Message is clear: aviation must help fight climate change

The European Commission took one step closer to including aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme this week as it published the results of a two-month consultation on limiting the sector's impact on climate change.

“The message from the many citizens and organisations who expressed their views is very clear: it is time for the air transport sector to start contributing to the fight against climate change,” said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. “And there is an understanding and acceptance that this must happen even if it leads to a modest rise in ticket prices.”

Aviation’s share of overall EU greenhouse gas emissions is rapidly increasing. From 1990 to 2003, EU greenhouse gas emissions from aviation rose by 73%.

While new technologies may bring significant improvements in the decades to come, these will need to be developed and introduced much faster than at present if they are to match the expected growth in air-traffic.

The public consultation conducted by the Commission has shown broad support for action from the aviation sector itself, as well as NGOs and the public. The Commission has also published a study showing that it would be feasible to include airlines in the EU emissions trading scheme.

It concludes that it would be legally possible to include aviation in the EU ETS provided that all aircraft operators are treated in the same way, regardless of nationality.

Over 5,500 individuals and 200 organisations submitted responses to the consultation, with 99.5% of respondents agreed that the air transport sector should be included in efforts to mitigate climate change, although opinions differ over how this should be done.

All options from the studies will be considered by the Commission now as it prepares to put forward an EU strategy for tackling emissions from the sector. This strategy is scheduled for after the summer break.

David Hopkins

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