Ex-IATA head Bisignani offers way to break ETS deadlock

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Former IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani has unveiled a solution that could offer all players a way out of the fractious EU Emission Trading System dispute.

Many, including Bisignani, believe the row threatens to escalate into a full-blown trade war.

In Bisignani's proposal, the EU "should modify its approach and only implement a European ETS by 2013". This is a delay of about a year under Europe's current plans.

"In parallel, all countries should commit to implement a global ETS by 2014 under the leadership of ICAO," he says.

Although Bisignani recognises he has no formal mandate in this area, his work for the World Economic Forum and new roles for various aerospace concerns means he has kept close to the industry since he retired from IATA in July 2011.

"In the past few months I have met with representatives of the European Commission and most of the governments concerned," he says. "The time has come now to stop the hostilities and work on a solution where all will be winners: the environment, governments and the aviation industry."

In the first stage of the proposal "governments fighting against the EU ETS should recognise the positive role played by Europe for a stronger environmental commitment", says Bisignani.

"All of the parties have to find a way out - it's too risky to start a retaliation battle in a sensitive area like aviation. We have to find a way in which nobody loses," he adds.

A global emissions trading system should be run by ICAO, says Bisignani, which is something all sides generally agree with. "Europe and other countries can unite to put pressure on ICAO to make aviation the first sector in the world that has a global [emissions] scheme."