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European airlines remain leading opponents of European climate legislation - report

7 Jul 2022 by Tom Otley
IAG carriers

European airlines remain leading opponents of European climate legislation according to analysis published today by climate change NGO, Influence Map.

In its report, an update of its 2021 ‘The Aviation Industry and European Climate Policy’, it finds that legacy airlines such as Air-France KLM, International Airlines Group (IAG), and Lufthansa are “leading negative advocacy on European climate regulation”.

It also reports that there is a growing divide on this, with low-cost airlines such as Easyjet,  Ryanair and Wizz Air increasingly supportive of applying climate policy to all international flights in the EU.

The analysis draws upon an assessment of over 350 items of evidence of climate policy engagement by the aviation sector since June 2021.

Each item of evidence was “assessed against Paris-aligned government and science-based benchmarks [and] highlights the risk posed to Paris-aligned policy from negative corporate policy engagement in the light of key EU Parliamentary and Council decisions on climate policies proposed under the EU’s ‘Fit for 55 package’ during the summer of 2022.”

The report says that despite improvements in the aviation sector’s climate-related engagement since June 2021, “it remains one of the strongest opponents of European climate policy.”

The report gives scores to ‘negative engagement’, with climate policy engagement scores on an A to F scale.

The scores are Air France-KLM (D), International Airlines Group (IAG) (D), and Lufthansa (D-). Industry associations are also included, with Airlines for Europe (A4E) receiving a D and International Air Transport Association (IATA)  a D-.

Climate lobbying scores-1

The report says that the aviation sector is found to enjoy a high level of political access in Europe, with an assessment of EU transparency data uncovering 43 meetings between the aviation industry and key climate-focused Members of the European Parliament in the run-up to crucial May/June 2022 EU parliamentary votes.

European Climate Regulation for the Aviation Sector

There are various proposals for European Climate Regulation for the Aviation Sector.

Background

There are four main proposals for climate regulation of the aviation sector. These are:

  • EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)
  • Jet fuel taxation
  • Ticket taxes
  • SAF mandate

As the report explains:

“On July 14th, 2021, the EU Commission presented the ‘Fit for 55’ package, intended to align EU policy with a net 55% GHG reduction target by 2030 compared to 1990, proposing numerous measures to decarbonize aviation. These regulations include the first EEA-wide sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) mandate, a kerosene fuel tax, and increasing the ambition of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).”

“In 2022, the EU Parliament and Council will each present their position on the EU ETS, SAF mandate, and kerosene tax. The three EU institutions then negotiate the positions via a ‘trilogue’ to reach a compromise agreement, after which the resulting policy is provisionally agreed upon and submitted for final approval before becoming law.”

Climate legislation-table.04

The research says that

“Legacy airlines are found to communicate top-line support for net-zero 2050 ambitions while appearing to oppose key policies to reach this target, particularly efforts to regulate international flights.”

New documents obtained by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request reveal that in a January 2022 email to an EU Commission official, IAG advocated for the EU’s sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) mandate to be limited to intra-EU flights (EU to/from EU).

IAG letter to EU Commission official 

In a statement to Business Traveller, IAG said that

“IAG was the first European airline group to commit to powering 10 per cent of its operations with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. The Group has committed US$865 million in SAF purchases and investments over the next 20 years. Aviation is a global industry and we need a global mechanism to support our sector’s green transition and effectively address its carbon footprint”.

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