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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
EU climate flight plans 'deluded'

Airport protest. Image: AFP
The research endorsed calls for curbs on airport expansion
European Union proposals to reduce the climate impact of flying will not work, a report concludes.

The EU plans to include aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

But analysts at the Tyndall Centre, a prestigious UK climate research body, say this will have minimal effect without a major rise in carbon prices.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) which funded the study wants mandatory efficiency goals for aircraft, tax on aviation fuel and curbs on airport expansion.

Other measures are also needed to tackle the growing climate impact of flying
Richard Dyer

"We delude ourselves if we believe the proposed framing of the EU ETS is in keeping with the EU's own and repeated commitment to limit climate change to a 2C (3.6F) rise," said Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre's energy programme.

"The current aviation ETS proposal must be significantly strengthened so as to drive down emission growth rates and force the adoption of more efficient aircraft technologies and operation."

Priced too low

The ETS began operating in 2005. Current plans call for inclusion of flights within Europe by 2011, extending a year later to all flights originating or ending on the continent.

Tyndall and FoE believe this would be too late. By 2012, they say, carbon emissions from aviation will have increased by at least 25%.

Another criticism is that the current price of carbon is too low to make any impact on flying.

View from plane

Carbon is currently trading at about 20 euros (13.50; $27) per tonne. The Tyndall analysis suggests that even a price of 300 euros per tonne would bring only a moderate increase in ticket prices and a moderate fall in passenger numbers.

"Other political measures are also needed to tackle the growing climate impact of flying," commented FoE's aviation campaigner Richard Dyer.

"This should include VAT on air tickets, a tax on aviation fuel and opposition to new runways."

Globally, aviation accounts for between 1% and 2% of greenhouse gas production, but rapid economic growth in Asia and the burgeoning cheap flights industry in Europe make it the fastest rising source of emissions.

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