A global aviation offsetting mechanism won’t be ready in time for countries to adopt it at the next ICAO Assembly meeting in 2016, an official from airline association IATA said on Thursday, meaning a key deadline would be missed that could trigger fresh EU proposals to re-apply its regional measure.
“Will there be a fully developed scheme in time for ICAO? No. There has been a lot of progress but there’s still a lot of work to be done next year to get states and operators ready to take this on,” Andreas Hardeman, IATA’s assistant director of environment policy, told the Carbon Expo in Barcelona on Thursday.
At the previous ICAO Assembly in 2013, countries agreed to let the UN aviation body craft an offsetting system by 2016 to take effect from 2020 to help the sector achieve carbon neutral growth and a 50% cut in emissions on 2010 levels by 2050.
The decision came amid international uproar about the EU’s decision to regulate CO2 emissions from international flights. The EU agreed to suspend the measure but reluctant MEPs included a clause requiring the European Commission to draft a new proposal immediately following the ICAO Assembly in 2016.
The clause does not mean the EU will automatically revert to regulating international flights but environmental groups said it puts pressure on EU lawmakers to stand by their promise to do so.
“The EU reaction is a key question and is at the front of our minds. To MEPs in Brussels we’ve been doing a lot of outreach to manage expectations,” said Hardeman.
“It’s not unusual for (the EU Parliament’s environment committee) to expect the moon and go home slightly disappointed. We have a job to avoid a snapback of EU ETS regulations … we’ve all lived through the debacle of EU ETS and some of us are still not fully recovered so want to avoid a repeat of that situation.”
Hardeman has been involved in the ICAO-led process to craft a global offsetting proposal, which splits a high level group to work on a political deal that all nations can agree to from a technical group that crafts rules to determine each airline’s obligation, what types of offset could be eligible and designs the required infrastructure.
Megan Flynn, who heads work on the issue for Australian airline Qantas, said it was never an intention to have all work on the mechanism completed by the 2016 ICAO Assembly.
“The more clarity we can get at ICAO the better … (but) there’s still another four years to start (in 2020) so significant work to be done,” she said.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org