European airlines gave their tepid support to the proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS) revealed by the European Union yesterday, while the U.S. industry roundly criticized the plan.
Under the European Commission proposal, all intra-European flights will need to participate, beginning in 2011. The plan will be extended to all flights that operate out of the EU from 2012. The plan could create a net carbon savings of 46% -- or 183 million metric tons -- by 2020, the EC said in a statement.
The aviation sector is responsible for 3% of the total EU greenhouse gas output, but aviation's share has grown by 87% since 1990 as the cost of air travel has fallen. Aviation's share of the EU's total greenhouse gas output is expected to double by 2020, and without ETS, the EU claims it may find it difficult to achieve the emissions reductions targets outlined by the Kyoto Protocol.
European low-cost carriers represented by the European Low Fares Airline Association applauded the draft ETS proposal but called for the EC to eliminate the one-year grace period for long-haul flights serving the EU. Limiting ETS to intra-EU flights will address only 20% of the aviation sector's contribution to EU carbon emissions, ELFAA argued. "It is unfair and discriminatory that long-haul airlines, who are the biggest polluters, would not have to pay the cost of their emissions," the group said in a statement.
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