BA, Air France propose emissions trading for airlines


British Airways Plc joined with Air France-KLM Group, two airline groups and the U.K.’s main airport operator to propose an emissions trading system for all carriers to help fight global warming.

The coalition, called the Aviation Global Deal Group, proposed a worldwide emissions limit for all airlines today at United Nations climate-change talks in Bonn in an effort to include the industry in a climate treaty that 192 countries aim to agree to in December in Copenhagen.

“It is a significant step forward for leading aviation players to come to the negotiating table with constructive ideas about how to transition to a low carbon economy,” Mark Kenber, policy director at the London-based Climate Group, said in Bonn.

The UN estimates airlines, which currently aren’t subject to emissions limits, account for about 3 percent of global warming gases. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are campaigning for the airlines industry to have emissions limits to help combat warming temperatures.

“Not a lot of progress has been made” on including emissions from aviation, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN’s climate-change agency, said today at a Bonn briefing. “It’s very hard to say if aviation will be included” in a final agreement in Copenhagen.

EU Aviation Emissions

The EU will regulate aviation emissions while the U.S. has also proposed legislation on airline CO2 output, helping to reduce the environmental impact even should an agreement not be included this year in any new climate treaty, de Boer said.

Airlines are due to be included in 2012 in European Union regulations that will also restrict emissions by 11,500 factories and mines across the 27-member bloc.

BA, Europe’s third-biggest carrier, was joined by Air France-KLM, the largest, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Grupo Ferrovial SA’s BAA Ltd. U.K. airport operating unit and the Climate Group, a non-profit group that works with companies to develop low-carbon policies.

The companies said a global emissions target should be set through capping every carrier’s greenhouse-gas output. The emissions would be calculated based on a company’s annual purchases of fuel.

Companies that overshoot their targets would have to buy permits to pollute from businesses that emit less than their allocated amount, according to the proposal. A proportion of the permits would be auctioned, with the revenue going toward helping developing countries adapt to climate change and developing cleaner technology for air travel.