By Sue Blaine (Business Day)
SAA had asked the European Commission for clarity on its announcement that it would at least temporarily exempt non-EU flights from its carbon trading system until September 2013.EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard told a media conference in Brussels that the hiatus was granted in light of progress toward a global deal on aviation emissions.
SOUTH African Airways (SAA) had asked the European Union’s (EU’s) executive arm, the European Commission, for clarity on the EU’s announcement on Monday that it would at least temporarily exempt non-EU flights from the region’s carbon trading system until next September, SAA spokeswoman Dileseng Koetle said on Tuesday.
SAA, which initially wanted to boycott the EU’s Emissions Trading System, instead raised its fuel surcharge on flights to and from Europe by R1-R2 per passenger from July.
"SAA has taken note of the announcement of the potential suspension of aviation’s inclusion in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) ... SAA is monitoring the situation and will respond once several questions surrounding the statement by the EC have been clarified,” Ms Koetle said.
EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard told a media conference in Brussels that the hiatus was granted in light of progress toward a global deal on aviation emissions — estimated at 3% of total global emissions of the gases related to the rise in global temperatures.
If advantage was not taken of the freeze, the reprieve would end.
"This is a chance, we created this phase for positive negotiations. If this exercise ends in nothing, then needless to say we are back to exactly where we are today with the EU ETS and we are back there automatically,” she told Bloomberg.
Ms Hedegaard was attending an International Civil Aviation Organisation meeting aimed at establishing a global market-based mechanism to cut the emission of greenhouse gases.
SA was one of the countries that balked at the plan.
China and India banned their airlines from participating in the system, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and similar legislation has been passed in both houses of Congress in the US. Foreign airlines would still have to account for their emissions, but would not have to offset them via the trading scheme, Ms Hedegaard said.
The International Air Transport Association was quick to celebrate the move, with its chief Tony Tyler saying it "represents a significant step in the right direction and creates an opportunity for the international community”, AFP reported.