Cablegate: France: Aviation and the Environment: Follow-Up On


DE RUEHFR #0942/01 1371236
R 161236Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 24750


1. (SBU): Following last fall's Grenelle environmental
consultation France adopted a number of measures to fight greenhouse
gases and noise from aviation. As they prepare to assume the EU
presidency, in spite of some misgivings the French appear ready to
follow an EU consensus toward adoption of ETS and on applying it to
foreign carriers. End summary.

The Grenelle Consultation

2. (SBU) Recent environmental measures affecting aviation in France
have largely followed from last fall's Grenelle Environmental
Consultation between government, NGOs and industrial stakeholders.
A number of goals were identified, including reducing CO2 emissions
and their impact on climate change, reducing NOx emissions and
improving the air quality around airports, and aviation
noise-reduction. The Grenelle called for an intensified program of
research, modernization of aircraft fleets, improved performance of
merchant aviation, adoption of the EU's ETS system, improved Air
Navigation systems, more environmentally efficient airports, and
increased soundproofing of lodgings near airports.

3. (SBU) These were codified in a series of "engagements" and
resulted in a Convention which was signed with great fanfare on
Monday 28 January. Signatories included the Minister of Ecology and
Sustainable Development Jean-Louis Borloo, the French Civil Aviation
Administration (DGAC), and industry stakeholders including Air
France-KLM, The Merchant Aviation National Federation (FNAM), the
Paris Airport Authority (ADP), the French Aerospace Industries
Association (GIFAS), and the Union of French Airports. The measures
with the most significant impact were a pledge to support adoption
of the EU's Emissions Trading scheme, which at least one U.S.
carrier (FEDEX) objected to indirectly supporting via its membership
FNAM, and increased charges for evening and nighttime takeoffs
destined to finance soundproofing. This cable follows up on these
and related issues based on recent discussions with French
transportation officials.


4. (SBU) Director General of Civil Aviation Paul Gandil told us
France had a "pragmatic" and "nuanced" approach to EU policymaking
on ETS. It supported the system, but believed bilateral
negotiations would be necessary to apply it to international
flights. France hoped these could be linked to discussions within
ICAO. He noted however that this was not a majority view within the
EU, either in the Council or Parliament, where differences between
proposed texts remained and discussions about "equivalence" with
other systems continued. As President of the Council when the
legislation would probably be finally adopted, France would likely
follow majority opinion. Michel Wachenheim, Chief of Staff to
Minister of State for Transportation Dominique Bussereau echoed
these views, telling us that though ETS represented an advance for
EU policy, France believed that it would be legally difficult to
integrate foreign flights into the system without prior bilateral
agreement. He also stressed that this was a French view, and did
not represent that of the EU Council.


5. (SBU) DGAC officials have also told us France remains engaged in
the ICAO Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC)
process in a "constructive" spirit. They believe a change in the
U.S. position is needed to make revision of the ETS legislation more
likely, and are hopeful that this will occur in 2009. Paul Schwach,
who represented France at GIACC, told the FAA rep in April that that
there is a real "will" within Europe to find a solution,
particularly though recognition of Article 25 equivalent systems and
other compensating factors. He said that if other countries were to
adopt a system (such as Australia is now looking at) they would be
would be willing to "adapt" ETS. He even seemed open to the idea of
including "mutual consent" wording into the text. Schwach felt that
it was likely ETS legislation would be enacted under the French
Presidency, and that this would facilitate the integration of the
GIACC activities with EU legislation.



6. (SBU) Last October's Grenelle environmental consultation also
adopted a number of measures to combat noise. Specific measures
adopted involved raising the altitude on approach, experimenting
with CDA at Orly airport on some selected Air France flights, and
higher charges for take-offs in the evening and nighttime hours that
are used to finance soundproofing of houses near airports. The
latter entered into force January 1. Transportation officials with
whom we have discussed these measures appear largely satisfied with
the results. Noting that France had increased traffic yet decreased
noise at Charles De Gaulle since 1999, DGAC Gandil dismissed a
recent report critical of French progress in noise-reduction, saying
that one reason aviation had not confronted stricter measures at the
Grenelle was the "credibility" that this history brought it. He
said that the increased charges for evening and night take-offs
brought France in to conformity with international practice, and
would allow it to catch up with a two year backlog in soundproofing
homes at a number of French airports.


7. (SBU) French officials are on the whole pleased with the process
and results of last fall's environmental consultation, in which they
enrolled industry support-particularly from Air France-for ETS, and
struck a preemptive blow against growing pressures from the public
and green organizations for more environmental regulation of noise
and other forms of airport pollution. Though they clearly have
doubts about the EU's position of unilaterally applying ETS to
foreign carriers, they are likely to follow the consensus view from
the EU, if it seeks to push ahead with final adoption of the
legislation in the second half of 2009. They remain willing to
engage in discussions at ICAO. Hopes that a new U.S. administration
will adopt some ETS "equivalent" system in 2009 seem above all to
show the lack of any firm ideas about how to lead the EU out of its
current impasse.

© Scoop Media

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