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Regulatory authorities report monitoring plans so far submitted cover nearly all aviation EU ETS emissions

Greenaironline.com 25 Nov09

The Competent Authorities responsible for monitoring and administering most of the aviation CO2 emissions to be covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme say that all the larger aircraft operators under their administration have now submitted monitoring plans. The UK reports that operators responsible for 98% of the total CO2 emissions produced by aircraft operators attributed by the European Commission to the UK for regulation have now complied with the scheme and submitted plans to the Environment Agency, with Germany reporting a 97% compliance. However, many hundreds – possibly thousands – of smaller operators on the Commission’s list remain unaccounted for or who have not submitted plans.

A spokesman for the UK Department for Transport (DfT) told GreenAir Online that every aircraft operator with greater than 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and 99% of those produced by commercial operators that were on the UK list have complied. He said any outstanding operators could still submit an application for a monitoring plan but should do so as soon as possible.

The DfT declined to say just how many of the 891 operators on its list had submitted plans. A month ago, it reported that only 75 had done so, which prompted the UK’s Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority to write an open letter reminding operators of their obligations and the penalties for not complying (see story).

The German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) at the Federal Environment Agency said this week it had received 135 monitoring plans from the 326 aircraft operators on its list, but this covered 97% of all aviation CO2 emissions it is administering and all of the larger airlines. Of the 326, 56 operators had been exempted under the ‘de minimis’ rules.

Dr Hans-Jürgen Nantke, Director of the DEHSt, said he was very happy with the high percentage and also the response from non-European airlines. However, he reminded all operators, however small, of their obligations under the EU ETS legislation if they fly to or from Europe.

A spokesperson for the DEHSt said: “There are some operators that haven't responded yet and others that have been given an extended deadline. We know all of them and they have been mailed, but there are still some that haven't answered or identified themselves, although this is a minority.”

Philippe Langumier, who is responsible for the aviation EU ETS at the French civil aviation authority (DGAC), said that 250 operators had returned 400 plans in total (not all having completed tonne-kilometre plans) out of a list of just over 1,100 – by far the highest number of the EU states. He said all the 55 commercial airlines on the list had complied and there were around 100 plans still outstanding from non-commercial operators. Of the remaining 750 left on the list, where contact had not been made, 300 had been identified with around 50 of them having been exempted as they fell below the ‘de minimis’ threshold. The remaining 450 had not yet been identified.

Although operators have been threatened with penalties for non-compliance with the deadlines, which have now passed, it appears France, Germany and the UK – which are responsible for over 60% of the total number of operators on the EC list – have no immediate plans to crack down on the many small operators still outstanding.

Many of these are Business Aviation operators, a large proportion based outside the EU. Brian Humphries, President and CEO of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), is not surprised with low level of response from his sector. He said the EBAA was not against the aviation EU ETS in principle but it discriminated against the smaller operators and the process had turned into a “bureaucratic nightmare”.

The EBAA says Business Aviation is responsible for just 1% of all aviation emissions but is keen to play its part in mitigating its environmental impact. However, it estimates that the administrative cost of managing monitoring emissions could be as high as €40,000 ($60,000) per management company per year, a cost most operators, it says, would be unable to bear in the current depressed and highly competitive market.

Not only could operators incur penalties for non-compliance, the loss of free emissions allowances to 2020 if tonne-kilometre (TK) plans are not submitted in time is potentially an even greater financial punishment. However, Humphries believes that many small operators will not bother with TKs as the costs involved outweighed the benefits, and says the TK parameter was designed for airlines rather than Business Aviation.

David Carlisle, the EBAA’s environmental ‘expert’, recently set up his own company, ETS Aviation, to deal with the many small operators still grappling with the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) process of the EU ETS. The company has also launched its Aviation Footprinter carbon accountancy solution to help make recording and reporting data easier, quicker and less costly.

“Operators seem to be reluctant to make their MRV submissions because of so many uncertainties over their reporting obligations short and long term,” he said. “Hundreds of them don’t seem to fully understand why they should have to jump to it, or what the consequences will be if they don’t. Operators find the documentation difficult to understand and coping with the jargon extremely frustrating and time consuming. Many have spent weeks attempting to complete and submit the plan and then come to us for help.”

Apart from the smaller aircraft operators, most of the airlines appear to have submitted monitoring plans, leaving the Competent Authorities to check and approve them by the end of next month, as laid out in the EU Directive. However, this may prove to be a tall order.

"Because of the delayed deadlines in many countries and our experience from the stationary sector, we don't believe that all customers will receive feedback on their monitoring plans by the end of December 2009, with some having to wait until early 2010,” said Sebastian Gallehr, CEO of Gallehr+Partner. “For these airlines, that means a certain amount of legal uncertainty as they will have to start monitoring their CO2 and TKs from 1 January 2010, but have no approved basis upon which to do so. In these cases, the verification in 2010 will not be so easy and considerable issues could arise, costing the airlines more time and more cost.”

“For all our customers the monitoring plans have been submitted on time but in no single case have we had any feedback from the CAs – no approvals and no rejections.”

However, Quentin Browell, IATA’s Assistant Director, Aviation Environment, said that response from the EU ETS Compliance Forum – which coordinates between the Commission, Member States and Competent Authorities – suggests that many monitoring plans have in fact been sent back by the Competent Authorities because of a need for further explanation and corrections. Some have been rejected altogether as unsatisfactory.

“The main problem as far as the CAs are concerned seems to be a failure to follow the guidelines precisely,” he said.

“One major issue is the measurement of fuel density. According to the Forum, some airlines are planning to use the 0.8 default but according to the legislation, this can only be used if on-board equipment fails or if supplier information is not available. CAs will only accept this in very exceptional situations.”

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