Industry fails to resolve ETS dispute

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Industry leaders and government officials meeting yesterday to discuss aviation's impact on the environment failed to find a way through the current political impasse over carbon emissions trading.

Speakers at the Aviation and Environment Summit 2012, including a representative from the European Commission, agreed that a global solution to regulating aviation carbon emissions should be sought through ICAO.

But officials from the US and Europe remained at loggerheads over the European Union's decision to bring aviation within the scope of its Emissions Trading System (ETS) as of 1 January.

"Europe needs to do two things," said Julie Oettinger, assistant administrator for policy, planning and the environment for the FAA.

"It needs to show flexibility necessary to achieve a deal at ICAO that is plausible and realistic, not one that just reiterates the ETS on a global level.

"And Europe needs to help us understand how that deal is going to solve the ETS dispute."

But Mary Veronica Tovsak Pleterski, director for European and international carbon markets in the European Commission's climate action unit, responded by pointing out that the legislation already allows for some flexibility.

"There are flexibility clauses in our legislation and we are looking at how we can use those in order to accelerate the global process," she said.

"One important clause is that, once there is a global solution, we're going to review [the ETS] and amend it accordingly."

In response to calls for the EU to suspend aviation's inclusion in the ETS for up to two years, Tovsak Pleterski said: "The leaders of ICAO promised to work hard to have an outcome by the end of this year and that is the calendar we're working on."

ICAO is considering four options for regulating global carbon emissions: two variations on carbon offsetting and two forms of cap and trade system.