As Shoppers Get Real Oil, Fliers May Need To Pay for Emissions
Why are the Germans upsetting the status quo? German supermarket chain ALDI is the first in Australia to introduce a consumer label that shows the greenhouse gases generated by a product – in this case olive oil – and the German Government plans to levy an emissions tax on airlines flying into its air space has really upset Qantas, in spite of flying its green tinged A380 (pictured).
Aldi first to show impact of products on greenhouse gas emissions
Kerrie Sinclair in the Courier Mail (9 June 2010):
A NEW sticker on a bottle of olive oil may kickstart action to give Australian shoppers clear information about the impact on the environment of the products they buy.
The label shows the greenhouse gases generated by a product – including its raw materials and manufacturing process – to allow shoppers to compare emissions as part of buying decisions.
The local arm of German grocery chain ALDI has become the first company in Australia to join the labelling program, which operates in 19 countries and is run here by Planet Ark.
ALDI will start the program here later this year when it applies a label to its olive oil range, a move the company says won’t bring any price rise.
ALDI’s managing director for buying, Tom Daunt, said it made good business sense to “protect and promote the environment”.
Planet Ark program manager Diane Mann said the label appeared on hundreds of product categories in UK stores and companies in the US, China, South Korea and Taiwan were getting involved in the program.
“This is the first time full emissions data will be disclosed on a product here and that transparency is going to be a big incentive for business to reduce emissions and for consumers to understand these impacts,” Ms Mann said.
“Australians are looking for this information and we’re aiming to get up to speed with where they are in the UK as soon as we can.”
But it may be some time until shoppers see carbon data on a range of products here.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council queried if emissions data should be disclosed or if there should be a single rating representing global warming, water use and recycling impacts.
AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said the industry “isn’t negative” to the concept of emissions data on products
but Coles said it had no immediate plans to use the label and Woolworths said any label would add to costs and potentially confuse customers.
Steve Creedy, Aviation writer in The Australian (11 June 2010):
QANTAS has slammed a new German “environmental” departure tax that will mean Australians will pay more to fly to Europe.
The airline also believes the tax will add to what it already sees as an unfair burden from the European Union’s proposed emissions trading scheme.
Angry airlines claim the E1 billion ($1.45bn) that the E14 per person departure tax would pour into government coffers would exceed the combined annual profit of Germany’s carriers.
They are particularly incensed that — as happens in Britain — the new departure tax is in addition to the proposed European emissions trading scheme costs, and they argue that it is really a revenue-raising move designed to help the German government with economic restructuring.
“It is crazy,” said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who confirmed that the tax would hit Australian travellers on the airline’s Frankfurt route. “We’ve been saying we want a global approach to this because you’re going to have ETSs that are going to overlap, and these types of country-driven taxes that are double dipping.
“And you’ve got an industry that’s made a half a per cent margin, just coming out of the worse period in its history — it can’t afford this.”
Qantas is already unhappy that the European ETS, which is based on sector distance, will create distortions for traffic from Australia. The ETS applies from the last take-off point prior to entering Europe and means that flights from the Middle East will pay less than those originating in Singapore and Bangkok.
“On top of this, you are going to have certain ports that have extra costs associated with them, and all of this is going to impact on which way the traffic flows and what it means to the economics of various routes,” Mr Joyce said. “And the airlines obviously have to continue to look at that, figuring out do they need to adjust schedules, aircraft types and services in order to be able to cope with it.”
News of the tax cast a shadow over the final day of the International Air Transport Association’s annual conference in Berlin.
“This is the worst kind of short-sighted policy irresponsibility,” IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani said. “It’s a cash grab by a cash-strapped government. Painting it green adds insult to injury. There will be no environmental benefit from the economic damage caused.”
Industry officials pointed to an attempt by the Dutch government to introduce a similar tax that cost The Netherlands E1.2 billion in lost business, and they warned it could damage Europe’s already weak economy. The Dutch tax was eventually repealed.
The officials also questioned the timing of the German tax, as Europe remained the only region where the industry was still in the red, and this had been exacerbated by the volcanic ash crisis, which saw 100,000 flights cancelled. Airlines are pushing for a global approach to green taxes and emission trading schemes and are backing a push spearheaded by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
But the new tax has sparked fears that other cash-strapped governments might follow the German and British example.
Mr Joyce said decisions by individual jurisdictions to introduce their own taxes was a setback to those attempts.
“I think having multiple taxes from different governments that are going to be in this environmental space means it’s going to be a lot harder to get a global sectoral approach,” he said.