(Geneva) - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sharply criticised the European Commission's (EC) plan to bring air transport into the EU's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

"Air transport is a global industry and the environment is a global concern. Effective solutions must be global solutions. Member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), including all EU members, are committed to deciding a course of action on aviation emissions in 2007. A European solution is no solution at all. Unilateral regional efforts will only distract from this process," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO.

Earlier this year the G8 leaders agreed to a Plan of Action on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development. With respect to aviation, the G8 leaders committed to push forward operational improvements (air traffic management and ground operations) that would enhance safety, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. "We cannot accept the amnesia of the EC to what its leaders agreed at ICAO and at the G8," said Bisignani.

Bisignani put forward some suggestions for governments. "It is time that governments did their part to contribute to improving environmental performance. Globally there is up to 18% improvement in fuel efficiency to be gained by the operational measures identified by the G8. The inefficiency of air traffic control systems operated by governments means that airlines emit 48 million tonnes of unneeded CO2 each year. At the European level this translates to US$4.4 billion in unneeded costs simply because Europe has not been able to make any meaningful progress on an effective Single European Sky," said Bisignani.

Bisignani defended the airlines' record on environment issues. "The Environment is a critical issue and the industry has been working on improving environmental performance long before Kyoto. The fuel efficiency of modern aircraft entering fleets today is similar to a compact car—3.5 litres per 100 passenger kilometers. And the next generation of aircraft will use less than 3.0 litres per 100 passenger/kilometers. It is time to dispel the myth that air transport is a dirty industry. We are 3.0% of emissions and 8.0% of global economic activity," said Bisignani.

Bisignani took exception to the singling-out of air transport. "There are no announced plans for inclusion of other forms of transport—road and rail—or sectors like households into the ETS. What is the policy rationale of singling out air transport with its relatively small contribution to total emissions, particularly as we are in the process of developing a global solution through ICAO?" questioned Bisignani.

Notes for Editors:

  • The Kyoto Protocol mandates States to address international aviation emissions through ICAO. ICAO's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) is conducting a thorough assessment of emissions trading and other environmental issues and will present specific recommendations for all 188 contracting States in 2007. ICAO member states agreed to this approach at the 2004 assembly.
  • The Chicago Convention exempts aviation fuel for international operations from tax. Airlines pay for their own infrastructure (airports and air traffic management) through user charges that amount to US$42 billion each year.
  • In the last 40 years we have reduced emissions per passenger kilometer by 70%.