DALLAS – On the eve of a major legislative vote on climate change, influential liberal and center-right MEPs have arranged a dinner with aviation lobbyists.
The move comes as industry lobbyists step up their attempts to sway European legislators to vote on a broad reform package aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.
Both Members of the European Parliament (MEP), Jan-Christoph Oetjen of Germany and Marian-Jean Marinescu of Romania, seem to be soothing such concerns.
On Monday, June 6th, the two will host a closed-door dinner event with Airlines for Europe (A4E), inside the European Parliament restaurant in Strasbourg. The very next day, lawmakers will vote on climate regulations that would have a direct impact on the aviation industry.
A4E represents Europe’s leading airlines, whose joint fleet accounts for more than 70% of all air travel on the continent. The group spent up to €1.2m lobbying the EU last year. Marinescu represents the European People’s Party (EPP) in the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament.
Last month, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted five reports of the “Fit for 55 in 2030 package,” which is the EU’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and have net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (climate neutrality) by 2050 in line with the European Climate Law.
The adopted package, which involves the aviation sector, was an important step towards the EU’s goal to become independent from expensive and polluting fossil fuels from Russia well before 2030.
Oetjen is a major MEP that works on the EU’s emissions trading system, a policy that is viewed as essential in tackling climate change. In an email received by EUobserver, Oetjen says, “The aviation industry is firmly embracing the green transformation.”
The dinner, according to Oetjen, would “enable an honest conversation” on the EU ETS for aviation’s amendment as well as the future of Corsia, the UN’s aviation offsetting system.
Neither replied to emailed concerns about the dinner, related costs, or why it is closed to the public given the same issues will be debated and voted on the next day in plenary.
According to a recent analysis by the campaign group Transport & Environment, several of the EU’s top airlines are pushing to weaken the EU’s climate laws. However, the same airlines say that by 2050, they will have achieved net-zero emissions.
Nonetheless, according to their findings, lobbying by Air France (AF), Lufthansa (LH), Iberia (IB), and Aer Lingus (EI) aims to “offset up to 72% of EU aviation emissions.” A4E members include LH and AF.
Airlines are attempting to water down EU intentions to boost the use of cleaner jet fuels, as per Jo Dardenne, an aviation expert at Transport & Environment. In an email, she said, “The aviation sector is also trying to get an exemption on the pricing of their emissions on long-haul flights.”
Instead, Dardenne believes the industry should support the expansion of the EU ETS to include departing flights and eliminate wasteful subsidies.
Per the Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, the broader issue of industry lobbying has only become worse.
“There is no longer any shame. They don’t even try to conceal it “He expressed his excitement for the upcoming dinner with A4E in Strasbourg. He stated, “I’m amazed that they don’t even hide the way they listen to the lobby.”
The EU Emissions Trading System for Aviation, as well as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, will be debated and voted on by the plenary in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
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