Emissions at EBACE

Emissions policy is just a load of hot air right now. It’s a mess, and that’s the result of the failure of national governments to agree on anything, let alone a policy that industry could reasonably work with.

Aviation, the producer of 2% of global warming emissions is, as usual, being targeted by governments who want to look as if they are doing something. It’s visible, it’s conceived to be non-price-sensitive (not true), small enough to be politically feasible – unlike the really big issues which are vehicle, domestic heating and maritime emissions.

Yesterday I chaired a session on emissions policy as it will affect aviation in general and the business aviation community in particular. This was at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva.

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The panel of four consisted of (L to R)  Elina Bardram of the European Commission’s directorate of Climate Action, Kurt Edwards of the International Council for Business Aviation, Paul Steele of the Air Transport Action Group, and Guy Viselé of the European Business Aircraft Association. All of them are deeply knowledgeable about – and involved in – the business of ensuring aviation plays its part in reducing global warming. The three to the right of Elina are committed to reducing fuel consumption and therefore costs, and driving aviation toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.

The EU has been forced to put on hold its unilateral imposition of an emissions trading scheme on all aviation that enters Europe’s skies by a violent non-European reaction against being railroaded into a scheme not approved at ICAO. Elina made it clear that the EU’s objective is to be a part of a global “market-based measures” emissions control scheme, not to plough a lonely furrow. But it would approve an intra-European scheme if it could see the world was set on pursuing a path toward a global one.

The trouble is there is absolutely no certainty that the world will pursue that path, even with a relatively simple market like aviation. Getting agreement from 191 member states is difficult,  but implementing a scheme that is transparent, non-bureaucratic, enforceable, and fair is beyond most government bureaucrats.

Heaven help our planet. Aviation wants to do its bit, but our governments can only release hot air and other emissions.

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