As clock ticks, EU urged to alter course on ETS

The push against non-EU airlines’ inclusion in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) continued Thursday at the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Assn. (ALTA) Airline Leaders Forum in Rio de Janeiro, where a US official accused EU governments of “undermining” global efforts to control aviation carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

US Dept. of Transportation (DOT) assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs Susan Kurlan said that rather than working toward an international agreement through ICAO, governments around the world are spending time fighting aviation’s inclusion in the ETS starting next year. Considering that the US and many other nations agree with the EU’s end goal of tracking and controlling aviation CO2 emissions, the EU approach is counterproductive, she said during a luncheon address.

Including non-EU airlines in the ETS is “the wrong way to pursue the right objective,” she said. “I can go on at length about the deficiencies of the ETS … Flights from Latin America and the US West Coast to the EU would be particularly hard hit.”

Nevertheless, airlines can’t ignore EU regulations, cautioned IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler. “If nothing changes [by January], airlines will have to comply,” he said during a roundtable discussion at the ALTA forum. “They’ll have no choice.” He added that it “would be crazy” for US carriers to scrap transatlantic flying over the ETS.

It will get “interesting” if a bill recently passed by the US House of Representatives to prohibit US airlines from participating in the ETS actually became law, Tyler said, noting that US airlines “can’t comply with both” (ATW Daily News, Nov. 3). The House vote is largely symbolic at this point; action from both the Senate and President Barack Obama, which does not appear imminent, would be required to turn the legislation into law.

Tyler said the sooner the EU resolves the controversy over the ETS, “the less damage will be done.” While acknowledging there are “no public signs” the EU is backing down (ATW Daily News, Nov. 7), he said IATA believes “they are having some second thoughts.”