MEPs stick to their guns on aviation

The European Parliament looks set to be on a collision course with the EU Council over proposals to include airline traffic in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme.

Members of the Parliament’s environment committee voted last week to reintroduce most of its amendments which were rejected by the Council shortly before Christmas.

They agreed that all flights within EU territory should be included in 2011 – not 2012 as suggested by the Council.

MEPs also decided that the share of emissions permits to be auctioned should be increased and that the ceiling on emissions should be capped at 90% of 2004-2006 levels – 10% lower than the Council and Commission have advocated.

Member states would also be allowed to introduce their own complementary measures alongside the ETS to reduce the impact of aviation under the committee’s proposals.

The committee also rejected the council view that flights carrying members of the monarchy, presidents and government ministers on official missions should be excluded from the ETS.

The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) praised the environment committee’s tough stance.

Policy officer João Vieira said: “What is clear is that the Parliament is not just wanting stricter standards, but a set of standards that will actually reduce aviation’s environmental impact.

“The terms ministers and officials want for airlines will do little or nothing to reduce aviation’s environmental impact. We now need leadership from our MEPs.”

T&E’s comments were echoed by environmental groups in the UK.

Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Richard Dyer said: “We are delighted that MEPs have voted in favour of strengthening plans to bring aviation into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon dioxide emissions in Europe – it must be tackled if we are serious about combating global warming.

“EU Ministers must now show that Europe is genuinely committed to taking a lead on global warming by backing these proposals too.”

MEP Peter Liese, who is leading preparation of the legislation, said he hopes to reach an agreement with the Council in the coming weeks.

Kate Martin

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