Cut airplane emissions, not trade ties | WWF

Cut airplane emissions, not trade ties

Posted on
22 February 2012
WWF said today that countries should focus on cutting climate-changing emissions from aviation, rather than retaliating against the European Union for trying to limit emissions from aviation in its airspace. The EU has included aviation in its emissions trading scheme (ETS), which will result in small fees for airlines using European airports.

As aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions – rising 3 to 4% per year - [IPCC WG III report, 2007], WWF would like to see a global, rapid and time-bound process to reach a robust solution to address this uncontrolled source of carbon pollution. In the meantime, the EU ETS is an important first step to control pollution from planes.

Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's global climate and energy initiative, said: "WWF would like to see greenhouse gas emissions from aviation addressed on a global basis. However, as efforts to do this through the International Civil Aviation Organization have made little progress for 14 years, the EU's decision to include aviation in the ETS is an important step towards addressing one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution.

"We would also like to see money from aviation emissions trading earmarked for climate change adaptation and finance in developing countries. This is consistent with the recent Durban climate conference, where UN member states agreed on both the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to provide climate finance to developing nations."

Globally, WWF is working towards solutions that will reduce emissions from international transport, including aviation. An important principle in a global approach to controlling these emissions is that there is 'no net incidence' on developing countries.


Notes to editors

1. Europe’s Aviation Directive, which included aviation emissions within the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) from 1 January 2012, is a pioneering law that holds airlines accountable for their emissions associated with their commercial flights into or out of EU airports. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, rising 3 to 4% per year. Until now, the sector has escaped regulations that would require emissions reductions.

2. In 2011, three U.S. airlines — United/Continental and American — and their trade association, Air Transport Association of America (now known as Airlines for America), challenged the legality of the Europe’s aviation emissions trading system. In December 2011, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in support of the EU’s move, saying that the EU law was fully compliant with international law:

For further information, please contact:

George Smeeton, Tel: 01483 412 388, Mob: 07917 052 948, Email:, T: @GSmeeton
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