The energy and climate moving through Congress has many corporate backers that are big polluters, including many big power utilities, such as Duke Energy. But you can add the airline industry to the list of those who support some form of climate action, but not the current bill under consideration. The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the many of the U.S. airlines, does not currently support the Waxman-Markey bill, known as ACES. Says the Air Transport Association in a statement issued last week:
"The nation's airlines have an impressive environmental record and are committed to working with the administration to address climate change, but we have strong concerns about the Waxman-Markey bill and its punitive one-size-fits-all approach," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "This cap-and-trade bill creates an onerous fuel tax on the airline industry."
"Fuel costs will skyrocket, hindering the ability of U.S. airlines to continue to improve their environmental performance through fleet modernization and technological advances, weakening their ability to compete in the global markets," added ATA.
While seeking to impose these onerous new taxes, Congress also appears to recognize that this is the wrong approach to follow when it comes to aviation since elsewhere in the same legislation Congress recognizes the unique nature of global aviation. Language offered by Congressman Rick Larsen and included in the Waxman-Markey bill states that the United States should:
-Continue to actively promote, within the International Civil Aviation Organization, the development of a global framework for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from civil aircraft that recognizes the uniquely international nature of the industry and treats commercial aviation industries in all countries fairly; and
-Work with foreign governments towards a global agreement that reconciles foreign carbon emissions reduction programs to minimize duplicative requirements and avoids unnecessary complication for the aviation industry, while still achieving the environmental goals.
"These conflicting views in the Waxman-Markey legislation indicate clearly that, at least as to aviation, far more work needs to be done to construct the right approach to dealing with climate change. What we have now just does not make sense."
Meanwhile, at the recent G8 meeting, where climate received big headlines but too few firm commitments, leaders of the G8 called for an effort by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to halve aviation's emissions before 2050.
Apparently, the commercial aviation industry has already agreed to three targets: a 1.5 percent average annual improvement in fuel efficiency between now and 2020; carbon-neutral growth by 2020; and a 50 percent cut in emissions by 2050 compared with 2005 levels.
The aviation industry accounts for roughly 2 percent of annual emissions according to the IPCC.