Trading may include tough industry-specific measures

The German Christian Democrat MEP appointed to steer a European Commission proposal to include aviation in Europe's emissions trading scheme says the European Parliament will insist on a much tougher regime.

Speaking in Brussels at a conference on aviation and climate change, Peter Liese, the new rapporteur for the parliament's environment committee, said his report will be based on the parliament's resolution last July, which demanded that airlines face their own special environmental penalties in an effort to tackle aviation's contribution to global warming.

These include an airlines-only carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme and similar penalties to tackle non-carbon greenhouse gas emissions, together with a new tax regime on aviation fuel and airline tickets. As such, the parliament's vision of an industry-specific, polluter-pays scheme goes much further than the current EC proposals.

Liese said the parliament would not completely oppose the EC proposal to include aviation in a general emissions trading scheme, but would probably push for its "fall-back option" of certain conditions. These include a cap on the number of emission credits airlines are permitted to buy from the market, and a requirement to make a proportion of the necessary emissions reductions without trading, before being allowed to buy permits.

He added that although some MEPs supported full auctioning, he would not support this, favouring instead a mix of auctioning and benchmarking, where each operator would be allocated allowances based on its share of overall passenger and cargo traffic.

He added that the EC proposal for different implementation dates for intra- and extra-European Union flights would not be supported at parliament level. "I don't know anyone in the European Parliament who would agree to this," he said, adding that anti-US sentiment over this issue would be resolved by a change of US administration as it "no longer represents the view of the majority of public opinion on climate change in the USA". He added: "We will not easily fold just because the Bush administration doesn't like it."

Kurt Edwards of the US Federal Aviation Administration justified the US position: "We're not completely evil. We do have an approach, even if it is not in Kyoto," adding that US carriers already pay fuel taxes.

Source: Flight International