place in Copenhagen in 2009 and in Cancun in December, ETS is the subject of a court case brought in the European Court of Justice by groups representing international airlines. They are challenging ETS on a number of bases–primary among them–that it does not conform with the rules of the Convention on International Civil Aviation that established ICAO in 1944, and that it is extra-territorial, trying to apply European regulation to non-Europeans, an overreach that would violate a long-standing legal principle. The plaintiffs have asked the EU’s highest court to issue a ruling as soon as possible this year.

Brown said NBAA is following developments on ETS and will keep members informed through various methods. “Everything we know, we tell people when we know it,” he said, through the association’s publications and Web site.

In addition, there have been podcasts and Webinars when there are developments. “We’ll continue to do that throughout 2011, just as we have done in previous years,” Brown added.