Emissions trading for aviation ‘not before 2008’

The European Commission has signalled that aviation could be included in the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) from 2013, or even by 2008.

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[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas hinted at a news conference to launch this year’s “Green Week” that, of the various options under consideration for the EU to tackle the impact of aviation on the environment, emissions trading is the instrument “most probable to be proposed” in a Commission communication due in July.

Jos Dings, director of T&E, said: “It’s a positive step forward that a legislative proposal is now on the horizon – but there is still a long way to go before we see real emissions reductions from the sector. It looks to us like a case of ‘too too little, too late’. It’s essential that aviation joining the ETS is seen as one of several measures and not as the only answer – as the airlines clearly are hoping for.”

Along with other European NGOs, T&E has been advocating a package of measures, including fuel taxes or en-route emissions charges and the ending of the sector’s historic tax exemptions.

The idea of integrating aviation into the ETS is likely to be boosted by a report the Commission has ordered from the Dutch consultancy CE Delft. The report’s summary says auctioning emissions permits is the best solution and coverage could go beyond intra-EU routes. It concludes: “None of the policy options ... will damage the competitive position of EU airlines relative to non-EU airlines.”

But the Commission’s hints came just two weeks after one of its own advisory bodies, the European transport and energy forum, warned in a new report that including aviation in the ETS would be a “grave error”. The report concludes: “It is rather doubtful that, in the short-term, inclusion in the scheme would have much, if any, impact on aviation’s emissions.”

In a related development, Europe’s finance ministers last month rejected the concept of an aviation fuel tax as an instrument to raise money for developing countries. Instead they opted to pursue a voluntary ticket tax.

“This will be a voluntary contribution which some member states propose to turn into a mandatory contribution,” said the current head of the EU presidency, Luxembourg’s prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

The proposal has support from a number of countries, including France and Germany. But several member states, including Austria, Greece, and Ireland are deeply opposed, saying the plan is impractical and could damage their tourist industries.

This news story is taken from the June 2005 edition of T&E Bulletin.