EU stands firm on aviation emissions

The European Union has said it will not back down on plans to introduce an aviation emissions trading scheme despite failure to reach an international agreement.

An assembly of the trade body the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommended last week that countries should not apply the system to foreign airlines without mutual agreements between states.

However, EU chiefs registered a formal reservation to the decision and said they will press ahead with plans to extend their emissions trading scheme to aviation.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “In order to fight climate change, all sectors must contribute in a fair way, including aviation, whose emissions are increasing very rapidly.

“It is a great pity that ICAO has not been able to reach an agreement on the way forward.”

Delegates at the assembly, which met in Montreal, instead agreed to set up a new group of senior government officials to draw up a programme of action to reduce aviation’s impact on climate change.

Jeffrey Shane, president of the ICAO assembly, said: “The assembly recognised the tremendous work of ICAO over the past few years in mitigating the impact of aviation on the environment.

“By agreeing to an aggressive programme of action, ICAO has begun a vital new chapter in its long and distinguished history.”

However, environmental campaigners said the ICAO, a United Nations body, had repeatedly failed to take responsibility for reducing emissions from international aviation since it was given the role in the 1997 Kyoto protocol.

Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive officer of Friends of the Earth Canada, said: “We can no longer tolerate ICAO’s position that aviation is a sacred cow allowing it to ignore climate impacts.”

She added: “If [the airlines’] own governances agency fails to lead in this respect, it’s time to find other mandatory means.

João Vieira, of the Brussels-based group Transport and Environment, said: “After a shameful decade of obstruction and inaction, ICAO must now be stripped of its environmental responsibilities.”

Kate Martin

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