Commission: capping emissions from air travel “feasible”

The Commission has published a study concluding that it is feasible to include aviation in the EU’s CO2 emissions trading scheme. It says that the public widely accept the idea despite the fact that this would lead to a rise in ticket prices.

A public consultation on how to address the impact of the aviation sector on global warming was officially closed on 29 July.

The Commission says 82% of respondents “fully agreed” with the objective of including air transport in global efforts to mitigate global warming. Only 13% objected to a rise in the price of air tickets to achieve this aim.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the results showed there is wide “understanding and acceptance that [reducing the impact of aviation on global warming] must happen even if it may lead to a modest rise in ticket prices”.

study published with the results of the consultation concludes that is is feasible to include the aviation sector into the EU’s CO2 emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS). 

“It would be legally possible for the EU to include these emissions in the scheme provided that all aircraft operators are treated in the same way, regardless of nationality,” the Commission said in a statement.


Some companies in the aviation sector are strongly opposed to the plan, arguing that technological improvements are enough to curb emissions. 

But the Commission says that the technology would need to be introduced "much faster than at present" to match the rapid growth of air transport.

Other companies, including British Airways, say that emissions will have to be reduced if the industry does not want to be used as a cash cow to fund non-aviation projects such as development aid.


The Commission has been weighing its options on how to reduce the impact of the aviation sector on global warming. At its annual Green Week event in June 2005, it launched a public internet consultation on how to reduce this impact (EURACTIV, 31 May 2005). According to the Commission, some 5,600 individuals and 200 organisations have responded to the consultation.

The Commission estimates that emissions of greenhouse gases from international flights have risen by 73% in the EU between 1990 and 2003. They would now be responsible for "more than 60% of all emissions from aircraft taking off from EU airports".


  • A formal legislative proposal could be put forward by the Commission before the end of 2005

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