EU to propose climate action on planes, ships

BRUSSELS Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:04am EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Aviation and shipping should cut their respective carbon dioxide emissions to 10 and 20 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade, the European Union is likely to propose at global climate talks this week.

EU diplomats said the cuts might be linked to a tax on fuel to generate billions of dollars of revenues to help poor countries cope with climate change -- a key contribution to finding a global climate deal by December.

"We are concerned about the slow international negotiations and are keen to shift gear," said an EU diplomat involved with the proposal. "This is a concrete measure from the EU side in order to contribute to this step-up."

After fine-tuning the proposal, the EU will present it at a meeting in Bangkok where climate negotiators from up to 190 nations will try to revive momentum toward a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013.

Aviation and shipping are not covered by Kyoto, the global climate change treaty agreed in 1997.

Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and most eastern European states have already indicated support for a cut of 20 percent or more to shipping emissions, compared to 2005 levels, according to a document seen by Reuters.

But seafaring nations including Malta, Cyprus, and Spain favor easier reductions. There is also debate over the base-line year.

CLIMATE FUNDING

"It's good that the EU is moving forward on capping emissions from these two sectors, not least because it creates significant potential for raising funding for developing countries," said Tim Gore, a campaigner at anti-poverty group Oxfam.

The proposal has been put forward by Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, and is based on a report three weeks ago by the EU's executive, the European Commission.

The Commission calculated the two sectors could generate revenues as high as 25 billion euros ($36.7 billion) a year in 2020, if their emissions were capped at 30 percent below 2005 levels.

Some countries with big airlines or a heavy reliance on air links have put up opposition. France, Finland, Italy, Malta and Austria have suggested airlines get an easier target than 10 percent.

"How these targets should be met should be decided by the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization," said the EU diplomat. "Should they fail, the EU will come back to the issue in 2011."

A system of taxes might meet more political resistance than a cap and trade scheme, which would force polluters to buy permits to emit carbon dioxide.

Shipping would be best served by a cap and trade scheme, the industry associations of Australia, Britain, Belgium, Norway and Sweden argued in a report last week that did not set targets.

The UK Chamber of Shipping estimated a trading scheme for emissions would cost the seaborne industry up to 6 billion euros a year, depending on the price of carbon.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison; editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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