- Aviation – just a minor contribution to climate change?
Peter Liese refuted the oft-repeated argument that the aviation sector should benefit from a certain leniency, as it produces only 3% of total EU emissions.
"The aviation sector represents just 0.6% of the EU economy and yet nobody would say that this is negligible. So how could we neglect the 3% emissions?" he asked, recalling that other industries are already obliged to reduce the emissions by around 8% compared to 1990 emissions and by around 20-30% until the year 2012.
- Minimum distortion
Liese admits that there are drawbacks to including aviation in the ETS – including a potential loss of competitiveness for the European aviation industry – and calls for an examination of how the distortion of competition between European and third-country airlines could be reduced as far as possible.
This would mean scrapping the Commission's proposal to differentiate between internal European and inter-continental flights, he said, adding that this would also make the environmental impact of the scheme "substantially bigger".
- Trade war with the US?
The US is convinced that the EU has no right to impose its scheme on the aircraft operators of third countries and has made clear that it would retaliate with trade sanctions if the bloc goes ahead with its plan to extend the ETS to international flights.
However, Liese does not appear ready to cave in to pressure. "The US should not be able to stop our ambitious policy to combat climate change," he stressed, adding that the Commission's plan is justified under international rules and based on solid legal arguments.
"The European Union has gone to controversial discussions and even trade war for much less evident cases. Here we speak about saving the planet and our position is underlined by the vast majority of the scientists in the world. So we should not hesitate too much," he said.
- No free credits?
While Liese rejects pressure to introduce a stricter cap on the aviation industry than that which the Commission is currently proposing "because the technology for reducing emissions is not available yet", he stresses the need for fair burden-sharing and says that the cap should be linked to other factors, such as the allocation method.
In this respect, the MEP clearly favours increased auctioning. "The European Parliament asked for 100% auctioning in its resolution last year," he said, adding that "a substantial amount of auctioning would give the opportunity to reduce other kinds of taxes and charges so that the overall burden for citizens is lower".
- New taxes
Liese also believes that the Directive should address tax breaks that currently distort competition between aviation and other environment-friendly transport systems, such as railway and buses, "which suffer from high taxes compared with the aviation sector, which until now does not have to pay any similar charges or taxes".
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