Although the intentions were good, in reality rolling out the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS)–considered a cornerstone of the European Union’s policy to combat climate change and the key tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective manner–to international aviation has backfired spectacularly.
Climate change in the European Union
The European Parliament has voted to extend the mission of the Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) Joint Undertaking (SJU) by eight years, until 2024. The organization expects the European Union Council of Ministers, the second chamber of the EU legislature, will adopt the final act extending its life this summer.
NBAA lauded the European Council’s move to continue to “stop the clock” on further implementation of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), while ICAO representatives work on a plan to address aircraft emissions worldwide. The EC agreed last Monday to extend the “stop the clock” provision affecting non-European operators until the fall of 2016, when representatives at the next ICAO Assembly are expected to move forward on an international framework for both technological and market-based emissions-curbing measures for the industry.
The European Parliament, meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, approved the amended Single European Sky (SES) legislation known as SES 2+ on March 12. The legislation now must be approved by European Union member states.
The trade unions association that planned and then called off a Europe-wide ATC strike last October has scheduled a new job action on January 29 to express its displeasure with proposed amendments to Single European Sky (SES) legislation. The new strike planned by the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) will dovetail with another job action the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) plans the following day.
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center last week introduced a system to dynamically manage upper airspace to suit traffic flow. The new variable division flight level (VDFL) enables a flexible distribution of traffic between upper and lower sectors (from 24,500 feet to unlimited), by altering the division flight level to match changing traffic patterns. The division flight level between the upper and lower sectors was previously fixed at 33,500 feet.
The European Commission is proposing amendments to its existing emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) that would confirm the continued exemption from the cap-and-trade system for flights outside the airspace of the 28 European Union member states, as well as European economic area states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
All aviation eyes were turned toward Montreal early this month as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) tries to get its arms around a worldwide plan to control jet aircraft emissions.
The big question is whether ICAO’s 191 member states can agree on a plan to curb emissions to the satisfaction of the European Union (EU), which has unilaterally crafted its own emissions trading scheme (ETS) that would capture not only EU aircraft, but also airplanes flying into, out of and through the 28 EU member states.
Responding to member feedback, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen has clarified the organization’s position on any potential aircraft emissions deals under consideration at the two-week-long, triennial ICAO assembly that started yesterday. Earlier this week, NBAA said it welcomed signs that a proposal under consideration at ICAO might lead to a global compromise solution to addressing aircraft carbon emissions.
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