The European Union’s Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said last month that a proposal will shortly be submitted to the European Commission (EC) that includes airlines in the EU’s existing Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This proposal, he continued, includes all airlines, regardless of origin, that fly in and out of the EU. Airlines would be included in this scheme by 2011, and will either have to reduce their emissions or buy carbon permits.
This new proposal was a leading item on the Association of European Airlines (AEA) agenda for the biannual assembly of the presidents of major European airlines held in Berlin, and was one of the topics discussed with EC vice-president and transport commissioner Jacques Barrot.
The AEA reported that the presidents recognized the need to address the sector’s environmental responsibilities. However, they believe that any trading scheme, which they are willing to contribute to in principle, should be considered within the context of a group of measures designed to minimize the impact of aviation on the environment. Such measures range from further technological developments of engines and aircraft, to improvements in infrastructure such as the creation of a Single European Sky – an initiative which, when it becomes reality, will cut aircraft emissions over Europe by 12 percent.
“As it stands, this proposal discriminates against aviation vis-a-vis other sectors already included in the EU ETS,” said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus. “We also feel that the possible repercussions of such a proposal on international relations have not been thought through. This text is unbalanced. It should be changed now, or withdrawn and changed in consultation with the industry before being presented to the Commissioners.”
Mr. Barrot assured the assembly that he was personally committed to maintaining the competitiveness of the European airline industry. He also commended the industry’s willingness to take part in the critical debate on climate change, and to take a role in contributing significantly to controlling emissions.