Plane-makers and airlines criticized the European Union over its revised emissions-trading scheme, which they said will cripple the European airline industry.
FARNBOROUGH, England — Plane-makers and airlines meeting here for the world’s largest air show pledged Wednesday to improve efficiency in the global aviation industry to reduce its contribution to global warming.
But executives from British Airways and Airbus also used a summit at the Farnborough Air Show on “sustainable aviation” to attack the European Union over its revised emissions-trading scheme, which they said will cripple the European airline industry coming on top of soaring oil prices.
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said he supported a trading scheme in general but had “serious reservations” about the EU’s current proposal, which he said would encourage carriers to bypass European hubs altogether.
“The EU should look again at applying a scheme that is workable in the first place and able to be applied worldwide,” Walsh said.
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European airlines say the EU greenhouse-gas cap and trading system would impose extra costs of $5.41 billion a year.
Buying enough carbon permits to operate between 2011, when the program would begin, to 2022, will cost more than $61 billion.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders, who also broadly supports a trading scheme, criticized European politicians for pushing ahead with the “unbalanced” scheme “irrespective of the burden put on airlines by the oil price.”
West Texas crude-oil prices hit a record $147.27 a barrel last week and settled at $138.74 Tuesday, underpinning a rise in oil costs for the aviation industry from $44 billion in 2003 to an expected $190 billion this year.
The aviation industry has come under growing public and political pressure to curb carbon-dioxide emissions, with calls for plane makers to invest more in new technology and for airlines to replace outdated fleets of gas-guzzling aircraft.
The industry has argued that it is moving toward a cleaner future and that it is not the worst offender when it comes to the environment.
Executives at the summit on Wednesday again struck a tone between conciliatory and defensive, repeatedly quoting data indicating the aviation industry accounts for just 2 percent of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions — in contrast to other factors such as deforestation, which accounts for some 20 percent.
The 2 percent figure is forecast to rise to just 3 percent by 2050 if no action is taken.
Environmentalists, however, argue that the growth in air travel — now about 5 to 6 percent a year — threatens to undo improvements made in other industries, ultimately undermining international targets to halve emissions by 2050 compared with 1990.
“We are under fire from many fronts, certainly from environmentalists, certainly from the uneducated general public that finds us an attractive target at which to shoot,” said Scott Carson, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines. “But the flying public still wants to fly.”
Boeing has touted its 787 jet for its greater fuel efficiency, although the plane has been hampered by delays that have cost the company credibility and billions of dollars in expected additional costs and penalties.