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International flights exempt in CO2 tax

Thursday, April 03 12:20:44

The European Parliament today voted to exempt international flights from paying for their carbon emissions amid pressure from national governments to continue applying the measure to domestic flights only.

The full parliament adopted by 458 votes to 120 a proposal which would continue the current regulation of domestic flights only until at least 2016, a spokesman for the Parliament said in a statement.

The European Commission had proposed extending the regulation to cover the portion of international flights over EU territory, insisting Europe was within its rights to regulate within its own airspace.

EU member states came out against the plan, fearing it would reignite tensions with major trading partners such as the United States and China and hamper progress toward a globally agreed deal to curb rising aviation emissions.

"We invite the European Commission to rethink the usefulness of unilateral strategy that hits Europe without environmental gain," centre-right MEP Eija-Riitta Korhola said on Twitter.

But other lawmakers criticised the move, which will reduce by around three-quarters the amount of aviation emissions regulated via the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

"It is reckless to dismantle this effective climate policy instrument in exchange for a vague promise on a global scheme in the distant future," said Satu Hassi, a green party MEP, in a statement.

Last September, nearly 190 nations at U.N. aviation body ICAO agreed to design a worldwide scheme to limit aviation emissions by 2016 to take effect in 2020, but rejected letting Europe apply its own plans in the meantime.

Aviation accounts for around 5 percent of man-made emissions blamed for causing climate change. (Reuters)