UK wants emissions to be controlled, EU calls for taxes
Airlines are facing a two-pronged governmental attack because they pay no penalties for their contribution to global warming and atmospheric pollution. The first is a UK government-led attempt to bring airline emissions within the Kyoto Protocol, and the second is pressure from European Union finance ministers who want to tap carriers for revenue via fuel and ticket taxes.
The United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on measures to reduce global warming was implemented last week, but aviation is excluded from its provisions because of the legal complexities of dealing with pollution from international flights, particularly those over oceans where they are outside any national jurisdiction. The next opportunity to propose a formal change to this state of affairs will come at the Climate Change Convention meeting in Bonn, Germany in May. The UK government, says the International Air Transport Association, is angling to use the Bonn assembly to get emissions trading for airlines on the agenda for the annual UN Conference on Climate Change in December. The UK government has a domestic emissions trading scheme and airlines are offered incentives by the government to join it - British Airways has done so already.
Meanwhile, proposals for an emissions tax on aviation fuel - and on all airline tickets - were considered during the monthly meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels on 17 February. They were backed formally by representatives from France and Germany. The debate did not lead to any concrete policy initiatives, but contained discussion on whether such a tax could be used to increase development aid to developing countries or be spent on improving the environment.
European Commission representatives say they considered the proposals to be a positive move, and promise to analyse the likely effects such taxes would have on industry and the environment. A Council of Ministers official said no national representative argued against the taxes. "I understand that differences of view were expressed, but no outright opposition," he says.
DAVID LEARMOUNT / LONDON
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JEREMY SLATER IN BRUSSELS
Source: Flight International