Europe-based business aviation operators, looking at compulsory inclusion in the emissions trading scheme in 2012, are facing the possible elimination of an administratively simplified ETS system designed for small emitters.
At a meeting on 6 May, a European Commission decision will be made that may withdraw funding from the Eurocontrol ETS support facility, a system that calculates the emissions of aircraft using flight tracking data from Eurocontrol's central flow management unit. Airlines are complaining that this is a function that they should not have to support through air navigation service user charges, so if their voice dominates the meeting, or if an alternative form of funding for the ETS support facility is not found, small emitters will have to work within the ETS using the far more complex emissions accounting system that large emitters like airlines will be required to use. The European Business Aviation Association says that the administrative burden is so massive for such small emissions that the cost of compliance with such a system may be up to forty times the cost of buying the emissions offsets.
EBAA president Brian Humphries says the loss of the ETS support system would be a disaster for small operators, loading them with disproportionate costs without improving the performance of the ETS itself, and therefore with no benefit to the environment. Yet advice from within the Commission at present, says Humphries, suggests that business operators may have to suffer the expensive bureaucracy in order to assemble the data that would enable them to demonstrate that it is suffocatingly bureaucratic, expensive and ineffective.
Meanwhile the ETS support facility itself is still in the process of being assessed to determine how accurate it is. If it proves highly accurate, the emissions threshold for operators allowed to use the system to verify their carbon dioxide output could be upped, with the very high emitters still being required to account more precisely for their fuel use/emissions. But the whole system hinges on the 6 May decision as to where future support facility funding will come from. Its continued existence is important not only to business aviation, but to the European aviation ETS as a whole, because it is one of the main emissions verification systems.