Europe to address US ETS concerns

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The European Commission will hold a technical discussion about the European Union's emissions trading scheme with EU member states, the US and Eurocontrol following the latest round of US-EU open skies talks, Europe's lead open skies negotiator Daniel Calleja says.

During the negotiations, the US raised some issues pertaining to operators and flights covered in the scheme and Europe has agreed to clarify the matter, the commission's air transport directorate said to reporters on 9 October.

Europe will fold flights within, to and from the EU into its ETS from 2012.

The EC published its finalised list of air operators and administering states based on Eurocontrol data in August as most administering states required carriers to submit their monitoring plans by 31 August.

The list of more than 3,700 operators included some carriers without European service and defunct operators.

Frontier Airlines was assigned to Germany but the Denver-based carrier does not fly to Europe, GOL appeared under Denmark's purview though the Brazilian operator stopped all long-haul flights last year and Columbus, Ohio-based Skybus Airlines was assigned to Germany though the domestic carrier ceased all operations in 2008.

"ETS is a very ambitious and very complex initiative," Calleja says. Europe will see if operators listed are subject to the ETS he adds.

The environment is one of several issues that European and US negotiators must sort through during second stage talks, which have a November 2010 deadline or either side has the right to withdraw traffic rights secured in the first phase of open skies.

Europe contends that any aviation efforts to combat climate change must be ambitious, Calleja says. He would like elements such as market-based measures, air traffic management and fuel efficiency goals included in ICAO's climate change strategy.

ICAO concluded its high level climate change meeting on 9 October, declaring thatmember states should work together to achieve a global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2% through 2020. ICAO will consider the possibility of more ambitious goals, including carbon neutral growth and emissions reductions, by its next assembly in fall 2010, and establish a process to develop a framework for economic measures.

Calleja also says he would like to to see the industry set higher envionrmental targets.

IATA has outlined a proposal under which airlines will halve emissions by 2050, set a target of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually in the run-up to 2020 and, from then on, stabilise emissions through carbon-neutral growth.

The proposal demonstrates that the aviation industry understands it must address its contribution to climate change, Calleja says. IATA's goals are a "step in the right direction. [We] would not be against higher targets," he adds.