A4E calls on governments to support the UN’s global scheme to reduce airline carbon emissions

Environmental Economic measures

Coinciding with the presentation of the European Commission’s “European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility”, A4E sets out its priorities on environmental policy.

A4E calls on all governments to support the United Nations’ proposed carbon offset scheme to ensure the airline industry can tackle climate change at a global level. The ambitious target to cap emissions from 2020 can only be achieved if governments agree on a global deal to address carbon emissions as proposed by the United Nations aviation specialised agency ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). This means that future growth in carbon emissions will be offset to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

“A4E welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to the ICAO process and urges governments to reach an agreement at the October 2016 ICAO General Assembly to address international aviation emissions at global level. We call on all governments to support a global deal for aviation carbon emissions because it is the only way we can continue to grow our industry sustainably to meet demand”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of A4E.

During the subsequent review of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for aviation, the legislator should ensure the competitiveness of European carriers and avoid adverse financial and political implications. The implementation of the global scheme should make existing and new economic measures for international aviation emissions on a regional or national basis unnecessary. A4E’s expectation is that the global carbon offsetting scheme will replace the aviation ETS.

Beyond the developments and challenges related to a global scheme, A4E supports the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) robust CO2 efficiency standard for aircraft as technology is one of the sector’s key enablers to reduce its carbon footprint.

Developing sustainable fuel solutions is also critical. Airlines currently depend on carbon based fuels. Unlike ground transport, aviation does not have alternative energy sources such as hydrogen, natural gas and electrical batteries and this is likely to remain the case until well beyond 2030. A4E shares the view of the European Commission that sustainable low carbon fuels are especially important for commercial aviation. To date, favourable renewable energy policies for transport focus primarily on road vehicles.

“The only fuel alternative available for aviation in the short to mid-term are sustainable low-carbon fuels but we face high prices and low availability. Some test and commercial flights have been carried out by dozens of airlines – among them A4E member airlines – and have proven their effectiveness. We are investing in developing bio fuels but governments should incentivise sustainable jet fuels in the same way they do for cars. Support from governments is critical for these initiatives to progress.”, said Thomas Reynaert.

Therefore, a more favourable policy framework is necessary and urgent to create a stable market environment for investors and airlines to advance the use of sustainable biofuels by ensuring sufficient supply that is price-competitive and non-distortive. This support should consist of lowering investment risk and providing policy incentives for biofuel use in the Renewable Energy Directive (which has so far only been implemented in The Netherlands for aviation).

A4E also supports current ideas in the European Parliament to encourage Member States to use bio-waste, in particular for the production of sustainable low carbon fuels for aviation, within the scope of the Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2008/98/EC on Waste.