Washington, DC, December 21, 2011 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today expressed strong opposition to a European court's ruling that a new plan by European regulators to tax carbon emissions from aircraft should apply to all aircraft operators across the international aviation community, including those based in the U.S.
In a decision announced today, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said European authorities are authorized to obligate all operators, including the airlines and general aviation, to comply with the program, known as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS). The court's ruling was made in response to a legal challenge questioning the applicability of EU-ETS to owners and operators of aircraft based in the U.S. NBAA is a party to the lawsuit.
"The court's ruling goes against established policy and long-standing practice when it comes to aviation regulations," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "It appears to set aside the principle, established in the Chicago Convention, that because aviation is a global industry, aviation policies should be developed and implemented on a global basis. Any new standards should be developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO], the United Nations body established to set policies for the industry, and in fact, ICAO has been working to develop such standards for aviation emissions. The parties to the lawsuit believe the challenge to the EU-ETS is still warranted, and options are being considered for appealing the court's ruling."
Bolen noted that the court's decision also appears to ignore the 1944 ICAO pact giving nations sovereignty over their own skies. The plan would tax flights from their point of origin rather than from the point they enter European airspace, in effect, taxing flights in airspace outside the EU.
Today's decision from the European court comes as government and industry voices are increasingly raising alarm over the potential for EU regulators' actions to set a damaging precedent.
This month, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate prohibiting operators of U.S. aircraft from participating in the EU-ETS. That legislation was met with strong support from a coalition of groups, including NBAA, representing nearly all aviation segments. A bill similar to the one introduced in the Senate was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives in October.
Representatives from the international aviation community have also spoken out against the EU-ETS plan. On November 2, ICAO issued a non-binding statement, approved by 26 of the international body's 36 member states, including the U.S., urging the EU not to include flights by non-EU operators in the ETS.
Although aviation emissions account for just a tiny percentage of carbon emissions from transportation worldwide, the industry has a record of continuous improvement in reducing emissions, and has established goals for increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing emissions in the years to come.
While NBAA will continue to seek a global approach to environmental issues, in the interim, operators should continue complying with EU-ETS-related monitoring, reporting and verification requirements.
For information about the EU-ETS, including press statements, podcasts and helpful links to other web sites with information about the program, visit www.nbaa.org.