U.S. backs market scheme for aviation emissions from 2020

By Valerie Volcovici

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The United States supports a proposed market-based system to curb carbon emissions from the global aviation sector starting in 2020, but warned that concerns over measures to lower emissions in the interim threaten to undercut the broadly supported goal, a U.S. official said.

Negotiators from over 190 countries gathered at the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization's triennial assembly in Montreal went over details from a proposal to curb greenhouse emissions from the aviation industry as agreed by ICAO's 36-member governing council earlier this month.

Many countries have expressed support for a global market-based measure to reduce airline emissions, the details of which would be decided in 2016 for a proposed 2020 launch.

As a result, aviation could become the first major industry sector to launch a global market system to curb carbon emissions.

Country representatives said on Thursday they are wary of a section of the plan that addresses how interim national and regional measures that charge foreign air carriers for their emissions would operate until 2020.

The United States' delegation supports countries and regions that want to have interim regulations in place before a global mechanism is created, but only if they limit measures to their respective airspace, the U.S. official said.

It is concerned, however, that the proposed resolution would exempt a large number of countries from complying with those interim measures. Under the current wording, around 160 of 191 ICAO states would be exempt.

"Throughout this process, the U.S. government and the U.S. airline industry have strongly supported ICAO efforts to develop a global market-based measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That position has not changed," a U.S. official told Reuters ahead of Thursday's discussions.

"While we support the concept of de minimis exemptions, the current approach raises serious concerns for the United States."

Julie Oettinger, the lead U.S. negotiator and assistant administrator of the Federal Aviation Authority, said in remarks to the assembly on Thursday that exemptions should be granted to airline operators rather than states.

"A single operator may have very high relative levels of activity, while the same may not be true for its state of registry," she said, adding that such an approach would avoid market distortions, an ICAO requirement.

Poorer countries, however, have required an exemption from any interim measures in exchange for supporting the resolution, said Englebert Zoa Etundi, Cameroon's representative to ICAO, who represents the African bloc of negotiators.

The measure would protect African air passengers and its burgeoning airline industry and the bloc supports the proposal as it is currently worded, he said.

Other representatives of developing countries agreed that the resolution should protect the "special circumstances" of poorer states in remarks before the assembly on Thursday.

India's negotiator said at the assembly that the resolution should not allow countries or regions to impose their own market systems before a global market mechanism is developed.

Deleting the provision would avoid a "Pandora's box of considerations" and avoid a barrage of potential retaliatory measures, he added.

The European Union, currently the only region that has a market-based system to charge fees on emissions that would apply to foreign air carriers, said any changes to the current proposal could unravel, "a very delicate balance that has the support of the majority of ICAO."

Arijandas Sliupas, Lithuania's deputy transport minister, said on behalf of the European Union's 44 member states that, although the agreement is "not perfect, if forms the single package we have all been looking for."

PRECEDENT

From the aviation industry's perspective, allowing exemptions, even on interim measures, could set a worrying precedent.

"If such a large set of countries can get a blanket exception on market-based measures, we are concerned that this could be a slippery slope to requests for exemption on other taxes and charges, and even safety and/or security measures," said Nancy Young, vice president for environmental affairs for Airlines for America, the U.S. airlines' lobby group.

Some industry representatives are also concerned that, if so many countries are exempt now, they will seek to protect their exemptions if a global scheme starts up in 2020.

Environmental groups said there is wide support for a global deal after years of tough negotiations and warned that concerns over just a few provisions should not stop wider progress.

Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the goal is to launch the global emissions cap process and deliver it by 2016.

"We are at a crucial moment in the history of ICAO's efforts to tackle the climate issue. The credibility of this institution and of the governments who lead it - including the U.S. and the EU - is on the line," Petsonk added.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici.; Editing by Ros Krasny, G Crosse and Andre Grenon)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils

On Now: Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils

IPL7, MATCH 8—Chennai bat. Hilfenhaus, Manhas, Ishwar in; Delhi unchanged. More »

Bowling worries for Super Kings

Bowling worries for Super Kings

After failing to defend a mammoth 205 against Kings XI Punjab, Chennai have a lot to think about. More »

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

The class act from Saurashtra may have to rethink his approach to the mannerless format. More »

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

The BCCI is likely to convene a special general body meeting (SGM) in May to replace N Srinivasan on the board's disciplinary committee. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Roach escapes injury after car crash

Roach escapes injury after car crash

The West Indies fast bowler lost control of his BMW sedan due to slippery road conditions in his native Barbados on Saturday. More »

Repose faith in Indian coaches

Repose faith in Indian coaches

All of them cost plenty of dollars which I feel is unnecessary for a two- month tournament, says former cricketer Yajurvindra Singh. More »

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

The former CBI Director is one of the three candidates proposed by the BCCI to head the enquiry into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. More »

Cook relieved after period in limbo

Cook relieved after period in limbo

The England captain is looking forward to a fresh start after a dispiriting Ashes defeat last year. More »

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara go over their World T20 win, and feel grateful to have fans whose support remains unwavering in victory and de… More »

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

[T20 Newsline] Lacklustre Super Kings, fast-improving Sanju Samson and other news from IPL-7. More »

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Peter Anderson has started work in Kabul as the fast-developing team prepare for their debut at next year's World Cup. More »

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

As Lanka's head coach decides to jump ship, euphoria over winning an ICC tournament has dissipated into fuistration. More »

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Sri Lanka's chief selector is upset at news of head coach Paul Farbrace's possible move to England. More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »