Europe looks to include aviation in emissions trading

Aviation could soon be included in the emissions trading scheme after European Environment Ministers agreed that trading was the best way to tackle the problem.

At the meeting of the EU Environment Council Ministers agreed to tackle the “serious and growing” problem of aviation emissions and called for legislative proposals on this before the end of 2006.

Aviation is one of the fastest growing areas of emissions, having increased by 68% since 1990. UK forecasts suggest that the UK’s combined domestic and international aviation emissions could account for up to a quarter of our total contribution to global warming by 2030.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett, who chaired the meeting said emissions trading was an important component in both the UK and Europe’s efforts to tackle climate change.

The Council were responding to the Commission’s communication Reducing the climate change impacts of aviation which recommends emissions trading as the best way forward.

“The advantage of this approach is that it guarantees a specific environmental outcome in a way that other instruments do not. It also ensures that the emissions reductions required to achieve a particular environmental outcome take place in as cost-effective way as possible,” Mrs Beckett said.

The idea met with opposition from Italy but other states are broadly in favour though have asked for a study into the impacts it would have on the price of allowances already traded in the system and the competitive market between airlines and other forms of transport.

Ministers also drew opposition from the US after saying that all carriers, regardless of nationality, should be included in the scheme.

UK Transport Secretary Alastair Darling said: “The aviation sector must take its share of responsibility for tackling the problem of climate change. As we said in the Aviation White Paper two years ago, we believe the best way to do this is through an emissions trading scheme. I very much welcome today’s developments.”

Even if member states and the European Parliament agree on measures, the legislation is unlikely to be in place before 2012.

David Hopkins

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