www.wingsmagazine.com

Features Operations
McCarthy

Taking the heat for global warming – aviation’s next big challenge.


September 27, 2007
By Stacy Bradshaw


Topics

This past July, members of the European parliament (MEPs) adopted a
report entitled, “Reducing the Climate Change Impact of Aviation.” The
report proposes that the EU “take action” to reduce the climate change
impact of aviation.

The
MEPs advocate devising a scheme for reducing carbon dioxide emissions
from aviation, and the possible inclusion of that aviation scheme in
the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The vote also backed the
immediate introduction of kerosene taxes by requiring a tax on all
domestic and intra-EU flights (with the possibility of exempting all
carriers on routes on which non-EU carriers operate).

The EU
appears to be riding madly off in all directions. The International Air
Carrier Association (IACA) reacted with dismay, responding to the vote
by saying that the European parliament “had missed the opportunity to
promote a realistic strategy addressing aviation and climate change.”
Indeed, by adopting the report, the EU seems to have abandoned the
sound modern economic concept of creating government-business
partnerships to solve problems.

IACA director general Sylviane
Lust said in a written communiqué: “Any approach to aviation and the
environment which calls for the simultaneous introduction of taxes on
aviation fuel, VAT on airline tickets, environmental charges at
airports and emissions trading scheme (ETS) totally ignores economic
realities. Moreover the recommendation to set up a separate ETS scheme
for aviation is totally unrealistic.”

Aviation was excluded from
the Kyoto protocol on global warming on the condition that by the end
of 2007, countries and airlines working under the umbrella of ICAO
would come up with a way of reducing emissions through a trading
scheme. The EU has decided not to wait.

Months before the July
vote, in November 2005, the US expressed concerns about the EU’s
proposal to include airlines (including foreign carriers) in an
emissions trading program. Speaking in Brussels, Sharon Pinkerton, then
the FAA’s assistant administrator for policy, planning and environment,
said that the US is committed to working through ICAO to develop
reasonable guidance on aircraft emissions.

An ICAO working group
is currently working on ETSs trading schemes, both voluntary schemes
and mandatory schemes, to come up with guidance for the 2007 meeting of
the ICAO Assembly.

Aviation represents a small percentage of the
emissions blamed for greenhouse gases. But there is growing interest
and concern based on the predictions of future growth in worldwide
aviation. Alternative fuels, more efficient engines, improved
aerodynamics and the increased use of composites, combined with more
effective air traffic control and other solutions will all have an
effect on emissions reduction.

But the issue will grow quickly
in significance over the short term and promises to have a major impact
on the business of flying aircraft in Canada, the US and around the
world.