European business aviation chiefs are urging Brussels to allow the buying of carbon permits wholesale to prevent aviation's entry into the European Union emissions trading scheme degenerating into an administrative nightmare for many smaller operators.
"It's not that we don't want to play our part in reducing aviation-related emissions. It is simply the fact that European business aviation accounts for no more than 6.9% of air traffic within Europe and substantially less than 1% of aviation emissions," says Brian Humphries, chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association, following the publication of a cross industry report that is highly critical of the European Commission's proposal.
"Most of our members operate five or less aircraft and many simply don't often know which routes they will be operating in advance. This is all about the administration, not about sustainability," says Humphries.
He says the EBAA was proposing acting as a clearing house to buy allowances wholesale before selling them on to its 300 members. Alternatively, it proposes a variety of voluntary carbon offsetting mechanisms that it hopes to launch at this year's National Business Aviation Association with some significant-sized launch operators.
The EBAA is also continuing to resist the shock inclusion of any aircraft with a certificated maximum take-off weight greater than 5,700kg (12,600lb) within Europe's proposed emission trading scheme after earlier indications that the threshold would be pegged either at 20,000kg - or aircraft with 25 seats or more.
The scheme has been labelled costly and unworkable by a group of six European industry bodies including the Association of European Airlines, the EBAA, European Cargo Alliance, European Low Fares Airline Association, European Regions Airline Association and International Air Carrier Association, following an independent impact assessment by consultancy Ernst & Young.
The consultancy says that aviation will have to purchase allowances to cover up to 45% of its emissions by 2022, making it the only sector in the emissions trading scheme to pay for growth, reducing the sector's ability to invest in environmentally-friendly technology.
The costs of purchased allowances will be €45 billion ($60.7 billion) between 2011 and 2022, while profitability will drop by more than €40 billion - with only one-third of the scheme cost recoverable from passengers.
The airline organisations also repeat previously voiced concerns that the move will put European operators at a competitive disadvantage against non-European counterparts.
The Society of British Aerospace Companies is recommending to UK policymakers that the EC revises the maximum take-off weight threshold to 20,000kg or introducing a de minimis threshold based on passenger numbers or fleet size as aircraft below 30t account for less than 3% of total aircraft emissions.
The SBAC also recommends that aircraft ferrying and reception are excluded from the directive through an amendment to the annex.