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The airline industry is committed to technology and strategic measures to advance in sustainability

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The aviation sector has managed to reduce CO2 emissions per passenger transported by 50 per cent over the last 30 years

Companies in the sector are making great strides towards making aviation more sustainable through market-based measures such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for Commercial Aviation (CORSIA) and the implementation of the Single European Sky to achieve reductions in CO2 emissions. Currently, aviation accounts for about 2.5% of the world's CO2 emissions.

This was stated by experts from the aviation sector during the first conference of the cycle "Air Transport and Climate Change: Myths and realities" of the Spanish Aeronautical Society (SAE) with the collaboration of Andersen Tax & Legal, which took place in the Andersen Auditorium in Madrid and was attended by Juan Manuel Gallego, Vice President of the SAE, Miguel Nieto, Partner of Andersen Tax & Legal and head of the mobility group, transport and logistics of the firm, Marcos López-Brea, expert environmental engineer, Belén Palao, Partner of Andersen Tax & Legal, Javier Gándara, President of ALA and General Manager of EasyJet, Alfredo Iglesias, aeronautical engineer of the State Agency for Air Safety (AESA) and Jesús Pérez, of SAE.

During his speech, Marcos López-Brea analysed the difference between the 'carbon footprint' of the different means of transport and explained that of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air transport represents 2%, with the transport sector as a whole being responsible for 25% of total GHG emissions. He also stressed that, of the total GHG emissions from the transport sector in the European Union, civil aviation is in third place with only 13.4% of total emissions compared to 72% from road transport, and 13.6% from maritime transport.

López-Brea explained that for the correct measurement of the impact of the different means of transport, it is "essential" to carry out an analysis of the life cycle of each means that contemplates all the phases and not only the use. The calculation of the carbon footprint and the identification and measurement of greenhouse gases, as well as the emissions of local air pollutants from each of the means of transport are multiplied considerably with respect to considering only the use of each means, he said.

For her part, Belén Palao analysed indirect taxation in the aviation sector and explained that, in the area of indirect taxation, Spain enjoys a privileged position with a reduced tax burden. At the Community level, the Partner of Andersen Tax & Legal mentioned the existing margin of taxation in the area of VAT and the tax on hydrocarbons, pointing out that, within the framework of the Green Deal, the European Commission would be studying the elimination of the exemption applicable to VAT on international journeys and the exemption applicable to fuel supplies. At the national level, he mentioned the possible creation of passenger taxes and taxes on air transport of goods, as has happened in other Member States.

The partner of Andersen Tax & Legal analysed the possibility of creating taxes at the level of the Autonomous Communities, as has been the case in Catalonia with NOx gases. Likewise, she stressed the European Commission's publicly expressed intention to eliminate the free allocation of emission rights to the air transport sector and the creation of a carbon tax that would act as a fiscal adjustment at the border and that would make it possible to mitigate carbon leaks in certain sensitive sectors, concluding that the prospects in the sector would inevitably include an increase in indirect taxation.

During the conference, Javier Gándara warned that "we are facing a global and complex problem" and that the solutions to it must be of the same nature. In this sense, the president of ALA explained that technological and operational improvements are being implemented, as well as improvements in infrastructure that have managed to reduce CO2 emissions per passenger transported by 50% in the last 30 years. Likewise, he insisted on the importance of involving all the agents involved, both public and private, to provide integral solutions to global problems.

Finally, Alfredo Iglesias explained the strategies to be followed at an international level to combat the effects of climate change and stressed the need to establish global measures since aviation is a global means of transport. On this point, he recalled that the Carbon Offset and Reduction Plan for Commercial Aviation (CORSIA) has been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as the appropriate system for levying taxes on the environmental effects of civil aviation, given that "a system of national taxes and charges would only lead to changes in routes and lack of competitiveness of the countries levied".

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