The relative incongruity of the global environmental impacts versus burdens proposed to be imposed has been recently explained here and the insight provided was expert in the comparison. Another conference, COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, has been called and it has targeted aviation for a “carbon tax” which will pay for other business sectors.
It is reported that one of the committees preparing for COP21 has recommended “to earmark some of the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) fees as a source of climate finance for other business sectors.” The aviation sector’s response has been, as it should have been, uniformly negative. The general theme is that why should aviation be singled out to pay for other “environmental initiatives.” Here are some of the strong responses:
- “Reliable air services are too fundamental to local and regional development priorities, and States must consistently be made aware of the negative impacts which aviation taxes and fees can have on their longer-term, broad-based and sustainable economic prosperity…Your active cooperation in conveying this message will be paramount leading to COP21.”
Here’s another comment from the ICAO President on the subject, which subtly asserts that ICAO should be the primary deciding body on aviation and CO²:
- “Through partnerships and visionary commitments, the international aviation sector has been actively progressing its own strategy to address its CO2 emissions, and to achieve ICAO’s global aspirational goals of improving fuel efficiency by two per cent per year while stabilising our sector’s CO2 emissions at 2020 levels. ICAO States are seeking to realise these targets through measures including technological and operational improvements, alternative fuels and market-based measures.”
- “In our view, such a blunt instrument would not have any measurable environmental benefit… The draft text on using aviation as a source of climate financing is causing concern among a number of countries, particularly those that rely heavily on air transport for their connectivity and development. The developing and small island states would be particularly hard hit by ratcheting up the cost of flying. Even environmental groups that are pushing the scheme acknowledge the damage it would do to tourism and trade.”
A group of 28 airline executives sent a letter to all of the world’s government objecting to the COP21 proposal and also pointing to the ICAO process as being the lawful, most effective and right mechanism to establish real CO² plan. The letter includes some telling statements:
- “This is an influential set of business leaders adding their voice to those supporting climate action in the lead-up to the COP21 negotiations in Paris and one year ahead of aviation’s own climate deadline – the 39th ICAO Assembly. We are urging governments to back industry and civil society efforts to deliver this market-based measure.”
- “Since we set the goals, the aviation sector has been actively undertaking fuel efficiency projects through the deployment of over a trillion dollars of new technology, improved operational procedures and moving towards more advanced infrastructure. However, government regulation and national political environments prevent us from fully influencing our own future. Today’s letter urges government action in five key areas to complement the significant action already taking place within the industry.”
- “Government support must take place through a range of actions: air traffic management investment and reform;
continued support for research into new technology, operations and sustainable alternative fuels; improved intermodal transport planning; the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for airlines; and to agree at the 39th ICAO Assembly to both the implementation of a simple, global offsetting scheme which will stabilise air transport carbon emissions growth and to endorse an historic global CO2 standard for new aircraft. To delay will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.”
- “We have to ensure that the timelines do not slip and that the current positive momentum is not lost. Aviation has a distinct timeframe from the broader climate negotiations being undertaken at the UNFCCC. A progressive outcome in Paris would certainly help deliver a meaningful result at ICAO next September, but let’s not wait until after December for the aviation talks to proceed.”
The open letter, 60 days before the crucial COP21 climate talks in Paris, was signed by the chief executives of all the world’s major aircraft and engine manufacturers and leaders of associations representing over 90% of airline traffic; 1,861 airports and air traffic management organisations supporting 85% of traffic. In total, the organisations represent businesses with nearly a trillion dollars in annual revenue and over four million employees worldwide. The industry has been meeting with government and civil society representatives at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
It is not always appropriate to belittle the outreach of COP 21, but the opening page of the website seems to diminish the significance of the consequences of this conference. “TOOLBOX: learn, play and share.”
The “play” at Paris may impact millions of an interconnected/interdependent world economy, airline/aviation jobs, billions of global investments in green technology and even the ability of people around the world to travel/meet/understand each other, a useful mechanism for peace.
There is no discernible reason to tax aviation to subsidize other sectors. Would COP21 decide to impose the same carbon charge on the internet which is equal in its impact? If play is a part of your one setting introduction, such unequal results may be part of the fun.