European Union to urge nations outside the bloc to limit aviation emissions

Saturday, October 11, 2008, 10:21 by Aviation Correspondent

The European Union (EU) has decided to press countries outside the alliance to include aviation in their existing or future schemes meant to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases.

The European Union, the political and economic union of 27 member-states located primarily in Europe, plans to include aviation from 2012 in its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). The Emission Trading Scheme has been described by the EU as “a key tool” in its flagship programme to fight climate change.

The member-governments of the European Union had agreed earlier in 2008 to include all flights to and from the 27-nation bloc in its carbon dioxide emission allowance system from 2012. Airlines will then have to get permit for their emissions and pay for the extra amount of emissions that exceeds the permitted level.

EU members have pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020. The planned reduction – compared to 1990 emission levels – will rise to 30% if an international agreement emerges covering developing countries.

The transport ministers of the European Union’s 27 member-states, who met in Luxembourg, agreed that the European Commission, the executive of the European Union, should try to convince other countries to follow the EU’s example, either in the current trading schemes or as a part of an envisaged global deal.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the transport ministers of the European Union said: “The council (of ministers) requests the European Commission to engage with non-EU countries on the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme to explore possibilities for such states to introduce equivalent measures. It requests the European Commission to promote the application of these provisions, in particular in the framework of aviation agreements with third countries.”

Earlier, the European Union had announced that some member-states were “seeking significant changes that may delay its final approval” of the its climate package.

It may be noted that airlines account for about 3% of worldwide discharges of carbon dioxide, the gas regarded as mainly responsible for global warming.

The European Union’s proposed anti-pollution law would cover internal and external flights to and from airports in the European Union. Whent the law comes into effect, it would be the first time the European Union is capping transport emissions, after airline emissions in Europe having doubled over the past 20 years.

The transport ministers of the 27 member-states of the European Union explained in the statement: “The EU rules are only a first step towards the final objective, which is to seek an agreement on global measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation. If necessary, it will be adapted to fit this global framework.”

The European Union, in the meantime, would continue to persuade the United States, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse-gases, as well as countries like China and India to negotiate a new global treaty against climate change after 2012.