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Procedure : 2005/2249(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0201/2006

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Debates :

PV 03/07/2006 - 18
CRE 03/07/2006 - 18

Votes :

PV 04/07/2006 - 6.18
CRE 04/07/2006 - 6.18
Explanations of votes

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Texts adopted
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Tuesday, 4 July 2006 - Strasbourg Final edition
Reducing the climate change impact of aviation

European Parliament resolution on reducing the climate change impact of aviation (2005/2249(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Reducing the Climate Change Impact of Aviation (COM(2005)0459),

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2005 on Winning the Battle against Climate Change(1) ,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0201/2006),

A.   whereas the EU is committed to the objective of tackling climate change and has put forward a global goal of limiting global temperature increase to +2°C compared to pre-industrialised levels,

B.   whereas in its abovementioned resolution of 16 November 2005 the European Parliament stated that strong emission reductions - 30% by 2020 and 60-80% by 2050 - are to be undertaken by developed countries,

C.   whereas the contribution of aviation to climate change is substantial and growing rapidly,

D.   whereas international aviation is subject to no commitment arising from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol or from any other international commitment in the area of climate change,

E.   whereas the EU should show leadership in the fight against climate change and, by taking regional and early action, lay down an example of how to tackle aviation's impact on the climate,

1.  Welcomes the Commission Communication and its recognition that a comprehensive package of measures including regulatory, economic, technological and operational instruments is needed to address all impacts of aviation on the climate, applying the "polluter pays" principle and ensuring full cost internalisation;

2.  Stresses that the overall objective of the policy instruments chosen must be to reduce, in a cost-effective way, the climate change impact of aviation; these policy instruments must be chosen in such a way as to ensure that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is as high as possible while the distortion of competition between Europe based air carriers and carriers from outside the EU is minimised and the unfair competition between the air transport sector and other transport sectors within the EU is reduced;

3.  Stresses that in this respect every kind of unnecessary bureaucratic burden should be excluded, especially in light of the small air carriers that exist on the market;

4.  Fully endorses the Commission's intention to pursue the introduction of kerosene taxes, and urges it to begin immediately by requiring a tax on all domestic and intra-EU flights (with the possibility to exempt all carriers on routes on which non-EU carriers operate); calls on the Commission to propose arrangements for their worldwide introduction;

5.  Stresses the urgency of achieving results in the ongoing re-negotiations of air service agreements – in particular the agreement with the US - to unconditionally allow for the taxing of fuel supplied to EU and non-EU carriers on an equal basis;

6.  Underlines that the tax exemptions on air transport and other imbalances lead to very unfair competition between aviation and other transport sectors;

7.  Stresses that this is particularly a burden for the railway sector, because the railway sector is not only covered by taxes but also by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which significantly raises the cost for this environmentally friendly transport system;

8.  Underlines that this distortion of competition between transport sectors also leads to distortion of competition between tourist regions, to the disadvantage of those regions which are reached mainly by car, bus or railway;

9.  Underlines that it is necessary to consider a fair solution for the environmental problems caused by aviation;

10.  Encourages the introduction of charges as a step towards full cost internalisation, with the extent of their role, and their magnitude, reflecting the extent to which any emissions trading system falls short of the requirements outlined below;

11.  Asks that special attention be paid to the situation of the most isolated territories which are particularly dependent on air transport services, and especially to insular or outermost regions, where alternative solutions are limited, or do not exist;

12.  Welcomes the speech of the then President-in-Office of the European Council and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel in the European Parliament on the 18th January 2006 in which he addressed the issue, and asks the Presidency-in-Office to work on concrete proposals in this area;

13.  Stresses that better air traffic management is urgently needed to reduce CO2 emissions, contrails and cirrus clouds and that this would be a cost-efficient measure;

14.  Calls for further research efforts in order to enhance our understanding of the full effects of aviation on climate change; considers that it is particularly important to clarify the effects of aircraft contrails (water vapour) as well as to what extent flying at lower altitudes would reduce overall emissions and hence climatic impact, and to assess the heating effect of aerosols emitted in the stratosphere;

15.  Urges the Commission to promote the introduction of bio-fuels for aviation as a contribution to reducing the impact on climate change;

16.  Stresses that, in the Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (RTD) too, research and development relating to clean engine technologies and alternative fuels must be assigned priority; considers that an integrated approach should be pursued, combining both emissions trading and the development of clean engines and fuels, in order also to reduce emissions of substances other than CO2 in the aviation sector;

17.  Believes it necessary, moreover, to pursue scientific and technical targets for improving the energy efficiency of aircraft and helicopters;

18.  Points out that measures under the Seventh RTD Framework Programme to foster technological innovations in the aerospace sector and the improved air traffic management resulting from the Single Sky legislation are of decisive importance where emission reduction is concerned;

19.  Calls on the Commission to take initiatives without delay for improving air traffic control and air traffic management within the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) project and the Single Sky legislation, with a view to improving the energy efficiency of flights and reducing or avoiding vapour contrails;

20.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that appropriations under the Seventh RTD Framework Programme are set aside, in the context of collaborative research, with a view to improving the environmental and energy efficiency of aircraft and helicopter engines;

On inclusion of aviation into the EU ETS

21.  Recognises that emissions trading has the potential to play a role as part of a comprehensive package of measures to address the climate impact of aviation, provided it is appropriately designed;

22.  Stresses that the environmental effectiveness of any emissions trading scheme will depend on it having sufficiently broad geographical scope; a rigorous cap; full auctioning of initial allocation; the technological level and early actions taken into account in the allocation; and addressing full climate impact;

23.  Asks the Commission to present immediately an impact assessment on the specific parameters of its design proposals, e.g. level of cap for aviation, compliance, choice of participating entity (aircraft operators, airlines or airports), and to present proposals to ensure that the EU ETS will be applicable to airlines from outside the European Union;

24.  Proposes the introduction of a separate dedicated scheme for aviation emissions, recognising that, due to the lack of binding commitments for international aviation emissions under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the aviation sector would be unable to actually sell into the ETS;

25.  Notes that accounting would be substantially simplified by a separate, closed system; considers that, if there were to be a gateway to allow airlines to buy from the EU ETS, this should be on a carefully limited basis;

26.  Stresses that, if aviation is to be eventually incorporated into the wider ETS, there should at least be a pilot phase of a separate scheme covering the period 2008-2012;

27.  Notes that potential entry of outside credits to a separate scheme (e.g. Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation (CDM/JI), or credits from regional cap-and-trade schemes in countries which are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol) must be minimised by capping them at a level which guarantees that the sector contributes to achieving the overall objective of halting climate change, as well as minimising bureaucracy and increasing transparency;

28.  Proposes that, should aviation be eventually incorporated into a wider ETS, special conditions be applied to ensure it does not distort the market to the detriment of less protected sectors: a cap on the number of emission rights it is permitted to buy from the market, and a requirement to make a proportion of the necessary emissions reductions without trading, before being allowed to buy permits;

29.  Calls on the Commission to put forward other policy instruments to address the non-CO2 impacts of aviation in parallel to the ETS; where uncertainties exist over any of these impacts, policy should be based on the precautionary principle; in addition to climate impacts, special attention should be paid to air and noise pollution during the ascent and descent of aircraft; calls on the Commission to encourage research programmes to improve scientific knowledge on the non-CO2 impacts of aviation and to support ICAO action in developing standards on NOx;

30.  Does not rule out accompanying local measures having to be taken in the future;

On the scope of the aviation scheme

31.  Believes that a scheme for aviation should as a first step cover all flights to and from any EU airport (if possible also intercontinental flights transiting through EU air space), irrespective of the country of origin of the airline concerned, so as to ensure a level playing field to operators with different route profiles, to avoid distortion of the market in favour of flights to destinations outside the EU, to ensure environmental effectiveness, to prevent cross-subsidisation and to influence aircraft design; stresses that a worldwide emission trading scheme needs to be introduced as soon as possible;

32.  Acknowledges that the Commission, after careful assessment, is of the opinion that such a broad scope is compatible with international agreements, e.g. WTO rules; asks the Commission and the Council to defend this position against possible attacks of third countries in international organisations;

On initial allocation

33.  Stresses that the total initial allocation should be defined in line with the Kyoto commitment target and must therefore not allow for growth in emissions above the base year;

34.  Believes that the initial allocation amount must be set at EU level, as setting it at Member State level would risk overly generous initial allocations which would distort the market and undermine the environmental effectiveness of the scheme;

35.  Stresses that the allocation method should not directly or indirectly punish those companies having already introduced efficient airplanes, so that early action has to be recognised under any circumstances and the main pressure to change put on carriers whose fuel efficiency is poor;

On the allocation method

36.  Believes that auctioning is the best option for distribution of allowances, since it reflects the dynamic nature of the sector, with no prejudice against new entrants or against those regions which have yet to develop in this sector;

37.  Notes that auctioning also meets the requirements of the "polluter pays" principle, with further environmental benefits if the revenues are appropriately hypothecated; and that it automatically rewards good performance by operators in the past and future;

38.  Stresses that an eventual partial free allocation of permits, whether through grandfathering or benchmarking, should not discriminate against operators who enter the scheme after the initial allocation period; therefore, special provision would have to be made to accommodate new entrants;

39.  Notes the likelihood that free allocation of permits, whether through grandfathering or benchmarking, would lead to windfall profits to the sector at the consumer's expense, due to marginal cost pricing based on market price of allowances despite free allocation; emphasises that this is not the objective of the policy;

40.  Considers that free allocation of grandfathered emissions is the worst option as it punishes early action by airlines, and that free allocation by benchmarking, whilst incentivising more appropriately in theory, risks being overly complicated and bureaucratic, with all calculation methods having difficulties in determining true best performance;

o   o

41.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0433.

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