EBAA here on Tuesday outlined its proposal for carbon offset pooling as an alternative means of compliance for the European Union emission trading scheme (ETS), in an effort to keep the administrative burden acceptable for small business aircraft operators. In a session on business aviation and the environment, the European Commission’s representative gave details on what the ETS will look like for aviation in three or four years and hinted at possible exemptions for business aviation.
“Business aviation can set the standard by doing more than [its] share,” EBAA president Brian Humphries said. However, this standard would not be set through full inclusion into the EU ETS–which now covers about half of the EU’s CO2 emissions.
Rather, it would be a carbon offset scheme. EBAA is setting up an international not-for-profit association to manage the scheme on behalf of operators. “We have offered to offset 100 percent of our members’ CO2 emissions but need support from the EU to achieve this goal affordably and efficiently,” Humphries added. EBAA’s offer is for those aircraft that weigh less than 20 metric tons.
Under the proposal, the association would pool the purchase of carbon credits. It would handle monitoring and reporting for the operators. Confidentiality would be assured, André Clodong, EBAA expert for environmental affairs, said.
The benefit of pooling would be reduced workload and cost, as the average EBAA member operates fewer than four aircraft. This month a test collection of data is starting (i.e. fuel volumes and resulting emissions) at two operators. The results are to be disclosed at the NBAA Convention in October.
Will the European Commission accept carbon offsets as an alternative to carbon trading? The two options are fundamentally different. In carbon offsetting, you fund CO2-saving projects in developing countries. For example, you help people buy solar ovens to use for cooking rather than cutting down an area’s forests and burning wood. Carbon trading means you buy and sell carbon allowances (emission permits) on a commodity market. Total emissions are capped, just like a limited resource.
Philip Good, policy officer for clean air and transport at the EC’s environment directorate, pointed out that accepting EBAA’s proposal would set a major precedent.
Hence, the need for further internal discussions. “This raises problems. For example, it could be that business aircraft operators would be in a position of buying offsets that would be cheaper than the ETS market price,” he said.
Agreement has to be reached between the EC, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on the inclusion of aviation into the ETS. Nevertheless, the outlines are becoming clearer. Emissions would probably be capped at the 2004-2006 annual average. Compliance would begin in 2011 or 2012. There may be two stages–intra-European flights first and then all other flights. The responsible entity will be the operator. For those who would not comply, the ultimate sanction will be the revocation of their AOC.
Emission permits will be allocated for a given trading period, i.e. several years. Compliance reporting will be annual. It should be independently verified.
Other talks include how to take into account non-CO2 greenhouse gases. Still to be decided, too, is how to use auction revenues. The treatment of new entrants has to be defined.
For business aviation, the council has proposed to set an inclusion limit. It would be 243 flights in four months for three consecutive four-month periods. The Parliament suggests the limit to be at 10,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
EBAA officials see the aviation part of the ETS as tailored to airlines. As such this neglects business aviation’s peculiarities, they assert. Another concern is that business aviation could get only 5 percent of its carbon allowances for free, the rest being auctioned. Meanwhile, according to Clodong, airlines would get more than 90 percent of the free allowances.
Hear why business aviation has reason for optimism about emissions trading at AINtv.com