IATA's Tyler calls on EU to be flexible in ETS row

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The European Union needs to show it is ready to be flexible to take part in talks on a global system to target carbon emissions in the aviation industry, says International Air Transport Association director-general Tony Tyler.

Governments around the world also need to get involved to help create a global system, adds Tyler, who points out that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will not be able to do this on their own.

The EU implemented its emissions trading system (ETS) from this year, capping emissions on airlines to and from the EU. Several countries and carriers have protested the move, threatening to impose retaliatory measures on European airlines. China's government has banned the country's carriers from taking part in the ETS, while the US Congress is working on legislation to make it illegal for US airlines to participate.

Recent comments by EU officials have indicated that it is open to talks on a multilateral solution to address carbon emissions, but the EU has said it will not suspend the ETS.

In an interview with Flightglobal, Tyler says he does not doubt the EU's sincerity, but that they must do more to show that they are prepared to negotiate.

"If the EU says, 'Oh by the way, our scheme needs to go ahead but we are quite happy to talk', that sounds like, what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable. I don't think it's going to get us very far," says Tyler. "They have to show they are prepared to be flexible."

While Tyler says he is "naturally optimistic" about eventually resolving the impasse, he cautions that it is not going to be an easy process.

Pointing out the years of effort behind United Nations efforts to win agreement from countries on a global climate change deal, Tyler says a global system to tackle emissions trading in the aviation sector is not something that the ICAO secretariat can handle single handedly. "It needs to get countries involved," he adds.