Hopes dashed for early EU aviation CO2 deal

Industry says major reductions not possible before 2012, slams 4-5% annual reduction proposal

The European air transport industry has poured cold water on hopes of an early voluntary agreement with the EU on reducing aircraft carbon dioxide emissions. Firms say it will be more than a decade before the sector can exceed annual 1.1% reductions, an ambition level already rejected by the European Commission as insufficient.

In a joint statement, European airline association AEA and aerospace industry association AECMA say major emission reductions through new technology developments will only be possible after 2012. This is the end of the 2008-2012 "first commitment period" under the Kyoto climate protocol, by when the EU is committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 8% relative to 1990 levels.

The statement responds to a Commission paper suggesting that any voluntary agreement "should aim to achieve" 4-5% annual reductions in fuel consumption, and thus CO2 emissions, per passenger-kilometre by 2012 (ENDS Daily 1 December 1999).

The proposal is based on AEA figures for 23 EU and non-EU airlines showing that consumption fell by around 2% annually between 1990 and 1998. It says that taxes and charges could be used to tackle environmental impacts of aviation, whose CO2 emissions are growing at 3% annually and may account for 15% of global warming potential within fifty years.

A senior European industry official told ENDS Daily today that the Commission "doesn't understand what's behind the figures" and that it was "stupid" simply to double the 2% number to arrive at a target. The reduction had been made through "massive" fleet renewals, the official said. The projected 1.1% annual fall between now and 2012 was itself "ambitious" and involved early aircraft replacements.

Fleet renewals had now slowed down, the source said, adding that increased taxes would "stop or slow down" moves towards increased fuel efficiency, which would improve by over 22% between 1990 and 2012.

Preliminary talks with AEA and AECMA officials on an agreement began at the Commission's instigation last year after a similar deal was struck with car manufacturers (ENDS Daily 6 October 1998).

Follow Up:
AEA, tel: +32 2 639 8989; AECMA, tel: +32 2 775 8110. Text of the joint statement.

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