The European Parliament's transport committee wants all civil aircraft flying into Europe to be included in the European Union emissions trading scheme from 2012.

The move to include international flights remains controversial and the committee, for "reasons of fairness", decided that EU operators should only be forced to participate if operators from third countries which operate services in the same geographical area are also included.

The European Commission had proposed exempting international flights until 2012, unlike intra-EU flights which would launch the scheme a year earlier.

Committee rapporteur Georg Jarzembowski says the emissions trading scheme needed to be introduced on the same date for European airlines and third-country airlines, "in order to avoid distortion of competition between airlines and airports".

"The choice of 2012 will enable the introduction of the measure to proceed smoothly for all concerned in the EU but will afford a realistic opportunity for third countries to introduce equivalent schemes by that date," he says.

The result of the transport committee vote will now feed through to the lead environment committee which is expected to be much tougher on the industry.

The transport committee also voted that the total number of carbon credits allocated to operators should be 110% of the average annual emissions between 2007-2009 with 20% of credits auctioned.

Members also decided that revenues generated from the auctioning of allowances should be used to help combat the effects of climate damage in the third world.

Environment committee rapporteur Dr Peter Liese told Flight International that he also favours a unified - albeit earlier - start date of 2010 but is resolutely against moving the reference period from the proposed 2004-2006 as this would hold "the dangerous potential for manipulation". As far as auctioning is concerned, Liese is recommending a 50% threshold.

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Source: Flight International