The European Commission (EC) definitely wants to include aviation in the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) to cap the industry’s not-so-minor contribution to greenhouse effect gas emissions. Here during a session devoted to “business aviation and the environment” yesterday, Ronny Rohart, an EC Directorate General Transport and Energy official for environment and air safety, emphasized the benefits of such a scheme but insisted it should be compulsory–not voluntary.
Bizav lobbyists agree, at least, on carbon dioxide (CO2) emission trading as the best solution. However, Rich Gage, chairman of the environmental issues working group inside the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), endeavored to downplay the importance of aviation–and business aviation in particular–n CO2 emissions.
Gage asserted that aviation in the world represents 2 percent of CO2 emissions but 8 percent of the economic activity. Two Eurocontrol experts, Andrew Watt and Stefano Mancini, were more specific on business aviation in Europe. The industry accounts for only 0.45 percent of aviation CO2 there, they said.
However, according to Rohart, aviation could by 2012 offset more than 25 percent of the CO2 emission reductions planned at the European level from other sectors, under the Kyoto protocol. Therefore, the EC wants stronger incentives for air transport to reduce its emissions. “We do not want to add unnecessary red tape, but we still want maximum guarantees,” he said. In other words, the EC wants compulsory compliance. He ruled out charges and taxes.
The EC’s preference is for emissions trading. “Using such a scheme, the level of emissions is known in advance,” Rohart pointed out. Emissions trading yields more economic efficiency thanks to the interplay with other sectors, he added.
Several options are under study for inclusion thresholds. For example, weight, number of flights and a combination of the aircraft’s weight and its certified number of passengers are being considered by the EC. Another option is a threshold per operator.
The last option is the best one in Gage’s eyes. However, both IBAC and ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection favor a voluntary ETS, while the EC prefers a compulsory one. At least, it will be compulsory in the European Union. On the current ETS stock exchange market, one metric ton of CO2 is valued at ?17 ($21), a recent sharp decrease from an average ?25 ($31) over the last months.