British Airways (BA) believes its own experience as part of a UK-based emissions trading scheme shows aviation could be incorporated into a wider European effort, but stresses the need for simplicity and to ensure no competitive distortion.

The Oneworld carrier has been involved in a voluntary UK scheme since 2002. It covers 32 companies which committed to cut emission of ‘greenhouse’ gases by 11.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent.

BA’s involvement covered domestic flights and the company committed initially to reduce its annual emissions by 12% by 2006, a target it later voluntarily raised to 19%.

Detailing the carrier’s experience in the UK scheme during a European Aviation Club-organised conference on emissions trading, British Airways chief economist and head of environmental affairs Andrew Sentance explained the high target reflected the carrier’s benefiting from a fleet re-equipping process at the time.

“We’ve actually managed to do more than we’ve targeted,” he says, putting the figure at 23%, although he notes this partly reflects the carrier having done more restructuring of its business than envisaged at the outset.

The UK project was in part designed to familiarise companies with emissions trading ahead of the launch of a European Union-wide scheme last year. The EU scheme currently excludes the aviation sector but European regulators last year proposed extending the scheme to include aviation in a bid to tackle the sector’s contribution to emissions.

“Our experience in the UK scheme shows it is a workable option for aviation. Emissions trading works for airlines, we have traded emissions and our experience has been satisfactory,” Sentance says.

But he adds: “It is important that it works and there are a number of issues there. It is important to avoid too much complexity, we need to avoid an excessive cost burden and we need to avoid competitive distortion.

“[We don’t want] a situation where a disproportionate amount of cost is loaded on to an airline, that their competitors don’t have.”

To this end BA believes that the EU trading scheme should apply initially only to intra-EU flights. Sentance also notes that Europe must avoid international conflicts with other countries and regions as it is developing the scheme. He says: “We should be moving ahead with something that is consistent with ICAO and in partnership with other countries.


Source: Flight International