Plans to be agreed today at the EU to open up transatlantic aviation and generate an extra 26 million air passengers over five years will undermine Europe’s push to combat climate change, campaigners have warned.

The “open skies” agreement is being hailed as a revolution by officials who say it will deliver more competition and lower fares.

But environmental groups say the increased air traffic generated by the measure will write off all the benefits expected from separate plans to “green” aviation by bringing airlines into the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme.

According to the European Commission, the plan will create 72,000 jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Over a period of five years 26 million additional passengers would fly across the Atlantic.

The European Federation for Transport and the Environment pressure group said that, based on the Commission calculations, “This will lead to some 3.5 million tonnes of extra CO2 emissions annually. This is about as much as the expected reduction of aviation emissions resulting from the inclusion of aviation into the European emissions trading system”.

So jobs first, planet second. Ever heard that one before…

One Comment

  • The EC’s approach here is ‘jobs first, planet second’, but that doesn’t mean that Open Skies was the wrong approach.

    As currently set up, it will lead to increased traffic and emissions. But surely only allowing certain carriers to use the routes isn’t the right way to control the problem? That simply means that those carriers can make extra profits from the lack of competition. And they do – the transatlantic routes are some of the most profitable in the world.

    We should be thinking about better regulation in a liberalised market. Including aviation in the ETS will not have nearly a big enough effect.

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