Aviation Emissions Myths inside European Effort

Aviation Emissions Myths inside European Effort

However the debate around the European program to control carbon pollution from aviation is heating up with the US “objecting”, the US-based airlines squawking, as well as the aviation business boosters in the US residence trying to quit Europe for controlling pollution. Needless to say, most airlines (US, European, and Chinese) would prefer not to have any system that controls their pollution so their claims of the sky falling aren’t surprising.

Sadly the debate hasn’t focused on the fact that countries have a choice – develop, implement, and enforce an equivalent program at house along with the Europeans will enable their carriers to be excluded. None with the governments which are grumbling concerning the European program have proposed an equivalent program. If they did it could be a fully unique story. Rather, these countries are essentially saying: “we don’t like the European program, but we aren’t going to do anything to lessen aviation’s carbon pollution”. That isn’t a defensible position, so hopefully these countries will rapidly shift their attention to the steps that they are going to take at household.

Even though we wait patiently for these countries to come up with their own actions to control carbon pollution, the European program will move forward as necessary by law. So it is worth looking at numerous the myths floating about this program.

Aviation Emissions Myths #1: The EU is bullying other countries instead of working through the international method. Not true. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was tasked in 1997 with implementing policies to lessen aviation’s carbon pollution. Immediately after practically 15 years of debate on various enforceable programs, ICAO has only come up with an “aspirational global efficiency target”. This target fundamentally says: “we’ll try to meet this target – there are no penalties if we fail – and we’ll reduce the rate that our sector’s emissions grow-but they’ll still grow in absolute terms”. Using the impacts of global warming already being felt that isn’t a defensible position. We have to have actual action.

The EU has constantly stated its preference for a global scheme by means of ICAO, but faced with years of inaction (as this timeline shows) they took the subsequent logical step and moved forward at home. So in 2002 the European’s announced that though a global approach was their preferred outcome, they would not sit idly by waiting for a global agreement when the aviation sector’s carbon pollution continued to rise. In 2004, ICAO decided not to proceed with creating a global method and instead focused on developing guidance for countries who wished to incorporate aviation into their own emissions trading program. And then in 2010, ICAO agreed to global “aspirational goals” to cut pollution but implied no individual responsibility for each and every country to act. So the Europeans waited, waited, and waited…and then acted. That isn’t bullying. That’s leadership. I know firsthand as I actively participated in those debates for 5 years.

Aviation Emissions Myths #2: Their program isn’t in accordance with international law. For quite a few years this claim has been raised for practically any action – besides voluntary measures – that were proposed for addressing aviation’s carbon pollution. The European Aviation Directive is well within the requirements of international law. Actually, independent assessments have concluded that the inclusion of carbon pollution from international aviation inside the EU’s program: “is consistent with all relevant international provisions and therefore permissible under international law”. United/Continental and American Airlines, as well, as the Air Transport Association – the trade association for US carriers – have challenged the program within the European Court of Justice. So of course they make the claim in press statements that it can be illegal. The United Kingdom is defending the European program against the claims of the US-based carriers. And a number of US and European organizations have intervened in support with the European program immediately after reviewing the legal claims by American, Continental/United, and also the Air Transport Association. So claims that this program is illegal will probably be decided by an independent court program – not by press statements for those bringing the case.

Aviation Emissions Myths #3: By covering emissions that occur over the airspace of other countries the EU program is illegal or asserts a new precedent. These emissions aren’t owned by the US. So even if the emissions occured just about totally over the US, claims that these emissions “aren’t under the European jurisdiction” do not stand up. The European aviation program does not tell an airplane company the way to operate its flight outside of Europe. They aren’t saying fly at this speed, utilizing this kind of aircraft, and working with this fuel. The European program says that if your airline desires to land in our airport it ought to control the carbon pollution related with that flight. The carbon pollution from that whole flight is causing global warming As Peter Goldmark from EDF pointed out: “…it’s like lots of American laws that set requirements for aircraft and ships coming in and out U.S. territory. A good example will be the U.S. law passed immediately after the Exxon Valdez spill. That law calls for all ships carrying oil in U.S. waters to be equipped having a double hull — even though that indicates tankers must have double hulls when they leave their ports of origin in Europe or anyplace else.”

Indeed the EU program even makes it possible for for countries that take action at dwelling to address these emissions in an “equivalent manner”. Any country which will prove that it has an “equivalent” method addressing aviation’s pollution could be eligible to have its carriers excluded from the European program. The onus is on all countries, including the US and China, to create, implement, enforce, and prove that it has an equivalent method. So instead of arguing over the merits of the program, all countries should take equivalent action at home so they are able to prove that the European program isn’t required for their carriers. Countries can’t say: “I don’t like your approach, but I’ve absolutely nothing better”.

Aviation Emissions Myths #4: This will result in enormous cost increases and thus have substantial impacts on airline travel plus the airline market. Once once again we’ve heard this claim about each control program envisioned for the aviation sector. The truth is when the European’s had this system independently evaluated they found that the program would add a mere $11-57 to a roundtrip ticket – less for shorter flights.* On a ticket that conveniently expenses $800-1400 this is actually a pretty marginal price alter. The fact is, it is about the very same as the price that airlines charge per checked bag on a domestic flight in the US – which is commonly $20 per bag. So as a proportion with the total ticket price, these ticket cost increases are modest. Rather, it’s going to offer an incentive for the airlines to find the very best method to lower their fuel use and encourage them to obtain the most effective aircraft which are already rolling off the production line. These are investments that will spur savings to American customers as the airlines will reduce their fuel costs with much more efficient planes and generate U.S. manufacturing jobs as US-based carriers turn over their aged fleet.

The US Air Transport Association claimed that: “the U.S. airlines will be necessary to pay more than $3.1 billion into EU coffers between 2012 and year-end 2020. That outlay could support far more than 39,200 U.S. airline jobs”. That works out to $344 million per year on typical OR $10.6 on average per passenger every way.** This is still much less than the increased expense that airlines charge for a checked bag and I do not see them claiming that the bag expenses will result in job losses.

It’s like clockwork that we hear market claim that the “sky will fall”. Rather this program will spur innovation, reduce carbon pollution, and drive investments that save consumers cash as the airlines minimize their fuel expenses. The world won’t fall apart with these expenses, but if we don’t address global warming these costs will appear pretty minor compared to the damages that will occur.

Aviation Emissions Myths #5: The program would cause airlines to reroute to steer clear of direct flights towards the EU. This is an additional claim that’s typically thrown around, that just does not stand as much as the facts. There are actually two standard claims: (1) that travelers will “drive across the border” to board a flight not subject to the EU’s rules; and (two) no matter if airlines would reroute – add a stopover instead of fly direct towards the EU – to be able to stay clear of the EU program. On both problems, the European’s independently assessed these claims.

Here is what they had to say on the first claim that men and women will “drive across the border” (from the European Commission Impact Assessment, pg. 31-32):

“…Since there are very few major airports just outside EU territory, the choice to alter the airport of departure or destination from an EU airport to a non-EU airport typically does not exist…In addition, the benefit from potentially lower airfares would need to be balanced against increased travel time (across EU borders)…It appears unlikely that these cost increases would divert significant amounts of organization, be it passengers or freight.”

On the second claim that airlines would reroute – make a stopover or alter final destination – to steer clear of the EU program the independent analysis discovered: (from the European Commission Impact Assessment pg. 32):

EU hub can be a relevant consideration, because longer distances mean additional fuel getting burnt as a way to reach the hub, far more fuel needing to be carried (which in turn raises fuel consumption rates) and, if an extra stop was introduced, much more fuel getting burnt by way of the landing and take-off cycle.”

So the independent analysis looked at a case where a direct flight chose to instead take a stopover in Dubai. Here is what they identified: “The results indicate that EU ETS allowance rates would have to exceed some 75€/tCO2 [$107] prior to the additional cost per seat imposed by the full EU ETS coverage of nonstop services…would fully outweigh the advantage in fuel expenses that non-stop services appreciate.” The European cost isn’t predicted to get even close to that level so this claim that direct flights will now stop in “Dubai” just doesn’t stand up.

Logic also tells us that these claims don’t stand up. Passengers won’t decide on to add hours to their flight just to stay clear of paying $11-57 per ticket. When I purchase a ticket I consider plenty of aspects, such as how many stops I’ve. Travelers won’t add hours to their flight for such a small change in cost.

Aviation Emissions Myths #6: The aviation market is such a small source of emissions shouldn’t we focus elsewhere. This point has been created over the years to attempt to deflect attention away from the carbon pollution that the aviation business is emitting. Aviation’s carbon pollution is concerning the exact same as the whole emissions from the United Kingdom – a government that has a legally enforceable commitment to lessen their emissions. Unfortunately an industry that contributes the same amount to global warming isn’t following the UK lead in substantially cutting its emissions. And left unregulated aviation’s carbon pollution is projected to quadruple by 2050 (see figure).

We don’t tell the U.K. you’re too smaller to help us address global warming. And we do not tell quickly growing countries or sectors you are excluded from helping us deal with this challenge. So we shouldn’t apply that very same ill logic to the aviation business.

Aviation Emissions Myths #7: Opposition towards the EU program is widespread and across the political spectrum. Some have given the impression that environmental organizations are opposed towards the EU program since we have participated in discussions in between the US and EU. Let me be 100% clear, NRDC is strongly opposed towards the US position. The European program can be a reasonable step to begin to decrease aviation’s carbon pollution. NRDC along with other environmental groups are strongly opposed to the Residence bill as well as the position with the Obama Administration. We have informed the Administration and Members of Congress of this view.

The Members of the US Home which are attempting to quit the European program are opposed to any action on global warming and obtain most of their political contributions from the aviation business. These Members don’t represent the mainstream view of the American individuals that we must reduce our carbon pollution.

One Obama Administration official lately stated: “It is for the U.S. to determine on targets or proper action for U.S. airlines with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.” So what measures will you undertake that can considerably minimize aviation’s carbon pollution? Because doing nothing to control carbon pollution from aviation isn’t the position of a leader on global warming.

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