Emissions trading schemes are one hot topic

While legislators in the US and European Community have recognised the need to regulate environmental protection, much of that effort continues to be misdirected on several fronts and poses serious challenges to airlines. Karen E. Thuermer has the story.

In the United States, for one, “capand- trade” legislation proposed by US Congressional lawmakers would require emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to purchase emissions allowances, or permits, to cover GHG produced by their activities. While the airline industry strongly supports improved GHG efficiency and has a track record to prove what it has done thus far, organisations such as Washington, DC-based Air Transport Association (ATA) and Montreal, Canada-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) advocate against such “one-sizefits- all” cap-and-trade legislation.

“This type of approach is particularly troubling because it does not take into account the airlines’ tremendous fuel and GHG efficiency and would siphon away the funds they need to continue to invest in further improvements,” comments Nancy Young, ATA vice president for Environmental Affairs.

Add to this the fact fewer allowances are available in the US for purchase by airlines, compared with other industries. Some movement on the issue, however, appears to be heading in the rightdirection. Recent proposals emerging in the US Congress, particularly in the USSenate, are beginning to recognise thatemissions targets and measures shouldbe tailored to particular industry sectors.

“We are hopeful that this refocusing will result in having our Congress recognise the airlines’ proposal for a global framework of targets and measures under the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),” she says. “But we are not there yet.”