The European Parliament’s environment committee last month discussed an effective request from ministers to make the terms more acceptable to the aviation industry. Last autumn it voted for certain terms which ministers want to water down, but in their vote last month, the elected representatives held firm in their demands.
There are both differences of quantification and of principle. The biggest issue of principle is that MEPs want the revenue from aviation’s presence in the ETS to be used for measures to tackle climate change, whereas ministers are against any agreement for specific uses of the money (‘earmarking’ or ‘ring-fencing’).
On the quantification issues, MEPs want the baseline level for aviation’s emissions to be 10% down on the levels of 2004-06, rather than the same level, and tightened every year from 2013.
They also want 25% of the emissions permits to be paid-for (via auction) while ministers only want 10%. And they want all flights to be included from 2011, as opposed to the Commission’s proposal of 2011 for EU flights and 2012 for all flights.
The Parliament’s rapporteur Peter Liese said: ‘Our recommendations will not push up the price for consumers by much, but it will mean the most polluting airlines will have to pay most. A return flight from Frankfurt to Mallorca will on average increase by €6.’
The EU is concerned about threats of legal action from America, which says forcing US airlines to pay for emissions permits is against international rules on aviation. But Liese says the next US president is likely to be more open to EU efforts on CO2 from planes.
After speaking to advisers of the (then) three presidential hopefuls, Liese said: ‘The McCain, Clinton and Obama camps confirmed that any legal action by the Bush administration would not be supported by the new president.’