As airlines and airplane manufacturers continue to concentrate on increasing capacity, the European Union (EU) took an important step in regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the civil aviation sector. Earlier this week, the European Parliament approved a plan that would require EU-registered airlines to apply for emissions permits beginning in 2011. Similar to other polluting industries within the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, airlines will be required to reduce their emissions or offset excess emissions by purchasing additional credits or investing in international climate protection projects.
This announcement is of particular importance as emissions from aviation have doubled since 1991, and were expected to increase by an additional 50% by 2012. Under the new plan, each airline would be allowed to emit 90% of its average emissions for a 2004-2006 reference period. The aviation plan is part of the EU's effort to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2020.