ALPA supports EU carbon trade freeze

The world’s largest pilot union said it was encouraged by today’s European Commission’s proposal to “freeze” the application of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) for flights flying to or from Europe.

The Commission proposes to put a temporary moratorium in place until after the triennial meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in October of 2013, where it is hoped that a mutual global agreement can be reached.

“Although this is definitely a step in the right direction, we remain deeply concerned with the unilateral nature of the EU ETS and its disregard for the sovereignty of non-EU nations,” said Captain Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) which represents nearly 51,000 pilots at 35 airlines in the United States and Canada.

“This temporary delay in no way changes ALPA’s position that the US House of Representatives should quickly vote to approve the Thune-McCaskill bill that potentially exempts US carriers from the EU ETS if the Secretary of Transportation deems such prohibition to be in the public interest. We encourage Congress to provide this Administration the tools to effectively counter the EU ETS.”

The EU ETS could require all airlines using EU airports to pay significant amounts for each ton of carbon used over historical emissions, regardless of nationality of the carrier. It is estimated that the EU ETS could cost US carriers $3.1 billion in fees over the next 10 years.

In September 2012, the Senate unanimously passed S.1956, which gives the Secretary of Transportation the ability to exempt US carriers from participating in the program and was strongly supported by ALPA. S.1956 is scheduled to be voted on by the House on November 13.

“ICAO is and remains the proper and most appropriate venue to address the issue of aircraft emissions worldwide,“ said Capt. Moak. “To have one player determine the rules of the game for everyone cannot and will not provide solutions to the real problems our industry faces.”

The European Commission proposes to “stop the clock” for one year on the obligations of airlines to surrender emissions allowances from air transport to and from the European Union. If ICAO does not produce an agreement to the liking of the EU, the EU ETS will once again be applied in full.

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