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The European Commission has reached a "broad consensus" on the need for financial incentives to control atmospheric pollution by aviation and is working on measures that could be introduced within a few years.

A senior EC official within the transport and energy directorate say: "We need to prepare now for an acceleration in the pressure on aviation to improve its environmental performance". The latest figures for air transport growth, produced by Airbus Industrie, show that passenger traffic will triple over the next 20 years, while the global civil air transport fleet will double, to more than 19,000 aircraft.

While the EC accepts that the air transport industry has made "huge advances" in reducing noise and emissions, the official says the time it takes - typically 10-15 years - for new technology to find its way into aircraft leaves aviation more likely than other industries to face financially based pollution-reducing measures.

These include kerosene tax and emissions trading, in which industries with high emissions reduction costs, such as aviation, buy credits from those which can reduce pollution more easily. They would, says the EC, provide a market-based solution that would work with new technologies. "If we got the machinery [for emissions trading] in place within five years, that is a success," says the EC.

Meanwhile, a report from UK-based environmental body Friends of the Earth, Aviation and Global Climate Change, calls for the introduction of fuel tax as one in a series of measures it sees as essential for controlling aviation's contribution to global climate change.

Source: Flight International