WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today commended the European Union (EU) Parliament for its work in reaching an agreement to extend the “stop the clock” provision on the unilateral application of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to international aviation. The EU Parliament vote will stay the application of the EU ETS to flights to and from the EU through 2016.
The EU Parliament’s “stop the clock” extension is consistent with the historic agreement reached at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly last fall, which rejected unilateral approaches while cementing the global commitment by airlines and governments to continue to work together to address climate change and achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020. The ICAO agreement confirmed that industry and government investments in technology, operations and infrastructure measures should remain the primary means of further reducing aviation carbon emissions, while establishing a commitment to work toward a global market-based measure to “fill the gap” if needed.
Previously, Congress roundly rejected the EU ETS by passing a bill, which the President signed into law, authorizing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from complying with the scheme. Additionally, a broad array of countries outside the EU has joined in strong opposition to the EU’s unilateral approach to ETS, instead supporting a global approach under ICAO.
“A4A and our members commend the Parliament’s extension of stop the clock, thereby protecting U.S. travelers and shippers from unwarranted EU ETS tax hikes that drive up the cost of air travel,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
A4A and its member airlines have a long-standing commitment to improve fuel efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. Between 1978 and 2012, the U.S. airline industry improved its fuel efficiency by 120 percent, resulting in 3.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) savings – the equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road in each of those years.
A4A Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Nancy Young praised the decision to ratify “stop the clock” while noting the U.S. airline industry’s business model aligns with environmental interests and doesn’t need an exorbitant tax scheme to incentivize the industry to go green.
“The U.S. aviation industry has an exceptional environmental track record, and remains committed to doing even more to bring additional emissions savings within the industry and work within ICAO on implementing the global agreement,” said Young. “Extending stop the clock on the extraterritorial application of the EU ETS scheme enables the global aviation community to further build on the progress achieved at ICAO while ensuring commercial aviation remains a green engine of economic growth around the world.”
U.S. airlines drive 5 percent of U.S. economic activity but account for only 2 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), U.S. airlines burned 10 percent less fuel in 2012 than they did in 2000, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, even though they carried almost 16 percent more passengers and cargo over that period.