- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2012

The head of a top American aviation group on Thursday called the European Union’s controversial Emissions Trading Scheme “wrong-headed” and “do-gooderism.”

Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association, said the rule, which charges airlines for the emissions created by their aircraft on flights to and from the continent, is little more than a way for cash-strapped European governments to raise money.

“We, as it will not surprise you, feel like this is a very wrong-headed scheme that does not make sense,” Ms. Blakey told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview with editors and reporters.

“It’s flawed at its heart,” she added. “The money does not go back into environmental programs. It goes back into the general treasury. So this is a revenue raiser. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a tax, because they need the money. Cloaked in do-gooderism.”

Air-industry advocates contend the fee, put into place earlier this year, is unfair because airlines are being charged for emissions created during an entire flight. A flight from San Francisco to London, for example, is charged for more emissions over American airspace than European airspace.

Ms. Blakey said the industry is developing tools that would more accurately measure emissions.

“As an industry, we are on the verge of having a metric that measures CO2 from an aircraft,” she said. “Because if you can measure it exactly, you can then begin to talk about a standard, and then you can talk about what standards engines and aircrafts should have.”

Europe, though, seems unwilling to adjust its formula for the emissions fees, which will come due early next year.

That could change. Ms. Blakey said she has had several meetings to discuss this issue in Europe, and the leaders might be willing to turn the decision over to the United Nations, which could take more time to study the proposed fees.

Ms. Blakey mentioned that time is all the industry is asking for. In fact, it had already announced plans to significantly cut airline emissions by 2020, when the EU introduced its fees.

“We’re very much stepping up,” she said. “It’s not as though we do not see the environmental impact of aviation as being something that we have an obligation to address. We do.”