EU Urges Member States to Enroll Airlines in Helping Reduce Global Warming

BRUSSELS, Belgium_The European Commission urged EU nations Tuesday to force airlines to cut carbon dioxide emissions to help bring down greenhouse gases in line with the 1997 Kyoto treaty.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said EU nations may miss the 2012 emission targets unless further measures are taken to bring down greenhouse gases.

"I therefore urge them to do this swiftly," he told a news conference.

Dimas said emissions from the EU's 15 most industrialized nations - including Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands - in 2005 were 2 percent below those of 1990.

He estimated this will rise to 7.4 percent below by 2010, just shy of the Kyoto treaty's ultimate target of an 8 percent cut by 2012.

To make that happen, Dimas has proposed forcing airlines to contribute to the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently exempted, the airline industry opposes his suggestion, now being debated by EU governments.

EU officials say the 15 most industrialized EU nations can cut greenhouse gases by 11.4 percent by 2012 if the airlines participate in meeting Kyoto targets, and if tax breaks and incentives such as traffic congestion charges for cars are implemented.

At a Dec. 3-14 climate conference in Bali, the EU will push for a 'roadmap' for a new UN climate change agreement to succeed the Kyoto treaty that expires in 2012.

EU officials said the ambition must be to halve global greenhouse gases emissions by 2050 from the 1990 level.

In a series of reports leading up to the Bali conference, a U.N. panel of scientists has called global warming "unequivocal," forcing sea levels up and threatening water and food supplies.

On Tuesday, EU officials welcomed the plan of Australia's incoming government to ratify the Kyoto agreement after a decade on the sidelines with the United States.

EU officials, speaking privately, said they see a growing awareness in the United States and China to be more active in reigning in global warming.

Last March, EU leaders pledged the EU would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if other developed countries do likewise. If not, the EU will cut its emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020.

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