EU Calls for ‘Strong Signal’ From ICAO on Carbon Emission

European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called on the United Nations’ aviation body to accelerate the design of a global rule to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions from aircraft operators.

The EU, which is seeking to lead the global fight against climate change, included foreign airlines in its emissions-trading market this year after international organizations failed to enact pollution curbs. The UN International Civil Aviation Organization opposes the move, arguing it’s in the best position to regulate emissions from carriers.

“There are so many countries saying they want an international regulation,” Hedegaard said in an interview during a conference at Bloomberg LP’s headquarters in New York today. “The first chance to show that, and also for the ICAO leadership to show that, is at their next meeting in November. There ICAO has the possibility of sending a very strong signal that they really want to work seriously on a global deal.”

Hedegaard’s comments at a Climate Week NYC event follow an adoption by the U.S. Senate last week of a bill that would effectively shield the country’s airlines from participation in the EU emissions trading system, also known as the ETS.

The bill, supported by the airlines, must be reconciled with similar legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said the Obama administration hasn’t taken a position on the bill, and in June said the government “strongly opposes” the EU plan.

European Flights

The expansion of the ETS into flights to and from European airports also triggered opposition from countries including China and Russia, which said Europe should let the ICAO decide on greenhouse-gas limits for the industry.

The EU has repeatedly said that while its law enables the exemption of incoming flights from a country if it implements “equivalent measures” to tackle pollution from aviation, the 27-nation bloc won’t give up the inclusion of aviation in its carbon cap-and-trade market.

Under the EU ETS, airlines beginning in 2013 must surrender allowances equal to their emissions in the prior year. The airlines were given free allowances for about 85 percent of their emissions.

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