In a report adopted by 439 votes in favor to 74 against and 102 abstentions, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) proposed that the EU takes action to reduce the climate change impact of aviation by adopting the measures proposed in a report written by MEP Caroline Lucas (Greens/EFA, UK).
International aviation is neither subject to Kyoto or other commitments nor to fuel tax or VAT. The MEPs advocate devising a scheme for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from aviation, and the possible eventual inclusion of that aviation scheme in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The vote also backed the immediate introduction of kerosene taxes 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).
Recent research from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) (UK) suggests that carbon emissions from aviation could triple to 0.40 Gt carbon/year to account for 3% of the world’s anthropogenic carbon emissions by 2050. (Earlier post.)
The International Air Carrier Association reacted swiftly to the vote, saying that the European Parliament had “missed the opportunity to promote a realistic strategy addressing aviation and climate change.”
Any approach to aviation and the environment which calls for the simultaneous introduction of taxes on aviation fuel, VAT on airline tickets, environmental charges at airports and [emphasis original] emissions trading scheme (ETS) totally ignores economic realities. Moreover the recommendation to set up a separate ETS scheme for aviation is totally unrealistic.—Sylviane Lust, IACA Director General
Parliament has accepted the need for a comprehensive package of measures to address the impact of aviation on the climate, as well as applying the “polluter pays” principle. The House emphasized the need for a method which also properly reflects the sector’s dynamic nature and rewards past and future good performance.
MEPs asked 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.
MEPs stressed 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.
Parliament is proposing the introduction of a separate dedicated scheme for aviation emissions, recognizing that, due to the lack of binding commitments for international aviation emissions under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the Kyoto Protocol, the aviation sector would be unable to sell into the ETS.
The report stressed 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.
Should aviation be eventually incorporated into a wider ETS, special conditions should be applied to ensure it does not distort the market to the detriment of less protected sectors, according to the MEPs. These include 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.
The House asked the European 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 ETS will be applicable to airlines from outside the European Union.