* IATA says backs CO2 trading but not EU's approach
* Voices worries over exemptions, monitoring of CO2-cutting
By David Fogarty
SINGAPORE, June 7 The world's biggest airline
groiuping hit back at the European Union on Tuesday, saying it
had not retreated from its support for emissions trading but
said the bloc's scheme for aviation was unfair and costly.
From Jan 1 next year, airlines landing in the European
Union's 27 member states will have to join the bloc's $120
billion emissions trading scheme, which obliges carriers to pay
for each tonne of carbon dioxide pollution above a fixed cap.
The cost is calculated from the point of departure, meaning
long-haul carriers will be hit hardest, regardless whether the
airline is from an EU country or not.
While the majority of non-EU airlines have complied and said
they will join the emissions trading system (ETS), they have
done so in protest, with China and U.S. carriers taking the
"IATA's position is very clear. We see emissions trading as
a useful tool and we've not backed away from that at all," said
Paul Steele, director, aviation environment, for the
International Air Transport Association.
IATA, which represents nearly 240 airlines, is holding its
annual meeting in Singapore, which ends on Tuesday.
On Monday, the EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard said the
bloc had the right to impose legislation to cut emissions from
aviation and showing weakness would encourage further challenges
to EU policies. [ID:nBRU011527]
In a letter to Airbus and European airlines, she also gave a
subtle reminder that the EU only chose to include aviation in
its carbon trading scheme after IATA had given its support to
carbon markets as the best tool for the job.
She noted that in a 2004 submission to the United Nations,
IATA had argued in favour of the principle of emissions trading.
Steele said IATA's position was unchanged and that a global
trading solution was preferred.
"The issue about the EU ETS is not about the ETS as a
mechanism, it's about the fact that the EU has probably over
extended itself in the way it's trying to impose it," he told
Analysts say airlines' entry into the scheme could cost them
1 billion euros ($1.46 billion). [ID:nLDE723123]
China Air Transport Association (CATA) says the scheme will
cost Chinese airlines 800 million yuan ($123 million) in the
first year and more than triple that by 2020. [ID:nLDE74919U]
The European Commission, which administers the ETS, says
governments can apply for an exemption if they take what are
called equivalent measures to curb aviation emissions but hasn't
spelled out what measures would be acceptable.
"Our concern from an industry point for view is there
doesn't seem to be any accountability mechanism to sign off on
what an equivalent measure is, apart from what the Commission
decides it is," Steele said.
Nor was there clarity on how to verify and monitor such
steps by a third country, he said.
"It's one of the biggest concerns we have right now, that
we'll end up with an even greater patch-work of measures."
(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)