Report sets out to show how the aviation industry lobbied to "hijack" its inclusion into the EU ETS
European MEPs "finally bowed down" in aviation ETS deal, says CEO report
Fri 5 Dec 2008 – A new report from campaign and research group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) describes how, in its view, the aviation industry undermined the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It details how it saw the International Air Transport Association (IATA), national airlines and key member states effectively working together to weaken original proposals to tackle emissions from aviation with the result, it claims, that the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe will continue to grow rapidly.
The CEO report, ‘Climate Crash in Strasbourg: An Industry in Denial’, seeks to track the three-year period from when the original proposal was made by the European Commission to include aviation into the ETS, concluding that despite the apparent commitment of the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the outcome will make little difference to the level of emissions from the sector. It says that despite efforts by the European Parliament to strengthen the Commission’s “rather weak” proposal and the Council’s “less ambitious” position, MEPs “finally bowed down” in the eventual deal between the parties in June.
The report shows there were many reasons for the climb down by the Parliament – political pressure from inside the EU for a quick agreement, international pressure from the US and other third countries and, predominantly, industry pressure from both inside and beyond the EU.
The aviation ETS proposal was the first real climate legislation to be discussed using the co-decision procedure after EU heads of state had agreed in March 2008 to 20% to 30% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The report concludes the outcome of the eventual aviation ETS directive appears to have undermined the EU’s commitment ahead of next year’s UN climate change crunch negotiations and that national governments, pushed by industry, are to blame.
The report accuses the aviation industry, principally IATA and the Association of European Airlines (AEA), of playing “a leading role with their campaigns to fight or hijack the scheme in their interests”. It details what it describes as IATA’s multimedia “high-flying greenwash campaign”, which included an expensive advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, an environment display in Schiphol airport and its relaunched Enviro.Aero website.
CEO accuses the website of misleading the public over aviation emissions facts, particularly its IPCC-cited claim that aviation is responsible for 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, which could reach 3% by 2050. “But this is not 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use,” it says, “but 2% of ‘total anthropogenic CO2 emissions’, according to IPCC. Anthropogenic emissions comprise all man-made CO2 emissions, including emissions from deforestation, not only CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. According to IPCC, the figure could reach 4.1% by 2050, not 3% as stated.”
The report goes on to detail how IATA and the other airline associations lobbied the various European Parliament committees, adopting common industry tactics of commissioning their own reports and studies to support their case and arguing that the legislation would lead to substantial job losses. It describes how invitations from PR lobbyists to take up the industry’s case in Brussels were passed up. “The industry lobbied the EU institutions with its own internal resources, sometimes apparently lacking some basic professional lobbying skills.”
It describes how “tactless” lobbying went down badly in certain quarters but concedes that there was success for the industry when tough proposals by some in the ENVI committee were eventually voted down by MEPs. CEO also acknowledges that when it had appeared that lobbying the Parliament was becoming “almost a lost cause”, lobbying the Council proved more fruitful.
The report also details what it sees as the crucial part Germany played in the final outcome. It says that the German MEP and rapporteur on the legislation, Dr Peter Liese, came under pressure from within his own EPP-ED parliamentary group before the crucial June 2008 vote, with fellow German MEP Georg Jarzembowski, rapporteur on the Transport and Tourism committee, exerting a behind-the-scenes position for a different, less tough line.
CEO reports there was also a clash of interests within the German economic, transport and environment ministries. It says that the involvement of Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber, who was reported to have personally lobbied all three ministers, was a significant if not decisive factor in the June outcome.
International action, particularly from the US, is also detailed in the report, including the exhortations from IATA’s Giovanni Bisignani at overseas meetings for third countries to challenge the European ETS.
CEO accuses the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC) of having “a clear industry bias” and the make-up of its 15 members not being transparent. All the presentations at the first meeting in February 2008, it says, were given by ICAO, GIACC or industry representatives. “Not a single environmental NGO, academic or trade union was invited,” it claims. “Yet, according to ICAO, the work of GIACC is meant to be inclusive and involve consultation with all the stakeholders concerned.”
It further accuses GIACC of being “hijacked” by two representatives, one it claims was a former IATA lobbyist, the other it says publicly promotes IATA’s four-pillar strategy.
The report concludes by noting that the battle over the ETS goes on with the aviation industry’s lobbying efforts concentrated on the post-2012 period and the general review of the ETS currently under discussion.
Based in Amsterdam, CEO describes itself as a European-based research and campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups.