MEPs back plans to slap eco-levy on airline industry

24-08-2006

A vote in the European Parliament has backed a raft of measures to counterbalance the industry's contribution to climate change.

MPs in Strasbourg, in a non-binding vote, which went 439 to 74, including 102 abstentions, asked the European Commission to adopt measures, which included an airlines-only CO2 emissions trading scheme and emissions charges to curb non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions such as condensation trails and nitrogen oxides.

The airline industry, which has not adopted the Kyoto protocol, may also have to pay VAT on aviation fuel as well as an additional fuel tax..

Doing nothing to curtail greenhouse gas emissions by airlines "just isn't an option", Green MEP Dr Caroline Lucas told fellow politicians.

"We simply have no choice but to clip the airlines' wings and force them to reduce their impact on the climate, if we are to stand any chance of cutting our emissions by the level that’s needed to halt the deadly march of climate change," she said.

Dr Lucas said airlines enjoyed tax breaks and hidden subsidies worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone. These she said were "long outdated and totally incompatible with global climate goals".

The director of the International Air Carrier Association, Sylviane Lust, told MEPs "to get real" if they seriously wanted to fight climate change.

"Any approach to aviation and the environment which calls for the simultaneous introduction of taxes on aviation fuel, VAT on airline tickets, environmental charges at airports and emissions trading scheme totally ignores economic realities," she said.

She added a separate ETS scheme for aviation was "totally unrealistic".

"No assessment has been made of the consequences for the airline industry, the European economy or the quality of life of European citizens," she said.

But Jeff Gazzard from the GreenSkies Alliance, an environmental NGO, welcomed the decision.

He predicted a 'closed' ETS scheme for airlines could lead to a moderate ticket price rise of around 30 pounds per one-way flight.



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