By Kerry Ezard in Geneva

Industry groups generally believe that emissions trading will go some way towards reducing the negative impact of aviation on the environment, but agree that it only offers part of the solution.

International Air Transport Association director general Giovanni Bisignani yesterday told delegates at the Aviation and the Environment summit in Geneva yesterday that emissions trading is a preferable alternative to additional taxes and charges, but he cautions that it could still impose “substantial costs” on airlines unless a number of conditions are taken into account.

Firstly, says Bisignani, airlines should have open access to trading markets, and aviation emissions allowances should be “fully interchangeable” with other existing emissions-trading schemes. Auctioning should be avoided, he adds, and initial distribution of emissions allowances “should be free of charge and based on equal treatment”.

Further conditions outlined by the IATA chief include ensuring that targets and benefits treat all airlines equally, and that trading only applies to carbon dioxide emissions.

If these conditions are met, IATA would support the introduction of an emissions-trading scheme as an alternative to further taxes.

“Too often governments are part of the problem rather than part of the solution,” notes Bisignani. “Taxes are not the solution; they kill the social and economic benefits that aviation brings, particularly in developing countries.”

Eurocontrol director general Victor Aguado agrees that emissions trading is one way of controlling the effect of aviation on the environment, but points to network efficiency as being another vital method.

“Emissions trading is just one element in reducing CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” he notes. “Network efficiency is the key action for the future.”

UK director general of civil aviation David McMillan sees emissions trading as an inevitable outcome for aviation, noting: “It is difficult to see how aviation can remain above it.

“We need the industry to get in early to help produce policies that are well-targeted and allow the industry to prosper.”

Source: Flight International