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European Union Approves Carbon Trading For Airlines

Needs Parliamentary Nod For Implementation

A controversial plan to require airlines to pay for the amount of carbon dioxide their aircraft put into the atmosphere won the approval of transport ministers in the European Union Saturday.

The measure -- aimed at cutting back to greenhouse gases -- requires approval by the European Parliament before it becomes law. If that happens, in less than four years airlines would be forced to either cut back on the amount of carbon dioxide produced, or purchase credits from other industries -- a practice known as carbon trading.

Airlines are opposed to the forced implementation of the plan, stating the carbon-capping scheme, to be imposed in 2011, would cost the industry over $5 billion annually -- while providing negligible benefits to the environment.

They point out airliners are responsible for less than two percent of global carbon emissions -- and manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus are working on more efficient planes, powered by cleaner engines, that should bring that percentage down further.

The European Union has vowed to curb carbon dioxide emissions throughout all industries 20 percent by 2020.

"Every mode of transport, including the air mode, has to make its contribution to tackling climate change," said Wolfgang Tiefensee, Germany's transport minister, to the BBC.

For the moment, the proposal includes only EU carriers. The United States has warned the EU that attempting to impose the plan on non-EU airlines could be a violation of international aviation rules.

FMI: www.eu.int

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