Thursday, August 11, 2011

Airlines and Carbon
The world’s leaders should have reached a deal long ago to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of such a deal, the European Union’s plan to regulate the carbon emissions of all airplanes that land or take off from European airports is a reasonable attempt to address an urgent problem.

Aviation amounts to about 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, a share projected to rise quickly as air traffic surges. The European Union wants to cut these emissions by 3 percent next year compared with a 2004-2006 base line, using a cap-and-trade scheme that would force airlines to buy permits to cover emissions that exceed their target.

Starting next year, any airline flying in or out of a European airport would need permits for emissions for the entire flight. The International Air Transport Association estimates that the average fare on flights in and out of Europe would rise by $21 to $45, or 2.2 percent to 4.6 percent.

The plan faces enormous opposition: China has threatened a trade war. India has protested. And the Air Transport Association of America, the airline lobby, has blasted the scheme as a costly and illegal invasion of sovereignty.... The group has filed a lawsuit to stop the rules before the European Court of Justice.

The Obama administration has objected, and a bill barring American airlines from participating in the scheme has bipartisan support in the House. ...

These arguments are not very strong. Airlines will be given a ceiling and allocated permits; they will have to buy additional permits only if they exceed the cap. Those that boost efficiency could have a surplus of permits to sell.

American airlines are already making progress. The Transportation Department says American airlines have emitted 15 percent fewer emissions from 2000 through 2009 while carrying about 15 percent more passengers and cargo....

A global deal would be great. But international talks to regulate airlines’ emissions have been going on fruitlessly for almost 15 years. The European Union’s plan is a much needed first step to controlling a growing source of dangerous emissions....

New York Times Editorial
August 2, 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment