19th Feb 2019

EU air emissions plan would hit US flights

  • Heathrow: hubs like this would bear the brunt of the international dimension of the plan (Photo: wikipedia)

Brussels aims to include the rest of the world in the European Union's latest green policy plan set to impose CO2 emission controls on all flights within and entering Europe, according to a leaked draft proposal from the European Commission.

The plan, which will require all flights arriving or departing from EU airports to buy permits to cover their carbon dioxide emissions, will be presented just before Christmas and is crucial to the bloc's fight against global warning and climate change.

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The report estimates that passengers on flights within Europe would pay an extra €9 for a ticket, with the actual sum depending on the price of the permits. Those flying long haul would pay up to €39.60, according to The Times.

Although aircraft only account for two percent of CO2 emissions, the EU executive office warns that emissions are on the increase due to the boom in airline travel – especially after the arrival of low-cost flights.

"Emissions from all flights arriving at and departing from EU airports should be included," the draft states, according to the International Herald Tribune.

However, if other countries introduce similar measures, Brussels would drop its rule on the return trip to these countries.

The move is likely to anger the US - the Association of European Airlines (AEA) said the proposal could provoke a trade war between the US and the EU raising the risk of flight restrictions and sanctions on European goods.

"We could see another trade war," David Henderson from the AEA told IHT, and cited stiff opposition from the US several years ago against European plans aimed at reducing jet engine noise.

If the European Parliament and EU governments accept the proposal, it would force airlines to monitor pollution from 2010 and fall in with emissions targets starting from 1 January 2011.

The airline emission controls would come under already existing European emissions trading scheme (ETS), which was launched in 2005 as the cornerstone of EU efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Like the current emission targets, national governments would be responsible for managing emission targets for air carriers in their country and for foreign airlines that use their airports the most frequently when entering the EU.

That would mean that France, Germany and the UK would have the responsibility over many of the foreign airlines as these rely mainly on the international hubs of Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Heathrow airports.

Planes belonging to foreign heads of state, monarchs, their families and the military would be exempt from the new EU rules, as would planes carrying fewer than 20 people.

Planes using European airspace but not touching down would also be exempt.

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