Dr Peter Liese, MEP
Tue 8 July 2008 – Ahead of the European Parliament’s vote to include aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), Peter Liese, the MEP and rapporteur who has steered the legislation, is hopeful bilateral agreements can be made by the EU with countries planning similar schemes of their own to limit increases in aviation emissions. Following meetings in Washington with environmental advisors to the two presidential candidates, he is optimistic that the EU and the US can find common ground after the forthcoming election.
Speaking to GreenAir, Liese said that should the US eventually adopt a cap-and-trade scheme broadly similar to that proposed under the Lieberman-Warner bill that recently failed to win enough support in the Senate, it would be unnecessary for the EU to include US flights into the EU ETS.
John McCain, who has called for a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, recently said: “Cap and trade is being implemented in Europe and although they have stumbled and had problems, it is still the right thing to do. It is what we did in relation to acid rain.”
His rival, Barack Obama, wants higher emission reduction targets of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. He, too, supports a cap and trade system which would auction all pollution credits, with some of the revenue being used for clean energy and energy efficiency.
Whilst accepting a global solution is required to a global problem, Liese is far from convinced that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is able to provide the necessary leadership to make this a reality. He points out the organization was tasked with coming up with solutions for dealing with international aviation emissions after Kyoto in 1997, over ten years ago, and the EU started working on the possible inclusion of aviation into the ETS nearly three years ago. Although he had spoken with “well-meaning” representatives from ICAO, the process in getting binding commitments from the organization had been “too slow”.
Indeed, Liese is of the opinion that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is charged with coming up with an international deal on emissions reductions by the end of next year, should take back the responsibility from ICAO for getting an agreement on international aviation emissions.
The EU directive will also affect airlines from developing (so-called non-Annex I) countries, which will have to join the scheme even though they are outside the remit of the Kyoto Protocol and have no obligation to meet emissions reduction targets. However, Liese believes many of the poorer countries’ airlines that serve Europe will be exempted from the ETS under a de minimis clause excluding airlines who make less than two flights a day into and out of Europe.
The compromise was voted on by MEPs today and adopted with 640 votes in favour, 30 against and 20 abstentions.
The legislation will now undergo a ratification process by the 27 EU Member States, which should be completed before the end of the year. However, Liese considers amendments may be made before the 2012 start date to take into account, for example, possible bilateral agreements and revisions to the overall scheme in the post-2012 period, so he expects to still have a role to play on the issue even though his role as rapporteur now ceases.
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