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Hot air

December 21, 2006

Environmental groups have dismissed EU plans to include airlines in a scheme to combat climate change as too weak to curb global warming.

According to The Independent, all European flights will be covered by the EU’s emissions trading scheme from 2011, and journeys to and from Europe will be included the following year. Air carriers will receive tradeable permits to emit a certain level of CO2 per year from their flights. The number will be capped at the average level of emissions for 2004-6. Airlines will be able to buy permits from industries that have reduced their emissions, or sell theirs if they pollute less.

Special measures for a special business

Environmental groups are not happy with the plans to include air travel in the emissions trading scheme. Neither am I. First of all, the scheme does not require air lines to actually cut CO2 emissions. Air line companies can just buy new permits from other, more energy efficient industries and continue polluting. Second, the companies are given permits to pollute quite a lot without paying anything at all. Only if they actually increase their CO2 emissions do they have to cash out. This means that air carriers could follow the example of power companies and pass on the market price of permits to consumers even if they received them free, at least that’s the way green group WWF sees it.

Because of this, I have to agree with green groups argueing that only a special scheme for aviation will curb the current increase in air travel. The EU needs to tax air lines for all CO2 emissions, right from the first kilogram. Also, air lines must only be allowed to trade permits with other companies inside the air travel sector. They can not, under any circomstance, be allowed to buy permits from other industries. This is the only way to make sure that air travel as a buisness sector does not increase their CO2 emissions.

Alex DeClerkToday, we see the effects of global warming all around us. The Independent writes that hat this year is likely to be the warmest year on record in both Britain and Spain, and that brown bears in the north of Spain have stopped hibernating because of the unnaturally warm weather. It is not a day to early to start treating one of the most polluting businesses in the world seriously.

Photo: Alex DeClerk/

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