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European Parliament's environmental committee looks to toughen aviation ETS

ATW Daily News by Cathy Buyck 28 May 08

European Parliament's Environment Committee voted on draft amendments designed to toughen the current proposals to include aviation in the EU's emissions trading scheme.

Most of the proposed changes were part of the EP's first-reading amendments previously rejected by the Council. The Environment Committee agreed yesterday that all flights within, leaving or landing in EU territory will be included in the ETS from 2011, whereas the European Commission had proposed a one-year "grace" period for intercontinental flights. Committee members also voted in favor of lowering the cap to 90% of 2004-06 levels while both the Council and Commission sought to cap emissions at 2004-06 levels. Further cuts would be introduced starting in 2013.

The committee also deviated from the Council's position on the auctioning of emission permits. The EU member states want only 10% of carbon emissions allowances to be traded freely but the committee decided that a "suitable" starting figure would be 25%, with the rest being distributed free of charge. As of 2013, the percentage of traded allowances "shall be increased according to the maximum level of auctioning in other [ETS] sectors."

International Air Carrier Assn. said it was "appalled at the extremism of the ENVI Committee in adopting such a radical ETS design. The combination of the prospect of 100% auctioning from 2013, a multiplier and a de facto closed trading system makes it a destructive package for airlines," according to DG Sylviane Lust. "Voting for such a scheme in the context of today's high fuel prices and economic downturn is a sign of ignorance, or denial, of the economic realities facing airlines today."

European Regions Airline Assn. DG Mike Ambrose said, "Throughout the past three years, the principal airline associations in Europe have supported the implementation of a moderate and practicable emissions trading scheme for aviation. However, the original proposals put forward by the European Commission have now been hijacked by extremism in the EP Environment Committee." He warned that if enacted, the proposals would be "catastrophic for many intra-European air services. Conversely they would yield negligible environmental benefits." The EP's final vote is expected in July.

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