Thursday, October 10, 2013

Global Freight Forwarding and Logistics Groups Rush to Comment on Air Cargo Emissions

Will the EU Blink Again in the Light of Universal Acceptance for Market Based Pollution Measures?
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – The story we ran upon hearing the news that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had reached a decision on a mechanism to reduce aviation emissions told how the announcement delighted the International Air Transport Association (IATA), unsurprising as the organisation represents both passenger as well as cargo interests. Now however there has been a heartfelt welcome to the move from the big representatives of freight forwarding and logistics groups who see it as a realistic approach to resolve a problem which all players in the aviation industry recognise.

Last week in Montreal at ICAO’s 38th Assembly it was agreed to come up with a global market based measure (MBM) for international aviation for implementation from 2020. The aim is to have ‘carbon neutral growth from 2020 and halving emission by 2020 based on 2005 levels'. The agreement, by 191 countries, is seen by the industry lobbyists as a chance to present an acceptable solution whilst not crippling the air cargo business with swingeing costs. Three of the most influential groups, the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the Comité de Liaison Européen des Commissionaires et Auxiliaires de Transport du Marché Commun, universally known these days by the acronym CLECAT, have all issued statements praising the measure.

TIACA calls the move ‘a major breakthrough in the development of global standards for the industry’, and, prior to the meeting, had urged all of the countries present to ‘make history’ by reaching a single, simple and sustainable agreement to help aviation achieve carbon neutral growth. TIACA also endorsed the resolution by members of IATA to implement an aviation carbon neutral growth strategy by 2020. Doug Brittin, Secretary General of TIACA, said:

“We must not under-estimate the importance of this agreement. Business is changing and companies are being forced to deal with harsh economic realities while also working to achieve a sustainable future. Collaboration on the development of necessary global standards is essential to achieve the clarity international businesses need and to remove unnecessary additional processes and costs that inevitably arise when organisations are forced to comply with a raft of different national and regional regulations.

“As we have continuously stressed, the aviation industry is highly committed to more efficient operations and has a long history of investing in tangible improvements such as more efficient aircraft fleets and the development of alternative fuels, as well as a wide range of other ‘green’ initiatives applied on the ground. This will continue apace because greater efficiency means lower cost and in a highly-regulated industry forced to operate with such low financial margins, this is the ultimate incentive for airlines.

“The global economy needs a vibrant and profitable airline industry to stimulate growth and, in turn, the industry needs regulators to work alongside it to ensure the aviation industry can continue to fulfil its vital role. TIACA recognises there is considerable work to be done before the 2016 Assembly and we are committed to working in collaboration with ICAO members to flesh out these details. This will include participating in future ICAO events, starting with the Regional Symposium on Strategic Trends in Air Cargo in Sao Paulo in December.”

Jean-Claude Delen, FIATA’s Immediate Past President noted that the international freight forwarding industry is pleased that the airline industry will ultimately come up with the MBM’s as a means to incentivise emissions abatement, while maintaining a level playing-field in what is a strongly competitive international industry. He emphasised that the air freight industry is in need of a consistent and accurate standard for monitoring, verification and monitoring of carbon emissions, continuing:

“This agreement is an important step and we do expect that the aviation industry, like any other industry continues to seek for emissions reductions through improved technology, operations and alternative fuels to reduce emissions.”

Under the terms of the ICAO Resolution agreed in Montreal to develop a global measure for aviation emissions from 2020, governments will spend the next three years leading up to the scheduled ICAO General Assembly in 2016 on technical discussions. Each country will work on the design elements of such a scheme, including standards for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and the type of scheme to be implemented.

It was left to Nicolette van der Jagt, Director General of CLECAT, to mention the elephant in the room. Over a year ago we predicted a possible U turn at EU headquarters over the contentious emissions trading scheme which was about to be introduced. Sure enough a year’s ‘suspension’ was announced by Commissioner Connie Hedegaard with a clear message that the matter would be taken up in the corridors of power after this latest ICAO meeting so the pressure was on all parties to come up with a workable alternative. Whether the Commission will find a further three year delay acceptable is the question which hangs in the air. The CLECAT boss commented:

“The resolution creates however uncertainty regarding the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). For us, any application of the EU ETS should as a matter of principle to avoid discrimination and unfair competition among the airlines. Therefore, we urge the EU to clarify its intention regarding the EU ETS. At the same time, the text contains some loopholes and the challenge remains to keep all developing countries on board and to have them to participate in the MBM.”