Europe's airlines are anxiously studying leaked proposals suggesting the European Commission (EC) wants to limit aircraft CO2 emissions.

The draft proposals suggest the EC is seeking to cap aircraft CO2 emissions at average 2004-6 levels as part of the aviation industry's entry into the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2011.

The reports also suggest that permits allocated under the scheme will only be allowed to be traded within the aviation sector. "We were surprised to hear this. It means there will be no growth from 2006 unless everyone changes to a more efficient fleet, which is not possible," warns Koen Vermeir, director aero political and industry affairs at International Air Carrier Association (IACA).

Vermeir also warns that 2011 is a very tight target. "They have to get legislative approval from parliament and the council of ministers, have the system up and running and implemented," he points out. "This is very ambitious."

However, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe argues that the 2011 date is perfectly feasible and wants implementation to take place "as soon as possible". ACI Europe also favours charges applied by individual airports at a local level to deal with nitrous oxide and other environmental issues.

IACA and other European airline bodies have combined forces to form a joint position on the ETS, warning the industry will only agree to a scheme once a comprehensive business impact assessment has been undertaken. European carriers are also insisting the scheme must not distort international competition.

Publicly at least, the Commission says it is confident non-European carriers will not be able to challenge the legal basis of applying the system to airlines based outside the European Union. The aviation industry itself is far less confident. The FAA said last year that US companies should be exempt from the European scheme.

The EC is expected to publish its proposals on aviation's entry into the ETS in late December.

Source: Airline Business