EU stands firm on the need to curb aviation emissions … and soon, not in 2020

Representatives from 190 nations flew into Montreal and spent most of the past week at the start of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Assembly in Montreal. The Assembly runs through October 4th. A top goal is to resolve the conflict that has brewed in recent years, in which European nations proposed to impose taxes on aviation emissions. A consensus appears to be forming, but that consensus centers on an excessive delay of six more years before airlines (and passengers) are made to pay for the CO2 they produce while travelling on vacations, business trips, and for other reasons. Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, noted that, although the deal is closer than ever to approval, the emerging consensus for a lengthy delay until 2020 means that measures like EU’s emissions trading scheme will be needed until then. “Now we have the chance to agree that yes, these airline emissions should be regulated. But this scheme is not entering into force tomorrow,” Hedegaard told Reuters in an interview in New York. “We should still have our own regional scheme until then.” 9-27-2013 The EU put their plan on hold in November 2012, and respectfully shifted the burden to ICAO to broker a solution to what is clearly an aviation issue. Now, ten months later, the ICAO representatives (all of whom have a vested financial interest in maximizing paid airline passenger miles) want to delay for six additional years. Hmmm. This is much like how FAA has delayed for multiple decades on other environmental issues, such as lead in aviation gas (still there, not gone yet) and helicopter noise destroying the natural quiet of Grand Canyon for the financial gain of aerial thrill ride helicopter tour operators (no meaningful changes there, either). And not too different from the same failure pattern at other agencies and in Congress: delay, delay, delay. Short-term profits for an elite few, coupled with long-term damages. Will humanity ever acquire the skill — and the will — to evolve beyond this primitive and selfish habit? Hedegaard reiterated that Europe needs to regulate airline emissions. “Those who can afford to fly long distances should cover the cost of their emissions,” Hedegaard said.