ROUTES: Row erupts over ICAO emissions plan

Las Vegas
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Airline bodies from the US and Europe sparred today during the World Routes Strategy Summit over the value of ICAO’s adoption of a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to address international aviation emissions.

John Hanlon, secretary general of the European Low Fares Airlines Association, slammed the proposal recently adopted at ICAO’s 38th General Assembly that will see the global community develop an MBM for ratification at the next assembly, describing it as an “abject failure”.

“I’m surprised that the EU feels vindicated. I would have thought they should feel very sad; the outcome of ICAO in respect of this motion was an abject failure. They were expected to commit to a road map with timescales for the adoption of a global MBM. That’s been pushed back for three years for more discussion and will be reviewed in 2016 when it should have been agreed today.”

Hanlon says the carbon offset mechanism adopted by ICAO did not have the “integrity or the robustness” of the EU’s controversial cap and trade Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and he predicted that governments will now reintroduce carbon offset schemes or introduce fresh schemes.

He says that a clause in the new resolution will let 161 developing states out of a total of 190 ICAO members “off the hook” when it comes to involvement in the MBM scheme.

But Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs at Airlines for America, believes the proposal will work because the industry “fundamentally wants to reduce fuel use” and had committed itself to carbon neutral growth.

Hanlon called on the EU to stand firm on its threat to bring back a Europe-wide emissions trading scheme or risk losing credibility.

But Günter Hörmandinger, Environment Counselor at the EU Delegation to the United States, stated the European Parliament would need to make a proposal on the returning of aviation to the EU ETS, but that he was “not in a position to speculate on what that will be”.