US, Canadian and Mexican representatives at ICAO have urged the agency to intervene to prevent the European Union from unilaterally proceeding with applying its emissions trading scheme to airlines (New York Times, 09-Sep-2010). Airlines are scheduled to join the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012. The representatives are pushing ICAO to pass a resolution that ensures that countries “seeking to implement an emissions trading system that applies to other contracting states’ aircraft operators” do so only “on the basis of mutual agreement”. European Union commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, stated the pressure amounts to the US requesting “veto right over what measures states can take to limit the climate impacts of aviation”.
North America opposed to inclusion of aviation in EU ETS
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Global aviation agrees a carbon offset scheme at ICAO's Assembly - but leaves much work to be done
On 6-Oct-2016 the Assembly of ICAO adopted a resolution to implement a global carbon-offsetting scheme for aviation. The scheme is aimed at helping to neutralise the CO2 emissions impact of the growth in international air travel after 2020. It complements efforts by the industry to mitigate its climate change impact through improvements in aircraft technology, operations and infrastructure and sustainable alternative fuels.
The President of the Council of ICAO, Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, acknowledged that the process had been complex for all concerned, but hailed the agreement as the result of a process characterised by a high level of political will. IATA welcomed the "historic" agreement as the first global climate change mitigation scheme covering an entire industrial sector.
However, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation said that the agreement sent a "worrying signal" and the coalition member Transport & Environment called it "a weak start". It does leave a number of important details still to be elaborated. Given the complexity of negotiating a global deal, the ICAO agreement may be the best that could be expected for now. Nevertheless, aviation must continue to show strong ambition to play its part in mitigating climate change, and also in being seen to do so.
Singapore Airlines promotes ASEAN-EU/Japan/Korea open skies to gain more USA fifth freedom flights
Linking Asia with North America has been the market cornerstone for Korean Air and Cathay Pacific while producing a growth market for relatively new entrants like ANA and EVA Air. Yet, while northeast Asian airlines have the geography for profitable nonstop North America flying, southeast Asian airlines are challenged in serving the route.
Singapore Airlines feels the need for a significant North American presence to diversify its network and offset pressure from Gulf airlines, which have profoundly weakened SIA in its core Asia-Europe and Australia-Europe markets. Although Singapore Airlines plans to resume nonstop North American flights, these are token services for strategic purposes.
The primary objective has to be securing more fifth freedom rights for one-stop service. Singapore is encouraging the ASEAN bloc to secure open skies with Japan, Korea and the EU since open skies will entail unlimited fifth freedom rights. Korea is unlikely to agree, with Japan hesitant. Fifth freedom liberalisation is a contentious item in the otherwise benign EU-ASEAN negotiations. Countries worry that granting unlimited fifths opens Pandora's box to growth – not just from SIA, but any number of airlines that are quiescent today but could aspire to be powerhouses in the future.