Airlines and the EU, Drawing a Line in the Sky

Posted by | Posted in Carbon Footprint, Carbon Neutral, Greenhouse Gas, International, Travel | Posted on 06-04-2010

In a time when airlines have been long-struggling with operational costs, this strong push for emission reduction technology in aviation coincides with a struggle to avoid inclusion of airlines in the EU emission trading scheme. In July of 2008, the European Union reached an agreement to include airlines, starting in 2012, among the industrial polluters that have to account for emissions in the European emission trading market.

A few weeks ago we featured Continental’s new paint job declaring “Eco-Skies.” Though it touches on greenwashing, we encourage the actions Continental is taking to improve operational efficiency and help lead the way in aviation’s push for biofuel. Continental, however, is among those seeking to be exempted from compliance with the new EU regulations.

The industry is, in fact, broadly seeking to avoid this movement toward regional emission regulation in favor of a more global approach, stating that a global climate deal for aviation must preserve competitiveness and avoid market distortions. Airlines are at risk for paying multiple times for the same Carbon if countries or regions act independently. The Airlines are looking for the United Nations to take on their Climate Rules.

Aviation is already taking action and setting environmental targets, they state that that regional regulation will unfairly burden them. They are also pushing for the legal framework to advance the use of biofuel.

A joint statement released by the heads of the world’s regional airline associations proclaims:
“We reaffirm our commitment to the industry-wide effort to reduce aviation’s climate change impact through three targets: a 1.5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency annually from 2010; a cap on net carbon emissions from 2020 through carbon-neutral growth; and a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, compared with 2005 levels…These targets remain the most appropriate tools for addressing aviation’s carbon emissions while allowing sustainable growth, which recognizes the industry’s vital contribution to economic and social development around the world.”

If the EU fully incorporates airlines into their emission trading scheme, passenger, cargo and non-commercial flights will have to meet the following deadlines:

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