- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

European regulators are demanding that airlines flying to and from European Union countries, including U.S. carriers, follow stricter emissions regulations beginning 2012.

In an effort to combat global warming, the European Commission yesterday announced a proposal to require airlines flying within the European Union to follow carbon-dioxide emissions trading in 2011. Flights to and from outside the region would be included a year later.

The plan could add $2.40 to $11.80 per ticket for a typical flight within Europe, with higher price increases for long-haul trips, according to the commission, the European Union’s governing body.

The rules, if implemented, would curb carbon dioxide emissions by 183 million metric tons, or 43 percent, annually, the commission said. The savings would be equivalent to twice of all of Austria’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

“Aviation too should make a fair contribution to our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. “Bringing aviation emissions into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is a cost-effective solution that is good for the environment and treats all airlines equally.”

The proposal is being widely criticized in the U.S.

The Air Transport Association of America, a trade organization of major U.S. airlines, said the plan violates the Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944, usually referred to as the “Chicago Convention,” which established the International Civil Aviation Organization to regulate international air travel.

“ATA is disappointed that the European Commission remains intent on unilaterally covering the flights of non-European Union carriers in its emissions trading scheme,” the group said yesterday. “This misguided decision clearly violates international laws and bilateral air service agreements.”

Curbing emissions is the responsibility of the international organization, not the European Union alone, the transport association said.

The association added that the stricter emissions rules would be a “significant” financial burden to U.S. airlines.

The Federal Aviation Administration also opposed the plan.

“Such a unilateral approach [by the EU] will prove unworkable and will undercut rather than support international efforts to implement system improvements to better manage aviation emissions impacts,” FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

But the Europeans say the plan is compatible with international rules and that U.S. airlines probably would lose a challenge to it.

The European Parliament, which represents European residents, and member governments, which will include 27 countries with the addition of Bulgaria and Romania Jan. 1, must approve the plan for it to take effect — a process that could take years.

The proposal has widespread support, with Parliament and members and is expected to pass, though changes are possible, an EU delegation official in Washington said on the condition of anonymity.

The emissions trading program gives airlines a financial incentive to reduce emissions because they can sell allowances that they don’t use. But if they fail to convert to low-carbon technology, they will be punished by being forced to buy additional allowances to release more carbon dioxide.

The number of permits given to airlines will be determined by the average level of emissions in 2004-2006. Some will be auctioned by member states, but the overwhelming majority will be issued for free, the European Commission said.

Many European airlines support the plan, since EU officials had warned them that refusing to back a carbon emissions trading program would result in an aviation tax.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents about 250 passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, gave the trading scheme a “cautious welcome.” But if the plan is to succeed, the group said Europe must consolidate its cumbersome cadre of 34 air traffic control centers, “which leads to inefficiencies, delays, and too much time in the air.”

The Association of European Airlines backed the plan but warned that a poorly designed program could strip airlines of the funds they need to introduce cleaner technology.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide