The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has urged politicians to put their full support behind the emissions trading scheme to meet tough European carbon emissions targets without doing irreparable damage to the UK economy. Following Wednesday’s announcement by European environment ministers to make aviation’s carbon emissions ten per cent lower by 2020 than they were in 2005, the leading trade body has warned that taking measures where the UK acts alone will achieve nothing for the environment whilst hurting the UK’s competitiveness.
Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of Global Supply Chain Policy, said:
"The incorporation of aviation into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, which has already proven successful in other industries, will be the most effective mechanism for lowering CO2 emissions within the aviation sector.
"We should avoid knee jerk reactions when it comes to transport’s carbon footprint, which could not only damage the credibility of the environmental movement but also seriously impair the global economy, not least for developing nations. Rather than ‘baby and bathwater’ measures such as further taxation or restricting the development of Heathrow, politicians need to be speaking to the transport industry to find out what’s already being done and how we can be advocates for positive environmental and economic outcomes."
The setting of these targets shows that aviation’s carbon footprint will be effectively managed by this Scheme. There is no need or justification for other restrictions on aviation – especially those that would only hurt business in the UK. Examples of such policies include a tax on air freight and restrictions on the development of Heathrow.
"If we tax UK air freight, businesses will simply switch to the Continent, reducing the level of service and increasing distribution costs to prime UK businesses. As goods will then be trucked across from the Continent, we could even see a rise in the carbon footprint of goods. The UK also needs a globally competitive air freight hub if we are not to become simply a branch-line from Europe. UK business needs Heathrow Airport to have more capacity to reverse the trend of reductions in the number of destinations served. It has only two runways compared to Paris Charles de Gaulle’s four, and we need the UK’s global airport to be able to compete.
"In an ideal world we would adopt a global approach to deal with aviation’s carbon footprint. A European Emissions Trading Scheme is the right place to start."