Tue 13 Nov 2007 – Europe’s MEPs have voted by a large majority to include the commercial aviation industry in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). While the European Commission, the EU’s policy-making body, had proposed capping ETS allowances for CO2 emissions at 100% of aircraft operators’ average annual emissions during 2004-6, the European Parliament went even further, reducing the number of ETS-authorised emissions for aviation down to 90%.
Though acknowledging the specific nature of the airline sector, such as the difficulty for aircraft operators to switch to alternative energy sources, MEPs endorsed the need for even more ambitious emission targets. Depending on the EU’s choice for a post-2012 target of either 30% or 20% reductions in overall CO2 emissions (as compared to 1990 levels), they decided “the Commission shall reduce the total quantity of allowances” in further periods.
The Commission had also proposed that the ETS should cover all intra-EU flights as of 2011 but that flights between the EU and third-country airports should come under its scope only as of 2012. The Parliament disagreed, voting through amendments that would see no distinction made between EU and non-EU flights in this regard. The scheme, they decided, would cover both types of flights by 2011. “It is difficult to explain that a flight from the UK to Morocco is not covered by the scheme while a flight from the UK to the Canary Islands would be covered,” stated German MEP Peter Liese.
The Commission had also sought to exempt government flights from the scheme but this was overturned by the MEPs, taking the line that governments ought to be setting an example. The MEPs did, however, vote to exclude all military flights.
It is now up to the Council of Ministers, as joint legislator with the European Parliament, to decide its position on the amendments adopted by MEPs. If all the amendments are accepted by the Council, the legislation will be adopted in its modified form. If the Council rejects any of the amendments or adds any of its own, the text will return to the Parliament for a second reading.
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