BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union governments have struck a provisional deal with lawmakers to include aviation from 2012 in the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), a key tool to fight climate change, the European Parliament said on Friday.
A parliament statement confirmed a Reuters report on Thursday that airlines would have to cut emissions by 3 percent in the first year, and by 5 percent from 2013 onwards, paying for 15 percent of their permits to pollute.
Aviation generates 3 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the 27-member bloc but has been left out of the ETS so far because of concerns that its inclusion would damage the industry’s ability to compete in international markets.
With air traffic set to double by 2020, however, politicians are keen to apply the “polluter pays” principle as Europe struggles to reduce output of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Soaring fuel costs have pushed several airlines over the brink into bankruptcy in recent months, making the issue controversial.
Lawmakers and member states had been deeply divided on the matter, and Thursday’s talks provided the last chance to reach an accord before the current EU legislature ends in March 2009.
Parliament wanted a start date of 2011 but lawmakers settled for 2012 for airlines to join the scheme, which sets a cap on emissions and forces companies to buy permits for some or all the CO2 they emit above that limit.
Airlines taking off or landing in the EU will have to buy 15 percent of their permits in ETS auctions, and the EU has an obligation to seek an agreement on global measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Of course, a global agreement is our final goal, but the inclusion of third-country flights starting and landing in Europe is a major step for the global fight against climate change,” said German lawmaker Peter Liese, who led the negotiations.
The deal was approved by the EU’s 27 member states at a meeting on Friday, said an official from Slovenia, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
The deal therefore needs only final approval by the European Parliament on July 9 before becoming law.
The cap will be set in the first year at 97 percent of average emissions in the baseline years of 2004-2006, reducing to 95 percent from 2013 to 2020. It will be revisited in the future as part of a planned review of all ETS legislation.
Editing by Dale Hudson