Asia Pacific airlines have renewed their call for governments in the region “to support the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) so that the industry can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels”.

At a time of crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the latest meeting of their trade association, The Assembly of Presidents of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) called on governments for support for SAF while at the same time asking them to “refrain from applying duplicative requirements on international aviation CO2 emissions.”

The reference to “duplicate” is because the airline industry has established its own commitment to offsetting aviation CO2 emissions through the Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) which was reached by many airlines in 2016.

CORSIA has meant that airlines have been reporting their full emissions in 2019 and 2020, with the idea that an average of the two years would then be taken calculate the percentage of emissions which would need offsetting.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed these plans however, since emissions in 2020 will be much lower, and this would push the average down, and so require airlines to offset far more emissions.

Earlier this year, ICAO voted to use just 2019’s emissions.

The effect is that the reduction in emissions in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic will be ignored.

This means that with the forecast future reduction in demand for aviation, airlines will not reach the new baseline for several years, allowing them to emerge from the crisis and build traffic before having to take action on further reducing emissions or offsetting those emissions.

Environmental organisations criticise airlines over emissions recalculation

At a time that many governments are looking to build a ‘green recovery’, airline are understandably nervous that governments might impose additional targets or taxes on them in the face of CORSIA now not having any effect for several years.

As the statement says from this week’s assembly, “AAPA is concerned that some governments are imposing variations or additional requirements, which could undermine the integrity and environmental effectiveness of the scheme.”

It also says that “Noting that a broad framework conducive to the early restart and recovery of aviation is urgently needed, AAPA called on governments to refrain from increasing the burden of aviation levies in any form and to support Asia Pacific airlines as they face unprecedented financial and operational challenges due to the prolonged grounding of international aviation.”

AAPA has previously said that “Environmental impacts are seen as systemic beyond the control of the operators.”

It points to “Inefficient management of airspace, restrictive operational procedures and inadequate infrastructure can further offset the investments by airlines to mitigate the effects on the environment.”

Its position is that “Given the significant contribution aviation makes to long-term growth, AAPA aims to promote the role of aviation in the region, at the same time balancing economic development, social responsibility and environmental conservation.”

“AAPA actively engages in dialogue and works with industry stakeholders to lobby for a more coherent global approach to issues regarding climate change, and promulgate a better level of understanding of the important role which aviation plays in economic development in the region.”