The European Parliament gave preliminary approval to a global warming control plan that would require, beginning in 2011, that airlines flying to and from Europe offset some of their emissions by buying carbon dioxide allowances on the open market, The New York Times reports. The move could set up a legal battle with the U.S., a prospect which was raised last year. European airlines oppose the plan too.
While the Commission had proposed capping ETS allowances for CO2 emissions at 100 percent of aircraft operators’ average annual emissions during 2004-2006, the EP went even further, reducing the number of ETS-authorized emissions for aviation to 90 percent.
The Commission had proposed that the ETS should cover all intra-EU flights as of 2011, but that flights between the EU and third-country airports should come under its scope only as of 2012. The Parliament disagreed, voting through amendments that would see no distinction made between EU and non-EU flights in this regard: the scheme, they decided, would cover both types of flights by 2011.
Airline emissions were not part of the Kyoto Protocol’s targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Limits on airlines were left to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. In September, the IACO passed a resolution opposing plans to include foreign airlines in the scheme.
Carl Burleson, the director of the office of environment and energy at the Federal Aviation Administration, said after the European vote, “This doesn’t go along with what the world community agreed to, which is that you should undertake this on the basis of mutual agreement.”
In June, a group of six associations representing European airlines published a study that found airlines would have to spend over $60 billion between 2011 and 2022 buying up credits from more fuel-efficient industries to meet their quotas.
Making the situation more confusing, the Dutch government is planning to impose a carbon tax of its own on flights leaving the Netherlands of $16 for intra-European flights and $64 for intercontinental flights.
It is now up to the Council of Ministers, as joint legislator with Parliament, to decide its position on the amendments adopted by MEPs. If all of Parliament’s amendments are acceptable to the Council, the legislation will be adopted in its modified form. If the Council rejects any of Parliament’s amendments or adds any of its own, the text will return to Parliament for a second reading.