“All of aviation, including general and business aviation, as well as the airlines, is working together really well to continually improve the environment,” NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen declared last month during opening comments on a panel discussion about the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme. But he quickly added, “We are also working together to fight wrong-headed environmental regulations that don’t work.”
Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 11th annual Aviation Summit in Washington, Bolen asserted that the track record of aviation working on the environment is strong. “[But] we recognize that this type of unilateral tax by one region of the world is not the way to promote global aviation and global aviation in an environmentally friendly way,” he said.
Bolen explained that harmony is needed in aviation emissions policy, in the same way it is needed in safety and other aviation policies around the world. “This is why the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] was created,” he said. “That is why ICAO is the appropriate forum to continue work on this important issue.”
As wrong as the EU-ETS is for the airlines, its impact is even more significant and overwhelming for non-commercial operations. According to Bolen, under the EU-ETS’s structure, non-commercial operators must pay on every flight with no allowances, credits or exclusions, along with the enormous administrative burdens and costs that the EU is already imposing on business aviation operators.
What the EU is doing “flies in the face of not just the track record of aviation and the environment, but also of the idea that we are an interconnected global economy and we need harmony in our aviation regulations,” Bolen said.
While EU representative Felix Leinemann suggested that the EU-ETS system is “quite flexible,” Julie Oettinger, FAA assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment, declared, “I think the European Union needs to be constructively engaged in ICAO.”
“We hear a lot about the idea of everyone in aviation working together,” Bolen reminded. “Well, we’ve all worked together really well on the environment, on promoting research in biofuels, on trying to move forward on things like NextGen, which will make the system more efficient, and on aerodynamic advances. We are working together collectively to do the right thing for the environment.”
Bolen argued that companies are paying tens of thousands of dollars and more just trying to figure out how to register for the new EU scheme. “This is an administrative burden that has got a real economic impact,” he explained. “None of that money helps the environment.”
Other U.S. representatives on the panel claimed that the EU approach is actually hampering efforts to reach global aviation consensus on greenhouse gas emission policies beyond the technology, operational and infrastructure plans already in place that are designed to take the industry to 2020.
NBAA has joined with 15 other organizations in the U.S. aviation and travel industries in opposing the EU-ETS and supporting the objections of the U.S. government as a matter of international law and U.S. sovereignty.
In October, the House passed a bill that would prohibit all flights originating in the U.S. from participating in the EU scheme, and a similar bill is working its way through the Senate.
Meanwhile, U.S. airlines, NBAA, the Air Line Pilots Association and others are urging the federal government to initiate what is called an Article 84 filing under ICAO regulations. That is a procedure to resolve international aviation disputes and was last used by the U.S. in the late 1990s in a dust-up with the EU over Stage II noise hush kits.
“We strongly feel the U.S. should bring a complaint under an Article 84 case,” Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs for Airlines for America, told Aviation Summit attendees. “We think an Article 84 dispute is necessary.”