The EU should continue with its scheme to cut greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes despite protests from other countries, according to the MEP who steered the legislation through Parliament. From 1 January, airlines flying to and from EU airports are required to acquire pollution permits as part of the EU’s broader emissions trading system (ETS). However, it has met with fierce opposition from countries such as China, Russia and the US.
About 23 countries, who signed a declaration against ETS in Moscow on 22 February, claim the initiative is too costly, violates aviation treaties and infringes their sovereignty. China has already banned its airlines from taking part and the US and Russia are considering following its example. Opponents are threatening to slap additional levies on EU airlines and say that aviation emissions should instead be dealt with through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
However the EU argues that the initiative does not contradict international law and was only launched because ICAO failed to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. In addition it will add only €2 to ticket prices.
Mr Liese's comments have also been echoed by others in the EU. Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout said: "Stick to your guns, make sure that everyone pays at the same level and in the end the others will follow." Also Connie Hedegaard, the commissioner responsible for climate action, said after the meeting in Moscow: “Unfortunately, our question for Moscow meeting participants remains unanswered: what's your concrete, constructive alternative?”
Airlines account for 3% of total greenhouse gases, which is forecast to reach up to 15% by 2050. The EU has capped aviation emissions for this year at 97% of the 2004-2006 average and at 95% for following years. 85% of allowances have been handed out for free to airlines, while the remaining 15% will be auctioned off. Airlines that fail to buy the necessary allowances will be fined €100 for each tonne not covered by the allowance or could even face being banned from flying in the EU.