Overseas Air Travelers May Pay $50 Surcharge for Global Warming

Cox News Service

Americans could pay an extra $50 for their trans-Atlantic travel under a plan to require all flights using European Union airports to abide by stringent emissions controls.

The draft legislation would require airlines to join Europe's emissions-trading program, which is aimed at reducing the release of carbon dioxide and other gases believed to cause global warming.

If approved by all EU nations, by 2011 aircraft operators would buy allowances to cover the amounts their emissions exceed allocated limits. Airline experts said they expect the cost of the allowances, estimated to be 39.60 euros for long-haul round-trip flights, would be passed on to already fee-weary passengers.

Although the proposal won't be formally presented until Dec. 20, some airlines already were expressing their disapproval.

"Non-European countries, including the United States, believe that unilateral imposition of emissions trading requirements absent mutual agreement between nations violates international law," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association in Washington.

"Air carriers have dramatically improved their fuel efficiency, and trading obligations are unnecessary to spur continued improvement," he said.

Richard Hedges, a spokesman for American Airlines in Europe, said the airline is awaiting release of the draft proposal so that the specifics can be reviewed.

Although plane emissions account for only 2 to 3 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, they have increased by 87 percent from 1990 levels, according to the Times newspaper in London.

News of the proposal comes just weeks after the British government issued a stern warning that the world faced an economic catastrophe unless the United States and other large nations quickly cut the emissions blamed for global warming.

In general, Europe continues to take a harder stance when it comes to environmental issues than the United States, where President Bush cited the economic costs as he refused to join as the Kyoto Protocol, which is designed to curb global warming.

For example, in France, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin this week proposed punitive taxes on imports from countries that refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Neither the United States nor China, the world's top two polluters, have signed the agreement.

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