The opinions expressed are his own.
American Airlines, in an article in its in-flight magazine American Way, says the company is “committed to identifying and implementing programs to reduce our environmental impact.” Just this week, American announced the purchase of 460 new fuel-efficient aircraft. The newly merged United and Continental recently launched an “Eco-Skies” campaign that, according to a company web site, reflects “a common focus on protecting the environment” and “allow[s] us to integrate our programs and focus on the environmental commitment of our combined company.”
So why are these environmental stewards hiring lobbyists and going to court to fight common-sense rules that will help protect the environment? And why are some members of Congress introducing legislation that would make it illegal for air carriers to obey new European clean air standards?
On January 1, 2012, all civil aviation flights using airports in Europe will become accountable for their global warming pollution. A new European law, designed to reduce global warming emissions from aviation as part of the larger effort to avert climate catastrophe, will apply to all airlines without regard to nation of origin. (The law exempts airlines that operate a small number of flights to/from the EU).
In its first year, the law requires the airlines to make a modest three percent reduction from their 2004-2006 emissions levels, and to cut pollution five percent through 2020. The law gives airlines broad flexibility to determine how to reduce pollution. Innovative carriers that cut emissions below required levels can sell their surplus allowances. This mild law won’t hurt the carriers’ business; in fact, a 2007 study by the industry’s International Air Transport Association found that the regulation’s “net impact is slightly positive for [both] the profitability of airlines operating extra-EU flights and the overall profitability of flights arriving and departing the EU.”