EU floats voluntary deals for aviation industry

Kinnock suggests that airlines could copy EU-car makers' environmental deal

EU transport commissioner Neil Kinnock, today encouraged European airlines to come forward with ideas on voluntary action to curb environmental damage from aviation.

Addressing a conference of the Association of European Airlines in Berlin, Mr Kinnock said he wanted airlines take a more "proactive" approach on the environment. Citing the deal recently struck with European car manufacturers to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars (ENDS Daily 6 October), he said: "I've wondered whether such a course could be feasible for the air transport industry too?"

Mr Kinnock's invitation to the airline industry is part of a consultation process he launched in July to see how the rapidly growing aviation sector can be made less environmentally damaging. A paper issued earlier this year by the Commission's transport directorate (DGVII) suggested that voluntary action could be useful in reducing emissions of CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOX) and noise.

A DGVII official told ENDS Daily that airlines had responded positively to the idea, but that it would be harder to reach a meaningful agreement with them than with the car industry because there were far more companies to deal with. He also noted that aircraft manufacturers had shown little interest in voluntary action, although their contribution, in building low-emissions aircraft, would be essential. Pending global action from the international aviation body ICAO, EU-level agreements "could be useful in the short to medium term," he said.

The official suggested that action by airlines to reduce emissions could include using the latest, least polluting equipment and moving away from smaller passenger aircraft. The "local" issue of noise would be dealt with on an airport-by-airport basis, he added.

The transport Commissioner's remarks come at a time when there is growing interest across a range of EU industry sectors in taking voluntary action to avoid the imposition of legislation to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The car deal was hailed by politicians and industry as a landmark in using voluntary environment agreements at EU level. Since then, the cement, chemicals, steel and energy industries have all told the Commission that voluntary deals are their preferred policy instrument (ENDS Daily 9 October), although the European Parliament and environmental groups remain sceptical.

The Commission is planning to release a communication on air transport and the environment before the end of the year.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111.

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