Carriers prepare for first EU ETS deadline

Washington DC
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US airlines that will be subject to the European Union's emissions trading scheme from 2012 are preparing for the first ETS deadline on 31 August.

These carriers will submit emissions monitoring plans "under protest" as they question the legality of the ETS, Air Transport Association of America (ATA) vice president of environmental affairs Nancy Young said at the Air Transport World Eco-Aviation conference in Washington on 28 May, reiterating that legal action is almost certain.

The European approach for data collection is different from the system used by the FAA, requiring new computer software programmes and new internal protocols for information gathering, Young says, which creates a challenge for US carriers. Carriers will submit emissions monitoring plans to their assigned ETS administering state. Final administering assignments will be published in June or July, but an examination of the preliminary list based on Eurocontrol data shows that the UK, France and Germany will administer half the operators flying into Europe.

Of these, the UK is the only administering state that has started the process of implementing ETS into its laws, Young says. More detail is needed from the UK, and there are even more unknowns for carriers being administered by other nations, she adds.

There are also concerns that administering states "won't be able to do anything" with emissions monitoring plans once they are submitted as those bodies may not be adequately staffed to review submissions and provide feedback in time, says Frederic Falise, head of the environmental programme at air transport communications specialist SITA.

Airlines may also voluntarily submit benchmarking plans in August for activity next year. While benchmarking is not compulsory, it is a prerequisite for carriers to apply for free allowances that will be allocated between 2012 and 2020.

US carriers are particularly disadvantaged going forward as Airline Forecasts CEO and chief analyst Vaughn Cordle says while carbon costs will be the same for all airlines in absolute terms, costs will be higher for operators of older, less fuel-efficient fleets due to their greater fuel burn.