EU’s inclusion of aviation in the ETS helps address one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution

February 28th, 2012 by WWF

Virgin Atlantic takes off from Gatwick airport on 18 November 2010. Virgin Atlantic have already carried out test flights using various blends of biofuel (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

From 1 January 2012, the EU has included aviation in its emissions trading scheme (ETS), which will result in small fees for airlines using European airports.  The new law holds airlines accountable for their emissions associated with their commercial flights into or out of EU airports.

Countries opposed to the inclusion of foreign airlines in the EU ETS have signed a declaration condemning the legislation and outlining options for retaliatory action against the EU. The 26 countries, including the United States, China and India, met at a recent summit to explore ways to persuade the EU to abandon the new legislation.

WWF has stated that countries should focus on cutting climate-changing emissions from aviation, rather than retaliating against the European Union for trying to limit emissions from aviation in its airspace.

As aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions – rising 3 to 4% per year – [IPCC WG III report, 2007], WWF would like to see a global, rapid and time-bound process to reach a robust solution to address this uncontrolled source of carbon pollution.

In the meantime, the EU ETS is an important first step to control pollution from planes.

Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy initiative, said “WWF would like to see greenhouse gas emissions from aviation addressed on a global basis.

However, as efforts to do this through the International Civil Aviation Organization have made little progress for 14 years, the EU’s decision to include aviation in the ETS is an important step towards addressing one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution.

“We would also like to see money from aviation emissions trading earmarked for climate change adaptation and finance in developing countries. This is consistent with the recent Durban climate conference, where UN member states agreed on both the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to provide climate finance to developing nations.”

Globally, WWF is working towards solutions that will reduce emissions from international transport, including aviation.

An important principle in a global approach to controlling these emissions is that there is ‘no net incidence’ on developing countries.


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