A global deal on aviation pollution has removed a major obstacle to a European Union plan that will oblige airlines to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU agreed in 2008 that all flights taking off and landing in the Union would be included in the EU’s emissions trading scheme from 2012. This meant that emissions from aviation would be capped and that airlines would have to buy some permits to pollute. But the law ran into trouble last year when US airlines launched a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice.
These legal uncertainties were eased on Friday (8 October), when the 190 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreed that the EU could extend its emissions trading scheme to all airlines without the agreement of non-EU states.
Cap on emissions
ICAO also agreed to cap emissions from international aviation from 2020.
The ICAO decision was welcomed by the European Commission. Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate change, said: “The deal is a good basis for proceeding swiftly with the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s emissions trading scheme from 2012 as foreseen by the EU legislation in force.”
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Siim Kallas, the European commissioner for transport, described the agreement as breakthrough. “This deal is very significant because at a global level. Governments and the aviation industry have for the first time agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions from 2020,” he said.
Aviation is responsible for 2-3% of global emissions, but this figure is projected to rise as global demand for air travel increases.