Civil aviation has always been a contentious arena, with cut-throat business practices and a great deal of bad blood. And it could be about to get nastier.
While concerns about the environmental impact of flying grow, the European Union is about to extend its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to airlines. By 2012, all airlines in
The European Commissioner for Transport, Jacques Barrot (the subject of an upcoming interview in The Engineer), has threatened that if American airlines don’t subscribe to the ETS, or if the US doesn’t institute a similar scheme, then the EU will curtail or even withdraw their Transatlantic flying rights. The
This raises all sorts of issues. The aviation industry always tries to downplay the concerns over carbon dioxide emissions, stressing — correctly — that the actual level of emissions from air travel are relatively small, and it’s the rate of increase that’s the concern. However, while concern for the environment is a motivating factor for the ETS, it probably isn’t the main reason for Barrot’s insistence on the
Despite this politicking over competitiveness and security, linking the cost of transport to its environmental impact is laudable, and should act as a spur to all sorts of technological innovation — lower-emission aero-engines and more efficient air traffic control, for example. All the candidates in the upcoming
The point is that environmental concerns are by their nature global. While every region has to play their part, and ‘They (whether it’s the
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