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MEP says EU Trading Scheme should be only action on aviation 27.07.07


A recommendation by an MEP playing a leading role in the debate on aviation’s introduction into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has rung alarm bells within the environmental movement.

Georg Jarzembowski, a German Christian-Democrat, is the rapporteur dealing with the European Parliament transport committee’s response to the Commission’s proposals to subject aviation to emissions trading in 2011. Earlier this month he published his draft report, which will go to the committee in September.

The report includes a call for no other policy instruments to be considered by the EU for the aviation sector once flights are included in the ETS. It also proposes a considerable weakening of the Commission’s plans, including issuing 50% more permits than Brussels has suggested, and for all of them to be given away free.

‘TINY FIRST STEP’

“Jarzembowski seems to have forgotten that the ETS plan is supposed to reduce aviation emissions,” said Transport & Enviroment director Jos Dings. “The Commission’s own estimates, which are backed up by industry, suggest inclusion of aviation in the ETS would offset just one year’s growth in CO2 emissions. The ETS clearly has to be seen as a tiny first step towards tackling the environmental impact of flying – to suggest it is a once-and-for-all measure is totally unacceptable.”

The Jarzembowski report also calls for a change in the way emissions are calculated to be based on “available tonne kilometre”, not “revenue tonne-km”. “This effectively ignores the load factor, thus giving airlines with empty planes as many permits as those which are full,” added Dings.

The environment committee is still seeking to strengthen the Com- mission’s proposals, but it has retreated a long way from its stance of last July when it called for widespread action on aviation.

In a second debate last month on the report drafted by another German Christian-Democrat Peter Liese, MEPs called for a multiplier of 1.5 to take account of emissions other than CO2, for all flights to be included in the ETS – not just intra-EU flights as planned for the first year – and for 50% of the permits to be auctioned.

Meanwhile a report by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft says the way the Commission is setting up aviation’s entry to the ETS is likely to increase the number of people who fly over the next three years.

The report, for WWF-Europe, says the decision to effectively base the number of permits on how many passengers flew with an airline two years earlier means airlines will have an incentive to drop their prices in 2008 and 2010 to fill more of their seats. WWF still supports aviation entering the ETS.

The USA is looking to challenge the legality of including of non-EU flights from 2012. Speaking to the EP transport committee last month, the US assistant aviation minister Andrew Steinberg said: “There is no sound legal basis to require foreign airlines to pay non-cost-based charges.” A Commission official replied that setting a cap on emissions did not amount to a charge.

But the French president Nicolas Sarkozy said there was “no question” that only European airlines could be included. “Aviation is the only sector that uses fossil fuels without taxes,” Sarkozy said at Paris airport, “and we can no longer ignore its environmental footprint. I therefore favour CO2 emissions quotas in aviation, but all airlines should be involved or none.”

The USA and EU last month launched “Aire”, a project to speed up the intro- duction of new technologies and procedures to reduce aviation’s impact on global warming. It stands for Atlantic interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions.

• A survey of 151 British companies by the accountants Pricewaterhouse Coopers suggests that traditional taxes and charges on bad environmental practices are more popular and effective than trading schemes. More than 70% of respondents felt traditional “command and control” measures were “very or fairly effective”, with emissions trading and voluntary agreements the least popular.

This news story is taken from the July 2007 edition of Transport & Environment Bulletin.

Peter Shield

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