The European Parliament could take a harder line on aviation emissions under a wholesale overhaul of the European Union emissions trading scheme.

The Parliament's environment committee wants to make aviation buy 20% of its carbon credits at auction from 2013, gradually increasing to 100% in 2020 in addition to annual reductions in the total cap on aviation emissions.

This goes much further than the deal to include aviation within the emissions trading scheme directive struck in July by the European Council and Parliament, which would affect all flights in and out of Europe from 2012. This set the cap at just 95% of average emissions from 2004-6 and the level of auctioning at 15% in 2012.

While that directive said that both the cap and the level of auctioning from 2013 could always be subject to change under a general review of the overall scheme, one of the most significant features of the recent vote is the move to attempt to subject aviation to a 5% higher level of auctioning compared with all other sectors. The full Parliament will vote on the amendments on 16 December.

European aviation bodies are concerned by the move. Sylviane Lust, director-general of the International Air Carriers Association, says the leisure carrier industry body is "dismayed" that MEPs have once again taken the opportunity "to inflict more damaging and extreme measures on the aviation industry, especially at a time of great economic uncertainty, airline bankruptcies and weakening demand".

The Association of European Airlines has also reacted angrily to the vote. Its "exasperated" secretary-general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus says MEPs are so dogmatic that they seem to have lost touch with reality. "Major governments in Europe are preparing state guarantees for the national banking systems in the range of hundreds of billion euros, because the world is facing the biggest fiscal crisis ever, and is heading into a deep recession, both of which will alter the face of entire economies. How will this affect aviation? Significantly of course."

He hopes ministers meeting at the EU Environment Council on 20-22 October will resist this move and understand that airlines, whether European or non-EU, need predictability and stability.

Source: Flight International