Brussels has finally agreed to allow the business aviation community to bypass the complex monitoring and reporting rules governing how much carbon its members emit before the EU emissions trading scheme goes live.

Last week, European business aviation chiefs met with European Commission environment officials and agreed that small emitters below an annual threshold of 10,000t of carbon dioxide - or those operating fewer than 243 flights every three months - need only send their reporting plans to their respective supervising national authorities by the 31 August deadline.

This signals that they will opt for a simplified procedure that relieves the administrative burden.

This streamlined approach has been developed by European air navigation agency Eurocontrol which has adapted its Pagoda tool for quantifying emitted carbon dioxide according to precise traffic movement data which is already captured.

Although validation of the new model - now called Eurocontrol's ETS Support Facility - will come too late for the 31 August deadline, Eurocontrol is assuring operators that the relevant national authorities charged with policing them will adopt a "pragmatic" approach to those wanting to use the simplified procedure.

At the same meeting, Eurocontrol also showed how it pegged the 2004-6 historical emissions from aviation which is to be used for the cap - set at 90% of the averaged figure over the period. This combined Pagoda figures with actual fuel data submitted by operators and is something that Eurocontrol claims to be highly accurate.

While this methodology did not come under fire, operators at the meeting were reportedly appalled to learn that Eurocontrol's calculations did not take into account carbon emitted running auxiliary power units on the ground between on-blocks and off-blocks - essentially APU use between pushing off stand to arriving back on stand at destination.

"It is not a huge figure, perhaps between 1-2% of total emissions - but all combined, that could mean many millions of tonnes of CO2 which could mean millions of euros. We think the environment directorate could simply add a small percentage. This would be a logical step although of far more of a concern to commercial airlines," says one attendee.

Environment chiefs will decide on the final figure by 2 August. A senior source at the directorate says: "We think it's a very minor figure and is balanced by us being very generous in terms of including all flights claiming public service obligation status over the period, as well as state flights by non-EU governments, which should really have been excluded."

Source: Flight International