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EU agrees curbs on airline emissions from 2012

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Dec 20, 2007
European Union environment ministers agreed Thursday to impose carbon dioxide emissions curbs on airlines from 2012, but environmentalists and EU lawmakers said the plans did not go far enough.

Under the agreement, airlines flying not only within the EU but also to or from the 27 nation bloc will be included in Europe's emissions trading system, like other energy-hungary industries have been since 2005.

"The eyes of the world are upon us. We have to send out a strong signal to the rest of the world," Portuguese Environment Minister Francisco Nunes Correia said while chairing talks with counterparts in Brussels.

"Air traffic must contribute to climate protection, there's no alternative," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

EU governments will now have to find a compromise with the European Parliament, which had sought an earlier start date of 2011 and also has to approve the plans in a second reading.

EU lawmakers from both sides of the parliament's political spectrum warned that the ministers had watered down the package too much and that they would not be able to approve it without changes.

"It is regrettable that the council (of ministers) wants to start so late with emissions trading in aviation," said conservative MEP Peter Liese, who has steered the legislation through the assembly.

"European Parliament as co-legislator will not accept that this weak decision comes into force unchanged", he said.

Under the plans, airlines would have to meet quotas either by reducing their emissions or buying carbon dioxide credits from other less polluting industries.

"This is a bold step by Europe -- in the week after the Bali agreement - which shows the EU leading in the fight against dangerous climate change," said British Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

"By including aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme with a tough cap, we are ensuring that airlines which do go above their limit will need to cancel out their emissions elsewhere through the trading scheme," he added.

But environmentalists said that the ministers should have set tougher quotas for airlines.

"This is a Christmas gift to the aviation industry which should be required to do its fair share in tackling climate change," said World Wildlife Fund campaigner Delia Villagrasa.

"Europe took a strong stance at the Bali climate talks, but seems to have taken a backward step with this lenient approach towards the aviation sector," she added.

The airline industry warned earlier this year that some carriers survival would be at risk because the sector would have to spend over 45 billion euros (65 billion dollars) between 2011 and 2022 buying up credits from more fuel-efficient industries to meet their quotas.

EU planes account for about half the industry's carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

Aircraft carbon dioxide emissions account for only about three percent of the global total but they have increased by 87 percent since 1990, according to the European Commission.

Their real impact on global warming is amplified two to four times because planes flying at high altitude leave condensation trails which add to the greenhouse gas effect.

Washington has threatened to take legal action against the EU quotas plans and other members of the International Civil Aviation Organization rejected European proposals in September for international airline emissions targets.

The ministers' agreement comes a day after the European Commission sparked controversy with plans to fine carmakers that miss proposed cuts in carbon emissions from new cars, slammed by both industry and environmentalists.

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Airbus close to sale of four factories: report
Berlin (AFP) Dec 16, 2007
Airbus boss Thomas Enders could be days away from selling four of the aircraft maker's factories to US company Spirit Aero Systems, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.

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