Hedegaard rejects airlines’ call to postpone ETS

May 20, 2010

The Commission has dismissed suggestions by the aviation industry that the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland that disrupted flights over north-western Europe last month should alter the terms under which aviation enters the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012.

With the number of permits allocated free to airlines to be based on flights performed this year, the airlines most affected could find they have a slightly lower number of freely allocated permits to fly in 2012 than anticipated. This has led some industry representatives to call for adjustments in ETS calculations to take account of the reduced numbers of flights last month.

But the EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard rejected this suggestion, saying the aviation industry ‘has always argued against this piece of European legislation, and now they are just trying to find a new argument.’ She said she recognised it was ‘a difficult situation for the airlines’ but said that was ‘not an appropriate excuse’ for justifying adjustments to permit levels.

The period of flight disruption, which led to skies being closed for six days in some areas, could help scientists better understand the climate effects of jet fuel burned at high altitudes. Scientists have found it difficult to compare plane-free skies with skies accommodating many flights, so last month’s disruption could help researchers. Similar benefits resulted in 2001 after US airspace was closed following the 11 September bombings.

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