Humphries says EBAA and its members “hope the EU ETS will go away, and we will have a proper market-based system. If not, we are pressing for more equitable treatment—there should be a 10,000-ton di minimis exception for everyone. A clunky old Dash 100 Boeing 747 can make 243 flights in four months and be treated as a de minimis operator, and a noncommercial operator can make one flight and they're in—so the system is very unfair.”
IBAC's Edwards notes, “It's remarkable the level of discrimination implicit in the directive, especially given that the EU has a requirement that its regulations be proportionate to their impacts on economic activity, and the ETS directive is inconsistent with that requirement. It is something the EU needs to look at as part of the general review of the directive in 2014, if not sooner.”
“We want a global system, but just in case [the present ETS program] stays, in the next legislative period, we will fight for more fair treatment for business aviation,” Humphries says. “Today, what we have is not acceptable.”
In implementing the ETS, the EU did not anticipate the intensity of the pushback from foreign airlines and their respective governments, airframe and engine builders. One notable example of the pressure exerted on the EU was a claim by Airbus that China would cancel orders for new European jetliners because of its displeasure with ETS.
Because the ETS had been passed into law by the European Parliament, the confederation was duty-bound to enforce it. That meant if a foreign operator refused to comply with ETS—even per government decree—the EU theoretically could impound its aircraft. And then presumably, governments of the affected operators would quite likely reciprocate.
All this came to a head in December 2012 when Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action who is also a member of the EU commission, called for a temporary “derogation,” or relaxation, of some ETS provisions for a one-year period. Under the derogation, the extra-territorial rule would be dropped, but ETS would remain in effect for intra-EU operations of both domestic and visiting operators.
Even though the derogation took effect last December, it was not until April 24 that the move to “stop the clock” was published in the EU's official journal.
The Parliament's Environment Committee has made it clear that the derogation could be extended beyond a year if the triennial ICAO Assembly, convening in September in Montreal, achieved “substantial progress” in its stated goal of developing a global standard for aviation carbon mitigation.
EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba says the commission stopped the clock on ETS because of the pressure they were under and the derogation was “the logical consequence that approaching the deadline for surrendering the emissions data and purchasing the permits had created.